A Quick Followup on Unskewing

 

Not pictured: a lot of human voters. 

 

So, last post was mostly talking about Trump’s own brand of imagined reality, but there are also a lot of people who clearly believe that the polls can’t be right, because: rallies and signs, man. Ceca, in his Salon article, points out how this can take place, in the doughy form of Eric Bolling at FOX.

Interrupting a discussion about the hiring of Breitbart overlord Steve Bannon to run the Trump campaign, Bolling complained, “These polls, Dana, honestly, we have to stop with these polls.” Bolling continued, “They’re insane with these polls. Just look at what’s going on. You look at a Trump rally, and there’s 12, 15, 10,000 people.” In addition to demanding that “we have to stop with these polls,” Bolling compared his inflated estimates of Trump’s crowd sizes to Hillary’s lesser-than crowd sizes, insisting that rally attendance is an accurate predictor of election outcomes. It’s not.

He’s right! It really, really, isn’t. We went through this with Mitt Romney in 2012. Don’t forget– don’t ever forget– Peggy Noonan’s list of yard signs and vibrations for why all the polls were wrong. When people are vested in an outcome, they will believe anything.

But it is easy to believe, honestly, and very tempting. It’s especially easy for some reporters who often have to drive long distances, because when you do so, you spend a lot of time on the highway. An example: last week, when my bride and I were driving home from the Adirondacks, we went through upper New York, near the Canadian border and rounding around Fort Drum before heading south to 90 near Rochester. Coming out of the highlands, we pavered off into flat country, flat and poor country, where each little town, dotted sparsely with ramshackle houses, broke-down cars, and dying businesses, blended together.

We saw dozens, if not more, Trump signs. In one town there was an (at least) 15-foot-high sign blaring “TRUMP” in enormous, hand-painted letters. One upholstery place had two signs. The first was a two parter, in which the proclimation of “Jesus is Lord” was above  the nature of the business, and next to it was a “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” sign. This was real Trump country. Hundreds of miles of Trump’s America.

We also went through the Lake Erie tip of Pennsylvania, as well as across Ohio. Most of that was interstate, but not all (we took a few detours). Throughout that, we saw exactly 1 Hillary sign that I can remember, and that was in Erie, PA. I would conservatively put the estimate of total Trump-to-Hillary signs at 100-1.

Donald Trump is not going to win New York, nor Pennsylvania, and probably not Ohio. So when people are tallying up signs, remember, it is meaningless. The vast stretches where not many people live, but those who do live difficult lives, can be distorting.

The important thing, for Democrats, and the media, is to remember these places exist between elections.

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