Topic: "Dumb and Dumber" (3)
Bill Schneider, a Pooh Bear masquerading as a political commentator on CNN, was being grilled by Lou Dobbs a few days ago. Frodo generally watches just enough of Lou Dobbs to hear him refer to the Bush Administration as "incompetent," thereby obtaining his daily fix, and then heads on to some other activity. He heard something however that caught his attention, and his professorial analytical buttons all started to ignite. Dobbs, whose "War on the Middle Class" and "Immigration" discussions inspire channel changers all over Middle Earth, queried Schneider as to why "Immigration" was not identified by New Hampshire voters as among their "Top 5" concerns. "Because," said Schneider, "they weren't asked."
Dobbs was speechless, since he consistently refers to "Immigration" as one off the most discussed concerns by nearly everyone with whom he associates. Schneider went on to explain that, in New Hampshire, a consortium of polling organizations had "honed down" the topics identified. The pollsters had unilaterally decided that "Immigration" was probably not that big an issue, and therefore did not include it in the list made available to respondees. Dobbs was ready to shoot somebody, and Frodo just stood there, shaking his head.
Dear reader, the scientist with whom most of us have the most frequent contact is the medical practitioner. The "doctor" examines us when we don't feel good, and he, or she, does so by asking us questions and examining suspected sources for our discomfort. Imagine, if you will, what might be the consequence if the "doctor" left out one of the "tests" which a conscientious diagnostician would automatically include in a routine examination. Something, indeed, might be overlooked, if only to a single patient. Why, then, would a professional pollster leave out something, and thereby risk a misjudgment of fact?
Frodo's analysis of the results of the New Hampshire Primary does not reflect anything beyond the numbers. Projections for a close-to double digit percentage victory by Barack Obama were levelled by a single-digit victory by Hillary Clinton. Given the fact that nearly every other aspect of prediction was "on the button," it is logical to concentrate entirely on the variance between these two candidates. The "swing" between the "projection" and the "result" was approximately 20,000 total votes. 20,000 voters, in other words, did something other than what the pollsters predicted. That represents about 4% of the total votes cast.
Frodo leaves the pundits as this point. 20,000 voters does not represent a lot of people telling somebody they would vote for a black guy, then doing something else. 20,000 voters does not represent total feminine outrage against an unfair process. 20,000 voters does not represent a significant presence, or absence, by any group of potential voters. 20,000 voters, to Frodo, represent the emotional swing that falls one way or another on any given day in any given election involving a half-million voters or so. Could a "sob story" have produced enough empathy to have influenced 20,000 voters? Would it not have been wise for the pollsters to have asked?
If those voters were black, or female, or Jewish, or Latino, among others, and they identified themselves with the discomfort of the candidate, the answer is "Undoubtedly." Frodo adds, that in a multi-candidate environment, such as a Primary, the probability is increased by the potential lack of committment to any single candidate. What may be true in New Hampshire, may not be the case when an election is "Mano-a-Mano" (with all due apologies to Non-Manos).
Tell me Frodo ain't the cat's pajamas when it comes to post-election analysis? Tim Russert can eat his shorts.