Romney Campaign, Spoiled Billionaire Donors Actually Believed They Would Win

Mitt Romney with billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson

I’ve been reading some of post-election articles in which the Village pundits try to explain why Mitt Romney lost the election. Apparently Romney and his campaign staff really did think they were going to win. They were even planning an 8-minute fireworks display over Boston Harbor after Romney won!

While the rest of us were absorbing Nate Silver’s predictions and his logical, math-based explanations of the polls, Republicans were making fun of Silver and convincing themselves that Romney voters were more enthusiastic than Obama voters, that polls were sampling the wrong kinds of voters, and that some magical “Romney wave” would sweep them into power.

At the same time, they didn’t understand that their constant race-baiting, their campaign to suppress Democratic voters, and their war on women’s reproductive rights might arouse some anger among the groups they disrespected–anger that could turn into a steely determination to get out and vote no matter how difficult it turned out to be.

In Politico’s summing up, “Romneyworld reckoning begins,” I read these striking paragraphs:

Multiple Romney sources buzzed about one number in particular: 15 percent. According to exit polls, that’s the share of African-Americans who voted in Ohio this year. In 2008, the black percentage of the electorate was 11 percent. In Virginia and Florida, exit polls showed the same share of African-Americans turned out as four years ago, something that GOP turnout models did not anticipate.

“We didn’t think they’d turn out more of their base vote than they did in 2008, but they smoked us,” said one Romney operative. “It’s unbelievable that that they turned out more from the African-American community than in 2008. Somehow they got ‘em to vote.

Gee, maybe African Americans aren’t as dumb, lazy, and shiftless as John Sununu thinks! Maybe they didn’t appreciate Mitt Romney’s repeated dog whistles and his disrespect toward President Obama.

Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic thinks the voter suppression campaign is the main reason Romney lost. Cohen writes:

May I suggest instead a simple, elegant overriding theory on why we won’t have a Romney Administration in 2013? No serious political party in America — no legitimate party in any viable democracy — can win an election by suppressing votes. So long as the Republican Party endorses (and enacts) voting laws designed to make it harder for registered voters to vote, so long as Republican officials like Ohio’s Jon Husted contort themselves to interpret those laws in a restrictive fashion, the Republicans will continue to play a loser’s game.

That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. Having covered for the past two years the voting rights front in this epic election cycle, I have come to believe that the Republicans will begin to win presidential elections again only when they start competing for votes with the substance of their ideas.

At Balloon Juice, Dennis G. reacted to the same section of the Politico article that struck me as so stupid; and he offers anecdotal evidence to support voter suppression reaction argument:

Here is the thing that Team Mitt and Team Wingnut failed to understand: that when you insult folks and dismiss them, they tend to get mad and they tend to want to kick your ass.

Mitt and the Wingnuts have run a four-year campaign that is only a blond hair’s width away from calling the President a nigger every single day. They are focused like a laser beam on promoting white rage and using every dog whistle they can think of to get the message across. White folks heard them and so did people of color. Team Mitt is surprised that African-American turnout increased over 2008, but that is only because they are incapable of thinking of these folks as people.

As I knocked on door after door in a black neighborhood in Columbus, it was clear that folks heard the Mitt/wingnut code-talking and that it pissed them off. They heard the endless disrespect of the President and the general contempt for anybody who is not white that has become the core message of the modern conservative movement. They heard it and they decided to kick Mitt’s ass in the voting booth.

Hey, I’m an old white woman and I was so angered by the race baiting that I was determined to vote against the guy who did it and encouraged it!

 Take a look at what happened in Philadelphia:

In a city where President Obama received more than 85 percent of the votes, in some places he received almost every one. In 13 Philadelphia wards, Obama received 99 percent of the vote or more.

Those wards, many with large African American populations, also swung heavily for Obama over John McCain in 2008. But the difficult economy seemed destined to dampen that enthusiasm four years later.

Not to worry. Ward leaders and voters said they were just as motivated this time.

“In this election, you had to point out to the people what was at stake. And in many cases, they felt that the Romney doctrine was not going to favor the working man,” said Edgar “Sonny” Campbell.

No kidding. But I’d be shocked if a lot of the motivation didn’t come from the poorly disguised racism emanating from Romney and Ryan and their surrogates.

And now let’s turn to those whiny billionaires who thought they could buy the White House and failed miserably. Kevin Roose writes at New York Magazine about a conversation he overheard:

Two months ago, in a dimly lit corner banquette at an exclusive club in the meatpacking district, two well-known billionaires sat down — at a table well within earshot of mine — to have a good bitch about the state of the union.

“The last four years have been a disaster,” said one man, a hedge fund manager who supported President Obama’s 2008 campaign but decided to sit this election out. The primary reason for his disillusionment, he said, was that the country under Obama had grown hostile to wealth, and to those who had accumulated vast amounts of it.

“People work their asses off to get where they are, and they get punished,” he said. “I wanted to fly my friend to Davos this year, and people were like, you’re not going to fly the jet to Davos, are you? How will that look to the Occupy people? I’m like, what the fuck are you talking about? I worked hard for this!”

“It’s a scary reality,” said the other billionaire, once a prominent Democratic donor.

Of course President Obama was extremely friendly to Wall Street during his first term, and the banksters did extremely well while most Americans bore the brunt of the Great Recession that Wall Street caused. But the banksters’ tender feelings were hurt when the President referred to them as “fat cats” and held them responsible for hurting middle- and working-class people.

According to Roose,

Wall Street turned very quickly against Obama, and it made a massive bet that they could put a private equity guy in the White House. The bet turned out to be risky and unhedged — the equivalent of wagering a billion dollars on an exotic derivative that would either triple in value or become totally worthless, with no possible results in the middle….

Backing Romney was a tactical decision, but it was also a psychological one. Under a Romney administration, these donors believed, no longer would they need to hang their heads, hide their jets, and apologize for their success. The social order would be restored, and they could walk proud once more.

What could be more pathetic? These Wall Street titans gambled billions on Romney and got absolutely nothing back. In fact they’ve now lost their leverage over Obama, leaving him free to be even more dismissive of their concerns. Bwaaaaahahahahahahaha!!

Do you ever wonder what effect these self-pitying and self-involved billionaires have on their ultra-privileged offspring? One of them, Peter Brandt II, put on quite a display on election night. The Grio reports that Brandt,

the 18-year-old son of billionaire publisher Peter Brant Sr. and former Victoria’s Secret supermodel Stephanie Seymour [reacted to Obama's reelection by threatening to kill President Obama].

In a series of text messages to his friend Andrew Warren, which were reprinted by Jezebel, Warren whined about how a second Obama term would make him “poor.” Brant II then claimed, “I have a contingency plan. Kill Obama hahaha.”

Brandt was so proud of his “joke,” that he posted the entire text exchange on Instagram.

Here’s a little more of Brandt’s brand [pun intended] of humor, including this delightful tweet:

Harry & Peter Brant@HarryPeterBrant
H:yay Obama and all, but am i the only person who is DYING for Hill DOG to run in 2016! that stylish mullet needs to be in the oval office.
7 Nov 12

Thank goodness the assholes lost this time.


Late Night: We Told You So — Hillary in 2012!

Hillary in 2012! Yes, it’s still a pipe dream, but who else is there? Bernie Sanders came out and said it recently–it’s time to primary Obama or run a third party candidate. Again, I know it’s probably a fantasy, but what other choice do we really have?

For myself, I know I can never vote for Obama. At this point it’s really a moral issue for me. I couldn’t vote for him in 2008, and that was before I realize how truly horrible his presidency would be.

I knew he’d be bad, and I knew he was going to go after Social Security and Medicare. I didn’t know that he would completely ignore unemployment and refuse to use the power of government to create jobs.

I suspected he would carry on Bush’s wars. But I never suspected that he would defend torture and rendition or that he would claim the right to imprison or assassinate American citizens without probable cause or trial.

I don’t know how I can bring myself to vote for Romney either. He’s pretty much indistinguishable from Obama anyway. They are both cynical sellouts; neither has a real ideology or moral core.

Bernie Sanders said it straight out not too long ago:

…while appearing on Thom Hartmann’s radio show, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — who, while being an independent, caucuses with the Democrats — said that one way progressives can make sure Obama does not enact huge cuts to major social programs is to run a primary challenger against him. Sanders told a listener who called in to protest a debt ceiling deal that cuts Social Security that such a challenge would be a “good idea”:

SANDERS: Brian, believe me, I wish I had the answer to your question. Let me just suggest this. I think there are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president; who believe that, with regard to Social Security and a number of other issues, he said one thing as a candidate and is doing something very much else as a president; who cannot believe how weak he has been, for whatever reason, in negotiating with Republicans and there’s deep disappointment. So my suggestion is, I think one of the reasons the president has been able to move so far to the right is that there is no primary opposition to him and I think it would do this country a good deal of service if people started thinking about candidates out there to begin contrasting what is a progressive agenda as opposed to what Obama is doing. [...] So I would say to Ryan [sic] discouragement is not an option. I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.

Am I crazy? Look at what has been going on in Washington for the past few weeks. This debt ceiling fight is utter nonsense, and this President has shown no leadership whatsoever. For a long time, he completely cut Democrats out of the process and “negotiated” with John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell! He has put every treasured Democratic program on the table to be cut. Again and again, he has lied about the strength and solvency of Social Security and Medicare. Over at Naked Capitalism, liberal economist Michael Hudson documents Obama’s ugly lies:

You know that the debt kerfuffle is as staged as melodramatically as a World Wrestling Federation exhibition when Mr. Obama makes the blatantly empty threat that if Congress does not “tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform,” there won’t be money to pay Social Security checks next month. In his debt speech last night (July 25), he threatened that if “we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.”

This is not remotely true. But it has become the scare theme for over a week now, ever since the President used almost the same words in his interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley.

Of course the government will have enough money to pay the monthly Social Security checks. The Social Security administration has its own savings – in Treasury bills. I realize that lawyers (such as Mr. Obama and indeed most American presidents) rarely understand economics. But this is a legal issue. Mr. Obama certainly must know that Social Security is solvent, with liquid securities to pay for many decades to come. Yet Mr. Obama has put Social Security at the very top of his hit list!

The most reasonable explanation for his empty threat is that he is trying to panic the elderly into hoping that somehow the budget deal he seems to have up his sleeve can save them. The reality, of course, is that they are being led to economic slaughter. (And not a word of correction reminding the President of financial reality from Rubinomics Treasury Secretary Geithner, neoliberal Fed Chairman Bernanke or anyone else in the Wall Street Democrat administration, formerly known as the Democratic Leadership Council.)

It is a con. Mr. Obama has come to bury Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not to save them.

Obama has destroyed the Democratic Party and he is in the process of destroying the U.S. economy and sending us into a prolonged depression. He has to go. Frankly, if we can’t replace him with a liberal Democrat, a Mitt Romney might actually be preferable for the same reason many of us reluctantly preferred McCain in 2008: it’s possible Democrats in Congress would put up a fight against a Republican who did the things Obama has done.

Recent polls show that Obama’s blatantly conservative policies are finally having and effect–his liberal base is falling apart. The latest Washington Post-ABC poll found that the President’s approval numbers on the economy are dropping fast.

More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The dissatisfaction is fueled by the fact that many Americans continue to see little relief from the pain of a recession that technically ended two years ago. Ninety percent of those surveyed said the economy is not doing well, and four out of five report that jobs are difficult to find. In interviews, several people said that they feel abandoned by both parties, particularly as debates over the debt ceiling gridlock Washington.

To me the most striking finding in this poll is that African American voters are losing faith in Obama’s handling of the economy and jobs.

the number of liberal Democrats who strongly support Obama’s record on jobs plunged 22 points from 53 percent last year to 31 percent. The number of African Americans who believe the president’s actions have helped the economy has dropped from 77 percent in October to just over half of those surveyed.

If African Americans are starting to see through Obama, he’s in trouble. How can he possibly win enough Independents to make up for the loss of African American votes? Sure, plenty of AA’s will still vote for him, but how many will end up staying home?

At the Top of the Ticket blog, Andrew Malcolm argues that Obama is trying to reach out to the “center,” and that his ridiculous speech last night was filled with code words to appeal to “independents.”

Using political forensics, notice any clues, perhaps telltale code words that reveal to whom he was really addressing his Monday message? Clearly, it wasn’t congressional Republicans — or Democrats, for that matter.

The nation’s top talker uttered 2,264* words in those remarks. He said “balanced approach” seven times, three times in a single paragraph.

That’s the giveaway. Obviously, David Plouffe and the incumbent’s strategists have been polling phrases for use in this ongoing debt duel, which is more about 2012 now than 2011. “Balanced approach” is no sweet talk for old Bernie or tea sippers on the other side.

Obama is running for the center already, aiming for the independents who played such a crucial role in his victorious coalition in 2008. They were the first to start abandoning the good ship Obama back in 2009 when all the ex-state senator could do was talk about healthcare, when jobs and the economy were the peoples’ priority.

Maybe, except Obama isn’t running to the center, he’s running to the right. In the debt limit “negotiations,” he is the one who put Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on the table. He has consistently pushed for even bigger cuts than the Republicans have. And Obama has done exactly nothing about jobs. He seems to have no interest in the issue at all. So how is he going to win “centrist” votes? Surely these centrists still care about Social Security and Medicare and surely they care about jobs. I just don’t buy that running further to the right is going to help Obama be reelected.

I’m probably going on too long in this post, so I’ll wrap it up. I’ll end with a bit of Glenn Greenwald’s piece in reaction to the recent polls:

approval ratings is only one of many barometers of a President’s standing with his base — and, at least in Obama’s case, almost certainly not the most important one. It’s completely unsurprising that the vast majority of Democrats and even “liberals” — when presented with the dichotomous approve/disapprove choice by a pollster regarding their own party’s President — will choose “approve”; that, in essence, is little more than a proxy for declaring one’s tribal identity (which of the two sides are you on?). But what propelled the Obama campaign in 2008 was not merely the number of people willing to vote for him but, rather, the intensity of his support.

It’s one thing to be willing to go vote for a candidate on Election Day (or, more accurately, against the other candidate); it’s another entirely to be willing to donate scarce money, canvass and evangelize, and infuse the campaign with passion and energy. That many liberals will still be willing to do the former notwithstanding their dissatisfaction does not mean they will do the latter. That level of progressive commitment to Obama’s candidacy was vital to his victory in 2008, and its absence could be crippling in 2012 (a dependency on Wall Street cash even greater than 2008 can only take one so far). Wasn’t that one obvious lesson of 2010: the central role base enthusiasm plays in election outcomes?

So what is to be done? I don’t know, but I do know that there isn’t another potential candidate with the stature of Hillary Clinton. Is it just a pipe dream? What do you think? Is there any chance at all that Hillary might step in as Ted Kennedy did (admittedly unsuccessfully) against Carter in 1980? Are there any other possible candidates that could pull it off?