Internal Romney polls show he missed the mark–by far

Mitt Romney conceding the 2012 election to President Obama on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in Boston.
Mitt Romney conceding the 2012 election to President Obama on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in Boston.
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

It’s no wonder Mitt Romney thought he stood a chance.

The Romney campaign’s internal polling data for six key states, released today by The New Republic, shows the Republican presidential candidate slated to win Colorado and New Hampshire just two days prior to Election Day. Those same internal numbers show Romney only a few points behind President Obama in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, and tied with the president in Iowa.

Romney inevitably lost all six states on Election Day.

Media outlets reported that the Romney team’s internal data also had Romney up by one point in Ohio and comfortably winning North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia in the last week of the election.

Of these four states, the only one Romney turned red was North Carolina.

The question, then, is not why Romney lost–but why he and his devoted kept drinking the Kool-Aid.

In the days leading up to Nov. 6, most polls had Obama leading in swing states Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Ohio. But Romney pollster Neil Newhouse stood by his numbers, and Team Romney believed him.

The New Republic spoke with Newhouse about the internal polls conducted on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Sunday, Nov. 4 for six states. Newhouse said the campaign polled daily, then combined the results into two-day averages. TNR’s Noam Scheiber reports:

The first thing you notice is that New Hampshire and Colorado are pretty far off the mark. In New Hampshire, the final internal polling average has Romney up 3.5 points, whereas he lost by 5.6. In Colorado, the final internal polling average has Romney up 2.5 points; he lost by 5.4. “I’m not sure what the answer is,” Newhouse told me, explaining that his polls were a lot more accurate in most of the other swing states. “The only ones we had that really seemed to be off were Colorado—a state that even Obama’s people tweeted they thought it was going to be one of their closest states—and the New Hampshire numbers, which seemed to bounce a lot during the campaign.”

Newhouse’s data in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Iowa–combined with the Romney campaign’s assumption that Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina were fairly safe bets–meant Romney would’ve won 267 electoral votes. That’s just three votes short of the magic number–votes the campaign thought they had a chance of stealing in Ohio. But now we know how that worked out.

Though Newhouse is taking most of the bad rap for Romney’s over-confidence, other Republican pollsters–state campaigns, party committees, and super PACs–took Newhouse’s lead and cast overly optimistic projections of their own.

Internal Romney polls show he missed the mark--by far