Saturday, November 27, 2010

Do the Math: Part II (Emmer's Strategy)

A few people called me to ask if there was a math formula to calculate the actual number of ballots that would have to be pulled to allow Emmer to overtake Dayton’s lead. Here it is.


D= Number of votes Dayton loses in reconciliation per 100 ballots.
E= Number of votes Emmer loses in reconciliation per 100 ballots.
G= Net gain(loss) of votes to Emmer in reconciliation per 100 ballots.

1/100 (N +(G)) =8770

N= Number of ballots removed in reconciliation.

Assume for every 100 ballots removed during reconciliation, 60 below to Dayton and 40 to Emmer.

60-40 = 20

1/100 (N +G) =8770

1/100 (N (20))= 8770
20N = 877,000
N = 43,850

Now assume that for every 100 ballots removed during reconciliation, 50 below to Dayton and 45 belong to Emmer.

50-45= 5

1/100 (N +G) =8770
1/100 (N (5))= 8770
5N= 877,000
N= 175,400

Notice several things with reconciliation. First, assume during reconciliation that Emmer and Dayton are close in votes statewide and therefore removal of ballots would produce a rough equivalent for each of them. In this scenario for every 100 ballots removed 50 belong to Dayton and 45 to Emmer. This is a net gain of 5 for Emmer. This would require 175,400 ballots to be removed from the state. This is 175,400 phantom or overvotes. An improbable number.

Second, since Emmer and Dayton in the general election appeared to receive about the same percentage of votes, randomly removing ballots during reconciliation to produce a 50/45 let alone a 60/40 ratio is statistically near impossible. This is a point made in the Pioneer Press last week by UMN statisticians.

Third, if in fact ballot removal during reconciliation could produce 50/45 or other ratios like this, it suggests that in fact Dayton did get more votes than Emmer and that what the latter is seeking to do is shrink the size of the voting pool until he wins. There is only one way Emmer can do that and win–cherry pick the electorate.

Specifically, look to the three biggest counties for Dayton–Hennepin, Ramsey, and St. Louis. If Emmer can concentrate on removing ballots from these counties then he runs a statistically better chance of winning than if ballots are generally removed by reconciliation across the state. Thus, Emmer’s route to victory? Remove ballots in counties that went for Dayton and hope it alters the outcome.

This explains claims of fraud in these three counties. Assert fraud here, remove (presumably Dayton) ballots, and use that strategy of vote suppression to win. This is a cherry-picking strategy no different that what Bush accused Gore of in Florida 2000 when the latter only wanted recounts in the three counties he thought he had most to gain. Here, Emmer wants to remove ballots from the three counties he did the worst in, hoping to achieve victory by not counting every vote but by suppressing selected ones.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do the Math: Why Emmer Can’t Win Even If He Got His Way with Reconciliation

There were no surprises in the rejection on Monday of Emmer’s petition before the Minnesota Supreme Court demanding reconciliation to take place prior to the recount beginning. That decision, along with the State Canvassing Board’s determination that the difference between Dayton and Emmer is 8,770 votes, or less than 0.5% (less than one-half of one percent) means the state mandated recount will begin on Monday.

But what if Emmer got his way? By that, what if in fact it is the case that there are phantom votes in Minnesota? What if in fact there are more ballots than those who voted, necessitating reconciliation? What if, per state law, election officials did randomly remove ballots from those lawfully cast as specified by state law, could Emmer win? In theory yes, but the math is against him.

How to do Reconciliation
Think about how reconciliation would work. Assume that there are 1,000 overvotes in the state of Minnesota. This means there are 1,000 more ballots than signatures in the registry. This means that 1,000 votes would have to be removed from around the state to bring the total number of ballots in line with the number of people who actually voted. Both Dayton and Emmer received approximately 43% of the statewide vote. All things being equal, a random distribution of 1,000 ballots removed across the state would mean 430 removed that had voted for Dayton and 430 for Emmer. Emmer is thus still behind by 8,770 and he has gained nothing. He still loses.

For Emmer to win on reconciliation, he has to assume more of the ballots removed per reconciliation belong to Dayton as opposed to him. Consider some possibilities.

Let us assume that if ballots had to be removed, 60% of all ballots removed cast a vote for Dayton and 40% cast a vote for Emmer. We shall assume no ballots removed voted for Horner. With this 60%/40% ratio there would have to be 43,850 ballots removed for Emmer to come even with Dayton and negate his 8,770 lead.

Spelled out in more detail:

.6x X 43,850 =26,310
.4x X 43,850= 17,540

Assuming 60% of the ballots removed is rather optimistic for Emmer. Assume instead that 50% of the ballots removed are cast for Dayton and 40% are for Emmer. The remaining 10% are for Horner and other candidates. With this ratio there would have to be 87,700 ballots removed for Emmer to pull even.

Spelled out in more detail.
.5x X 87,700 = 43,850
.4x X 87,770 = 35,080

But is there that much Fraud or Error?
Thus, for Emmer to tie Dayton, he would need at least 43,850 ballots to be removed. More likely, he would need to have closer to, if not more than, 87,700 removed. This means there has to be at least 43,850 overvotes or phantom votes (to use Emmer’s term) for him to at least tie Dayton. Given that there were 2,123,369 ballots cast in 2010, one has to assume at a minimum that 2% of all the votes cast were phantom, with it perhaps closer to 4%. This means that at least 2-4% of all ballots cast were improperly counted and need to be removed.

The degree of fraud or error to produce these numbers is unlikely. Under no conceivable circumstances can I imagine this type of error rate in the state. But this is precisely what Emmer has to assume if he were to win on his reconciliation argument.

What is my point?
The point is simple. Emmer cannot win even if he gets his way and were he to have won or would win his reconciliation legal argument. The math is against him given the number of ballots and errors that would have to occur for him to prevail. The outcome (Dayton winning) does not change if Emmer would have won his legal argument.

A Legal Issue: Reconciliation is Unconstitutional
Finally, assume that we do have to do reconciliation if there are discrepancies as Emmer alleges. The stated statutory remedy is randomly removing ballots. If that were to occur I think the state law is unconstitutional. By that, if voting is a fundamental right protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments (and that is true), subjecting voters to random denial of having their ballot counted because of election official counting errors or mis- or maladministration is clearly a denial of a right to vote. I think the current state law is unconstitutional

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Politics and Law: The Real Issues Behind the Minnesota Gubernatorial GOP Recount Challenge

Alexis DeTocqueville once stated in Democracy in America: “There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one. Consequently the language of everyday party-political controversy has to be borrowed from legal phraseology and conceptions.” How true that is. Behind every legal question is a political issue. The same is true with the Minnesota Republican Party going to court this week asking for a reconciliation of votes in the 2010 gubernatorial election, claiming there are phantom votes out there that may have cost Emmer the election.

This is a legal challenge without merit. However, the issue is not about the law, but laying the political foundation or cover for a possible legal challenge to delay the seat of Dayton after he is probably declared the winner in mid-December.

Let us look at the so called legal claim. It asserts that the Hennepin and Ramsey County election officials have failed to undertake a reconciliation of votes after the election. Stated simply, there are more votes or ballots than actual voters–thus phantom or manufactured votes. In effect, vote fraud. The suit asks for reconciliation to take place before the State Canvassing Board meets to order a recount.

The suit is meritless and the timing of it is interesting. The period between election day and when local canvassing boards meet and then before when the State Board meets, is set up for election officials to finalize the count. This is routine and happens every election where the vote totals change due to counting and reconciliation. Thus, the lawsuit–when you cut to the chase–is to order the election officials to do the job they are already doing! Big deal.

The suit came about one week before the State Canvassing Board will meet. This is legally significant. As I point out in a Law and Politics piece by Paul Demko a court will likely invoke a well established administrative law rule that requires you to exhaust your administrative remedies before going to court. What this means is that the courts will not act until the election officials have finished doing their job. If when they are done there is a problem then the courts will act. Moreover, another legal doctrine comes into play–injury. Even if there are phantom votes, it is possible that the Canvassing Board and then eventual recount will find and correct the problem. Until such time, Emmer has suffered no real legal injury. Therefore, the court will not act.

Any lawyer who has taken administrative law or graduated from law school kindergarten knows these legal doctrines. So why file the suit? Enter politics.

First, Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent points out the affidavits filed by the GOP in the suit where mostly from Republicans. This fact, along with the flimsy legal assertions, raises suspicion, as I point out in that piece, that the suit is political. But what is the political motive?

Quite simply, I suspect that most Minnesotans do not want another recount but the law will require it. There is little indication that Dayton’s 8,700 vote led will change and he will not emerge the winner. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, no candidate with a lead this large has ever had it reversed on a recount. Thus, when on or around December 14, when the Canvassing Board declares Dayton the winner, Emmer and the GOP will have a hard time convincing Minnesotans that they have meritorious legal claims (that could reverse the election) justifying going forward. They need political cover. That is what this suit and their rhetoric are about now.

The goal is twofold: First, to raise suspicions in the minds of Minnesotans that there are serious legal questions about the race. Do that by raising questions of phantom votes, voter fraud, of manufactured votes. All this is an effort to provide political cover for a suit to delay seating Dayton so that they can have control of the Legislature and the Governor’s office for a few precious months. Over the next few weeks look to see allegations of fraud increase. Look to rhetoric stating “We want to make sure every vote counts” or “We are bringing this suit just to make sure the election is fair,” all as ways to justify a court challenge.

The second goal is to placate supporters. Face it, Emmer and the GOP ran a bad gubernatorial campaign and lost to Dayton who ran a good one. There is finger pointing and blame going around. Sutton and the GOP raise this challenges to shift the blame elsewhere. We did not lose, the other side cheated or won by fraud. This suit then simply is to comfort the faithful base.

About a week ago I was standing in the Hamline parking lot in the rain talking to my law school dean. He asked me what legal theories would justify a court challenge in the gubernatorial race. I said I could not come up with any serious enough that would eventually change the outcome. That is still my sense today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Upcoming Video Chat- Online 'Seats' Available!

Keep Monday night open! I am going to offer an hour-long interactive video/audio chat with the public regarding the 2010 elections and offer predictions for how politics are likely to play out nationally and in Minnesota. The online event will take place Monday, November 15, 2010 from 7-8 p.m.(CST).

I'll be utilizing the latest technology, Elluminate Live!, a web conferencing program and virtual environment to provide a fluid, powerful video chat experience with up to 100 chat participants. I'll respond to questions and comments from those participants while leading a discussion about the 2010 election results locally and nationally. I also plan to address what Minnesota is likely to experience once a new governor is named and how it may differ depending on which candidate claims the spot and when they do so.

I'd love for anyone interested to 'attend' this online event. To join the session, please click here within 30 minutes of the session start time.

To view the hardware and software pre-requisites for Elluminate Live! click here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Explaining Election 2010 Part III: Recount Mischief and Dayton’s Opportunity

Politics is about power–getting it, exercising it, and holding on to it. This explains the intensity of campaigns and of strategy in governance. This will also suggest some interesting issues as the recount moves forward and once a new governor is selected. Assume power is what politics is about. How should that play in for the recount, GOP control of the legislature, and Dayton, assuming he becomes governor? Here is my pale attempt at Machiavelli–writing about how to get and keep political power.

Recount Politics
Assuming by November 23, the margin between Dayton and Emmer is less than ½ of one–percent, there will be a mandatory recount. It is curious to note that at present the difference between the two candidates is approximately four-tenths of one percent. This past session the legislature voted to reduce the recount margin to 0.25% but it was removed in conference committee. Had it passed and been signed by the governor we might not be talking mandatory recount now.

It made sense to lower the threshold. Reforms in voting technology and in absentee balloting make errors less likely now than in the past. Second, in a state of 5 million people and approximately 3.6 million votes, differences of ½ of one percent are far greater in terms of the number of votes than in a state of 3 million voters. A one-half percent gap is a lot of voters. In this race, making 9,000 or so votes is far harder than a few hundred from even just a couple of years ago. Lacking a mandatory recount, Emmer would have to decide if he wishes to pay for an optional one. The mandatory recount will probably cost more than $100,000–at taxpayer expense. Had Pawlenty signed the bill taxpayers might be saving money.

Assume the recount proceeds. Sometime after December 14, when it ends the loser–and presumably Emmer–will have to make a choice. Do you accept the recount and move on or challenge it. Power politics suggests go for broke and challenge. Some worry the GOP will use the challenge to delay seating Dayton so that they can pass a quick budget, cut taxes, do redistricting, and address social issues while they have control of both branches. Yes, this is tempting. Pawlenty could use this to burnish conservative credentials for a presidential bid, demonstrating what he could do as a GOP president presiding over a GOP Congress.

But there is danger of overreach. Minnesotans are fed up with recounts. An appeal to the courts by Emmer and the GOP may look like a pure power grab and backlash against them. Thus Sutton and Emmer need to weigh backlash against opportunity. Backlash could end a GOP legislative majority in 2012, a year that may be more DFL friendly with Klobuchar and Obama on the ticket.

Dayton’s Opportunity
What should Dayton do? Some DFLers bemoan that he is powerless now that the GOP has legislative control. Not really. Look at how Pawlenty has outfoxed the DFL legislature for the last few years. MN governors have lots of power–vetoes, line item vetoes, executive orders, and other tools of appointment–to exercise. Dayton needs to use them.

The first issue for Dayton is who he plans to appoint to what. DFLers are salivating, finally patronage after 20 years+ of spoils drought. But Dayton and the DFL have an uneasy relationship and he may not necessarily appoint in ways that simply reward a party not always supportive of him. He needs to appoint to reward supporters, cement his coalition, and build for the future to take back DFL control of the legislature in 2012.

First thought: Name Tom Horner to be in your administration. He offered on election night to serve the next governor. Take him up on that and use it as a way to build bridges with Independence Party people. This is an opportunity to reach out to moderates and pull them away from the IP to the DFL. The IP might be a permanent 10%party. Use this as a chance to bring them over and party-build. I hate to say that this is an opportunity for party-raiding but this is the time to do that.

Second thought: Dayton has a four year term. Because of redistricting, all House and Senate terms are two years. Use this time frame to pressure the GOP. They want to hold power. If they overreach in the next two years you can point that out in 2012. Will the GOP risk cuts to K-12 and throw grandma out of the nursing home when they face election? Force the GOP to make the tough budget choices and then use the veto and bully pulpit as Pawlenty did to attack them.

Third thought: Effectively MN has an appointed judiciary with 90% of judges reaching the bench initially by gubernatorial appointment. Dayton will be the first DFLer in 20 years to appoint judges. Use that opportunity wisely.

Crisis is both a challenge and opportunity. Dayton, Emmer, the DFL, and the GOP face crises if they wish to maintain political power. Times like now power is in flux and opportunities portend.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Explaining the Election 2010 Part II: How and Why Dayton (Apparently) Won

Unless the recount reverses it, Mark Dayton is Minnesota’s next governor and the first DFLer to win since Perpich in 1986. Contrary to assertions by GOP State Party Chair Tony Sutton that something smells fishy when Republicans win control of the legislature and the Oberstar seat but lose the governor’s race, neither fraud nor shenanigans need be invoked to explain the outcome. Instead, the simple answer lies in the fact that Tom Emmer and the GOP ran a horrible campaign and it was only the backlash against Obama and the Democrats that made it as close as it was.

No Fraud, No Foul
At the most simple level, by the logic of Sutton’s statement the GOP should have won the offices of Secretary of State, Auditor, and Attorney General, but they did not. Additionally, Sutton apparently ignores the phenomena of ticket splitting–voting one way at the legislative and another at the constitutional office level. Finally, by his logic, one could argue that Pawlenty should not have been elected, at least in 2006, because of the overwhelming vote for DFLers that year.

No, Sutton’s comments don’t make sense. They instead prematurely raise the specter of fraud, seeking to insinuate that because (in his belief) Franken only beat Coleman due to fraud, the same must be true here. Of course Sutton forgets that Coleman was never able to prove widespread fraud in court and his attorney, when appearing before the Minnesota Supreme Court, admitted the same. As I have written elsewhere, the best studies and empirical evidence on voter fraud is that it is negligible at best. Fraud is the unlikely answer for why Dayton won.

Instead, Sutton’s comments remind me of the great line from Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much.” The real roots of Dayton’s victory lie in part in how bad Sutton, Emmer, and the GOP were in running the governor’s race.

Dayton’s Candidacy
Unfortunately we do not have exit polls to assess fully why people voted the way they did. We do have election returns revealing that Dayton won the metro area and St. Louis County as expected, and he also did well in other rural areas, at least compared to recent DFLers. But our information is limited. Thus, some conjecture is necessary.

Dayton’s apparent victory stemmed from several advantages he had. First, there was the overwhelming name recognition, especially among the elderly. As flawed as most pre-election polls were, this name recognition helped. Elderly vote, and that matters.

Second, Dayton was the only major party candidate with a lieutenant governor from greater Minnesota (here the Iron Range). This advantage was critical to Dayton’s DFL primary victory.
Third, Dayton had public sector union endorsements because of his stance against more budget cuts. While unions are experiencing declining political clout, one can presume AFSCME got out the vote to help Dayton and preserve their jobs.

Thus, think about it–Dayton reunited the old DFL coalition of urban liberals, unions, and the Iron Range. This is the classic recipe for DFL success in yesteryear. He was the first DFLer to bring this coalition together since Perpich. He did it with a reinventing of the old Perpich slogan of making Minnesota the “brainpower state.” This time Dayton stressed education in general, appealed to female voters, and forged a 2010 version of the 1986 message. How odd? An almost back to the future campaign tactic. Long term, such a coalition may not work, especially if your name is not Dayton, but this time it did.

But one should also not forget Dayton’s fortune helped. He outspent Emmer. He stayed on message talking about education and benefitted from a state less adverse to taxes than the nation as a whole.

Emmer’s Candidacy
Emmer ran a terrible campaign. It started with his convention speech when he declared he would run from the right and not the center. Generally you cannot win from the extreme when you only motivate your base and do not appeal to swing voters. The balance of power is capturing swings. Nationally, Democrats had the swings in 2006 and 2008, but lost them in 2010. Emmer never had them in 2010 since he disavowed them from the start.

Second, Emmer had a terrible summer. His missteps on taxes and tips cost him. He let the DFL paint him as a right-wing nut and he never overcame that image. In someways he was swiftboated by the DFL and like Kerry in 2004, he never overcame that image.

Third, Emmer had a McCain problem. In 2008 McCain knew “change” was the mantra of the year but how to run on change when you are of the same party of sitting president whom the public wants to change? Pawlenty was Emmer’s Bush. Minnesotans wanted change and the DFL tied Emmer to Pawlenty. Emmer talked of change but had the same problem when McCain talked of it.

Finally, the GOP and Emmer tried to use the national strategy at the state level. It worked with the legislative races, but not with the gubernatorial race so much. Sometimes cookie cutter strategies do not pan out.

The Horner Effect
How did Horner factor in? Whom did he hurt? I think he hurt Emmer more, but not for reasons most think.

I participated in a Republican Jewish forum about one week before the election. Sue Jeffers, Mitch Berg, and others were on the panel with me. When someone asked about whether they should worry about moderate GOPS such as Arnie Carlson, David Durenburger, and Al Quie endorsing Horner, Jeffers and others said let them go. They disparaged them as RINOs and were glad to see them go. Emmer and Sutton simply wrote off and ignored the old moderate Republicans, taking the Jim Demint tactic about ideological purity above coalition and victory.

The Horner press conference where many former GOP legislators endorsed him spoke also to that alienation they felt. Similarly, on November 5, I spoke to the Minneapolis Rotary club and lunched with one of my favorite former GOP state senators who expressed the same feeling–they were not wanted!

My point? Horner did not steal voters from Emmer. Emmer never went after them. Even if Emmer were not in the race I doubt Emmer would have gotten them. Either they would have stayed home or at best split with Dayton. But given Emmer’s lack of appeal to swings, Dayton’s victory might have been greater.

The Oberstar Effect
Oberstar lost because he ignored his district and took his victory for granted. It was like a page out of Edwin O’Connor’s "The Last Hurrah." One DFL precinct captain told me she never got a call from the Oberstar people. Additionally, the southern part of the 8th district is more conservative than the northern part and Oberstar was weak there, counting on the northern part to rescue him. It did not because he ignored it.

However, the Democrats on the Range are changing. They are perhaps becoming more of what used to be called Reagan Democrats. This is a concern for the DFL in the future.
Overall, had Oberstar run a better campaign and won Dayton might have done even better than he did.

A better than expected Dayton campaign, a horrible campaign from the right by Emmer, a national GOP anti-Obama surge, and a pathetic Oberstar campaign can account for much of the gubernatorial outcome. One need not invoke fraud or nefarious reasons to explain Dayton’s victory.

Last word
I predicted a 46% (Dayton), 43% (Emmer), and 12% (Horner) result. The final was tally as of today is 43.6%, 43.2%, and 11.9%. Judge for yourself how I did, especially compared to the pre-election polls!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Explaining Election 2010 Part I: Obama's Errors

Why did the Democrats lose on Tuesday? Explanations will range from the election being a referendum on Obama, Obamacare, and perhaps the economy. Pundits and politicians–both Democratic and Republican–will contend that Obama strayed too far to the left, now forcing him and his party to the right as they prepare for 2012.

Yet this explanation and strategy fails to capture the full scope of the errors committed by the Democrats. What were those errors? Simply put, he ignored the basic rules of politics that he appeared to understand so well in 2008.

The Narrative. At its most basic, politics is the power of a compelling narrative. It is a story that describes who you are and what you want to accomplish. The Democratic narrative for 2008 was simple–“Change.” Obama and the Democrats promised change, and that drove them to power. But they lacked a good narrative this year.

In a year where the economy still stunk, how did Obama defend his stimulus bill, financial reform, and health care changes? The narrative was simple: “It could have been worse (had we not acted).” Such a narrative hardly inspires voters or wins over swing voters, but that was their narrative. For the Republicans, their narrative was also simple–“change.” They appropriated the Democratic narrative and used it against them.

Leadership. Obama demonstrated a striking lack of leadership. He wanted health care and financial reform but he delegated the tasks to Congress. The same was true with global warming and other issues. Yet Obama failed to take ownership for the legislation, letting others drive the agenda, producing changes that were more pork than policy.

Timidity. Obama and the Democrats promised a lot, but delivered very little. They passed stimulus bills and financial reform, but their scope was muted. They were not bold but cropped, failing to really address the depth of economic and financial reforms that plagued the nation. Similarly, he proposed closing Gitmo and ending the war in Iraq. Neither really occurred. He did little to pressure Israel for peace. In many ways, the Obama Administration coopted itself into being less bold than it needed to be to effect change.

Siding with the banks. Consistently Obama got it wrong on the economy. He continued Bush’s TARP policy to bail out the banks. He again sided with them on foreclosure. He did not press them far enough on bonuses. Consistently he threw away the Democrat economic populist advantage. He looked to many that he favored banks over homeowners and workers.
Party Discipline. Can you imagine Lyndon Johnson pleading with a Ben Nelson to vote for financial reform? Obama could not even get his own party behind him to support policies he wanted.

Republicans. From day one the Republicans sought to sabotage Obama and the Democrats. Foolishly he tried to placate Republicans even though the latter were not bargaining in good faith. One or two tries to bargain with them should have demonstrated this futility.

Define or be defined. John Kerry is the poster child for swiftboating. Politics is about defining yourself and the opponent or be defined. Obama let himself and his policies get defined–such as Obamacare–and he never recovered from that, forcing Democrats into a defensive posture.

Rewarding friends. Winning campaigns is about building coalitions. It is also about rewarding supporters. To build a lasting coalition one has to reward supporters. Obama forgot this. Unions worked hard for him in '08 but he told them to wait on The Employee Free Choice Act. Gays and Lesbians wanted him to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but he also told them to wait. The middle class wanted jobs and economic help, he assisted the banks instead. At almost every critical point Obama alienated supporters by telling them to wait. As a result they abandoned him on Tuesday.

Modifying the Filibuster. Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate but acted like they were powerless. The filibuster rule meant Obama’s agenda was held hostage to the likes of Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu. The first act of the Senate should have been to repeal this rule.

All politics is national. Tip O’Neill once said all politics is local. Actually it is the reverse. National issues now drive local politics. This happened across the 50 states as local elections became referenda on Obama. Democrats in local races in 2006 and 2008 ran against Bush, this time Republicans did the same by running against Obama.

The roots of the Democratic demise go back to day one with Obama. There are many things he should have done differently but mostly it was to forget the basic rules of politics in 2010 that he appeared to understand so well in 2008.