Fantasy news and polls

           Fantasy football has gained substantial popularity especially with technological advances, but the core attraction is the opportunity to prove one’s sports acumen by picking who plays what and how.  It’s a manipulation of facts about real people to produce a desired outcome under fictitious circumstances.

            Aside from fun, it sounds a lot like modern news reporting.  Actually, there is not much news reporting anymore; too much of it particularly nationally is more like news packaging.  News always had some sales aspect, but the media no longer reports news – they sell their preferred “narrative.”

            Large media organizations generally hold a world view they deem certain and correct, so of course everyone should share that vision.  Instead of reporting events has they happen, the media seeks news items to support their “narrative.”  It’s more like packaging advertising to lead news consumers to a specific predetermined conclusion.

            For example, the progressive press doesn’t want people to lose faith in socialist policies, so they just overlook the widespread failures of Obamacare as it collapses.  Or, a hopelessly stagnant economy is described as the new normal; sure Americans are steadily losing ground in wages and wealth, but hey we have a stable decline.  Media elites also believe the terror threat is overblown, so now some of it is chalked up to mental illness.

No longer seeking to inform; they are determined to influence you.  News is crafted and neatly wrapped to make government healthcare seem necessary, illegal immigration desirable, and conservatives are just plain crazy.

            It’s the same with the polls.  Pollsters have a modicum of concern about their credibility, but they want their clients to keep buying polls and customers tuned in because it’s just too soon to tell yet.  So, we need more polls.

            It’s no surprise pollsters are hoping to inspire you to want more, but like the news many polls are more interested in leading opinion than measuring it.  Polling is more than randomly calling people and compiling their answers.  Pollsters take a random sample, but then they apply their demographic analysis to properly “weight” polls.

            For instance, if they think women are under represented at 50% in the sample, they just change it to 53%.  Raw data is easily and regularly massaged to produce what the pollster thinks is a clearer picture.  Plenty of candidates the past 40 years have markedly under or over polled.

            Gerald Ford polled in the 30s and low 40s all of 1976; he ultimately lost at 48% - his highest polling.  Was he always that far behind with a last minute surge or was he cast a loser for months bringing his numbers down?  Reagan was behind most of 1980 in the 30s and 40s, but won with 51%.  While the press pummeled him, did Reagan skyrocket the last few days or did they wear him down over months?

            Michael Dukakis was ahead until September 1988.  Bill Clinton in 1992 polled in the high 40s and 50s all year only to finish at 43%.  2004 was called too close to call right up until Election Day when George W. Bush won by a comfortable 3%.   Even doomed John McCain consistently under polled by about 4%.

            So are all these polls really measuring public sentiment or rather trying to create a self-fulfilling illusion that Clinton has already won and Trump is a hopeless loser?  Repeat a lie often enough and people start to believe it.

            Polls are data points to be considered but very skeptically.  Believe your eyes and ears.  Trumps supporters are extremely enthusiastic; Clinton supporters are only the most committed partisans.

            If Clinton can’t fill a High School gymnasium and Trump overflows every venue beyond capacity, who are you going to believe?  Weighted polls or the cheering crowds at Trump rallies across the nation?

            “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  Matthew 10:16


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