I don’t care what the polls and surveys say about Republicans and the presidential election. Life is more complex than we have been led to believe.
I am quite to the left, I am sure, of almost all my neighbors and friends. I disagree with almost all of them most, if not all of the time.
These are born and bred Republicans, not the testosterone powered children in big trucks who rush around with Big Daddy flags and banners.
These are working people, family people, farmers, neighbors, and friends much like me. I don’t take polls, but I have yet to meet a single one who loves Joe Biden or who thinks he stole the election from Donald Trump.
They would just like Donald Trump to stay in office so he can set more of Washington on fire and so that the Democrats don’t get to screw them again with more devastating trade deals.
If they don’t get that victory, believe me, they will do their work and care for their families and move on. If Joe Biden breaks Democratic precedent and actually does something, they’ll be happy to cheer him on too.
They wear their big boy pants every day. They do not wake up in the morning, plotting to abolish our democracy.
And take this to the bank:
Eighty percent of them do not believe for one second that Joe Biden organized a global conspiracy to steal the November election. They just wish he had lost.
Other than the increasingly unhinged ranting of the President himself, nothing makes fuzzy-headed liberals and progressives crazier than polls that report that 70 to 80 percent of all Republicans believe Joe Biden and Democrats literally conspired to steal the election from their brave and gifted leader.
How can this happen, they ask? How could all these people support such a flawed man?
How did 80 percent of the Republican Party, once so dull, stodgy and somber, come to believe something that almost every Trump-appointed judge in the country and most Republican election officials say is obviously false.
How can people who call themselves Christians embrace a man who has broken every one of the Ten Commandments and brags about it?
These quite shocking poll results about Republicans are faithfully reported by one news organization after another as if they could be true.
I can’t offer you any surveys but the one in my own head. They are not true. They couldn’t be true.
National polling in recent years are valuable in many ways, but they are poor predictors of the future; their findings have proven to be nowhere close to reality.
These polls spread a lot of fear and agony; they sink the hearts of patriots who see our very democracy bleeding to death before us. They make a lot of money for cable news channels.
I have to be honest and say I don’t buy this narrative, these hysterical and dubious poll results—common sense and where I live scream otherwise.
The pollsters got the 2016 election wrong.
They got 80 percent of the 2020 down-ballot election wrong.
Why, all of a sudden, do these improbably, even ludicrous poll numbers become sacrosanct and so easily accepted by our so-called elitist and best-educated voters?
One reason is that the poll surveys meet stereotypes of rural people and Trump’s core supporters. To vote for him, they must be, like him, racist, dismissive of science, uneducated, weak-minded, and prone to conspiracy theories.
It isn’t enough for them to just like his style and boldness; they have to be bonkers like him as well.
The media has prospered and grown fat these past four years, fattening over fear and hysteria, and nothing makes liberals more hysterical than dismissing their opponents as stupid, racist, and clueless.
Their devil is the bright young congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ours is Notorious White Man Mitch McConnell, the evil scheming devil of the far right.
Devils are the centerpieces of our civic system; I’m glad Mencken didn’t live to see It.
I decided to take my own poll over the last few days.
I went to Jean’s Place, where Trump flags fly as proudly as Mickey Mouse flags at Disney World, and I waited for a farmer to come out of the diner and get into his truck.
We know each other, and while we aren’t close, we have nodded and mumbled hellos.
I supposed a poll with greater numbers would carry more weight, but the farmer I ran into was just what I was looking for.
I asked him (let’s call him Andy) if I could ask him a question. Sure, he said, shoot.
If a pollster called and asked him who he was voting for, would he tell the truth? “Hell, no,” he said.
Why not? I asked.
“Well,” he said, “first, because it’s nobody’s business,” he said, “And secondly, because I love Donald Trump and Trump supporters know better than to tell strangers that they like Trump. They probably sell lists like that all over the Internet; nobody knows where those lists go.”
Do you think Joe Biden stole the election? I asked. “No, he said, “I might be old, but I’m not stupid. It’s getting silly. He’s not smart enough or mean enough. But that doesn’t mean we won’t go down without a fight.”
I asked Andy if a pollster asked him if he thought Biden stole the election, would he say no?
“No,” he said, “I’ ‘d say probably. Voted for Trump and supported him for four years. If he needs my support now, I’m happy to give it to him. I’m not going to sell him out now, even if he is acting a little crazy, like a cow that eats curly dock and broom snakeweed..”
Would you accept Joe Biden as a legitimate President?
“Sure,” he said, “life goes on. I’m no guerrilla fighter. I don’t happen to think Democrats do things fair and square in general, but the election is pretty much over. I’m not into secret plots..”
Did you know, I ask, that the networks called it for Biden three weeks ago?
He shook his head, “no,” he said, “I don’t watch much TV.
The numbers that suggest 80 percent of Republicans have lost their minds don’t add up for me. Common sense says it seems too big a stretch. Numbers like that sound frighteningly high, but the reality is more complicated, reports the New York Times and some political scientists.
This is one of those issues that really bears some thought.
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that political partisans, which most American voters are now, often give answers that reflect not what they know or believe as fact, but what they wish were true, or hope becomes true or is what they say to support the candidates they like.
Before this intense partisanship, voters said what they believe. Now, they seem increasing to say what they are supposed to say. Thank labeling for it. Trump has forged a powerful connection with his followers. They won’t let go of him quickly or easily.
Political partisanship is an American blood sport now; winner takes all, opponents are enemies, not partners. We don’t speak warmly of enemies and their motives. But that doesn’t mean we truly believe every awful thing we say about them either.
The pollsters call this partisan cheerleading.
They wonder if Republicans are merely expressing support for the President they love by accepting his demonstrably false claims of fraud, just as most elected Republicans in Congress have – or do they really believe Biden managed a global conspiracy to steal the election without anyone noticing?
Are the vast majority of Republicans really saying they no longer have any faith in our country’s election system or are they reflecting radically different ways of looking at the world and supporting their passionately-held values?
Lonna Atkeson, a political scientist at the University of New Mexico suggests that these results should be taken with alarm, but also, some skepticism.
In a survey released yesterday by YouGov and Bright Line Watch, a group of political scientists who monitor the state of American democracy, 87 percent of Republicans accurately said that news media decisions desks had declared Mr. Biden the winner of the election.
That seems to rule out the possibility that many Republicans, like Andy, my friend at Jean’s Diner, are not aware of that fact.
Only about 20 percent of Republicans told pollsters they considered a Biden victory “the true result.” And 19 percent said they expected Donald Trump to be inaugurated on Jan. 20 – a belief that’s “unreasonably optimistic” at this point, says Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientist who is part of the research group.
Digging deeper, he added, found that about half of the group expecting Mr. Trump to be inaugurated also said he was the true winner. The other Republicans all expressed some doubt about the outcome.
“There’s also a small set of people who acknowledge Joe Biden won, but not nearly as many as you would hope.” Given Trumpism, to tell a pollster that Biden won fairly is almost treasonous, an act of disloyalty and surrender.
Political scientists say many people give the equivalent of the party line answer to survey takers, regardless of their real beliefs. There are also numerous reports of Trump campaign staffers urging their followers to lie to pollsters when they call, so that support for Trump always seems higher than anticipated.
“The evidence is very strong that a number of people out there, even if they know the truth, will give a cheerleading answer,” said Seth Hill, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego. Many of the President’s base is eager to stick it to the establishment; he said, no matter what the establishment does.
Other voters say pollsters believe that what they sincerely believe and want to be true is the same thing. In past, elections researchers have long found that the winning candidate’s supporters have more faith that the election was fair than the losing candidates do.
Accusations of “rigged” and fraudulent elections aren’t new; they are as old as American elections. In other words, Democrats lose faith in elections when Republicans win, and Republicans lose faith in elections when Democrats win.
“Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage,” wrote H.L. Mencken. “In this world of sin and sorrow,” he wrote, “there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.”
No politician of either party has attacked the integrity of elections more than Trump, or for as often or more dishonestly. It ought not to be shocking that Republicans feel cheated and also enabled to feel cheated by their party’s leader.
He was and is loved by lots of people. That doesn’t mean they believe everything he says.
Again and again, we see that polls and surveys are an imperfect way of measuring real or long-lasting sentiment. All blacks and whites, no greys.
When I think about politics I tend not to think about polls, I think about the people I know and what they are like.
Does it really make sense that 80 percent of Republican voters – tens of millions of Americans – actually believe the entire election was fake when Republican judges, poll workers, secretaries of state, and governors from all over the country were the very people who managed the contested elections and who defended them again and again from Trump and his lawyers?
If 80 percent of all Republicans believe the election was stolen, where did all of these Republicans come from?
It doesn’t make any sense when you think about it.
In one respected political survey, Trump supporters were asked shortly before Election Day how they would want him to respond if he lost, depending on the degree of loss: if they would want him to concede and commit to a peaceful transfer or resist the results and use any means to remain in office.
About 40 percent wanted him to take the latter option if he lost in the Electoral College and lost the national popular vote by only a percentage point. The same share wanted the president to contest the election even if he lost the popular vote by 10 or 12 points.
That, found the surveyors, suggests that a significant share of the President’s supporters don’t necessarily believe the election was fraudulent. Instead, they were prepared to support the president’s contesting of the election no matter what.
Clearly, the X factor here is a President with no respect for the history of the American political structure or love of democracy, one who was preparing his followers all year to expect a rigged election if he lost.
He was elected to disrupt the process, and so he is.
That would have a bearing on any political party if its leader behaved in that way. It’s not clear what people will feel once Trump is out of office, and the pandemic beings to recede and the economy begins to recover.
The irony is that many American elections used to be fraudulent and rigged. The Chicago Democratic machine was notorious for showering people with cash to vote a certain way
Our elections today are probably cleaner than they have ever been.
There’s a new presence in the White House; he may change some minds himself.
Trump’s supporters might very well see that a functioning government can do better for them than a dysfunctional one centered around a monomaniac. It isn’t as if Donald Trump transformed all of their lives or solved many social and economic problems.
If someone else can do that, we may find a political environment different from our gloomy expectations.
The lesson of our recent elections is that the people don’t speak with one voice. Not too long ago, Obama was a hero expected to alter the universe. Then Trump. Now Biden.
It may be that our expectations of these people are way too high in a greedy, partisan, and mistrustful populace. It might be they are too low. I can’t know that none of us has ever predicted the future accurately every time.
I can’t imagine that any of us will. My choice is to start listening to voices in my own head, not the findings of surveys with important but very limited conclusions.