Commentary | As Republicans ask themselves why Romney lost and Democrats do a vocal internet victory lap, it seems that the moment that came to pass last night was a foregone conclusion all along, summed up in a simple, resonant word from Bill Clinton during his rousing Democratic National Convention speech: Arithmetic.
Why Romney lost despite a set of numbers unfavorable to re-election in nearly every case drills down to simple math, a concept Bubba nailed when he rallied the base in a way no other could do back at the DNC.
And math rapidly became the cloak of denial that not only explains why Romney lost but why so much of the conservative base is left scratching its head this morning, as if the results yielded were a major upset or surprise.
In the weeks leading up to the election, we here at The Inquisitr dutifully followed the polls, as is our charge. But as an Obama win became ever more likely and reflected in said polling, so too did the accusations of a left-leaning bias — simply because the math was unfavorable.
With every FiveThirtyEight poll shift we covered, the comments grew more adversarial, as if the simple arithmetic used in polling would somehow poke a voodoo pin in Romney’s chances of re-election. Rather than discuss how Romney voters could rally, how the campaign could do more to win over voters, the simple math of the statistics became a point of contention.
And the argument against math to explain why Romney lost hit an equal parts amusing and sad crescendo on Fox News last night, as the conservative network blearily reported the election of Barack Obama to a second term. As other mainstream outlets turned to commentary on the result, Republican strategist Karl Rove entered into a desperate and reaching tirade against — what else? — math.
While liberals clung to Nate Silver’s prognostications and conservatives plugged their ears and sang “la, la, la,” math remained unflinching as the American electorate revealed itself. Esquire writer Stephen Marche mused similarly about the confirmation of what we knew all along in a column this morning celebrating the victory of arithmetic over instinct, saying:
“Stephen Colbert had the line that defines this election: ‘Math has a liberal bias.’ It is no coincidence that the Republicans, in the days leading up to the election, doubted the algorithmic approach to polling in general. It sometimes took the ridiculous form of the assault on Nate Silver, who was doing nothing more than providing a transparent model. His opponents spoke from the gut.”
“And like everyone who has ever played poker seriously knows, when the math disagrees with your gut, it’s because your gut is wrong. There’s a time and a place for your gut; it’s when and where the math isn’t clear. This is not merely a question of politics but of policy and of demographics. Climate change is happening. The math shows that. You’re going to have to find a way of dealing with it other than pretending that the math doesn’t exist. Hispanics are the fastest growing constituency in the country. The math shows that. You cannot say you’re going to round them all up. You cannot run against gay marriage. None of your own supporters under the age of 35 believe that gay people shouldn’t have equal protection under the law. You cannot run against women’s reproductive rights. It does not matter how much you believe in these things.”
“Why do you think Democrats gave up on gun control? They gave up because they couldn’t win. The math showed them that. If your constituency is angry older white men, you are doomed. The reason is that that constituency is shrinking. It’s not really an argument. It’s math.”
Why Romney lost is a debate the GOP will be engaged in for quite some time, given the depth of rejection of fact necessary to have carried off such widespread cognitive dissonance for so long. But as Obama dusts the celebratory confetti off his shoulders and the GOP contends with what Michael Steele called an “electoral spanking,” one thing is clear.
Science, math, reason, and fact can no longer be denied, refuted, or ignored. And that is why Romney lost.