Surprise Guest Writer
I have a longtime friend who's been a reporter on Capitol Hill for pretty much as long as I've known him. He doesn't fit the mold of your usual Washington insider, and that's good--he knows pretty much what the insiders know about how the Hill works, without having to sell his political soul to find out. Today he offered his analysis of what's going on these days in the Presidential race, and I thought I'd share it.
Okay. Here is an absolutely-accurate, fact-driven, there-is-zero-chance-of-being-wrong response.
The race for the presidential election Nov. 2 is too close to call.
Anyone telling you anything else has a stake in the game; they are either backing one of the candidates, or paid to have an opinion.
Sure, there are places where you can be pretty clear who's going to win. D.C. is a no-brainer. (In more ways than one.)
But election polls just have too many flaws to be used with any degree of certainty when the nation is so evenly split. ("How do you know the nation is evenly split?" That's what the polls tell me. Crap. Okay try this. "How do you know when you need new glasses?" When you can't read the signs. Hahahaha. Oh never mind. Let's just forget this side of the argument)
A lot of the sampling error stuff has been covered in the thread; cell phones, responsiveness, weighting, etc... But then add response bias ...
Hey, quick question. "Who here is going to vote in the upcoming election?"
About 75%-80% of registered voters will say they will. And then Nov. 2 less than half will. Even better, the day after the election, 75%-80% will say they did.
Are folks who lie about voting more likely to back Bush, Kerry or Nader? Hell I don't know.
What about the majority of Americans who say they think the economy is the number one problem facing America, that Bush is mishandling the economy, and that Kerry cares more about the economy and their fate in it, but are still supporting Bush?
What part of the internal inconsistencies should you ignore?
In a poll where the margins are wide, the fuzz doesn't much matter.
10 point lead, 20 point lead. Eh, what's the difference?
But when a "lead" is barely outside the margin of error -- if at all -- and the ``growing'' or ``declining'' trend isn't either, who knows what you are really seeing.
I am reminded of the women's Olympic triathlon this summer. There was a woman leading the race -- and had been leading for a while, but the whole time the winner of the race was back in the crowd just tearing up the track. Boom. Suddenly in the last minute, the leader was the loser and the pack runner had left her in the dust.
In retrospect, it's easy to track -- no pun intended -- how she got there.
But at the time, in the haze and confusion of the moment, no telling. Insert Tour de France, WERA endurance race, whatever, and similar samples abound.
While I have had opinions about who would likely win the presidential election for a while, my advice has been the same throughout and remains unchanged now.
If you care about the election and its outcome. Do not wait. Do not rest on your laurels if your candidate is cruising at the front of the pack or give up if your candidate appears stuck in the dust of the pack.
Get active. Put up signs, join your local political party. Make phone calls to friends. Try to persuade ornery relatives. Get involved in whatever political party you chose.
While the vast majority of Americans have already made up their mind, there are millions who have not yet decided or may change their mind and will decide the outcome of this election. Who is going to persuade them?
Professionally, I don't know that I can recommend, generically, making political donations because doing so is in effect saying give money to the DNC or RNC -- sort of like saying buy soda pop effectively is saying buy either Coke or Pepsi.
But, I am comfortable saying `think about what you want and the best way to get there and fight like hell to make it happen.'
Even if you believe there is only one issue of significance where the candidates differ, decide which candidate is best on the issue and throw your full weight behind them.
And, be warned, if I hear anyone complain about the election trend or outcome the first question will not be did you vote -- about half of you are going to lie to me anyway -- but what, besides voting, did you do.
Best from the cheap seats on Capitol Hill.
There you have it--though reading the papers and the polls may make you think the race is hopelessly deadlocked, or your man's the loser already, or whatever, there's a lot more that you can do.
By the way, I really am going to try to write more. OK, OK--at all. Life's been kind of flying by lately, and I haven't shared. Shame on me.