Conservatives were utterly shocked by the 2012 election results. It wasn’t just that their candidates and issues lost, but that they didn’t anticipate that they would lose. It is a wake up call for conservatives who live in their own insular online, television and print world, where conservative bloggers affirm their conservative beliefs, where Fox News tells them what they want to hear and where conservative publishing houses produce an unending stream of vitriolic conservative books. It is also a wake up call for others who live in their own insular online communities, like NCB and homebirth advocates.
Consider the following predictions about election results published on the stalwart conservative National Review Online:
From Robert Alt, president of Ohio’s Buckeye Institute:
Governor Romney will pull out the win in Ohio — although I am less sure that this will be final on election night. Polls showing independents breaking two-to-one for Romney, a higher percentage of self-identified Democrats voting for Republicans than vice versa, and Republican voters showing greater enthusiasm as seen in the admittedly less-than-scientific examples of turnout to events — these all point to enough momentum to push Romney over the top.
Actual result: Obama won Ohio by more than 100,000 votes.
From Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage:
Romney wins the Electoral College with room to spare — somewhere around 300 electors. All four marriage votes in the deepest of blue states (Washington, Maryland, Minnesota, and Maine) will be won by traditional-marriage supporters.
Actual result: Obama won with 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 206. All four marriage votes lost.
From Mark Goldblatt, the author of Bumper Sticker Liberalism:
Mitt Romney’s greatest hope in Tuesday’s election may be the inability of many would-be Obama voters to follow Green Eggs and Ham–level ballot instructions. The question is whether there are enough double votes, hanging chads, and “I wonder what this touch screen tastes like”s to put Romney over the top…
Serious prediction:Obama loses the popular vote but carries the Electoral College 280–258.
Actual result: Democrats had no trouble figuring out how to vote for Obama. Obama won the popular vote as well as the Electoral College.
From Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life.
I think the Democratic party is going to be surprised to learn that women aren’t a single-issue voting bloc and can see through the manipulative games played this election. I think they may be surprised to find out that millions of women resent being told they should vote for the candidate who is promising them the most free stuff, at the expense of their children’s futures. Tomorrow, the question for many middle-class, working, Walmart moms like myself will be: “Which presidential candidate will help me make sure I can provide for my family?” Not: “Which candidate will guarantee me free birth control, even though I can get some at Target for nine bucks?”
Actual result: Obama crushed Romney among women 55-43%. Due to strong support from women 4 Democratic women were elected to the Senate. Both Republican candidates who offered their views on rape were soundly defeated.
Hugh Hewitt, host of The Hugh Hewitt Show:
Romney is the president-elect on Wednesday, with Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Colorado.
Actual result: Romney lost every single one of those states.
From Quin Hillyer, senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom:
The Senate will be tied at 50–50.
Actual result: Democrats 53, Republicans 45 (as well as two Independents who will likely caucus with the Democrats).
There were additional predictions from other conservative luminaries and they were wrong, too.
How could so many people be so spectacularly wrong? It isn’t because of lack of intelligence; many are extremely smart people. And it isn’t because of lack of data; the polls were clear that Obama would win, that women and Latinos would be extremely important voting blocks and that many people had been deeply offended by Tea Party candidates and their talk of “legitimate rape.”
They were spectacularly wrong for a very simple reason: they live in the echo chamber of the conservative blogosphere and they believed what they told each other. As liberal pundit Andrew Leonard explains:
I suspect that … a good many conservatives are facing up to the same bleak sense of hornswoggled dismay. Some of them won’t admit it, but in their heart of hearts, they’ve got be wondering what the hell just happened. Indeed, judging by the tone of the conservative info-sphere in the weeks leading up to the election, and combined with the data we have already accumulated with respect to how insular and self-reinforcing the conservative echo chamber is, it could be that this morning delivered an ever deeper sucker punch to the gut to the right than the left endured in 2004.
Conservative pundits were not the only ones who surprised. Conservative voters were also shocked.
But they were also repeating what they were being told by their bloggers, their pundits and, most of all, their TV news network. Taken together, they’ve built the most powerful force for self-delusion the U.S. has ever seen.
In other words, conservatives were completely out of touch with reality because they believed what their luminaries told them. And many of their luminaries sincerely believed their delusional predictions because they had chosen to ignore the evidence that was all around them.
The parallels with the natural childbirth and homebirth communities are obvious. Natural childbirth books, websites, blogs, and message boards are echo chambers. Indeed, just about every NCB website is strictly moderated to remove dissenting opinions or even facts that don’t fit into the NCB narrative. NCB and homebirth advocates are completely out of touch with the reality of childbirth, modern obstetrics and scientific evidence, because they believe what their luminaries told them. And many of their luminaries sincerely believe their delusional claims because they have chosen to ignore the scientific evidence that is all around them.
It was essentially impossible for conservatives to educate themselves on what voters wanted because refused to leave their echo chambers … and look what happened to them. Similarly, it is impossible for NCB and homebirth advocates to “educate” themselves by reading NCB and homebirth books, websites, blogs and message boards. They end up every bit as out of touch with the reality of childbirth, as conservatives were out of touch with the reality of America in 2012.