Commentary Magazine


LIVE BLOG: False Hopes, False Fears

As I write, at 6:24 pm, one can feel the last-minute manic mood of the political class doing its standard final-hours shift. To wit, Democrats and liberals are experiencing a confusing giddiness from bits of data suggesting–if you were looking at them to suggest it–that the night might not be as bad as they fear (indeed, the night is unlikely to end up as bad as they fear, since their worst fears now are losses in the range of 90 seats in the House). To wit, Ed Kilgore at The New Republic, one of the more unpleasant Democratic bloggers:

So CNN just released the first bit of actually revealing national exit poll data: President Obama’s job approval rating is 45 percent positive, 54 percent negative (looks like no one is ambivalent). Comparing this to some of the final polls, the final ABC/Washington Post poll, which gave Republicans only a 4-point advantage in House voting, had the Obama ratio at 46/52. The final Gallup “low-turnout” estimate, which gave Republicans a gigantic 15-point margin, had the Obama ratio at 40/56.  So based on this one data point, it looks like a wave, but maybe not a tsunami.

Exit polls usually skew as many as 10 points in the direction of Democrats, especially when they are done state-by-state. If CNN’s is showing Obama’s unfavorable numbers at 9 points, that’s bad, very bad for Democrats because it’s likely the data are skewed in their favor.

Similarly, emails and phone calls from conservatives and Republicans show a sudden terror that every single piece of information they’ve gotten over the past week may not actually be true — that the Real Clear Politics generic poll average doesn’t show an advantage for Republicans of 9.3 percent and that the final Gallup poll says GOP voters are twice as enthusiastic about turning up at the voting booth as Democrats.

This is always the way. The defeated get a moment to hope; the victors get a moment to fear.