Sunday, October 03, 2004

Polls and More Polls (More or Less)

Taking a brief break from my essays on the old and new progressive movements in the US with something that I believe fits into my thesis: consistency on the part of progressives.

For at least the last month, the left side of the blogosphere has been harping on the accuracy of polls and the seemingly biased samples indicated by those polls. Count myself in that group, I've been saying the same thing. Prior to September 30, Kerry was appearing rather anemic in all polls and those numbers were at odds with the anti-Bush atmosphere around us. Furthermore, we knew that pollsters weren't looking at the millions of newly registered voters - by all accounts, far outnumbering new registrations in the last election and (rightfully) thought to be motivated by anti-Bush sentiment - nor polling citizens who primarilly use cell phones (mostly young voters that by most counts favor Kerry over Bush 2:1).

Given that criticism, well-deserved though it may be, it seems odd that many of the bloggers who dismissed the polls as biased and inaccurate are suddenly ecstatic now that the same polls started showing Kerry with a slight edge after Thursday's debate. Starting Friday with Newsweek showing Kerry ahead 47-45 and then today, with the LA Times giving Kerry a 49-47 edge or even the negligible (and ostensibly Republican skewed) Gallup showing a 49-49 dead heat, everyone who was saying the polls were utter shit are suddenly pointing to the polls as reason to celebrate.

I can understand the enthusiasm for this weekend's numbers; August and September were dismal months for the Kerry campaign (and all of us who support Kerry) but I have to question the consistency of lefty blogs in dealing with the polls and what they imply. How is it that polls that were irrelevant and WRONG a week ago are all of a sudden consequential and correct now that numbers are giving our guy the edge? That doesn't make a bit of sense.

The reason I'm a progressive is that I don't take a stand or form opinions based on emotion or hunches or gut feelings but FACTS. The progressive position on any issue is the one with philosophical tenability, the one that is attained by the soundest logic. Conservatives don't cotton to intellectual rigor and facts just muddy up their stand but at least, as a progressive, I can say that the facts support my arguments. Given that, I can't allow myself the luxury of twisting the facts to suit my argument; I need to make my argument based on the facts.

I'm going to deal with the integrity of the progressive stance in future posts (I see much more of it in our stand than in the conservative camp, exponentially more) but I thought how we're dealing with polls would be a great way to make a point: we need to hold our ground and remain consistent. Pointing to the polls when it suits us while claiming the polls are full of shit when the numbers aren't going our way is silly; it's the kind of behavior we usually associate with nitwit freepers. We are better than that but we need to be vigilant and continue to prove it. Contadicting ourselves is not the way to do that.


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