Honestly, who the heck knows whom to believe when it comes to polling these days?
Republican poll subjects have lied so much to pollsters in recent elections that (it appears anyway) that even the Democratic side has started lying to pollsters. So with everyone lying to pollsters, how can we trust any of them?
But the GOP-affiliated polls were way out of sync from reality it turns out. Whether that was by design to try to depress Democratic turnout (or increase GOP turnout) … well, the GOP pollsters aren’t admitting to anything. But it’s clear that the Democrats beat expectations around what happens in mid-terms to the party holding the White House during economic turmoil.
Now the questions begin, starting with Michael Tomasky in The New Republic, whose piece today lives under the hed/subhed, “Hey, Liberal Media, Here’s What You Got Really Wrong About the Midterms: Abortion mattered. Latinos did not desert the Democrats. Neither did independents. Why does the mainstream media fall for right-wing narratives every time?”
First of all, let’s stipulate that expectation of a red wave this election was entirely warranted. I was prepared for the worst myself. Recent history and Joe Biden’s bad approval numbers suggested a big Republican night.
It didn’t come close to happening. So: why?
My answer: because the mainstream media, the so-called “liberal” media, goes out of its way during every campaign to emphasize news of Dems in disarray. Twenty polls show the Dobbs decision matters to voters. But look, here comes one outlier that shows Dobbs not registering! That’s news! Let’s play up that one!
I’ve watched a lot of elections in my life, and I’ve seen this happen time after time after time. The liberal media, I guess wanting to demonstrate its collective independence, decides that “news” equals “looks bad for Democrats.” There were hundreds, maybe thousands of headlines over these last four weeks screaming that everything was moving toward Republicans.
Maybe most notorious of all was a New York Times poll in late October that crowed about a massive shift among independents to Republicans, based on a sample size of a small subgroup of respondents. Did any editors at the Times say, “Hey, folks, let’s hold on a second here?” Maybe, but in the end, the paper bannered the bad news for Democrats across its front page, and the huge play ensured that this alleged substantial shift became conventional wisdom.
This goes back to structural ethics problems between liberal and conservative journalists.
Real journalists at real newspapers — many of them at least tending toward progressive in temperament and outlook — bend over backwards to try to not seem or actually be biased.
This means very often giving even the most obviously false right-wing talking points a fair airing. This is the basis of “both sides-ism.”
I don’t think many mainstream journalists are secretly conservative, nor do I think they like to create chaos just to make their jobs more interesting. They are trained to just report the facts, even if the “facts” are obvious GOP lies, unless they have direct proof that something is a lie. That’s a pretty high bar to meet when deciding whether to report GOP talking points, especially if you have a story that is complex and expected under deadline at newspapers and TV stations where reporters are expected to do more with less these days.
Conservative journalists at Fox, the New York Post, and elsewhere are not under the same constraints. Not even close. They can be as one-sided and outright anti-Democrat as they want to be. Their readers/viewers don’t care about balance. In fact, their readership/viewership expects them to be one-sided.
Where this all gets messy during elections is that GOP-affiliated pollsters insist they are not GOP-affiliated, and their methodologies are sound. The fact that this is a lie often only becomes apparent after an election. By that time, it’s too late.
In any case, I’m glad those GOP pollsters were mostly wrong, and the Dems performed far better than most of us ever hoped they would.
And, hey: Lauren Boebert AND Mehmet Oz appear to have lost. Those are worth a great deal on their own, especially since GOP pollsters had them both winning handily.