Yes, it has been confirmed: objective, data driven statistical analysis generally outperforms faith based, ideological, "gut feeling" political punditry. For months now, objective, data driven statistical analysis has been indicating that Barack Obama would win a second term, and that he would do so without a whole lot of election night drama.
And yet, the alleged "Liberal media" - in lockstep with the "Conservative media" - have been incessantly telling Americans that the 2012 election was a "nailbiter!", that it was "neck and neck!", that it was "going to come down to the wire!". Further, the race was a "tossup!"; we wouldn't know the winner until the last vote was counted! Various media personalities from all media entities took to ridiculing the (now vindicated) Nate Silver of the much maligned 538 model for its heavy odds that President Obama would win re-election.
And then, on November 6th, President Obama's re-election was official about 10 minutes later than his first election was official. There was no drama, there was no "horse race" - just an outcome which lined up precisely with the opinions of the individuals who undoutedly put the most time and effort into measuring the actual data on the topic.
What happened to the alleged "Liberal Bias"? Why was the alleged "Liberal Media" reporting a nail biting election that would go right down to the last vote when the objective facts of the matter were indicating that 'their guy' was going to win handily? The answer is of course what everyone's favorite funny man, Jon Stewart, has been saying for a while now - the bias of the "mainstream media" isn't a "Liberal" one:
“The bias of the mainstream media is towards sensationalism, conflict and laziness.” - Jon Stewart
There was nothing sexy about reporting a relatively drama-free, solid and thorough electoral college victory. The alleged "Liberal Media" reported what would attract viewers back to their programming, even though that sensationalized angle simply wasn't consistent with the objective analysis of the matter.
But that's not the only "Liberal Media" take away from last night's election. There's also the matter of the "skewed polls" the Rightwing was screaming about before the first debate (interestingly, those same "skewed" polls suddenly became credible after the first debate when they started indicating a brief pinch of Romney momentum). Shortly before the first debate when Mitt Romneys' chances of winning the election had dropped to about 15% in Nate Silver's 538 model, the following argument started to permeate in Republican circles:
The Republicans' complaint is the same one conservatives have made nationwide
about polls since they began showing Obama edging ahead of Romney in the
aftermath of the nominating conventions.
These critics contend the polls are based on "turnout models," or predictions
of voter turnout on Election Day, that include too many Democrats and not enough
Now, let's be clear: when random sample after random sample of the electorate continues to turn up more self-identiying Democrats than self-identifying Republicans, it's probably happening for a reason. In the minds of Republicans, the reason was "Liberal Bias" - that these weren't actually "random samples" and thus the party identification of these samples needed to be weighted so that Democrats and Republicans were equally represented. And so, the GOP rallied around Unskewedpolls.com - a site which reweighted all the existing polling in order to recalculate the data to reflect equal representation in the electorate. And not surprisingly, when the polls were re-adjusted to eliminate the facts that were putting President Obama in the lead, the 'adjusted' polls showed Mitt Romney winning.
And then, of course, on election night 2012 we found out that - in a completely unshocking proclamation to those who have a base understanding of how random sampling works - there were indeed more self-identifying Democrats in the electorate than self-identifying Republicans link. As it turns out, there was no "Liberal Bias" involved in the collecting of that data or the reporting of the results; it was just cold, hard quantifiable facts.
And so, what's left? As much as the GOP probably hates admitting it, their collective behavior leading up to (and through) the 2012 election validated Conservative hate magnet Bill Mahr's "dispatches from the bubble" theory:
"Facts don't get in that rightwing bubble," Maher joked as he introduced his recurring segment "Dispatches From the Bubble." link
The Republican Party has, for quite some time now, existed in their own echo chamber. In Republican world, all opinions are equal, regardless of whether or not any of those opinions are supported by evidentiary facts. This isn't all that uncommon of an occurrence for anyone deeply rooted in any specific ideology. But, for the GOP, it began manifesting a much deeper and impactful existence. Not only was there a general disregard for someone else's opinion in contrast to their own, that disregard continued even after their opinion was thoroughly discredited.
This was perhaps no better illustrated than in the debate cycle this election year. Of course, both Republicans and Democrats went into the Presidential debates believing their candidate was going to mop the floor with their political opponent. Then, the first debate happened. The general public felt that Mitt Romney came out much, much better in the first debate than Barack Obama. And, almost instantly, the alleged "Liberal Media" was in agreement. All of the favorite "Liberal" targets from Rachel Maddow to Ed Schultz to Chris Matthews were saying that Mitt Romney decisively won the first debate. Yes, those individuals wanted the President to prevail. And yes, they acknowledged when he didn't, as did most of the proverbial Leftwing.
Then, the second debate happened. The general public felt Obama carried the day, albeit in a generally close contest link. Then, the third debate; the general public again felt that Obama won, this time in a land slide. Presumably, since the same polls that were used by Conservatives to gloat about Romney's first debate victory were showing a clear victory for Obama in the second and third debates, the GOP would acknowledge their candidate's losses, right? Not so much. By in large, the GOP politicians and pundits couldn't bring themselves to acknowledge what their political counterparts acknowledged after the first debate - that their guy lost.
And not only did the GOP establishment refuse to acknowledge Romney's debate losses, shortly after the first debate they also launched a completely unfounded allegation that October's jobs report - which reported a decrease in unemployment to 7.8% - was rigged by the Administration. This nonsensical claim was kicked off by former GE CEO Jack Welch on Twitter, who was quickly invited to FOX News to continue spreading his unfounded diatribe. Of course, the entire argument was absurd.
And that served as a microcosm of the past few weeks (and months) - complete dismissal of anything which indicated Mitt Romney was in poor shape. A general charade regarding Romney's "momentum" which included proclamations from Conservative 'intellectual' George Will and Conservative 'guru' Michael Barone that Mitt Romney would win the election in "landslide" fashion link. Except, they seemed to forget it was indeed a charade. And this complete refusal to accept the factual world as reality culminated on election night 2012 with Karl Rove on Fox News demanding that his own network recant their call of Ohio for Barack Obama. Even while people on the FOX News set were trying to explain to Rove that it was mathematically virtually impossible for Romney to win Ohio based on how much of the vote was counted and what part of the vote was still outstanding, Rove would not relent. Of note: Barack Obama will likely end up winning Ohio by more than 100,000 votes. Also of note: at the point that Rove was ranting, Obama was ahead in Nevada, Colorado, and Florida - meaning he didn't even need Ohio for the overall race to be called.
We're at a point where all of the verifiable data which Conservatives have been arbitrarily dismissing for months - constantly deflecting with prophesorial statements of "just wait until the election!" - just punched them right between the eyes. And it wasn't just the "skewed" polls canard or the "liberal media" tripe; it was policy too. Marriage equality, women's reproductive rights, economic policy - the GOP agenda was roundly rebuked on November 6th, 2012.
Will this be enough to convince the GOP that facts actually matter? Will it be enough for the GOP to stop incessantly pitching trickle down policies that haven't been effective, and now are known to not be favored by a majority of the country? Will it be enough for Republicans to stop ignoring all scientific analysis when creating policy about women's reproduction, or climate change? Will it be enough for Republicans to stop trying repeatedly to repeal a healthcare law that was modeled after their own Presidential candidate's actions? Will it be enough to force Republicans past their hang up with the word "terrorism", or their never ending refusal to raise taxes... on anyone... ever? Will it be enough to bring Republicans back to reality, and back to the adult table where factual analysis of data is more helpful to the discussion than New Testament references or spammed proclamations about "Liberty" and "Freedom"?
Honestly, will it be enough? At this point, I have my doubts.