Posted on | October 9, 2012 | 21 Comments
Until this week, only conservatives were calling attention to the Democrat/Republican/Indpendent distribution of poll samples, which were often showing skewed numbers that defied any rational expectation of what the 2012 electorate would look like.
In several polls, we saw Romney actually leading among independents, yet self-described Democrats were so overrepresented in the sample, Obama was still ahead — sometimes by margins that were quite literally incredible: There is no way Obama is going to win Ohio by 10 points, no matter what Quinnipiac says.
The panicked meltdown reaction by Obama supporters, now that polls are beginning to reflect reaction to last week’s debate beatdown, should have been expected, as Ace says:
So part of the extreme emotional deflation of people like Sullivan . . . is due to their having invented in their minds a conquering hero, an Eternal Champion . . .
And he’s never been that. He’s been a very average politician, whose only above-average skill is giving a scripted, TelePrompTed address to people who already support him.
So for people like Sullivan, this is a bit of a bitchslap to their entire fantasy worldview, the day they saw Obama As What He Is rather than What They Fantasized Him To Be.
And they’re shocked by this. They feel their psychical mooring-lines stretching to the break.
Yes, exactly. However — and I’m not just trying to one-up Ace here — a major part of the problem is that liberals were snuggled inside their media-provided cocoon of Conventional Wisdom. It wasn’t just deluded hysterics like Andrew Sullivan who had bought into counterfactual conceptions of the electoral landscape. Remember that during last month’s Democratic National Convention, I interviewed veteran Democrat campaign strategist Joe Trippi:
RSM: My thought is that this one — it’s gonna be about the debates. Do you feel that way?
TRIPPI: I don’t think so. I mean, if someone makes a mistake in the debates, that’s going to be pretty costly, but I think … once you get into this kind of a polarized campaign, what tends to happen is that each side’s folks watch and cheer their guy on, there aren’t a whole lot of undecideds left out there to move in a debate. So I’m one of those — I’m a contrarian. I don’t think the debates are really going to matter unless somebody gaffes.
Trippi didn’t expect the unexpected. No one expected a first debate so overwhelmingly in Romney’s favor as to completely re-set the election, but anyone who recalled how Romney ripped up Newt Gingrich in the Jacksonville, Florida, debate in January at least should have considered a Romney debate victory as possible.
So when the unexpected happened, those who weren’t psychologically braced for the impact found themselves stunned and disoriented. (Headline: “Police Called to Henry County GOP Headquarters After Man Attacks Romney Sign with Scissors.”) Compare the two experiences:
- Most conservatives have never been huge Romney fans, but were skeptical of pre-debate polls showing the Republican getting buried by Obama. This just didn’t make sense, and those of us who were labeled “poll denialists” by Jonathan Chait felt that the poll samples were demonstrably unrealistic. We were pleasantly surprised by Mitt’s strong debate performance.
- By contrast, most liberals were huge Obama fans, showed no skepticism toward the polls, did not take seriously the possibility that the samples were skewed, and were so shocked by the debate that their own reaction made Obama’s defeat seem even worse than it was.
Notice that John Podhoretz points to recent poll results, mostly favorable to Romney, as unreliable. This is a point that should not be ignored: Such extreme volatility and wide divergence in polls ought to teach us to take polls with a grain of salt. And this is just as true now that polls are showing good news for Romney: With four weeks remaining until Election Day, we still don’t know who will win, and even the good news — Romney gaining ground in Ohio — isn’t good enough that we can begin making plans to attend President Romney’s inauguration.
Still, we can smile at the weirdness inside the Obama campaign reported by Toby Harnden of the London Daily Mail: “David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, was stunned that the President left the stage feeling that he had won the debate.” Related: “The Traits of a Narcissist.”
It’s like the Global Warming “models” — they discount actual data which does not agree with their model. The Pew poll didn’t fit the model, so it’s plainly incorrect.
Silver’s predicted 25% chance of a Romney win is actually an improvement since Oct. 4, when he rated Romney’s chances at a measly 12.9% . It was his Sept. 8 forecast that had Romney at 20.2%, which prompted me to dismantle Silver’s assumptions at The American Spectator:
What reason is there to believe that Silver’s “Five Thirty Eight Forecast” has any predictive value? Or, better yet: What if its predictive value is entirely a function of its authority, as a self-fulfilling prophecy? If the poll expert at the most prestigious paper in the United States says that Romney’s campaign is doomed beyond all hope of redemption, isn’t it possible that this will have the effect of discouraging Republicans and influencing late-deciding “swing” voters to jump aboard the bandwagon of the Democrat candidate they believe to be a certain winner?
Silver clearly has begun hedging his bets. If Romney should eventually win, Silver will expect us to forget his previously misguided “forecasts,” insisting that he was merely reporting data.