Thursday, February 15, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: 2018 Political News Catch-Up 1


There are some reports that Republican U.S. senate
leaders and certain local GOP activists are becoming
increasingly nervous about some of the recruits they
have enlisted to challenge the numerous vulnerable
Democratic incumbents up for re-election in the 2018
national mid-term elections. Conservatives currently
hold a very narrow majority, and given a numerical
opportunity to pick up seats this cycle (but not in the
next one), they fear losing control --- if not in 2018,
then in 2020, the next presidential election. The special
election in Alabama shook their confidence, and they do
face serious challenges to three seats they now hold in
Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee. A good opportunity in
turning-red Ohio was also lost when their strong
candidate had to withdraw for family health reasons.
This leaves about ten vulnerable seats to pick up, but
unlike the 2010, 2014 and 2016 cycles (when they were
able to recruit routinely strong challengers), they feel
recent doubts about some of their likely nominees.
In some cases, they seem to be over-reacting --- in
Arizona and Missouri, for example --- but in other
races --- such as Ohio, Montana, Wisconsin, Indiana,
and the special senate election in Minnesota --- they
do not yet seem to have first-rank candidates. What’s
more, senate campaign fundraising so far trails that
by Democrats who are going all-out in a year they feel
history is on their side.

Public opinion polling, especially in competitive races,
has in recent years become less and less predictive and
useful --- especially those published well before election
day. Even the cliche that a public poll is only a “snapshot
in time” has become quite questionable as the number
of those voters polled, registered and likely, is too small
for a reasonable true margin of error, and many voters
refuse to be polled. Too often, public polls become part
of the “fake news” syndrome now endemic in political
reportage. A case in point was recent “generic” polling
of the Congress. Only a few weeks ago, most polls said
that Democrats had a large lead in double digits. Most
recently, a  major poll has reported that Republicans
now have a small lead in this poll. Such volatility in so
short a time suggests that most public polls, if indeed
they are snapshots, are out of focus (and, if you will,
not suitable for framing). Perhaps an exception to the
published polls. private polling for parties, groups and
candidates usually are more carefully done and probably
more accurate --- but these are polls rarely seen except
by those who pay for them. President Trump’s recent
significant rise in published polls also indicate, as does
the rapid change in the generic congressional poll, how
volatile the electorate is today. We might wish it
otherwise, but until we get close to election day, most
polls tell us little of value.

If history instructs us about budget deficits, it is that
in the long-term, they are unsustainable.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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