The Other McCain

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Expect the Unexpected: Why Liberals Suddenly Melted Down After the Debate

Posted on | October 9, 2012 | 21 Comments

Da Tech Guy points out that the latest Pew poll has caused the Washington Post‘s Jon Cohen to join the ranks of “poll denialists.”

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.”

UPDATE: Ace ripped up Nate Silver on Twitter with such thorough brutality, he got his own Twitchy post out of it, but you still should read his blog post about Silver’s “forecasting model”:

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.

 


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Comments

  • Zimriel

    ” Obama suPPPorters”

    I see what you did there

  • htowt

    Take a look at the details from the ARG polling:
    http://americanresearchgroup.com/pres2012/NA12.html
    What’s interesting is the undecided voters in the two groups, old versus younger voters. The 50+ group has 1% undecided voters while the 18 to 49 group has 5% undecided voters.
    All we need to do is watch what happens to those 5% undecided 18 to 49-year olds and we will know how this election will turn out!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Stan25 Stan Brewer

    Most of those 18-49 people are not very happy campers with the Team Obama. They are the ones that have the huge college loans that can’t be paid back, because they don’t have any jobs. I don’t see Team Obama helping them out anymore than, they have helped out anyone else. As matter of fact, the 18-49s are the worse off than the rest of the groups, because they were mostly just starting out. The 50+ group is the best off because most of them are nearing retirement and have a bit socked away.

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  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I am enjoying the Schadenfreude as much as the next red blooded American. I especially liked the Sullivan meltdown. I hope Ryan beats Biden like a baby harp seal this week. I hope Romney does the same with Obama in the next two debates and then goes on to win by a blow out victory…

    But before you get too excited: This. Race. Is. Not. Over. The Dems will be waiting to pull every dirty trick they can. I know it is intoxicating to get swept up in this, but a few polls do not a race make (who told me that polls only have limited value anyway…hmmmm).

    Rather than gloating over the polls, let’s keep hitting Obama and Biden on the merits. It is facts that are kryptonite to Obama’s superman, not polls.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    And it is obvious that even Excitable Andrew’s “candle in a hot car on a hot August afternoon moment,” was really more about Andrew coming back later to announce Obama as the amazing come back kid. In short, keep fighting on and hopefully we can gloat November 7.

  • JeffS

    …Silver will expect us to forget his previously misguided “forecasts,” insisting that he was merely reporting data.

    “Misguided” is too kind by half. Although I concede that “manufactured” is unprovable.

    Perhaps “clearly biased”?

  • Wombat_socho

    Young Mr. Silver really needs to quit this politics gig and go back to writing about baseball. He was good at that.

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  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    I think most of the surge isn’t from true undecideds or Obama supporters switching to Romney. Mitt was already leading in reported enthusiasm, the gap itself being under-reported as Obama support is disproportionate made up of single women, poor people, and young voters – three groups that tend to easily get discouraged with politics. But many diehard conservative independents hadn’t come home to Romney until the debate or at least after our embassies were attacked; they are now.

    A few undecideds are moving to Romney and a few borderline Obama supporters are now undecided. This is how a preference cascade begins. It ain’t over by a long shot, but Obama has to turn the tide back soon or he will be reduced to a Hail Mary play like bombing Iran, which he probably would never do even if they had nukes on missiles on the launch pads.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    The left has had no viable ideas since the ’60s, not that those ideas proved viable in the long term, as we are now discovering. People like Josh Marshall, Ezra Klein, and Nate Silver are people who can spin unfavorable facts and bad policy to make it sound good enough to sell. They are neither especially talented nor trustworthy except as con artists of a low order.

  • http://www.BR-549.com Junior Samples

    This race is nowhere near over! I’m sending Romney/Ryan another $100. Who’s with me?
    https://www.mittromney.com/donate

  • Adobe_Walls

    If all pollsters are experiencing what PEW is, they’ll all have to rethink their methods. Only 9% of contacts being willing to talk pollsters and over 50% refusing makes that 9% it’s own little subset of the public. While it may be difficult to get those refusing to explain why they refuse, one assumes the 9% would be willing explain why they’ll to talk to pollsters.

  • Quartermaster

    When it comes to the polls there is nothing to gloat over. None can be trusted and the only one that counts is conducted on the Second Tuesday in November.
    If Mittens wins that one (which I still doubt and truly hope I’m wrong), then gloating will be in order as we watch the Dems queue up behind Sullivan to buy their one way ticket to Venezuela.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    -I said last week that I thought he might go with bombing Iran, but as I’ve thought more about it, I now think that would be too much for him. Perhaps a few missile launches into Al-Qaeda training camps where the attackers were trained.

    -One of the most under-reported stories, I think, is how the events we’ve seen in the Middle East are just the kind of thing that brings conservative independents back to the GOP.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    He’s got enough money to see him through: give your cash to House and Senate candidates.

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  • scarymatt

    Hmm…how good would his baseball stuff be if some official score keepers started falsifying the official statistics? Or if he could only sample official statistics instead of having it all available?

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    The left has had no viable ideas since the French crowned Napoleon and Karl Marx proved he didn’t know enough arithmetic to run a vegetable stand.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    we have troops on the Jordanian border with Syria now.

  • Wombat_socho

    I’m sure the analogy hasn’t occurred to him, but it sure has to me.