Why poll-driven, horse-race election coverage doesn't help > Dogecointool

Why poll-driven, horse-race election coverage doesn’t help

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. Let’s look back at the week in Opinion.

Regular readers have probably figured out from what a Supreme Court justice might call the “penumbras” of this newsletter that I dislike campaign horse-race coverage. I bristle at the fixation on polls that suggests one candidate is “winning” or “behind” before a single ballot is cast, as if something other than earning the most votes determines which candidate has run the more effective campaign (notwithstanding the electoral college). In the realm of news you can use, I put poll-driven campaign commentary alongside speculation on whether the Dodgers will acquire this or that blockbuster free agent in the offseason: The only thing this does is discuss something that hasn’t happened yet, and might not ever happen.

In sports, this is all good fun (if your idea of fun is watching excitable fan bases insult each other). In politics, it arguably damages our democracy and turns governing into a never-ending process of jockeying for the best position ahead of the next election, never mind the real problems that deserve attention now. And right now this country can select from a veritable menu of crises that deserve more attention than the rapidly intensifying poll-driven speculation as the Nov. 8 vote draws nearer.

Which is why I found this piece by Republican-turned-Democratic strategist Kurt Bardella so refreshing. In it, he reminds us that no one has any idea what will happen on Nov. 8 until the ballots are counted, and the current obsession over polls may only serve to demoralize and anger millions of voters who expected the vote to go their way:

“Now imagine election night 2022, if Democrats hold both the House and Senate. The collective media apparatus will express shock and surprise. They will herald the results as unprecedented and defying all expectations. But the truth will be that the media got it wrong — again. And yet the narrative embedded in so much of political coverage is unlikely to change. The same storyline will probably be trotted out in 2024. That’s the inherent danger of the herd D.C. Beltway mentality that dominates conventional wisdom group-think.

“I expect that if this scenario comes to pass, we’ll see more stories with headlines such as this from Politico, ‘Pollsters: “Impossible” to say why 2020 polls were wrong’ or studies such as this one from Vanderbilt University, ‘Preelection polls in 2020 had the largest errors in 40 years.’

“Those reports are from less than two years ago. And yet, here we are on the doorstep of another election and much of the coverage is still centering on every new poll, as if this pattern of inaccuracy didn’t exist.”

This isn’t to say there isn’t any use for polling. Campaigns and elected officials regularly commission surveys for internal use to guide their strategies and adjust messaging. And if the actual election result deviates substantially from polling (think Saddam Hussein winning 100% of the vote or even the incumbent Iranian president being reelected with 62% in 2009), we have an indication of widespread fraud. It’s also good to have a robust informal system in place for discerning the wishes of the people between elections.

But incessant, poll-driven horse-race campaign coverage departs from those useful purposes. And, as Bardella writes, the consequences pose serious risks: “The conventional horse-race narrative for elections has never served the public well. But in these midterms, lack of context normalizes what Republicans have done to fair elections and will further help accelerate the decline of the American democratic process.”

Is Kevin de León toast? A lot of people seem to want it that way, including a letter writer to The Times who said she had knocked on neighbors’ doors organizing against the City Council member she supported two years ago. Columnist Nicholas Goldberg makes the case for De León not to just wait this out: “What De León did was bad. His comments on the leaked tape were substantially less offensive than the racist, nasty words uttered by Martinez, but they were pretty hard to explain away, as was the whole meeting, frankly. They appear to have turned much of the city against him. Staying on will be difficult and painful. In my view, De León should resign.” L.A. Times

Justice Thomas’ refusal to recuse himself is thumbing his nose at the law. I mentioned a “menu” of crises facing our country, and this one should be on it. Clarence Thomas granted Sen. Lindsey Graham’s request to stay an order to comply with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., in a case that potentially involves the election-overthrowing activities of his wife Virginia Thomas. Laurence H. Tribe and Dennis Aftergut write that federal law is clear about justices needing to recuse themselves in a circumstance like this; problem is, the law contains no enforcement clause and leaves it up to the justices’ discretion. “Obedience to the law thus depends upon the honor of the justice or judge,” say Trime and Aftergut. “Any justice in Thomas’ position who was concerned about the Supreme Court’s legitimacy — or his own integrity — would have recused himself.” L.A. Times

Antisemitism has to be called out wherever and whenever it shows up, and it’s been showing up with a fury in Los Angeles lately. Virulently hateful anti-Jewish flyers were being posted in certain neighborhoods and sent to homes before the rapper Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) started his antisemitic tirade a few weeks ago. Emboldened by Ye, the hatemongers are coming out into the open, most conspicuously when a handful of people unfurled antisemitic banners and gave the Nazi salute on a 405 Freeway overpass last weekend. “It’s imperative … that people ‘sound a clarion call that antisemitism, this type of racism, is impermissible and unforgivable,’” writes The Times Editorial Board. “Yes, even in this liberal city.” L.A. Times

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Election day is a week and a half away. Here is the complete list of editorial board endorsements for the Nov. 8 vote. You can also find this list at latimes.com/endorsements.
Proposition 1: Yes
Propositions 26 and 27: No
Proposition 28: Yes
Proposition 29: No
Proposition 30: No
Proposition 31: Yes
L.A. mayor: Karen Bass
L.A. city attorney: Hydee Feldstein Soto
L.A. city controller: Kenneth Mejia
L.A. City Council District 5: Katy Young Yaroslavsky
L.A. City Council District 11: Erin Darling
L.A. City Council District 13: Hugo Soto-Martínez
L.A. City Council District 15: Tim McOsker
Proposition LH (city of Los Angeles): Yes
Proposition SP (city of Los Angeles): No
Proposition ULA (city of Los Angeles): Yes
Los Angeles County sheriff: Robert Luna
L.A. County Measure A: Yes
L.A. County Measure C: Yes
L.A. County Board of Supervisors, District 3: Lindsey Horvath
L.A. Community College District Board of Trustees, Seat 2: Steven Veres
L.A. Community College District Board of Trustees, Seat 4: Sara Hernandez
L.A. Community College District Board of Trustees, Seat 6: Gabriel Buelna
L.A. Community College District Board of Trustees, Seat 7: Kelsey Iino
L.A. Community College District Measure LA: Yes
LAUSD Board District 2: María Brenes
LAUSD Board District 6: Kelly Gonez
L.A. Superior Court Office No. 60: Abby Baron
L.A. Superior Court Office No. 67: Fernanda Maria Barreto
L.A. Superior Court Office No. 70: Holly Hancock
L.A. Superior Court Office No. 90: Melissa Lyons
L.A. Superior Court Office No. 118: Melissa Hammond
L.A. Superior Court Office No. 151: Patrick Hare
California Supreme Court chief justice: Yes on Patricia Guerrero
California Supreme Court associate justices: Yes on retaining Goodwin Liu, Joshua P. Groban and Martin J. Jenkins
2nd District Court of Appeals: Yes on retaining all justices
Lieutenant governor: Eleni Kounalakis
Secretary of state: Shirley Weber
State attorney general: Rob Bonta
State controller: Lanhee Chen
State treasurer: Fiona Ma
State insurance commissioner: Ricardo Lara
State superintendent of public instruction: Tony Thurmond
State Senate District 20: Caroline Menjivar
State Senate District 28: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas
State Assembly District 39: Juan Carrillo
State Assembly District 40: Pilar Schiavo
State Assembly District 51: Rick Chavez Zbur
State Assembly District 61: Tina McKinnor
State Assembly District 69: Josh Lowenthal
U.S. Senate: Alex Padilla
U.S. Congressional District 27: Christy Smith
U.S. Congressional District 37: Sydney Kamlager
U.S. Congressional District 40: Asif Mahmood
U.S. Congressional District 41: Will Rollins
U.S. Congressional District 42: Robert Garcia
U.S. Congressional District 45: Jay Chen
U.S. Congressional District 47: Katie Porter
U.S. Congressional District 49: Mike Levin

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