Before we dismiss Will’s warning, let’s recall that during the last election cycle, while many influential conservative talking heads were forecasting a Mitt Romney victory, George Will submitted an early prediction that Obama would win. His contrary analysis was met with a collective groan. Karl Rove (who would have a legendary election-night meltdown) and Dick Morris (Morris’ Fox broadcast career effectively ended in the wake of his laughable Mitt Romney landslide claims) were in full triumphalist mode. Will’s unpopular early forecast, siding with Democrat polling predictions, that Barack Obama’s campaign organization would prevail and hand the GOP a loss, was regarded by Romney supporters as treasonous. And by many others (myself included) as a valid warning, but prematurely defeatist.
“This big-name list of losers should be tattooed on the sweaty palms of every GOP operative drawing a paycheck, and haunt the fever dreams of every conservative talking head in the green room.”
Will wasn’t just playing Johnny Raincloud. He was just among the few with his reading glasses on straight that week. Untainted by wishful thinking, Will called it correctly. But even his resolve didn’t last. Sadly, George Will caught the fever, and as election night drew closer, he, too, predicted a Romney landslide.
That’s a Nov. 4th, 2012 list of the men who walked the plank, and made the wrongest election prediction in modern history. Conservative enthusiasts in need of a cold shower should revisit this list. In fact, this big-name list of losers should be tattooed on the sweaty palms of every GOP operative drawing a paycheck, and haunt the fever dreams of every conservative talking head in the green room.
Perhaps hardened by that defeat, Will would prefer to be less vulnerable this time around. Similarly, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume was on a panel yesterday bitterly mocking the GOP’s misreading of the” voter enthusiasm gap” as a reliable election predictor. Hume sarcastically observed that a depressed, demoralized, unenthusiastic vote counts just as much as an enthusiastic vote. He’s right. The key thing is the actual voting. The GOP’s challenge to the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote supremacy is in the spotlight. And the GOP’s catch-up efforts remain unproven.
So let’s update those sports metaphors: If the GOP doesn’t succeed in taking the Senate, it may not be only because of an inadequate “ground game”, or because the GOP “fumbled the ball”. It will also be because they aren’t employing special teams (legitimate vote boosting efforts, locally-organized vote fraud schemes, take your pick) and because election referees aren’t empowered to do their job. When no penalties are called on an opponent’s violations, it’s harder to win. Points won and lost in these hidden margins aren’t officially measured, but can change the outcome of the game. And can produce — or contribute to — some unhappy surprises.
“At this point in the campaign, they’ve saturated people with broadcast ads, so the utility of the last political dollar is pretty small. The return on ‘Get out the vote’ may be much larger, and we may get a surprise this year.”
From last night’s item at The Corner:
Republicans are too focused on how much money is being spent on ad buys in the final weeks of the election cycle, warned George Will. Instead, they should be wary of Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts, which upended Republicans in the 2012 elections, he said on Tuesday’s Special Report. Read the rest of this entry »
Note writer’s sleight of hand re Plame case: “someone inside” Bush admin outed her. “Someone” was Richard Armitage. http://t.co/C9nV6aS9s5
— Brit Hume (@brithume) May 27, 2014
Pundits are calculating doom for Democrats, hyperactive journalists are trying to call it early, operatives are indulging in premature celebration. Here’s just a few examples out of the hundreds of articles in last few weeks:
- Democratic strategists in 2014 are like French generals in 1940
- Midterm mania: Democratic pundits hitting the panic button
- Why Democrats in Congress are in big, big trouble
- Obama’s Job Approval Points to 2014 Trouble for Democrats
- This Map Spells Trouble For Democrats in 2014
- Obama’s in Trouble, but it’s with the Democrats, His Pals…
- RNC chief: Party to win ‘tsunami’ of victories
At least Brit Hume is sober.
Pro tip: pipe down until you’ve delivered. http://t.co/HCTJgcgAJI
— Brit Hume (@brithume) March 19, 2014