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New Republic Exclusive: The Internal Polls That Made Mitt Romney Think He'd Win

November 30, 2012

It’s no secret that the Romney campaign believed it was headed for victory on Election Day. A handful of outlets have reported that Team Romney’s internal polling showed North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia moving safely into his column and that it put him ahead in a few other swing states. When combined with Ohio, where the internal polling had him close, Romney was on track to secure all the electoral votes he needed to win the White House. The confidence in these numbers was such that Romney even passed on writing a concession speech, at least before the crotchety assignment-desk known as “reality” finally weighed in.

Less well-known, however, are the details of the polls that led Romney to believe he was so close to the presidency. Which other swing states did Romney believe he was leading in, and by how much? What did they tell him about where to spend his final hours of campaigning? Why was his team so sanguine about its own polling, even though it often parted company with the publicly available data? In an exclusive to The New Republic, a Romney aide has provided the campaign’s final internal polling numbers for six key states, along with additional breakdowns of the data, which the aide obtained from the campaign’s chief pollster, Neil Newhouse. Newhouse himself then discussed the numbers with TNR.

The numbers include internal polls conducted on Saturday, November 3, and Sunday, November 4, for Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, and New Hampshire. According to Newhouse, the campaign polled daily, then combined the results into two-day averages. The numbers for each day along with the averages are displayed in the chart below, followed by the actual result in each state:

The first thing you notice is that New Hampshire and Colorado are pretty far off the mark. In New Hampshire, the final internal polling average has Romney up 3.5 points, whereas he lost by 5.6. In Colorado, the final internal polling average has Romney up 2.5 points; he lost by 5.4. “I’m not sure what the answer is,” Newhouse told me, explaining that his polls were a lot more accurate in most of the other swing states. “The only ones we had that really seemed to be off were Colorado—a state that even Obama’s people tweeted they thought it was going to be one of their closest states—and the New Hampshire numbers, which seemed to bounce a lot during the campaign.”

This is mostly true, but not entirely. Set aside Florida and Virginia, for which I don’t have internal poll numbers, but which the campaign apparently believed it was poised to win. Among those I do have, the Iowa number is also questionable, showing the race tied even though Romney ended up losing by almost 6 points. If Romney’s internal polling number in Iowa was roughly accurate, it would imply that Obama won every single undecided voter in the state, something that’s highly unlikely. (Newhouse didn't respond when I emailed him a follow-up question about Iowa.)

Together, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Iowa go most of the way toward explaining why the Romney campaign believed it was so well-positioned. When combined with North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia—the trio of states the Romney campaign assumed were largely in the bag—Romney would bank 267 electoral votes, only three shy of the magic number. Furthermore, according to Newhouse, the campaign’s final internal polls had Romney down a mere two points in Ohio—a state that would have put him comfortably over the top—and Team Romney generally believed it had momentum in the final few days of the race.

[More, including Charts of the internal polls, at the link]:

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 2211/30/2012

His thinking he would be President makes his loss all that more gratifying.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 111/30/2012

Internal polls based on nothing. It's another smoke screen to cover up the elephant in the room - they rigged voting machines, but got stopped in their tracks. If no one's going to investigate that, then fuck off with all these bullshit stories about polls.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 211/30/2012

Why are conservatives so out of touch with reality? They really do seem to live in a bubble. From trickle down economics to the Iraq war to Sarah Palin and now just seems like they are all slightly delusional and like to pretend the whole world adheres to their pre-planned narrative.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 311/30/2012

This article does nothing to explain why Rove was so sure of Ohio.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 411/30/2012

Rove was not part of the Willard campaign, he was part of the pac campaings, not allowed to associate with the Romney campaign.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 511/30/2012

And when I was a child, I was told that Santa and the Easter Bunny exist. That doesn't make them any more real as much as I believed it at the time.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 611/30/2012

He may not been part of the campaign but they most definitely communicated. Both Rove and Romney were touting their Orca program. They called it a high tech polling program but I think once it comes out you will see that Orca was a vote rigging program.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 711/30/2012

I can't begin to imagine how fucked up this country would be had Mr. Tone Deaf and Tin Eared been elected. We'd probably be at war with Britain somehow the day after the inauguration.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 811/30/2012

[quote]One Romney aide told me that he ran into Tagg Romney, the candidate’s eldest son, as the results came in on election night. “He looked like he was in a complete state of shock,” the aide said. “[As if] these numbers cannot be real.”

He saw his own political aspirations burst into flames before his eyes.

Happy dreams of Christmas Eve in the White House, playing softball on the lawn and ripping up that fucking vegetable garden...slipping so many tears in the rain.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 911/30/2012

He's probably the only candidate in history that did not write a concession speech.

The arrogance. It does make the victory sweeter.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1011/30/2012

Just shows how much faith we should put into polls. I have always loathed and dismissed any information gotten from a poll. As far as I'm concerned it's all hoodoo.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1111/30/2012

The question is how did they poll? By telephone? Lots of people do not have land lines, only cell phones.

Which was mentioned lightly in an SNL Weekend Update as a joke, that yes, Romeny was leading among people that still had land lines.

Romney lost in Mass and NH because people there knew what a fraud he was as Gov of Mass. The way he "cut taxes" was to reduce services provided by the state and push them on to local towns and cities, who in turn had to raise local taxes, and raise fees on everything, so in effect, an individuals tax burden increased.

Fuck Romney. He is a piece of shit.

I only wish I was in the presidential suite at the Westin in Boston that night to see the look of bewilderment, shock and horror on their faces, to see the group of entitled ass holes who have everything not get the one thing they wanted the most, the one thing they can't buy, what they have prepared their entire lives for. My hunch is that Romney is such an ego maniac, he thought he had it all in the bag, that his election was going to be so historic that he had all kinds of video shot, professional photographers all around to capture the moment. That's footage I would pay to see.

He had a transition team web site up and running, he had already picked out a White House dog, Ann was probably already buying linens for the bedroom.

I really would like a more in depth investigation into the claims that Anonymous blocked the voter tallying from being flipped. That story seemed to get lost in the news cycles, but explains why Rove was so SURE Ohio was going to Romney, so persistent that the totals weren't fully counted yet. He expected the fix to be in, and was just waiting for it to happen. His smugness, that he was right and the numbers were wrong, coincides with the timeline I recall about the Anonymous blocking.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1211/30/2012

Shows how delusional the campaign was. Romney, at heart, is a really good salesman -- he's made millions convincing other people to believe in what he says. And a good salesman always has to sell himself first; he has to believe more than anyone else in what he's saying.

So. Mitt lied to himself, with a thoroughness we can't begin to imagine, and he was aided and abetted by an inept campaign invested like all Republicans in denying reality.

I saw Stuart Stevens, the Romney campaign manager, interviewed on TV yesterday. He was mush-mouthed and did not give crisp, coherent answers. What a surprise. This is who they are.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1311/30/2012

[quote]Just shows how much faith we should put into polls. I have always loathed and dismissed any information gotten from a poll. As far as I'm concerned it's all hoodoo.

But actually, R11, most of the polls WERE accurate this year. It was only Romney's internal polls, Gallup & Rasmussen that were off.

The vast majority of the polling that was done showing Obama ahead, as well as Nate Silver's model, turned out to be very accurate on election night.

90% of the polls I posted here over the course of the year were correct in predicting the outcome.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1411/30/2012

Stuart Stevens:

[quote]When Mitt Romney stood on stage with Barack Obama, it wasn’t about television ads or whiz-bang turnout technologies, it was about fundamental Republican ideas versus fundamental Democratic ideas. It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom. And Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day. On Nov. 6, that wasn’t enough to win. But it was enough to make us proud and to build on for the future.

Huh???? If I am ever terminally ill, I'll take whatever they're smoking as palliative care.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1511/30/2012

That's right, PT12.

You tell 'em!

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1611/30/2012

I read that in the Post and gagged too, R15.

But what's the chief campaign organizer gonna say? Just trying to save his own ass. Fucking fuck.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1711/30/2012

Stuart Stevens & Neil Newhouse are upset that they look like idiots and that Nate Silver is now a STAR!

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1811/30/2012

I still smell bullshit.

Anyone who didn't have their lips sewn to the ass of Gallup and Rassmussen knew Obama was winning.

Newhouse is either completely incompetent, and should have seen his career go down in flames— or he's lying. The amount of money invested in this campaign would have seen to the former. I believe the later.

Smoke screen is right. There's too much vagueness here.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 1911/30/2012

[quote]The question is how did they poll? By telephone? Lots of people do not have land lines, only cell phones.

YES that would be the question. This article doesn't answer it, oddly enough.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 2011/30/2012

Romney was stealing votes, he thought they had flipped enough votes to get Ohio and Florida, but alas there were too many people turning out to vote against him.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 2111/30/2012

This is what happens when people tell you what you want to hear your whole life.

by 2012 Poll Trollreply 2211/30/2012
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