I continue to be amazed by the collective delusion that gripped Republicans in the closing days of the election and am completely gobsmacked by the notion that the Romney people were shocked that they lost. The available data overwhelmingly indicated that a Romney loss was highly likely despite a fairly evenly divided electorate. Nonetheless, a kind of groupthink settled over right wing politicians and pundits alike, claiming that their momentum and greater enthusiasm were going to prove all of the collective polls wrong. It's worth taking a look at the actual results.
Pennsylvania - The great white whale of Republican politics. Every four years they claim it is going to be competitive. Every four years they are proven wrong. It is a state that they seem to be capable of getting to 47% and no more. And that's exactly what Romney did, losing 52 - 47 and by nearly 300,000 votes. That's not a landslide, but it's not really close either. Pennsylvania last went Republican in 1988, so it's not exactly like this was a new phenomenon.
Wisconsin - This, along with Pennsylvania, seemed to be the other great illusion. Somehow Paul Ryan, who had never run statewide, was going to deliver a state that last went Republican in 1984. And once again, not close at all, with Obama prevailing 53 - 46 and by 205,000 votes.
Minnesota - George Will actually claimed that this state would go for Romney, despite the fact that Republicans last won it in 1972! In other words, even through all of the Democratic electoral debacles of the 1980s, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis prevailed here. Why would the strongest Democratic candidate in nearly a half a century fall short? He didn't of course, winning 53 - 45 and by 220,000 votes.
Michigan - Why people thought the man who wrote the editorial entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" would prevail here is even more baffling than the Minnesota delusion. These people do know what the major industry of this state is, right? Obama won 54 - 45, with a margin of 400,000 votes.
Other states that weren't close: Iowa, which Obama took 52 - 46, Nevada, which he also took 52 - 46, New Mexico, where he won by 53 - 43 (and simply cannot be called a swing state anymore), and Oregon, where he prevailed 54 - 43, but about which some of the truly deluded got excited because of an outlier poll toward the end that showed the state within five points.
The bottom line is that wishful thinking and cherry picking polls are not really a winning strategy. One poll aggregator whose reputation should be damaged by the results is Real Clear Politics, which went into the last day of the election characterizing Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania as toss ups, and Oregon and Minnesota as "leaning" Obama. Five to nine point victories do not reflect "tossup" status and eight and eleven point wins hardly constitute simply "leaning" to a candidate. Even their poll aggregators manage to be wishful thinkers.
I will brag that I nailed the electoral vote precisely (calling Florida before Nate had shifted it) and I think when all of the votes are counted, my prediction on the popular vote of 51-48 will be correct. If not, I think the reduction of about 1.5 million likely Obama votes in NY and NJ because of Sandy will likely prove the difference.