Would you bet the house that the Democrats will win the House? Some people who take bets for a living sure won’t — they’re wagering that the GOP will likely maintain a House of Representatives majority.
Those making this prediction are the odds-makers at online betting site MyBookie. This is significant. Professional pollsters don’t necessarily lose money if they’re shown to have been inaccurate; in fact, telling mainstream media what they want to hear may guarantee their “business.” Moreover, pollsters tend to be highly political.
Betting sites, however, absolutely will lose money if they get the odds wrong. Additionally, they take wagers on everything from golf to wrestling to who will play the next James Bond to what the first entity to send a human to Mars will be. So while everyone has opinions and even passions, bookies are not “political people,” per se, and as a group likely don’t have a horse in the midterm race.
Put simply and generally, pollsters get into polling because they’re interested in politics; odds-makers get into odds-making because they’re interested in gambling and money.
Treating the matter, American Thinker first reports on the polls and writes that they
continue to predict a blue wave, albeit one that might be too small for surfers. But polls depend on constructing a model of the expected turnout and then finding respondents to match the model: a certain percentage of Republicans, independents, and Democrats. If the pollsters fail to accurately predict which kinds of voters will be motivated in an off-year election, their polls are useless.
That hasn't stopped them from offering their own versions of the odds favoring the Democrats to take over the lower chamber. Nate Silver, who remains the media’s favorite polling guru despite offering odds well north of 90% favoring a Hillary Clinton win in 2016, puts the odds of a Democrat speaker of the House next year at nearly the same level of certainty: 85%.
But as USA Today writes of MyBookie’s prediction:
As of Sunday, the odds of the GOP keeping the House are at -140. That means you would need to bet $140 on the Republicans to win $100 if they stay in the majority. The Democrats are at +110, meaning a $100 bet would win you $110 if the Democrats manage to wrest control of the House.
The site also has the Republicans favored to hold the White House in the 2020 presidential election. The GOP is at -170 in that race, compared to +130 for the Democrats.
Of course, the flip side is that because odds-makers are jacks of all bets, they may be masters of none; an honest pollster (perhaps an endangered species) would certainly have a better grasp of the political landscape.
Additionally, maybe the pollsters are “right this time, unlike 2016. Maybe they have reflected on their errors and honestly appraised what they missed last time with an appropriate level of self-criticism,” American Thinker suggests, likely with a bit of sarcasm. “If that is your impression of what the journalistic community (which employs the pollsters whose results are made public) has done, then you should have more confidence in the pollsters.”
Now, scoffing at pollsters is understandable, but one common mistake in analysis conservatives make is to gauge the credibility of today’s midterm polls based on their not-exactly-prescient 2016-election performance.
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a transformational figure who was aided by both the cult-of- personality phenomenon and a perhaps unprecedented anti-establishment wave. He also had crossover appeal that to this day is rarely understood and poorly appreciated. Many conservatives liked him because he was generally singing their tune on the campaign trail, and moderates and some old-line liberals could find him palatable based on his history of supporting Democrats and liberal social positions.
Trump also had practically unequaled name recognition; that and his celebrity status — “Hey, he’s from Apprentice!” — could rally a good percentage of the idiot vote. This isn’t a put-down. The Democrats usually have a near monopoly on that bloc, and no candidate can win without capturing a good part of it.
Trump also was exciting. He was brash, bold, in-your-face (in the establishment’s actually), charismatic, and opposed by a candidate the very antithesis of these qualities. Moreover, despite his great wealth, he’s more Main Street than Wall Street. He eats meatloaf and scarfs down junk food; he talks and tweets like a regular guy who a regular guy might like to have a beer with. Just as significantly, he didn’t make his money via currency manipulation as did George Soros, but by building real things that real people can really see and use.
Add to this how he tapped into the anger over our nation-rending (im)migration, and it amounted to the perfect storm of political phenomena. Twenty-sixteen was likely a once-in-a-lifetime election that elevated someone not seen at all as a typical anything, including a typical Republican.
In contrast, the candidates on the ballot November 6 are seen as typical Republicans — and politicians — and most are. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be supported. It does mean they can’t capture the same support.
The bright side for the GOP is that Trump is campaigning for them, and media and many polling outfits are now corrupt enough so that the possibility they’re cooking polling numbers is real. A case in point is a 2016 Reuters poll that, according to former Democrat political consultant Pat Caddell, was actually altered to manufacture a Hillary Clinton surge. My, Joseph Goebbels would be proud.
Of course, the only poll that really matters is November 6. Will the voters deliver a blue wave? If so, it would be an establishment wave and a wave goodbye to Americanism.