The Other McCain

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

Polls: Self-Fulfilling Prophecies?

Posted on | September 26, 2012 | 12 Comments

By the time you read this, I expect to be on the road to the Columbus suburb of Westerville, where Mitt Romney will have a rally with a special guest, golf legend (and Ohio native) Jack Nicklaus. Doors open at 6 a.m. for the event that begins at 8 a.m. and a recent poll shows 47 percent of readers believe I’ll be driving 90 mph to get there.

Why should we care what the polls say? Why has second-guessing polls become such an obsession of Republicans in recent weeks? That’s a main theme of my American Spectator column today:

Nearly 4,000 people turned out Tuesday to cheer Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan at an airport rally here, their numbers and enthusiasm contradicting polls that show President Obama leading by a wide margin in the Buckeye State. This contradiction inspired me to conduct my own poll, although my methodology might not have been entirely scientific: I walked up to the crowd behind the barricade and shouted, “Does anybody here believe the polls?” The crowd shouted back in unison: “No!”
Perhaps my survey wasn’t based on a random sample, but I’m pretty certain of the conclusion: Republicans here are profoundly skeptical of polls indicating Obama on the verge of walking away with Ohio’s 18 Electoral College votes. Nor is this skepticism limited to Ohio. A Web site devoted to examining sources of bias in polls,, has become increasingly popular among Republicans. The site’s proprietor Dean Chambers echoes many in pointing out how “the weighting and/or sampling of Democrats, Republicans and independents in each survey” can produce numbers wildly at variance with the likely results on Election Day. Many of the polls that show large advantages for Obama also show a “skew” in party identification toward Democrats – over-representing them compared to their numbers in previous elections — which can be “enough to make the results unreliable,” as Ed Morrissey of says.
What causes conservatives to complain about these skewed polls is that so many journalists seem more interested in covering the polls than in reporting about the actual campaign. This produces headlines and TV coverage that seem intentionally designed to demoralize Republicans and persuade undecided “swing” voters — who have a tendency to vote for the candidate they perceive as the likely winner — to support Obama. The polls which most favor Obama, including a Washington Post poll released yesterday that showed Obama leading by 8 points, get hyped by the media and are incorporated into a pre-fabricated media narrative that depicts Romney as hapless, ineffective and “out of touch.” That such poll-driven coverage could function as a self-fulfilling prophecy — in fact creating the result it pretends to predict — is an increasing worry for conservatives. . . .

Please read the whole thing.


12 Responses to “Polls: Self-Fulfilling Prophecies?”

  1. smitty
    September 26th, 2012 @ 7:20 am

    Think of the arc of the political debate as the trail of some kind of missile, and the polls as a control surface.
    The media commies are trying to steer matters, but the whole thing moves within the jet stream of the internet.

  2. Bob Belvedere
    September 26th, 2012 @ 8:09 am

    At 1215, there’s an event featuring Willard and Mike Rowe, of Dirty Jobs. Hope you get to that one and interview Mr. Rowe.

  3. Adjoran
    September 26th, 2012 @ 8:58 am

    The latest meme is that “just because we have an evenly divided electorate doesn’t mean every poll sample has to be 50-50.”

    Of course, as Jim Geraghty pointed out, no one on our side has suggested anything of the sort. Instead we question that samples show a BIGGER Dem edge than the wave year of 2008 and that the advantage is ALWAYS to the Democrats.

    If it’s chance, the principle of maximum randomness would suggest that at least some of the polls would come up with a sample that favored Republicans. Name one.

    Cizilla and other leftist drones are setting up their straw men and lighting matches. May they have the same success of that Pakistani rage guy from a few years ago who tried to burn a US flag and set himself ablaze.

  4. Adjoran
    September 26th, 2012 @ 9:10 am

    I was going to say, “It isn’t exactly rocket science,” but I guess it kinda is . . .

  5. Joe
    September 26th, 2012 @ 10:00 am

    Really, you deride French freedom of expression as hedonism but defend limitless American freedom of speech? Seriously, dude, you can’t have it both ways.

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    September 26th, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

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  8. James Knauer
    September 26th, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

    Have you considered people simply do not want to identify themselves with the failed GOP? At what point does a bandwagon effect kick in?

    No one likes a loser, and after Mitt Romney Does Dinner Theater came out, hoo-waa, Good Night, Nurse!

  9. Adjoran
    September 26th, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

    Seriously, you believe the electorate is MORE Democratic now than in 2008, after four years of stagnation, falling incomes, high unemployment, and fiscal mismanagement? You are evidently as stupid as you appear to be.

  10. James Knauer
    September 26th, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    That’s not what I said at all. Please re-read my post with your good Walgreens glasses. The GOP brand is finished, as constructed, so when asked, a lot of people who may be conservative may respond they are no way affiliated with such a demonstrable failure.

    That does not make them democrats. Just as Carter created Reagan Democrats, do not be surprised if Obama makes a few Obama Republicans. No one likes a loser.

    And Romney/Ryan is a sure loser.

  11. Adjoran
    September 27th, 2012 @ 8:55 am

    The only sure thing is that you are a moron leftist.

    Do come back election night to gloat, Chomsky – I’ll be around.

  12. Adjoran
    September 27th, 2012 @ 8:56 am

    You can go home now, they’ve got your cage cleaned out.