• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

Support Our Annual Fund Drive!fund-drive-progress-thermometer

We only shake our readers down two times a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Is 538 in the Bag for Hillary?

In her recent piece for CounterPunch, Margot Kidder, aka Lois Lane, did a super job of unpacking the tawdry details of how Hillary Clinton bought the support of democratic parties in 33 states with a scheme that brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars of out-of-state donations that were then funneled into her campaign. Getting around individual campaign contribution limits in this way is legal but really sleazy because, as Kidder points out, it completely perverts the whole idea of a primary where voters can consider and then choose who they want their candidate to be in the general election.

Kidder explains how pols in her state (Montana) pledged their support and sold the farm to Clinton for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. Primary voters are influenced by endorsements and Clinton has rigged the state primary game in her favor. You can read Kidder’s article here.

Voters are also influenced by polls, which have consistently shown Hillary beating Sanders with three key demographics: seniors, women, and minorities. One of the most widely read poll aggregators with its statistical hand on the political pulse of the nation is Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.  Perhaps more than any other prognosticator Silver has repeatedly given Clinton the edge in his stat-driven predictions. It turns out Silver’s figures and methodology are biased in favor of Clinton and his predictions have been wrong in a number of states where Sanders did much better than expected.

I’ve based several articles on Silver’s flawed analyses of the primary races and have predicted a Clinton win, as most MSM pundits have, because Sanders doesn’t have and won’t get the delegates he needs to win in the upcoming big primary contests in New York, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey. I’ve never been more pleased to admit that I just may be wrong.

Enter Doug Hatlem, once a Jerry Falwell Baptist in Virginia, then a Mennonite street pastor working with the homeless in Toronto, and now a stay-at-home Dad in Chicago, Hatlem’s peregrinations have quixotically led him to stop and consider numbers: specifically, the old adage about lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Hatlem claims that in 18 of 21 states outside the South, Silver’s predictions have a pro-Clinton bias of 12.5%. He bases his analysis from what polls predicted, on what 538 forecasted, and on the results from those primaries. Silver has been averaging polls to predict primary outcomes and he has also been mapping polls and 538’s predictions to track over time how well candidates are gathering the necessary delegates to capture the nomination. Significantly, Hatlem does something Silver doesn’t do: admit his own bias—for Sanders. He writes that he has been wrong in twelve of eighteen states since Super Tuesday because his predictions had a pro-Clinton bias of 7%. In other words, he “undersold Sanders a bit” just to be safe in his voting forecasts.

Significantly, Hatlem faults 538 for its “boneheaded demographic modeling” that has all of Bernie’s supporters pegged as young White millennials and this picture has not changed since July of 2015 when Silver predicted Sanders would only win in Vermont, Iowa, and New Hampshire. Hatlem slams Silver for not properly “critiquing, weighing and averaging real poll numbers.”

If you’re not mathematically inclined, Hatlem’s analysis gets into the weeds but his critique explains a lot of things that 538 and the MSM have gotten wrong or misinterpreted about the Democratic race. For example, the low-voter turnout in the Southern primaries perpetuated the idea that Sanders lacks support among minorities even though, as Hatlem points out, Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington (as well as Colorado and Michigan) have significant numbers of non-white voters and Sanders won all of them. There is also the recent hashtag #BernieMadeMeWhite and in a recent Dornsife/LA Times poll, Sanders scored a higher favorability rating in California than Clinton amongst racial minorities where he is supposed to be down 23% in the Latino vote, according to other polls

“The race hasn’t anywhere near begun in earnest in California, but Sanders seems to be doing okay with his supposed greatest weakness,” writes Hatlem.

In Nevada, Sanders lost to Clinton on February 20 not because his message didn’t appeal to minorities but because Nevada’s Democratic Party, the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, and the Clinton campaign got casino owners to give workers time off in Las Vegas so they could vote on the job. In Arizona they waited in line for hours and didn’t get to. Clinton beat Sanders there by 10 points. But in a surprise development over the weekend, Sanders pulled off an upset at the Clark County Democratic Convention in Las Vegas and flipped Nevada into his win column. You can read the story here.

The biggest problem Hatlem sees with bad predictions (which voters tend to believe) comes from the poll numbers themselves (which pollsters tend to believe). Hatlem says inaccurate sampling of age, sex, and race demographics as well as “bad urban-suburban-rural splits” has produced some ridiculous results. For example, in Wisconsin, where voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, an Emerson poll on March 23 had Sanders losing to Clinton by six points and 538 predicted then that Clinton had an 84% chance of winning the state. But by March 30, a Marquette poll had Sanders ahead of Clinton by four points. And a March 31 PPP poll had him ahead of Clinton in Wisconsin by 11% among African Americans. Three days later, Sanders was down by six points in a Loras College poll. The same day, April 2, 538 averaged a number of the latest polls and reversed itself from a week ago, concluding Sanders now has a 70% chance of winning Wisconsin—almost a 100% turnaround in one week. Hatlem’s article can be found here.

I suppose it’s possible Wisconsin democrats have massively switched their preference from Clinton to Sanders in just a week, but it’s much more likely that Hatlem is correct when he says the polls and pundits, and politicians have gotten a lot wrong about the Democratic race and they may all be eating crow if Sanders pulls off an upset not only in Wisconsin but elsewhere as well.

Two weeks ago, a number of polls had Sanders trailing Clinton by about 30 points in New York. The latest Quinnipiac poll has him down by only 12 points. He’s cut the distance in half with three weeks to go before the election.

So are polls just too inaccurate to take seriously or is it okay to assume that the closer we get to an election day, the more accurate the polls become in predicting the winner?

As a Sanders supporter I would like to think that he is getting more popular the longer the race goes on. I would like to think the MSM is flat wrong about Sanders only appealing to young White liberals. I would like to think the Sanderistas, who have railed against Blacks for not supporting Bernie, have been misled by a biased media they should know better about believing. And I would like to think, as Kidder discovered in Montana, that we all have been misled by Democratic functionaries who have been sold a bill of goods we neither want nor deserve but which they are trying to foist on all of us whether we like it or not.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
Richard Moser
The Empire Is Running Out of War Stories. Or is it? Will American Exceptionalism Rise Again?
Roger Harris
Why Trump is Facing Impeachment
Doug Lummis
Everything Going Wrong in Okinawa
Ramzy Baroud
Administrative Torture: Free Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian Citizen in Israeli Prison
Christopher Ketcham
Ode to the Drums of Ginger Baker
W. T. Whitney
Upcoming Elections Represent Testing Time for Bolivia’s Socialist Government
Louis Proyect
Building Soldier Resistance Under the Shadows of Fascism
Mark Ashwill
Reflections on General Giap and the End of an Era in Vietnam
Gabriel Leão
Killing the Messengers: Rising Violence Against Journalists and Indigenous Leaders Defending the Amazon
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: All Talk No Action
Arthur Hoyle
The Meaning of Donald Trump
Dean Baker
Those Quaint Corporate Scandals in Japan
Laura Santina
Take Their Feet Off Our Necks
Julian Vigo
The New Workers’ Revolution is Afoot
Robert Koehler
The Rights of Nature
Dan Bacher
New Report Reveals Oil Waste in CA Aquifers
David Swanson
Trump’s Opponents Have Him Beat . . . When It Comes to Incompetence
Ben Debney
Liberals, Class and the Joker Complex
Brian Wakamo
Paying College Athletes: California Takes on the NCAA
Theo Wuest
Don’t Leave Equality to the Supreme Court
Jesse Jackson
To His Wealthy Donors, Trump is the Grifter
Mairead Maguire
Pathways to Peace
George Wuerthner
Logging Wild and Scenic River Corridors in the Name of Reducing Wildfires is a Really Bad Idea
Tracey L. Rogers
We Can’t Hug Away Injustice
Mike Garrity
How the Alliance for the Wild Rockies Stopped Trump From Bulldozing Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk Grizzly Bears into Extinction
Lawrence Wittner
Why Are Americans So Confused About the Meaning of “Democratic Socialism”?
Nicky Reid
Climate Cthulhu: A Post-Modern Horror Story
Seth Sandronsky
A Sacramento King’s Ransom: Local Tax Dollars and the Owner’s Wealth
Susan Block
Cougar 2020?
David Yearsley
Mother Mallard’s Little Boy Grows Up
Elliot Sperber
Taking Out Columbus
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail