2016-08-15 – I’m seeing a lot of victory dancing over polls showing Hillary Clinton in a decisive lead over Donald Trump. I’m not celebrating until November 8. Hopefully, the celebration will be in the early evening. I go to sleep early. And I won’t be sleeping well if it’s close.
If you are concerned about the future of this country, you should not be celebrating yet either. Here’s why.
1. The Cubs are 12 games ahead in first place, but they could still lose the season.
I don’t really pay much attention to sports, but you can’t live in Chicago and not be aware of the fact that the Cubs are killing it in the NL Central.
Political polls are not the same as baseball standings. The Cubs at least have a lot of wins in the bank. If they keep up the wins, it will get harder and harder for the Cards to catch up. At some point, if the trend continues, the Cubs will clinch the division title before the end of the season. Wins are wins.
But political polls are not wins. The Cubs will never have fewer wins in this season than they have today. But Hillary’s numbers could go down and up a dozen times before November 8. That’s because polls are predictions, not wins, and not votes. Predictions can turn on a dime. As for validity, they mean about as much as “wait until next year.”
Yes, the campaign might use polls to help them with strategy, but they mean nothing to We the People. Polls are the same as runners left on base at the end of an inning. They are not even a way to keep score. There is no score until we vote. The only polling that counts is the official polling on November 8 (or early voting at official polling places or through absentee ballots).
If the Cubs’ 12 game lead is no guarantee, Hillary’s polling lead is even less so. Do not rely on them. Not even if the pollster is Nate Silver. People lie to pollsters.
Yeah, it feels good to see some statistician predict that your candidate will win. If you’re a Cubs fan it must feel really good to see them 12 games ahead on August 15. But as any Cubs fan knows, there’s no guarantee. There’s even less of a guarantee in politics. You can’t clinch a national election until the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November. (And sometimes not even then. Ask Al Gore.)
2. If you are/were a Bernie fan, Hillary’s victory is part of his political revolution.
One of the many things that Bernie “got” is that winning the presidency is not a revolution. It can be part of a revolution, which is why he ran for the nomination. But it is far from the revolution.
The revolution requires a realignment of politics.
The Republicans have known this for generations. That is why they always seem to put more energy into down-ballot candidates and off-year elections than the Democrats. They capture state houses, they change election rules, they gerrymander. As Donald Trump says, the election is rigged. But it is rigged to favor Republicans. Republicans would love to see Democrats get cocky and ease up.
Ease up and, while Hillary still might squeak through, the Republicans will hold on to their home-field advantage. Ease up, and Trump might actually win. And the Republicans could seal the home-field advantage for the foreseeable future.
That’s how much polls mean.
If Trump wins, the pundits will be talking about how Hillary blew her lead. But she doesn’t have a lead, not like the Cubs. She only has a prediction.
Get out and campaign. Get out and vote. That’s the only way to secure a lead in politics.