Cutting Through the Hype

Originally posted on One City, blog of the Interdependence Project

Regular readers know I’ve been swept up in the cacophony of chatter surrounding the race for the Democratic presidential nominee. Some of my commentary, I feel, has been worth reading, mostly for it’s entertainment value. Some, not so much.

On my morning blog cruise, I read this post by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic. He says,

Pollster.com’s Mark Blumenthal has got me all guilty about reading meaning into randomness.

Curious, I read Blumenthal’s analysis of Gallup and Rasmussen’s polling data for the last 8-odd weeks (a warning to liberal arts types – it’s not technical, but it does contain numbers), and I realized just how wrapped up in the media hype I’ve been. I came away with the following conclusions:

1. Accounting for statistical methods, Obama and Clinton are essentially tied in the polls. They have been for weeks. This means:

2. The media has been using meaningless ups and downs in the polls to create fake news. Example: Last week’s mini-media-storm on Obama’s poll numbers immediately before and after his speech on race (given to address the also-meaningless Rev. Wright controversy).

3. Conclusion: Don’t trust the media. And don’t trust me. Discourse about actual policy has been hijacked for the past several weeks by empty drama.

A corollary observation: Obama’s oft-touted momentum may also be largely illusory. It feels real because I’m surrounded by ObamaHeads; I also seek out campaign videos and visit Obama’s campaign website (what better place to shore up my feeling that my guy is winning?). The reality of the race, however, is told in the popular vote and the delegate count, and Obama is winning both (although not by a great margin).

Endgame: It is mathematically extremely unlikely that HRC can catch up in pledged delegates, and politically highly unlikely that Superdelegates will defect to her en masse, thus handing her the nomination. In other words, it’s not a close race, it’s a done race. Everything else is narrative.

I’m no longer worried about Hillary rising in the eleventh hour like a zomboid Obama-killing robot; I’m worried about my own impressionable brain soaking up spin like a dry sponge. I am the liberal blogosphere’s ideal consumer and, in a way, I feel like I’m just waking up from a bad dream, where the landscape is constantly shifting, voices are shouting discordantly, and advertising is the only real constant.

Bio: Scribblerist writes for whoever will read him, like an ugly puppy that nobody wants. He holds no degree in Political Science from Harvard and is singularly unqualified to comment on matters political.

Update: The incomparable George Packer cuts down the hype with style.

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