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Recent Polling

December 20, 2019 (306 words)

I managed to stay awake for the first hour of last night’s Democratic presidential debate. Since I haven’t been following the fortunes of the twenty-odd announced contestants in the race, I was surprised to see only seven of them standing up there on the stage behind lecterns.

No doubt there were various qualifications all those other politicians failed to meet, and I did hear a few had decided to drop out recently due to lack of funding.

The moderator explained at the very beginning that the order of appearance of these seven finalists had been determined by “recent polling.”

That got me to thinking that maybe we do a little too much polling. Just like there seems to be a little too much expert analysis of what each candidate says.

(Last night at the first break, while the politicians vacated the stage for a few moments, viewers were treated to a panel of talking heads already evaluating the messaging being presented thus far.)

And one thing influences the other, doesn’t it?

What moves the needle, from one poll to the next? Is it something the candidate does or says, or is it how the commentators incessantly frame each politician’s words and actions?

It strikes me that we are never given the chance to think things through for ourselves.

When we the public are told often enough that this or that candidate in “unelectable,” or told how this or that ambitious policy initiative will never be implemented, after a while it’s only natural to fold one’s tent, so to speak, and go with what is perceived – what we have been convinced – is the prudent choice.

I realize we have to chart all this in some manner. But the micro-reporting and micro-analyzing of the present moment does everyone involved – politicians and voters, alike – a disservice.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.
December 20, 2019

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