From The Washington Post:
Wait, is the Kentucky Senate race over or not?
By Chris Cillizza, October 21, 2014
Just when you — and national Democrats, who stopped advertising in the state last week — thought the Kentucky Senate race was over, it’s pulling you back in! That’s because of the new Bluegrass Poll, sponsored by a conglomerate of Kentucky media outlets, that shows the race as a statistical dead heat between Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) at 47 percent and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) at 46 percent.That poll led to tweets like this one from Joe Sonka, a liberal blogger who writes about Kentucky politics.
— Joe Sonka (@joesonka) October 21, 2014
So, am I history’s greatest monster, as Sonka suggests? And just what is really going on in Kentucky?
And a little bit further down:
Doing that yields this conclusion: McConnell is ahead — probably by somewhere between three and five points. (The Real Clear Politics polling average gives McConnell a 4.4 percentage point edge.) McConnell has led Grimes in 14 of the last 15 polls conducted in the race. Even the Bluegrass Poll that is providing Kentucky Democrats such joy shows the race moving in the wrong direction; three weeks ago, Grimes led McConnell by two in the survey. (That early October poll is the only one to show the Democrat ahead since early June.)
Kentucky isn’t a blowout today, and it won’t be two weeks from today, either. There is a scenario by which Grimes wins, but it is not the most likely scenario. (Of the three major election models that aim to predict outcomes, the best chance Grimes has is a 22 percent probability of winning in the FiveThirtyEight model.) If national Democrats believed Kentucky was one of their best chances of winning a Republican seat, they would not have stopped advertising in the state — and started advertising in South Dakota and, especially, the pricier Georgia. The Bluegrass Poll doesn’t change that fact.
There’s more at the link. Mr Cillizza said, “Kentucky isn’t a blowout today, and it won’t be two weeks from today, either.” Uhhh, yes, it was; Senator McConnell defeated Mrs Grimes by a landslide margin, 56.2% to 40.7%, and he carried some eastern Kentucky counties that he hadn’t carried in his five previous Senate races. And other than the sacrificial lamb candidate, Lois Combs Weinberg1 in 2002, Mrs Grimes lost by a bigger margin than and of Mr McConnell’s previous opponents.
But Kentucky’s Democrats still can’t believe it; a Facebook friend of mine forwarded this post to me:
Friends I’m still upset with the results of last Tuesday’s Senate election. No doubt mistakes were made but I still believe we got hosed and royally. I was happy when Alison had a 1 point lead with 3 weeks remaining and then the media playing the clip over and over with her refusing to say she voted for the President. And then Mitch McConnell mole making this commercial which sealed the deal for the Mitch McConnell! What is your opinion of Chuck Todd?
If you are on Facebook and read the posting, the true blue Kentucky Democrats are blaming Chuck Todd for Mrs Grimes’ loss. I’d say that Mrs Grimes’ policies and rotten campaign are the reasons she lost, not one reporter’s (very apt) comment.
Let’s tell the truth here: the pre-election polling in 2014 was terrible. Republicans supposedly in close races won by large margins, while there were several Democrats who were expected to win handily who wound up in very close races. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) was expected to win narrowly; she lost. Michelle Nunn was supposedly slightly leading or very narrowly trailing in the Georgia Senate race, with a run-off election anticipated; the Republican candidate, David Perdue, won outright, defeating Miss Nunn by 8 percentage points. Were I a conspiracy theorist, I’d suspect that the pollsters were deliberately overstating Democratic strength, just to encourage Democrats to get out and vote.2
There are plenty of stories out there — here’s one — in which we’ve been told that, despite the very off-target publicly published polls, the candidates’ internal polling was pretty close to the eventual results. Those stories are almost all about how the winning Republican candidates’ internal pollsters indicated victories, but when I note that the Democrats pulled funding from Mrs Grimes after the published polls showed her very close to Senator McConnell, I have to think that they, too, knew that her candidacy was simply a lost cause.
Well, your Editor won’t subscribe to his suggested conspiracy theory just yet, but there are really only two options: either the suggested conspiracy theory really is true, or a whole bunch of supposedly scientific polling procedures and companies were really, really bad. Regardless, this points out what we have always said at The First Street Journal: the only poll that actually counts for anything is the one held on election day!
- Mrs Weinberg is the daughter of former Governor Bert T Combs (D-KY). ↩
- There probably are some conspiracy theorists who are claiming fraud, but the Bluegrass State is pretty heavily controlled by the moderate Democrats who hold so many of the local offices. And Secretary of State Grimes is the Chairman of the State Board of Elections. ↩