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October 8, 2012 / needhamgrassroots

Poll Trutherism (Reality vs. The Bubble)

From The American Prospect — Today, the Pew Research Center released a poll showing Mitt Romney rocketing ahead of Barack Obama to a four-point lead among likely voters. Needless to say, this is pretty remarkable. Is it true? Well … maybe, maybe not. Just a few weeks ago Pew showed Obama ahead by eight points among likely voters, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who found that unlikely. But referencing the recent “poll truther” insanity on the right, Slate tech writer Farhad Manjoo tweeted, “Watch for liberals to start questioning Pew’s methodology/sampling/etc in 3, 2, 1….” Well, you can keep waiting. I have seen some liberals express the belief that these results may be inaccurate, particularly since they show the two candidates tied among women. I don’t even think Ann Romney thinks her husband is going to be tied among women. But there aren’t any liberals, as far as I can tell, questioning Pew’s methodology or intentions.

And that’s the difference. Whenever any of us see a poll with results we don’t like, we have an impulse to explain it away. We look for evidence that there’s something fishy going on, to conform to what we would like the truth to be. But faced with a bad poll, liberals don’t say that the pollster is intentionally skewing the results to make their favored candidate look good. Yet that’s precisely what conservatives have been saying as they saw polls showing an Obama lead. They saw not simply outliers, products of the inherent imprecision of survey research, or even methodological issues, but an actual conspiracy. They saw a similar conspiracy when the September unemployment figures came out and didn’t conform to their beliefs about what ought to be happening.



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