Monday Between Halloween And Scary Election Day Ethics,11/2/2020 [CORRECTED]

I had a conversation with a friend who said she would never speak to anyone so devoid of values and intelligence to vote for Donald Trump (she was bluffing) and then immediately thereafter demonstrated that she was incapable of explaining what was so unbearable about the President beyond generalities, Big Lies, and deflections (when the quality of the President’s advisors are a go-to argument three minutes in, you’ve got nothin’…) Upon cross examination, she could not coherently justify voting for Joe Biden either, except through denial (“He’s not senile, he’s just not as sharp as he used to be, and at that age, who is?” Yes, and that’s why nobody has run for President at that age. And no, Joe did not used to forget who he was running against, what office he was running for, or repeatedly get thousands mixed up with millions) even when it was acknowledged that he was far from the sharpest tack in the package. Finally, she said, “I’d vote for Biden even if he was completely demented.’

And there it is: the rational, informed, analytical Democratic voter. In the end, it’s mostly about hate.

  1. Speaking of dementia…Conservative flame-breathing pundit Kurt Schlichter tweeted that Sean Connery’s last words were “Elect Donald Trump.” Sure, Kurt. Yesterday I learned that 007 had been losing a long bout with dementia. If he was no longer compos mentis, that endorsement really isn’t worth much, and he would have been much more likely to endorse Biden out of comradery.

2. What’s going on here? What are we to make of all of the sudden reports that the President is surging in multiple states? For example, yesterday the Des Moines Register described the poll results showing that what had been a Biden lead was now a 9 point Trump advantage:  “Republican President Donald Trump has taken over the lead in Iowa as Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden has faded…”

There are similar stories coming out of other states, and more than one pollster is now predicting a decisive Trump win. Are pollsters deliberately trying to avoid a catastrophic embarrassment by hedging their bets at the last minute? Are conservative media forces trying to bolster GOP confidence to get out the vote? Are we witnessing another election where the undecideds suddenly all flip in the same direction in the final hours, like in 1948, 1980, 1988, and 2016?

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The Gallup Poll Is Wrong, Or The Others Must Be, Right?

When President Trump tweeted yesterday about a poll that found a majority of American felt they were better off today than four years ago when Obama’s Camelot was still being hailed by the troubadours (that’s my wording—I don’t think “troubadours”  is in the President’s speaking and tweeting vocabulary), I immediately thought, “Oh God, here’s another spin-job misrepresentation that will be the selected target of the Trump-Haters for the rest of the week.” Such a poll had to come from Mrs. Blapp’s 6th grade class, or maybe Steve Bannon has started a polling service.

I was wrong. The poll came from Gallup, one of the most reliable and objective of the pollsters, and Trump described it accurately. Gallup’s Sept. 14-28 poll found that 56% of U.S. registered voters believe they are better off now under President Trump compared to four years ago. Not only that, the percentage is the highest by far of that registered during a President’s reelection campaign since Ronald Reagan posed the question as the proper way to measure a President’s success in his 1980 campaign to defeat Jimmy Carter.

Gallup better

Now, since I am officially skeptical of polls, and particularly so since the 2016 polling debacle, and even more so when the organizations paying for and holding the polls are committed to removing Donald Trump from the Presidency, I am loathe to use a poll to debunk a poll. But how in the world can Gallup’s numbers be reconciled with the poll-driven narrative that Joe Biden is headed for a landslide, or even a narrow victory? Voters do not typically or, as far as I can recall, ever, vote against perceived self-interest. If 56% of the electorate really believe that they have fared better under President Trump than under the Democratic Messiah, it makes no sense to predict that they will vote to go back to the bad old days. Moreover, the poll was taken in the midst of widespread scaremongering over the pandemic, and as the thriving economy that the President had pointed to as his major achievement lays in ruins from the effects of the seven month lockdown. Even in the midst of this, 56% think they are better off.

How can this be explained? I can imagine some theories:

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“What’s Going On Here?”: The Rasmussen “Production Error”

What the hell?

In 2016 around this time I took Ethics Alarms to the woodshed for using unflattering photos of Hillary Clinton, like these.

It’s a dirty trick, essentially. Photos capture a split second of life and falsify it by freezing it forever. The news media has been using this tactic against Donald Trump with wild abandon, having essentially given up any pretense of fairness and objectivity. However, the Rasmussen graphic above wasn’t a photograph, and it was employed by the supposedly conservative-leaning polling service. Yet it could have been designed by the Democratic National Committee at its most nasty, portraying the President as a snarling, vicious threat, and Joe Biden as a calm and professional statesman.

Rasmussen was quick with a retraction that raised more questions that it answered:

  • Why did Rasmussen have the snarling Trump graphic at all?
  • What kind of “production error” would cause that?
  • If the company is so careless with its tweets, what else is it careless about?
  • Was a “rogue employee” the culprit? Again, this does not speak well for the company’s management, trustworthiness or culture.
  • Any organization that sends out tweets without a vetting and review process is incompetent. Yes, that includes the White House. Especially the White House.
  • Is Rasmussen really blaming the social media criticism of its botch? Or Trump supporters who have seen enough flagrant anti-Trump bias for a lifetime, and who expressed their anger at this example? The company needs to apologize, not blame the victims of its own system breakdown  ineptitude.


Pointer: Althouse

Thanks To The Widespread Absence Of Competence, Honesty, Integrity And Trustworthiness, I Have No Idea What This Story Really Means, If Anything

The Hill tells me that Democratic pollster Mark Penn claims that a vast majority of Americans don’t really support sanctuary cities. The one-time chief strategist for Hillary Clinton‘s 2008 presidential campaign says that a poll he took revealed that 84 percent of Americans favor turning undocumented immigrants over to federal agents.

“I asked them, ‘Do you think notifying ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] would in fact increase crime because it would inhibit people from reporting crimes or does it decrease crimes because it takes criminals off the street,’ and they overwhelming said ‘decrease,’ ” Penn told Hill.TV’s “Rising.” “When someone’s arrested, they expect someone will notify federal immigration authorities just as they would expect someone who violates state tax law will find out that they notified the IRS,” the pollster said. This is supposedly summed up by The Hill’s headline, “Ex-Clinton aide: 84 percent of Americans support turning undocumented immigrants over to authorities.”
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Got It, Nate: Polling Is A Fraud. NOW You Tell Us.


Before we find out what happens in Alabama, I want to get this issue out there.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook in part,

“When did the polling profession go to Hell? Today a Fox poll shows Roy Moore 10 pts behind, and a local Alabama poll shows him 9 pts AHEAD. I’ve never seen anything like it. Moore has been edging ahead since last week, and now he’s losing again? Why bother with polling at all, if they can’t do better than this?”

This prompted two friends to send me to 538, the realm of alleged genius stat-head Nate Silver, who was pronounced the guru of election prognostication in 2012, and who became just another false prophet after failing as miserably in 2016 as everybody else. Silver posted an thorough, honest and disturbing explanation for the discrepancy, and one that didn’t include “Fox News is lying.”

It is worth reading; must reading, really. [Here it is.] The tipping point for me was this graph…

…to which Nate responded,

“Although releasing 10 different versions of the same poll may be overkill, it illustrates the extent to which polling can be an assumption-driven exercise…”

CAN be?

What I derive from Silver’s explanation is that polling doesn’t work any more, but the news media, politicians and pollsters want us to think it does.  There is no longer a reliable way to access a fair sampling of subjects, and the biases of pollsters create either unconscious or deliberate distortions in the poll results. This was always true to some extent [ DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN!] but now we are looking at a “science” that is about as reliable and trustworthy as astrology. Continue reading

Trick Polls: Obnoxious, Unfair, and Wrong


Public Policy Polling, a Democratic outfit that specializes in asking Republicans questions specifically designed to allow the mainstream media to mock their ignorance, and smug progressives to puff their little pigeon chests up with pride, really hit the public relations jackpot with a recent survey indicating that 30% of Republican primary voters would support bombing Agrabah, which is where Aladdin hangs out in the Disney movie. In other words, it’s not a real place. (I know: all my Republican acquaintances are exclaiming, “Wait, you mean Aladdin isn’t real?) This gave a real chuckle to the left-wing websites and blogs, the  mainstream media and all those brilliant news anchors who don’t know what to say unless a teleprompter lays it out for them, and who believe people who look to them for enlightenment are smart.

Not taking this lying down, a conservative polling groups called WPA Research devised another deceptive poll that revealed that 44% of Democrats would support taking refugees from Agrabah.  So there.

Now conservatives can puff up their pigeon chests, I guess.

Message to pollsters: I know we’re talking about stupid and ignorant people here, but even they will eventually figure out that a certain percentage of poll questions aren’t honest, but are tricks designed to prove they are dumb, violent, stupid, greedy, bigoted, mean, or likely Trump supporters. The joke is on WPA and PPP: people trusted them, as they have traditionally trusted pollsters to be seeking useful opinion data, not proof of knee-jerk partisan idiocy. If a pollster asked about an individual, issue or nation,  those polled never dreamed that the question was setting them up to be scorned. Now both of these organizations have proclaimed that they can’t be trusted, that they aren’t neutral truth-seekers but adversaries with an agenda.

Good to know. Continue reading