Friday, November 06, 2015

Caterwauling Professor

The predictable caterwauling column vis-a-vis a losing cause during an election cycle was published by the Lexington Herald-Leader on 06 November, authored by Ernie Yanarella, chair of political science at the University of Kentucky. The subject: Republicans winning four of six constitutional offices, including that of governor. Of just under a million votes cast, a fifth republican lost by only 2,000 votes though better than 53% of Kentucky voters are registered as democrats.

Yanarella blamed the democrat gubernatorial candidate for going too far to the right and juxtaposed FDR's New Deal with the newly elected governor's “Raw Deal”—boilerplate stuff, of course. He portrayed the elitism of most university faculties by these words, referring to the voters: “ vote against their economic interests in favor of the Fool's gold of pickpocket politics [whatever that is], manipulative religious appeals and simplistic market solutions.” Translated: Kentuckians are simple-minded religious idiots, reflecting Obama's reference in 2008 to Pennsylvanians as bitter Bible-thumping, rifle-toting bounty-hunters beating the bushes for illegal immigrants.

It was the polling that seemed to make Yanarella come unglued. He just couldn't understand why the republican, Matt Bevin, won by nine points over the democrat, Jack Conway, when the Bluegrass Poll indicated right up to the election that Bevin would lose by five points, a huge 14-point miscue. The Bluegrass Poll is financed by the Lexington Herald-Leader, Louisville Courier-Journal and TV stations WKYT (Lexington) and WHAS (Louisville), using an outfit called SurveyUSA to do the work. These establishments hate Kentucky Senator McConnell in particular and republicans in general.

Last year, McConnell ran for the Senate (again), with State Secretary Allison Grimes the democrat opponent. The Bluegrass poll (same outfit) was prominent but Grimes even hired her own polling outfit when things looked bad. During a late September poll conducted by the New York Times and CBS McConnell was ahead by six points, perhaps pulling away.

At this point, desperation apparently set in at the Lexington and Louisville media-outlets-for-Grimes, so another “Blue Grass” poll was conducted by the same outfit as before, SurveyUSA, and, predictably, Grimes came out ahead by two points, despite the highly respected national polls showing the opposite. The national polling agencies have the advantage of being entirely objective, whereas local polling can be purely subjective, reflecting agendas and not facts.

On 20 October 2014, the results of yet another “Bluegrass Poll” were noted in the media with McConnell ahead but by only a point. On 17 October, Rasmussen reported its results, which had McConnell ahead 52%-44%...a seven-point bulge over the weekend? Of course not! The inordinate disparity in the polls is obvious. During polling from January through June in 2014, Gallup discovered citizens leaning republican as opposed to democrat 45%-39%. This margin, validating Rasmussen and covering a six-month period widened greatly. McConnell won by 15 points, a monstrous landslide indicating that the Bluegrass Poll was either fixed or badly in need of brains.

Seven years ago, McConnell defeated Bruce Lunsford to keep his seat. A look at that race in 2008 is instructive. On 21 October that year, Rasmussen had McConnell ahead 50%-43%, while SurveyUSA (Bluegrass Poll gang?) on 20 October called the race even, 48%-48%. That's a huge differential, well beyond believability.

On 29 October just before the 2008 election, Rasmussen had McConnell ahead by 51%-44% but, strangely, SurveyUSA also had McConnell ahead by an even greater face-saving margin, 53%-45%, indicating an eight-point swing in just nine days, a total departure from reality and reason to wonder how something that unbelievable could happen unless Lunsford maybe robbed a bank. He didn't. McConnell won the election by 53%-47%, vindicating Rasmussen but perhaps indicating skulduggery vis-a-vis SurveyUSA.

Yanarella referred to millionaire Bevin as “a seeming snake-oil business person with an apparent penchant for lying and not paying his taxes on time,” which proved that a UK department head actually believed the mudslinging ads, which, if true, would have meant that Bevin should probably be in jail, not moving into the governor's abode. Such gullibility must be—while not surprising—terribly embarrassing for an elite academic. Naw...he probably thinks an accident happened and he was the only one smart enough to see it.

As for the consistency of inordinate polling miscues, one concludes that the Bluegrass Poll was rigged from the start not just this year but previously as well, or that SurveyUSA is damned by sheer incompetence. Either way, the Lexington/Louisville media giants (truth above all else) glaringly misled the public. It's no wonder a Gallup poll recently found that only 40% of Americans trust the media. That's sad.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark


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