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Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Poll Is Just A Poll- Only Elections Count

Politics as history is full of politicians and political parties that failed and political commentators who ended up looking like fools because they took polls too seriously.

Rush Limbaugh mocks Wolf Blitzer by quoting his report of the Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker victory:

BLITZER 9PM: (joyous) We begin with breaking news out of Wisconsin right now where polls have just closed in a recall vote that could preview November's election! Look at this! (shouts) Our exit polls show it's a 50-50 race as of this minute!
BLITZER 10PM: (dejected) We have the breaking news. Uh, CNN can now project a winner in the Wisconsin, uh, gubernatorial contest. The incumbent Republican, Scott Walker, will retain his job as the governor of Wisconsin.
Was Blitzer acting the objective news reporter?

This happens all over the world, in Israel, too.  The classic case was in 1977.  Menachem Begin's Likud victory is known as the "Mahapach," an earth-shattering event, total shock for the experts, media, politicians and public.  No matter what polls may have said, since the Labor Party had ruled the State of Israel almost thirty years and the Zionist Movement decades longer, it was inconceivable for most that there could ever be a change in government.  Here's Wikipedia's report:

The Elections for the ninth Knesset were held on 17 May 1977. For the first time in Israeli political history, the right-wing, led by Likud, won a plurality in the Knesset, ending almost 30 years of rule by the left-wing Alignment and its predecessor, Mapai. The dramatic shift in Israeli politics caused by the outcome led to it becoming known as "the revolution" (Hebrew: המהפך, HaMahapakh), a phrase coined by TV anchor Haim Yavin when he announced the election results live on television with the words "Ladies and gentlemen - a revolution!" (Hebrew: !גבירותי ורבותי - מהפך, Gvirotai veRabotai - Mahapakh!). The election saw the beginning of a period lasting almost two decades where the left- and right-wing blocs held roughly equal amounts of seats in the Knesset.
Voter turnout was 79.2%.[1]

Now, although the media and academia are still, if not more so, the strongly Left, the Labor Party continues to shrink and lose power.  Davka, ironically, it's the Likud, first under Menachem Begin, later Ariel Sharon and now Binyamin Netanyahu that has implemented policies more in tune with Labor Left than the Left had ever managed to do.

Back to American politics, Roger L Simon writes of the Bradley Effect:

Many of us oldsters remember the Bradley Effect. Back in ye olde 1982, Tom Bradley, the longtime popular mayor of Los Angeles, a nice affable fellow in my recollection, ran for California governor against a fairly faceless guy named George Deukmejian. Most of the polls — including exit polls — showed Bradley with a significant lead. But Deukmejian won, narrowly.

So, if you care about politics, get involved.  Don't be overconfident.  A poll is just a poll.  Sing along and just change the lyrics:

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