07 November, 2012

The Painful Truth

I could’ve written this post a week ago. I waited. But the writing was on the wall, even then.


Believe the polls. It’s fine to analyze the internals of the polls and point out when they don’t make sense. It’s particularly reasonable to do this when it’s six months out from the election, and no one knows what the electorate is going to look like. But when it gets down to three, two, and one week before the election, and you’re still not believing the polls, the problem is likely your premise, not theirs. Just the other day, I saw a rather famous person in the conservative Twittersphere picking apart a Rasmussen poll. Now, Rasmussen is consistently one of the friendliest polls to the GOP, and yet this person was still saying that if X on the poll was wrong and Y was wrong, that it was good for Romney. Sorry, but if you’re doing that a few days out from the election, and with the best poll you’ve got, it smacks of desperation. RCP poll averages are generally just about right. Remember that.


Nate Silver was right. If he got Virginia right, then he may have gone 50 for 50. I don’t know. I haven’t checked. Silver’s method is basically sound. I think there are things that could be done to improve it. But it’s basically ok. You can duplicate a significant part of his work in less than an hour in Excel. Just use the RCP poll numbers, and the Monte Carlo function in Excel. If you’d done that, you would’ve gotten results very similar to Silver’s. A lot of people on the right owe Silver an engraved apology today.


It’s fine to want party purity, but you also have to nominate good candidates. Richard Mourdock (R-IN) was a bad candidate (more on this race in another post). So were others. And if you didn’t know that 6 months ago, then you weren’t paying attention. This blog told you that Mourdock was a bad candidate at least 8 months ago. More than once. Now, yes, I am just as much to blame as others here. I voted for Mourdock in the primary, knowing he was a bad candidate. I thought that former Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) would come around, and in the 2012 environment, in a red state, that even a bad candidate would win. I was wrong.


NRSC, you have some serious egg on your face this morning. Yes, you can only work with the candidates you have. And you’re powerless when they say something stupid. And you can’t force them to run a good campaign. But you can help out with direction, and with education on how not to say something stupid in front of the camera. You didn’t. You failed. A lot of last night’s Senate debacle falls on you. Yes, a lot falls on organizations like Freedomworks who were more interested in party purity than in winning, but you need to take your share of the blame as well.


If there’s a group with more egg on their faces than the NRSC, it’s the conservative punditocracy. I expect partisan spin from you. I expect optimism. But you went far past that into partisan cheerleading. You weren’t just optimistic, you were confident. Excessively so. Some of you were ebullient. With no logical reason to be so. You need to take a long hard look in the mirror and figure out why that was and why you let us down, so that it won’t happen again. Spin is ok, but if I can’t get the truth from you, even when it’s bad, then you’re no better to me than MSNBC. The conservative blogosphere seems more isolated in an echo chamber than the “inside the beltway” crowd, if that’s possible. And that’s unacceptable.

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