Although Republican Mitt Romney lost an easily winnable election, many conservative commentators and analysts took a beating as well. They were determined to believe that Romney would win no matter what Obama threw at him. They underestimated the aggressive nature of the Obama political machine and its ability to exploit economic, class, and cultural divisions in society for political gain.
Except for Juan Williams, the liberal Fox News commentator who predicted an Obama win, the personalities on Fox News were wildly off the mark in their predictions for the election. Karl Rove, Fred Barnes, Michael Barone and Dick Morris had all predicted a Romney win. Generally speaking, they thought Republicans were more excited about Romney than Democrats were about Obama. This turned out to be a fatal miscalculation.
One of the obvious and immediate conclusions is that Romney failed to get enough of the social conservative vote. Exit polls show Obama getting more of the Catholic vote, 50 percent, than Romney, who got 48 percent. Catholics make up approximately one in four U.S. voters.
Although Catholic leaders were emphasizing the themes of “life and liberty,” a reference to Catholic teachings being challenged by the Obama Administration’s pro-abortion mandates, Romney largely avoided the issue during the campaign. It was a strange omission. Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said, “The collision course of the Obama Administration with the Catholic Church could have been averted yesterday, but now it is assured instead.”
In Maryland, a very liberal state, gay marriage won, but 47 percent voted against it. That was ten points more people than voted for Romney in Maryland. He lost the state 61-37 percent. Again, reflecting his aversion to social issues, Romney stayed out of the controversy, preferring to run a campaign based almost exclusively on economics.
On the matter of the numbers alone, Juan Williams had predicted Obama winning with 298 Electoral College votes to Romney-Ryan’s 240. The total now looks like 303-206 for Obama, though the figure is likely to rise to 332 for Obama.
On November 5, Rove, who raised $330 million for Romney, had predicted Romney winning with 285 Electoral College votes and Obama losing with 253. He said at the time that he believed that Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania were “in play and very winnable” for Romney. “If crowds at his recent stops in these states are any indication of his supporters’ enthusiasm, Mr. Romney will likely be able to claim victory in these states as well,” he added.
In fact, Obama beat Romney by six points in Nevada, seven points in Wisconsin, and five points in Pennsylvania.
“The tie in the polls goes to the challenger,” Fred Barnes had said, in a Weekly Standard article headlined, “Why Romney Will Win.” He explained, “The Obama get-out-the-vote drive (GOTV) is not quite the powerful juggernaut it was in 2008 and the Republican effort is far better than four years ago.”
Barone, the anchor of Fox News election coverage, had predicted Romney winning 315 Electoral College votes and Obama only 223. “Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections. That’s bad news for Barack Obama… most voters oppose Obama’s major policies and consider unsatisfactory the very sluggish economic recovery.”
In this Fox News video, Barone, who is also the senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, talked about a possible “hidden vote” that could lead to a Romney landslide. He said the polls showing an Obama edge were characterized by a “systemic problem” of failing to reach the actual electorate.
Morris’s prediction was Romney 325, Obama 213. “That’s right,” Morris said. “A landslide for Romney approaching the magnitude of Obama’s against McCain.” Obama beat McCain 53-46 percent.
In this video of a Morris appearance on the Fox News Greta Van Susteren show, Morris explained why he believes Mitt Romney could decisively defeat Obama and seal his fate as a one-term president. Morris said, “In the popular vote, he [Romney] is going to win by more than five points.” He said he came to this conclusion through an analysis of how the polls were overestimating Democratic turnout. “You have me back on the show,” Morris said. “You hold me accountable.”
He left no room for debate. “I’ve done this for a living,” he said, emphasizing his credentials as a political analyst.
On radio, Rush Limbaugh was convinced that more Republicans would vote for Romney in 2012 than voted for McCain in 2008, thus propelling Romney to victory over Obama. Limbaugh also emphasized that Romney was getting huge crowds at his rallies and that early voting for Romney was up. He said, “…my thoughts, my intellectual analysis of this—factoring everything I see plus the polling data—it’s not even close. Three hundred-plus electoral votes for Romney.”
In fact, Romney got only 48 percent of the vote, just two points over McCain’s total in 2008. Romney lost his home state of Massachusetts by 61-37 percent and Wisconsin, which is Paul Ryan’s home state, by 53-46.
In the end, prominent conservative news personalities made major miscalculations about where the election was heading and the nature of the two candidates and their campaigns. As Dick Morris says, they should be held accountable.