Blog Archives

Could We Just Not Do This?

As I expected, the explanations on why the polls were wrong have already begun. As of this writing, the GOP has 217 confirmed House wins. I will just guess, given that there are still several races too close to call, that they will control.

That means the polls were right.

The polls were right about the Senate staying in Democratic hands. The polls were right about new governorships for us. The polls predicted we barely had/have a Chinaman’s chance at holding the House.

One can say that in a sense they were off, because of the margins they were suggesting that the GOP would win the House by were fairly high (though again, we do not know that yet).

But that still means they have probably called the winning party in each category-and ergo, all these amateur pollsters running around on social media who said the Democrats were going to win were even wronger even if their numbers were closer.

I like Seth Abramson, but this is kind of what you’ll be seeing as this week drags on:

Let me take this moment to say how much I loathe the term “narrative”. It is a Republican paranoid nonsense word, and lefties need to stop using it. But fuck it, let’s run with it-why did they drive this narrative…that is pretty much the question Abramson wants answered.

You won’t like some of the dumb armchair psychology being used to explain it. I’m too lazy to find you some examples( I promise I have seen plenty), but trust me when I say that, if I may, the “narrative” is that the pollsters, in collusion with the GOP, wanted to drive down turnout and discourage Democrats from bothering to vote.

I am hoping you realize how stupid that sounds. You may not. You may be stupid, stubborn, or conspiracy-minded, take your pick.

If anything, that will generally make your average Democratic voter more determined than ever to show up and show out. We hear we are on the wrong end of a battle, we wake up and do shit. I don’t know who is profiling us as gloomy mopers who give up the minute they hear about troop strength on the other side, but this is a bullshit “insight” into the Democratic mindset.

And us showing up was exactly what the fuck happened. So indeed, if there was any plan to depress turnout in the manner Abramson is suggesting, it backfired wildly and was a really dumb plan. We fucking took it to them on Election Day. We were never not going to, regardless of what the polls and the media were saying. Democratic voters had the signal and weren’t listening to the noise. We saw the Christian fascism coming over the hill and we said NO. Maybe he’s referring to a possible attempt to shape independent minds, but that is a fool’s game because independents are stupid and you never know what they are going to do no matter what feedbag they choose.

Stop listening to the polls, you say? Stop listening to the people who say stop listening to the polls. More data is better than less, and if you really need to drill down on a poll because its numbers seem hard to believe, the methodology is out there.

Hate To Say They Told You So

On Wednesday, I mounted a minor defense of the polling industry. I did so because I looked around and found them wanting, but I have to say, I found unprofessional people with hunches even wronger.

As the number of R-flipped seats in the House continues to climb, we are approaching poll prediction territory. It is still not anywhere near a rout, but once all is said and done there will probably be enough for that dipshit McCarthy to claim a mandate.

Disbelieving polls to me is like disbelieving in science; once you stop listening, you are doing nothing but alchemy and falling back on faith when you predict. Every skeptically minded person should watch, listen and let the professionals do their work. People on social media keep screaming in caps “STOP LISTENING TO THE POLLS!!!!” not because they are wrong, but because they are not being told what they want to hear. Thoughtless people completely forget things like margins of error-that’s a pollster’s admission that based on their sample size, there’s a good chance of wobble one way or another.

I have a short, simple message as we wrap up the counts for people to consider next time we do this.

Follow the polls with a watchful, curious mind-also, follow the news and consider what that might do to the numbers. Understand that there is a strange mushy middle that breaks one way or the other the day of the election. But do not get into the forecasting business unless you have the requisite credentials to do so. I’m just telling you for you own good, and hopefully your friends will forget the dumb uninformed calls you made and not wonder what else you might be wrong about.

Waiting For The Miracle

Democrats have had to scale their ambitions back many times in these last few months. In the summer, most of us felt confident that we would pick up the two Senate seats necessary so we could tell Sinema and Manchin to pound sand with their obstructionism. It appeared that the GOP was in disarray. We laughed at a future where a brainless dork like Kevin McCarthy would wield the gavel in the House.

Then the polls started to shift in a really bad way. We self-soothed and said “polls don’t matter”. Liberals used tons of hopium, making wild predictions instead about a blue wave. By election night, everyone else was predicting a red slaughterfest.

That did not happen, as far as can be told on this morning after Election Day. Democrats have gained governorships, picked up a Senate seat, and have only lost three House seats, not enough to lose control. As we go through the next few days, we shall see where the battle lines really are.

But there’s one undeniable fact: this midterm is a serious anomaly. In general, the party in power gets pasted for this issue or that issue. Republicans in 2022 hammered upon kitchen table and pocketbook issues, seizing on inflation numbers, debt, gas prices and blaming them on Democrats. With so many peoples’ economic lives as tough as they are, this no doubt resonated with many folk. But it wasn’t enough.

What Republicans could not cover up was January 6th, 2021 and June 24, 2022. Two days that will go down in history: the day a spurned, miserable president conspired to upend an honest election he lost by any means necessary, and the day women were no longer protected by federal guidelines on when they are able to exercise reproductive freedom. And for once, it seems that a majority, albeit a small one, miraculously did not forget when they went to vote.

Those twin atrocities warped the prediction of this election quite badly- and we’re going to be sick from all the mea culpas and explanations for weeks after on how awfully everyone, and I do mean everyone, blew the call on this one.

Many people are going to continue to conclude that this is the evidence that shows polling is a relic, now that we live in an age where everyone screens their calls, barely uses landlines, and frequently communicates to most by text on their cells. Often I see things like, “Well I have never been contacted by a poller, so who are they polling. Is it really happening?” Look, dummies. It’s a nation of hundreds of millions of people. That you have not been selected to participate in a 700 person survey is not surprising. Myself, I have been polled once, and admittedly, it was a long time ago. But people want to know who is picking up their phones and answering these surveys, and often it is blamed on the older set, who may not be as technologically savvy as the rest of us. Maybe that’s true, maybe not. You would have to drill down on the demographics of any given poll, and I would assume, if any poll conducted was only answered by a certain set of people, that polling organization would scrap that poll and try again until they got one that did a better job of taking even samples in a number of categories.

Here’s the deal; we have to realize that history moves through us and events will change the way damn near anything goes, and it does so very often without our permission. All that we can do is react in the best way we can to survive and perhaps flourish. So far, the right amount of people have done just that. I know no god, I shall not pray-having voted, all I can do now is watch what everyone else who still believes in democracy did.

Taint By Numbers

Numbers usually don’t lie, unless the math is bad. But mostly numbers tell less lies than words do.

In the early hours of November 9, 2016, we began digging a shallow grave for the science of polling. Everybody who was somebody in the polling industry around that time was dead wrong about who was going to win the presidency. Some hedged a little, but pretty much everyone got caught with their ass out.

Donald Trump, who desperately needs vindication because he’s really insecure, crowed and crowed that He beat the odds. And ever since his statistically unlikely win, he has waged a war on information and analysis whether it is in the form of numbers or words. His charisma, or whatever the hell you want to call what he exudes, will always win the day over pesky facts and figures.

Before I go further on that, I should point out that there’s history of this marginalization of information. The right wing has been pushing the bullshit line that most polling is “liberal” for a long time now. The same goes for news. They shit on unfavorable information with abandon, cooking up all kinds of lunatic paranoid scenarios instead- but aren’t ashamed at all to point wildly to the always-wrong evil media hydra when their biases are suddenly seemingly confirmed by it. For a good recent example, there’s Chris Matthews, who is considered a lying fake libtard “MSM” shill-except this time he said something they want to be true. He said after the Comey testimony that Trump/Russia died because of it (an opinion), even though Comey could not answer in an open session as to whether or not Trump/Russia was a thing. As you can see from the link, conservatives fell all over themselves getting that sentence out to its readers, context and setting be damned. The filter for right wing information is very thick, but the transmission of information favorable to the right wing that does dribble out has an incredible velocity. For a minute there Chris Matthews had more cred with you than Karl fucking Rove.

Chris went back to being a paid hack liar etc. right after that utterance, I’m sure.

Frankly, if you ask the vast majority of liberals, you’ll find that Chris Matthews holds little currency among us. It certainly isn’t the first time he’s said something really tone deaf or off base. Wake me up when Rachel Maddow, a much more agile thinker, says something like this.

OK. With that in mind, stand back. I’m gonna say something positive about Donald Trump. No, that’s not the word I’m looking for. Something that is kind of the opposite of not-nice but not nice either.

Oh, to hell with it. Here goes:

Donald Trump is a fucking idiot.

But he’s a cunning fucking idiot. He knows you, and quite well, conservatives. Donald Trump isn’t aware of a whole lot, but one thing he does know is how to get your gears grinding. And like a demagogic Rumpelstiltskin he spins your ignorance and resentments into adulation for him, which Trump is now so addicted to that he’s still throwing victory rallies after seven months and you dumb clucks keep going to them. They’re nothing but ersatz call-and-response revivals with Donald Trump playing the smiling, confident good shepherd, reliving the magic of his miracle win.

Anyway, you all thought his long shot win was the death knell for the lying pollsters and dishonest lib journalism. Trump’s win was your wish fulfillment, after talking yourself silly for decades about how you couldn’t trust anything that Rush Limbaugh hadn’t cleared. Finally, the polls and the seasoned pundits were wrong and you were right.

Well, no one is right all the time. And it’s not really a poll’s job to be “right”, anyway. It’s there to show likely outcomes based on a sampling of the population. There was always a possibility that Trump could make the electoral math work, albeit a slim one. No one denied this. Shit, Michael Moore doesn’t know fuckall about polling but he nailed the election. Yet this was your moment to gloat that the pointy-headed intellectuals blew a call. And now Trump is telling you that after Him they will never be right again.

I wouldn’t count on that, but enjoy the sunshine while it’s on your side of the street.

It is true that at least the polling industry was knocked back on its heels real fucking hard, and it’s going to take more than a few prominent examples of correct prediction and careful information collection to show that the Trump triumph was just an outlier several standard deviations away from most of the predictions and that it’s OK to trust the information gatherers are going to get it just about right. Which is realistically all you can ask of it. It will face its first high profile, post-November test in ten days here in my state of Georgia, where Democrat Jon Ossoff appears to be beating Karen Handel in a district that Handel should win. Should be interesting.

Postscript

I would be remiss if I did not emphasize the role of the Comey Bomb on the 2016 race, which scrambled the hell out of everything. I just had my carpet cleaned yesterday, and the cleaner had no shortage of disdain for President Trump so we had a fun discussion. But he didn’t vote, because he felt the re-emergence of the email investigation right before the election was evidence to him that Clinton was crooked. How he came to feel that way is part of another essay, one that I do not have the patience or perhaps the stomach to write just yet.

%d bloggers like this: