It’s hard to look at this election and not feel a bit unhappy.
I suppose that’s how most people are feeling, but in particular because of my technical background I just see shitty work done everywhere. I served as the GOP Data Director for the 2014 cycle. At that time I tried to implement a good data operation. I can vividly remember the Friday before the election 2014 and Jason Thielman, Daines’ Chief of Staff yelling at us since we had shut the phones down early.
“The election is 4 days away! How can you possibly tell us to quit?”
“Well sir, we’ve actually contacted so many people that we think calling them more will piss them off and make them vote for Curtis!”
“This is crazy.”
It was around this time the campaign did something wacky. It paid $7,000 for a list of a thousand or so email addresses to send campaign emails to. Our vendor actually told us not to do this because in their opinion it was a poor investment since most solicitation emails are just caught by spam filters, almost no one would even see the emails. They still did it. Great use of campaign funds.
This year Thielman et al poured another $100,000 into getting the Greens on the ballot AGAIN, despite the fact that every judge in this state is owned by the Dems and would immediately find some bullshit way to get them removed. I get why they did this in ‘14. They were coming off 2012 when they KNEW for sure Denny was going to win. The election of just 2 years prior was stinging them. They NEEDED to win to keep themselves employed. So they made financially risky decisions with little to no benefit in the HOPE it would help get even one vote. Can’t fault them for trying.
Why does this matter. The same reason government transparency matters. Because anytime someone is spending someone else’s money, isn’t there an obligation to make sure it’s spent WELL?
We returned our ballots the very first day. Yet I’ve still got about another 50 pieces of mail long past when it was public knowledge I’d returned my ballot. Is that a good investment of people’s money? Those poor Californians funding our campaigns. ☹
The other reason this election is painful is I actually have a really good bedrock knowledge of polling, and have to watch garbage poll after garbage poll get put into the public consciousness. I actually emailed the pollster at MSU asking for more information and was rebuffed and told I don’t know what I’m talking about… even though I graduated from there…
Here’s how polls should work in theory. You poll a certain number of people that is needed to get a representative sample and see your results. Do this a few times and the average of what you get should get you approximately to the true result.
However, this runs into problems in practice. See, liberals LOVE to tell everyone their views. All the time. They will even lie to you to tell you their views. They seem to have no scruples about dishonesty to buy even one more vote, which probably says something about some people’s character.
It’s why you see fake letters in the newspaper saying “I’m Joe Republican but it’s high time to crossover and vote for the Dems!” And then you just search his name and find the other 20 letters he wrote saying how evil Republicans are.
This is a known issue in polling. All of our commissioned polls in 2014 came with voter IDs attached. You would be astounded at the number of Democrats, including high profile people like Missoula City Council members and labor leaders, who say they are independents and Republicans who are voting Democrat! They think it helps to show dumb Republicans they can vote for Democrats, and maybe it does. Who knows. My problem was the lying. And to any pollster worth their salt people lying to you is bad and fucks your results.
There are other known issues. Statistically speaking, a Democrat is five times more likely to talk to a pollster than a Republican. And WHEN you do get a Republican, can you be sure they are representative of Republicans in general, and not just the pissed off ones? If you don’t account for this, it can seriously skew the results of your poll. Otherwise, you are going to be constantly surprised by Republicans outperforming your polls.
Next, we introduce raking. Raking is a concept of rebalancing the results you get from a poll to make it more representative of the population. So for instance, almost all pollsters get way too many liberals begging to answer and way too few Republicans. So they then “rebalance” the results so they better match what you know the population to be. For example, you’d recalculate the results with the Democrats responses diminished and Republican responses inflated.
(There is also issues of reliability when using exclusively online polls, and also using a live person vs a computer to do polls. Online polls miss tons of older voters and when you constantly bash Republicans and get people fired from their jobs for expressing right wing opinions, oddly enough people won't be truthful about voting for Republicans! Crazy, huh?)
However, any mathematical or statistical parameter or measure always has pros and cons. If you take an average, for instance, you need to make sure there are no outliers in your data or the average will be skewed. Median, mode, standard deviation blah blah blah. My point is to be precise and make sure what you’re doing is sound, you need to be aware of and make allowances for the weaknesses of the tools you’re using. And when you won’t share your data or methods, it’s pretty suspect whether you did or not.
In 2016 I put $100 on Trump winning the election at 5:1 odds. I made $500 off that bet. I have a couple of side bets going on also with this one. Here’s the Predictit market for the Electoral College.
The highest money is on the landslides. Republicans believe that Trump will win by 30-149 Electoral College votes, and Democrats believe Biden will win by 100-280+. They can’t both be right. Almost every poll shows this race pretty close, yet nobody is putting money on the close race. This is where you make the money, in the grey area between the guess and the truth.
Why is nobody at all certain how this going to go? Isn’t it a failure of our media and institutions that they have NO CLUE what the opinions of average people are? Isn’t it a failure of academia and our leaders to have the tools in their hands to do better but not act? I’m just astounded that people who would rather move to another country than see the “evil” candidate win have no interest in learning even the basics of how this stuff works.
I don’t know how close the race is. Going into 2014 we knew we’d have about 9-14 point lead on Amanda Curtis, and it ended up being +20.
I think Bullock is playing perfectly so far in that he’s adopting all the tactics he needs to do the best in this race. He's responded to the attacks as they came.
I also think Daines’ is doing quite well. I remember in May of 2014 we met in his home, baffled by the fact that the national Dems hadn’t committed a dime to helping Walsh win. We were just holding our breath waiting for the shoe to drop, which it never did since no polling ever showed him close. I can clearly and succinctly remember in my head Daines sitting in his living room couch and saying, “I’m ready to punch this guy right in the face if we need to.” Give credit to Daines he’s not played the Gianforte role and ignored the attacks, he’s definitely gone offensive in quite a few areas.
I’ve been voting for 20 years now. The secretly winning Democrat story is almost routine at this point. The gap in sampling Republicans ends up making Democrats think their candidates have chances in places they surely don’t. I’ve heard for 20 years straight now that Texas is going Blue and FINALLY Dems have brought in enough minorities to beat Republicans forever. It still hasn’t happened, and I think odds are it won’t happen this time either. But let them keep pouring money into unwinnable races, it sure keeps Democrat operatives employed! (Could this be the left-wing equivalent of sending money to prosperity preachers?)
Voters still care though. They are still starving to hear about the issues that matter to them while the two parties just talk exclusively to their bases and fight so rabidly the average voter wonders whether they care more about them or winning.
Why can Bullock win? He’s won before. The press has fawned over him for 12 straight years now, even claiming him to be scandal free because they refuse to cover any of his scandals. He has more than enough money to win. I don’t know why you’d sit on $30 million until 70% of people have voted, but *shrug* I’m not his campaign manager. He certainly has all the tools to pull it out. If he wins I'll be sad but I'll get why.
On the other hand, the last time voters picked a President they also gave 3 statewide Democrats their walking papers. Bullock’s insistence on sucking up all the air in his party and picking it’s candidates and policies in backrooms might lose him some votes and certainly weakens his party’s image. I think Daines has run perhaps the best Republican statewide campaign in recent memory. He has plenty of allies pouring money into the state. Voters are learning about their Governor some things they might be a little upset to know since the media has conveniently never let them know. A voter scorned is an awful thing to put into the electorate. Montanans also seem to be wary of giving either party complete power.
As I told a friend, I’ve made peace with either outcome. The election will certainly have consequences, but larger picture, I think Democrats have overplayed their hand. They followed up the corrupt old white lady with family baggage with the corrupt old white man with family baggage, yet want a different result.
Generally, voters want to hear things are getting better and Biden’s public embrace of packing the courts, shutting the country down and predicting a dark, dark winter probably doesn’t play well with Joe Independent. Telling people he will shut down all fossil fuels CAN NOT shore up his union base, especially the ones he needed to call back home from Trump. While minority turnout is high, Trump is doing better than 4 years ago with Blacks and Hispanics. Could Dems strategy of turning out minorities backfire? And honestly, the contrast between the enthusiasm of Trump and the frailty, anger and gloom of the left is pretty stark in even the most low information voter’s mind. Philadelphians are looting and starting fires again? Great timing.
Maybe I will just spend the next 7 days ignoring all news so I can be surprised either way.
My name is Tim. I'm no longer invited to any parties. This blog is for Greg Strandberg and no one else.