For those of us that have been complaining about the obvious Republican bias in Scott Rasmussen’s polls since Obama was sworn in, all while the mainstream media called us hyperbolic, we now finally have the definitive takedown by numbers guru Nate Silver following the 2010 elections.
The 105 polls released in Senate and gubernatorial races by Rasmussen Reports and its subsidiary, Pulse Opinion Research, missed the final margin between the candidates by 5.8 points, a considerably higher figure than that achieved by most other pollsters. Some 13 of its polls missed by 10 or more points, including one in the Hawaii Senate race that missed the final margin between the candidates by 40 points, the largest error ever recorded in a general election in FiveThirtyEight’s database, which includes all polls conducted since 1998.
Moreover, Rasmussen’s polls were quite biased, overestimating the standing of the Republican candidate by almost 4 points on average. In just 12 cases, Rasmussen’s polls overestimated the margin for the Democrat by 3 or more points. But it did so for the Republican candidate in 55 cases — that is, in more than half of the polls that it issued.
In the past, Rasmussen ‘s goal was to use his biased polls to help shape the media narrative for the Republicans (well, mission accomplished). The trick though was to fix his methodology as the actual voting approached so he wouldn’t look like such an outlier, but apparently he got too cocky this season. Can we all now agree to ignore Rasmussen forever?
Greg Sargent at The Plum Line reports on a lovely piece straight out of the Minitrue RecDep. A shadowy conservative group called the 60 Plus Association is sending out mailers warning Virginians that they may soon end up in an “Obamaville” if they don’t vote out the Democrat, Rep. Gerry Connolly. Connolly, they point out, supported the dreaded stimulus.
What’s particularly interesting about this mailer is that the “Hooverville,” of course, was a symbol of government inaction in the face of the poverty and widespread misery of the Great Depression. But the 60 Plus Association, which is devoted to free enterprise and less taxation, is warning that “Obamavilles” will result if we don’t roll back government.
What’s the other big issue for the 60 Plus Association, you ask? They want the extension of the Bush tax cuts on the top 2% … presumably so the Koch brothers don’t have to join a bread line.
A quick update on one of the more amusing stories of the week. Talking Points Memo and ABC News report the latest spin from Christine O’Donnell after her belly flop on con law on Tuesday.
“It’s really funny the way that the media reports things,” O’Donnell told ABC News this morning. “After that debate my team and I we were literally high fiving each other thinking that we had exposed he doesn’t know the First Amendment, and then when we read the reports that said the opposite we were all like ‘what?’”[...]Based on our earlier discussion on Library Grape, this line of defense isn’t at all surprising, but reviewing the video again I never hear her actually say “where is the phrase separation of church and state.” A reminder of what she actually said:
O’Donnell told ABC News “her line of questioning to Coons was not because she didn’t know the First Amendment, but to the make the point the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear anywhere in the Constitution.” (As ABC’s Jon Karl and Gregory Simmons point out in their report, “the Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment’s declaration that Congress ‘shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion’ as a legal separation between government and faith.”)
Coons quotes the language of the establishment clause and O’Donnell sits there smugly, saying nothing, while the audience gasps and chuckles. They discuss it further and at no point does she articulate this abstruse conservative argument that “the phrase” separation of church and state isn’t present so it’s not valid to interpret it that way, regardless of Thomas Jefferson’s Danbury letter explaining the intent of the clause and two hundred years of legal precedent — no, she demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge, period. No points awarded.
Speaking of this narrow argument from the right regarding the establishment clause, Steve Benen makes some excellent points:
One can obviously read the Constitution and see that the literal phrase “separation of church and state” isn’t there, but a basic understanding of history and the law makes clear that the phrase is a shorthand to describe what the First Amendment does — it separates church from state.
Indeed, a variety of constitutional principles we all know and recognize aren’t literally referenced in the text. Americans’ “right to a fair trial” is well understood, but the exact phrase isn’t in the Constitution. “Separation of powers” is a basic principle of the U.S. Constitution, but it isn’t mentioned, either. More to the point, you can look for the phrase “freedom of religion” in the First Amendment, but those three words also don’t appear.
Ultimately, if you’re relying on extremist candidates and right-wing media personalities for constitutional scholarship, you’re going to be deeply confused.
In the afterglow of yesterday’s monumental ruling on Prop 8 I’ve begun to see the stirrings of anger among progressives towards the overly careful Obama position on gay marriage. It’s unquestionably a fence-straddling position and a disappointingly outdated circa 2007-8 one at that. One hopes Obama will find some courage on this issue (we all know where he actually stands and is simply unwilling to engage this issue now for political reasons), but in the meantime advocates for marriage equality should be focusing their ire at the forces of reaction and retrenchment not obsessing on the caution of our allies (I’m looking at you John Aravosis).
The GOP has in recent months embraced every conceivable bogeyman in order to scare their base to the polls and many do so cynically for political advantage. From African American revanchists, communism, Islam, anchor babies and a general off-white menace, they’ve now once again begun to activate one of their old favorites — those afflicted with The Gay. I think hearing Newt Gingrich this last week demagoguing both the “Ground Zero Mosque” and the Prop 8 decision (while cutely tying it in with the vote on Kagan today) put me over the top on this. Gingrich doesn’t really care about either of these issues, but he cynically knows it will energize the reptile brains of the Republican base for the fall elections.
Let’s stay focused on the true enemy and not tie ourselves in knots when our politicians act like politicians. There is no moral equivalence between our side being pussies and their side being evil. And, yes, Nate Silver is right when he tweets, “In 30 years time, the fact that the Barack Obama was opposed to gay marriage is going to look really silly.”
PS-I’m not against pressuring Obama from the left on this and tons of other issues, but I think some on the left lose all sense of proportion when their leaders are too cautious.
Suspiciously fashion-conscious and single Republican Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois came out to Morning Joe today to inform us he has finally decided what he wants to cut to get a handle on the deficit. Recall Schock was on months earlier and was challenged by Scarborough to tell him what he would cut (since he wouldn’t shut up about the budget deficit) and he didn’t really have an answer. Months have passed and Aaron is now ready to educate us on the path to fiscal sanity.
Even Pat Buchanan laughed at this. The worst part of this flimflammery, besides the point it does nothing to deal with debts or deficits (less than a sneeze to either) is the transparent cynicism of the Republican Study Committee trying to take away the signs that show Americans what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act actually funded while going around the country saying the stimulus did nothing. I’m still not certain if Schock is dumb or cynical or a nice mix of both, but I do understand why he might want those ARRA signs taken down since they might be embarrassing the next time he shows up at a ground-breaking or ribbon-cutting in his district with the voice of Rachel Maddow ringing in his ears.
Apparently Janice of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem wants you to help recruit Glenn Beck for President in 2012, if this video from Main Street Bites Back is any indication.
With this, their war on the NAACP, and their loses last night in Alabama in both the 2nd district and gubernatorial races, could it possibly be that the Tea Party movement has jumped the shark? They were the crazy, scary people of 2009, but it seems more and more they are the crazy, funny people of 2010.
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