Home/Daniel Larison/“What Conservative Media Bubble?” Says the Conservative Still Inside the Bubble

“What Conservative Media Bubble?” Says the Conservative Still Inside the Bubble

Reacting to the Politico article on conservative media failures, Michael Warren pretends that October 2012 never happened:

Truth is, there were many in the conservative media warning that Mitt Romney was not running a winning campaign.

If we replace “many” with the word few, and qualify it by saying that most of this happened in August and September when Romney was clearly trailing and couldn’t seem to do anything right, Warren’s claim holds up. As far as conservative media’s coverage of the election and the polls during the last month is concerned, his claim is almost entirely false. Even the few examples Warren cites in his post date to early or late September*. Trailing in the polls after a lackluster Republican convention, the campaign had continued to suffer multiple setbacks during September. At that point, a number of conservative pundits began to sound the alarm that things were going awry, which earned them angry rebukes from conservative activists for their supposed defeatism. All of that disappeared after the first debate, and it never returned. There were some conservatives that didn’t go out of their way to insist that most polling outfits were getting things badly wrong, and they did much better in anticipating a Romney loss and Republican setbacks in the Senate, but these conservatives were atypical.

During October and early November, there was overwhelming agreement at most conservative media outlets that Romney wason trackto win, and according to the estimates of some pundits he was expected to win decisively. This was based on many faulty assumptions, including misreadings of the make-up of the electorate, the importance of Republican enthusiasm, and how late-deciders would vote, and these were tied to even more significant misreadings of the economic situation and the public’s mood. They thought they were running against another Carter, and discovered too late that people outside their coalition didn’t see him that way. If your candidate’s core message is that the incumbent is a huge failure, and most voters don’t know what you’re talking about, he was never likely to overcome the disadvantages of being a challenger.

* Note that the Ingraham quote Warren links to is based on her assumption that 2012 was a “gimme election” that Romney ought to have been winning easily. So a certain amount of the conservative criticism of Romney’s campaign was based on a major misunderstanding of the political landscape. This citation demonstrates how cut off from the rest of the country conservative media figures had become. It is proof of the attitude described in the article that Warren is trying to refute.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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