RUSH: “The Washington Post’s Election Lab — our statistical model designed to predict outcomes of the various races on the ballot this fall — is currently showing Republicans with a 95 percent chance of winning the Senate.”
This is in Chris Cillizza’s piece of October 10th.
“While most political handicappers suggest Republicans have an edge in the battle for the Senate majority, few would say it is as heavily tilted toward the GOP as Election Lab. And, even other statistical models — kept by FiveThirtyEight and the New York Times — project far more caution about the likely outcome in 25 days time. I reached out to John Sides, Ben Highton and Eric McGhee, who put together the model behind Election Lab, for some answers. Our conversation, edited only for grammar, is below.”
By the way, their Election Lab is based purely on polls. That’s all anybody’s got to go on in these things. I mean, if you’re going to start talking legitimate projections of the number of seats, you can’t just pick it out of thin air. You have to have some baseline and they’re using polling data for it.
Remember last week I had to make a painful admission. I remember all during the 2012 campaign, I was expressing doubt about all of those polls that showed Obama winning by anywhere from four to eight points. Because I said, “What about the 2010 turnout?” Nobody was talking about the 2010 elections, the midterms. They were all talking about 2008. I said, “What’s 2008 got to do with 2012?” and I thought a real scam was in the process. Plus, we won the independents big and that’s been the recipe in the past. He who wins the independents, wins everything. We did that and we still lost. We ended up losing because four million Republicans didn’t vote. They stayed home.
But looking at the polling data I just didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it because I thought they were purposefully using an incorrect sample, that they were ignoring the turnout in 2010. Now as it turns out, the pollsters all said a midterm turnout is in no way similar to a presidential year turnout. It’s impossible for it to be. Even when they said that I said, “So, how can you simply ignore what happened in 2010? You had people showing up in droves to vote against Democrats. Why aren’t those same people going to show up now, two years later?”
And the answer was: “Well, they might. But the people that didn’t show up in 2010 that would have voted Democrat didn’t show up because they didn’t care as much, but they do care during presidential years. So the Democrat turnout is going to be higher, and that’s what we’re banking on.” Turned out they were right. Turned out their predictions of Obama winning the four to eight points were pretty much right on the money. I mean, there were some variations, but they were right. They were also right when they predicted why, when they said that most of the people in the country still blamed Bush for the economy.
I couldn’t believe that. I refused to believe that there was still that many uninformed, low informed or stupid people. But then I saw the exit polls, the first wave on that dreadful November night. I said, “My gosh, they’re right! People are still blaming Bush for the economy.” And then the devastating one, Obama won by 81 to 19, “cares about people like me.” I didn’t need to see the returns. I just kind of knew what was going to happen and it was right. And it was kind of puzzling.
So now the point is that here we are now two years later and we’re back to a midterm and the turnout that’s being looked at in these polls is indeed 2010, not the presidential turnout in 2012, and the polling data all shows a rocking Republican win. Even the Washington Post Election Lab, and they are saying in this story you have to believe in the polls. You have to trust the polls explicitly, that’s what our lab says to do. And in getting our calculation that Republicans have a 95 percent chance of winning the Senate, we are putting explicit trust in the polls that we take and in others.
So they claim that they’re just being honest and true. They’re not comparing presidential turnout to midterm turnout. They’re comparing midterm to midterm, 2010 to 2014. And it is a big variance. They got a 95 percent Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight blog has it at 58 percent. The New York Times has it at 66 percent chance for the Republicans winning the Senate. Now, they’re not happy at the Washington Post about what their election lab is telling them. But they admit right here: “Yes, it also comes from the same basic decision to trust the polls explicitly.”
So this whole notion that the Republicans win big is based entirely on these people believing in the polls. Yet here we have from the Hill.com, a headline: “Democrats: Don’t Trust the Polls — Democrats have a new message in the 2014 race for the Senate: DonÂ’t trust the polls. The party is stoking skepticism in the final stretch of the midterm campaign, providing a mirror image of conservative complaints in 2012 about ‘skewed’ polls in the presidential race between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.”
And, folks, I have to tell you this is right on the money. Honesty is honesty and these guys are right. The Democrats are saying the same thing I said. And I was wrong about that. I thought there’s no way that you can discount the 2010 turnout in the 2012 election. But they said not only is there a way, you have to because they’re not at all related. Yeah, the economy was still bad, nothing was improving. Here it’s even worse now. So the Democrats are now running around telling people: “Don’t believe what the Washington Post poll is saying. Don’t believe Nate Silver. Don’t believe those polls. The polls are wrong.” And they’re doing it for the same reason.
Dick Morris was doing it in 2012. Dick Morris was on Fox every night: Those polls are wrong. They’re not factoring the 2010 midterm.” Later he was asked, “Dick, you were wrong by eight or nine. What happened?” (paraphrasing Morris) “I was just trying to keep people in the race. I was just trying to keep Republican voters fired up.” That’s what Democrats are doing here by telling their people, “Don’t listen to Nate Silver this year. Don’t listen to the Washington Post Election Lab. Those polls are skewed. Those polls are wrong. You don’t believe it.” They’re using it as a means of keeping people fired up.
I know it’s contradictory because I am also the guy that points out the news media takes these polls to make news, rather than reflect it. But we’ll see. There’s still some conflicting polling data nationwide, generic ballot versus individual states where Democrats still hold an edge when it would seem in common sense that there’s no way that could happen. But it looks like all of the mainstream polling units are beginning to show an increasing likelihood the Republicans win and take control of the Senate. And I have to admit, even despite all this, that makes me a little nervous.