I’m watching the election returns (and still watching them). One thing I keep hearing is surprise that the predicted “red wave” did not materialize. I think the fact that the pundits expected one is a result of poor polling.
Specifically, I think political polls are too cut-and-dried, too black-or-white, without enough shades of gray. But none of us are so one-dimensional. I answered one phone call this election season which was a poll, and I tried to give them my thoughts. But the poll wasn’t robust enough to properly record them. The first question was “which is the most important issue for you when you’re voting this November.” The problem is, I’m not a one-issue voter, and I’ve a hunch most of us aren’t. But every poll which focused on “the economy/inflation” as the one issue voters would find most important missed the nuances.
Certainly, the economy is one of the issues I considered. But it’s not the only one. I also considered crime, and health care, and national defense, and voters’ rights, and the intrusion of the nanny state, and the environment, and appointments to the federal judiciary, and… well, you get the point. I think about all the ways the government can affect my life (for good or ill), and then I consider the candidates, and I choose those who I think will do the most good and the least bad. Asking me which one issue matters, and then which candidate I’ll vote for to serve that issue, means you’re gathering data that doesn’t reflect reality.
Another failing I saw in this year’s polling was the focus on President Biden’s approval rating, which is indeed quite low. But the polls only considered that, historically, a president with a low approval rating saw the other party win most of the seats in Congress. They didn’t consider that we can think poorly of Joe Biden’s job performance, while at the same time not wanting the Trumpian party candidates to win election and lend any more credence to that grifter.
Unfortunately, that’s the pity of most of our recent elections: very few of us are voting for the candidates; we’re voting against their opponents. I’m going to write directly to both Governor Hochul and Attorney General James, to tell them that my votes for them were not part of any mandate they might consider their elections to be. Rather my votes were against their opponents (well, in the case of James, I do favor certain of her ongoing cases that I fear would have been dropped had her opponent won).
I think that may be the big story no one is telling about the current election cycle: not many of us are truly happy with any of our choices. We’re voting to preserve what we have and improve our lives despite our representatives, not through them.