Saturday, November 05, 2022


I think there are some very good reasons to be pessimistic about the midterms, although I also see hopeful signs -- for instance, strong early voting numbers. But "liberal" pundits, more than in any election in my memory, want Democrats to be demoralized. They're already publishing post-mortems (pre-mortens?) diagnosing a Democratic wipeout that hasn't happened yet, and might not.

One of the worst examples is this New Yorker piece by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, which is based almost exclusively on Republican spin, none of which Wallace-Wells questions. Why do so many liberal-leaning writers -- and, presumably, their readers -- want to be told that we suck?

Wallace-Wells writes:
Why Republican Insiders Think the G.O.P. Is Poised for a Blowout

On Wednesday afternoon, I spoke with a leading Republican political consultant about the Senate campaign in Georgia.... The Republican consultant told me that [Raphael] Warnock’s prospects were even bleaker than many recent public polls suggest. “There isn’t a single private poll in America that has Herschel Walker anything but ahead,” the Republican consultant told me. “Not one.”
Did Wallace-Wells ask for proof of this assertion? Did he ask to see any of these private polls? Did he ask the consultant to identify them? Apparently not. He just took the boast on faith.
The consensus among a number of G.O.P. pollsters and operatives I spoke to this week is that in the Senate races that are thought to be competitive, Republican candidates are heading for a clean sweep: Mehmet Oz will beat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, and not just by a point or two; Adam Laxalt looks pretty certain to defeat the incumbent Democratic senator Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada; even less regarded candidates such as Blake Masters in Arizona will be carried into office by a predicted wave. “He won’t deserve it, but I think at this point he falls into a Senate seat,” one Republican strategist told me.
Does it ever occur to Wallace-Wells that of course this is what these people would be saying to him right now, whether or not they believe it? Does it occur to him that they might even expect him to be skeptical of their boasts and push back, because that's how the game is supposed to be played? But he doesn't push back. He's such a whipped dog that he just cowers and takes it.
The word that kept coming up in these conversations was “bloodbath.”
They keep piling it higher and Wallace-Wells just laps it up.

Not only does he accept their boasts as fact, he accepts their explanation for why it's (allegedly) happening. They say Democrats got fooled into believing they were winning:
[A] Republican [strategist] said that he and a colleague had examined polls in which they had access to individual voter data and concluded that as much as sixty per cent of Democratic poll respondents this summer were so-called super voters, those who vote in every single election, even though such voters normally compose about a third of the general electorate in each party.
Wait for it...
(He found no such effect among Republicans.)
How convenient!
“This created an informational doom loop, where Democratic candidates get told, You should talk about January 6th, democracy being on the ballot, trans rights,’” he said, “because their primary super voters are picking up the phone and telling them this is what they care about.”
So, according to this Republican consultant, the good polls for Democrats this summer -- the ones showing them exceeding all expectations, paricularly after the Dobbs decision -- were totally fake. Anyone who examined the data could see that! And yet, oddly, Republicans were worried about the abortion issue:
Still, crafting a winning response to the abortion issue was a fixation among Republicans. A pollster working in many races across the country said, “I had candidates who wanted to know the same thing, week after week, ‘How do we answer this abortion thing? They’re beating me up on it.’ ” The pollster went on, “And what they figured out is, we don’t have a good answer. It is what it is.”
Republican actually did have a shrewd, deceitful answer -- they just pretended they'd never said they wanted all abortions banned, and shifted to somewhat less Gilead-like positions. I'm sure it's working for some of them. But Wallace-Wells never asks: So, if those Dobbs-driven Democratic leads in summer polls were obviously illusory, why were Republicans so worried about abortion?

But now the polls look great for Republicans (Republicans say). Wallace-Wells writes:
By October, the basic daily experience of the race, for the Republican consultants I spoke with, had changed. “Post-Dobbs, Republicans stopped taking polls,” a Republican pollster told me. “In October, my sampling guys came back and told me, ‘Republicans are taking polls again. Response rates are through the roof.’”
So when pollsters found high Democratic response rates in the summer, that was a sign that the polls were skewed -- but now, when Republican response rates "are through the roof," that's a sign that the polls are extremely accurate, or are still somehow underestimating the Republican vote? We aren't supposed to wonder whether Republican "super voters" are overrepresented in the polls now?

This is how the media works: Right-wing outlets offer pure GOP cheerleading and relentless demonization of Democrats, while Republican spin doctors live rent-free in every "liberal" media journalist's head, and stories routinely bash Democrats as a result. So, yes, Democrats might really be doomed on Tuesday, but writers like Benjamin Wallace-Wells would be prepared to say they are whether it's true or not, because GOP manipulators have them so well trained.

No comments: