The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Please Take Your Poll Numbers and Stick Them Where the Sun Don’t Shine

Posted on | October 21, 2010 | 10 Comments

Having previously discussed combat psychology, let me extend the discussion by saying this:

Stop telling me about damned poll numbers!

One of the basic things about fighting is, once the fight starts, you forget about the odds of victory. If the odds are in your favor, paying too much attention to poll numbers will only encourage hubristic overconfidence. Conversely, if the odds are against you, an obsession with poll numbers can only lead to the inertia and apathy of defeatism.

Always fight as hard as you can. Never let up so long as the fight continues. Fight as if your life depended on the outcome. Do all in your power to achieve victory, for success seldom comes except by an all-out effort, and great odds can only be overcome through relentless focus on the task at hand, without consideration of the likelihood of success.

If winning were easy, everyone would be a winner.

Polls can be a useful tool in politics. But those who live by the poll, die by the poll. I’ve seen campaigns win when all the polls predicted their defeat, and I’ve seen campaigns lose when the polls predicted they would win easily.

At this point in the mid-term campaign — less than two weeks before Election Day — I only want to see poll numbers if the numbers tell me that a Republican underdog is gaining ground on a supposedly “safe” Democratic incumbent, or if the numbers confirm that a vulnerable Democrat is on his way to well-deserved defeat.

Everything else is just a damned distraction from the fight at this point in the campaign, I’m as tired of overconfident Pollyannas as I am of Eeyore worrywarts.

Polls are not predictions, and poll numbers are no substitute for the hard work of campaigning. If you were to ask me to give a sober assessment of the odds that Sean Bielat, Ruth McClung, Charles Lollar, John Dennis, Mattie Fein or Ray McKinney could win, honesty would require me to tell you they’ve all got exactly two chances, and I think I just saw Slim catch a taxi to the train station.

On the other hand, I never thought Scott Brown would actually win until the confetti started flying at the Park Plaza.

Charlie Cook, Karl Rove, Michael Barone, Nate Silver, Dick Morris — there are plenty of political psychics out there reading the tea leaves and communing with the Mystic Spirits of the Great Beyond in search of the prophetic truth. My crystal ball has been broken for years. I’m just the carnival barker at this gypsy sideshow and I’m not in the fortune-telling business myself.

All I know is that if we wake up Nov. 3 saying, “Senator-elect Christine O’Donnell,” somebody owes me a cold Corona. Otherwise, a certain eminent pundit will be drinking at my expense.

So stop telling me about the poll numbers, people, and just concentrate on the fight.


10 Responses to “Please Take Your Poll Numbers and Stick Them Where the Sun Don’t Shine”

  1. Mysterian1729
    October 21st, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

    in any event, I lie to pollsters.

  2. Tennwriter
    October 22nd, 2010 @ 1:22 am

    Perhaps, but the certainty that this is making an impression on the RINOs is also of use. Sometimes you have to be crazy in order to get the corrupt to change.