Rove and Reinhard--Fuzzy Math?

Jeff Alworth

Robert Siegel: I'm looking at all the same polls you're looking at--
Karl Rove: No you're not!  No you're not!  I'm looking at 68 polls a week; you may be looking at four or five public polls a week that talk about attitudes nationally but that do not impact the outcome of these races....  Yeah, look, I'm looking at all these Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House.  You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math and I'm entitled to the math.
--NPR interview, Oct. 24

Republicans apparently do have different polls, because the ones I'm looking at paint a different picture.  Recent polling by the Wall Street Journal--no excuse for liberal bias--puts GOP favorability at an all-time low.  In fact, the numbers are worse for the Republicans than they were for Democrats in 1994:

In horse-race sites where pollsters pore over polling data (but perhaps not Rove's ultra-secret studies), the House is seriously tilting Dem and the Senate looks like a toss-up.  But never mind that, our own David Reinhard--maybe he's got the Rove data--predicts doom for the hopeful Dems:

You know all the media polls that show low Bush ratings and Democrats trouncing Republicans in the generic race for Congress? Often they're polls of adults rather than registered voters, or registered voters rather than likely voters, and this makes a difference. Also, the samples often don't reflect the electorate that's actually shown up to vote in the past few elections. For example, they often undersample Republicans or religious voters. They make for better headlines than pre-election intel.

And, although there's a lot of bouncing around in polls of those individual races, Republican prospects in contested races aren't nearly as dismal as the Democratic wave theory suggests. Indeed, they've brightened considerably of late.

It's not surprising that what exits Rove's mouth will two days later appear in Reinhard's column, so maybe there's no wave of Republican optimism here, just a loyal soldier mouthing the national message.  But it seems bizarre to hear this, in the face of overwhelming news to the contrary.  No one fears election day more than I do--disappointment has given me a Pavlovian reaction to the first Tuesday of November in even years--but this seems at best like stiff-upper-lippism in the waning days of a massacre.  Reinhard's offering to wager a lunch date that Republicans will win.  I can't see any reason not to take the bet.

  • spicey (unverified)

    Reinhard just knows that the vote counting machines will be doing their unjust work again this time around, just like in the last election. Can this injustice overwhelm what looks to be a route? I hope not. I like sushi, Dave.

  • (Show?)

    Reinhard's got the Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V down pat.

  • Brian (unverified)

    Rove and Reinhard (and the rest of the old media) are creating the media narrative that will allow them to claim that the election is "close", so that voters tune out after the election and let the Republicans' legal challenges succeed.

    I know, I know... I'm pessimistic, too...

  • BobTucker (unverified)

    Polls don't matter as they have no relation to votes that actually get cast and counted (or not counted). Thanks to redistricting the seats are almost impossible to win anyway nationally; once you factor in the Republicans' ability to steal votes and elections, I'd come to the same conclusion as Rove. It's easier to predict outcomes when the game is rigged. Once again, polls leading up to the election show us winninng, exit polls will show us winning, but we will lose. And the media will blame the exit polls and declare that there was a mandate for George Bush.

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    Man--are we ever a dyspeptic, cynical crowd! We're about to seize at least the House nationally, which means ACCOUNTABILITY in Washington. I share this flinching inclination, but I also think it's nice every now and again to laugh in Reinhard's face. I mean, given everything else he's predicted, this isn't surprising--but it's the same old incredibly poor judgment the GOP has given us for six years. I say take the burrito (he's demanding you pony up a steak, an apparent nod to reality)--or better yet, offer Dave a fine serving of crow.

  • (Show?)

    My head says it's OK to feel optomistic about the Dem's chances this time around. My nightmares center around horrible sick fears of re-living the moments after we all found out Kerry wasn't elected president. That's why we need to keep working on our our Get Out the Vote efforts.

    Somehow crow seems to fine a dish to serve Reinhard.

  • (Show?)

    He's not really exposing himself to a lot of risk.

    I e-mailed Mr. Reinhard, who was kind enough to reply to my inquiry. When he says he believes "Republicans will retain control of Congress," he is really only saying that Republicans have to retain control of one chamber for him to win his bets.

    A pickup of six seats in the Senate (assuming CFLer Joe Lieberman DOES end up caucusing with the Democrats, if he wins re-election) is what it would take for the Democrats to gain control of that chamber, given that Cheney would be able to cast the tie-breaking vote if the Senate were tied 50-50(48+2).


  • RayCeeYa (unverified)

    Read all the polls you want Karl. If it makes you sleep better you can slip them under your pillow at night, but in the end there is only one poll that matters. The one on November 7th.

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    If only we had access to Rove's polls! All we have are these damn independent ones that keep saying we're going to win:

    LATEST HOUSE SURVEY....Greenberg Quinlan Rosner just finished a survey of the 50 most competitive House seats currently held by Republicans. Respondents were asked about the candidates in their districts by name, and the results were pretty positive for Democrats:
    In the top tier of the most competitive 16 seats, the Democrats have increased their lead to 8 points, 52 to 44 percent; in the second tier of 17 seats, the Democrats have kept their lead of exactly 6 points (50 to 44 percent). In both cases, the named Republican candidate is only getting 44 percent of the vote.
    That's 33 seats. Republicans will probably close the gap in a few of those districts over the next couple of weeks, but it doesn't seem likely they're going to close the gap in all of them. At least, not if Democrats keep fighting.
  • RKM (unverified)

    I make a bet with him -- if the democrats win Reinhardt stops writing his column, and if the republicans win, I'll stop reading it.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Jeff Alworth | Oct 26, 2006 1:17:30 PM If only we had access to Rove's polls!

    From the same source as Rush's pills perhaps?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Two possibilities:

    • Prospects for Republicans are so bad that their noise machine is trying to prevent R voters from giving up entirely and not voting.

    • Republicans really do have the vote counting process fixed and need plausible deniability when their candidates unexpectedly "win."

  • LT (unverified)

    Do not forget what Rove said the weekend before the 2000 election. He bragged that Bush would get 300 electoral votes. If this comes from the same source (not polls but hubris) then there is nothing to worry about.


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