Polls? Big Black Holes!

I don’t believe the guys over at Fivethirtyeight.com, the people who say that they “do polls right”. I also don’t believe the aggregate of the polls at Realclearpolitics.com. Or Pollster.com. I don’t think neither of those companies or websites is correct, due to the Big Black Holes in this particular election.


I have three reasons to doubt polls more than ever.

1. Barack Obama is black. There, I’ve said it. Now, Big Black Hole Numero Uno is: how many people are telling the truth, when they get their evening phone call by a pollster’s volunteer who asks whether they’ll be voting Obama or McCain, and when they’re asked whether race is an issue? I can’t imagine one person who will blurt “Oh I ain’t voting for that guy, he’s black!” The irritating thing is, that nodoby knows whether this is an issue at all. So it’s a black hole in a black hole.

2. Turnout. This is the Holy Grail for Democratic pollsters. (And something more of them are desperately clinging to.) There are scores of strategists within the Obama campaign who believe that voter turnout this year is going to trump all records. And of course, they believe that most of those newly registered voters will turn out to vote for Obama.

I don’t believe it. Yes, Obama-leaning people have been registering in massive numbers, but the Big Question — which none of the polling companies or aggregators can answer — is whether it will be enough to offset the number of McCain-leaners. And, for that matter, no one seems to have measured whether the legion of the Anybody But Obama-crowd, who weren’t motivated to turn out until the rise of Sarah Palin, is now going to turn out to vote after all.

3. Doubt. People are still too much in doubt, that’s maybe the one thing that’s strikingly obvious from the polls (and a safe thing to conclude). People are swinging wildly, like a pendulum that’s out of whack.

And heck, aside from those three things, I’ve never trusted polls as absolutist measurements of popular opinion. I merely view them as harbingers of trends.

I for one do not believe that the unpolled people — those who ordinarily don’t go out to vote, but who the Democrats believe will now turn out in massive numbers — are a different species from those who are being polled.

Take a bunch of unlikely voters, compare their voting trends to those of likely voters, and you’ll see pretty much the same picture.

So therefore, I personally believe that if there’s going to be a higher turnout, that it will be divided among trend lines. And those trends do not look good for Barack Obama.

No matter which way you look at it — from the left, the right, from down below, above or behind — one can only conclude one thing: Obama is losing support, and McCain has made a huge comeback. And that’s still trending. Even the clearly Obama-leaning folks over at Fivethirtyeight.com have toned down their rhetoric; it seems as if they, too have resigned themselves to a fairly strong possibility of McCain winning the elections.

There’s no denying it. McCain’s comeback is HUGE. It also shows just how much a lot of independent voters, who are the ones who seem to literally be running over to McCain, were on the fence, unconvinced and unmotivated, resigned as they were that this year was going to be a Democratic year. Not so! The Republican base is rallied, people have started to believe again.

It means something, it cannot be denied. And against all this, if I look at the way things are trending, all that Obama has done and is doing now, isn’t helping. He’s had a darn good run in the past five days, bashing McCain over the head with everything that has gone wrong economically speaking.

So let’s see what the Harbingers of Trends tell us at the end of the week. Say, next Monday and Tuesday. And I predict the following:

Obama will have been slamming McCain over the head with McCain’s signature weakness, the economy, for 1,5 weeks next week. If Obama hasn’t reversed trends in the Harbingers of Trends (and McCain isn’t caught with an underage boy on a toilet in Utah, or something similar), he will lose this election.

Why? Because it would mean that for all the want of change among the voters, and all their fears about the economy, they simply didn’t care. It would also mean the Great Failure of the Obama strategists, because it would mean that, in the end, the economy was not the electorate’s main concern after all.