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.