Chanting Points Memo: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Mark Dayton has run one of the single dumbest campaigns in Minnesota history.

Dayton himself has been a virtual non-entity, relying on the Twin Cities’ media’s inability and/or unwillingness to question him on  his background, the immense gaps in his budget “plan”, his history of erratic behavior…anything.

His surrogates have been another matter entirely; “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” – whose financing, almost exclusively from big union donors and members and ex-members of Mark Dayton’s family of trust fund babies – has run the slimiest, most defamatory campaign in Minnesota political history.   From mischaracterizing Emmer’s “DUI” record and slandering his efforts to reform Minnesota DUI laws, to their outright lies about his budget, ABM has profaned this state’s politics in a way that I only hope can be salvaged in the future – although I doubt this will happen until the DFL decays to third-party status.

If it were a Republican group doing it, the Dems would be whining about “voter intimidation”.

The Dayton campaign, in short, has been not so much a campaign as an attempt to orchestrate negative projected PR, social inertia and the ignorance of most voters to their advantage.  It hasn’t been a dumb campaign, per se;  when your job is to sell Mark Dayton, “The Bumbler”, desperate situations call for desperate measures.  And as we saw in 1998, there are enough stupid people do make anything possible.

A big part of Dayton’s under-the-table campaign has been to portray the impression that Dayton’s coronation is inevitable.  If your nature is to be suspicious of institutions with long, arguably circumstantial records of bias, one might see the Minnesota Poll as an instrument toward that aim – given its three-decade record of showing DFLers doing an average of 7.5% better than they ended up doing.   (If you favor the Democrats, you might say the same about Rasmussen – if you ignored the fact that they’ve been consistently the most accurate major pollster for the last couple of cycles.  Other than that, just the same thing).

The latest chapter in this campaign has been the regional DFLbloggers’ chanting the latest results from Nate Silver’s “Five Thirty Eight”, a political stats-blog that was bought out by the NYTimes a while back.

Silver’s latest look at the Minnesota gubernatorial race gives Dayton an 83% chance of winning, in a six point race.

And that’s where the Sorosbloggers leave it.

Of course, Silver’s analysis on its face has a margin of error of a little over eight points – which is  - considerably larger than the forecast margin.

Of course, with any statistical, numerical output, you have to ask yourself – “are the inputs correct?”

Here are Silver’s inputs:

Courtesy 538/New York Times

Courtesy 538/New York Times

The important column is the “538 Poll Weight” column, the third from the right.  It shows how much weight Silver gives each poll in his final calculation.  The number is at least partly tied to time – but not completely; for some reason, the five-week old Survey USA poll gets 20% more weight than the four week old Rasmussen poll; the October 6 Rasmussen poll that showed Emmer with a one point lead gets about 3/4 the oomph of the latest Survey USA poll, which showed Dayton with a five point lead…

…and whose “likely voter model” seemed to think that Democrats are four points more likely to show up at the polls that Republicans.  This year.

Pollsters – and Silver – are fairly cagey about their methodology.  I’m not a statistics wiz.  I dropped the class after one week, in fact.  But I can tell when something isn’t passing the stink test.  Any poll that gives Democrats a four point edge in turnout this year may or may not be wishful thinking (we’ll find out in less than two weeks, won’t we?), but does seem to be based more on history than current behavior which, I should point out, involves a lot of hocus-pocus to predict during a normal election.

And this is not a normal election.

I’m not going to impugn Nate Silver, per se – if only because I haven’t the statistical evidence.  Yet.

I will, impugn the NYTimes, but then that’s what I do.  They very much do want to drive down Republican turnout.

And that is the main reason the DFL machine – including the ranks of more-or-less kept leftybloggers in this state – are parrotting this “story” so dutifully.  They want to convince Republicans that all is lost.

Pass the word, folks.  We’re gonna win this thing.

15 thoughts on “Chanting Points Memo: Garbage In, Garbage Out

  1. ” It hasn’t been a dumb campaign, per se; when your job is to sell Mark Dayton, “The Bumbler”, desperate situations call for desperate measures.”

    Snakes selling snake oil.

  2. The problem with Silver’s numbers is that, as far as I can see, Emmer’s campaign isn’t doing enough to move them. Another week goes by with the Marquess of Queensbury approach. We’re running out of weeks.

    Also, you have to assume that AfaBM will have some sort of sucker punch a week from today, which is the traditional time for a DFL cheap shot. Cullen Sheehan should know this, since it happened to Norm Coleman in the last cycle.

  3. I missed the tab that weighted an 8 term Democrat from the range being greeted with tar and feathers…in Duluth.

    Emmer by 8.

  4. Gosh swiftee, if its Oberstar you refer to I think he’s like 18 terms. All the pork and earmarks you can handle since 1974. He’s the Rep of my district, I’m hoping to attend his retirement party. With some luck that could be soon.

  5. I don’t think Dayton’s run a bad campaign at all. Other people do his dirty work, and the only chance he’s got is if people don’t remember what he really is. Being relatively invisible and getting his family foundations to do things is a work of genius.

  6. Being relatively invisible and getting his family foundations to do things is a work of genius.

    I’m Mark; Who am I, and why am I here?????????????????????????

  7. I saw an ad just a second ago about “How the Republicans have been unfiarly attacking Mark Dayton” You have GOT to be kidding me. ABM’s ads I don’t think have scored above a D on any truth tests. These people have some f’ing nerve

  8. “These people have some f’ing nerve.”

    And are completely devoid of any morals or character!

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