The preoccupation some people demonstrate with regard to polls is truly frightening, especially when it comes to the social media bubble. You can see it coming in waves, every time a new poll comes out. If a poll is favorable to one candidate, the wave goes one way, and when the next one is favorable to another candidate, it waves in the other direction. If I paid more attention to social media, I would be so confused. Luckily, I don’t take opinions seriously, not even my own. I’m under no delusion that my opinions are somehow above everyone else’s, although the opinions I present on this blog are usually supported by facts you should perhaps consider.
If you like polls, I wholeheartedly encourage following the lead of Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. He does take polls seriously, but he’s intelligent enough to take a whole lot of them to create a scenario because he knows that talking to the first 500 people who answer a landline call on a weekday are probably not an accurate depiction of how 300 million people are thinking at any given time. He’s a statistics whiz; he knows how to properly weight and average a variety of polls to note a trend. And it is trends that matter. One single poll is a like a snapshot of how the people who bothered to answer their landline when a stranger called in the middle of the day think at a particular moment in time.
So, let’s talk about the “favorable/unfavorable” polls, shall we?
I’m so tired of hearing about these. When some “political junkie” says a politician “has the highest unfavorables” of anyone in history, what the hell does that mean, in reality? I mean, when a pollster asks you whether your opinion of any politician is favorable or unfavorable, how you answer is dependent, at least partly, on your mood that day, isn’t it? Not only that, but what about polarizing politicians, like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or George W, Bush? About 25% of the population won’t like anything Obama does – you know why. And Hillary Clinton has been the recipient of the most massive smear machine in history for more than 30 years, so there will always be about 25% of people who won’t like anything she does, including 10-15% who hate her because they imagine she’ll have her period and push “the button,” just for spite. And let’s face it; about 20% of the population will always think of George W. Bush in an “unfavorable” light because he started and proceeded to fuck up two wars and caused a lot of death and destruction, even before he allowed the economy to melt down. Not only that, but another 20% will always look at him that way because he bailed out the banks, the commie bastard.
So, when you have these built-in “unfavorable” ratings, how do you treat them? Do you subtract them out and say they’re not so bad?
Even dumber are these types of polls about “Congress” as a body. Oh, I know, it’s fun to say “Congress has a 13% approval rating” and to point out that Congress is run by Republicans, but…
Do I even have to say it?
No one votes for “Congress.” People vote for ONE Congresscritter. And most of them love theirs and hate yours. It’s always been the case. Few people will vote against an incumbent Representative they like because Congress sucks; they will assume it’s because every other Congresscritter sucks. This is why one goal of this blog is to shine a light on the Republican ideology. The entire ideology is poison and needs to go away. They shouldn’t go away because they’re unpopular, they should go away because they suck, and what they believe in is fundamentally un-American.
Favorability ratings also have another problem. If no one knows who you are, it’s going to skew your “favorables.” For example, there was a tendency on the part of Bernie Stans to point to Hillary’s “unfavorables” and say Bernie’s were better. However, if they looked more closely, they would find that a major reason for that is that his name recognition was really low. Now, it’s a little higher, but they think he’s Larry David. If the Right Wing Fart Machine ever got to smearing him as a “Marxist Commie with New York Values,” the unfavorables would rise. As it is, the right really fears Clinton, so they were nice to Bernie.
If you live and die by polls, please don’t. You’re putting your health and your sanity at stake. And if you think you can tell anything by looking at anyone’s “favorable” rating, consider; is there anything that could make you think “favorably” of George W Bush, Donald Drumpf or Tec Cruz? Can you imagine any right winger thinking favorably about President Obama or Hillary Clinton? Well, there you go?