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Do Polls Mean Anything in an Age of Fraud?

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The Republicans stole Florida to get Bush in 2000 and have been stealing elections on a much larger scale ever since.  Will it happen again, even with Obama ahead in the last polls by the commanding margin of about 7.5% nationally?

The truth is, there’s no way to really know what will happen in the vote-counting, and this is the most frightening thing about it.  Nonetheless, in the last two presidential elections, the pre-election polls were actually pretty close to the official result.  It was the exit polls that tipped us off to the fact that something was rotten in the state of Amerika.  (That’s why all the pro-establishment pundits, pollsters, and meta-pollsters are falling over themselves now to say how unreliable exit polls are and how worthless they are for detecting fraud.  Funny how accurate they were until just a few years ago.)

In 2000, only one state was (as far as we know) stolen, so not surprisingly the pre-election polls were pretty close.  (Actually, they underestimated Gore’s support.)  In 2004, on the other hand, votes were stolen across the country—about 8 million of them according to Steve Freeman.  But in the 2002 midterms, the first one under the W/Rove regime of when-we-say-win-by-any-means-we-mean-it, the Republican generously outperformed the polls.  The pollsters set to work recalibrating their polls to fit the new reality.  Remember, they’re not in business to predict the true, voters’-intent vote which no one ever knows.  Pollsters’ job is to predict the official election outcomes we’re all taught to believe in, so they can be patted on the head and told what good prognosticators they are.

The upshot is that all the leading pollsters have, to a varying extent and by varying methods, cooked their polls a bit in the Republican direction in order to offset the fraud.  I’m sure they don’t know they’re offsetting fraud; the pollsters, with their naive faith in the Establishment, just think they’re correcting some failure in the polling methods to adequately measure the people’s will.

The fact is, the 2004 pre-election polls on average showed Bush ahead by pretty danged close to his official margin of 2.5% of the popular vote.  Vote-flipping, vote-suppression, and discarded ballots were already factored into poll design without the pollsters realizing it.  In addition, there was a last-minute swing in Kerry’s direction.  This didn’t show up in the official count either.  The fraud was massive enough to offset both the polling biases and the late surge.  In 2006, the polls did better: 

 “In 2006, Gallup found the Democrats with an 11-point lead among registered voters, and a 7-point lead among likely voters, right before the election. The Democrats won 54.1% of all votes cast nationally for Congress, and a 31-seat advantage.”  --Gallup website

 In other words, according to Gallup the Democrats led by 11% among registered voters and by 7% among “likely voters”; officially, they won by about 8%.  Discounting some voters, disproportionately Democrats, as not “likely voters” is one of the most effective and flexible methods of tilting polls to reflect the reality of Republican theft.

This time around, the pollsters probably have their fraud-adjustments well refined; but the world is changing around them.  Turnout is surging, making hash of previous likely-voter models.  People are worried about whether they’ll be a Bradley effect, voters telling pollsters they’re for Obama so as not to seem racist and then voting for McCain.  On the other hand, some who have analyzed the primaries postulate a reverse Bradley effect in the South, where shamefaced rednecks can’t bear to admit that they’re going to vote for the, you know, Obama.  The battle between electoral fraudsters and the election integrity movement is raging on more fronts than the Russian Civil War.

In other words, it’s a big, unpredictable mess.

I find recent news encouraging.  The long-predicted tightening in the polls has not materialized.  Obama is better-funded than McCain with a far better ground organization, is leading in far more swing states than he needs to win, and has more enthusiasm from his supporters.  The election integrity movement itself is far bigger, more visible, and more mainstream than it was four years ago.

The electoral integrity situation in Florida and Ohio, where the last two presidential elections were stolen, while bad, is overall better than it was in previous elections.  Ohio has a Democratic governor and a Democratic Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, who is at least somewhat committed to electoral integrity.  She’s been quite disappointing in a lot of ways, but she’s certainly no Blackwell.  Florida has Republican Governor Crist, who in a display of decency uncharacteristic of his party helped get rid of DRE’s and expanded early voting hours, contrary to wishes of most of his co-partisans.  The Democrats also gained control of the Secretary of State offices in Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, and New Mexico.  Most of the Democrats, once in office, behave inconsistently at best and at worst are defenders of unverifiable and hackable voting machines that have been proven over and over to be easily manipulated to steal votes; but these Democrats are not the hardcore leading edge of the assault on election integrity that Blackwell and his ilk are, nor do they behave in nearly as partisan a way.

Perhaps most important of all, the right-wing Republican hegemony that seemed to be inclining this country directly on an unimpeded slippery slope to fascism as recently as early 2005 has unmistakably been broken.  It’s not just that Democrats control Congress—weak though Congressional Democrats are, that is something of a help.  But political leadership is largely an expression of the prevailing behind-the-scenes institutional power balance within the country.  It’s there where the change is greatest.

Four years ago and eight years ago, almost the entire power establishment was solidly, adamantly behind the Republicans—the military-industrial complex, the national security state, the corporate media, the corporations in general.  There were some cracks in the monolith, but their presence was portrayed as almost scandalous, not just by the openly right-wing dirt brigade but by the center-right, pro-establishment talking heads which the righties decry as the “liberal media.”  George Soros got so much attention precisely because the establishment found it unthinkable that a billionaire was so publicly, vociferously opposed to the Great Commander-in-Thief.  True, many in the CIA wanted Bush out, for reasons of their own, and this made the playing field a bit more competitive.  But in the main, the drumbeat for W was overpowering, exemplified by the treatment of the Swift Boat pseudo-scandal.  Although Bush’s approval ratings at the time were no more than average, expressing more than mild opposition to him was assumed by the corporate media to be something approaching sacrilege against America.

We all remember this climate.  It is by no means altogether gone.  Yet those dark clouds seem more like tattered shreds today—still threatening, but having lost the unified presence with which they once loomed over us.  Defectors from the Republican cause are streaming, not trickling, from the most unlikely places—the military, big capital, even the GOP itself.  The corporate media is still Republican-tilted but now far from monolithic.  Olbermann is a big phenomenon, now joined by Maddow.  Republicans can still spew BS with remarkable ease, but they can no longer count on it going uncontested.

Don’t get me wrong—much of the power establishment is still in the tank for the Republicans.  But not enough of it is to allow them to be sure they can get away with bloody murder.  They can try it.  They might fail.  If they succeed, they might later go to jail.  It’s a very different environment.

The key difference, though, is the public.  Gone is the attitude of only a few years past that tolerated bloody murder as long as it was done by bigshots and carried out in a stylistic manner.  The public is mad as hell now, and not primarily at “political correctness” or terrorists or street thugs.  It’s mad at the people in power, and they know it.  That’s why the more far-seeing among them want to see at least a modest shift to the left in public policy—not necessarily for the “good of the country,” as they would say, but for their own survival.

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Michael Lubin served on the first democratically elected governing board in the history of KPFA, the nation's oldest listener-sponsored radio station. There, he was a founding member of the pro-democracy listeners' (more...)
 

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