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And The Losers Are . . .

November 9, 2020 Frontpage No Comments

By DEACON MIKE MANNO, JD

Well, maybe by the time this is printed we’ll know who has been elected president. But don’t hold your breath; there’s more than counting going on and litigation is sure to follow. But since the presidential winner may not be known by publication, I think it is fair to acknowledge the losers for their contribution to this election mess.
My first pick: The Mainstream Media. As a former journalist, beat reporter, and newspaper editor, I am completely embarrassed by the conduct of most of the media during the last few years. They have berated the president, his family, religious conservatives, and much — if not all — of the GOP with the savageness of the Roman Praetorian Guard.
While Mr. Trump was (and to them still is) a xenophobic Russian plant and a racist with white supremacist leanings, all would be well once the election was over and the nation was rid of the big, orange buffoon. And, of course, the nation would be saved only by a popular uprising that gave control of the White House and Congress to the Democrats.
Well, it just didn’t happen that way. While the presidency may yet be undecided, the great mass of the unwashed (so despised by the media) rejected that advice. The Senate, which figured prominently in the Dems’ plans for court-packing, filibuster ending, and state adding was kept in GOP hands, despite the Democrats spending literally billions of dollars to knock off some of those pesky senators deemed too close to the Trump administration.
And despite the unfavorable press treatment, the Republicans, while not taking control of the House, did pick up six House seats as of this writing.
But it doesn’t end there for my biggest loser. The blown reporting, the repeating of lies and insinuations, most long since discredited, has not gone unnoticed.
Just one example will suffice to indicate the depths to which the media have sunk: The media — which were so aggrieved that the bad orange man nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court that they left no stone uncovered trying to find evidence that he was a sexual harasser that they even combed through his high school yearbook — were suspiciously unconcerned with the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop.
The Mainstream Media were the biggest loser in this election, having jettisoned journalistic standards to join in running interference for the Dems. Journalism, as we knew it, and as it was taught to me, is dead. We now understand that we have re-entered the period of the party press. Listen to and read what you will, just remember it is coming to you from a party flack.
My next loser is the polling industry. With the exception of a few notable exceptions, the polling in this election was worse than horrible: Dewey defeats Trump horrible. Don’t tell me it was the “shy Trump” voter who threw the polls off; it wasn’t. It was pollsters who — whether or not they realized it — actually skewed their own polls. When pollsters take samples, they must ensure that their samples are representative of the universe as a whole. When independent voters are not factored in properly, or not apportioned correctly, the poll results get skewed.
The big red flag for the industry should have been that Mr. Trump was not a typical politician. Independents and others who historically are prone not to vote were attracted to him because he was not a politician. When did you ever hear a crowd erupt in chants of “we love you” to any politician? It hasn’t been done, except perhaps in Nancy Pelosi’s dreams. That, and the size of his crowds should have tipped pollsters off that there was an undercurrent they might be missing, as had happened in 2016. But it didn’t.
Normally races tighten as they move closer to Election Day. Unfortunately that’s when pollsters start to narrow their sample sizes. They go from surveying registered voters to likely voters. A lot of Trump votes didn’t fall into the likely voter category, a lesson they should have learned from President Hillary Clinton’s victorious campaign.
In 1948 when Gallup predicted Mr. Truman’s defeat, polling had come a long way since the then-respected Literary Digest poll predicted in 1936 that Kansas Gov. Alf Landon would garner 57 percent of the vote against President Franklin Roosevelt. It was Roosevelt, however, who won with 62 percent. The failure of that poll was using a huge undisciplined sample that overwhelming failed to respond to the magazine.
In Gallup’s mistakes we can see some of today’s mistakes for which no correction has been made. Not one of them, however, was that Gallup stopped polling two weeks before the election, having considered it a done deal. But it did make some assumptions and mistakes that our modern pollsters have done. They did not obtain representative samples but samples that were weighted heavily with more educated people; it failed to correctly determine who would actually vote, and assumed that undecided voters would split in the same proportions as the decided voters.
While some polls did catch the movement to Mr. Trump, having learned their lesson four years earlier, many did not. One of the latest polls published just before the election, ABC News/Washington Post, gave Mr. Biden a 17-point lead in Wisconsin and a seven-point lead in Michigan: Dewey defeats Trump all over again!
One of the polls that produced the most accurate results was The Des Moines Register poll. A few others did satisfactory. Most, however, failed. My advice to pollsters: Find out what the Register did and do it next time.

An Egregious Case

My final loser is Chief Justice John Roberts.
President Trump, many Republicans, a large contingent of conservative commentators (including this column) were warning of electoral hanky-panky. Concerns were raised about mail-in and absentee balloting flooding the system, opening the door for results to be compromised by those with the ability to do so.
One of the most egregious cases complained of was in Pennsylvania where the State Supreme Court, an elected body with partisan members, voted on a party-line basis to “redefine” the state’s election law. The redefinitions included accepting ballots beyond the legal deadline, defining them as on time if postmarked by the election. Okay, that might sound reasonable, but the court ruled that any returned ballot with an illegible postmark, or no postmark was to be assumed to have been mailed on time. In addition, the ruling left open the possibility that returned ballots without voter signatures or non-matching signatures could be counted.
Republicans challenged the matter in the U.S. Supreme Court and the court ruled 4-4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the liberal bloc to allow the Keystone State’s court ruling to stand. Those ballots, however, will be kept separate from the others pending further review.
Now the court is full. Amy Coney Barrett has been sworn in as the ninth justice. But the problem will probably come up again. Roberts’ mistake, and a huge one, was not to take the case before the election so all would know the rules by which mail-in ballots would be evaluated. A simple, decisive decision on how to conduct the count was needed, but it didn’t come from Roberts.
Instead, now that the election is over, if SCOTUS needs to rule on Pennsylvania’s count it will be accused of picking the president — politics — something that Roberts, by trying to avoid initially, might now be stuck with.
There’s a saying in legal circles: “Hard cases make bad law.” Roberts turned an easy case into a hard one — for himself and the court.
(You can reach Mike at: DeaconMike@q.com, and listen to him every Thursday at 10 a.m. CT on Faith On Trial on IowaCatholicRadio.com.)

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