Reporting on campaigns in real time is not as easy as it looks.
There are a lot of moving parts. The campaigns put out information that may or may not be accurate. Voters are hard to predict and sometimes lie to pollsters. And some information is just impossible to gather.
Less than a week before the election, 11 percent of Iowans claimed they were still undecided about which presidential candidate would receive their vote. What were they decided about? I bet they had an opinion on which “Family Feud” host did the best job. I know they have a favorite Kid Rock album. But a week before the election, they had no idea who they were going to vote for.
It is especially difficult to report and forecast accurately when the facts are even in question.
The job is so difficult that a pollster who got it right became a rock star for about three days. We’ll hear about him again in three and a half years.
There were so many things that were wrong, I thought it would be good to look back at some of the campaign details and debates and see what turned out to be true.
47 percent again?
Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comment was named the top quote of 2012 by a Yale University librarian.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what ... who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney said.
Believe it or not, Romney got about 47 percent of the vote. Now, six weeks after the election, Romney’s approval rating is 47 percent. The coincidence is hard to fathom.
Regular Mitt … or premium
During the campaign, information was released about the Romneys shopping at Costco. Many people found that hard to believe since they also had a dressage horse that merited more tax breaks than most of us make in a year.
But since the election, Romney has been photographed in Costco buying Cheerios by the crate.
Romney also pumps his own gas. You would expect a man who brings in the money he does to have a limo driver who made enough money to have his own butler.
But a disheveled Romney, with wind-blown hair and dressed in khakis and a loosely buttoned shirt with was photographed pumping his own gas.
It seems that Romney - despite having a bank account that is anything but normal - really is just a down-to-earth grandpa who wanted to be president.
Gas prices after the election
I don’t know how many Romney supporters jumped on social media sites to discuss how “convenient” it was that gas prices were decreasing as the election drew near. You know, because the president controls gas prices.
Actually, gas prices trade on a volatile supply and demand driven speculator-controlled commodities market. If someone in Iran sneezes, futures go up a nickel. If a hurricane threatens to drop an inch of rain near Houston or New Orleans gasoline refineries, futures go up a dime.
Futures contracts come due, winter mixes cost less to produce and prices drop, and about 40 other issues factor in to prices. A call from the president’s campaign manager is not one of those factors.
Paranoia aside, it is nice to see prices at the pump continue to slide as we head toward Christmas. Is Santa Claus up for re-election?
Those same people who questioned the permanence of low gas prices also found it odd that unemployment rates dropped below 8 percent for the first time in years just in time for the election. Things couldn’t be getting better. Seasonal hiring couldn’t explain the drop.
Something smelled fishy. I’m afraid that was just fish because the unemployment rate has continued to drop even after the election.
This economy isn’t close to healthy yet. But a few indicators are moving the right direction. Hopefully, it is the beginning of better times.
It’s funny how both sides are seeing their campaign narratives and negative characterizations fall apart after the election.
I hope we can all learn from this and give the candidates in 2016 a little bit more of a benefit of the doubt.
We need to find the candidates with the best ideas.
But we don’t need to demonize our enemies - or even our friends who disagree with us.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.