Every election cycle brings with it a host of pundits who get the results wrong; who misread the campaign and perhaps view events through hopeful, partisan eyes. And there's nothing unusual or especially egregious about that. What was different this time was the spectacle of a whole slate of Obama-hating conservatives who claimed that despite very clear polling evidence to the contrary, that Mitt Romney would win the election in a “landslide.” Not only would the Republican defeat Obama, but he'd also do it sweeping, historic fashion.
It was fascinating to watch because these claims were supported by nothing but blind faith, as well as the far-right's signature hatred of the president and a conspiratorial view of the media. And this was the fantastic, implausible scenario conservatives fed their grateful readers, viewers and listeners right up until last night.
Indeed, it was that blinding contempt for President Obama that led so many pundits astray in the final weeks of the campaign. Unable to even comprehend how Obama would win re-election, not after he'd been denounced as a socialist, Marxist, and racist who sympathized with terrorists who was “the second coming of Jimmy Cater,” his fervent media critics relied on their gut. (Truthiness?) And their gut told them this election was a no-brainer.
The Romney Landslide nicely captured the flight of fancy -the collective allergic reaction to reality-- that has defined the conservative media since the day Obama was inaugurated. Faced with the prospect of a second term by a president they had endlessly condemned as an enemy of the state (and much, much worse), the right-wing media embraced pure campaign denial and announced that Doomsday awaited Obama on November 6:
• Dick Morris: “Prediction: Romney 325, Obama 213”
• Glenn Beck: “321-217 victory for Romney in the electoral college.”
• Rush Limbaugh: “Everything -- Except the Polls -- Points to a Romney Landslide”
• Michael Barone: “Romney Beats Obama, Handily”
• George Will: Romney 321, Obama 217
• Newsmax: “Expect a Mitt Romney Landslide”
• Larry Kudlow: “I am now predicting a 330 vote electoral landslide.”
It didn't work out that way.
And again, this wasn't simply a case of partisans rooting for their side and letting that enthusiasm color their analysis. What was so unusual was there was no polling data to support the idea of a Romney Landslide. None. Zero. It did not exist. Instead, this was a school of conservative pundits incapable of imaging the president being re-elected, and incapable of imaging Obama not losing in a humiliating electoral rout.
As Taylor Marsh notes today:
From Dick Morris pontificating about a “landslide” to Sean Hannity's hit squad, the hatred for the President has dripped day after day, crafting a narrative that a Romney win was in hand. No evidence, just malarkey.
But in one misguided sense, who could blame them? Anyone who regularly watched Fox News, listened to AM talk radio or read the hot house conservative media for the last four years must have been convinced Obama's 2008 victory was a massive mistake and that it was only a matter of time before voters corrected their blunder.
That's been the wayward message for nearly 48 months: America was anxious to right the Obama wrong and when given the opportunity on November 6, there would be a Republican stampede.
Turns out viewing politics through the filter of hate severely limits your vision.