The election post-mortem

Harvard had a recent conference with all the recent strategic advisers from both the Obama and Romney campaigns.  John Dickerson has an excellent piece summarizing all the most interesting tidbits.  Most interesting to me was just how incredibly dedicated the Obama campaign was to getting their polling right while Romney’s campaign was off in this fantasy-land where all the public polls were wrong and they were going to win handily:

Triple-Screen Polling: The Romney campaign was shocked on election night. Advisers had predicted that Romney would win decisively. That confidence was based largely on their polling, which was based on a generous interpretation of the electorate. The Obama campaign, by contrast, had several different streams of polling information coming in. This allowed Obama’s camp to more accurately understand what the undecided electorate was thinking and what their voters believed, so they could hone the president’s message and the scripts volunteers would use on the doorstep when canvassing. Obama’s main pollster Joel Benenson would put together one round of data from the battleground states. The campaign also hired pollsters with expertise in specific battleground states to do a second poll. Then, each night, the campaign itself polled 9,000 people in battleground states. Simas also had his own little private poll of undecided voters he checked in with and rotated regularly during the campaign. (We had a group like that, too!)

According to Simas, in order to test their polling methods, they then called in polling experts to deconstruct the three different sets of polls and recommend how they could do it better. Each time a new public poll came out, members of the Obama polling unit looked at its assumptions in order to determine if the public poll had a better understanding of the public than the campaign. That gave them confidence to stick with their numbers and ignore a lot of the public noise. “It just becomes a big horse-race story,” said Axelrod of the campaign coverage, “and you guys don’t even know where the horses are.” (Wait, this is a race of horses?)

Wow.  That is astoundingly thorough.  I love that they were so absolutely willing to put their own efforts under a harsh light to try and improve.  That’s not an easy thing for most people to do.  And to think that the Romney pollsters were just blithely assuming that they only had to win independents and that the demographic composition of the electorate would look like 2004.  Those guys should be sued for malpractice.  I don’t think it is an an accident, though.  I’m not quite prepared to attribute it to the more open to competing views liberal mindset (though, that is a possibility), but I do think it is, at least in part, attributable to the epistemic closure that seems to have so taken over the Republican party.  So many really are living in their own reality.  And 2012 was a great example of the very negative consequences of that.

Photo of the day

Wow– looks like I forgot my sometime between 12-1 (US Eastern Time, of course) photo of the day today.  Better late than never.  Very nice Buzzfeed compilation of “45 most powerful images of 2012.”  My favorite is the first (can’t resist a good juxtaposition):

Tourists sunbathing next to the Costa Concordia

Vacationers bask in front of the wreckage of capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia. Twenty-eight people were killed when the cruise ship capsized off the coast of Italy.

Image by Max Rossi / Reuters



“Christianity is not a religion; it’s a philosophy”

Oh, my.  Yes, direct quote from Bill O’Reilly.  Damn that man says the stupidest things.  In this case, calling Christianity a philosophy, not a religion, helps him make his absurdist case for the “War on Christmas.”  Naturally, Jon Stewart does not let him get away with it:

Why do Republicans hate the disabled?

You know, I really don’t want this blog to be so much “damn the Republicans say/do/think stupid things” but damn if they don’t keep literally forcing it on me.  No, the Republicans don’t actually hate disabled people, but they are so living in their own fantasy land that they overwhelmingly voted against an international treaty to protect disabled people because they saw it as a threat to American sovereignty.  Please!!  Some details from the Post:

The Senate has failed to ratify an international treaty intended to protect the rights of those with disabilities, as a bloc of conservatives opposed the treaty believing it could interfere with U.S. law.

The Senate voted 61 to 38 to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, a tally that fell short of the two-thirds needed to sign on to an international treaty.

The 2006 treaty, which forbids discrimination of the disabled, has enjoyed bipartisan support. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the treaty would encourage other nations to develop the kind of protections the United States adopted 22 years ago with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The international treaty’s thrust, he said, was a message: “Be more like us.”

But the treaty has split Republicans. Among its most vocal supporters were Republican war veterans, including President George H.W. Bush and former senator Bob Dole, who was injured in World War II and made a rare return to the Senate floor Tuesday to observe the vote and lend his stature.

Other conservatives were deeply suspicious of the United Nations, which would oversee treaty obligations. Those who opposed the treaty included former senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the father of a developmentally disabled child who had traveled to Capitol Hill last week to encourage fellow Republicans to vote no.

He and other conservatives argued that the treaty could relinquish U.S. sovereignty to a U.N. committee charged with overseeing a ban on discrimination and determining how the disabled, including children, should be treated. They particularly worried that the committee could violate the rights of parents who choose to home school their disabled children.

“This is a direct assault on us,” Santorum said.

Nations that have signed on to the treaty include China, Iran and Syria. Opponents said that American approval might give the impression that the United States accepts how those nations treat their disabled citizens.

Just give me a break already!  The government is going to come after home-schoolers because of this treaty?!  Our signing it endorses failings of nations like China and Iran?!  Earth to crazy nutjob Republicans also known as United States Senators.  Whether they believe this transparent, pathetic crap, or just feel like they need to pretend to, either way is sad, pathetic, and disgusting.  The fact that GHWB, McCain, and Bob Dole were out there forcefully advocating for it tells you all you need to know about the moral dissolution of today’s elite-level GOP.   Ugh.

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