Monday, October 20, 2008

Predicting the Election Outcome - Consider Massachusetts, Methods of Polling and Other Factors

Massachusetts, long touted as the “Bluest State”, should accurately be described as the “Independent State”. The fact that there is a Democrat governor and legislature is misleading – for the most part, Massachusetts elects Republican candidates when they either appeal to the “middle ground” or if the incumbent Democrat has done such a poor job that it is inconceivable that they be re-elected. Consider this interview with Dukakis, former Governor of Massachusetts and presidential candidate done in 2006. In the interview Dukakis explains that the Bay state had Republican governors for 16 years, and notes: “So, don’t make the mistake of assuming that Massachusetts is totally in the Democratic column. Massachusets is a very independent state. The Bay State voted for Ronald Reagan not once, but twice, in the 80s. On the other hand, I wouldn’t spend two seconds looking at these polls and these poll numbers. I mean, at this stage of the game, this is nothing but recognition — these are nothing but recognition numbers “

I’m not certain what Dukakis means by recognition numbers, as I am no mathematician, however, that said, anyone with an ounce of sense understands that if one samples one thousand individuals, 60% democrats, 20% republicans and 20% independents, they cannot accurately reflect the entire electorate – in other words, it is pretty much misleading – why – Dukakis understands from a personal perspective as he led George H. Bush in the polls weeks before the election. (The NY Times even noted that many “Regan Backers Shift Sides” – Sound familiar?)
Let’s talk about “the October Surprise” and “Swift boating”. How much does a negative change anyone’s minds? John Kerry famously blames, of all people, Osama Bin Laden, for his loss in 2004. What was in that tape that pushed American’s to vote for Bush and not Kerry? Nothing: the tape from Bin Laden, and all the political commercials in the world, including Swift Boat ads and the infamous “Willie Horton ads against Dukakis are nothing more than political name calling – and I would hazard to bet that most individuals watch these commercials with a pre-conceived partisanship, which can be applied to the Independent voter. Independent voters lean either Republican or Democrat, occasionally changing positions, but for the most part, staying with one particular party - sometimes exclusively.
Election losses have been credited to the weather and the turn-out – what one does not consider is that the basic conservative v s. liberal mindset has not changed in this nation in the past 12 plus years. More about polling: Terrance Battleground Research this year: 62% of those surveyed consider themselves conservative or leaning conservative - this particular article describes how there are conflicts within the polls itself, as it predicts either a Democrat or Republican win. Go figure. The fact of the matter is there has not been a landslide since Ronald Regan hit the political scene. He followed a dismal Jimmy Carter, and George Bush, although “approval ratings” are low, could not possibly be compared to Jimmy Carter under any circumstance – Carter is extreme left, and, as any conservative knows, Bush will certainly side with the Democrats on a variety of issues, ranging from the Border to the Bailout.

Other factors to consider: What about baggage? That’s the key, the amount of baggage that a candidate drags with them into an election will tell the tale, regardless of the amount of cash on hand. How well is the candidate “known”, regardless of personality? The middle ground: is that candidate a moderate? Bill Clinton was a moderate, who appealed to the essential middle, to the common ground, yet both races were close, not landslides. Additionally, there are those who are still looking for someone with the ability to lead the nation in a time of terror/war. When one looks at all the variables, unless a poll accurately reflects the electorate (without leading questions), they are pointedly useless.
Recall the 2004 exit polls that had the nation convinced John Kerry would be the next president? Therefore, anyone who wants to know who the next president will be has to wait until November 5th, (or perhaps a month or two hence) – there is simply no way to predict - should one be inclined; there is a 50/50 chance they will be correct. However, if one uses the Battlegrounds conservative vs. liberal statistics, considers the historical inaccuracy of the polls, debate winners and newspaper endorsements, adds baggage, and includes those who are looking for a commander in chief that has some military background, then one can confidently choose the McCain/Palin ticket.

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