Tag Archives: elections

Reality’s “Liberal” Bias – Presidential Polling Edition

I’ve been trying to avoid discussing the 2012 Presidential Election in the US for a number of reasons. I don’t think the Romney-Ryan ticket has been as terrible as the addition of Palin to the McCain ticket was in terms of climate (and science generally). I also sympathize greatly with the reluctance of non-“movement conservative” libertarians to vote for either front-runner given Obama’s foreign policy and civil liberties record and Romney’s rhetoric regarding the same.

That’s not to say I don’t have my own preferences or believe that there is no real difference between candidates. Rather this election seems to me, far more than the 2008 election, to be about issues that likely have much more to do with differing visions of the kind of America one wishes to see, rather than based on issues of objective fact.

But the above tweet, from conservative journalist Robert Stacy McCain (no relation to the 2008 Republican nominee), seemed worth commenting on. This idea that polling itself has somehow become part of the evil liberal-science nexus conspiring against conservatives is echoed by other conservative pundits and outlets, such as Townhall, Rick Wilson of Intrepid Media, the Weekly Standard, radio host Hugh Hewitt, the National Review, Fox (about 27 seconds in):

and even by the Romney campaign itself!

It has gotten to the point where conservatives have constructed an alternate reality in which the “liberal bias” has been removed from polling, showing Romney with an enormous lead:

If that sounds familiar, you might be aware of Conservapedia– the alternative to Wikipedia cleansed of filthy liberal lies about evolution, relativity, global warming, homosexuality, and the Bible.

In reality, what has changed recently isn’t so much the polling itself. Rather, it’s that the media has finally begun picking up on what the polling has been saying for quite some time. Media members will openly confess that their institutional biases (towards “balance” even where none might exist, towards conflict, towards drama, etc.) are in favor of making the race seem closer than it is. And for the most part, the media has until very recently been portraying the 2012 election as very much up in the air.

Meanwhile, polling-based election forecast models with good track records such as 538 and the Princeton Election Consortium have been projecting a likely Obama victory for months.

From 538:

And from (my preferred source for election polling) Sam Wang’s PEC:

I know that there are people who think partisanship is a zero sum game. If “your team” isn’t winning, it’s losing. The “other guys” are the enemy. And on and on. My vision of an ideal politics is similar to my vision of scientific skepticism. There is a loyal (to the advancement of knowledge or well-being) opposition between dissenting viewpoints. One that seeks to converge on solutions to problems based on an accumulation of evidence, rather than ideology. It’s probably a silly hope. But it’s what I wish for nonetheless.

So while some may cheer on the embrace of epistemic closure among many conservatives, knowing that will ultimately prove poisonous, I am saddened by it for the same reason.

Votes should be earned because of the merits of policies, not because one party loses its mind while the other (barely) does not. I don’t enjoy living in a world where scientists are pushed into the hands of a political party because the other is alienating them with this kind of idiocy.

When a party can depend on a demographic’s vote merely because it’s not the “other guys”, it becomes less sensitive to constituent needs, and democracy as a whole suffers.

Just a thought for those who might believe the conservative turning away from reality is a good thing for their team.

I’m not sure what this means, if anything, but…

There has been a remarkable amount of movement towards a Presidential candidate in the scientific community over the past few days. Nature, Seed, and a record 76 Nobel Laureates in science and medicine endorsed Barack Obama on October 29th, 2008.

I don’t believe that this is going to have a material effect on the election, but it’s quite impressive in its own right.

Has Nature ever endorsed a Presidential candidate before?

John Mashey was right about The Economist

When he told me (by way of comparison to the WSJ) that “some people…think The Economist has turned into an awful left-wing rag and dropped their scubscriptions [sic] in disgust…” I actually laughed in disbelief.

It turns out he was spot on. The Economist has endorsed the socialist enemy of free markets everywhere, Barack Hussein Obama:

Image courtesy of Economist.com

The Economist follows on the heels of the unabashedly Marxist Financial Times in endorsing the Senator from Illinois.

Official TWTB Presidential Endorsement

Candidates who have a vested interest in protecting the environment:

Nessie in particular has made climate change her central focus, after the close call she had back in February.

[h/t: Pharyngula]

Climate change- of course causation matters. But not to Palin. Why?

Her initial answer is basically identical to her response in the Couric interview, and is very similar to the response she gave to Charles Gibson. What’s confusing is at times she seems to briefly acknowledge the reality of anthropogenic change, but then proceeds to walk the answer back to the “it doesn’t matter” position, while other times she refuses to be pinned down at all.

Indulge me in a bit of informed speculation-

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“Like when Batman teams up with Catwoman”

I’m going to post a brief blurb on the VP debate last night and climate, but before I do, I thought I’d pass along Todd Palin’s liveblogging of the event. Some of it is a little inside baseball if you haven’t been following the election closely, but I think it’s hysterical.