Sunday, November 04, 2012

It's no toss-up!

By Frank Moraes

Nate Silver is not the kind of man to make brash statements. He doesn't even defend himself when people dismiss his work because he is "thin" and "effeminate." But there is one thing that seems to bug him: people saying that the presidential race is a toss-up.

Don't misunderstand. He isn't saying that Obama is necessarily going to win. In yesterday's column, he spent a great deal of time talking about polling errors. In particular, he talked about the likelihood that there is some kind of systematic bias in the polls against Mitt Romney. This seems unlikely. But it is possible.

(What I worry about is not that the polls are wrong, but that the Republican efforts to deny Democratic leaning voters the right to vote will be successful. For example, I would tend to think that Obama will win Florida except for this fear. Similarly, I wouldn't even give Ohio a second thought. But it is hard to say just how successful the Republicans have been. In a sense, one just has to have faith in the Democratic ground game. In a bit more than two days, we will know.)

Silver argued that the poll deniers make more sense than the ignorant claims in the mainstream media that the race is a toss-up:

Yes, of course: most of the arguments that the polls are necessarily biased against Mr. Romney reflect little more than wishful thinking.

Nevertheless, these arguments are potentially more intellectually coherent than the ones that propose that the race is "too close to call." It isn't. If the state polls are right, then Mr. Obama will win the Electoral College. If you can't acknowledge that after a day when Mr. Obama leads 19 out of 20 swing-state polls, then you should abandon the pretense that your goal is to inform rather than entertain the public.

Ouch! For the mainstream reporters who want to push the squeaker horse race narrative, that's got to sting.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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