What If All the Polls, Pundits, and Predictions Are Wrong?

by Sal on November 4, 2008

in Election 2008,Politics

Keeping the Polls / Pundits / Predictions all in Perspective.  Interesting reading, if anecdotal.  Some hope on this election day.

I am not running for President. You, the gentle reader, are not running for President. The only two people who are running for President, Obama and McCain, are going to states and sending advertising money to other states that don’t even match the public polls. For example, Pennsylvania is colored a ‘dark blue’, yet both Obama and McCain are visiting the state. ‘Dark blue’ or ‘light blue’ is the color of Iowa, yet both Obama and McCain are there. Many polls say that Georgia is a ‘toss-up’, yet neither Obama or McCain are visiting that state. Since the only two people running for President are performing actions entirely differently than the public polling, one can either say that the presidential candidates are just running around states randomly and are dumb, or it is the possibility that the public polling is not accurate.  From my perspective, it has been sheer comedy watching pundits and observers attempt to ‘rationalize’ the candidates’ visits to states the public polls say are not in play. When McCain and Palin hip hop across Pennsylvania, is it because the public polls are wrong? NO! It is because McCain is doing a ‘hail mary’ strategy to launch all efforts on Pennsylvania in order to win it as a last ditch effort to save his campaign. What about Obama visiting Pennsylvania, is it a suggestion the public polls are wrong? NO! It is because Obama is only going there to respond to McCain and clean up whatever mess he makes. What about when McCain went to New Hampshire? Could it be the polls were not the reality on the ground? NO! It is because McCain is senile. So how does this explain Palin going to Iowa which is considered a ‘lock’ to Obama by polling? Could the polls be wrong and that it may be more competitive than we thought? NO! The only possible answer is that Palin had gone completely rouge and is going to Iowa to jumpstart here 2012 presidential campaign (this ‘rationale’ was so hysterical I actually spit coffee on my monitor. The idea of the VP candidate deciding to run off to Iowa to start his/her own presidential campaign is hilarious in itself). But why is Obama going to Iowa then? Could it, possibly, be the polls in that state are more competitive than we think? NOOOO. The reason why Obama is going to Iowa is to make up for his trip to grandma, and as a pitstop before he goes trick-or-treating with his kid (I kid you not! People actually think this). When McCain goes off to Maine, they are going to run out of excuses as they have already used the ‘insane candidate’ one.  One thing that is very different about this election is the omnipresence of polls and how polls are the axis around all political analysis is conducted. This has never been the case in previous elections. Real political analysts (meaning not hacks or unprofessional pundits), use historical trends, demographic data, and other ‘truths’ of past elections. Much of this cannot be translated into a chart or graph. It is a myth that analysis is done via math or graphs or computer models. The original economists, for example, used only words and essays. Political analysis is not about math. Political analysis is about people. To analyze politics, you must be able to analyze people. In other words, the poet and novelist becomes the political analyst, not the mathematician and software engineer. Politics is all about people.


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