Once they know an outcome, people tend to inflate their initial predictions by an average of 15 to 20 percent, Dr. Roese said — ample wiggle room to retrospectively alter almost any prediction from “it’s going to happen” to “it probably won’t,” be it a tennis match, a legal decision or a presidential race.Given that that's the case, let's go back and look at some key events using the interesting RAND panel published every day during the election.
In 800 studies during the past few decades, researchers have demonstrated the effect consistently in predicting everything from legal decisions and stock movements to sports contests and world affairs.
BY the way, RAND did pretty well, forecasting a 3.3 gap (Obama 49.5-Romney 46.2) when currently we have 2.7 (Obama 50.6-Romney 47.9). In fact, Nate Silver in his latest review, gives RAND good marks along with other internet polls.
Still, one can pick aggregates of polls to do the same review of events (for example, Kos used pollster.com for this post).
In any case, check out some of the key indicators, such as the 47% tape release, rise in Romney's numbers even before the first debate, as GOP voters did their inevitable consolidation; the arrested development due to the VP debate (yes, Joe Biden, you rock!); the general equivalency from before debate 1 to after the third debate widely seen as won by Obama; and the lack of data points showing Sandy killed Romney's chances.
Yes, Virginia, debates don't matter that much. We noted that beforehand, so it's not hindsight bias. No one's saying they didn't matter "at all", it's that they didn't matter "that much", and certainly not in the game changing way the pundits claimed. The first debate was worth a few points for Romney, the debates as a whole were close to a wash as Obama gained back his voters with two strong performances and a "kicked his butt" addition from Biden. They were a joy to watch.
And don't get me started on idiot reporters pointing at a candidate and yelling "Gaffe!" They wouldn't know one if it bit them in the ass. How relevant was "you didn't build that!" other than revealing the workings of a tactical campaign that had no coherent strategy after the Bain ads smoked Romney all summer?
Now, keep in mind that the 47% tape was far more than a gaffe. It fit into every Bain-ad narrative about Romney and sunk his campaign with cement shoes. See the RAND graph, see the item below on who was liked and who was disliked.
See, also, that Romney's natural trajectory wasn't radically altered by Sandy. Those making the case that "Sandy was why Romney lost" have no firm ground to stand on. Sure, it didn't help him, but there are more important reasons why Romney lost. Let's explore them after the fold, using exit polls to illustrate some points.
And before we delve into the exit polls, understand that the fundamentals always favored Obama. And that's not hindsight bias, either.
More below the fold.
Voters made up their mind early, Sandy hit late October
Landfall for Hurricane Sandy was October 29. The vast majority of people made up their mind before October, and only 9% did it late enough for Sandy to matter. In fact, early voting makes the idea that "a last minute event changes everything" somewhat obsolete.
Contrast that with this:Bickers and Berry, whose model failed to predict the winner, doing a bit of Sandy misinterpreting. It won't be the last of it.
Voters don't vote for someone they don't like
There is no way Obama loses this election based on the above numbers. In fact, that job approval number is strikingly high. We didn't know the approval number would be that high, but we did know that Romney's numbers were under water. And, btw, given both the numbers and the outcome, it's perfectly okay to say that Obama is a popular president. That concept makes much more sense than the narrative from the media that he's not.
Voters understand that this recession is different
Look at that "favors the wealthy" question (thank you, Occupy Wall Street) and tell me "we are a center-right country", aka pablum for pundits. We are a moderate-centrist country. Call it what it is.
As for any deeper meaning, consider voters rated the #1 problem the economy (59) and not the deficit (15). See this analysis from the WaPo about the out of touch pundits inside the beltway:
This is an area where voters’ opinions match fairly well with what financial markets are saying. The usual reason deficits are harmful is because government borrowing pushes up interest rates, crowding out investment by the private sector. Those high debt levels can cause investors to lose faith in a government’s ability to repay, sparking a fiscal crisis, as Greece and Spain can attest.Greg Sargent adds some insight:
But neither high debt nor investor panic has been a serious problem in the United States. Interest rates are at all-time lows, and companies are reporting no trouble borrowing money at low rates by issuing bonds. The U.S. government can borrow money for a decade for 1.68 percent, suggesting that any fears of a U.S. fiscal crisis are distant, at best.
Ultimately, the “middle class” question may have proven the more important metric than the question that often favored Romney — who can be trusted to handle the economy, which speaks to technical know-now, not values or character. Romney’s narrowly tailored “Obama failed and I’m Mr. Fix It” economic message just didn’t resonate. A survey taken just before the election by Obama pollster Joel Benenson found that majorities believed the crisis Obama inherited was “extraordinary” and that it could not be fixed in four years. And independents said by 54-40 that they’d rather have a president who is willing to “fight for middle class families” rather than one who has a “technical understanding of the economy.”
We are definitively not a center-right country, but we are demonstrably a socially moderate country
Does Obama winning (again) and Romney losing, and Democrats winning 4 of 6 elections show we are center-left? Journalists may discuss, you have my permission.
Add the above to the well documented issue of non-white voters being turned off to the Republican party, and it's no wonder Romney was shellacked. He was an unpopular candidate espousing unpopular ideas running to be president of white male American. Now that's where center-right is.
In the end, Romney lost. Come to think of it, so did Karl Rove, spoiled billionaire donors and super PACs, shadowy or otherwise. The question on the table now is what's the Republican Party going to do about it?