Conor Friedersdorf nails it

by on November 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm in Current Affairs, Education, Political Science, Television | Permalink

Before rank-and-file conservatives ask, “What went wrong?”, they should ask themselves a question every bit as important: “Why were we the last to realize that things were going wrong for us?”

Barack Obama just trounced a Republican opponent for the second time. But unlike 4 years ago, when most conservatives saw it coming, Tuesday’s result was, for them, an unpleasant surprise.

Here is a key sentence:

They were operating at a self-imposed information disadvantage.

Read the whole thing.  They should elevate him to something too.  And as Matt Lewis said on Twitter:

Conservative media outlets promote too many voices who mislead the base AND turnoff independents. Good for ratings & clicks/bad for America.

Cliff November 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm

So you’re telling me Fox News is not really fair and balanced?

Next you’ll be telling me MSNBC has a liberal lean.

I think the main reason people mis-judged the probabilities is that they just couldn’t believe the Deomcratic turnout could be as good as 2008 when the enthusiasm was much higher, so they figured the polls’ internal methods for determining the likely voter profile must be off at least a little. But that was wrong, and no doubt will be incorporated into the next round of opinions/predictions.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/obama_vs_romney_compared_to_obama_vs_mccain.html

It was much closer, though, right? I don’t understand what people are talking about.

KLO November 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Definitely closer, but not close enough. Popular vote is 50-48 right now. Also consider the performance of Republican Senate candidates in North Dakota, Indiana, Montana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Wisconsin and Virginia. Many of the close ones broke against the Republican candidates, including in a number seats that Republicans expected to win easily. The GOP needs many more inspired candidates like Jeff Flake.

Ted Craig November 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm

In at least two of these states, though, moderates failed to carry the day.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm

So for 2% they need to retool everything? I’m not sure why our standard is so high. Run better candidates. Start with someone who can hold the same thought in his head for two weeks in a row.

TheAJ November 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm

So for 2% they need to retool everything? I’m not sure why our standard is so high. Run better candidates. Start with someone who can hold the same thought in his head for two weeks in a row.

2% despite terrible economic fundamentals? This was a winnable election in which their most winnable candidate had no shot by the time he was nominated. Running better candidates . . . didn’t they have a dozen to choose from?

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Two sides of a coin.

You call Romney their most electable candidate. I view that the entire primary being “anyone but Romney” and ending up with Romney essentially meaning that the election was not winnable.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm

“Running better candidates . . . didn’t they have a dozen to choose from?”

No. Paul Ryan will be president, but he’s not ready yet. Who is the Democrats next chosen one? He or she had be better than their last chosen one, not to mention better than Hilary or Edwards.

The Democrats have a Jordan and Pippen but no bench.

john personna November 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm

By the end of the campaign Obama and Romney were polling a statistical tie on “ability to fix the economy.” Should a meaningful GOP poll that way? Now maybe this is just me, but no. I think they lost it when they kicked pragmatists to the curb, called pragmatism a betrayal of belief, signed their no-tax pledges not at the high tax peak, but in the low tax valley. It’s not just me who thinks that they yielded all confidence in their ability to govern in exchange for vilification of government, not just in detail, but as an abstract and permanent truth.

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm

john personna, you have just won a comment thread. +100.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

The problem is that the government is horrible. People saying it is horrible didn’t make it that way even if they are part of the reason it is stuck in a horrible equilibrium.

When you can’t trust the government to do anything right trustworthy people aren’t going to say otherwise.

How ’bout the government give us some wins. Start with a safe, standardized nuclear reactor.

mpowell November 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

The problem is that the government is horrible. People saying it is horrible didn’t make it that way even if they are part of the reason it is stuck in a horrible equilibrium.

The conservative position appears to be that government is horrible and that it’s horribleness is some kind of constant property. This leads to a certain philosophy of governance. My position is that government’s horribleness is a highly variable property and the Republicans make it much, much more horrible when they are in power.

Brian Donohue November 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm

30 GOP governors.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm

But even Jeff Flake ran poorly in AZ compared to Romney in AZ. Romney won by 12, Flake by 5.

And in ND, MT, WI, and elsewhere, the nominee was an establishment candidate, former statewide victor, and moderate. When even sitting at-large Representatives can’t win– and your party still takes the governor’s race and replaces you– it ends up seeming a bit odd.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I would have loved it if Flake had outperformed Romney in AZ. Then it would be easy to say, “look, run more libertarians.” Didn’t happen, though, he ran behind Romney.

bob November 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Sure, 2%, but a good chunk of the difference came from improvements in states that McCain had already won. Romney only won one state with less than an 8% lead.

It’s just like gerrymandering: The way to maximize representation is to always win by a little, and when you lose, lose by a landslide

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 5:55 am

True, but I would think that electoral vote strategy is related more to campaign management and resource allocation whereas popular vote tally is more relevant to general message resonance- plus or minus a few state and regional pork promises.

TheA November 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I don’t understand

Of course you don’t. The margin dropped from ~7.5% to ~2%. The point is, the polling data consistently showed that Romney was not erasing all of the 7.5% victory margin, even with independents switching to R. A poll that reflects a 2% lead for Obama with a 4% Margin of Error does NOT mean its a 50/50 toss up. It means theres a ~75% chance of Obama winning. It CERTAINLY does not mean that Republicans are “feelin good” and will swing Minnesota. Those kind of projections are bullshirt in the way ESPN analyst football score projections are BS. Not surprisingly, most GOP pundits could not understand that. We liberals presumably do, for now, since we’ve been worshipping at the altar of Nate Silver for the last six months.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Ahem…

Osama bin Laden is dead

by Tyler Cowen on May 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

My quick take is that that Obama will be re-elected (getting Osama is way more important than Iraq or Saddam in the American mind, attacks on American soil, etc.), at this point the Republicans won’t try to beat him from the center and will thus nominate a more extreme candidate and lose badly, and the most important effects will be on Pakistan, not this country.

What do you think?

Andrew’ May 2, 2011 at 9:47 am

Sorry folks, but as much as I hate to say it Tyler is right folks.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm

4 years ago, super bad, people see it coming.

Today, not super bad, some people surprised.

What’s the story here? That some guy running a poll gets the same prediction little old me could see 6 months ago?

TheAJ November 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm

The story is about the conservative media pundits who could not come to the same prediction that you came too when it was staring them in the face.

And the fact that these same pundits are the ones who are educating conservatives on the news.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm

No they aren’t.

As is typical, the only way I know what Fox says is because some liberal is yelling it at me.

dirk November 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm

What if the scenario this year had been Romney leading in most of the polls prior to the election. Doesn’t it seem as likely that liberal media outlets would have misled liberals as to Obama’s chances and that the GOP would have been the ones to tout Nate Silver’s forecast? Yeah, Silver writes for the NYT — but his extreme popularity with liberals was due to what he was predicting, not who he wrote for.

For instance, I noticed Slate recently was touting some individual poll showing that Obama was leading while concurrently Drudge had Gallup’s poll numbers, as if those were the only real poll numbers. Note that Slate did not quote Nate Silver or point out that an average of polls showed Obama ahead, they merely dumbed it down just like Drudge and picked a single poll which happened to please their readers.

Cliff November 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm

You really think the Fox News audience is not conservative?

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I would definitely say they are more neocon. I stopped watching it long ago even though the alternatives are definitely leftish.

But what I meant was that conservatives are not educated by Fox.

Here is what it is. The MSM is incredibly shitty. So, Fox comes in to fill a gap. Since they are new they are incredibly shitty even though they still serve the purpose of filling the niche left by the shitty left.

TheAJ November 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

No they aren’t.

As is typical, the only way I know what Fox says is because some liberal is yelling it at me.

There you go again, see this isn’t about you. You not watching Fox News and your ability to properly understand Romney would lose the election is . . . suppose to be commendable or something . . . I guess. But the fact remains that prominent pundits – Krauts, George Will, Peggy, all of Fox News, Karl Rove basically provided a dumb prediction with really no analysis or logic to back it up.

Really its no different than comparing Sagarin or Vegas odds on a football game to Chris Berman’s pick of 30-23 Bears over Texans. There was no insight offered. Which is not surprising because they do the same with economic news as well.

Again, if little old you could see it coming, then why can’t the number one cable news show?

THeA November 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm

No they aren’t.

As is typical, the only way I know what Fox says is because some liberal is yelling it at me.

There you go again, see this isn’t about you. You not watching Fox News and your ability to properly understand Romney would lose the election is . . . suppose to be commendable or something . . . I guess. But the fact remains that prominent pundits – Krauts, George Will, Peggy, all of Fox News, Karl Rove basically provided a dumb prediction with really no analysis or logic to back it up.

Really its no different than comparing Sagarin or Vegas odds on a football game to Chris Berman’s pick of 30-23 Bears over Texans. There was no insight offered. Which is not surprising because they do the same with economic news as well.

Again, if little old you could see it coming, then why can’t the number one cable news show?

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Some of the same liberals who think Bush, McCain and Romney are somehow conservative.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Andrew’ you appear to be the exception to the conservative rule since you do not watch Fox News so let me inform you. In general Fox News viewers thought Romney had a very good chance of winning when in fact it was very small. The reason they imagined Romney could win was because many Fox News pundits were spreading false information about their chances. It is in response to Fox News that phrases such as “the facts have a liberal bias” have become so popular. You should encourage all of your conservative friends to avoid Fox. The world would be a better place.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Got it.

What I disagree with is this implication that everybody was misled because everybody but me watches Fox.

Generally, if I can personally point to a counterfactual of me, I don’t buy the spin.

dirk November 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

According to Pew, only 14% of Americans watch FoxNews. I think more than that voted for Romney.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm

“According to Pew, only 14% of Americans watch FoxNews. I think more than that voted for Romney.”

True making the election appear closer than it really was happened at the other news networks as well. And I’m sure there is some worry that reporting Obama has a strong chance of winning would be biased and reduce turnout. So there are multiple reasons for toning down the “Obama will win” reporting PRIOR to the election. But on election night if you compared election coverage on CNN vs Fox (which I did) it was easy to see why Fox gets so many complaints. CNN pretty quickly started demonstrating just how big the electoral college problem was for Romney and noted that the remaining returns were coming from Democrat areas. On Fox Karl Rove was trying to say Ohio was still in play when the data was strongly against him. It is the disagreement over what a fact is that frustrates people about the conservatives.

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

That’s because you are a crashing narcissist, Andrew’

Doesn’t make you a bad person, but you are incredibly self absorbed. At least your persona here is. Remember CBBB? Same kind of thing, different hobbyhorses.

Willitts November 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm

@Steve:

On Fox, Rove was saying that Romney still had a chance in Ohio AFTER the Fox News analysts had, before any other news outlet, called the state and the election for Obama. The decision desk, as you say, analysed the votes outstanding and concluded there were not enough remaining Republican votes for Romney to recover.

Rove was not ignorant. He knew exactly from which counties the votes remained and their 2008 tilt.

So first you accuse a network for being out of touch with reality when they were the first network to report the correct result. Second, you attribute the network’s decision to ONE analyst’s opinion. Third, you ignore the fact that Rove’s opinion, while ultimately wrong was based on solid facts.

Considering that several contests in the last two elections were reversed on recounts, its not at all irrational for Rove to have believed at that time that Ohio was called prematurely.

These analysts have a variety of methods of gauging voter temperament, and Rove is a proven professional. Your bold assertion that you knew it all along and everyone who believed otherwise was delusional is, well, delusional. You and I watched the same broadcast and you missed the obvious.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm

So again the fact that Rove was indeed wrong doesn’t actually matter… On CNN they had already explained very clearly BEFORE calling it for Obama that it was very unlikely Romney had a chance there. Any armchair analyst could tell Ohio was going to Obama but for some reason Rove was still trying to grasp at straws. But of course I’m the one who was wrong because Rove has more experience than me. It doesn’t matter that Rove actually was wrong. In spin world he was right. Rove really knew better than analysts because he is Rove. Hunches matter more than data.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm

There is another explanation for Rove’s actions that I had not considered but that may actually be more likely. It may have been pure theater. Let’s face it calling Ohio was calling the election so there was no way they would make that call before they were very confident in the data. So most likely Rove knew he was spouting BS but did so just to extend the fun of election night. It goes right along with contention that Fox News is not really news and that Rove is in fact pretty smart.

Willitts November 7, 2012 at 8:20 pm

No, Steve, it does NOT matter that Rove was actually wrong. Analysis consists of facts plus assumptions. Sometimes the information contained in facts is wrong, sometimes assumptions are wrong, and sometimes they are both right but your model for connecting them is wrong. You can’t know any of these with certainty ex ante.

Rove also did not say with any level of certainty that Romney would win. He said, probably correctly, that there were enough outstanding votes that it was still possible for him to win. There is a far cry from claiming possibility and predicting victory. The ultimate outcome doesn’t mean anything Rove said was wrong. You’re just irritated that he claimed there was slim hope when you had mentally willed victory for Obama with absolutely nothing more than your armchair to base it on.

Susan Estrich probably described it best, saying that people upstairs were probably on the phone communicating superfluous information that had no bearing on an outcome that was already decided but remained unknown. You are claiming knowledge of the unknown and acting as if it was obvious. Well, Christine Gregoire obviously doesn’t believe that your version of obvious is so obvious. Al Franken doesn’t think so either. So shut your trap. If a democrat candidate had a choice between you and Rove as a campaign strategist, I predict you would lose that vote in a landslide.

Your pure theater explanation is actually more plausible. Fox showed the electoral count as dead even for most of the night, as did every other network. But did Rove think he was going to single handedly maintain Fox ratings after the decision desk had called the race for Obama and Megan Kelly was already congratulating Obama? Would Rove’s stock go up if he built up false hope?

There was 30% of the vote yet to be counted in Ohio at the time. The most cynical side of me would suggest that Fox wanted to declare Obama the winner first to allay allegations of bias. Despite that, you cling to the ONE person on the team who wasn’t quite ready to call Ohio as proof of some conspiracy to misinform people or retain viewers. It doesn’t matter to you that Rove wasn’t saying the same thing about NV and CO, one of which Romney needed even if he won OH. Rove even said that the dominoes would all have to fall perfectly for Romney to win. His only statement that could be construed as unfounded optimism was that IF Romney won Florida, it might signify a late break in the count in other states as well. He was referring to the dynamics of vote counting, particularly with heavily Democrat counties being counted early.

Everyone else on the FNC team was doing the post game wrap up.

Your prejudice against FNC is more telling of your horrid analytical skills than anything else. You can’t even OBSERVE reality and get it right much less predict an unobserved event.

If I had to wager a year’s pay on the outcome, I would have picked Obama too. Does that make me a better analyst than Rove? Hardly. And if I had a year’s salary wagered on Obama, I would have been very worried about the remaining votes in Ohio, the close races in VA, FL, CO, and NV. I would not have slept well even after FNC called it for Obama. Your opinion is cheap talk.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm

“You’re just irritated that he claimed there was slim hope when you had mentally willed victory for Obama with absolutely nothing more than your armchair to base it on.”

Ummm… no. You appear to be missing the entire point of what everyone is complaining about. There was no need to will Obama to victory. It was very likely he was going to win based on the DATA. I would have had no problem with Rove if he had said “from my analysis Romney still has a 1% chance in Ohio so seems too close to call to me. i think the analysts are overestimating this county so their odds are off”. But no he did some hand waving and said the analysts were wrong with pretty much nothing to back it up.

And yes you are correct I am sure Rove is a better political person than me. I expect he is as much better than me politically as I am better than him at things like math and engineering. I would never compare my bullshitting skills against someone like Rove. You have it right on that he would blow me out of the water.

Willitts November 8, 2012 at 12:48 am

No, Steve. First of all, the analysts we are talking about here were Fox News analysts who had called the race for Obama. So the network is vindicated by your own standard – getting the final result right. In a situation of incomplete information, getting the result right doesn’t mean tour method was right nor does getting the wrong result mean your method was wrong – that’s the nature of imperfect information. BuBut since you can’t grasp that, we’ll just talk about your lack of understanding about what transpired.

Rove did not say they were wrong, per se. He DISAGREED on a matter of uncertainty and he thought the call was premature. He did not, as you say, just wave his hands. He gave a very clear and reasoned rationale why those remaining votes could close the gap. He recited the number of votes outstanding by county and the margins of victory by county from the 2008 election. He may not have provided the mathematical calculations in his allotted 30 seconds to soothe your picayune objections, but by no means did he just wave his hands.

No matter how much math and engineering you’ve had, I don’t want to drive over any bridge you designed if you can’t watch a discussion and faithfully render what was said. You’d fail the GRE or GMAT with your level of comprehension.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 5:39 am

Generally, if I can personally point to a counterfactual of me, I don’t buy the spin.

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

That’s because you are a crashing narcissist, Andrew’

Don’t be a douchebag. Explain to me something i’m wrong about and try to do it without intentionally misunderstanding something I say.

My point is that if someone says “all conservatives are en thrall to Fox News” and in less than 1 tenth of a second I can point to a counterfactual then their assertion is clearly false.

Dirk proves it with data. And you are not a message board psychoanalyst.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 6:04 am

So, the leftish news organizations played down Obama to increase turnout while the Right-wing Fox and a few bloggers played up Romney in order to…Hmmm.

And as for Hobby Horses, I never heard of this Nate Silver until he got splashy with his questionably ethical betting move and then started being used by the left in their feverish efforts to paint the right as anti-data. So, please, msgkings, when you are gonna be a douche, try not to be so transparently silly.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 8:13 am

We’re talking about Karl Rove?

Actually, people are trying to tell me what Karl Rove said that I would never know were they not trying to tell me.

Karl Rove.

You guys actually think people look to Karl Rove? Maybe they do. Got DATA?

Steve November 8, 2012 at 8:10 pm

There actually is some data on Karl Rove available:

http://news.yahoo.com/republican-strategist-karl-roves-very-bad-night-002109469.html

It appears he managed hundreds of millions of campaign donations for a PAC and didn’t do a very good job at producing results. So yes people definitely do listen to him but it sounds like his advice is not very good.

@Willitts sorry I made fun of your boy Rove.

Andrew' November 9, 2012 at 5:31 am

The guy is a campaign strategist, fundraiser and campaign manager, he’s not a pollster and not an intrepid reporter. Yes he’s on FoxNews and they always blend news and what is basically color commentary.

If the main premise of this narrative is that people don’t understand what they are getting when they watch Karl Rove on FoxNews I seriously doubt that.

Then there is always this overbroad generalization that because Fox has Karl Rove the Republicans are left completely unawares of the zeitgeist and demographics going against them. Again, I doubt that.

Go Kings, Go! November 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Friedersdorf’s piece, and much commentary here, is of the genre where victorious team explains to losing team that the path the victory is to be more like the victorious team. The Yankees need to acquire great starting pitching like the S.F. Giants, except here it’s the GOP needs to promise goodies to the cornucopia of Democratic special interest and raise taxes on its own constituents to pay for it.

The problem with this genre is that it often misidentifies what obtains victory. Friedersdorf could’ve written: the GOP needs more office holders when the electorate votes the status quo, re-electing incumbents.

Willitts November 8, 2012 at 1:00 am

You make a good point here. There might have been nothing the GOP could have done to win or there might have been numerous ways to win. In a vote this close, it suggests that there were potential tactical and strategic decisions that could have been different to achieve a different result. The same could be said for Gore or Kerry, but certainly not Mondale or Dukakis.

Hell, it might have been enough if Akin and Mourdock had not stepped on their schwanze. It might have been enough for Romney to support the auto bailout or assuage the fears of seniors. This race was certainly winnable for Romney against a static opponent, but the democrats would have had counter strategies that might have negated them.

We aren’t even sure a median voter strategy was ideal. Romney didn’t appear to differentiate himself from Obama on foreign policy. Did he think he had the race won and was playing it safe, did he have nothing to say, or did he choke? Would Ohio, Florida and Virginia have cared?

He could have made a much stronger case on the weak recovery.

lemmy caution November 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I thought Kerry was going to win in 2004. I was wrong, but you can’t really blame republicans too much for being over- confident. It was a close race.

Thomas November 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm

For people who say they read polls so well, I’m surprised that they don’t notice that less than a third of self-identified Republicans in Gallup polling said they thought that Romney would win. Talk about epistemic closure.

Ted Craig November 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

What’s the quote often attributed to Pauline Kael? “I don’t understand how Nixon won. Nobody I know voted for him.”

Todd November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

LOL @ the thought that any Conservatives will be reading any article in “The Atlantic” which begins, “Nate Silver was right”.

But yes, willful blindness to demographic realities is a long term and continuing problem for Conservatives at the national level. Unfortunately, I think we all know the Republican party’s response will not be to change strategy/policy, but to find some Hispanic in California.

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

No, Florida. Rubio will be the nominee in 2016.

Engineer, this post of Tyler’s (and Conor’s) is for you.

Todd November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm

A Tea Party Cuban in a national contest?

Is the goal to lose 38 States? If so, kudos. Newt Gingrich loves this idea.

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm

4 years is a long time, he’ll be softened up plenty for the 2016 run.

lords of lies November 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm

aren’t you ladies giddy that american politics has become slave to the racial pander protocol? i mean, this is what we all wanted, right?

ps close the border, deport the illegals, man the checkpoints with tanks. it’s the only way to be sure… america doesn’t turn into brazil.

pps woops, too late.

john personna November 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Crazed racists should choose a scarier image than Brazil, where young women samba, and er … personal grooming was refined.

Andrew Edwards November 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Yes.

Calling it here for the record – Rubio over Clinton in 2016

Todd November 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I love it when my jokes are taken seriously by Republicans. Confirms many suspicions.

Vernunft November 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Speaking of last to realize things are going wrong, how about the bottom falling out of the economy in 2013? Should be fun to watch, huh?

Bill Sorrento November 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Why was I supposed to read “the whole thing”? A partisan gloating piece that the guy didn’t even care to proofread? Fox and MSNBC are the exact same thing, which is fine because we all know who they are and what they’re all about. The fact that one was right this time and the other was wrong, doesn’t really tell me a whole lot. I think there is some confirmation bias going on here. I don’t know who Matt Lewis and I don’t know why people expressing their opinions is “bad for America”? On the other hand, maybe I’m just cranky this morning.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm

And who are these guys who thought Romney would win? And who are the people who think the problem with “conservative media predicts wrong” is the “wrong” part of that sentence?

byomtov November 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Rush Limbaugh, Peggy Noonan, NRO types, Michael Barone….

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Okay. Care to try again?

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Karl Rove, Roger Ailes, Steve Forbes…what exactly are you asking for here, Andrew’?

Some things are self-evident: the sun is yellow, the grass is green, and Fox News was very clearly predicting a Romney win.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 5:46 am

msgkings,

If you are done being a douche, trying comparing apples to apples.

Forbes is the closest, not even close.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Isn’t that a bit like the claims that Paul Krugman is an awesome prognosticator because he’s better than George Will?

byomtov November 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm

What are you talking about? You want more?

Here’s The Weekly Standard.

Here’s John Podhoretz

So what are you looking for?

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 5:49 am

Now, what are you talking about? You are pointing out a bunch of interested pundits who made wrong predictions.

Are people no longer allowed to make predictions? And why would they make these predictions, to give their readers over-confidence in order to stay home?

And you are comparing them to a serious pollster. Find a serious pollster.

Above I demonstrate where I predicted Obama to win 6 months ago. That’s not to toot my own horn, that’s to show how silly this is BECAUSE I’m nobody.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 5:51 am

From the weekly standard YOU LINKED

“Accordingly, what follows is a prediction based on my interpretation of the lay of the land. I know others see it differently–and they could very well be right, and I could be wrong.”

and they could very well be right, and I could be wrong.

and they could very well be right, and I could be wrong.

and they could very well be right, and I could be wrong.

msgkings, I don’t know if I’m a narcissist, and you sure don’t either, but I do know it drives me crazy when people can’t see what is right in front of their nose.

Next you’ll be telling me Rush Limbaugh said Romney had a good shot.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 6:23 am

Podhoretz: “If Mitt Romney wins tonight, it’ll likely be because of something revealed by a little-noticed statistic released yesterday by the polling firm Rasmussen — ”

“If”? “If”?

My crashed narcissism aside, THAT is your example of overconfidence, and you still don’t get my point? Podhoretz says as much as the polls favor Obama, but IFFFFFFF the polls are wrong, he suggests how that might happen. Now, maybe you don’t know who the real examples are that the blogosphere is supposedly nailing, but I didn’t even know this story until the lefties started gloating.

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

If Romney’s poll numbers were like Obama’s were MSNBC would have said as much and glumly declared Romney likely to win. Fox just kept ignoring the obvious.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Really? Were they and other liberals saying that in 2004 the day before the Election, as the immediate preelection polls (but not the exit polls, famously) got Bush’s 2.4% margin quite correct?

I understand them not wanting to call things based on odd exit polls, though it did seem like Ohio took a long time to call in 2004.

MD November 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm

In 2004, liberals were getting high on their own supply. Everybody they knew, every blog they read said Kerry was going to win, the poll numbers were wrong, etc. Then they got slapped by reality. It happens. Conservatives will learn their lesson, too.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Really? Were they saying that in 2004 the day before the Election, as the immediate preelection polls (but not the exit polls, famously) got Bush’s 2.4% margin quite correct?

I understand them not wanting to call things based on odd exit polls, though it did seem like Ohio took a long time to call in 2004.

Brian Donohue November 7, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I’m pretty sure Candy Crowley spent a couple hours that evening smirking and wondering what Kerry’s deal was with not coming down RIGHT NOW and conceding.

j r November 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I don’t know about MSNBC in 2004, but I live in DC and know a lot of partisans. The overwhelming mood of conservative partisans was “we got this. We’re going to shock the world.” The overwhelming mood of progressive partisans was “OMG! Everyone please go vote, cause Obama could still lose.” That pretty much much mirrors what I’ve seen from the partisan press.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 8:42 am

HAhaha, those DA progressive partisans predicted Obama could lose.

/sarcasm.

Millian November 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Partisan? Do you know something we don’t? Has Friedersdorf joined the Libertarian Party? Do you think one TV station is the same as another if the first one is often wrong and sometimes harmfully wrong to its viewers?

Bill Sorrento November 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

I think both networks (as well as many other media outlets) are often wrong and maybe sometimes harmfully so if viewers don’t realize they are being spoon-fed the far-right or far-left koolaid.

TheAJ November 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Prediction: Conservatives will completely squander an opportunity to reflect on where they made mistakes in their predictions that literally came from their gut. I’m not talking mistakes on campaigning, policy positions, and the rest of that. I’m talking about the pundits that are earning $500K salaries to come up with bogus projections of 300 EV Romney landslides without any basis at all. These are the same stupid people who thought BLS data was fake.

Now think about the fact that conservatives are going to continue to receive information from the same awful pundits on say . . inflation predictions, economic predictions, etc. The like.

In other news, the Drudge Report has a screenshot of today’s DJIA decline of ~200 pts and a subheader “OWN IT.” He’s counting on conservatives to forget that it has risen by 5000 points since 2008. But did anyone really expect different?

So to the question of whether conservatives will ever learn anything . . . the answer is no.

Not until other conservatives start slapping around their own bretheren. Conservatives will not respond to liberals calling conservatives morons for not understanding statistics.

Malcom Digest November 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm

You have to cherry pick your date in 2008 if you want to claim a 5000 point gain. And you also have to discount the inflationary aspects of the stock market recovery.

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Yeah, this Obama market sucked. Shoulda been up 10,000 to really impress me.

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm

And he’s not measuring from 2008, it’s up 5000 from Jan 2009 when he took office. Your post perfectly exemplifies TheAJ’s last sentence.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm

It really is amazing. Watching Karl Rove try to say Romney still had a chance in Ohio was like the ultimate “this is what we are talking about” moment. The inability to accept facts. It almost seems like conservatives have forgotten that there is a reality outside of the political bubble and it relies on science not spin.

Malcom Digest November 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Interesting that in one comment you throw out a sarcastic response that has nothing to do with that I said and in the other you are just factually wrong. TheAJ clearly said 2008. If that’s not what he meant fine, but don’t blame me for reading his words as written.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I think you understand that the bigger point is the stock market did very well under Obama. In fact large companies in general have done very well. They just aren’t hiring people…

Andrew' November 9, 2012 at 5:23 am

The market is a discounting mechanism. It started the crash right about the time Obama was assumed to be elected. As he turned out to be not as bad as assumed the market has climbed the wall of worry and still isn’t back to where it was in 2008.

If you are claiming that Obama’s pro-business performance is responsible for a near doubling of the market that is ridiculous.

msgkings November 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Yes, we can all agree the market crash of 2008 was due to Obama’s election and had little to do with the implosion of the banking system, the Great Recession, or the housing bubble collapse. And those are all Obama’s fault anyway.

Rahul November 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm

If I am reading this InTrade graph right, except for a short 2-month period late last year, it always gave a ~60% chance (averaged) favoring Obama winning?

https://data.intrade.com/graphing/temp/chart13523055275531114.png

Why is everyone so surprised? Pundits can be biased as well as incompetent; but InTrade seems pretty neutral and accurate.

Rahul November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm
yenwoda November 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Something fishy was going on with InTrade though. As other betting sites converged with the odds given by statistical aggregators (538, PEC, Votamatic), all of which were dead-on, InTrade prices stayed depressed. See here for example (hat tip to Calculated Risk)

https://self-evident.org/?p=956)

Alex has written positively about InTrade in the past, including about this particular market (specifically arguing that price manipulation attempts should make the market more robustly accurate(!)). I’d love to get his post mortem take.

byomtov November 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Friedersdorf is right, and he might have added some other things, climate change among them.

The short version is that conservatives really do need to start thinking about the world as it is, and that they don’t is the fault, as he suggests, of serious conservatives to call out the nonsense and the BS’ers and the fantasists.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Not sure that climate change will be a winning issue until the economy gets better. A proposition to require 25% renewable energy sources for electricity by 2025 failed with only 36% of the vote in Michigan last night. President Obama ran pro-coal in the election.

Judging by this and other actions, I don’t think that climate change makes sense as a place for the GOP to make real policy changes. Though perhaps adopting the strategy of many Dems of making rhetorical noises about believing in it while not voting for anything with real teeth would be smart. Voters like the idea of doing something about climate change, they just want it to be free.

byomtov November 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm

You could be right about the politics, though I’d argue that part of the reason for that is right-wing denialism. If one party is convincing its voters that climate change is no big deal it’s going to be hard to get much traction on the issue.

I would like to see this problem get more attention. I think it’s very important, and my question to conservatives is what solutions they propose.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm

How is this for a start?

Safe, Standardized Nuclear to which Democrats demonize nuclear.
Good solar, to which Democrats promote crappy solar.
Oppose fossil fuel denialism to which Democrats de facto promote coal.

Who promoted the hydrogen and corn ethanol nonsense? Why do Democrats get points for “do something!” when nothing they do is any good?

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Here Bill Gates says it is nuclear and he asks for $10B a year in government energy research.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-miracle-seeker-20101028?page=2

This is equivalent to a rounding error, or maybe the cost of free birth control.

So, they aren’t doing it because Republicans don’t believe in Global Warming? Or because they don’t want an energy neutral solution?

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm

They don’t do it because just like the Republicans have a dumdum fringe (which happens to be driving the entire party bus), the Democrats do too. But they only get to hold up a few things, like nuclear energy. They don’t torpedo the whole party. And with a little bipartisanship they can be outgunned. Can’t marginalize the Rep crazies because they call the shots.

Ramen Noodle Soup November 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm

“But they only get to hold up a few things, like nuclear energy.”

*cough cough* gun control *hack cough*

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

msgkings,

If you are holding up nuclear while blathering about global warming, nothing else matters.

Let’s do it like this:
When I’m elected president, in 4 years, none of this 10 year bullshit, there will be 3 standardized and approved nuclear power designs. The federal government will assume all design risk, as it should after approving the designs.
There will be an approved location for the nuclear waste. We will accomplish this as we should, by compensating the people of the state of its localization. We will compensate them because security of nuclear waste is a matter of national defense.

Jon Rodney November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I don’t think the issue here is so much whether climate change legislation is a winning political strategy. The GOP could gain a lot of credibility by simply admitting that climate change exists and is most likely caused by human activity. There’s plenty of room after that to debate what actions are appropriate to take.

byomtov November 7, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I agree.

Millian November 7, 2012 at 2:30 pm

It’s not a winning issue, yes. In the same way, abolition was not a winning issue in the 1850s.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm

“The GOP could gain a lot of credibility by simply admitting that climate change exists and is most likely caused by human activity.”

Exactly. At this point it seems like a vote for the GOP is a vote against science. I wish they would try to shed that image but for some reason they worry about losing the religious right. What is the religious right going to do? Vote for the Democrats? That will never happen. I think the problem is so many of the candidates are from the religious right and the mistrust of science is not just a political ploy. Please let the GOP stop electing people who believe the earth is 10,000 years old and that Jesus visited Missouri. I’d like to have a choice when I visit the ballot box.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I don’t feel like I’m voting against science. In fact, the Democrats seem to be wrong more often about policy-relevant questions of science e.g. corn ethanol, embryonic stem cells (in that we don’t really need them, they cause teratomas, and we can make stem cells from fat), hydrogen fuels, renewable energy (not ready for prime time and may never be, though we should continue fundamental research, but not pretend they are today’s solution), and stonewalling nuclear technology development (an important analogy to the tacocopter). When democrats stop beig nuclear power denialists, then we’ll have largely solved global warming without convincing anyone.

On the Republican side, you basically have people wanting to control what their kids are taught (e.g. evolution versus). The democrats pick this issue solely because they know it will irritate the religious.

Global warming is unique in that democrats are hot and bothered because they think it entails greater command-and-control over the economy. The science is largely irrelevant.

How is it exactly that Republicans are waging a war on science? When there are about 3 issues used as political footballs, why isn’t that your null hypothesis, that they are just political footballs?

Steve November 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm

The reason I believe they are not political footballs is because some of the commentary I hear from Republicans. The Republicans do not need to worry about losing the religious right vote yet they say things that only the religious right will agree with. My opinion is this is because they actually believe the things they say rather than just being political ploys. And when a politician disagrees with basic science such as evolution I cannot vote for that person. It worries me that other Republicans do not repudiate these folks and makes the entire party suspect. It is literally embarrassing to me when you look at charts that show belief in evolution by country. The US is in the company of the Middle East on that question.

Zephyrus November 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

The ideal equilibrium for Democrats is to make lots of noises about climate change but being able to blame not doing anything on the dastardly Republicans.

Which makes your proposed route–which seems eminently reasonable–unworkable. Once all the elites in the Republican Party start making noises about climate change, it forces the Democrats to shit or get off the toilet. More likely than not, they’d go for starting to pass carbon regulation. Which leaves Republicans in a tricky place: if they accept it’s real and it’s a problem, what’s their excuse for not doing anything? Any available option will not be beneficial to Republican constituents, be it carbon taxes or funding competitors or substitutes to fossil fuels.

RG November 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Nothing’s more fantastial than thinking taxes on the wealthy will make a substantial dent in the deficit, let alone the debt, but thats what millions just voted for. This after the president promised to cut the deficit in half in his first term and took no actions to actually do so.

byomtov November 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I doubt anyone much thinks that. I don’t.

But it will raise revenue, in contrast to the truly fantastical belief that conservatives hold, which is that such an increase will reduce revenues and ruin the economy.

Heaven forfend that the Romney’s of the world have to pay more than 15% in taxes.

Ted Craig November 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm

The real issue facing the U.S. is the unwillingness of Mr. Average to pay more than 13 percent.

Brian Donohue November 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm

ding ding ding

DK November 7, 2012 at 8:15 pm

For us, unwashed masses, could you explain why this unwillingness was not a problem before but is problem now? While at it, please explain why you call the unwillingness, and not the thing that caused the transition, a real issue. Thank you.

Brian Donohue November 7, 2012 at 10:52 pm

DK,

Not a problem before? Half the country paying no federal income tax is a relatively recent phenomenon. We’ve been lettin’ it slide the past few years as part of the “let everything slide” policy.

But if we as a country are ready to deal with 24% spending and 16% taxes (before the situation deals with us a la Greece), I reckon this has gotta be part of the package.

All-in US taxes are more progressive than Europe.

Cliff November 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm

It will have no effect on Romney’s 15% tax rate.

You are not the average person and I am sure there are plenty of people who think we can get rid of the deficit by taxing “the rich.” I think the mainstream conservative opinion is that the tax increase is bad for the economy and that what we really need is spending cuts.

msgkings November 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm

And in fact the reality is we need more revenue AND spending cuts, but one side acknowledges this and the other refuses to.

Thankfully the politics now might work for a Simpson-Bowles type deal which includes both.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Isn’t the belief that we need “more revenue AND spending cuts” but not yet? And there there are occasional offers to have, say, the revenue right now and the spending cuts later, or vice versa, but the parties eventually compromise on “later” for both things, and off we go.

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

@MSGKings

One side acknowledges that we need tax increases and spending cuts? I haven’t seen a single person from either side acknowledge that we need any spending cuts.

Can you produce a budget proposal by anyone in the house or senate that calls for spending to fall from one year to the next? There are no spending cuts in Simpson-Bowles. There is spending growth that might be slower than the overall growth of the economy (but only if the economy gets much better and grows faster.)

No one is proposing anything like a solution to our coming problems. Politically speaking, that’s wise. To do so would be political suicide for either side. Not so great for the country’s future, though.

lords of lies November 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm

“Friedersdorf is right, and he might have added some other things, intelligence, criminality and time orientation differences between large human population groups among them.

The short version is that liberals really do need to start thinking about the world as it is, and that they don’t is the fault, as he suggests, of serious liberals to call out the nonsense and the BS’ers and the fantasists.”

how very self-reflective of you!

Miley Cyax November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm

People often think their precious feelings and indignation trump data and numbers. Not a trait restricted to Republican pundits.

Also, seeing ad hominem attacks against Silver was disappointing. So what if he’s a liberal, doesn’t mean his methodology was necessarily flawed in favor of Obama as a result. The shortcomings of PECOTA are eyebrow-raising, but I presume Silver’s learned since then.

Rich Berger November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Consider on the other hand, the so-called mainstream media’s blackout on the murder of the ambassador in favor of hyperventilating over Mourdock/Akin, a phony war on women/contraception kicked off by George Stephanoupoulis, a photo-op of our commander-in-chief providing no actual relief to Hurricane Sandy victims, and the labeling of Romney as a felon and a murderer by the Obama campaign. The Obama campaign understood very cynically the power of fear to manipulate the feeble-minded and the Romney campaign did not. Even so, hardly a rout. Unfortunately, the nation will pay a high price.

Rahul November 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm

” Unfortunately, the nation will pay a high price.”

Paternalism? The nation knows not what’s best for it?

Cliff November 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

“The nation” is not a coherent entity with logical preferences and voting in no way results in some mythical “will of the people” being enacted.

Derpino November 18, 2012 at 3:41 am

afternoon from the Republican Party’s own Dark Knight: Chris Christie. The residual power ofa0Governor Christie’s enmnrsedeot should provide Mitt with a significant boost heading into the primary voting stage. Only time will

j r November 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I have to believe that this is a troll account.

Orange14 November 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm

No, just a disappointed no-nothing based on his previous posts. He is one of those that Friedersdorf is addressing. It’s surprising to me that readers of this blog who are presumably interested in Economics refuse to look at the data which shows an emerging Democratic majority over the long term. You can only rely on angry white males for so long and that time has now been eclipsed. The Republican party has to now do a lot of soul searching or they risk becoming a minority evangelical Christian party that is largely located in the southeastern part of this country.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Sheesh.

If the angry white men are right, then you can count on me to be on their sinking ship.

By the way:
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/11/nate_silver_obama_s_big_win_doesn_t_mean_the_538_guru_is_an_electoral_genius.html

So, polls do what polls do. What is really going on here?

Steve November 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Andrew’ sorry but the Slate article totally misses the point. The people who love Nate know that all he is doing is averaging/weighting polls. The real point is that Nate is using DATA not hunches/superstition to make his predictions. This is what liberals are complaining about all the time about conservatives. From the liberal perspective conservatives seem to believe the Bible should be used for determining policy rather than logic. It is maddening for people who want smaller government that they have to vote Democratic because the Republicans are literally delusional. If you can convince the conservatives to stop using a book written 2000 years ago to set policy today so many fiscally conservative liberals would thank you.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 6:01 am

And people keep throwing out nonsense names of pundits. So far, the one sort of pollster from Weekly Standard that byomtov links too ACTUALLY SAYS.
“and they could very well be right, and I could be wrong.”

So, compare pollsters to pollsters and predictions to predictions. And you really can’t compare pollsters because Nate Silver apparently didn’t produce any, he just looked at them and added a little massaging. And you can’t give people points on the left for predicting correctly if you are criticizing the exercise of making predictions. There are a lot of false apples-to-oranges comparisons I see and almost zero self-awareness. So what exactly are we supposed to learn here, that people should no longer present opinions?

Steve November 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Andrew’ I would claim Nate Silver is making a prediction:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prediction

And the pundits are offering opinions. Prediction vs opinion I think is the basis of this nerds vs talking heads debate. People like myself prefer the former.

mulp November 7, 2012 at 2:32 pm

What media blackout? The early reports and the later reports and the current reports are, and the future reports will, consistently tell the message of Libya as a people who are liberated and now trying to figure out how to govern themselves because they are not occupied or controlled by a dictator. Like the American colonies after what was really a truce with Britain was made. local militias were one means of expressing the popular will, as others in power were abusing or blindly exercising power. If Shays Rebellion had the guns that the militias in Libya had on 911, would the USA exist?

The idea that elections solve problems and the only reason violence leads to American deaths is the commies or al qaeda just erases the strife that resulted in the US Constitution giving power to tax to Congress and for the Federal government to have the power to suppress local rebellions. Libya has not reached the point where 2/3rds of Libyans are willing to support a national militia that can go into Benghazi and suppress the domestic rebellions.

And the worst thing is the US to be the one to suppress the domestic rebellions.

What happened in Benghazi is local politics using outside factors to stir things up to change the power balance. The ambassador was in charge of the mission and was the one to go to Benghazi, fearing rebellion, but not believing he was targeted. And it is clear that he was not targeted. He was not dragged out by the terrorists, but died without anyone knowing it, with Libyans finding him and trying to save him.

You are trying to introduce Libyan politics into the US elections just like Libyan factions used the US as a way to change Libyan politics.

As for Sandy, Obama actively oversaw the implementation of his top level declaration being implemented by Fugate who believes in Federal support, unlike “Brownie”. GW Bush issued orders just like Obama’s but did not engage in the oversight even when everyone knew Brownie was in pissing contests with everyone instead of acting. Obama was engaged from the start and issued the orders needed to bring other agencies along, and the message from Obama, and Christie, was clear – no pissing contests….

But the issues you wanted debated were not: the role of the US government in the world, and the role of the Federal government in the US. If you wanted the debate to turn on the US occupation of Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, war with Iran, well, Romney sensed he had to agree with Obama, so he would have handled Benghazi the same way. On FEMA, Romney wanted to go with Brownie like Bush, but didn’t say so because he saw that as a loser.

And I find it funny how thin skinned conservatives are after years of screaming Obama isn’t an American and is a Marxists anti-colonial socialist taking away everyone’s liberty in revenge for African suffering, the claims Obama painted Romney as a murderer are a joke.

It is just the kind of arguments you have made that made the election so “small” and conservatives so deluded about the outcome. You see Obama as the “other” and so alien no one can possibly support him other than radical leftists, and if they only knew the deep secrets, a rabid dog would beat Obama yesterday in a landslide because Obama is just so anti-American. Face it, Obama has played the black Romney, so Romney who played the white Obama as governor, was unable to take a rational stand in opposition.

Rich Berger November 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm

You disappoint me. I feel better already.

Beware the Hyperbole November 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm

What’s the counterfactual here? That if the conservative media didn’t exist, Romney would have done better? I’m having a hard time imagining any candidate successfully pivoting more to the center than Romney did in the general campaign while still energizing the base. Without conservative media, I don’t think the base would have been as fired up.

Maybe conservative media led to the Republicans nominating lower quality candidates in the Senate, but look at how well the Republicans held on to their House seat gains from 2010. The tea party freshmen are nearly all sophomores now–why didn’t the conservative media fail them or all of the new Republican governors who were elected?

And don’t be fooled by his claim that this was “a very winnable election.” It wasn’t. Political scientists have been predicting all along that the fundamentals (economy, incumbency) favored Obama, but it would be close. That’s not “very winnable.”

Second, where was a similar post in 2010 after the Republicans stomped on the Democrats for overreaching? Did the MSM fail liberals since they didn’t foresee such a big Republican win?

Perhaps Mr. Friedersdorf’s ideological blinders aren’t as big as the conservative pundits’, but he’s just as guilty of hyperbole.

Rahul November 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm

The counterfactual is that more conservatives would have realized that he was losing…….

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

More because one liberal guy actually read polls and a handful of Republican pundits pundited?

TheAj November 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm

And don’t be fooled by his claim that this was “a very winnable election.” It wasn’t. Political scientists have been predicting all along that the fundamentals (economy, incumbency) favored Obama, but it would be close. That’s not “very winnable.”

Okay, then why were conservative pundits still predicting a republican landslide?

Second, where was a similar post in 2010 after the Republicans stomped on the Democrats for overreaching? Did the MSM fail liberals since they didn’t foresee such a big Republican win?

Well, Silver did correctly project 2010′s romp. And nearly all liberals saw it coming. Heck, we were surprised to even hold on to the Senate. You are incorrect here. Seriously, was there a website like “unskewed polls” that prominent liberals were citing?

Perhaps Mr. Friedersdorf’s ideological blinders aren’t as big as the conservative pundits’, but he’s just as guilty of hyperbole.

Sorry, but there’s a bigger point here – even in the face of actual statistical evidence – conservative media leaders misled their viewers. Either deliberately, or because of the “gut feeling” type of analysis, or because of plain ignorance. Do we really want the same people reporting economic news . . . you know, telling us that inflation is out of control when the objective data clearly says its historically low? Do you care about this at all?

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Why do pundits give their guy a chance?

Seriously?

TheAJ November 7, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Yes, because media’s job is to give their guy a chance! I don’t know – why can’t someone just report the news? Why not start making up random hyperinflation statistics to give their guys a chance?
Seriously?

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

So, next time we’ll just ask Nate Silver and then as for the election don’t and say we did?

WTF are people talking about?!?

Steve November 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm

It is just like football – sometimes the underdog does win so you have to play the game. But in football if you check the odds on the game you will get a real prediction of the results. And Nate was that real prediction and many people just couldn’t allow themselves to believe it.

And it is true that acting like the race was close was not just a Fox News problem. It was to the advantage of all the news networks to portray the election as close to get higher ratings. Since Fox has such a bad habit of distorting facts in general they are getting the brunt of the complaints today but it was close to as bad on the mainstream news channels.

Brian Donohue November 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm

At what point does Intrade put all the stupid polls out of business?

Steve November 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I would claim the bets on Intrade are mainly based on the polls.

Willitts November 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Why predict a landslide? Because a 2% swing in the other direction redirects 100 electoral votes.

With far more than 2% of likely voters undecided, this could have been anybody’s game even though Obama had the high ground.

The election results were not an element of chance. Some random events might have changed turnout, but the result was likely baked. Pundits, pollsters, analysts, et al really weren’t judging the election results but judging the legitimacy of the polling results. Just because a poll produces a predicted result that is dead on the final outcome doesn’t mean the poll was the best estimator of the actual parameter. It’s the ex ante, not ex post reliability of the poll that matters.

To describe it with an analogy, a poker player might miscalculate the odds of winning a hand and make a bad call but win the hand anyway in a lucky draw. The ex post result doesn’t justify the ex ante decision making process.

Nate Silver ended up with a correct decision, but in no way does that justify his methodology. I could have said my model predicted an Obama victory with 98% probability. Would my model be better than Silver’s?

The problem with his model is that he is treating a parameter as if it is a random variable – a fundamental misinterpretation of statistics. It is equivalent to saying that the probability is 95% that a parameter falls within a 95% confidence interval. Wrong! It either does or does not. There is no probability about it. The correct interpretation of Silver’s model might be that if you ran the model a large number of times, X percent of the time it would predict whether a candidate won. By no means is Silver’s methodology validated by an Obama victory. However, I am not saying his model is garbage. It might be the best model ever devised by mankind, but the outcome of this election is not the proof of the pudding. His model may have extraordinary backrest results, but many models which perform well in back testing do very poorly out of sample.

I wouldn’t have had to design or test any model in order to assign a high probability to this exact electoral outcome. That doesn’t mean Romney should have saved his money and called it quits. That would have really affected the results, wouldn’t it?

Steve November 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm

“Pundits, pollsters, analysts, et al really weren’t judging the election results but judging the legitimacy of the polling results. Just because a poll produces a predicted result that is dead on the final outcome doesn’t mean the poll was the best estimator of the actual parameter.”

The issue is not whether the polls were the best parameter for predicting the election it is that they were the only parameter for predicting the election. If you were making predictions without checking the polls then what were you using as the basis for your prediction? Moon phases? Pundits were talking about momentum and enthusiasm when what mattered was who was going to vote and for whom. I’m a computer nerd so I took this as a validation of computer nerds over talking heads. And a validation of using data to make decisions rather than gut feel.

Beware the Hyperbole November 7, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Why did Republican pundits predict a Republican landslide?
1) Because most polls showed Romney ahead. See here: http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2012/11/07/a-second-look-at-national-pollster-accuracy/
2) Interact that with partisan cheerleading, and what do you get: predictions of a landslide. For whatever reason, the political class seems to think it’s better to look like you’re doing better in the polls in a close election than being behind.

Look, I don’t like the punditry myself. They make up crap all of the time, but they’re pundits. That’s what they do–no matter what side of the aisle they’re on (See here: http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2012/11/07/the-2012-election-was-not-a-mandate/).

I’m glad the econometric models won out. I’m glad Nate Silver is making sophisticated modeling, rather than “gut feelings,” more popular. It’s a bummer that partisan hacks accused him of being a partisan hack, but he doesn’t help the situation by keeping his data and methods private. When many of the polls show that your guy is ahead and the left-leaning geek from a left-leaning paper who everyone from the MSM loves is telling a different story, what do you think they’re going to do?

You’re right that Nate Silver’s last model with all of the most recent polling data predicted a 65 seat loss in 2010, but most forecasts were far from that: Again, see here: http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2010/11/03/the_forecasts_and_the_outcome/.

But the reactions I saw in a room full of 100 or so liberals that I was in during the 2010 election returns did not suggest that anyone expected such a big loss. Maybe the reality of it was hard to swallow even if they thought that the few models that predicted a 60+ seat loss for their party were accurate. I dunno.

And on your final point, isn’t this a bipartisan thing–pundits saying things that line up with their beliefs despite evidence to the contrary? Even top notch economists do this. Maybe the right does it more than the left in the current political environment. But if it leads to lots of losses, guess what, they’ll adjust. That’s what parties do. That’s why these same two parties have been going at it since 1860.

both sides are guilty of cheerleading. Ask a Dem how the economy’s doing, they’re much more likely to say it’s better than it actually is. Ask a Repub the same question and they’ll say it’s much worse than it is.

Jon Hendry November 12, 2012 at 12:15 am
John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Obama looks to basically win the popular vote by the margin George W. Bush did in 2004, but winning a few more very close states. I imagine that many feel today the reverse of how those on the other side did in 2004.

Obviously reform and a change in political fortunes is possible, no telling if it will happen. I can think of some issues that might work for the GOP (making a shift towards being anti SOPA/PIPA and on Internet freedom, particularly if the Obama Administration tries to push some Hollywood friendly “compromises” as threatened) but no sign so far that the party is really thinking about a new platform.

RPLong November 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm

The popular vote breakdown was 50% to 48%.

How on Earth a 2% difference translates into one candidate’s being “trounced” is beyond me. America is in denial about the state of its politics.

KLO November 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm

People get this feeling because pre-election polling is extremely accurate and they believe that whatever has happened was inevitably going to happen. By any objective measure, this was a very close election. That one could reliably predict its outcome well in advance suggests to many that it was not close at all.

GiT November 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm

It doesn’t make much sense to read very much into popular vote numbers when the game is played in the electoral college. If Obama wanted to maximize the popular vote, you’d see a very different campaign (and, I expect, numbers very favorable to democrats.) What would popular vote numbers look like if each campaign had to focus its GOTV campaigns in LA, NYC, Chicago, and other major urban areas?

RPLong November 8, 2012 at 2:46 am

It’s not a game to me, and you’re missing the point. See my reply below.

mulp November 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm

The same way Bush declared a mandate in 2000 and vowed to use his political capital to implement a real conservative agenda.

Except, Obama has not claimed a mandate, but recognizes the divide, and clearly states the stutus quo gridlock can’t hold and real compromise is required. The problem is there is no compromise between Obama and tax hikes and spending cuts; and the House Republican spending cuts only, or Mitt’s spending cuts, spending hikes for military pork to create jobs, and more tax cuts.

Bush did not turn a sorta balanced budget (it wasn’t really balanced) into huge deficits with tax cuts and spending hikes all on his own – it was a Republican project with conservatives claiming a mandate to cut taxes without paying for them.

Obama and Democrats gaining in the Senate IS a MANDATE to stuff the conservatives demanding tax cuts without paying for them.

Tim November 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

We don’t elect the president by popular vote. That number is irrelevant to the subject of “trouncing”. We call it a trouncing because the President could have lost Florida, Ohio and Virginia and still won.

RPLong November 8, 2012 at 2:45 am

Aren’t you missing my point? The American people do not disproportionately favor one man or the other, one party or the other. That the distribution of people works out to favor one particular candidate is a demographic phenomenon only. People need to understand that a 50% majority is not much of a majority at all. Half of the people in the country voted for an outcome other than the one they got. That’s a political reality we all have to deal with now. Proclaiming a “trouncing” victory under such conditions is a really stupid thing to do.

Andrew' November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I don’t think it is. Something is fishy here. Maybe it is “mandate” boosterism or something.

August 24th – Romney announces he would replace Bernanke.
Sept 12 – the Fed announces QE3. I wonder the exact date they started considering it.
I’m not saying that Bernanke gave the election to Obama, although it is certainly plausible, and he certainly didn’t hurt. The point is had the economic data not moderated in the prior few months that could easily wipe out that 2%.

It is remarkable to me how close Obama allowed this to get.

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Reporting bad poll results to the point that your readers/viewers were genuinely surprised by yesterday’s results is, indeed, inexcusable.

But the main problem for conservative media is that they’re still outgunned 10 to 1, so much that while idiotic conservative fantasies never catch on except among the faithful (Obama is actually a foreign-born Muslim!), equally moonbat fantasies from the left still seem respectable enough to sway non-committed voters who see the MSM as reporting facts:

– insufficient spending explains our educational problems
– we can all get more medical care yet pay much less for it
– we can reduce carbon emissions with curly lightbulbs and CAFE standards rather than huge carbon taxes
– rail is a wise investment, given current rail construction costs and development patterns in the U.S.

Every single one of those is at least as crazy as anything peddled by Hannity or his ilk, not just wrong but wildly wrong and easy to demonstrate as such. And yet all of them reported as true and accepted as true by a lot of swing voters.

Yes, the quality of the writing and editing and layout of the MSM is miles better, making its crap far more plausible as “news” rather than “our insane imaginings” but both sides are equally guilty of peddling fantasy.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Do you actually see what is posted as news on Fox? Obama repeating Jon Stewart’s calling Benghazi “not optimal” was headline news. Fox News is not news. The stats say the viewers are actually worse informed by watching it.

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm

And you think that’s worse than the stories that will cover CNN, the NYT and all the rest, implying that Romney will ban birth control, based upon other willful misinterpretations of what people have said?

How many thousands of stories has the NYT, the most respected provider straight news, written that are designed to scare people who would otherwise vote Republican into believing that a Republican victory would instantly illegalize abortion across the U.S., including in NY?

That is a willful fantasy, not even believed by the people who write it, people who have lived through 20 years of Republican administrations without seeing abortions banned, people who know that even if Roe is overturned, it goes to the states. It makes readers worse informed.

(And I’m fully pro-choice.)

derek November 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm

“we can reduce carbon emissions with curly lightbulbs and CAFE standards rather than huge carbon taxes”

Look, all of the smart liberals realize that we should just tax pollution. Not only is it more efficient at allocating resources to the best pollution-reducing technologies, but it is also a non-distortionary revenue source! The problem has always been getting conservatives to go along with any tax (and in the past 10 years, even to acknowledge that pollution is undesireable), which leaves us with half-measures sold to the general public with images of curly lightbulbs, less money spent on gas and saving koala bears.

Support of carbon taxes (the market-based solution) is somehow anathema to the current Republican Party.

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Neither party has advocated anything approaching the carbon tax levels needed to put any dent in climate change because to do so would enrage 90% of the voters. But the Democrats have managed to “win the issue” of climate change with a lie that lets voters feel good about “doing their part” and being “good people” by voting for Dems who advocate a few incredibly mild regulations that will do exactly zero.

Dems say you can stop climate change with just a few minimal sacrifices. It is an utter fantasy, at least as stupid intelligent design or any similar idiocy from Republicans. But people who vote Dem control 90% of the “news” that Americans see so fantasy passes for reality.

(Actually, that’s just one reason why Dem fantasies play so much better than Republican ones. There are several others but none particularly related to the original post.)

Steve November 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm

But using curly light bulbs is actually a good idea. True it is not going to impact global warming (at least not in the short term) but come on it is hard to argue against more efficient light bulbs and cars. There is some serious cognitive dissonance going on when people buy huge SUVs then complain about high gas prices. Dem fantasies at least have a nugget of truth in them. Repub fantasies are based on the planet Kolob.

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm

No. There’s actually no reason to believe that more efficient light bulbs will reduce carbon emissions at all. Absent deliberate attempts directly increase the price of energy generated by carbon, increased efficiency from lighbulbs and cars and all the rest will increase the amount of carbon emit. Increased efficiency allows you to get more bang from every dollar you spend on energy, so you demand more. Google it. There’s more on fuel efficiency than CFLs but the research is there.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Your argument is similar to the “lowering taxes increases revenues” argument – looking at the extremes shows it can’t possibly be true [on taxes it is clear if we reduce rates to zero that is not going to increase revenues]. If a car could run its entire lifetime on a drop of gas clearly that would reduce emissions. Are you saying you can imagine a scenario where it wouldn’t?

Urso November 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Curly light bulbs are about making people feel good that they’ve “done their part.” Like household recycling programs. Both allow you to pretend that you’re really helping the earth (more than pretend, as most people actually believe it) without having to suffer even the slightest inconvenience.

And at worst, they’re a fashion accessory; using old light bulbs is declasse among a certain group. (There is a roughly parallel group on the other side who would call you a couple of f words for driving a Prius).

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm

It all depends where you are on the curve, in both cases. Take your tax reducto ad absurdum the other way. Say taxes were 100%. No one would bother earning anything and tax collection would thus go down to zero. But if you cut the tax rate to 50%, people would earn money and tax revenues would go up. So if you think that by making the point that reducing taxes or fuel needs to zero, you have proven that reducing taxes or improving fuel efficiency never causes revenues to fall or fuel consumption to increase, you are mistaken. (For the record, I think we’re on a point of the tax curve where many tax increases will cause revenues to go up.)

But again, this willfully ignores the main problem with your argument. The UN consensus report says that we need to cut carbon emissions very drastically or disaster ensues. It also says that the relationship between emissions and climate change is not linear. There’s a big tipping point, which means marginal reductions don’t matter a lot. Even if the Dem plan works as planned, possible but unlikely, it will do no good. It is a fantasy but a vote-winning and respectable fantasy because the people who control 90% of the media endorse it.

Thus, as was my original point, conservatives did not lose because their media propagates more outrageous nonsense than the other side. They lost, in part, because conservative media does not have enough market share for its outrageous nonsense to deceive actual swing voters and become conventional wisdom. When you don’t control the media, you need to be more accurate. Plus, regardless of market share, conservatives need to do a much better job disguising their opinions as objective hard news.

I doubt I’ve helped you understand, but I’ve used all the effort I care to expend on a topic that’s interesting to me because of my profession (check my handle) but not because of my politics.

I don’t really care what lessons Republicans or Democrats learn from this because I generally don’t care which party wins at the national level. They’re really, really close to each other on nearly all the policy areas that matter to human welfare and, while I find some political tactics intellectually interesting in short bursts, I can’t really understand how intelligent people who are over, say, age 25 and don’t have a job that hinges on one party’s victory can really get worked up about this. If you’re an adult and you believe that people in one party are morally better or consistently smarter than those in the other, you have issues that I can’t solve.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm

” If you’re an adult and you believe that people in one party are morally better or consistently smarter than those in the other, you have issues that I can’t solve.”

I actually think you are right about this with the caveat that Republicans are letting religion sway them too much on social issues and this drives away many people. I understand it is very hard for some people to give up religion since it is such a strongly held tradition but at some point logic needs to win.

Tim November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm

No those are not even remotely as moon-bat as “Obama is actually a foreign-born muslim”. All the things you listed can be starting points for valid discussions about reality.

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm

No they aren’t. Not even close. All of them are wildly discredited, time and again. Just like the foreign-born Muslim thing. And if you can’t see that, then you are not dealing with reality.

Don’t worry. I don’t expect to convert anyone who somehow believes he can do his bit to stop climate change and still fly someplace for vacation, ever again in his life. But it is utterly incompatible with reality.

GiT November 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm

“Stop climate change” is a red herring. Holding all else equal, on the margin, replacing incandescents with fluorescents decreases emissions. No one thinks its the solution to all the worlds problems. They just think it’s marginally better than the alternative. I’m sure people exaggerate and are wrong about how much better on the margin it is, but they’re not wrong that it is marginally better, yes?

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm

But all else doesn’t hold constant on planet earth. Here, a sudden reduction in demand for energy causes power generators to cut prices until they are operating at full capacity again. Why? Because their fixed costs are huge and the marginal costs of generating more power are tiny, so they have a lot of incentive to run at full capacity. If we get so efficient that market equilibrium price falls below marginal generation cost, that would change, but we’d need power prices to fall a lot.

But you’re still ignoring the point. The consensus UN report that everyone talks so much about predicts Very Bad Things unless we cut emissions by about 80%. Worldwide. Which means that rich countries would have to cut them far more. And no, the science (which is admittedly speculative) doesn’t seem to think that marginal improvements will make much difference. They seem to suggest the relationship between carbon and climate change is not at all linear but a massive tipping point. So no, better on the margin doesn’t really hold here, unless you’re a science denier like those nasty Republicans.

No Dem has proposed any plan that would address it but the MSM allows Dem voters to believe moonbat fantasies like. “I have done my part by voting Dem, so I can fly to Europe for two weeks this summer and Colorado in the winter.”

Anyway, I’m done, so you can have the compulsive last word next. As I said, I don’t expect to change you’re mind, but there are as many liberal fantasies as conservative ones (and I’m sure I believe plenty of my own).

It’s just that differences in media power mean that liberal fantasies can win votes from undecideds whereas conservative fantasies placate believers while alienating others.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm

It is fairly simple why many liberals complain that conservatives believe fantasies but most people are too politically correct to point it out. Conservatives are in general more religious than liberals. A person who believes God lives on planet Kolob is hard for the non-religious to trust. It amazes me this wasn’t a bigger issue in the election but like I said we are still a very politically correct country.

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Everyone is deeply religious. Some people adhere to very traditional religions. Others adhere to new ones. Others make up their own.

Do you know anyone who doesn’t that some things are right and others (eating babies) are wrong? That’s religion. There’s no rational defense of any of that. But we all believe it, me included.

I, too, find it utterly amazing that anyone believes in Creation or that Jesus was running around the woods of North America and will damn you for drinking coffee, but then I tell myself that I have many equally indefensible beliefs and that none of it really matters in terms of implementing policies that will help or hurt the country.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Let’s replace religion with belief in the supernatural. Belief in mainstream religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc) requires a belief in the supernatural. Having a belief in the supernatural does impact policy decisions. It mainly impacts social issues rather than financial issues but there definitely is an impact – just ask women and homosexuals. Just get rid of those people and I will be able to return to the Republican party. At this point it just looks like a loony bin to me.

GiT November 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Except most of these things are not as fantastical as you claim or easily demonstrable as wrong.

Data on spending and education is ambiguous (if you control for demographics, you get positive correlations between spending and PISA scores across countries and across states).

Different ways of organizing health-care provision result in less wasteful overhead. 3% of GDP is spent on healthcare administration. Other ways of organizing healthcare, less beholden to insurers, seem to spend less on this. Spend less on administration and you can spend more on care.

What seems easily demonstrable is that you’re a blinkered ideologue who can’t distinguish moonbat fantasies (Obama is a Kenyan Muslim) from substantive disagreement about complicated issues.

Scoop November 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm

– PISA. Um no. There are, obviously, levels of spending so low that more money helps, but hundreds of studies over four decades show that the U.S. has long since passed that point. Moonbat.

– Healthcare. In theory, maybe. You can certainly point to other systems that are more efficient than ours, but the point my original post was that left-leaning publications like the NYT argued in “news” stories that the Obama plan had a realistic chance of providing more to everyone for less. Moonbat.

When you believe that the other side is doing much worse things than your side because your side is good and the other guys are greedy, unprincipled liars, you’re the blinkered one.

GiT’s opinion isn’t going anywhere, but for anyone following along, how often have you read as “fact” in “news” stories rather than opinion pieces in the NYT and other such prestigious places that the “moderate” Republicans in the senate are gone and replaced not just by “conservatives” but, often, “ultra-conservatives” and that “differences between the parties have never been so great”? 500? 1000?

Think about how ludicrous those charges are. An “ultra-conservative” should be advocating things that are radically different than the “moderate progressives” that all democrats are in the MSM today. But they’re not.

I’d challenge anyone to name one senator who is enough of a fiscal “ultra-conservative” to propose a budget that would cut the total federal budget, from one year to the next, by a single dollar. If merely slowing the rate of growth makes you a dangerous radical then such words have no meaning.

What about on the social side? Yes, there are some people on the Republican side who really believe that an embryo is a person and would ban abortions. (I don’t and wouldn’t.) Beyond that, name a single radical thing that these radical republicans would do. Anyone demanding blue laws or an end to easy divorce or a national ban on casinos? No.

To say that Republican senators are radicals is to make the word have no meaning. It’s a bit more skilled a fantasy than Obama Muslim because it’s not specifically disprovable but it’s only marginally more skilled and it’s still nuts.

prognostication November 8, 2012 at 12:43 am

There are non-partisan studies that attempt to measure partisanship of members of Congress. The media stories I’ve seen that describe a widening partisanship are typically based on those measures. Why you choose to omit that point is not clear to me.

Ranjit Suresh November 7, 2012 at 11:24 pm

“If you control for demographics…” In the real world, the U.S. no longer controls for demographics, as this election amply demonstrated.

Bender Bending Rodriguez November 8, 2012 at 1:05 am

CAFE is the crappiest possible way to reduce carbon emissions, if it even reduces emissions at all.

First, CAFE is subject to being gamed: Corn-supporting congressmen have granted manufacturers extra credit for vehicles that use M85. Second, CAFE was as much a give-away to the Detroit unions as it was about increasing fuel economy: Fleets are averaged not by manufacturer, but by manufacturer and country of origin. The UAW was afraid the Big Three were going to build econoboxes in Japan and put their members out of work. The net result is that you get into the state that GM was in in 2004-2005. They had to make expensive trucks in the US to make money, and to the extent that they needed to sell cars they had to practically give away the cheap high MPG ones. Third, the law completely ignores owner utilization. Someone could drive a 50mpg car 500 miles per day and there would be no “gas guzzler” tax. But if I have an 8 mpg sports car that I drive 50 miles per month, that’s assessed as having a huge externality that requires $2500 in taxes to counter. How about we just tax at the pump? Finally, the practical result of CAFE is that it sets a ceiling for fuel economy, not a floor. There’s no real incentive to massive exceed the corporate average. If there’s really an externality, how about granting corporate income tax offsets for corporate averages that are 5, 10, or 15 mpg better than the minimum?

asdf November 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Romney narrowly lost an election in which he did better then McCain in 2008.

Anyway, what is wrong with the republic party is that takers outnumber makers and there are gradually going to be fewer white people. This isn’t complicated, its demographics.

Marie November 7, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Scrolling down through all of this it reminded me that Republicans had a good possible candidate I personally would have voted for: Huntsman. He’s a good fiscal conservative. He’s also not a xenophobe and seems to understand that science isn’t a vast conspiracy theory. He was dismissed.

The Republican party bosses need to stop letting the rabble steer the ship. The rabble have no business picking the candidate.

John Thacker November 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm

His problem is that while not a xenophobe, he made clear that he hated “the rabble,” and politicians (on both sides!) need to at least suck up to them and speak out of both sides of their mouth to hold a coalition together.

Rahul November 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

That’s getting to the crux of the matter. The problem for the conservatives is that they are pitching conservatism on all axes and there’s a very tiny voter group that buys that.

It’s hard to find someone that’s pro-market, anti-immigration, anti-abortion, opposing gay marriage, and who then believes in creationism as well. The conservatives really have to pick their battles here.

Thomas November 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I liked Huntsman, largely because his record as governor was more conservative than Romney’s. There’s nothing to suggest that he and Romney disagree on science, or that Romney is a xenophobe. Huntsman lost because he made a tactical error in assuming that posing as a moderate would help him stand out. It did, but not in a good way.

Paul November 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Before the election, Nate silver predicted that Obama’s chance for re-election was 80%. Romney pundits said this was too high. Obama pundits responded that it’s just odds, that even if Romney won, Silver’s model still allowed a decent chance for Romney to win. Now, the results are in, Obama has won. This is viewed as a repudiation of the Romney pundits. So, now all of a sudden, these predictions are falsifiable?

Steve November 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm

The complaint is not that the pundits said it was too high but rather that they said it was incorrect altogether. Many Romney supporters were under the impression the race was very close that they should take a bet on it with 50/50 odds when in fact that was a very poor bet to make. I expect many donations were made with the impression that it might turn the race when instead it was just making the loss more respectable.

Paul November 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I agree with you. But if you support Romney, how is any of what you say a bad thing? If the polls say you’re going to lose, you don’t help your cause by agreeing with them. My point was more that the initial defense of Nate Silver’s work was to put it into the realm of non-falsifiability. Once this issue came to the front, Silver and his work was as much of a tool of the Obama punditry regardless of whether his predictions matched the election results. The reality/accuracy of the prognostication mattered less than the opportunities it presented to the pundit class. I’m not sure this is the devastating critique that it should be. A better critique is that Romney ended up representing old white male plutocrats (and their wannabes) and the Republican brand would be better served by paying attention to the liabilities of that than in finding better spin doctors.

David Wright November 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Conner, Tyler, and most of the commenters here seem to take it as a given that the conservative public figures talking up Romney’s chances were actually expressing their true assement and not simply engaging in strategic rhetoric. As far as I can tell, people who run political campaigns believe it is counterproductive to talk about how slim your chances are. I recall the Mondale campaign and its surrogates, faced with polling data showing there were going to get creamed much worse than Romney did yesterday, saying “the polls must be wrong because there are not looser crowds at our rallies”. Of course, they went on to perform just as poorly as the polls predicted. I don’t think they were really deluded, but simply carrying out a tactic.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm

On the issue of polling I think you may be correct. Thinking you’re going to lose may decrease turnout. On the other hand it assumes there is no punishment for predicting the election the wrong way. And this no punishment for being incorrect is one of the things liberals complain about. There doesn’t seem to be any limit to the amount of truth twisting conservatives are allowed to get away with (at least with their base).

mavery November 8, 2012 at 1:28 am

So your point is that Fox News’s pundits functioned as surrogates for Romney’s campaign?

David Wright November 8, 2012 at 3:15 am

Undoubtedly, possibly even in a coordinated fashion, although that’s hardly necessary. Just as many liberal media types have in the back of their mind how what they write and say might impact their favored candidate’s chances.

Steve November 8, 2012 at 8:33 pm

The “tactic” of intentionally misrepresenting the polling data is very close to deception. I would use Romney’s tax plan as a better example than Fox News. What Romney proposed was not possible. The most favorable analysis was done by Feldstein(?) and even he had to take away deductions from people earning less than $200k to make it work. Yet there was very little demand for more clarity on the tax plan from the conservative base. In fact when I complained to my friends about the tax plan their response was “don’t worry he really won’t take away deductions for people like us”. In other words they knew Romney was lying about his tax plan but didn’t care. And then I would walk away shaking my head mumbling “but he’s running on reducing the deficit…”

Paul November 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Also, I might be persuaded that accurate polling is more of a curse to good politics. The electorate was severely divided. On the issues that Romney won, he won decisively. On the issues that Obama won, he won decisively. For the interests that Romney supported, he won decisively. For the interests that Obama supported, he won decisively. Good polling means that you can triangulate your message to the best effect within your chosen constituency and end up creating an organically created gerry-mandered election result rather than broad consensus. Shouldn’t we see this as a bad thing?

Uninformed Observer November 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm

So, what you’re saying is…. conservatives are stupid because Fox News?

Alrighty then.

Steve November 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Actually what they are saying is “Conservative media outlets promote too many voices who mislead the base AND turnoff independents. Good for ratings & clicks/bad for America.” Fox News certainly is the center of it but the misleading seems to apply to conservatives in general. The difference between primary Romney and general election Romney was substantial yet there was little outcry from conservatives. It was just expected that what he said in the primaries was BS. In fact when I complained about limiting tax deductions to my friends they replied don’t worry he won’t really do that. What? Now we are hoping he is lying to us?

babar November 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm

not 2%. 4%. not counting FL at all, obama is at 303 EV and needed 270. so he could have done without VA and OH (18 + 13) completely. that leaves CO (51-47) as the decider, really. keep that in mind next cycle, CO may be the median state EV-wise.

Alan November 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Until some time around the year 2000, civilisation made progress by using facts as the currency of debate. The Republicans are still in the process of trying something else. I’m not sure what it is, but a mjority of voters didn’t buy it.

Thomas November 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Who is the conservative who doesn’t read Nate Silver, hasn’t heard what the NY Times and everyone else was reporting, etc.? Heck, the whole point of “unskewing” polls was precisely that data was available and was telling a story. What conservative is able to avoid hearing these things?

The story in the weeks before the election was that national polls told a much more favorable story for Romney than state polls. There are reasons for choosing between those two stories, but not particularly good reasons. That story wasn’t reflected in the final polls, and so anyone believing that Romney would pull it out had to believe that the polls were simply biased, by a relatively small amount. Anyone who believed that was surely aware of the fact that lots of people didn’t, and that the august NY Times, among others, were reporting that it was unlikely Romney would win.

I remember 8 years ago, after a similarly close election that some Democrats insisted that they would win, a prominent newscaster actually insisted for a long period of time (and may still) that voting fraud in Ohio cost John Kerry the election. No one talked about “information disadvantage” or epistemic closure. Some of us laughed, even while knowing that the story was serving its deadly serious purpose. Lots of political commentary, analysis, and predictions are like that. Mood affiliation on steroids. So is Tyler’s post here.

FYI November 8, 2012 at 12:56 am

You are totally right. By the way, how quickly people forget about 2004. I mean, wasn’t that an election that ‘it was Kerry’s to lose’? Like I mentioned below, I can remember clearly all the end of the world stories around the fact that Democrats could not connect to the regular voter, how the Howard Deans of the party were alienating the ‘common american’ and how Republicans had just figured out the perfect mix of conservatism and populism (who does not remember the infamous ‘Compassionate Conservatism’?

People are so predictable in these extreme situations. Even smart people like Tyler.

Mr. Econotarian November 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm

The number of people in the US who are socially conservative, economically conservative (unless it has to do with Social Security and Medicare), and pro-military/pro-war is going down relative to the number of people in the US who are socially liberal, less economically conservative, and skeptical of military/war.

The only hope is to try to market economic freedom to the new majority – but sadly, economic freedom has been so tied to social conservatism (i.e. the lack of personal freedom) that it will be very difficult to ever market economic freedom to the new majority.

Moreover, even the people who are more economically conservative are not really serious about economic freedom (see the Medicare drug benefit the GOP pushed through, for example).

Somehow we have to make the case to Republicans that we are better off with a good economy through economic freedom than a non-possible world where abortion will become illegal again.

shrikanthk November 9, 2012 at 9:50 am

No Sir.
You’re mixing things up.
Social “conservatism” does not restrict personal freedom.
Social “conservatism” is a natural outcome in a world with very small government. The less govt you have, the more people ought to care for each other (their wives/kids/siblings/parents/cousins). As the public sphere shrinks, the private sphere expands (which includes the family).

By the way, since when did killing “embryos” amount to personal freedom? That’s tantamount to bemoaning we lack the “personal freedom” to kil babies with disabilities or kill morons. Huh.

Also Gay “marriage” is not a path to greater freedom for homosexuals, but something that restricts freedom! Marriage represents a restriction of rights not an expansion of rights. By seeking government’s approval on their relationships, homosexuals are attempting to lift a ban which doesn’t exist in the first place. There is no “gay marriage” to ban!

A Strong military and a neoconservative vision to spread liberty around the world using the sword in fact enhances personal freedom of Americans. If there’s anything that can destroy America over the next 50 years, it is the “outside chance” of a nuclear attack by a rogue country that despises American values.

mw November 7, 2012 at 8:40 pm

These polling outfits should save some money and stop running these polls to demonstrate how many ‘knowledgeable’ Republican-leaning voters are prone to nonsensical and factually inaccurate conspiracy theories and just troll these comment threads instead.

prior_approval November 7, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Especially since one notices how quickly ‘libertarian’ sheds its meaning – not a single post about libertarian political gains/losses, organizational needs, ballot problems. Instead, it is all about the losing side of the American single party, two wing political monolith.

FYI November 8, 2012 at 12:50 am

This is nonsense. After 2004 Democrats were singing the same song – only back then they were saying “we need the religious vote! we need the white male vote!”. Yeah, those are Obama strenghts right?

Romney lost a close election against a carismatic candidate who was lucky (I know, I know) in getting a Sandy 1 week before election. Without Sandy Romney would have taken at least Florida and Virginia, and then who knows what else.

Republicans will be fine as long as they control the crazies – just like Democrats need to control the crazies on their side (see the vote for including God in their platform if you think they don’t exist)

prior_approval November 8, 2012 at 4:01 am

‘ (see the vote for including God in their platform if you think they don’t exist)’

Well, America is a proudly secular republic, here are some quotes -

‘The United States should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy.’ – George Washington

‘Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives.’ – Barry Goldwater

‘Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.’ – Ulysses S. Grant

‘The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg.’ – Thomas Jefferson

Two founding fathers, and three Republicans – it took one google search to find such radical politicans as Barry Goldwater talking about how religion should have no place in public policy.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 8:20 am

That’s what most Republicans believe.

Except that when the government takes over everything it’s hard to have any secular non-government or private religious sector left- see Catholics being coerced to pay for things they don’t agree with.

What point do you think you are making?

And if you understand this thing about a few Republicans making bad predictions calling into question the Right-Wing media (as if we need a better Right-Wing media instead of just a less biassed media) please explain it to me.

byomtov November 8, 2012 at 8:58 am

That’s what most Republicans believe.

Utter and complete BS. Just false on the face of it.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 9:28 am

Most Republicans are moderates dude. About 14% of the pop is honest-to-goodness conservative.

There is certainly some overlap with true conservatives and FoxNews viewership, but Fox is clearly bent towards neoconservatism.

And explain to me why actual conservatives would be happy about Romney being elected?

Why do I have to keep pointing out such obvious things?

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 10:02 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_right
“About 15% of the electorate in the United States supports the Christian right.”

Now, not all of that 15% overlaps what I call Conservatives or registered Republicans.

Some feminists oppose pornography. My point there being that they are not the Christian Right. And similarly many of even the Christian Right probably oppose things like pornography because they have similar if different pragmatic reasons to do

so. In some cases their personal views coincide with their Biblical views.

“George W. Bush’s electoral success owed much to his overwhelming support from white evangelical voters, who comprise 23% of the vote.”

Currently, ~35% of voters identify as Republican:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_party_strength_in_U.S._states#Current_party_strength

So, if ALL the evangelical voters identify as Republican and think the way you think they think, that would be 65%. So, it seems to me the maximum is close to the half-point. I personally know several evangelical democrats. That’s anecdote of course, but it proves that not all evangelicals identify as Republican. So, my statement that most (>50%) are not theocrats is very mathematically plausible. If you go with the 15% cited above then it is mathematically impossible for the Christian Right to be a majority of IDENTIFYING Republicans (let alone independent Republicans).

Now, if your position that the probable minority of Christian Right disproportionately runs the party that’s another thing, and I think equally disputable. The last two presidential candidates have either been openly antagonistic or Mormon.

FYI November 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

If that is the case, the Dems should have kept God out of their platform and went with it. Why did the add it back? And in such a pathetic way!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8BwqzzqcDs

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 5:42 am

A president was just elected, and this is the story? Some lib looked at some polls and got the same result as anybody just paying attention. And the spin is that a 2% popular vote means that all the conservatives are, for some insane reason (because they want people to feel overconfident and stay home?!?) telling eachother their guy is a shoe-in?

Search your feelings folks.

Andrew' November 8, 2012 at 9:02 am

Remember EK’s JournOList? For everything you can say about Fox I bet I could find an equivalent elsewhere. Not even counting MSNBC being set up TO BE AN EXACT COPY equivalent for the left. It’s just that on the left it is spread around and diffused throughout and their arrogance makes them think that they are just telling the world like it is. So it would be like describing salt to saltwater fish. But I don’t need to because everyone (including Fox) knows who Fox is. It’s the EKs and NPRs who think they are objective while they are wildly deceiving themselves. PK always shoots straight with his audience? This is equivalence by the way? He’s no Fox’n’Friends. By the way, apropo to nothing, but newsflash, the crazed narcissist is the guy in The White House. You know, the one killing people?

This still trips me out. You guys are talking about a political campaign.

Steve November 8, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Andrew’ I still think you are missing the main point. It is prediction versus opinion. People like Nate Silver are making predictions and the people we are complaining about (the symbol is Fox News but the problem was the Republicans in general) were just spouting opinions. And the Republicans seemed to believe that opinion is as valid as prediction and it is not.

Jon Hendry November 12, 2012 at 12:18 am

MSNBC wil be an exact left-wing copy of Fox when Fox gives a former Democratic congressman – Barney Frank, perhaps? – a three hour daily morning show.

Fox has nothing to match MSNBC’s Morning Joe, hosted by a former Republican congressman, which used to have Pat Buchanan on very often, until Buchanan went a bit too far in a book.

shrikanthk November 9, 2012 at 9:27 am

So much talk here of being “economically conservative” without being “socially conservative”.
This is meaningless.
Economic freedom and social conservatism go hand in hand.

You cannot have one without the other.
Eg: In a world without Social Security/Medicare, Kids ought to take care of their parents. This requires a conservative populace that believes in traditional values, conformism, hard work and thrift.

A conservative ideology also demands that people are accountable for their actions be it in the workplace or in a nightclub. So if a girl makes out with her boyfriend and gets pregnant, then she ought to be ready to face the consequences. Not simply dodge responsibility by killing an embryo (which is a living thing – something both religious people and scientists agree on).

These are not “religious” values. These are plain, good old fashioned morals that human civilizations have found some merit in across the world.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: