First note: One of my favorite readers, Jay Swiatek, is quite the horse racing aficionado. He teased me for writing (https://www.spectator.org/blogger.asp?BlogID=10523) , in my rant against people choosing polls over logic, that “I am SO sick of the horse-race stuff.” He said Kentucky Derby fans just WON’T understand that attitude!
Mr. Swiatek is right: I must admit to having been a little careless with the language. What I SHOULD have written is this: “It’s just that I am SO sick of this tendency to treat politics like a horse race. It’s an insult to the horses.”
That said, I must take issue with Philip’s remark, in his defense of polls (https://www.spectator.org/blogger.asp?BlogID=10536) that “The surprise was compounded because male pundits–and I suppose even female Republican pundits–underestimated the effect that Clinton’s emotional incident would have on older Democratic women.” Well, I am a male pundit, and I did not underestimate it. As soon as I saw the clip for a second time, I thought, “wow, what perfect tone. Women voters are gonna eat it up!” And so I wrote in my blog post predicting a much-stronger-than-expected Hillary showing in New Hampshire. All the news reports falsely made it sound like Hillary had wept. The truth is that her voice broke and here eyes MAY have moistened slightly, but not a siingle teardrop actually escaped her eyes. And this all happened while she was talking not about herself directly, but about what she wanted to do for her COUNTRY that she holds dear. It was masterful. I was truly baffled when others missed how masterful it was, especially when combined with her husband’s “bad cop” routine to rile up their faithful.
Another problem with polls in presidential primaries (especially ones that allow crossover voting) is that there are too many variables. Pollsters must make guesses abut how to construct their models, because there just isn’t enough consistent data from contest to contest every four years. In other words, the polls are subjective. Highly subjective. They are at least as much art as science. And thus unreliable.
Picking the ponies is more scientific, in fact, considering that avid horse-racing enthusiasts can rely on speed ratings, recent workout times, and all sorts of other real data. Which brings me back to Mr. Swiatek: You, sir, are a very wise man! 🙂
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