If you were watching CNN this morning, you may have seen Bernie Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, citing a new Reuters poll that he claims shows Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton by 6 points. My first reaction to any poll is to go look at the methodology and the full results. My graduate degree was in communications research. I found the following, which was quite odd and had no explanation.
What in the hell is the category “wouldn’t vote?” I’ve heard of undecided before, but wouldn’t vote? I attempted to dig down in the numbers but could only play around with the filters that let you look at demographic information. Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter had something on this and the fishy results…
Notice that just below the chart, there’s a series of drop-down menus where you can select various demographic filters to narrow the results of the poll. If you choose the standard parameters normally applied in respectable polling results from the “Political” menu, specifically party affiliation and voter registration status, Reuters shows an almost-tied race, with Hillary narrowly leading Bernie.
In other words, among registered Democrats, Hillary is winning by a couple tenths of a percentage point. Still good news for Bernie to be this close.
But here’s where the everything falls apart for Bernie supporters. If we choose the most accurate sample from the Political drop-down menu, specifically “likely Democratic primary voters,” Hillary leads by seven points. Again, it’s less positive news for Bernie and his supporters, but it’s still noteworthy that he’s closed such a wide gap against Hillary. That said, it’s obviously not the runaway shock poll some sites are ballyhooing today.
Personally, I like to use FiveThirtyEight.com for my polling fixes. Whenever I see a breathless reporter or anchor pushing results of a “new poll”, I head over to Nate’s place and see what he has. If you don’t know about Nate, Google him, he knows what he is doing.
What I found at FiveThirtyEight.com was a bit different than the Reuters poll. Nate’s site lead me to the latest NBC News poll which has Clinton leading Sanders by 9 points.
Data from the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll conducted online from Feb 15-21 shows that nationally, Clinton maintains a double-digit lead over Sanders among black voters — 65 percent to 22 percent. She also maintains her overall national lead 51 percent to 40 percent.
I am still determined to find the full results of the Reuters poll, but my attempts so far have turned up nothing. That is suspicious to me, if a firm hides their methodology, it is a major red flag. I’m off to Google some more.
“You don’t need people’s opinions on a fact…”
Guest post by Smartypants
What’s frustrating in reading all this nonsense is that it seems that very few people pay any attention to history these days – even the more recent variety. Because if they did, they’d know that the Democrats had their own populist movement not that long ago. And the real question is whether or not we can sustain it on a national level going in to the 2016 presidential election.
To set the stage, we have to go back to what led up to the Reagan/Bush years. For the best description of how that happened, I’d suggest that folks read what Peter Beinart wrote about it a couple of years ago. To summarize, coming out of the left-wing hey-day of the 60’s, Democrats got their butts kicked for 20 years in presidential elections – with the one exception being the Carter years that were a direct result of Nixon’s Watergate. Here’s what the Republicans did:
1972 – 520 electoral votes (49 states)
1980 – 489 electoral votes (44 states)
1984 – 525 electoral votes (49 states)
1988 – 426 electoral votes (40 states)
As you might imagine, Democrats were scared shitless that their future as a national party was over (things looked even worse for them than they currently do for Republicans these days). And so, a group of mostly Southern Democrats got together and formed the Democratic Leadership Council in 1985. Their goal was to shift the Democratic Party more towards “centrist” policies. But perhaps more importantly, they felt the need to attract more big money donors to the Democratic Party in order to compete with Republicans.
The result of these efforts was the election of Clinton/Gore (both founders of the DLC) in 1992. Perhaps since the Democrats were still fairly new to this whole business of big money donors, Clinton/Gore got off to a rocky start that resulted in a whole string of scandals about campaign finance. In case you’re forgotten about all that, just think “Lincoln bedroom.”
To connect this with the current race for VA governor, it was during Clinton’s presidency that he installed Terry McAulliffe (big donor fundraiser extraordinaire) as the head of the Democratic Party. That’s why you see the Clinton’s campaigning so hard in his election – their connection to McAuliffe is deep.
One of the first Democrats to speak out against this capture of the party by the DLC was Paul Wellstone; it was the context for the line that was eventually adopted by Howard Dean: “I represent the democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”
And then came Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004. Anyone who actually paid attention knows that – other than his anti Iraq war position – Dean was no flaming liberal. But his bottom-up anti-establishment campaign was a direct challenge to what the DLC and the Clinton’s had built – especially in their reliance on big money.
As a full-blown Deaniac at the time, I watched the Clinton machine go after Howard Dean – as ferociously (perhaps moreso) than the Republicans did. And that became even more evident after Dean lost the presidential primary to John Kerry and went on to out-maneuver them to become Chair of the Democratic Party following Kerry’s loss to Bush.
As you probably know, Dean instituted a 50-state strategy, which was an attempt to build up the party to be competitive in all 50 states. Rather than the party elites picking candidates, Dean wanted them to come from the grassroots. And even after his success in the 2006 elections, the Clinton machine brought out the knives against him. You can read about some of that here. But perhaps the crux of it came when James Carville said that Dean should be fired and replaced with…get this…Harold Ford (then DLC Chair).
All of that is what set the stage for a lot of the acrimony that surfaced between the Obama and Clinton campaigns in 2008. From the beginning, Barack Obama made it clear that he was not a member of the DLC and instead built his campaign on a new and improved version of Howard Dean’s bottom-up grassroots model. While Clinton continued to rely on big money donors, Obama showed that the presidency could be won by harnessing the power of millions of small donors – shattering the whole DLC model.
Via that primary and a win in November 2008, President Obama offered a way out of establishment big money politics. That is why I’ll be watching what happens in 2016. Can we find a way to preserve what Obama has done after he’s gone? Has Hillary Clinton learned anything from her defeat and her time with the President in the White House? Or will her candidacy take us back to the top-down big money model of the (now-defunct) DLC? And finally, if Clinton demonstrates that she hasn’t changed, is there someone who can pick up the mantle from Obama and continue his legacy?
If people really paid attention to our not-too-distant past, those are the questions we’d be asking.
The first thing I want to say with regards to the apparent deal that was struck between the hostage takers and those representing the victims is that any “liberal” pundit or blogger who encouraged voters to stay home in 2010 – SHUT THE FUCK UP! I don’t even want to hear your fucking whining. It is your fault that the goddamn Republicans were given the power to fuck us all over so much.
The next thing I want to say is THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA for taking on the toughest job in the world in 2008. It’s a thankless job trying to clean up after the biggest fucking failure of a president we’ve ever had in George W. Bush. But of course no one could have imagined that the Republicans would throw every obstacle they could find in your path, including the kitchen sink.
For people like Paul Krugman who characterize every compromise with the hostage takers, the terrorist Republicans, the obstinate children in the Tea Party as a “cave-in” — grow the fuck up already. Wipe off your snotty nose, suck it up and help us fight those motherfuckers in 2012. If you don’t wake up and realize that Republicans are playing you like a cheap fiddle, you don’t deserve to represent liberals. We don’t need crying, whining babies, we need people who will stand up and fight. Now pull up your Underoos and get to work.
For the general public who hasn’t paid attention, let me break down what just happened for you.
- Republicans created this crisis by demanding massive spending cuts to programs primarily for poor people — OR ELSE — they would wreck the economy for everyone.
- Republicans began their propaganda campaign to attempt to blame the national debt on President Obama and the Democrats, when we all know that the Republicans spent like drunken sailors and gave massive tax breaks to the top 1% of the population during President George W. Bush’s term.
- The Professional Left in their immaturity and “emoprog-ness” began weeping into their Kool-aid and wetting themselves because it became clear that they weren’t going to get their utopian, idealistic way…they ended up prostrate on the floor, kicking and screaming and acting like fucking children.
- President Obama in an effort to stave off a complete meltdown of our economy kept his cool and pushed for a compromise — a deal with those devils to prevent the impending doom.
- Many of these Republicans hostage takers voted for every damn penny that President Bush spent on two unnecessary – off budget wars, the unfunded Medicare Part D and the unpaid-for trillions in tax cuts to the wealthiest 1% who haven’t invested a fucking penny of that money in America, but are hiding it overseas where they don’t have to pay any goddamn taxes on it — thanks to President Bush.
- So President Obama, being the president of all people and a responsible, sane person — continued to try to reach a deal to simply prevent us from plunging into another recession and possibly a depression. A compromise had to be reached, there was no other option. It didn’t have to be this way either. In 2010, Tea Party Republicans were sent to Washington in large part because of an effort by people like Ed Schultz, Arianna Huffington and others to suppress Democratic voters. They, of course, are the loudest voices whining about having to deal with those assholes AND IT IS THEIR OWN FUCKING FAULT that we are in this mess.
- And now we have wasted almost the entire summer dealing with this Republican created crisis – this hostage taking. And not only did they distract everyone from the real problems we are facing like joblessness, but they also succeeded in getting the whiny “emoprogs” to lose their shit about it. All in all, the Republicans had a great summer at the expense of the rest of us.
The reaction from many on the Professional Left is to blame the victim. President Obama had to deal with an unprecedented hostage situation that has never occurred in the history of our country, yet some of these people want to blame him for HAVING to compromise with these hostage takers. They all lament the fact that President Obama dealt with the GOP, yet not one of them offered a solution that would get us out of this hostage situation; not one idea about how we realistically get out of the mess.
I know the whining and crying is just beginning on the left, so I’m preparing myself for it. I’ve already heard and seen the whiners push the idea of fucking it all up even worse by running someone in a primary against President Obama. It doesn’t surprise me, these people are just as stupid as the Tea Party – they are just sipping lattes instead of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
UPDATED: No offense to either latte or PBR drinkers, I like a good latte myself…now PBR, not so much. But hey, whatever gets you a buzz. :)
I’ve seen this story in several places and felt the need to add my two-cents — maybe three. The Christian Science Monitor is the original source for the story that is titled “Gallup’s chief puzzled by Obama’s poll numbers”.
I’ll get to why I think the President has consistent poll numbers in the face of a slowly growing economy and many other issues that plague our country in the wake of 8 years of mismanagement. But first, I want to point out some disturbing trends in the media and amongst polling firms.
The mere fact that Frank Newton of Gallup would be puzzled by any poll number raises the question, why? Does he really think that the political world, or the world in general, operates in a pattern where it really doesn’t matter who the individual players are or what they say or do, it should just follow a predetermined pattern. I guess it’s the problem with statisticians in general. They use numbers to help order their worlds and depersonalize things so it is easier for them to understand. When you actually deal with real people and personalities, it isn’t quite as easy for them to understand.
Here is a passage from the CSM piece that illustrates this…
Looking at history, particularly Clinton and Reagan, it is somewhat surprising that [Obama] has never yet fallen into the 30 percent range in our approval rating,” Newport said. “And yet both Reagan and Clinton, in their first terms when the economy was perceived as bad … both fell into the 30s.”
I guess I need to point out to Frank that President Obama is not Clinton or Reagan and it is currently 2011, not the 80’s or 90’s.
The tendency to force everything that happens today into a model from the past is a common phenomenon. I’m my younger days of self discovery, I read a “philosopher” named J. Krishnamurti who wrote extensively on this idea. One of the things he said was that all thought is based on the past, it is formed from our memories and the mind filters everything through what it has known before and therefore it isn’t new. He encouraged people to live in the moment, and learn to listen with a still mind. I highly recommend his readings and lectures, if you Google J. Krishnamurti, you will find a lot of information about him and there are many Youtube clips of him speaking.
Back to the numbers game in politics! One of the worst offenders is Chuck Todd of NBC/MSNBC. The man lives for his numbers and especially the “horse-race” numbers. It may be that he perceives them as being impartial. We often here the phrase, numbers don’t lie. When I hear that phrase, my instinct is to say, “yeah, they are fucking numbers, how the fuck can they lie”. What that phrase accomplishes when uttered is to present the numbers as being impartial, as if the interpretation or spin of them doesn’t matter, because they don’t lie. It’s very similar to the phrase “the fact of the matter is” which is then followed by person’s interpretation of the “fact”.
Click Read More for the rest of the post!
H/T to Bob Cesca – The Awesome Dude!
The media and their overlords, the Republican Party have been attempting with great success to tell a false narrative about President Obama and the popularity of his policies and him. I would also add that they were aided and abetted by the “firebaggers”, Jane Hamsher and her gang, Glenn Greenwald and his hatred and Arianna Huffington and her empire. They seem to be peddling the idea that the President and his policies aren’t very popular and candidates are running away from him. I don’t doubt that some of the candidates have bought into the narrative, they certainly don’t want to be seen as going against anything the big ole’ media says. But the reality is that since the president has been on the stump, the tide is turning for Democrats. And contrary to what Hamsher says, he is firing up the base and progressive voters, what she calls hectoring. This story from The Raw Story shows exactly why this narrative is false, a piece from it below…
Despite negative economic forecasts and all the rue predicted for Democrats in November, President Obama’s approval rating is actually faring better than Presidents Reagan and Clinton at this point in their terms, according to an analysis of data provided by the Gallup polling organization.In a survey of approximately 1,500 adults nation-wide, Gallup said on Oct. 6 that Obama’s approval rating was 48 percent. By comparison, Bill Clinton, the previous Democrat to reside in the White House, had a 42 percent approval rating at the same time in his presidency.
Republican icon Ronald Reagan, similarly, had an approval rating hovering around 42 percent at this time in his presidency, thanks to the country’s languishing economy which was largely credited for a Republican loss of 28 House seats in 1982.
Now if you’ve read my blog before, you know I don’t put a ton of stock in polls in general, especially when they try to predict what voters will do many months out. But shouldn’t that poll be a big story, PRESIDENT OBAMA MORE POPULAR THAN CLINTON AND REAGAN. I’m sure the Huffington Post has that blazing headline across their banner, right? They don’t? You’re kidding me right? I don’t understand.
So if you turn on the cable news channels and just see what meme they are pushing on any given day, it surely doesn’t reflect the reality of what is going on in our country. They have a narrative they have started and they are doing all they can to make it stay around, the truth be damned. Another factoid from that Raw Story piece…
Though Republican victories are largely anticipated in the media, a recent National Journal poll found that public approval ratings of GOP congressional leaders are actually lower than those for Democrats.
Now, how many times are you going to hear that today on MSNBC or CNN or FOX? Zero! Oh, it might get a mention as a throw away line, but chances are that won’t even happen. Instead we will hear how “people are hurting”…”where are the jobs”….”people are angry”….which may all be true, but according to polls, people aren’t blaming it all on President Obama. Sure, you will have a certain percentage of people who will instinctively blame the opposite party of the one they belong to, it’s a natural instinct. But I talk to a lot of people every day, granted they are mostly liberal….college kids and professors….but this is supposedly the group that is so angry at the President if you listen to the likes of Hamsher and Greenwald. I’m not hearing it. These people don’t even know who the fuck Jane Hamsher is. If they do, they usually say something like…”yea, what is her problem.”
This false narrative started almost immediately when the president was elected. Republicans were very blatant about their tactics to stop anything President Obama tried. The media bought and sold the Republican line like the corporate shills they are. The firebaggers jumped on board very soon too, fueled by their anger over the primaries and the belief that they alone will prove to those 53% who voted for President Obama that they were all wrong. But what keeps me going every day is the knowledge that each one of those media folks has only one vote. Conventional wisdom doesn’t vote. If I ever need to be reminded how the media plays the game, all I have to do is look back at the media’s anointing of President Hillary Clinton back in 2007 and the first part of 2008.
It’s kind of funny, in a sick way, that a week ago when Gallup had the generic Republicans 10 points up, the media was all over it telling us how this tidal wave was going to sweep Democrats out. Just one week later, Gallup suddenly has it all tied up and where are all the stories telling us about the Democrats resurgence. A ten point swing is pretty big, but crickets. Liberal media, my ass. From Steve Benen….
SO MUCH FOR THE GREAT GALLUP FREAK-OUT…. Last week, Gallup’s generic-ballot tracking poll showed Republicans leading Democrats by 10, 51% to 41%. It was billed as the GOP’s biggest Gallup lead in the history of humanity, and the results generated massive media attention, including a stand-alone Washington Post piece on page A2. It was iron-clad evidence, we were told, of impending Democratic doom.
What’s more annoying, though, is the media double-standard. After the vast news coverage last week’s Gallup numbers received, it’s striking to see how little outlets care this week. I’m still looking for the headline that reads “Resurgent Dems close gap against GOP” in a major daily, but can’t seem to find it.
Indeed, take Chris Cillizza, for example. Last week, the Gallup generic ballot was the lead story in his “Morning Fix” column, and he devoted more than 500 words to the results. Today, Cillizza’s “Morning Fix” column doesn’t mention the new Gallup results at all.
When the media culture decides poll results that Republicans like are more newsworthy than results Democrats like, there’s a problem.