Sunday, December 02, 2012

Romney's Shellshock: A Portrait of Cognitive Dissonance

It's nearly a month after the election, and with the benefit of hindsight (and actual returns), the certainty of President Obama's re-election seems like a bit of a foregone conclusion. However, leading up to November 6, even as the majority of polls seemed to signal the electoral winds blowing the president's favor, there was one person who had no doubt about how things would turn out: Mitt Romney. In fact, the former Massachusetts gov was so confident in his prospects that he apparently begged off of even having a concession speech prepared. Whoops.

Now, given the drubbing he actually endured at the polls, that bravado seems ill-advised -- and kind of hilarious. Yet, there sat Team Romney on election night, by all accounts "shellshocked" by the returns. How could this have happened? Not Romney losing, mind you. There are plenty of reasons for that. But how could their glasses have been so rose-colored, even in the face of cold hard numbers from the Nate Silvers of the world saying a presidency just wasn't in the cards? Noam Scheiber of The New Republic unpacks the numbers and in the process paints a vivid, instructive portrait of cognitive dissonance at work.

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