I have already written extensively about why I disagree with most of my fellow conservatives about the likely outcome of this presidential election. Unfortunately, I am confident President Obama, barring a meltdown of NFL replacement referee proportions at the debates, will be reelected in a close election.
Now I would like to examine why it is that so many conservatives appear to be nearly delusional about the current chances of beating Obama. Here are the top ten truths most conservatives don't seem to understand about the 2012 campaign.
2010 Has Almost Nothing to Do With 2012
Conservatives tend to believe that the 2010 midterms showed that the majority of the country had "figured out" who Obama really was and had rejected him. That is simply a false presumption.
Unbeknownst to the conservative base (and many of those in the conservative media who are paid to feed their delusions), midterms are completely different from presidential elections.
First, turnout is much higher and different in a presidential election and this dramatically favors Obama. Secondly, the national media (which obviously favors Obama) has no real impact on a midterm election and local news barely covers congressional elections at all any more. Thirdly, in this case 2010 will actually work against Romney because there is now fear of what would happen if there was a Republican president with a "Tea Party" Congress which has already been thoroughly discredited in the mind of swing voters.
"Independents" in Polls Are Really Just Weak Republicans
Many conservatives are clinging to polling data which indicates that Romney is doing better among "independents" than Obama. They think this shows that Romney will surely win because in their minds the 2010 elections show that the rest of nation is, at worst, split around 50/50. This is another false presumption.
There is no "magic" to how pollsters determine whether a respondent is an "independent" and how many of them to sample. The unspoken reality of polls (as someone who has worked in polling and commissioned several myself) is that often times "independents" are really just people who clearly vote with a particular political party but who just don't feel comfortable calling themselves a Democrat or a Republican. Effectively, this means that whichever party is having the biggest branding problem at a given time actually has an inherent advantage in the "independent" category.
Essentially, conservatives are trying to have it both ways here. They want to say that the pollsters are oversampling Democrats, but that the "independent" numbers are a great sign for Romney. This just isn't true. These "independents" are just Bush/McCain voters who don't like admitting they are Republicans to someone they presume to be a liberal pollster.
The Pollsters Are Mostly Liberals, but There is No Conspiracy
There seems to be a growing sentiment within the conservative ranks to lump all pollsters in with the mainstream media when it comes to political bias. Having worked for a prominent polling institute, I can assure you that, yes, it is true that most pollsters are indeed liberals. However, I strongly reject the notion that there is a grand conspiracy underway to depress turnout for Romney.
This is just not logical nor is it logistically plausible. Polls just are not that easy to "fix," and there certainly is no incentive for all but one of them to go in this direction. For instance, why has not one of hundreds of basically minimum wage-making poll callers gone on Fox News to get their 15 minutes of fame by outing the conspiracy?
The reason is because it simply isn't happening. Could the non-Rasmussen polls be systematically off by a point or two? Absolutely. Are they all off by huge amounts by design? No way.
The "Undecideds" Are Not Poised to Rush to Romney at the End
Many conservatives (and Dick Morris) have deluded themselves into thinking that as soon as Romney gets a chance to prove that he passes the "presidential" threshold in the mind of the remaining undecided voters that they will all rush at that last moment to vote against Obama. This fallacy is partially based on the myth that "undecideds" always break for the challenger in a close race.
The reality is that this isn't always the case and in a modern presidential elections Republicans have a huge problem reaching these voters in any substantive way. As recently spoofed by Saturday Night Live, these are not voters who will have a long litany of Fox News/talk radio supplied anti-Obama facts with which to create a narrative strong enough to create a tidal wave against the president.
Apparently conservatives are unaware that in order to overcome a 48-45 deficit, Romney would somehow have to win at least five of seven of these voters. When you consider that these are people who think that Entertainment Tonight is a hard news show, that scenario, unless Obama does something so colossally stupid that even the media couldn't cover for him, would seem to be impossible to comprehend.
2012 Is Not 1980
America and its media are vastly different than they were in 1980 and, in almost every way, the environment is much less conducive to Romney pulling off Reagan's "NASCAR slingshot" strategy.
Demographics since then have trended strongly in favor of an Obama victory and the emergence of a conservative media has essentially ceded the middle to a mainstream media which has become emboldened into being even more openly liberal than it ever was in the Reagan era.
Media Fragmentation Has Made It Impossible to "Get" Obama
Take the story of the 9/11 Libya attack as a perfect example of what mean by this. The facts seem pretty clear that the assault had nothing to do with the infamous YouTube video and that the administration knowingly "misled" the public about what really caused the tragic murders of four esteemed Americans.
If you consume conservative media, this is a scandal of epic proportions the likes of which would literally bring down most presidents. However, no matter how loudly they shout about this, the conservative media has locked themselves into their own soundproof bubble where this perspective can never even get to the people who actually decide presidential elections in today's world.
Conversely, as long as the administration continues to say it is all under "investigation," their friends in the mainstream media will hold off on passing "judgment," at least until it is no longer a threat to their favorite candidate.
Quite simply, far too many conservatives delusionally think that undecided voters have any clue about the stories which they think make it irrational for any sane person to vote for Obama.
The Gender Gap is Real and Rock Solid
No key group is more outside of the reach of the Romney campaign than young women. They have been convinced that the Republican Party is engaged in a "war" on them and that somehow their reproductive rights are in danger. They also do not watch Fox News, frequent the Drudge Report, or listen to talk radio.
There is nothing Romney can do to make an impact on this group. He can only hope that Kim Kardashian accidently tweets that the election is on Wednesday and not Tuesday.
It's Ohio and Virginia, Stupid
Obviously the election is about getting to 270 Electoral College votes and, while there are more theoretical paths for Romney to win than most observers seem to realize, it is very difficult to imagine one that does not include winning at least Ohio or Virginia. If he loses both, you are now in "Hail Mary" (without the NFL replacement refs to help out) territory.
Right now, it appears that both Ohio and Virginia are lost to Romney. Both economies are doing better than they national average and both have huge built-in bases of massive support for Obama (auto and government workers). Meanwhile, both states have strong populations of evangelical Christians who will not likely turnout in huge numbers for a supposedly moderate Mormon.
Obama Isn't Winning Due to Romney Not Being Conservative Enough
This is a popular myth among conservative opinion leaders and Tea Party members. First of all, Romney is plenty conservative. Secondly, conservatives are so energized by Obama that there is no need for Romney to be "severely conservative" in order to get out the base vote. Thirdly, he is doing exactly what he needs to in order to try and appeal to the swing voters.
Just because it isn't working, doesn't mean it isn't the right strategy. I fear that when Romney loses that this faulty conclusion will be the grossly inaccurate autopsy that conservatives will come up with to rationalize that defeat. This will only mean that the chances for a truly lousy candidate (Romney is not one of those) getting the nomination in the future will increase exponentially.
The Debates Will Not Likely Be Romney's Silver Bullet
I am still of the belief that a perfect debate performance could still potentially turn this around for Romney, but that it will take him threading the smallest of needles with the most frayed of thread. In fact, I would be shocked if Romney didn't give a performance that conservatives instantly cheer as a "game changer."
The problem is that there is no way for him to do so in the minds of the undecided voters because they will not possess the data points necessary for them to connect the dots of his argument. Even if he somehow did pull this off, the media will be there to save the day by telling that voter not to believe what they just saw and to focus instead on whatever shiny object inevitably makes itself suddenly visible (Romney's tie cost $1,200 and was made in Italy!).
Therefore, it would likely take a self implosion from Obama at the debates (Dropping an "f bomb"? Revealing he had an affair with John Travolta? Accidentally saying something nice about Joe Paterno?) for Romney to actually win.
No matter how incompetent the conservative pundits/base think Obama really is, that just isn't going to happen.