From Pod's Lips to Your Ears


There are one, two, many John Podhoretzes, but the most entertaining incarnation is the author of Hell of a Ride: Backstage at the White House Follies 1989-1993. That's the Podhoretz who penned this post at NRO's Corner, probably the smartest thing written about new generic polls (Will you vote for the Blue Party or Red Party for Congress?) that appear to show the GOP lurching to a comeback.

If the Democrats achieve a blowout on Tuesday night, then a momentary spasm of life in a GOP corpse is meaningless — in November 1992, there was a poll showing Bush the Elder within two points of Clinton, which caused a flurry of hope in GOP breasts until around noontime on Election Day when word quietly went forth from the RNC that all hope was lost. 

If Republicans hang on to the House and Senate, it won't mean that these new polls measured any real change. It will mean, instead, that all the polling in this midterm election was garbage — that, indeed, polling is in a crisis because it can no longer measure anything specific owing to the increasing sophistication and annoyance of Americans dealing with telephone solicitors.

If your bullshit count is already high, you might want to boycott political blogs today—there are literally hundreds of polls available and hundreds more pundits (old-fashioned and insta) cherry-picking the ones that make their side look the strongest. Of the actual poll aggregators, Electoral-Vote looks too blue, Election Projection looks too red, and Pollster… actually, Pollster looks too blue, too. And what to make of claims that the race is closing up? (Newsweek, CBS/NYT and Time say it isn't, everyone else it is.) In the last days of the 1994 campaign, after the launch of the Contract for America and a slashing Democratic offensive against Minority Leader Newt Gingrich (the original Nancy Pelosi), Democrats appeared to close the polling gap… and you know what happened next. In the last days of 2002's races, after the Iraq war vote, Republicans appeared to pull ahead in the generic polling… and, yeah, you know what happened next. The key difference was that 2002 was the first election to take place after a wave of pro-Republican gerrymanders (like Pennsylvania, a blue state that miraculously elected 12 Republican Congressmen and 7 Democrats), whereas 1994 occured in seats originally drawn to benefit Democrats.