Sunday, November 11, 2012

GOP Takes Science Out Of Political Science

Way back in another century when I got myself a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science, one of my freshman-year professors said in his first lecture that political science wasn't a science.

Ah, college.

And back in those days, true enough - - there was less science in poli sci then and maybe more of what we now call "retail politics" than there is in the digital age:

I did a senior-year survey research thesis and used some sort of punch-card data counting machine that tallied up the responses, but the reports didn't come with cross-tabs, and no algorithms were used to interpret the findings.

Good thing: I still need spell-check to even spell algorithm and after my undergrad years took a Masters in English, where statistics were limited to simple things:


Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Richard III.

But that was then - - before cell phones, laptops, data mining or Nate Silver - - and this is 2012, so how do you explain how poorly Republicans employed or absorbed the science that today makes politics definitely all about science?

Bad enough the GOP and their Tea Party troopers disbelieved polling as just another liberal media plot; their Colbertian instincts told them they could feel an Obama defeat was coming just as their High Priest Mitch McConnell had willed it, so the Romney victory would simply appear - - reified.

Science? Why bother with even reading the polls when Dick Morris had a Ouija board and Karl Rove had $300 million to misspend on issues, candidates and campaigns which were not moving a needle except as an election-night hot-shot.

It also turns out the Romneyites expected that one super-duper, super-secret supercilious software program called ORCA would get relevant, game-changing election-day data to 30,000 PDA-armed GOTV volunteers.

But ORCA was a dud, a blank instead of a silver bullet, that misfired and crashed.

And something of a sci-fi fantasy: believing that one last-ditch high-tech dues ex machina could overcome a real machine:

Four-to-eight years of Obama for America shoe leather that gathered voter data block-by-block, county-by-county to produce hard drives (binders!) filled with statistics that were collected, crunched, fed to very smart people in Chicago - - and fed back as countdown strategies and election-day blueprints.

Bottom line: an election-night for the GOP that had bad outcomes based on failed technology and disdained polling.

The political scientists will have a field day crunching those numbers.


Anonymous said...

The Republicons also based their strategy on outdated models. The major factor - the mad men were trying to sell a product that was a dud.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

My wife works in IT, in testing and deployment of medical grade software. It generally takes them over a year to write, test, and deploy software of the scope that ODCA seemed to be.

As part of the Right's disdain for science, they also sneer at expertise and specialists, especially if there is a "businessman" of some sort who can just tell them 'git 'er done'. Then they deny the resources for anyone who might be able to get it done, hire the lowest bidder or the most well-connected bidder regardless of whether they have the experience necessary.

Anonymous said...

The left won the election for POTUS twice for one reason - racism.

Let's see how many racists point out the color his skin before his superior qualifications.

Go for it.

Max B said...

It's been awfully** quiet on the Republican front since Tuesday's national drubbing. And nary a mention of "widespread voter fraud" here or in any other swing state. Do you think they learned anything, or are they simply licking their wounds until they can begin to hatch the next nefarious plot?

**By 'awfully', I mean: full of awe, awesome, wonderful.

Jonathan Swift said...

I suspect that the Evangelical Pharisees may have told the Republican pollsters what they wanted to hear( it was not difficult to tell by the 2nd question which nonpartisan polls were Republican). But at the last minute in the voting booth many may have found it hard to vote for a Mormon and went for a half white Christian Protestant male.