Monday, October 17, 2016

Why the Polls Will Prove Wrong

First off -- I want to assure those who have come to this blog only recently that its customary fare is not politics. Because that topic is normally so desultory, it usually does not provide the dose of leavening which I have decided (on my own, thank you) is the measure of a good blog.

However, once every two or four years, and certainly just before a presidential election, I make an exception. As we near Election Day this November 8, more of my posts will be devoted to that rite than to the traditional topics otherwise addressed here -- such as religion, the state of the Anglican Communion, the latest outrage from the (amalgamated) Episcopal Congregations in the US of A, and so forth, and so on.

And actually, I have to say: right now, the Presidential election is a rather lively topic, because it keeps shifting with every cycle of the news.

To listen to the mainstream media, the election is already over -- Hillary has won, and it's just a matter of her adding even more States to her unstoppable haul than the number she has already bagged -- a number which (they assure the gullible) is more than sufficient to guarantee her a majority in the Electoral College.

One has to take into account, however, the sources of these claims, which are mostly the polls conducted by all the interested organizations -- from independent polling outfits to the major news media themselves.

To see what might be wrong with their data, consider this question: just how does a poll-taker obtain (and record) a voter's supposed preference for a particular candidate?

The best overall summary I have found on how polls are conducted is presented in this set of FAQs. Read it through carefully, and note the following takeaways:

1. Polls are ordered and approved by the customer, not by the voters themselves. This is perhaps the biggest source of bias: the customer gets the final say on how, and to whom, the poll questions are phrased, and those two factors determine in large part how the questions are answered.

2. Polls reach, for the most part, only those of us who still have land lines (not cell phones). This obviously leaves out most of the younger generation, for the reasons noted in this report.

3. There is no reliable method to coordinate the number of potential voters polled with the number of them who will actually vote in the election. Again, as explained in the FAQ linked above, the accuracy of any poll in this regard will depend on what questions and what survey audience the customer agreed to pay for -- and even then, there is no guarantee that someone who tells a pollster that he or she "intends to vote" will actually do so. This is why the most accurate polls historically have been based on the exit polls taken of persons leaving the polling booths -- but you will learn of those only late on Election Day, and even then they are still subject to inaccuracies, because many voters will not agree to be so polled.

4. How the pollsters decide to call numbers does not guarantee a representative sample of actual voters. This is perhaps the biggest source of error of all in published polls compared to actual election results. People contacted who disclose that they have not voted in recent elections, for example, may be excluded from the tallies because on the basis of such an answer, they are not a good fit with those who may fairly be expected to vote in this next election.

5. This election is not your "typical" election. The next election will not be any "election as usual" -- may we all please agree on that? There are, I dare say, more people now motivated (by a lack of any sense of connection, by feelings that they have previously been excluded and discounted, by mainstream media propaganda that their votes could just not matter in any case, etc.) to vote in this election, who have not felt any compunction to do so previously, than the ones whom the pollsters will manage to reach by their limited methods.

In conclusion: take the daily "poll" news with a very large grain of salt, and do not let the headlines affect your voting decisions. Note that the poll results advertised (for the reasons given above) almost certainly will not include the opinions of these people, nor (thank goodness, in this case!) of these people (who will never, you may be confident, vote in any election).

Do not, therefore, think you should not bother to vote because the mainstream media all declare this election is already in the bag for Hillary Clinton. They are trying simply to predetermine the outcome by discouraging you from thinking that your vote could, and will most likely, matter: there are, for instance, far more interesting scenarios that could play out in the weeks to come.

But those alternative scenarios are highly dependent on one thing: that YOU get out and vote. So do not become despondent, and do not let the media's barrage make you believe that your individual vote could not possibly matter: it does, and will, particularly with regard to the future of this country.

And for those among you who are still not decided just how you should vote, don't worry. The election is still 21 days away, and a lot can, and will, happen, before you have to make your choice. Your Curmudgeon is willing at this point to declare that on no account could he ever consider recommending voting for the status quo, because to contemplate such a continuation of everything as it has been thus far is, to say the least, depressing beyond measure.

At the same time, he is keeping his powder dry, because he fully expects that by the time November 8 comes around, the picture will be a lot clearer (if not improved). So say tuned, and keep praying for your country.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Dialogue of the Self in Modern Times


Q. Is Donald Trump crude, and coarse, and pompous?

A. Indubitably.

Q. But we knew that about him already, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. So what is “new” in regard to a tape of his crude and coarse remarks made in 2005?

A. Nothing.

Q. So how can the left [sc. the Democrats and their camp-followers] claim this development as “news”?

A. They can’t. But that doesn’t stop them from doing it anyway, since they see a political advantage. 

Q. And just what is the political advantage they see?

A. That they can trumpet [pun intended] how crude, and coarse, and pompous Mr. Trump is.

Q. Wait — we already knew that, right? [See first question.]

A. Right. Just as we already knew that former President Clinton used his position to exploit women, and on occasion to assault, batter and even rape them -- with no fear of reprisal.

Q. So what possible advantage can they gain from raising as “new” something that everyone already knew, and that is hypocritical of them to boot?

A. Ah, now you’ve gotten to the heart of the matter.

Q. I have?

A. Yes. The God of PC [Political Correctness] demands from His devotees incessant sacrifices of the same thing over and over again. Thus the left can once more (ad nauseam) profess and show how much they adore their God of PC: they kneel and prostrate themselves before His altar, but are careful to offer only their political opponents (and never one of their own) for sacrifice. Those on the right, on the other hand, are left [pun intended] — with a quandary.

Q. What quandary?

A. They don’t relish worshiping the God of PC — but they will, and will sacrifice even their own chosen candidate if that’s what it takes to get themselves re-elected. And that’s why so many of the right have chosen this particular moment to abandon their previous [albeit lukewarm] support of Mr. Trump.

Q. And just where does that leave Mr. Trump?

A. Just where you now find him: gazing in the pool, admiring his own reflection, and not caring a fig for what anyone else may think -- all the while that his erstwhile “supporters” desert him in droves. 

Q. That’s not a very pretty picture.

A. It’s not. But politics is never pretty. If you wanted Mother Teresa for a candidate, you could never have gotten her, because half (or more) of the electorate would have rejected her just for what she stood for, namely the welfare of everyone else but herself. The majority of those motivated to go to the polls today ask only: "What will this (or that) candidate do for me?"

Q. Well, even if that's so, what's wrong with that? Shouldn't they vote based on which candidate can deliver the most for them?

A. That approach renders them incapable of placing themselves in anyone’s shoes but their own. Consequently they end up with candidates whose vision likewise cannot extend beyond their own selves, e.g., Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In short, they get just those whom they have asked for, and whom they certainly deserve.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Obama Years in One Picture and Nine Charts

Here is an easy-to-understand graphic presentation of what the Obama years have done to America (H/T: Steven Hayward, Power Line Blog) -- click to enlarge:

Enough said. How the man's approval ratings continue to stay above 50% is a mystery that serves only to indict America's electorate.