The Extremely Liberal Podcast Talking Drones, The Filibuster Bluster and Polls As A Crutch for the Media!
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 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….
Those of you who read my rants know that I have major differences with Jane Hamsher and some of the folks at her Firedoglake Empire. Although I agree with them on many things, I don’t agree with their tactics when dealing with President Obama and others who differ with them on issues. One of the most recent examples of her tactics was the slanted poll she sponsored in Arkansas’ 2nd district, which ended up causing Vic Snyder, the one on the losing end of the poll, to withdrawal from the race. Most people who’ve looked at it say Hamsher’s poll was the reason for his quitting. Nate Silver rips apart the questions they asked…
So, for all that work, the poll shows a whopping 4-point decline in Snyder’s poll numbers, and a 2-point increase in Griffin’s — not even outside of the margin of error. We don’t know how much of that has to do with opposition to the mandate versus the balance of the bill since the poll doesn’t unpack them — they could have asked an additional question or two to tease this out, but they didn’t.
And that 4-point decline — which may or may not be statistically significant and which may or may not have anything to with the individual mandate — comes only after they’d asked five or six questions in a row that framed the mandate in a negative light, and also reminded people for no particular reason about just how happy they are with their coverage in the status quo — all while using robopolling technology that was never really designed to ask complex sets of policy questions like these.
Great work, guys!
In contrast to Hamsher’s approach to polling, Daily Kos is all over the proper way to conduct a poll. They lay out the methodology and policies that clearly are meant to get fair accurate results. Here is the first thing covered in their published guidelines.
1) Questionnaire or survey instrument: This is the list of questions that will be asked in the poll.
First of all, it is vital to ask the question as fairly and objectively as possible. The exact wording of the questions and their order in the questionnaire are obviously important, as this can be the most controversial part of any poll. To provide full transparency, we publish the exact questions we ask, in the order asked…
…What must be emphasized is that it is important to be objective and have the facts straight when asking any issue question. Adjectives cannot be used in asking such questions, period. A question about the death penalty, for example, needs to be asked fairly and straightforwardly, with no embellishment: “Do you favor or oppose the death penalty?”
Nate Silver’s piece is most excellent, I recommend you read the whole thing. It clearly shows how polling in the wrong hands can produce very slanted results. The media has embraced polls as the gospel these days., no matter how bad they are done. And really, did you see the results of the last Daily Kos poll, here are some results. Do you want these folks setting policy for us?
Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?
Not Sure 33
So, when you combine the not sure and the yes, that’s 86% of republicans who either think Sarah Palin is more qualified than President Obama or they really don’t know. Wow! President of Harvard Law Review vs. beauty pageant contestant and news anchor. Hmmmmm, which one would be more qualified?
Has the media succeeded in taking control of our government? I propose that the media uses polls to force weak-ass politicians to bend to the current will of the majority, as shown in the latest poll. Often these polls use very small samples and the methodologies of different polling organizations are wildly different. Morning Joke loves to throw polls at politicians and confront them about how their stance doesn’t fit with the majority. It isn’t just Joe (an intern was found dead in his office) Scarborough but many other talking heads and pundits do the exact same thing. Haven’t they had any statistics classes?
As Chris Matthews pointed out so pointedly on his show two nights ago, go here for more, “But the poll that was the official poll, where people had to go into the booth and vote…” that’s the only “poll” that really counts. I could rattle off all sorts of polls that have been wrong over the years for individual races, but that’s really beside the point I’m trying to make. When we elect someone, we elect that person to make judgments and represent us with the principles they ran on, and their whole world view. When I vote for a candidate, I want that candidate to make decisions based on their best judgment not whichever way the wind is blowing on that particular day.
The media just beats these polls into the public consciousness, and as we learned from the Reagan years and ever since, if you repeat something over and over again, pretty soon people start to believe it, whether it’s factually true or not. Of course the Republicans have raised it to an art form, I’m pretty sure the NEA has given them grants it’s such a powerful art form. The really shitty part of this phenomenon is that there is no good way to change it. The lazy journalists in this country use it as a crutch, heaven forbid they write an original article or do a little research or expose a crooked politician. And it gives them tremendous power that they yield over politicians, you can’t watch a Sunday morning show or any other political cable news show without a poll being dragged out and abused.
The last thing I’ll say about polls is that they are exaggerated to the extreme. “The people want this or that”….when it may very well be 52% of the people in a poll with a margin of error of +/- 4%. It drives me nuts when they completely discard the views of the other 48%. When you see a margin of error higher than 3%, the sample is usually less than 800 people, many times less than that because not every question is answered by all the participants. So often the results they spew are even smaller subgroups within the poll. “Of the people who support Obama, 20% believe this or that”…..which may very well be less than a hundred people when you divide up the pie.
If you are ever in need of a reality check about any given poll, visit Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, he’ll give you realistic analysis and perspective too.
Here is a link to an article that analyzes the Gallup daily tracking poll and although there has been a slight dip in his numbers among his base, it is very minor and considering the blistering attacks he’s gone through, he seems to be teflon coated. Check out this groovy graph from Gallup.
He certainly has some work to do before the 2010 and 2012 elections, but coming off such a bloody fight on health care, I think he’s still doing pretty well, especially with his base. So stop listening to those bill-killers when they try to say he’s in big trouble with his base. Like I typed in a previous post, they are exaggerating that anger and trying to project it on others.