Favorite

Republican math 

Mitt Romney was far from being the only Republican thinker "shell-shocked" by his defeat. So was the author of this elegant communication I'd received after a column predicting that the 2012 election would mark the end of Richard Nixon's "Southern strategy."

"You are such a liar. You are not a journalist or a columnist, but rather a whore for the Democratic Party... November will solve the problem when we kick your Satanic ilk out of our government. May you get a form of incurable cancer and die a long and painful death."

Needless to say, my pious interlocutor mentioned no particulars. People like him never do. However, my intuitions proved correct: As far as the Electoral College is concerned, the GOP has turned into a strictly Confederate/Cow State party.

In the short term, stunned disbelief and futile posturing are apt to prevail. Why change what's never worked since 1865?

But the rest of us shouldn't feel too smug. The nation has experienced a brush with disaster. Who'd have guessed that the $250 million man was as vulnerable to having smoke blown up his wazoo as George W. Bush?

There's no telling what mad crusades Romney's neoconservative advisors might have talked him into launching.

One expects a degree of competence in a tycoon; a money guy is supposed to be a numbers guy. That Mitt Romney was as deluded about his chances as Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Peggy Noonan, Charles Krauthammer and the rest of the GOP Marching and Chowder Society comes as a shock.

Final tally: Obama 53%, Romney 45% — Minnesota's tenth consecutive Democratic presidential vote. Not even close.

Adepts of the Fox News infotainment cult ought to be asking themselves tough questions. "On the biggest political story of the year," writes The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf, "the conservative media just got its [posterior] handed to it by the mainstream media. And movement conservatives, who believe the MSM is more biased and less rigorous than their alternatives, have no way to explain how their trusted outlets got it wrong, while The New York Times got it right. Hint: The Times hired the most rigorous forecaster it could find."

His name is Nate Silver, a number-crunching whiz-kid who came to politics after helping to revolutionize baseball stats. His FiveThirtyEight blog aggregates and analyzes data from as many state and national polls as he can find — operating on the principle that the larger the sample, the smaller the margin of error.

In 2008, Silver called 49 of 50 states correctly.

Any poll can be wrong. However, if 18 out of 20 polls show Obama leading in Iowa, then there's a high-probability he's ahead there. An 84.3% chance, Silver thought. (Silver forecast Minnesota as 99.7% likely for the president, Florida, 50.3%)

Anyway, as the 2012 election approached, Silver's numbers showed a steadily increasing likelihood of Obama's winning at least 7 of 9 "swing" states, and hence the election. So did Princeton biophysicist Sam Wang's, whose record is slightly better than Silver's. Other data crunchers got similar results.

Confronted by unwelcome facts, Foxified pundits did the usual. They invented an alternative reality. One Dean Chambers, proprietor of the website unskewedpolls.com began his analysis this way: "Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the 'Mr. New Castrati' voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program."

Incisive, don't you think? Unintimidated, Silver responded sarcastically via twitter: "Unskewedpolls argument: Nate Silver seems kinda gay + ??? = Romney landslide!" A veritable industry sprung up on Fox News and elsewhere arguing that not only Silver but everybody except Romney's private pollsters were twisting the evidence to favor President Obama.

Why anybody would sacrifice his own professional reputation to give false confidence to a favored candidate's supporters was never explained.

Meanwhile, like Romney himself, Fox News viewers long conditioned to mistrust any source of information that's not explicitly conservative took to "Mittmentum" as readily as the sheep in Orwell's "Animal Farm" chanting "Four legs good, two legs bad!"

Even "mainstream" TV networks attracted to a "cliffhanger" narrative for commercial reasons downplayed what state-by-state numbers kept making clear: close national tracking polls mainly reflected that Romney had big leads in the South, but trailed almost everywhere else.

By Election Day, Silver's model gave President Obama a 90.9% chance of winning. In 2012, Silver went 50 for 50. They ought to put the bespectacled analyst out in Times Square like Santa Claus, so Dean Chambers and the Foxified fakers who questioned his integrity can line up to kiss...

Well, to pay their professional respects.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Blaming Obama

    A couple of months ago, on May 10, President Trump invited two Russian diplomats into the White House to celebrate his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Not again

    This just in: Nothing boosts circulation or enhances ratings like a sex scandal.
    • Jan 14, 2016
  • Never wrong

    Quite a few people make noises about leaving the country if the wrong person gets elected president. I've been making discreet inquiries in the vicinity of Kinsale, County Cork, myself — from whence my people emigrated after 1880.
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Hillary hit jobs

    It's always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she'd do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult.
    • Jul 28, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • No one in charge

    The American president has long been described with the honorific "Leader of the Free World." No more.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Blaming Obama

    A couple of months ago, on May 10, President Trump invited two Russian diplomats into the White House to celebrate his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • Great column, and terrific response from Vanessa. Everyone has baseball memories. Here's mine, from a…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Did I miss Bill Clinton's admission to sexual assault? @Investigator - can you help with…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • Go ahead and destroy the timelessness of baseball. It is in a zone by itself…

    • on July 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation