It’s time to be frank.
You may have noticed my Twitter activity last night. I wanted to provide further context to my tweet storm.
Let’s talk about the state of the GOP Presidential race: it is not good.
The presidential polling — it is what it is. Trump’s campaign and many of his supporters are trying to put the best spin possible on the numbers. I get that, but they are suggesting that the polls are rigged. They are not.
They also say the size of Trump’s rallies, the enthusiasm at his campaign events, and his robust social media following are more predictive of Election Day turnout than independent presidential polling. That is not true.
I am telling you this because I care about the American voter. I am standing up for them. And I learned this lesson the hard way four years ago.
In the 2012 election, Republicans believed that the polls were skewed in Obama’s favor, and did not take conservative enthusiasm into consideration. I was one of them — I believed we were going to win. I believed the polls were wrong.
It was Bob Beckel who counseled me that the polls were accurate, and I went into that last weekend before votes were counted feeling sick to my stomach…but I still thought he was wrong. Many people did.
On election night when President Obama easily won reelection, I vowed to never put myself in that position again. I wouldn’t simply listen to what I wanted to hear. I would instead take the numbers for what they were, because the polling involved specifically in presidential elections has been accurate since 1952.
By believing that the polls were wrong, I had let both myself and our viewers down. I had done them a disservice. After the election, our viewers were mad. And they had every right to be.
We shouldn’t have to learn this lesson again. At this point in the general election, Trump is struggling in the presidential polls. But making excuses for the numbers will not change them. It would be a disservice to the candidate and his supporters to say otherwise.
If this fictitious message is encouraged and continued, it sets up his supporters for major disappointment and anger. By allowing this kind of mindset to take hold, it means that Trump can’t get past that roadblock, and become more competitive this fall, so that he can be in a position to win.
No candidate has been this behind in August and gone on to win. But I recognize that Trump is unlike any candidate America has ever seen. Yet if the size of one’s rallies translated into votes, Bernie Sanders would be the Democratic nominee right now.
There is, of course, a first time for everything, and I am not saying this election is over. I believe the polls will tighten after Labor Day. How this contest is waged and how both candidates perform in the upcoming debates in the next eleven weeks will determine that.
When I speak the truth about the state of the race, some Trump supporters call me a “Negative Nancy” or a “Debbie Downer.” I have even been called a “pragmatic snob,” whatever that is. I understand and am sympathetic towards their frustration, but I believe in my gut that being honest about the state of the race is better than adding to people’s false hopes. Wishful thinking is the greatest enemy of the Republican Party.
I believe that conservative values and policy prescriptions are better than liberal ones. But conservatives have to find a better way to convince Americans to believe that too. We all deserve better.
Ps. Do not put faith in the shabby polling of Brexit — it is not an applicable example here. The British are notorious for using unreliable online polls, and their polling is almost always off — though it was closer in the final days — plus it was a referendum on an issue, not a presidential election.