This status update came to my Facebook feed at on Nov. 6, election day. This post came from a young guy, who is a successful business owner. He is someone who strikes me as street smart and savvy. The only thing that I might hold against him is that he’s a big Yankees fan, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.
This guy obviously voted for Mitt Romney and this post seems to represent the point when the fog broke and reality set in: Obama would win. I was still at work and watching the results come in, but I had bookmarked a page from The Weekly Sift as a cheat sheet for watching election results: Election Night Hour by Hour. Prior to the election, I suspect that many people would say that this page, being written by a liberal blogger, is biased. Why read this page? After all, many on the right say that Romney will win. Others say that many polls have sampling errors that bias them to Obama. What’s true? What’s not?
Holy Darkness. People are reading news reports, but are unable to separate careful analysis from wishful thinking. The Weekly Sift might have been off an hour or so in terms of predicting when results would finalize, but all the states were predicted correctly. The Sift relied on Nate Silver, a well-known statistician who developed a sophisticated system for forecasting the future performance of Major League Baseball players. In brief, this guy knows what he’s doing. Nevertheless, the media positioned the “polling controversy” as the left relying on Nate Silver and the right relying on political consultants like Dick Morris or sites like UnSkewedPolls.com. This is not a left vs. right issue. This is an issue of good vs. delusional analysis. Good analysis is not biased just because someone does not like the result. The pollsters on the right accomplished nothing beyond keeping people confused and in the dark.
OK, so voters were confused, but surely the people running the Romney campaign knew what was coming. Or, were these leaders of Mitt Romney’s campaign in the dark too? After the election, The Weekly Sift argued in a post called “W(h)ither the Republicans?” that “The Right totally didn’t see it coming.” I admit that I found this hard to believe at first. After all, I may disagree with specific policy positions, but the Romney campaign had smart people able to do the math. Surely, the campaign leaders looked at the data objectively, right? No. I’ve come to agree with Doug Muder that they were really blindsided. As reported in Slate’s article “Why Romney Never Saw it Coming“, the campaign had already ordered fireworks to celebrate victory. This article compares an Obama campaign with “data – specific, measurable” and a Romney campaign “relying on talking points rather than data”. The Romney campaign was in the dark too.
Holy Darkness. Now the Republicans are deluding themselves about why then lost. I’ll point you to the previously mentioned Sift article for a good summary (they cheated, it was luck, etc.), but what I really want to know is when do the delusions stop? The Republicans have not just deluded themselves about the election, they have deluded themselves about the economy, climate change, and other topics too. If you’re a voter, and you really think that one of these topics is a controversy, just remember this election. Remember that drawing conclusions from data gathered with sound, scientific methods is not biased. Remember that a small group of loud voices in denial does not mean that we have a real controversy.
Welcome to the light my Facebook friend. I welcome conservative ideas. I welcome discussions about market based approaches to problems. However, I’m tired of politicians ignoring science, and I’m tired of arguing with people who are confused by the flood of misinformation on the internet. The Republicans of the 21st century are the ones blanketing the world with darkness, and in this election they were stung by their own tactics. I can imagine what you were thinking on election day, but the spread of misinformation is the real source of darkness. Even if the politicians continue to fight, which they will, regular people like us can work together. All I ask is that we use the same data, and the same facts. Let’s agree to use scientific methods to gather raw data, and then we can debate about competing ideas to bring solutions into the light.