This podcast was recorded on March 13, 2013. I’ve been a very bad podcast poster and deserve to be scolded by someone. In this episode we talk about Rand Paul’s filibuster that brought out support from the faux-left, those who conveniently ignore Rand’s crazy ideas about such things as the Civil Rights Act. We also talk about Chez Pazienza’s great article that caused David Sirota to lose his mind and attack Goldie Taylor for tweeting it. He shouldn’t have done that, as I’m sure he learned very quickly. We round things out by talking about how the media uses and abuses polls. Give a listen. More episodes coming soon…
If you are tired of watching pundits playing “both sides” and revealing their conservative biases, check out our little podcast where we say it like it is and delve into topics you won’t hear anywhere else. Listen, enjoy!
(Note from Extreme Liberal: As regular readers know, I think horse race polls this far out from an election are silly. But having said that, sometimes you just have to play along with the rest of the media who live by them.)
As much as the boobirds take any temporary drop in Obama’s numbers as proof he is in deep trouble, he continues to lead all GOP challengers. He leads Romney 46-43 percent among likely voters. He leads Perry 50-38 and the currently surging Herman Cain 49-37.
He also is doing very well with women with a 49-41 lead with women against Romney, 53-36 against Perry and 53-32 against Cain.
While the naysayers belabor his 44 percent approval rating, the large majorities that are concerned about the direction the country is going in and the economy, what they always ignore is Obama is personally liked by the public. I’ve pointed this out to FDLers who scoffed that this could be relevant, but what they fail to consider is how close likability is to trust or at least think of it this way: if you like someone you probably have a decent level of trust for him or at least think his heart is in the right place.
The numbers clearly show why the Republican party establishment quite desperately prefers Romney, he is clearly the only one who has a prayer of winning. Yet he still hasn’t put the primary race away. This is the latest the GOP has been open since Wendell Willkie. Normally the party would know who its candidate is by now. Yet the establishment is struggling. Cain is currently leading the field yet he trails Obama by the most. Rush Limbaugh attacked Romney this week as not a conservative-about as damning as it gets- pointing out that 70 percent of the GOP field is not interested in Romney.
It was a poll of all my friends and family and in my mind, has just as much validity as any of the major news organizations and their latest sampling of 700 – 1000 people. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m not a reactionary person for the most part. I’m usually the one urging calmness in the face of hysteria and stepping back to look at the big picture. Well here I go again.
To me the biggest story from the weekend was the former Republican staffer who retired from the GOP and wrote a blistering piece about the lunacy in the Republican Party. It was all over the left blogosphere and Twitter. A lot of truth in the piece, along with a lot of bullshit about the Democratic party too, remember, he was a loyal Republican so we have to take what he says about Democrats with a grain of salt.
I haven’t been watching the cable meme generators lately, but I don’t imagine that was the big story as far as they were concerned. I noticed the Twitter banter this morning that showed that the latest polls are what is generating the meme today. I’ve noticed recently that whenever there is a story that is negative to the Republicans or positive to the President, a new poll emerges and the subject is changed pretty quickly. Coincidence, or maybe just too many damn polls for lazy journalists to fall back on. The process is so much easier to cover than say, actual issues.
Knowing a little bit about election polling and having tracked them for several decades, I’m not getting myself worked up over the latest polls or any future ones for that matter. Maybe when we get close to the election, when the electorate is actually thinking about the election, then maybe I’ll go over to Nate Silver’s blog and see what the numbers say. But until then, you all keep chasing your tails, I have better things to do with my time.
The last thing I’ll say about polls in this post is that the media just loves to pin the entire right track/wrong track number on the sitting president. I think that is bullshit, especially in the partisan times we are living in. The scorched earth politics from the right and even some on the left these days, may turn everyone off to politics and bring everyone’s poll numbers down. After all, that’s what scorched earth politics is all about. But when it comes time for people to pull a lever for who they want to represent them, there won’t be an option labeled “they all suck” and I’m confident President Obama and the Democrats will come out on top — because the craziness from the right doesn’t seem to be letting up. Yeeeee hawwwwww!
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!
I’ve posted many times about polls on this blog, having some schooling in the subject. Now the pollsters are polling about polls.
And if you missed our awesome President on 60 minutes, JM Ashby put it up here to watch. You really should watch it, much more reliable than the media filters.
All the discussion about Hillary in that Situation Room photo, well, how about we just remove her from the picture like this newspaper did.
I totally agree with this, why doesn’t Andrew Breitbart just get a job already.
Wow, is Bill Maher trying to get attention using a racial slur and stereotype?
Check out some more great photos from the parade and protest in Benton Harbor, Michigan on Saturday.
And last, but not least, what fun would a Monday be without calling out Glenn Greenwald on his bullshit?
I’m sure most of you have heard about Newsweek’s citizenship test that they gave to a thousand Americans where 38% of them failed it. There were many stunning results, well stunning if you ever believed that the vast majority of our citizens were well informed. I wouldn’t call them all dumb, because ignorance is not necessarily “dumbness” in my opinion. There is a lot of room for education to take a role in changing those numbers, but of course, the Republican governors trying to prevent that from happening. Here are some of the results from the test by Newsweek, courtesy of Yahoo! News…
They’re the sort of scores that drive high-school history teachers to drink. When Newsweek recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.
If you combine those numbers with the ones showing the views of Fox News viewers, a picture develops that is pretty freakin scary, if you ask me. What is so maddening to me about the media is their wanting to use public opinion polls to set their agenda…AND IT’S THESE IDIOTS WHO ARE ANSWERING THOSE POLLS! On Morning Joe this morning (I watch when Joe is gone), they kept putting up results from a “pre-speech” poll with every Chyron generated graphic they put up. One of those figures was that 47% approve of the president’s actions in Libya…remember, that is a pre-speech number, with 17% unsure. Considering our political environment, those numbers are pretty good. I scoured Gallup’s site looking for the question that really stood out to me as stupid and it was something like “How do you think the Libyan action will turn out?” or something like that. The negative number was pretty high, from memory. But it immediately made me think, why are you asking the mostly ignorant general public to be prognosticators, when Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights in Newsweek’s citizenship test. And the media is going to listen to these people?
The latest news stories being generated for mostly cable news consumption is that two different polls show that 1/4 and 1/5 of “the public” believe that President Obama is a Muslim. I’ve seen it all over the blogs and cable news and I’m sure it made it on network news too, although I didn’t catch any of them. I have this issue with public opinion polls in that they really don’t tell you much of anything about what people are really thinking. A few issues with poll results…
- Most people don’t pay attention to politics, news or inside Washington “conventional wisdom”.
- Polls of 700 people or so have a margin of error of +/- 3.5%, which is a 7% swing.
- People lie to pollsters frequently, sometimes to tell them what they think they want to hear and other times because they dislike someone, they just answer every question negatively. Think the Muslim question, don’t you think people who dislike the president are more likely to say he is a Muslim whether they really believe it or not. They just want to get a jab in on him.
- Proof that people don’t really pay much attention is the fact that polls can swing wildly depending on what the current outrage is.
- The economy has a huge impact on how people feel about many issues. It’s the economy, stupid. It doesn’t matter who is president, if the economy is in rough shape, the president will be blamed. Fairly or unfairly.
- The order of questions or the tone of a poll can have a big impact on results, pollsters know this but still like to do it.
- Polls have a “push” effect by bringing ideas to the attention of the participant as the question is being asked, they are put on the spot to give an opinion whether they’ve actually thought about it or not….and depending on the tone of the poll, they will resort to trying to answer “correctly”.
- The “bandwagon” effect is alive and well, Republicans try to use it incessantly, but it only has so much effect. Every little bit helps when you are trying to spin.
- Emotions are easily evoked by wording of questions and topical questions, example immediately after 9/11 George W. Bush received unprecedented numbers that were based on emotions and patriotism. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it becomes bad when the spinners interpret it for us.
- Election polls become reliable the closer you get to the election, the vast majority of people are not political junkies like you and I and make up their minds at the last minute. It’s still the economy, stupid.
So even though these polls reveal that there are a lot of ignorant people and people who are just plain in denial about a lot of things, I really don’t think those numbers are very accurate. And I would add that ignorant people who may answer a poll question because it is easy, will not drag their lazy, stupid asses to the polls to vote. That would take some effort and they have better things to do than register to vote and then actually go to the poll and stand in line. So why do we give a shit what these ignorant people think anyway? The media has become incapable of actually seeking out a story and writing about it, they just have to wait for Pew to send them the latest poll results and they can just regurgitate the numbers and put their slant on them. Edward R. Murrow has probably rolled over so many times in his grave that he’s several miles away from where he was buried.
And another thing….
The way the media often interprets polls shows their utter stupidity, but it’s a group think thing, so you can’t necessarily blame any individual for it. They act as if “the American people” change their minds from one day to the next in wild swings. Does anyone with a brain really think that one day someone hates President Obama and the next day they love him? And simply saying “the American people” believe this or that based on a given percentage of people sampled in a poll of 700 – 1000 people who picked up their land line phones and were in the mood to answer questions from a computer or a snotty minimum wage college kid? To make blanket statements like “the American people are against this or that” based on a poll is really taking a giant leap. Like I said in the above post, the vast majority of people don’t pay attention to the media, remember the media is ranked down their with child molesters…below politicians. Maybe that is why the media just loves taking down a politician, it’s a jealousy thing.
On President Obama’s poll numbers, I’m not concerned at all about them. I don’t think the White House is either, since I truly believe that Barack Obama came to Washington to get shit done, not get reelected. That’s why the media can’t quite deal with this administration, they are obsessed with the perennial elections that flow from one to the other and when someone does something that might have a political downside, it does not compute with them. I guess that is one of the main reasons why I like President Obama, he really is in politics to make a difference, not to cash in.
Now if spending money on a poll to see how the American people feel about a bad call in a baseball game isn’t the perfect example of how the media is obsessed with public opinion, I don’t know what is. I’ve typed about my dislike for this lazy, waste of my time journalism that is overwhelming the media. Who gives a shit, to be honest.
I’ll just add that the response from Galarraga and Joyce was not what people expected, from either of them. They defied the odds and weren’t vindictive or petty, they both showed America how we should all be. Class acts all the way.
Lite blogging today, work, work, work….