February 03, 2016
Like they do every four years, pundits and "journalists" (sic) are playing the point-spread game during the primary season. The idea is that the press and pundits set up a point spread for each succeeding contest, and a given candidate is a "winner" or "loser" depending on whether they beat the point spread.
Actually getting the most votes doesn't seem to matter.
So Iowa had it's quadrennial 15 months of fame culminating last Monday, and Cruz came in first. Trump was a couple of percentage points back, and Rubio a couple more behind Trump. Between the three of them they got about 3/4ths of the votes, and all the other candidates are back in the dust somewhere. A lot of those are probably going to give up now.
So what are we reading? Oddly enough, Rubio is the winner, according to pundits, and never mind that he came in third in actuality. Because Rubio beat pundit expectations, that's why. More impressive is that Trump was the big loser, we are told, even though he got more votes than Rubio. Why? Because the pundits thought he was going to come in first, and he actually came in second. A huge defeat. He didn't beat the point spread.
What's more amazing is that this is conservative pundits.
A lot of this is due to the fact that the conservative pundits really wish Trump would go away. They've spent months closing their eyes, counting to ten, and hoping he would be gone when they opened them again, and it hasn't been working. His campaign was going to collapse Real Soon Now, folks! Keep watching! Only somehow it never did. And with him getting a quarter of the votes in Iowa, the pundits are now really, really hoping that if they keep shouting "Trump is a loser!" over and over that it will become true.
I've always hated this. This kind of sports-reporting of the primary season happens every four years and has since I've been paying attention (late 1970's) and it's always a crock. A lot of the reason for it is because reporters assigned to this beat need to come up with something to say every couple of days that isn't the same thing as they said in their previous report. But a lot of it is due to a basic disconnect our betters have with how things work.
They think they are leading us. They think they are ruling us.
Deep down they don't believe in Democracy because they feel utter contempt for the majority of Americans, especially voters. They're smarter than us, and better educated. And so it is (they think) their job as reporters and pundits to tell us idiots who we should be voting for, because otherwise we'd be too stupid to pick the right candidate.
That's why Trump has made gibbering idiots out of the reporters and pundits: he doesn't play by the unwritten rules of the self-selected elite. He says things that no one should be saying. He says things that the unwashed masses are thinking, and shouldn't be thinking. That's why the unwashed are flocking to him. It's a true populist revolt.
Some people have been pointing out the disconnect between the elite and the masses and how Trump is saying things that the masses are thinking, and asking why the elite don't pay attention and realize that to the masses, these things are important. He's briding that gap, and he'd go away if the elite themselves recognized the gap and moved to bridge it themselves.
Why aren't they? Because the elite don't really care what the masses think, and what the masses want. Democracy ultimately is an impediment to elite rule; it forces them to pander to the masses every couple of years. It just gets in the way. The idea of listening to the voters and paying attention to what they want and doing something about it is idiocy because the voters are themselves idiots.
Me, I'm a populist. I think that the group-mind created by voters is pretty wise, actually -- wiser, usually, than the elite are. I think that representative democracy is a pretty good system. Not perfect, but then a perfect government has been mathematically proved to be impossible. Anyway, as an engineer I'm more interested in "good enough" than I am in "ideal".
So I've been really amused the last couple of days by all the news coverage declaring Trump's campaign to be dead, and how Rubio is a huge winner. Never mind that Trump got more votes in Iowa than Rubio did.
And in the end, point spreads don't matter. What matters is how many votes a candidate gets. This campaign doesn't end with the Iowa caucuses. It's not even clear it begins with them. Iowa is a small state (in population) and tends to have very parochial issues (Ethanol, baby!) and New Hampshire isn't a lot better.
Trump could still blow it (and today's exhibit of sore-loserness probably doesn't help him, though I think it's probably being played up as part of the same process of trying to deflate him) but the fundamental issue that is pushing his candidacy is still important and won't go away. American voters, especially Republicans, are mad as hell and aren't going to take it any more. The self-selected conservative elites can go pound sand.
Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
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Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)
At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.
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