The RNC has released their Campaign 2012 Postmortem. It’s full of fun, and sometimes delusional, stuff.
Here is what they said about polling:
The RNC should convene a quarterly summit by April 15, 2013, of leading GOP pollsters to discuss the current political environment and debate assumptions, sampling, screening, and weighting of samples in an attempt to generate more accurate and consistent data across multiple committees and campaigns.
Not a bad idea. If they do it honestly, they’ll likely come to the conclusion that any “likely voter” adjustment that changes results very far from a simple registered voter model should probably be rejected. I think they are getting at that with this point:
“Likely Voter” screening data collected by various firms in 2012 should be re-examined to see which voters eventually voted and which did not, allowing a validation of the most predictive screening questions and likely voter scales. Special attention needs to be given to this question to ensure that we are not screening out casual interest voters who nevertheless show up on Election Day. Screeners that are too robust, particularly during presidential cycles, have the potential to skew results to the favor of our candidates because they exclude too many young and minority voters.
I find much amusement in this confession.
You may recall that during the heat of the election season, there was a rather sudden and surprisingly unified right wing movement to label most mainstream pollsters as biased. Every time a poll came out showing Obama in the lead in a swing state, the representatives of the right wing spin machine went into tirades bordering on apoplexy attempting to discredit the poll by pointing out the poll’s many “flaws”.
When the report mentions “not screening out casual interest voters who nevertheless show up….”, it is an implicit admission that their obsession with better “likely voter” screens was largely unjustified.
From the hand of the propagandists (like Karl Rove and Dick Morris), it was transformed into a full right wing talking point, to be parroted with religious zealotry and absolute certainty by the brainwashed wingding masses. We saw some of the fruits of this process being spewed in the HA comment threads. Indeed, it became daily, if not hourly, masturbation for “Serial Conservative.” Collectively, from Karl Rove and Dick Morris, right down to “Serial Conservative”, they were deep into denial-of-reality territory.
In the end, the mainstream polls were, on average, pretty darned good.
At the time, I thought most of the propagandists didn’t really believe their own bullshit. Rather it was a big propaganda campaign to help with turnout, and instill doubt in Obama supporters. (And it DID do that. One of the remarkable things that happened to me after the election was learning about numerous friends, acquaintances, and colleagues who, unbeknownst to me, were following the analyses on HA. I was told many times after the election that those analyses provided great comfort.) Following the election, there were various clues that the propagandists, in fact, came to believe their own bullshit. They became victims of their own groupthink.
Oh…and on “groupthink” the report said this:
Groupthink is a Loser
1. Our friends and allies must realize that the Party is at its best as the Party of ideas, and healthy debate of those ideas is fundamentally good for the Republican Party.
They haven’t quite gotten this one right. There was no shortage of “ideas” from the right wing during the 2012 election cycle. No…that wasn’t specifically the problem. What they lacked was an ability to operate from the perspective of reality. Here’s what the report should have said: “We need to inform our ideas based on objective, realistic assessments of the world.”
Their response to the polling went beyond wishful thinking and simple confirmation bias…it was a deeply fatal case of reality denial.