Polls now tell us that Americans claim to have voted for Barack Obama by far larger margins than those indicated on Election Day.
Officially, Obama won the popular vote by 53%, with John McCain and Sarah Palin taking 46%--a lead of seven points. But according to what people told the pollsters at the Wall Street Journal, Obama seems to have prevailed by eleven points: 50%-39%. And the New York Times reports that people claim to have voted for Obama by some 28 points, 60%-32%.
Thus Obama's win was not a mere "decisive victory," as all the press (and he) agreed. It was a landslide, like in 1932, with the Republicans not just refuted but completely routed.
Now, here in what we might call "the real world," such disparities make perfect sense, since they reflect the fact that millions of Americans were variously disenfranchised on Election Day, just as they'd been throughout the decade.
Not a bit of it! Rather, what those polls suggest, as Slate's Christopher Beam asserts below, is that people are simply lying--a "fact" without a shred of evidence to back it up.
A sample of Beam's logic:
Are people really lying about having voted for Obama?
Yes, they are. It's common for more people to claim they voted for a president than actually did. In the 1930s, George Gallup found that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was more popular in post-election polls than he was on Election Day. The same was true after the 2000 election, in which George W. Bush lost the popular vote. By 2004, polls showed Bush having won in a landslide.
So Gallup said that "more people claimed to [have] vote[d] for" FDR than really did? Or did he simply find that Roosevelt "was more popular in post-election polls than he was on Election Day"?
And then, as further "evidence" that people lie about their votes, Beam argues, weirdly, that "the same was true after the 2000 election," since Bush lost that contest--then "won in a landslide" four years later.
What "landslide"? Even the official outcome had Bush "winning" by 3 million votes. In any case, how do those (alleged) Bush votes serve the argument that "people [are] really lying about voting for Obama"?
Without pausing to explain, Beam then notes that the gap between these new polls and the (seeming) outcome on Election Day is so wide that (what we might call) the Lying Thesis can't account for it entirely. And so Beam spins through a range of further speculations to explain those gross disparities--that is, explain those gross disaprities away.
"The main explanation for the gap, say pollsters, is people who didn't vote at all saying they did." Any evidence to back that up? No way! Beam then claims that people probably just plain forgot which candidate they'd voted for, and notes as well that "people do a poor job of reporting past behaviors." Any evidence of such forgetfulness, or that anyone has "misreported" his or her own votes? None whatever!
Beam then invokes "the group of McCain voters that either regrets their pick or would rather not admit it to a pollster." This is, of course, the old"reluctant responder" hypothesis --which, pre-Election Day, was trotted out to tell us why Obama couldn't win; and now Beam's using it to tell us, tacitly, why Obama didn't really win so big. And is there any evidence for that claim? Of course not!
The reason why Beam's logic is so tortured, and why he and his editors don't see the need for any evidence to back up his fantastic claims, is that the only rational explanation for "the gap" in question is that millions of Americans were variously disenfranchised on Election Day; and that's a fact (i.e., not mere speculation) that neither Beam nor his superiors --nor most US reporters, left and right--can let themselves perceive.
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