More than 40 years ago, the federal government launched a war on drugs. Over the past decade, the nation has spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting that war, a figure that does not even include the high costs of prosecuting and jailing drug law offenders. It's hard to put a price on that aspect of the drug war since half of all inmates in federal prison today were busted for drugs.
Despite the enormous expense and growth of the prison population, only 7 percent of American adults now think the United States is winning the War on Drugs. Eighty-two percent disagree. The latest statistics on drug usage support that conclusion.
Former Daily Kos blogger Nate Silver turnedheads with his Obama-friendly election predictions in the New York Times, but CNN's Soledad O'Brien thinks his conclusions show no bias. Of course, the liberal CNN anchor just might have a blind spot for poll numbers favoring Obama.
"Nate Silver is very careful about focusing on the numbers. And he doesn't have a liberal bias in his calculations, which I think is why a lot of people follow what he has to say," O'Brien declared on Tuesday's Starting Point. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
So the meme is supposedly set. Final pre-election expectations are that the popular vote in the 2012 presidential contest will come in roughly deadlocked. Rasmussen and Gallup show Republican nominee Mitt Romney up by one point. Other polls show either a tie or slight lead for incumbent Democrat Barack Obama.
Set against this expectation, don't be surprised if someone in the press, perhaps even at one of the big networks, gets overexcited and projects Barack Obama the winner based on Tuesday's early exit polls without realizing that their scope and design have changed from previous presidential elections in two fundamental ways.
As Election Day draws closer, the New York Times's young star poll analyst Nate Silver (pictured) becomes more and more confident of an Obama win. As of Monday morning, his blog fixed Obama as having a 86.3% chance of winning re-election.
Monday morning Silver posted this on Twitter: "Obama unlikely to win by anything like his post-DNC margins. But Romney has no momentum, Obama's state polling is robust, and time is up."
Election 2012 has had few surprises. So it's somewhat surprising that heading into the final weekend of the election season, we are unable to confidently project who is likely to win the White House.
All year long, the economy has been the No. 1 issue of the campaign. That hasn't changed. While Mitt Romney has a slight advantage when it comes to handling the economy, neither candidate has really convinced voters that they know what the nation needs.
New York Times star poll analyst Nate Silver continues giving hope to Democrats, and he's getting more confident in an Obama victory as the election draws closer, pegging Obama's odds of victory at around 75%. After a heated debate on MSNBC's Morning Joe, the normally mild-mannered Silver offered via Twitter on Thursday to bet host Joe Scarborough $2,000 that Obama would win, which drew some criticism from the paper's outspoken new Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan. Meanwhile, columnist Paul krugman termed conservative criticism of Silver's methodology "scary."
Silver, a former poster at the left-wing Daily Kos, who usually mans the Five-Thirty-Eight blog at nytimes.com, again made the paper on Thursday with "When State Polls Differ From National Polls," which asserted that Barack Obama will probably win both the Electoral College and popular vote:
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Jan Crawford hyped the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy as a "huge opportunity" for President Obama to display his leadership skills, as opponent Mitt Romney currently hold the advantage in that area in the latest CBS News poll of key battleground states, particularly in Florida.
Crawford also touted that Obama could "build his lead on the question of which candidate better understands people's needs and problems. Voters here [in Florida] give him the edge on empathy."
On Wednesday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd seized on the latest CBS News/New York Times poll showing narrow leads for President Obama in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida as "evidence, potentially, to back up the Obama spin" that "Romney has run out of routes to 270 electoral votes...so they are throwing Hail Marys in new states." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
One thing that you have to admire about Nate Silver is that he isn’t afraid to go out on a limb. As an example of that, the New York Times political soothsayer currently projects Barack Obama winning the popular vote by 1.7%.
That would place him well on the left side of most current polling. The below histogram shows the distribution of the spread between the two candidates in each of the ten polls that make up the RCP Average on the day of his prediction, October 29.
On Friday, Neil Stevens at RedState described that morning's report from Gallup by Jerry M. Jones comparing the makeup of the 2004, 2008 and 2012 electorates as having "buried the lede so far deep, they’ll be fracking in Australia to bring it to the surface."
Indeed. The headline ("2012 U.S. Electorate Looks Like 2008") tells viewers, "nothing's different, so you really don't need to read on." The post's chart, after boring us to tears with demographic stats which have barely changed in the past four and eight years tracking characteristics which don't directly drive people's voting preferences, finally get to the ones relating to party affiliation.
The latest and possibly last (we can hope) preelection poll from partnership between the Associated Press and GfK Roper International purportedly tells us that most of us "now express prejudice toward blacks" whether we "recognize those feelings or not."
That's the conclusion communicated by AP reporter Sonya Ross and wire service deputy director of polling Jennifer Agiesta. In case we don't get the point, the item's accompanying photograph at the AP national site, Yahoo News and likely elsewhere is of Barack Obama, who despite the recognized and unrecognized racism of most Americans managed to carry 53% of the vote in 2008. Contrary to the report's headline, the AP pair admit that the AP-GfK poll results alone (done online, to add insult to injury) don't prove the point they're trying to make; other bizarre tests are also involved.
In Election 2000, Florida was the decisive state in the Electoral College. In 2004, Ohio was the ultimate battleground that put George W. Bush over the top. This year, it might come down to Wisconsin.
That's a state President Obama won by 14 points four years ago. But Wisconsin has gone through an amazing two years of nonstop campaigning since Gov. Scott Walker was elected in 2010. After he took on the teachers unions, there were efforts to recall several Republican state senators and then Walker himself.
The closer Election Day looms, the more often New York Times golden-boy Nate Silver is thrust from his Five-Thirty-Eight blog into the print edition with another poll analysis rallying the troops for Obama. In last Saturday's paper Silver, who has been optimistic about Obama's chances in the fact of rising poll numbers for Romney, dismissed results from Gallup's tracking poll showing wide leads for Romney in "Gallup vs. the World." He also boosted Obama in Tuesday's print edition: "We calculate Mr. Obama’s odds of re-election as being about two chances out of three."
On Friday the former Daily Kos poster wrote "Gaining Momentum, Whatever That Is," adapted from a blog post whose headline was more explicit: "In Polls, Romney’s Momentum Seems to Have Stopped."
Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell badgered former RNC head Haley Barbour on Thursday's CBS This Morning on Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock's strongly pro-life stance, that even children conceived in rape are "God intended." Rose strongly hinted that the media firestorm surrounding Mourdock could affect the presidential race: "Romney may be gaining support among women. And the question arises, could this Mourdock controversy impact that?" [audio available here; video below the jump]
The CBS morning newscast stood out among its Big Three peers in significantly adding to the more than seven and half minutes of coverage from the previous day. The network devoted three minutes, 6 seconds to Mourdock, which is nearly three times the one minutes and 7 seconds that ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today set aside to the story combined.
Tarnished Silver? The New York Times's young star pollster Nate Silver got some guff last week for dismissing Mitt Romney's large leads in the Gallup tracking poll.
In an October 18 post on his FiveThirtyEight blog at nytimes.com, "Gallup vs. the World" (it also appeared, heavily edited, in print) Silver claimed the Gallup poll was overrated and "its results turn out badly" when it's an outlier, noting that in 2008 it "had a four-point miss," predicting an 11-point win by Obama that turned out to be a seven-point margin.
Guess what other big-time poll had Obama pegged as an 11-point winner in 2008? The New York Times-CBS News poll. Though to be fair, in 2008 Silver was not with the Times but writing for his own blog after cutting his political teeth at the left-wing blog Daily Kos (Silver calls himself a "rational progressive.")
On Tuesday, liberal stalwart NPR hyped a BBC World Service poll that found that "if the world picked U.S. president, election would be a blowout" for President Obama. Writer Eyder Peralta's item, which was the number-one most-viewed on its website, spotlighted that the poll "taken in 21 countries...found for the most part, foreign countries preferred Obama. The only exception was Pakistan where more people said they preferred Romney."
The BBC poll, conducted between July 3 and September 3, found that the most strongly pro-Obama country, to no one's shock, was France, with 72 percent of respondents supporting the incumbent Democrat. The second highest pro-Obama country was Australia, followed by Kenya, Nigeria, and Canada.
After a USA Today/Gallup poll showed women in swing states thought abortion the top election issue, CNN hyped the news and cast a wary eye toward "controversial" Republican positions as the possible catalysts. Five days later, however, Gallup reported that, nationally, abortion is near the bottom of importance among voters.
CNN hosts Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper led their October 18 shows with the swing state poll, and anchor Carol Costello touted it the next morning. Costello wondered if "controversial" statements by certain Republicans were to blame for women suddenly treating abortion with utmost importance.
NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham appeared on the Fox Business Channel's Varney & Co. earlier this morning to review how the liberal media spun last night's debate, and what to expect over the next two weeks.
Host Stuart Varney suggested media bias could not dislodge the pro-Romney trend now evident in the polls, but Graham offered a warning: "We could see some of the most aggressive bias to date coming in the next two weeks, if they [liberal reporters] really believe Obama is losing." [Video and transcript below the jump.]
You don't know whether to laugh or cry upon reading the Sunday night shots campaign Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen at Politico took at Mitt Romney and his campaign.
Maybe these guys really believe that the Romney campaign is the one which still desperately needs a "last chance to move the needle in any significant way in the swing states that will decide the election," and that "Obama is slightly better positioned in the states that will dictate the outcome." If they do, my take is that the Romney campaign is playing possum, and the Politico pair, infused with Beltway naiveté and skewed polling data, are gullibly buying it. Several paragraphs from their effort follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The New York Times' s acclaimed poll-meister Nate Silver has a reputation for statistical expertise, but he's getting some guff for dismissing Mitt Romney's recent large leads in the Gallup tracking poll.
Silver's Thursday evening post on his FiveThirtyEight blog at nytimes.com, "Gallup vs. the World" claimed that Gallup's "results are deeply inconsistent with the results that other polling firms are showing in the presidential race, and the Gallup poll has a history of performing very poorly when that is the case."
On Friday's CBS This Morning, John Dickerson was all too eager to pour cold water on the latest Gallup daily tracking poll that has Mitt Romney with a seven-point lead over President Obama: "There is a lot of debate about that...poll - whether it lags behind where the race really is....there's also other criticisms about...the way it looks at likely voters...it's a bit of an outlier from some other polls. So, if you're Mitt Romney, you like it, but we should, with all polls, be really, really skeptical."
The CBS political director raised no such objections back in mid-September, when the morning newscast spotlighted the same poll at a point where the two candidates were in a statistical dead heat, with Obama slightly ahead among both registered voters and swing state voters.
Jake Sherman at the Politico is suffering from the same detachment from reality I found his colleague Anna Palmer in this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog).
Palmer's piece asserted that an election win by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney would herald the return of l-l-l-lobbyists, who have supposedly (not actually) been a rare presence in the pristine and pure Obama administration. Sherman's affliction is just as serious, if not moreso, as in an item posted Monday evening, he characterizes 2012 as a "non-Tea Party year," and seems to believe that everyone who disapproves of the job Congress has been doing must be to the left of House Speaker John Boehner. Hilarity follows the jump:
On Monday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd analyzed the state of the presidential race following a series of new national polls showing a slight Romney lead: "Well, look, the first debate really did sort of shift things....the numbers I've seen, and in talking to both campaigns, something shifted fundamentally."
However, only four days earlier, on Thursday's Today, Todd argued the debate was "not as helpful to Romney as he might have hoped," leading co-host Savannah Guthrie to conclude: "Alright, so the debate had maybe not as much of an impact." That was as the ABC and CBS morning shows highlighted Romney's clear momentum.
On October 3, as Kyle Brennan's at NewsBusters noted the next day, NBC News political director Chuck Tood, appearing on CNBC, characterized presidential polls generated by Scott Rasmussen's polling group as "slop."
The specific quote: "We spend a lot more money polling than Scott Rasmussen does. We spend a lot more money on quality control....I hate the idea that [NBC] polling, which is rigorously done, has to get compared to what is, in some cases, you know, slop." At the time, while many polls, including NBC's (done in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal), were showing Barack Obama with leads of four points or more nationally, Rasmussen was virtually alone Obama barely ahead and occasionally tied with Mitt RomneyChuck was clearly not pleased with that. Someone ought to ask Todd if his evaluation holds based on the results following the jump which were posted at Real Clear Politics early Friday morning.
While the ABC and CBS morning shows on Thursday focused on a tightening presidential race following Mitt Romney's winning performance in the first debate, on NBC's Today, political director Chuck Todd used the network's new swing state polling to argue that the debate was "not as helpful to Romney as he might have hoped." Prompting co-host Savannah Guthrie conclude: "Alright, so the debate had maybe not as much of an impact."
In contrast, opening CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose announced: "New polls show the race between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney is getting tighter." Similarly opening ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos proclaimed: "High stakes and high pressure as new polls show Mitt Romney closing the gap in some key states."
Even though Rasmussen said he doesn't know Todd or follow his work and is happy to have the competition, host Megyn Kelly called the NBC correspondent's remark "mean" as she came to the pollster's defense.
Every election cycle, the American people are inundated with polls. Polls with blacks, white, Hispanics, women, Jews, Catholics, young people, and the Asians are disseminated ad nauseam – despite most of them being flawed or so skewed concerning the sample spread that it’s not worth commenting on in any analysis. When Romney hit a slump towards the end of September, which led to his dip in the polls, the left thought it was over. No one was more convinced of this than Pew Research president Andrew Kohut, a public-broadcasting regular, who had to change his tune on the October 8 broadcast of the PBS Newshour.
This presidential election, the reliability and fairness of pollsters has become a hot topic with both conservatives and liberals casting doubt on the accuracy of various polling firms. But what if the real problem with polling is more attributable to the people who respond to surveys than the polling companies themselves?
Thanks to a study examining the accuracy of polling, we now know that in some areas, surveys can be disturbingly inaccurate, in large part because people are willing to outright lie to a pollster. According to a report issued by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 60 percent of people who aren’t registered to vote will falsely claim to be registered.
On Wednesday’s Jansing & Co., MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing tried to establish that there is one question “we can all anticipate and not be surprised by,” and that is a question to Mitt Romney about the 47 percent comments, because it had a “very negative effect” on voters. Jim Lehrer must repeat Obama's TV ads in a question?
But what about the “other race speech” video of Obama from 2007? In perfect formation with the DNC line, Jansing asked disgraced CBS anchor Dan Rather if that smacked of Republican desperation: [ video below the break, audio here ]
Reporting the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll numbers on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, political director Chuck Todd touted a rather obvious finding in the numbers, relentless media attacks on Mitt Romney have negatively affected how voters view the Republican nominee.
Todd proclaimed: "That 47% remark, it has left a mark, if you will. When we asked, 'Is there anything you've heard in the last few weeks that's made you more favorable or less favorable on Mitt Romney?', 51% said what they've heard has made them less favorable."