Friday, May 18, 2012

Polls Shmolls: We Can Win This!

Yesterday for most of the day I felt pretty much like I'd been kicked in the gut, owing to a combination of not enough sleep, the DNC's milquetoast support for the recall, the DNR's noxious inaction in the Sewergate horror, Walker talking about his jobs record using Kathy Nicholaus's new new math, and the effing poll numbers. I just couldn't shake the visceral feeling of dread that kept creeping over me. Every time I opened my mouth, I sounded like Eeyore when he lost his tail:
Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?"—and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.
Yes, that. Eeyore's gloom prevents him from seeing anything clearly. Having ascertained that he has, in fact, lost his tail, Eeyore attributes monumental significance to it.
"That Accounts for a Good Deal," said Eeyore gloomily. "It Explains Everything. No Wonder."
This is also the problem with polls, especially when coupled with too little sleep. They're just somebody's idea of what maybe might be occurring at a given moment before an election, give or take a few thousands. Even well-conducted polls amount to a more or less educated guess. Who knows what will influence fence-sitting voters? When they themselves don't really know just what they're going to do, the people making predictions are blowing a certain amount of smoke.

And that smoke can cloud your vision. Those who appear to be ahead, even by a negligible margin, rejoice, while an impending sense of doom spreads over those who appear to be behind, even by a sliver. Any change from an earlier poll, however minuscule, may be taken as a trend. The effect of the poll is to say, more or less, that the race is over, it's a done deal, and here are the results. But it's not over. A lot can happen in just a few weeks, and the results are as yet undetermined.

Regarding the illustrious Marquette poll for May, some regard it as valid, and others caution us not to start counting the Republican chickens, recognizing that the unprecedented nature of this election means that all bets are off. The polls are trying to predict politics as usual. The parties are doing their best to maintain politics as usual. But given all that we've done to organize and mobilize and make this election happen, this is anything but politics as usual.

We do know that the race is likely to be close, so every small thing we do has the potential to significantly affect the outcome. We've no time to tromp about looking for the donkey's tail. We have invested too much of ourselves in this race to take the spin and drivel of polls and right-wing media to heart.

We have already accomplished so much more than anyone would have thought possible just a year and a half ago. Now is the time for courage, good humor, plenty of sleep, action, and solidarity. We are fighting for justice, truth, freedom—all the biggies. We are on the side of the angels. The order of the day is to keep our eyes on the prize and keep working our butts off.

Heather DuBois Bourenane over at Monologues of Dissent has some excellent suggestions for boots-on-the-ground action in these last few weeks.
When Chistopher Robin had nailed it on in its right place again, Eeyore frisked about the forest, waving his tail so happily that Winnie-the-Pooh came over all funny, and had to hurry home for a little snack of something to sustain him.
Embrace the blue donkey, tail and all, and repeat after me: We can win this!

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