Post-election reflections

In mid-summer I wrote an op-ed in which I said Barack Obama would be reelected president and it wouldn’t be close.

I never wavered in that view, but will admit that five minutes into the first presidential debate in Denver I was seized by a sense of unease. I thought this isn’t going to be good. It wasn’t. Actually, it was worse than that.

The political cognoscenti saw the president’s performance for what it was – shockingly inept (one imagines Mrs. Obama saw it similarly). When the debate had ended the talking heads of MSNBC, the cable channel of choice among liberals, tore into Mr. Obama, their anger exceeded only by their disbelief.

I will concede I was shaken by what had occurred but I quickly recovered my confidence, believing the president would win Nov. 6; knowing the Denver debate debacle had not substantively changed the presidential race.

I also remembered what I had written in July:

“Going forward to November the party opposite offers no real alternative. Governor Romney destroyed whatever real chance he had to beat the president by his curious campaign to obtain his party’s presidential nomination. How could anyone who looks so 'presidential' have behaved so mindlessly?

“Yes, he needed to secure his party’s blessings, a party that been captured by the most reactionary forces in our land, all of that I get, but I still want to know, 'Governor, is this so important to you your beliefs and ethics have became secondary?' If all the things you told us about your faith and principles and love of country are true, how did you allow this to happen?”

But even then I had no clue as to how shameless Mr. Romney would become in pursuit of the presidency; even walking away from the one substantive accomplishment of his four years as governor of Massachusetts, the health care plan that became the model for Obamacare.

The shamelessness of Mr. Romney’s campaign for the White House was dramatically illustrated when his campaign openly lied about Chrysler’s and GM’s plans to ship jobs to China; a fabrication that was knocked down by everyone, including Chrysler and GM. Even Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, a strong Romney ally, said it wasn’t true. In the week before Election Day it was seen as an act of desperation to win Ohio. It failed.

But my confidence was also reassured by what I had written the week before the presidential election four years ago:

“On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will be elected president and vice president of the United States. On Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, Senator Obama will become the nation’s 44th president. The victory of senators Obama and Biden will also see the Democratic Party win decisive margins in both the House and Senate.”

But what I believed this presidential election the media ignored. Their mantra had become the election was close. Obama could win. Romney could win. It was all up in the air. Why we might even see shades of 2000, with the election dénouement decided by hanging chads in Florida. If you believed what you were hearing and reading you might well have thought the Supreme Court might get a second chance to choose the President of the United States.

Its undeniable media had a vested interest in telling us the race is close. They always do, and with the proliferation of cable news channels that need has grown exponentially.

Nothing better illustrated this than the Morning Joe Show over MSNBC.

If you are a political junkie Morning Joe is the best. Nothing comes close to it. It is three hours five days a week and it is unfailing interesting. True, lots of people outside the east never see it, since it airs live in the west from 3 to 6 a.m., but TiVo saves it.

Monday, Oct. 29, the show began with co-host Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman from Florida, taking on Nate Silver, whose blog for The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, has become a must read.

Scarborough was clearly annoyed Silver was predicting a big Obama win, when Morning Joe himself didn’t see it that way, believing the race was close, 50/50 as he saw it. That view didn’t make Scarborough an outlier; it was mainstream’s media’s view.

That Monday Scarborough said, “Nate Silver says there’s 73.6 chance the president’s going to win … this race is close and it could go either way. Anybody that thinks this race is anything but a toss-up right now is such an ideologue they should be kept away typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones, because they are jokes.”

With the Romney people conceding Florida to Obama, the president will end up with 332 Electoral College votes, that is the precise number predicted by Silver and Simon Jackman, a political science professor at Stanford.

It is also the precise number I predicted for the president. A prediction I made Saturday, Oct. 3, in an email sent to friends around the country, including a friend of long standing at the White House, who is one of the president’s closest advisors (that person liked my prediction but thought it was a tad optimistic). My prediction was made independent of Silver and Jackman. I arrived at it by looking at the “battleground states” and giving all of them to Obama save North Carolina, which is what happened.

Finally, in late September I gave a luncheon in the U.S. Senate. Those attending were former guest of The City Club, The Denver Forum, and The Great Fenway Park Writers Series. At the gathering in S-115 of the Capitol I predicted a big Obama win. I also said the Democrats would pick up seats in the Senate, increasing their number from 51 to 55 or 56. Those at the table disagreed, including one key senate staffer that thought the Democrats would be lucky to hold onto the 51 they had.

I am not a talking head on network or cable television. I do not write for The New York Times or Washington Post, The New Yorker or The New Republic. But I think I know something about politics, and given my predictions these past four years, the record suggest, maybe I do.

Oh, did I also mention that last April I wrote that Bob Filner and Carl DeMaio would face one another in November for mayor of San Diego and that Filner would win.

I am neither a prophet nor an oracle. I don’t do tealeaves or séances, but I know what I know.


Mitrovich is a San Diego civic leader.

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