Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trump, rigged-election talk, and what we aren't seeing: unskewed polls

Back in late July/early August, before the rest of the crowd caught onto the fact that Trump was going to whine about the election being rigged, I started a series called "Zero-sum politics," about how Trump's view of everything as a zero-sum game would lead to him complaining about the election being rigged.  So, I did some analysis of the political science behind how such rantings would play out.  Here is a link to the summary post.  Yes, I see this stuff coming before other people do.

Anyway, what I want to address today is what I addressed in Part VI of the series.  In that post (dated August 1, you may note), I said that what really mattered for Trump's likely whining about rigged elections was what the Republican establishment did.  Specifically, whether or not they embraced talk of "unskewed polls."  In 2012, polls indicated that Obama was beating Romney, just as political science models predicted, but many Republicans wanted to live in denial.  So, they did.  One enterprising, Romney-supporting hack decided that all of the polls were biased in favor of Obama.  Or, "skewed."  So, he would "unskew" them by adding some number of voters back in for Romney.  Where did he get the number?  Like the drunkard looking for his keys under the lamp post because it was convenient, he got the number where his head already was-- up his own ass.  He pulled the number out of his ass.  He added that number to Romney's total, called the result an "unskewed poll," which favored Romney, put up a web page called "unskewed polls," and the entire Republican establishment in 2012 decided those were the right numbers.  Hence, they were all shocked when Obama won.

Imagine the horror show that would result if we combined Trump's rigged election talk with unskewed polls?  That was why, in my August 1 post, I put the onus on the Republican establishment to avoid the temptation to embrace unskewed polls this time around.  Trump is too stupid to come up with anything as sophisticated as unskewed polls (simplistic though it was).  This is on the establishment.

Amazingly enough, I haven't seen a replay.  Feel free to mention it here if you have, and I'm sure that somewhere in the dark corners of Breitbart comment threads, such statements have been made, but I have seen nothing like 2012.  Note the anger that Trump has directed at Republican leaders for their failure to back him as fully as he expects on the rigged election talk.  Yes, they continue to make unfounded claims about widespread voter fraud that Justin Levitt, thorough scholar that he is, just keeps debunking, but what they aren't doing (except for Trump surrogates like Giuliani) is just towing the Trump line.  And we aren't seeing a revival of unskewed polls (at least that I have seen), which would turn the rigged election talk into something truly explosive.

This won't necessarily be peaceful.  But, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of the establishment types seem to recognize their incentives here.  Anyone actually in office needs the Republican Party to, ya' know, keep existing, which requires not burning down the whole system, which Trump might actually do if he gets enough support for this crap.  The key difference worth noting, then, is the absence of "unskewed polls" rhetoric.  Everyone actually in office (i.e., not like Giuliani) will do their best to tell Trump that he lost, and to go the fuck away after election day.  Will he?  That's a different question.  But I'll pose this:  what will Trump have to gain after election day by continuing to whine?  Something to ponder.

No comments:

Post a Comment