Hardball | November 30, 2012
>>> a reason mitt romney 's team seemed confident in the days leading up to the election. remember how they were? their internal polls showed romney on the brink of victory. the electorate they told themselves existed bore little resemblance to the people who showed up to the polls. the new republic obtained the internal poll numbers from the romney camp in the days leading up to the november 6th election. in iowa the campaign's numbers showed them tied with obama . in reality the obama beat romney by about 6 points. in colorado romney 's team thought they were up by 2.5. they actually wound up losing by 5.5. excuse me, i'm burping here. in new hampshire they had him ahead by 3.5. the reality, obama won by 5.5. these are like 9 point differences. is internal numbers were off in wisconsin, pennsylvania, and minnesota. a closer look shows more clearly why their confidence peaked right before the vote. over the last weekend there, the romney numbers showed romney gaining strong momentum in these key states. in wisconsin, obama lost 4 points in the polling just as romney gained 4 tying up the race. in new hampshire obama lost 4 while romney gained 3. the magazine quotes a romney aide on election night talking to romney 's sontagg as the results were coming in. he looked like he was in a complete state of shock , as if these numbers cannot be real. to make matters worse, their polling told them florida and virginia, who states that romney lost were were in the bag. the republican party is left asking itself what went wrong and how they fix it. john bray bender is a republican strategist and top adviser to rick santorum and robert shrum , democratic strategist and columnist for the daily beast . john, you're on the inside. you know something about this. do you understand how somebody would think that the electorate that's going to participate in 2012 , in a general election with barack obama , an african-american, a democrat, and a relatively popular president would create a different electorate than the one you saw say in 2010 or in a primary situation?
>> well, i think -- as you know, every poll starts with an assumption. here is who we think is going to show up and vote, therefore that's who we ask the question of. republicans and not just the romney campaign, but republican pollsters all across the country guessed wrong. we didn't see the intensity that there was there for the president, particularly among young voters. we oversampled male white voters. and, you know, you add all that together and you're going to see two, three, four-point differences. plus, the assumption always is that the incumbent is not going to pick up any votes on election day . i think this time --
>> i think that's right. bob, you're a pro-let's go through the first one. perception is about the enthusiasm level. we were watching the last election. you could see well before the election of 2008 the excitement for obama . i felt it myself obviously at the rallies we'd go to. all the speeches. this time around it was an effective excitement. it wasn't we love this guy's speeches. the speeches weren't that great this time by obama but it was effectively excited because they decided to vote for other reasons. how come it wasn't palpable that this guy was going to get the same turnout he got last time?
>> well, it was clear to joel bennenson who was the obama pollster and who got it right on the money. it was clear in the average polls. i think john is right about this, there was an assumption inside the party that there was going to be a different electorate.
>> did you see it, bob? did you see the excitement this time we both saw in '08 for obama ?
>> of course you didn't see the same level of excitement but i saw a level of determination that was intense. i saw people waiting for hours in line in the polls. i'll tell you one other thing. you cannot explain simply by your conception of what the electorate was going to be those crazy momentum numbers that you showed over that last weekend. there was something else wrong with that polling.
>> what do you think it was?
>> well --
>> was it the getting together with governor christie and that great show of bipartisanship? was it the fact your side couldn't push the benghazi issue? what changed the last weekend toward obama ?
>> certainly i think sandy changed things. it let the president be president.
>> it changed the subject from benghazi.
>> i would also say this race was more of a referendum in some way on mitt romney than it was the president, and that's unusual --
>> does your side -- i know you're a true believer and i respect that. do you think -- i mean it. do you think they didn't really believe he believed?
>> no, i don't think that was the problem. i think the bigger problem was two things. they never personally kented with him. they never felt this attachment and they didn't see him as --
>> skekd of all, i think we failed middle income blue collar voters who feel we no longer understand their life, no longer are fighting daily for them, and they think what we're about are just the social issues and fighting for tax breaks for the wealthy. that's not what we're about, but we sure let that perception happen.
>> my dad is a regular republican, not a right winger. he used to say the trouble with my party is they care about the big corporations too much, like ge he used to point to. romney senior adviser stuart stevens defended his campaign and his candidate in a big article he wrote. he said the campaign had the right ideas but failed to do a better job -- oh, my god, communicating to women and hispanics. they communicated already i would argue, quite well.
>> i think we should have done a better job reaching out to women voters. the governor has a great record on women's issues. we should have done a better job articulating that record. we should have done a better job reaching out to hispanic voters. we should have done it earlier and in a more effective way, and i think looking forward those are questions for the party. i think we have a very good message there. we just have to do a better job with it.
>> bob, i would argue that the message got out from akins, got out from myrrh you can the murdoch. i think a lot of -- especially the numbers show single women were really turned off -- they like the looks of romney in that first debate. a lot of numbers showed they like what they saw out there, strong performance on economics, but then they go this other stuff is scaring me away.
>> i don't think the structure of the race changed even after the first debate and it wouldn't have unless the president turned in the same kind of performances the second and third time around. look, romney did reach out to hispanics. he reached out and pushed them away. he talked about 11 million people self-deporting. he used the phrase illegals. he did everything he could to make sure that rove and bush understood that constituency was critical for them. he said our ideas carried the day. they didn't carry election night .
>> i think voters are very aware what the issues were and what side both sides took. speaking last night at a gala, senator elect ted cruz a real hero of the tea party from texas, gave a postmortem on the lech. he said do you want to know why barack obama won 70% of the vote? tone on immigration contributed but i think far more important was 47%. republicans nationally, the story they conveyed was that the 47% are stuck in a static world, we don't have to worry about you.
>> i think part of it is we did let the other side define us --
>> was it the thinking about looking down on people or was it the words?
>> i think what happened was early on the obama people did a good job with the perception mitt romney was george bailey , he was mr. potter. and then we said narratives that --
>> lionel barrymore .
>> we can't do that as a party. as a party we have to let everybody know we're fighting for them, understand their lives, and, frankly, we failed this time but we did well in 2010 and we can do well again.
>> the bankers eye, right? i mean, tip o'neill used to say the guy who had an eye missing, the glass eye , that was the warmer one, the banker.
>> did he just look like an elitist cold an hearted guy.
>> i don't always agree with john. i seldom agree with john but he's right. what happened in the summer was that the obama campaign brilliantly went out and defined mitt romney . they defined him with the bain ads. 18 years after he lost that campaign to senator kennedy, he wasn't ready for those bain ads. i found it inexplicable they didn't have a comeback. they defined him on the auto bail out, on tax returns .
>> bob, you taught them the lesson that first time. they should have been ready -- bob shrum , i'm out of time. always an honor to have you on. and john, you're always welcome here, sir.
>>> up next, something else that won't help republicans out of their mess, u.s. congressman lewis gohmert is out there suggesting the obama administration is in cahoots with the muslim brotherhood . who is buying this malarkey? malarkey is a good word. this is "hardball," the place