From Pod's Lips to Your Ears

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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.

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  1. The Iowa Electronic Markets show that a Democratic House and a Republican Senate is the most likely outcome. That’s sad, because it may mean Mr. Macaca will get back in in Virginia.

  2. I think a lot of average people are exasperated with Bush and the GOP congress but that it isn’t reflected in the polls. Don’t be surprised if the Dems pick up 30 seats in the House and tie the Senate, upon which Liberman and the Maine Senators will be offered all sorts of deals to switch sides.

  3. Are we there yet?

  4. 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.

    I think when reporters and columnists pull out the “gerrymanders” they are either really bad at strategic games like risk, and chess and…well math or they just have never really thought about it..

    basically there are only two things you can do with district mapping…make a stronghold which is good for incumbents or you can divide the constituents…the first presumably would also give a stronghold to your opponent’s party and the second puts your own at risk at neither really gives an advantage or disadvantage to non-legitimate party.

    It is all bullshit and it does not surprise me in the least that it is Dave Wiegle throwing this out as if it is a legitimate claim.

    Note: I have no doubt polititins have changed districts with the intent of “cheating” the voter out of representation…but that this actually works is another story.

  5. joshua,
    Unless you gerrymander to turn 3 districts from 2 strongholds (one for each side) and a tossup into 3 strongholds (2 for yours, one for the other). Your whole example breaks down with n > 2.

  6. joshua,

    The existence of gerrymandering is not a conspiracy by the Democrats. It’s not that complicated to do, either.

    1 million people, 50/50 split, tens districts.

    You have 7 districts with 60,000 Republicans and 40,000 Democrats, and 3 Districts with 26,000 Republicans and 73,000 Democrats. Presto, you have established a greater than 2:1 advantage in seats with a 50/50 electorate.

    The Republicans did this throughout the 1990s in the south, creating a small number of majority-black districts that always elected Democrats by huge margins, and a larger number of very white districts that always elected Republicans by a solid margin.

    You can look it up. Dave Weigel is not trying to eat your brain.

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