Bandwagon Psychology - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Bandwagon Psychology

Conservative blogger ZombieTime has an essay in which he discusses the influence of polling, media, suggestibility and peer pressure in politics:

Will the exaggerations become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as assumed, or are Obama supporters spinning further and further away from reality, constructing one unsupportable exaggeration on top of another — only to be stunned on election day when the actual results, once again, don’t match either their pre-vote opinion polling or their post-vote exit polling?
Yet it may very well be that an army of glum, dispirited and pessimistic conservatives will reluctantly trudge to the polls on November 4, each one imagining they are the only remaining person in the entire country voting for McCain, and lo and behold — they’ll turn out to be a silent majority after all.

We didn’t hear Republicans pushing the argument that all the polls are wrong in early September, when John McCain was ahead by 5 points in the Gallup daily tracking poll. All polls inevitably include some error, but when you look at the RealClearPolitics compilation, what you’re looking at is surveys of tens of thousands of voters, conducted by several different organizations. They all show Obama ahead, and only differ about the size of his lead. Now look at the RCP compilation of battleground state polls. It’s the same story in state after state.

There is no doubt that voters — especially independent “swing” voters — can be manipulated by bandwagon psychology, as Zombie suggests. And media bias (including the way the media reports poll results) is part of that equation. At some point, however, those swing voters finally do swing one way or another, and the huge shift from Sept. 10 (McCain +5) to Oct. 9 (Obama +11) took place during the post-Labor Day period when independent voters are traditionally wooed and won. True, the polls have since tightened (now Obama +6), but it’s very difficult to imagine how the bandwagon could roll in the opposite direction far enough and fast enough to produce a GOP victory.

Robert Stacy McCain
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