There are several theories about those missing white voters, but the most plausible is that the ones who were undecideds or weak Republicans were deeply influenced by Obama’s relentless attacks on Romney in May, June, July and August. A steady stream of negative ads portrayed Romney as a heartless, out-of-touch rich guy, and Romney didn’t really fight back. The missing white voters didn’t like Obama but were also turned off by the Republican, so they stayed home. That’s the theory, at least; Republicans will know more when they actually interview lots of those nonvoters.

“Obama won Ohio because he did what Bush did in 2004 — surprised pundits by increasing turnout in his base,” says Mark Weaver, a veteran Ohio Republican strategist. “Also, by demonizing the undefined Romney, he tamped down Romney’s ability to motivate weak Republicans to turn out.”

What does all this have to do with a conservative cocoon? Not much. The missing voters certainly weren’t in the cocoon, and there’s no evidence the Romney campaign ignored those voters because conservative media told them the election was already in the bag. Just the opposite; Romney chased them hard.