It’s a question we’re hearing a lot lately – almost always by conservative Republicans.
It’s no secret that a lot of the polls weight Democrats more heavily than Republicans. In and of itself, that’s not necessarily a problem — unless the over-weighting is based on faulty assumptions about voter turnout.
So when pollsters use 2008 voter turnout as their model in 2012, alarms should go off. Do the pollsters really think that Barack Obama will draw the same big numbers from young voters as he did four years ago? Or from Hispanic voters? Or even from black voters?
Pat Caddell, who ran the polling operation for Jimmy Carter, says not only is the polling science bad this time around, he thinks the polls really are rigged – often by the same news organizations that have been running interference for Barack Obama and are clearly rooting for him to win.
Caddell is no conservative Republican. He is a smart guy and shouldn’t be written off as a partisan political hack. Anyone using 2008 as a model should know better, he says. And if they still use it, malice may very well be involved.
But let’s wait to see how things turn out. If the polls wind up being right, no problem. If they wind up being way off and Mitt Romney wins, there needs to be some kind of investigation. The problem is we probably won’t get it from those supposedly impartial observers in the media. Expecting President Obama’s most loyal base – journalists – to do their job, unfortunately, is asking a lot — especially if their own news organizations conducted the faulty polls.
What if Romney loses?
If that happens the civil war that has been brewing for years in the Republican Party will go nuclear.
Conservatives” on talk radio and the Fox News Channel will say we went with McCain – a moderate – four years ago and lost. Then we went with Romney – another moderate – and lost again. Now it’s time for “a real conservative.”
And by that, they will mean the most conservative candidate running. After all, they’ll say, Ronald Reagan was a real conservative and he won.
What these true believers don’t seem to understand is that being the most conservative candidate in the field may be a recipe for losing yet again. If the most conservative candidate is a religious fanatic, for example, he or she will lose.
If the most conservative candidate divides the nation with fiery rhetoric, he or she will lose too. Pat Buchanan was the most conservative candidate in the field every time he ran, why did he lose every time?
Because even Republicans don’t simply want the most conservative candidate if he’s a fire-breathing right-wing ideologue who will scare more than half the country into voting for the Democrat whoever he or she is.
As for the Reagan analogy, he didn’t win simply because he was a conservative. He won because he was Ronald Reagan – an affable campaigner who didn’t frighten voters.
If Romney loses and the conservative media true believers push for the 2016 version of Pat Buchanan or Michele Bachmann, the Republican Party will be wandering in the wilderness for a long, long time.
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