Monday, October 29, 2012

Why the Polls Could Be Surprisingly Wrong

I don't know who is going to prevail in the presidential race on 11/6, but I think a lot of pollsters will be surprised as well.  I think there are a couple of factors that will affect the outcome and that are skewing the numbers -- men, especially white males, and Independents.

First, I think males are more heavily committed to voting in this election than normal, so I think the pollsters are over-counting women as a percentage of likely voters.  I think we could well see the Michael Douglas "Falling Down" meme of "angry white men" come back strongly in this cycle.  I have never actually seen that movie.  The reason I recall it is because one of my younger colleagues went to see it.  He told me about it the next day and said that Douglas' character reminded him of me.   I think he meant that in a positive way.  We were good friends.

Another factor is party affiliation.  I believe that many Republicans -- myself included -- have become very disillusioned with the traditional, east-coast, establishment Republican Party.  We do not like big-government politicians whatever their party brand.  Many more of us than ever before have divorced ourselves from the GOP and now call ourselves Independents given that the Libertarian Party has been clueless about winning elections despite sentiment in their favor for forty years.

You may skip this brief tirade after 0 seconds:  We see too many people using social conservatism as a cover for more government intervention and an excuse to be fiscally irresponsible (yes, Governor Huckabee, I am looking at you).  We are sick of pointless interventions in foreign countries.  If somebody gives us trouble, by all means, go in and kill them.  Then get the hell out.  Stop wasting American lives and resources trying to fix nations that have been broken for centuries.  It's not our job.  Try closing the borders instead.  Thank you.  Now back to our regular BS.

What this means is that when you see Independents going overwhelmingly for Romney, you are really seeing conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals -- whatever you want to call us -- rallying, not for Romney but against Obama.

I suspect that party identification is very fluid and possibly misleading.  Are people, especially white males, abandoning both parties to self-label as Independents or are Independents mostly just disgruntled Republicans?  The answer to that question could be the key to the results a week from tomorrow.  I read a good example of what I'm thinking about this morning.  Last Friday, the internals of Rasmussen's national poll showed Romney winning Independents by a whopping 23 points.  Today, Romney is up only 8 points among Independents, giving him a slim 49-47 advantage over Obama.  That really makes no sense at all.  I have to conclude that the word "independent" may not mean what we think it means.  

Here's one thing I know.  Romney is going to carry Missouri easily.  St. Louis City and Jackson County will be the only points of blue on the Missouri map.  I think Romney even carries Boone County where the University of Missouri -- our sole out-state bastion of liberal lunacy -- is located.  Missourians can no longer vote a straight party ticket, so vote-splitting is the norm.  We will probably -- unfortunately -- retain our "conservative" Democrat governor.  However, I am going to go out on a limb and call the Senate race for Akin in a squeaker. 

Akin will not carry Boone County, but he will actually outperform Talent's 2006 numbers across the Ozarks region.  It was McCaskill cutting into Talent's support in the heart of Republican territory that made her the deciding vote for Obamacare in the Senate.  Talent was a lousy candidate, and Akin is possibly worse, but it is McCaskill's record she has to run against rather than Akin's mouth. 


  1. Good tirade. I think you have a reasonable theory. At some point though, these conservative independents are going to have to come to the realization that there are only two parties so it is best to infiltrate the Republicans. (Well, that's what I'm doing).

    I have another theory why the polls are under sampling Romney. Conservatives are not answering the phones. I think that a Democrat is more likely to want to answer a Poll and give the world his opinion. Just part of their social, "we-know-better" nature where conservatives just want everybody to leave them alone and their opinion is none of your business. I'm seeing that in my door-to-door work. Once I let on I'm from a conservative group, they open up.

  2. You may be right about infiltrating the Republican party. As I've probably said, my paternal grandfather was a Hoosier, born 10 days after Gettysburg, and a Republican from birth. He and Grandma voted for McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt. He had a younger brother named Ulysses, and it wasn't because my great-grandfather was a fan of Homer. I have been a Republican since before I was born. I cast my first presidential vote for Richard Nixon. And given the same choice I had in '72, I'd do it again.

    But Nixon illustrates part of our problem. Putting aside his personal issues, he was not a conservative. He was a solid anti-Communist -- as "Star Trek" observed, only Nixon could go to China. He signed, I believe, the Gun Control Act of 1968, instituted wage and price controls, and floated the dollar. The decoupling of the dollar from gold was part of his deal with China, I think. In doing so, he set the stage for a lot of our current financial problems, but he also set up the Soviet Union for its ultimate collapse.

    More later.

  3. Good points. I want to believe that the Republican center of mass has shifted to the right of a Nixonian Republican over the years. Both parties were affected by progressivism in the last century but the Rs finally awoke from that dream.

    This thing about the Nixon, the gold standard and China. That is interesting. I'd like to hear more.

  4. So why don't people who no longer identify with the 'republican' party try to set up a party of their own? It doesn't have to have the scale of the big two. Just large enough to tip the scale. By just voting, they lose all bargaining power.

  5. You have a good point, Jim. I think that was what the Reform Party wanted to be, and I think that's what the Libertarian Party could be. If you look at the break-downs, it's generally 1/3 Democrat, 1/3 Republican, 1/3 Independent -- the exact percentages vary, but that's essentially the split. An "Independent Party" could theoretically carry some states. George Wallace was the last third-party candidate to get any electoral votes in '68, but he carried a few southern states.

    If we had a viable third party that could get Representatives and the occasional Senator elected, that party could compromise and change the whole balance of power. In fact, that would be my suggestion for the TEA Party, to focus on electing, not Republicans, but actual TEA Party Congressmen to the House without whom it would be impossible for the other two parties to elect a Speaker. That, and not the winner-take-all presidency, is the path to the creation of a modern, successful third party.

    One of the problems, though, in extrapolating from "independents" to what we might call an Independent Party is the actual political philosophy of independents. I'm a libertarian and for the least possible government. Others who are independent may be more centrist or moderate and more inclined to go along with various government interventions and expansions. Like I said in the post, it's really a question of why people are identifying as independent.