Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was so confident of victory against President Barack Obama that he spent $25,000 for victory fireworks, had already drawn up a list of White House appointments and took it easy on election day when his opponents were still working hard to get out the vote.
Political insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue that Romney didn’t think he could lose and was genuinely “shell shocked” when he lost the Presidential race in an electoral vote landslide to Obama.
“He was supremely confident and delayed conceding the race as long as possible because he just didn’t believe he would lose,” says one senior aide. “It was overconfidence based on inaccurate assumptions and flawed data.”
In conversations with campaign insiders, a portrait of a clueless campaign emerges, driven by a candidate so sure of himself that he ignored all the obvious warning signs.
Romney told his advisers that he was sure minorities and young people would stay home and turn out for Obama as they had in 2008. That turned out to be a politically fatal assumption. Obama drew 90 percent of a large black vote and more than three quarters of Latinos. Asian-Americans also turned out in droves for the incumbent President.
The GOP nominee’s campaign advisers convinced themselves that the polls showing a close race were flawed and that the “true electorate” would give give Romney at least 330 electoral votes.
“They were living in a fantasy land,” says one long-time GOP strategist who asked not to be identified. “They remained in a fog generated by their candidate’s massive ego.”
When the numbers came in election night, Romney was stunned. So was his running mate, who couldn’t even carry his home state of Wisconsin.
The wives of both the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates broke into tears. Romney appeared dazed and it took a while for him to regain enough composure to deliver a long, rambling concession speech.
“Mitt is not accustomed to losing,” says one friend. “It was a bitter pill for him.”
Even more bitter is the fractured, dysfunctional Republican Party that Romney leaves behind as he turned to his millions, his multiple homes and his comfortable lifestyle.
“Romney can go on,” says GOP strategist Arnold Block. “He’s not dependent on politics or elections but the Republican Party must start again at Ground Zero and it’s a long road back to relevance.”