Polls (polling data in the hands of cable pundits in particular) have earned a particularly bad name this election season.
So, what might be more credible or reliable than an actual poll? If not with a poll of a snapshot in time, how might we foretell the future? If not a poll, in what might we place our faith now?
A cable pundit’s hunch!
Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarborough on MSNBC this morning (emphasis mine):
CARLSON: We know that Bill Clinton, it’s a commonplace now, it’s conventional wisdom, has hurt his wife’s campaign. Nobody wants to hear this but I believe it’s true. I believe Barack Obama’s wife has hurt his campaign. I believe that. There is a widespread perception out there that she is an elitist even to a greater extent than he is and I bet if you polled on that, it’s true.
SCARBOROUGH: These are one of the things you’re not supposed to say on TV. I love Michelle Obama, I think she’s great but she gave a speech a week ago and she looked angry. I sat there and I was thinking that’s just not going to help Barack Obama. Mika [Brzezinski] said during the break, “Just be quiet. That’s not true.” And she thought there was something about race attached to what I was saying. Well, I said the same thing about Hillary Clinton in 1992…
I think [Michelle is] effective, too, at times, but I think also there’s a fine line the Obamas are walking right now, Tucker, on these elitist charges, again. People in central Pennsylvania, I don’t think — I don’t think they want to be talked down to by people that went to Princeton and Harvard.
CARLSON: I think if you polled that you would find it’s absolutely right. I don’t think it has to do with race. I think as popular as Michelle Obama is in the press I think she comes off as bitter to some voters.
I’ve seen plenty of pundits cherry pick polling data to try to support what they think to be true about a candidate, a primary, a group of voters, but, particularly given the blackeye that polls have earned this election season, does using a hypothetical poll to buttress what you “believe” really lend your opinion an air of authority?
Liz Cox Barrett is a freelance writer and graphic designer in Kalispell, Montana. She worked as a newspaper journalist in Denver and Kalispell for 20 years.