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UnSkewed Polls and Election Conspiracy

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The 2012 race may not rate high on the historic index of elections but I believe that it will be notoriously remembered as the largest mass disconnect from reality witnessed in modern elections. Romney’s extraordinary gift for shape-shifting and policy hypocrisy was met in kind by the Republicans’ willingness to see him through the very singular lens of that day’s political expedience. In an era when it is quite easy for the average voter to verify the truthfulness of their politicians, reality is obfuscated with equal ease. As quickly as real information becomes available, disinformation responds like a rapidly mutating virus. And I can think of no finer example than the UnSkewed Polls web site. Even so, I think that the real legacy of UnSkewed Polls is yet to come.

The September polls showed Obama putting some very clear margins between himself and Romney. Naturally most conservatives were dispirited by this trend. Not content with reality, along comes Dean Chambers who set about creating his own alternate reality and Unskewed Polls was born.

Chambers decided that all the pollsters were over-sampling Democrats in their surveys which, in turn, produced a Democratic bias in the poll results. He much preferred the results from Rasmussen’s oversampling of Republicans so he adjusted all of the other polls accordingly. In an instant, Romney went from a two point deficit to being seven points up. Brilliant!

We have five days left until election day and the prognostication business is brisk but still not showing the love for Romney. Rolling October Forecast has Obama winning the electoral vote (EV) 281-257; Electoral Vote gives it to Obama 299-206; Talking Points Memo projects Obama at 303-191; FiveThirtyEight predicts Obama 300-238; and Intrade has Obama’s chances of victory at 68.2%. I’m sure you see a trend here. And, of course, we have our outlier at UnSkewed Polls, which projects a Romney win with 321 EV to Obama’s 217.

From a statistical point of view, the odds running against Romney at this moment are roughly 2:1. Even a drunk conventioneer in Vegas would think twice before putting their stack on Romney’s square. It is not impossible for Romney to win, it is just less likely. And while it is possible that I may be showered with I-told-you-so this Wednesday, I’m reasonably confident that I will get to enjoy some unskewed schadenfreude next week. Following that, I hope that UnSkewed Polls will simply be humiliated into obscurity.

Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen. On the contrary, UnSkewed Polls will rise up to serve a whole new purpose. It will be proof of Democratic election fraud and conspiracy. Their revised projection numbers are well outside of the margin for error and and their followers accept them as a truth. Chambers and his devotees know that Romney will win. And if he doesn’t win, their evidence-based certitude will leave little doubt that the election was somehow fixed. The ensuing cacophony of speculation will include everything other than the possibility that UnSkewed Polls was wrong.

In short order, snippets of evidence will crop up on conservative blogs. A stock photo of a bus filled with blacks will be posted (clearly crossing the state line with illegal voters). A friend of a friend who worked at a polling station will expose the dirty truth of how they tampered with the machines and psuedo experts will validate the story. Others will ask if an election official really died of a heart attack or was Obama cleaning things up? And Fox will do its part by frequently reporting that “There are some people who say…” The conspiracy will get a name like Skewergate, and I imagine their subscribers will actually like being call Skewers (sticking it to the prez).

One of the strengths of this conspiracy is that it will play rather nicely into the conservative narrative of the proposed Voter ID laws. Mike Turzai not withstanding, those laws were marketed as a need to reduce voter fraud. With the exception of a few very red states, most of those bills have been overturned or ruled unenforceable for this election. An Obama victory coupled with UnSkewed Polls will, in their minds, vindicate the need for such laws.

All of this will come none too soon for the wingnuts. It will be their new weapon of choice to delegitimize Obama’s presidency. The birther thing has gotten a bad comb-over and, inexplicably, no one seems to care that Frank Marshal Davis is Obama’s real father. Now I can’t say with certainty that this will happen, but if I had a stack of chips I’d sooner put it on the likelihood of a skewergate than a Romney victory.

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About Andrew Ratzsch

  • Nick

    You basically nailed it. This is what I thought their intention was all along since they have to know they will be exposed as frauds on election night. The “unskewed” polls showed a clear Romney lead and they lost, so it must be Democratic voter fraud. Also the MSM will be in on it, and maybe the UN. hahahahaha.

  • non-skwered

    So if Romney wins by the un-skewed numbers, what then? Will you man up and say how biased the other pollsters are? Now what reason would they skew their numbers? hmmm I wonder…. smh

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um, none of the major polls are saying that Obama WILL win – they’re only saying that the odds are significantly in his favor. Even Nate Silver is only making a $1K bet because the odds are in his favor.

    Personally, given the prevalence of Republican voter suppression efforts, I think there’s a significant chance that Romney will win…

    …but if he does, it will be the last hurrah of this iteration of the Republican party. Demographics are changing, and they’re doing so in a way that does not favor the GOP at all. The only long-term hope that the GOP has over the decades to come is that the Citizens United decision will enable them to financially rule the elections process.

  • non-skwered: So if Romney wins by the un-skewed numbers… Will you man up and say how biased the other pollsters are?

    No. I will “man-up” and say they were wrong.

  • Curious

    I am inclined to agree with you and agree that unskewed polls is most certaintly fraudulent to put it mildly. What I am wondering is what you believe the electorate turnout is likely to be. I have asked this question of many of my fine democratic friends and almost all agree Obama will not nearly approach the +8-+9 he enjoyed in the last election. If this is indeed true and it returns to it more nominal +2-+3 for Dems over Republicans and assuming the polls are right and Romney leads somewhere in the neighborhood of +6 among independents. Then how is it that Obama does win? Now the figures that unskeewed uses to define the electorate are most certaintly way of base but arent also Quinipiacs/NBC who actually assume a larger +Dems in states like Florida, Ohio and Virginia then in 08. I think it is in fact about as close as it can get and many of us who find the process fascinating and cant sleep until we know are going to be up to the wee hours of Wed.

  • Curious: Regarding turnout, your guess is as good as mine.

    I will say that turnout will have a very low impact on about 40 states. Let’s face it, Texas is going to carry Romney and California will carry Obama. A very low turnout in the “uncontested” states could skew the popular vote count considerable and still not have a great impact on the electoral vote outcome.

    The scariest prospect is that Obama could loose the popular vote and still win the White House. If that happens, things will get very ugly.

    I will add that the forecasters I’ve been following have various methods of trying to account for that.

    Good news is that we don’t have to wait much longer to find out.

  • Dan

    Yes, I’m sure your right. And if Romney wins no one on the left, yourself included will claim any malfeasance on the part of the right. Nobody will cite.. oh I don’t know Tagg Romney and Ohio voting machines or voter suppression throughout the land. Nope. If Romeny wins the left will take it in stride and move forward. Count on it.

  • Baronius

    You have to remember that in 2000, in Republican eyes, the Democrats tried to steal an election. (Then again, in Democratic eyes, the Republicans successfully stole an election, so I understand the tension there.) In both 2000 and 2004, we were told that Bush was going to lose, so we have very little faith in polls. And this year looks to be very close in a few swing states.

    But sure, there are dips on both sides of the aisle who will claim that their side should have won.

  • Baronius

    Let me add one thing to that. It’s been my observation that after a loss, Republicans are more likely to blame their candidates and the press, and Democrats are more likely to blame the voters and the Republicans. I guarantee you that there are already Republican moderates writing the “Romney ran too far to the right” articles, and Republican conservatives penning “we never should have gone with a Massachusetts liberal” articles.

  • Baronius, I would add a caveat to your observation, which is that the last two times a Republican has won the presidential election the result has been extremely close, whereas the last three times a Democrat has won it has been by a landslide.

    For Republicans to have blamed anybody but themselves after their losses in ’92, ’96 and ’08 would have just made them look stupid (well, stupider 😉 ). By contrast, because Bush barely scraped over the line in ’00 and ’04, the Democrats had a much better case for external factors being at play in their loss.

    This article, and some of the other rhetoric that has accompanied the run-ups to and aftermaths of the last few general elections, reminds me of the struggles to come to grips with democracy in places like Africa, where supporters of the defeated candidate invariably claim fraud and usually riot. The notion that in a fair democratic contest your guy sometimes loses doesn’t ever seem to occur to them.

  • John Lake

    The Democrats solution to the economy is “Trickle down,”, The Democrats refuse to reach across the aisle, and
    coming soon,
    The Democrats tried to rig the election.
    The definition of the most massive Republican ploy ranges from,
    Projecting (seeing oneself in others, of course) to
    “I know you are. But, what am I??”
    Like you Mr Ratzch, I cannot sleep at night. Till Tuesday.

  • brian fruman

    Well I Live in St. Petersburg/ Tampa which seems to be a guage of how Florida will go (the I-4 Corridor). I Admit I am voting for Romney but from a statiscal point of view I would like to address some poll sampling problems. Pollers define like voters in a state. What they need to do is tell us where in the state these people live. If you sample. Obama is winning cities and loosing suburbs. So if this same scenario exist in other swing states there may be a bias in the sample. As far as Dean Chambers he has a working theory about the elections so we will see. There is always voter fraud just maybe not as much as some think. The more troubling report is that computers in Ohio changed votes or defaulted to Obama. As a tech person i feel local election officials are not qualified to operate or understand the complexity. First a machine that does this should never have ever been allowed to record votes. Second. These machines should be manually audited hourly to assure they are working

  • Glenn Contrarian

    brian –

    WHAT reports of computers flipping votes to Obama? If that were the case, Fox would have it plastered all over the news.

    If you want to read about real reports of voter registration fraud, voter fraud, and election fraud, go here – but you won’t like it – it’s almost all Republicans.

  • Cindy
  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    That’s pretty funny – I just wish some of it weren’t so true….

  • Dan & Baronius: It would seem that there is plenty of election anxiety go around. And, as it turns out, in the event of an Obama defeat, we now have our very own “skewergate.”

    Apparently, Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has been very quietly installing “certified & experimental software patches on voting machines in 39 Ohio counties. No-one is crying foul yet but it would have been nice if Husted had submitted the patch for certification, given that it is going in the machines mere days before the election.

    While the patch may well prove to be benign, it is at best incredibly irresponsible to be updating the machines with uncertified software just days before an election.

    Read about it here

  • Hey, non-skwered, I thought we were going to meet up here on Wednesday morning. Where are you?