How consultants lost the election as soon as it began

In Mr. Bush’s 2004 re-election, CNN exit polls show that the voting electorate was 77 percent white, 11 percent black, 8 percent Latino and 2 percent Asian.

The exit polls show that John Kerry won 41 percent of the white voters, 88 percent of black voters, 53 percent of Latino voters and 56 percent of Asian voters.

In 2008, the racial waves in the electoral landscape — that everybody and their mother had been predicting for years — began to hit the shore, and Mr. Obama won a voting electorate that CNN exit polls tell us was 74 percent white (a three-point fall from the 2004 voting electorate), 13 percent black (a two-point rise), 9 percent Latino (a one-point rise) and still 2 percent Asian.

Meanwhile, the CNN exit polls show that in that same 2008 election, Mr. Obama won 43 percent of white voters (a two-point rise from John Kerry’s share in 2004), 95 percent of black voters (a seven-point rise), 67 percent of Latino voters (a 14-point rise) and 62 percent of Asian voters (a 6-point rise). That’s a rise in every racial category, and it did not bode well for the Grand Old Party.

In addition, the party makeup of the voting American electorate changed dramatically: In 2004, CNN exit polls show Democrats and Republicans tied 37-37 percent, but in 2008, those same exit polls showed Democrats at 39 percent and Republicans at 32. This, too, did not bode well for the Grand Old Party.

So what did the poll wizards do? Well, they dismissed the 2008 data as an outlier: The idea that the racial composition of the United States was changing — as it had been since it was first settled by Europeans — was just a Democratic trick, they confidently claimed. The 2008 electorate, they assuredly asserted, was a flash in the pan ignited by phony “hope and change” messaging and fanned by the historic nature of electing the first black president of the United States.

And party affiliation? Of course people were excited to register for the party of hope and change! That flash, they promised each other (and the folks paying them piles of cash), was just that: In 2012, the blacks and Latinos, overwhelmed by unemployment and underwhelmed by Mr. Obama, would stay home, while the white independents would come marching back to the Republican banner.

Data-driven Democratic operatives, on the other hand, predicted (conservatively, and largely accurately) that the racial and party shifts were not going to simply fade away, and would stay about the same as they were in 2008. (RELATED: Why ORCA is innocent, and no one wants to talk about it)