“The Coming Post-Election GOP Freak Out”: For Republicans, Any Turn Of Bad Luck Or Unwanted Results Is A Conspiracy
What’s the state of mind this weekend of the conservative outrage machine? With regard to liberals, I think it’s fair to say as of Saturday that most of us (excepting your allowed-for percentage of nervous nellies) expect Barack Obama to win. If he somehow doesn’t, we’ll be surprised and deeply depressed. But provided the outcome doesn’t involve some kind of Florida-style shenanigans, in a couple days’ time, we’ll come to terms with it.
Meanwhile–conservatives? I think that they are certain that Mitt Romney will win and that all information to the contrary is a pack of lies; that they will be completely shocked and outraged if he doesn’t; that, if he loses, it will be the inevitable product of foul play; and that therefore they’ll immediately start scouring the landscape looking for parties to blame and will keep themselves in a state suspended agitation for…days, weeks, four years, forever. Which wouldn’t matter to the rest of us but for the fact that they’ll continue to have the power to screw up the country.
The conservatives I read, and certainly my conservative commenters, just can’t wait for Tuesday, when the American people will arise out of their torpor and finally send Obama to the dugout. I’m continually struck–nay, impressed, even–by the iron certainty with which they say this, and by their unswerving ability to pluck out the favorable polls (getting fewer and farther between, incidentally) and throw a bucket of ice-cold water on the ones they don’t like.
Objective reality says Obama is ahead. But to conservatives, there’s always something wrong in objective-reality land, always a reason to claim that the world is in fact spinning in the opposite direction. Quinnipiac has too many Democrats! PPP is a Democratic firm! This one oversampled blacks, that one Latinos. And of course, these objections are never merely just stated. They’re the rhetorical equivalent of dirty nuclear bombs. Conservatives on Twitter howl derisively at these polls as if their purveyors are offering alchemical cures for venereal disease.
We’re all prey to “confirmation bias,” as Paul Waldman called it in his American Prospect column Friday. We look at the polls that we know will be more likely to show the result we want to see. With Republicans, that has meant Rasmussen, obviously, and Gallup. With liberals it has meant…well, virtually every other polling operation under God’s golden sun, more often than not, because the simple fact remains that Obama has led in most polls for a year, nationwide and statewide.
But there’s confirmation bias, and there’s denial. Pennsylvania is up for grabs? If you say so, wingosphere. But Obama’s led in 53 straight polls there, journalist Eric Boehlert tweeted yesterday. In the last two days we’ve seen about 20 different state polls. Obama led in 18. If my guy were on the business end of results like those, I’d be psychologically preparing myself.
Which, indeed, I am anyway. You never really know. The mess in Eastern Pennsylvania could, maybe, so discourage turnout in the Obama-friendliest areas of the state he could lose. Fifty-three straight polls, and 18 out of 20, could be wrong. That many polls have never been that wrong before, but I guess there’s a first time for everything. (Please don’t mention 1948, wingers–comparing polling then to polling today is like comparing a ’48 Plymouth to a new Lexus.)
You never really know. Most liberals acknowledge this simple reality. But wingers seem to know, or think they know. Of course they don’t know, and deep down they know that they don’t know, which must be a kind of psychological torture to them, and so they compensate for having to endure that torture by putting up that front of absolute certainty, which in turn brings its own rewards whatever the result. Their guy wins, they get to say, “Ha! I knew it all along.” Their guy loses, they get to be outraged and blame the blacks, the media, the pollsters, Nate Silver. In a weird sort of way I suspect many of them prefer the latter outcome.
Yes, it’s strange. And it’s made all the stranger because I would imagine that outside the political realm, most conservatives are pretty reasonable people who accept outcomes just like the rest of us. If their team loses the Super Bowl, or their kid’s project doesn’t win the science fair, or even if they get passed over for that promotion, most conservatives surely are unhappy, as anyone would be, but they fundamentally accept the legitimacy of the outcome.
But not in politics. In the political realm, we have this hate machine, this massive propaganda apparatus, that tells conservatives that any turn of bad luck is not merely bad luck but the result of a conspiracy that society has hatched against them. Thus, Mitt Romney–whom conservatives used to hate, before they were forced to embrace him–has made no mistakes on the campaign trail. The furor over the 47 percent remarks, the two debate losses, and much else–these aren’t signs of his misjudgment or fallibility. To conservatives, they’re all part of the broader plot against him, and more importantly against them.
And so, when you look at the world that way, the conspiracy never dies, the rope never stops spinning. If Obama wins, the excuses will start coming; the excuses will mushroom quickly into reasons why the victory was illegitimate; illegitimacy thus “established,” the next mission is to oppose Obama at every turn with even greater fervor. Any political means necessary to stop or even remove him will become justified. It’s all as predictable as a goose sh*tting. And if Obama does win, it will start Wednesday morning. What am I saying? I meant Tuesday night.
By: MIchael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, November 4, 2012
The latest Pew Research Center poll shows Mitt Romney ahead of President Barack Obama among likely voters, 49% to 45%. But the latest Gallup poll shows the President Obama leading Romney among likely voters, 50% to 45%.
What gives? The Pew poll covered the days immediately following last Wednesday’s presidential debate. It didn’t include last weekend. The Gallup poll, by contrast, included the weekend — after September’s jobs report showed unemployment down to 7.8 percent for the first time in more than three years.
So it’s fair to conclude the bump the President received from the jobs report bump made up for the bump Romney got from the debate. No surprise that voters care more about jobs than they do about debate performance.
But don’t be misled. The race has tightened up.
Moreover, polls of “likely voters” are notoriously imprecise because they reflect everyone who says they’re likely to vote – including those who hope to but won’t, as well as those who won’t but don’t want to admit it.
Remember: The biggest party in America is neither Democrats nor Republicans. It’s the party of non-voters — a group that outnumbers the other two.
So the real question is which set of potential supporters is more motivated on Election Day (or via absentee ballot) to bother to vote.
The biggest motivator in this election isn’t enthusiasm about either of the candidates. The Republican base has never particularly liked Romney, and many Democrats have been disappointed in Obama.
The biggest motivator is fear of the other guy.
There’s clear reason for Democrats and Independents to fear Romney and Ryan — their reverse Robin-Hood budgets that take from the poor and middle class and reward the rich; their determination to do away with Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Dodd-Frank constraints on Wall Street, and ObamaCare; their opposition to abortion even after rape or incest, and rejection of equal marriage rights; their support for “profiling” immigrants; and their disdain of the “47 percent,” to name a few.
And the thought of the next Supreme Court justices being picked by someone who thinks corporations are people should strike horror in the mind of any thinking American.
Yet Romney is such a chameleon that in last Wednesday’s debate he appeared to disavow everything he’s stood for, hide many of his former positions, and even sound somewhat moderate.
Meanwhile, for four years the GOP and its auxiliaries in Fox News and yell radio have told terrible lies about our president – charging he wasn’t born in America, he’s a socialist, he doesn’t share American values. They’ve disdained and disrespected President Obama in ways no modern president has had to endure.
They’re drummed up fear in a public battered by an economic crisis Republicans largely created, while hiding George W. Bush so we won’t be reminded. And they’ve channeled that fear toward President Obama and even to the central institutions of our democracy, casting his administration and our government as the enemy.
They’ve apparently convinced almost half of America of their lies – including many who would suffer most under Romney and Ryan.
Republicans are well practiced in the politics of fear and the logistics the big lie. The challenge for Obama and Biden and for the rest of us over the next four weeks is to counter their fearsome lies with the truth.
By: Robert Reich, Robert Reich Blog, October 9, 2012
What a fantastic last two weeks these have been. I don’t even mean Barack Obama solidifying his lead over Mitt Romney, although that’s perfectly fine. No, I mean the near-mathematically perfect joy of watching these smug and contemptible creatures of the right dodge and swerve and make excuses and, most of all, whine. There is no joy in the kingdom of man so great as the joy of seeing bullies and hucksters laid low, and watching people who have arrogantly spent years assuming they were right about the world living to see all those haughty assumptions die before their eyes. Watching them squirm is more fun than watching Romney and Paul Ryan flail away.
I loved the initial reaction to the famous videotape. Problem? Are you kidding? This is just what we’ve been waiting for! This will help Romney, it was said; finally, we have Mitt unchained, Mitt raw, Mitt the truth-teller. Now he can just charge out there and do more of this, and in no time the nation will be putty in our hands! And just you wait for the next polls.
Well, the polls have started to come, and they portend total disaster. Americans don’t turn out to like a heartlessly cruel Social Darwinian articulation of the national condition that by the way calls half the population worthless. Huh. Go figure.
But is this a problem? Of course not! There is an explanation for this too: The polls are wrong! All of them. Except of course Rasmussen, that rock of right-minded methodological certitude jutting out from the ocean of relativist corruption. I’d like a nickel but would settle happily for a penny for every tweet I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks from a conservative braying about a given poll’s sample.
There are loads of them but the gold medalist of this event by far is Dick Morris, who sits there on the Fox set like a betumored walrus on an ice floe assuring his viewers not to worry. His riff to Sean Hannity Monday night, a night when everyone else saw that Obama’s lead was getting comfortable-to-the-point-of-insurmountable, is worth quoting at some length: “[Romney] is at the moment in a very strong position. I believe if the election were held today Romney would win by four or five points. I believe he would carry Florida, Ohio, Virginia. I believe he would carry Nevada. I believe he would carry Pennsylvania.” Even Hannity at this point interjected, “Oh, come on.” But on Morris went. He knew of a private poll in Pennsylvania, “by a group that I’ve hired in the past,” that had Romney two points behind.
“People need to understand,” he continued, “that the polling this year is the worst it’s ever been. Because this is the first election where if I tell you who’s gonna vote, I can tell you how you’re gonna vote.” He went on to say that polls are assuming a six- or seven-point Democratic edge, and he assumes a three-point edge.
First of all, what was the Democratic edge in 2008? Uh, seven points. Second, while he is correct that the polls are showing strong Democratic advantages, they’re doing so because that’s how people are identifying themselves to pollsters. In fact, Stan Greenberg noted last Friday, Republicans lost five points in voter identification in a month. This is not bad poll sampling. It’s reality. And while it’s true that today’s numbers might overstate what will be the case on Nov. 6, the way things are going, they just might be understating them.
But no—now, the mere fact of poll-taking is “a subtle means of Republican voter suppression,” as Simon Maloy put it over at Media Matters. And the latest whine—this cupboard somehow never runs bare—is that conservatives don’t like taking polls. So said Scott Walker to Fox on Wednesday. Yes, of course! Because conservatives are people of action, busy people, who have neither the time (like the indolent 47 percenters) nor the inclination to accept phone calls from lamestream media pollsters. Honestly. Scott Walker can’t really believe this.
And finally, the last refuge of these scoundrels, bashing the librul media. Did you catch Rush Limbaugh’s pathetic rant on Tuesday after the famous blown interception call? Packer fans should just shake it off, he said, because the true aggrieved party is conservatives: “We’re lied about every day. The media gets it wrong on purpose against us every day. Now, I think it’s a good analogy.”
It’s a ridiculous analogy, and it’s not lies with which Limbaugh and Morris and their ilk are now coming face-to-face. It’s the truth. Americans like Barack Obama. They don’t like Mitt Romney. They really don’t like Paul Ryan. And they don’t want any part of the ideology of callousness and make-believe facts and pigheaded warmongering—and economic crisis and big deficits and all of that—that the Republicans are peddling. Of course these people will never come to terms with all that. But right now, boys, you’re running out of targets, and excuses.
By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 27, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns at D’Evelyn High School in Denver, Colorado over the weekend.
Once it became clear that President Obama received a significant bounce from the Democratic National Convention, the next question was whether this bounce would translate to an enduring advantage for his campaign.
On Friday, polls from National Journal and Reason magazine gave Obama a seven-point lead over Mitt Romney, 50–43 and 52–45, respectively. Saturday was a quiet day for national polling, but Sunday saw the release of two tracking polls by Rasmussen and Gallup. Rasmussen was unchanged from the last few days; Romney and Obama remain tied with 46 percent support, though Obama’s job approval has ticked down: 48 percent approve, 50 percent disapprove.
Obama began last week in a similar position with Gallup, but both his approval—and performance against Romney—improved in yesterday’s tracking poll. He now earns 48 percent support to Romney’s 46 percent, and has a job approval rating of 51 percent, with 43 percent disapproval. This morning, a set of national polls from Zogby and Politico/George Washington University show Obama with a decisive lead in the race. The Politico poll finds Obama leading Romney by 3 points among likely voters, 50 percent to 47 percent, while Zogby has Obama up 8, 49 percent to 41 percent.
These results should be considered with polls released last week—from NBC News and the Pew Research Center—that show Obama above 50 percent against Mitt Romney. Relative to his post-convention bounce, Obama’s position has declined, but overall, he’s unquestionably stronger than he was before the conventions. Here is a chart to illustrate the general change over the last three weeks.
As you can see, Obama’s position has sloped downwards since the beginning of last week, but Romney’s has also declined, leaving them in the same rough position.
If there’s an upside for Romney, it’s that Gallup and Rasmussen show a neck-and-neck race. But that’s the extent of the positive news for the former Massachusetts governor. Indeed, if we move our attention to state-level polling, the picture looks even worse for the Republican nominee. In the most critical state for Romney, Florida, his position has deteriorated. Public Policy Polling gives Obama a four-point lead in Florida, while Mason-Dixon puts him ahead by 1 percent. If you’re unwilling to put Florida in the “leans Obama” column—on account of Romney’s one-point lead in Friday’s Purple Strategies survey—then the most you can say is that Florida is a toss-up that tilts in Obama’s favor.
There’s no way in which this isn’t terrible news for Romney. Without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, there is no way for him to reach 270 without winning two states from the “leans Obama” column, like Wisconsin and Michigan. At most, he gets 256 electoral votes—and that’s if he wins every other swing state on the map.
Here’s where Romney stands: He consistently trails Obama, hasn’t held a lead in national polls, and is nearly five points way from the 50-percent mark in most polling averages. His support is collapsing among core demographics like older voters, and he has lost his advantage on the economy. Doubling-down on conservative positions might build enthusiasm among his base, but it won’t help him catch up with Obama; both sides are winning the vast majority of their respective partisans and partisan leaners.
In other words, unless Romney can win undecideds and convert Obama voters, he simply doesn’t have a path to the victory.
By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, September 24, 2012
Back in 2009, Michele Bachmann told an interviewer that she was refusing to answer any questions on the census form other than how many people lived in her household. It seems this passionate advocate of the Constitution as sacred text found Article 1, Section 2 incompatible with her small-government ideology. But that’s the problem with seeing things through such narrow blinkers: when you are convinced that every question in public debate has but a single answer (“Government is bad!”), then your answers to some ordinary questions can become absurd.
So it was when the House of Representatives, a body now seemingly devoted to seeking out new ways to make itself look stupid when it isn’t pushing the country toward economic calamity, recently voted to undermine the American Community Survey, a supplement to the decennial census. The ACS gathers information on many different measures of Americans’ lives, providing valuable data that demographers, historians, and all manner of social scientists use to understand our nation and its people. Because the ACS is far larger than ordinary public opinion polls, it provides highly reliable data that are also used by government itself and by private industry. So how could something like that become politicized? How could any congressional Republican, no matter how stupid, possibly come to see it as some kind of liberal plot or wasteful boondoggle? Catherine Rampell of The New York Times explains (forgive the long excerpt; it’s a good explanation):
This survey of American households has been around in some form since 1850, either as a longer version of or a richer supplement to the basic decennial census. It tells Americans how poor we are, how rich we are, who is suffering, who is thriving, where people work, what kind of training people need to get jobs, what languages people speak, who uses food stamps, who has access to health care, and so on.
It is, more or less, the country’s primary check for determining how well the government is doing — and in fact what the government will be doing. The survey’s findings help determine how over $400 billion in government funds is distributed each year.
But last week, the Republican-led House voted to eliminate the survey altogether, on the grounds that the government should not be butting its nose into Americans’ homes. “This is a program that intrudes on people’s lives, just like the Environmental Protection Agency or the bank regulators,” said Daniel Webster, a first-term Republican congressman from Florida who sponsored the relevant legislation.
“We’re spending $70 per person to fill this out. That’s just not cost effective,” he continued, “especially since in the end this is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey.”
In fact, the randomness of the survey is precisely what makes the survey scientific, statistical experts say.
Each year the Census Bureau polls a representative, randomized sample of about three million American households about demographics, habits, languages spoken, occupation, housing and various other categories. The resulting numbers are released without identifying individuals, and offer current demographic portraits of even the country’s tiniest communities.
It is the largest (and only) data set of its kind and is used across the federal government in formulas that determine how much funding states and communities get for things like education and public health.
I don’t for a minute think that John Boehner has been gunning for the ACS for years, or that the entire Republican caucus feels passionately about it one way or the other. But in the House today, all it takes is one simpleton of a first-term Tea Party congressman to bring this up, and the rest of them say, “Gee, I don’t want to vote for government! Because government is bad!” So they go along. All but ten House Republicans voted for Webster’s amendment, and Rand Paul has a companion bill in the Senate. What a fine display of leadership and responsible governing.
And about Webster saying the ACS “is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey,” a bit of explanation is in order. When you say a survey is “random,” it means the respondents are selected randomly, meaning everyone in the population has an equal chance of being in the sample. That’s what makes a sample unbiased, as opposed to, say, interviewing only men or only people in California, which would be non-random surveys. Surveys have to be random, except under some very carefully defined circumstances, in order to allow you to extrapolate to a larger population. But what obviously happened is that Webster saw something about the sample being “random,” and said, “What?!? It’s just some random survey? What the hell? Let’s kill this thing!” And here’s where it’s really disheartening. From that point forward–as he wrote his bill, convinced his colleagues, and saw it passed through the House–nobody clued him in to the first thing about how surveys work in general or how this survey works in particular. Nor, obviously, did he try to find out for himself. Because who cares?
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, May 20, 2012