The last four years of political punditry and analysis have been objectively wretched. Regardless of your feelings about the present political moment, precisely no one can defend the quality of the analysis that dominates the airwaves and pages of our corporate media.
They told us throughout the 2016 campaign that the notion of Donald Trump winning the presidency was a joke. The mockery increased as election day drew near. From the Washington Post: “Donald Trump’s chances of winning are approaching zero.”
At 10:20 P.M. on election night, The New York Times assured us that “Hillary Clinton has an 85% chance of winning.” They gave Hillary a 95 percent chance of winning Michigan, a 93 percent chance of winning Wisconsin, and an 89 percent chance of winning Pennsylvania. They declared, in other words, that the probability of Trump winning all three of those states, which he did, was 0.04 percent.
Their numerical confidence colored their reporting throughout the campaign in ways that materially supported their political cohorts, chiefly Hillary Clinton. Then they responded to their humiliating failure to understand the electorate by rolling into a series of delusional conspiracy theories they claimed explained his victory.
While failing to understand the country you’re paid big bucks to understand is humiliating, admitting their failure would have been a better alternative to the spiral of Trump Derangement that grips many of our media and continues to make their political analysis a sad joke.
Our low quality of punditry and analysis is on display in the crime-less impeachment that they are currently pushing to mixed success. Democrats and other Resistance members are absolutely on board. The rest of the country? Not so much.
Coverage of a new poll out from Monmouth beautifully illustrates how Trump Derangement destroys what should be simple political analysis. The poll was brutal for impeachment fans in the media. Just less than 60 percent of respondents agreed that “people who want Trump out of office should just vote him out next year instead of going through impeachment.” Seventy-three percent have little or no trust in the impeachment process. And 60 percent say Democrats are more interested in bringing down Trump than in learning facts.
Here’s what much of the Twitterverse pulled out of the poll instead:
Fox News poll: 26% of voters said that no matter what new evidence be uncovered, “nothing would cause you to support impeachment.”
Monmouth poll: 62% of Trump supporters say there is *nothing* that they can think of that would cause them to disapprove of Trump.
It’s. A. Cult.
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) November 6, 2019
The numbers on that question for Democrats, which many in the media completely ignored, are even worse.
Trump approvers (43 percent of respondents) were asked if he could do anything that would make them disapprove of him. Of that group, 62 percent said there’s nothing he could do to make them disapprove of his job performance. That’s the question media are focusing on to prove how stupid and tribal those Republican voters are.
But Trump disapprovers (51 percent of respondents) were similarly asked if Trump could ever do anything aside from resigning that would make them approve of his job performance. Guess what: 70 percent of disapprovers said there’s nothing he could possibly do to earn their approval of his job performance.
So if one wants to argue that one party is mindlessly tribal, the numbers clearly show that the anti-Trump Resistance is the most mindless and tribal faction in American politics today. And the actions of the Resistance only prove this point, from refusing to accept the election results, to fighting the Electoral College, to fantasizing about ousting Trump via the 25th Amendment, to supporting an unelected and unaccountable resistance in the bureaucracy, to the dangerous and eventually debunked Russia collusion hoax that spawned a damaging special counsel probe, to the most recent incarnation of their multi-year impeachment efforts.
But wouldn’t a better analysis merely note that people in political parties tend to support their party’s top official and oppose the opposing party’s top official? That’s actually quite normal. For example, Democrats largely supported President Bill Clinton even after he was caught lying under oath, suborning perjury, obstructing justice in an investigation over sexual assault allegations, and impeached and sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
How much less surprising, then, is it that Republican voters are standing by President Trump, who hasn’t been accused by Congress of breaking any law, let alone committing a high crime or misdemeanor warranting removal from office? Is it surprising that Republican voters support President Trump after he has accomplished much of what they elected him to do and has done so in the face of unprecedented resistance operations and years of false accusations of being a traitor to the United States?
It’s not surprising to anyone who has ever followed any era of politics since the U.S. founding. Failure to treat Republican voters or their president as normal is making a mockery of political analysis.