11/22/16

This is the seventh in a long series of separate posts discussing many aspects of the 2016 elections. It, in itself, will be split into two parts. This part will cover the Polls and Pundits. The next part will cover the Media.

Wow, what a spectacular debacle, what can I even say?

The Polls

My disdain and distrust of polls is a matter of record in this blog many times. I admit that the results of the 2012 elections left me flabbergasted, as I was pretty confident that the pollsters were getting it wrong and they got it right. In retrospect I think it is more the fact that even a broken watch shows the correct time twice a day than a fundamental validation of polls.

In my posting of October 6th, “The Failure of Leadership and the Cocoon of the Elites,” I recounted 5 events where polls proved to be badly wrong over the last few years. This one is the 6th and, of course, has huge consequences and, as such, is reverberating all over the world. Getting one poll right (2012) out of seven is not a good record or a validation for an industry that purports to be “scientific” and in which hundreds of millions of dollars are invested.

Pollsters’ usual excuse for getting things wrong is that polls are a snapshot in time and therefore they tell you what the situation is, say, a day before the elections but if voters shift at the last day, then that is your problem.

This time they came up with a slightly different excuse: it was the margin of errors. Every poll has a margin of error of usually about +/- 3.5%, sometime 4.5%. That means that the range of error here is 7-9 %. That is a relatively new excuse as, since 2000, we have operations like Real Clear Politics who aggregate and average polls. The idea is that if you aggregate all the credible polls, you neutralize the margin of error as not all polls will err the same way and, thus, one poll with a margin of error towards one candidate will be neutralized by another poll with a margin of error in favor of the other candidate. It obviously did not work this time, nor in many of the other times addressed in my above-mentioned posting.

The question is, if the polls are not capable of providing any predictive quality for the election’s result—be it because of late changes (excuse #1) or margin of error (excuse #2)—why the #@!& do we NEED them at all?

The flood of polls that we are being faced with by media outlets that see it as a rating driver simply serve to brainwash us. Even I, who continuously rants against polls, was assuming that Clinton would win. In my heart of hearts I thought that Trump must have had a chance (as my above mentioned posting says) but it was very hard and required a lot of courage to face this torrent of polls stating otherwise to still believe in the Trump chance, let alone be willing to say it out loud. I recommend media outlets stop spending money on polls and stop “selling” them to us as news. It is a casino, at best, misleading and corrosive at worst.

The real issue with the polls is that elections are won by such a small number of voters (see the 2nd posting in this series, “The Actual Results”) that there is simply no way the polls can predict it.

If the results of the 2016 elections could have been swayed by changing the votes of about 170,000 voters out of 130,000,000, how would ANY poll be able to be that accurate? It is impossible and that is the rule, not the exception. In 2012 it was 215,000 votes out of 129,000,000 that made the difference and in 2000? 1,000 votes; ONE thousand out of more 100,000,000.

There is simply no way polls can really predict the outcome. It is a game of roulette or flipping a coin; it is time to consign the culture of polls to the ash heap of history. Enough about those.

Pundits

My favorite people… The stupidity and arrogance (generally they go hand in hand) of the vast majority of these talking heads can drive me nuts. The examples during pre-elections of pundits getting things wrong are so many and are spread all over the media that it is impossible to even begin to give examples. Suffice it to say that they fall exactly where I suggested they might in my above-mentioned post referencing the elites. Having said that, the arrogance-related stupidity of the vast majority of this class of people simply astounds me. They are so impervious in their own world and their own belief that it is an inherently incurable situation. Or, as Hillary Clinton likes to say, they are irredeemable.

I would have thought that the shock of the elections’ results would give this class a pause, generate some retrospective analysis and result in at least some of them recognizing that maybe, just maybe, they are the ones who are wrong. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort occurred. The same pundit class is again at it; again basically blaming the voters for getting it wrong, blaming the voters for not “understanding” or worse, being “deplorable” (Clinton-speak for racists, and all other kinds of phobias and “-ISTS” stuff). At times, they fall on the usual default option for Democrats and Progressives, faulting themselves for not being able to “explain” and get “their message” across. To be clear, they are always right; the option of them being wrong simply does not exist. It is just that they failed to explain to us, the simple-minded masses, how wrong we are and how much we simply have to accept their worldview because it is so morally superior and always wise. It is so frustrating.

I have not heard even ONE of these stupid arrogant people even get CLOSE to suggesting that maybe it was the fact that their views, agenda, message are wrong; that their prescription, their proposed way is not working and that THEY are wrong as opposed to the “middle class,” “blue collar,” “non-college educated”—all kinds of patronizing names that they use for people who “got it wrong” and voted for the other side.

One glaring example for the post-election “retrospection” is Tom Friedman’s appearance on Bill Maher few days ago. Tom Friedman is supposedly a very respectable columnist at the NYT. As it happens, I think that he is a pompous ass whose reputation far exceeds his real worth as a pundit. One of my first ever postings on this blog, “Tom Friedman, ‘Resident Expert,’” was dedicated to him. At the end of that post I wrote:

“ … stop making yourselves out to be experts because you are not. Have humility because although experts you are not, mistakes you make and quite a few…”

He obviously did not get my message…

So, in his appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher after the elections, the great “expert” had three things to say to explain what happened:

  1. ALL Trump voters are racist. It was clearly a joke. What he was saying on a serious level was that there is a sizable element of racists among Trump’s voters. But even as a joke it was one in bad taste. It got worse when the crowd responded with a hearty loud lough. Very funny…
  2. What happened at the election is a “moral 9/11” inflicted on us by us… Really?
  3. But the worst of his comments was the following: Trump voters (clearly indicating that he means all of them) are “unmoored.” He very helpfully added by way of explanation, “not unhinged but unmoored.”

So there you have it, all you 60,000,000 Trump voters. Clinton called 50% of you irredeemable, deplorable and the other 50% she intimated are dead-enders. And here comes the clever, redoubtable Tom Friedman of NYT fame (and I am sure with many Pulitzer prizes to his name), who is really helping you and being gentle to you by suggesting that you simply lost your mooring, that is all. All is good and all is fine in the land of the elites. It is you who lost it.

Makes me want to puke.

The arrogance of these people knows no bounds. I do believe that their goals are good, positive goals. They do want to make America and the world a better place. I totally believe that. But so do I, and so do my fellow conservatives, and so do 99.9999% of people who voted for Trump (and, by the way, there is a fraction of those who voted for Clinton that are as “deplorable” as that similar minute fraction of Trump voters that really are deplorable).

I do maintain that the elites are proposing the wrong method to get to our shared goals. I do believe that their methods of getting there have proven to fail. But I am more than willing to accept that maybe some of what I believe in is not right, is not correct, not the best possible way forward. I am certainly open to discussion, debate and sometime to test other ways.

But I do not for one second concede the compassionate, moral, ethical ground to this arrogant bunch just because they say so.

The problem is that they are so sure of their superiority that they are refusing to believe that we actually want the same thing—to make the world a better place—and, therefore, if we want to get there in a different way than their prescribed way, we are not possibly wrong, we are absolutely evil. No question, no doubt.

That is the prerogative of the arrogant ideologist, not the practical way to resolve issues and move forward.