July 24, 2008

McCain vs. reality

If you can't dazzle them with briliance, baffle 'em with B.S., or so the saying goes.

Apparently this is the essential tenet of the McCain campaign. Really, what else can they do? Argue for more of the same? Good luck.

Sen. John McCain appears bound to come out of this race with his reputation much lower than when it began. His so-called "straight-talk", if it was in the past, has become nothing but inartful and stumbling attempts to fast talk his way out of his repeated mistakes and attempts to deceive American voters.

It's painfully clear though his near daily whoppers and mistakes, and through the fact that even his newly re-jiggered campaign seems as desperate and out-there as ever, that McCain may go on to make the Bob Dole campaign of '96 look brilliant by comparison.

The latest from Mr. "Straight Talk" himself is the effort to treat us like morons and try to conflate and confuse the "surge" to mean essentially everything that's ever happened for the better in Iraq.

McCain has tried to say it happened before it actually did, then that it didn't, and then in a breathtaking exhibition of sheer double-talk, tried to suggest that there was actually a "surge" before the "surge".

Here's the challenge. Watch this report from "Countdown", in particular the clip of McCain trying to "clarify" his remarks (as he so aptly stands in front of a wall of cheese.) and then explain to me just what this "straight talk" means.

Really, just how sad is the McCain campaign when they're forced to resort to arguing endlessly over whether someone supported something that even Grandpa Munster seems hard pressed to even identify. To quote the pitifully delivered catch phrase from McCain's greatest speech, "That's not change we can believe in. (strained chuckle, wooden grin.)" (By the way, this vid still cracks me up, watching right wing commentators left stunned after the speech.)

Feel free to leave your thoughts on this, particularly if you actually think you can make a case that McCain has any clue what the hell he's talking about.

THIS is the guy that's supposed to be such an "expert" on war and foreign policy? He makes it up as he goes along!

After watching McCain's tortured answer in the clip above, I can't help wondering if he took lessons from this famous orator.


At 7/28/2008 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

McCain is indeed rather poor on the stump. However, I am concerned that as bad as McCain is - what is up with Obama when he cannot put McCain away?

Obama is a dynamic speaker.
Obama is a 'rock star.'
Obama, apparently, has the will of the people.

Yet, the race is shockingly close.

What does this tell us about Obama - and his, lack of support?

At 7/29/2008 1:05 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 8:49

I think the proper question is, what does this tell us about polling methods and accuracy?

The fact, as I see it, is that the constant flurry of polls have seemed wildly scattered all over the map in many instances.

Despite pundits and news networks seeming absolutely dependent on them as fodder for the hours of network time they need to fill with "analysis", the fact remains that I think polls have become increasingly unreliable and less accurate as a reflection of voters views.

I think this is largely due to the fact that polling companies can't contact people on cell phones, only land lines.

What does this mean?

Well, first of all, everyone that has a cell phone account only is completely excluded. This obviously would tend to include younger people in huge numbers.

And who's sitting around the house answering polling calls and then, importantly, taking the time to answer all their questions?

I simply think that many of these polls are definitely NOT getting a scientifically random sample of respondents which would more accurately reflect the views of the broader public.

There have been several instances where competing polls have varied by a large margin in results when asking the same question. What accounts for that?

It also depends on the questions asked, obviously. Many tend to provoke answers which may be more the respondend trying to send a message that what they actually think or how they'll actually vote.

And often, the results seem to contradict themselves, or at least reflect a deep and strange contradiction in the way voters feel, such as when they show that by a comfortable margin, people feel that Obama is the riskier candidate, yet that they prefer change by an even larger margin, and feel Obama is more likely to be effective in helping the economy. There have been other results that indicate a schizophrenic pool of voters.

In short, I think polls, despite the fact that they're a multi-million dollar racket that campaigns and the media are utterly dependent on, with several run every day, and the aforementioned addiction to them by pundits who love nothign more but to ponder what they mean, I'm not sure they mean much at all.

Of course a better indication, though not perfect, is to track the polls over time and observe which way they're trending. This is probably a better indicator of reality.

Why is Obama not blowing McCain out of the water in polls?

Not sure. Maybe there's a lot of people who just don't want to "anoint" Obama, or who feel sorry for an old man and tell pollers they prefer McCain.

Maybe there's a lot of disaffected Hillary die-hards who say McCain even though they'd never pull the lever for him in Novemeber.

And the fact remains that there are still a lot of people who don't know much about Obama, or worse yet, what they know is utterly false and negative, due to the right wing smear campaign.

But all the above is to say that I personally don't think the polling at the moment will be reflected in the results in November, where I still think Obama will win by a comfortable, and perhaps even a surprisingly large, majority.

At 7/29/2008 8:26 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

I agree with you. The abundance of cell phones and their replacing of land lines have made modern polling inaccurate and hard to do. We have a mobile society that can't be pinned down.

Anybody who has done phonebanking in the last 5 years knows how prone to error polling is. I mean the numbers are bad, you don't get answers from live people, and call lists are notoriously old and inaccurate.

I don't know the demographics of cell phone users and those who have scrapped their land lines, but I think it favors Obama. And it stands to reason that the mom and pop residences in established neighborhoods with landlines and rotary dials... with the same number for the last 80 years ...are probably more Republican voters.

I don't think that this race is as close as polls suggest. I think Obama is running ahead and considerably. And also they probably don't want their supporters to get too complascent and think it's in the bag.

At 7/29/2008 9:09 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Yes Nico, the polls in this campaign season have seemed particularly suspect, don't you think?

I'd be very interested in what the campaign's own polling shows. I'd hope they'd be more accurate, though I'm not sure of that.

But for months now, as I've watched the pundits and press spend literally thousands of hours with mind-numbing chatter about the latest polls and their true meaning and implication for the campaigns (Ugh!) I've increasingly gotten the feeling that these polls just aren't right.

There may have been a time back when when good solid polls with good solid methods gave results with a pretty amazing amount of accuracy.

I sincerely don't think they do these days.

For one thing, the press is absolutely addicted to them, so they pounce on every single poll that comes out. This results in them citing more and more polls, and some that are probably pretty dubious. (they routinely cite polls by outfits I've never heard of.)

I give a little more weight to the long-established firms and organizations like major media sponsored polls, (other than Fox News) Quinnipiac, Gallup, Zogby, Greenberg... but even some of the majors have come up with results that seem way outside the norm lately, where say, the result would be 45 on a question related to a candidate one week, 68 the next, and then back to 48 the next, suggesting that the outlier, the 68, was a bad result.

This highlights the importance of looking at regular polling on the same questions over time and seeing if they indicate a rough trend one way or another.

But the complete dependecy on polling by the pundits has imparted on them an importance far, far beyond what they deserve in my opinion.

They're interesting, but interesting like idle gossip. It might be interesting for conjecture, but it's crucial to recognize that while there may be a grain of truth in it, it's very likely that it's exagerated to the point where you can safely dismiss most of it.


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