Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Poet and Novelist Becomes the Political Analyst

A eye-opening, jaw-dropping, election-day article that atriculates a lot of what I've been thinking and feeling:

On Polling:

With polling, the collective delusion is the belief that the product of polling is the data. Remember, polls are a product that is sold like any other product. That stupid little chart that appears in the corner of every USA Today was not made for the purpose of 'research' and 'data'. It was made just to show a stupid little graph on the paper because USA Today knows that little graphs and charts 'sell' the paper more. Just because information is displayed in a chart or a graph does not make it 'scientific' or a real 'analysis'. But the product was to make the reader FEEL like it was and to sell more papers. The product of polls can and often are the readers. This became much more popular ever since polls became 'news items' themselves (before, polls were only supplements to news tories)....

One thing that is very different about this election is the omnipresence of polls and how polls are the axis around all political analysis is conducted. This has never been the case in previous elections. Real political analysts (meaning not hacks or unprofessional pundits), use historical trends, demagraphical data, and other 'truths' of past elections. Much of this cannot be translated into a chart or graph. It is a myth that analysis is done via math or graphs or computer models. The original economists, for example, used only words and essays. Political analysis is not about math. Political analysis is about people. To analyze politics, you must be able to analyze people. In other words, the poet and novelist becomes the political analyst, not the mathematician and software engineer. Politics is all about people.

It seems no one is interested in studying 'people' anymore. Look at the political analysis currently. There is very little analysis of the current 'liberal' or 'conservative', for example, or the person from Pennslyvania or person from Iowa. In fact, there are no people. There are only numbers. Stark, lifeless, numbers. The problem with leveling political analysis to nothing more than a soup of numbers is that it cannot measure intensity. What does intensity have to do with politics? Well, everything. Intense people are those who vote.

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