Interpreting The Polls

Voting Booth. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

In the article posted an hour ago, I attempted to give a general rundown of the state of the midterm polling.  Those were hard numbers, albeit without a breakdown of their internals which might indicate bias or sway.

This is what I believe they mean.  But before I get to that, I need to make one thing clear.  Following the discrepancy between the exit polling and the final results of the Bush / Kerry election, there has been a willingness on all sides to disbelieve any negative polling and to believe all positive responses.  That is the position of a fool.  Overwhelmingly polling has been accurate; it is the interpretation of that polling which is often deceptive.  For the most obvious example, polling in 2016 indicated that Clinton was going to win overwhelmingly… and she did, the popular vote.  Where the polling failed was in extrapolating her outsized success in deeply Democrat states into wins in battleground states.  Those battleground states were reported as toss-ups, and the Democrats assumed they would win many of them because they refused to believe the polling that said that Trump was seeing great success among elderly and union voters.  It was arrogance and hubris which caused Democrat politicians to misread the closeness of the polls, not errors with the polls themselves.

The polls tell us things.  Most notably in recent polls, they tell us that the Kavanaugh nomination is a winning issue with the Republican base.  It has unified the base and energized them.  They either have no issue with the demeanor he showed during his testimony or they are actively pleased by it.  They may disbelieve Ford, or believe she was assaulted by someone other than Kavanaugh, or believe her but just not care to a level that they think it should disqualify Kavanaugh (the “he was just a teenager, that’s what teens are like” position).

The Democrats are not having their fervor reduced, but the Republicans are now matching them as the midterms approach.  It is not that there is suddenly greater approval of the President or of Congress, both of whose approval numbers are low.  Barring any such favorability, it is reasonable to seek a different reason, and that reason seems to me to be a unified hatred of the Democrats.

The Democrats did themselves no favors by announcing their intent to attack and delay any nominee of President Trump’s.  They were playing to their base in an effort to get donations and increase enthusiasm, and in so doing they reminded wavering Republicans that they were not a viable alternative.

For this reason, I expect Kavanaugh to be seated.  Ideally, those choices should be made based on the individual Senators’ belief in whether he is suited for the position, but realistically those choices are going to be political in nature.  This is nothing new; we have had people of low moral character or improper temperament on the bench before due to politics, and there is no reason to expect differently now even if some Senators believe the worst of Kavanaugh.

It also suggests that the “blue wave” which was seen in polling has dissipated proportionately to the time away from focusing on the mistreatment of border crossing children.  The Mueller investigation, while fascinating and the most successful special investigation ever if judged by prosecutions, convictions, and crimes revealed for time and money spent, is not particularly interesting to the independents. 

The midterms are still shaping up to be terrible for the Republicans.  The Republicans are at the best position they’ve been for a year, and they’re still projected to lose badly.  But the Democrats have been focusing on Kavanaugh – a winning topic for the Republicans with their base – rather than on events like Trump’s declaration of love for Kim Jong Un or the revelations that parents with stolen children at the border are still waiting to get their children returned.  This has helped, and is likely to continue helping, the Republicans.

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About AlienMotives 445 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.