I predicted 294 electoral votes. In the end, it wasn't even that close: 332-206, with President Obama carrying Colorado and Florida, as well as the states I had guesstimated. Here's the thing: it threatened to be close in a number of states, but day after day, week after week, the polling was clear. The president was ahead, and was clearly favored to win. But going into November 6, the right-wing punditocracy insisted otherwise, truly, genuinely believed that Mitt Romney would not only win, but would do so handsomely.
Yet there was absolutely no indication that this was the case. Polling, and analyses of polling, pointed only in one direction. The response of conservatives to all this evidence was to ... decry the evidence, to claim the polls were skewed and biased. So comprehensively did they convince themselves and each other of this that they were in absolute disbelief, not only at the defeat but the scale of that defeat, epitomized by Karl Rove insisting on air that Fox News was premature in calling Ohio, and thus the presidency, for Barack Obama.
This election, and that reaction, encapsulated so much of what is horrifically wrong with elements of the right wing in the United States today. It is one thing to have your own opinions; it is another entirely to think you are entitled to your own facts. The conservative blogosphere, aided and abetted by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, lives in a bubble of its own creation - in which Barack Obama was born in Kenya, climate change and evolution aren't real, the health care act includes 'death panels', the United States is on the verge of socialism, and pollsters are part of some giant lefty plot. Until and unless that segment of society is able to escape from its hermetically-sealed fact-free alternate universe, the prospects for the bipartisan agreement we need to move ahead remain disturbingly and vanishingly small. Perhaps - perhaps - this will be a wake-up call.
As always, Rachel Maddow expresses it all - the importance of what happened on November 6, the opposition to facts on the part of the right - with extraordinary eloquence and clarity:
And [Obama] really was born in Hawaii, and he really is legitimately President of the United States, again, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month, and the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy, and the polls were not screwed to oversample Democrats, and Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math. And climate change is real, and rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes, and evolution is a thing, and Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us, and nobody is taking away anyone’s guns, and taxes have not gone up, and the deficit is dropping, actually, and saddam hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, and the moon landing was real, and FEMA is not building concentration camps, and UN election observers are not taking over Texas, and moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.