The Psephologist and the Pseudologist

The Psephologist and the Pseudologist. These words may sound strange to some English speakers, but one has to go to ancient Greece, the cradle of democracy.

The root “logue” or “logist” used as a suffix comes from “logos” word, speech, statement, discourse. It is meant to identify a person who is an expert in a given field. A psychologist is an expert that lectures on the science of the mind.

In the present case the word psephologist rests on root «psephos» which means vote. A psephologist is therefore an expert in voting, trends or polls.  The root “psevdos” used in English as pseudo means a “lie”. A pseudologcist is therefore an expert liar. According to press sources President Trump has uttered over 20,000 lies during his presidency almost always with the intent of boosting his popularity, “his numbers” as he likes to call it. His team has even found an extremely eloquent word for his distortions “alternative truths”.

As an instant reality media mogul  he has mastered the art of deception to achieve credibility within the less educated  white voters and the traditional republicans who do not care about reality as long as the party wins or their wallets keep bulging.

We had a first taste of his skills during his presidential primary season and the presidential campaign in 2016. He belittledd his opponents using deprecating nicknames. From “crooked Hillary to little Mario” it was lying Ted, crazy Bernie or “goofy Warren”. 

Basically, he made such a farce using this process that he depreciated the political debate confusing the voters to his advantage. Nevertheless, he would win the Republican nomination with only 44.99% of the delegates the lowest showing since Dukakis grabbed the Democratic nomination in 1988. He would then win the presidential election by securing the electoral votes by 306 to 232 whereas he lost the popular vote by almost 3,000,000 votes almost 6 times more than W Bush had lost to Gore in the famous battle. Bush marginally secured Florida tilting the electoral vote majority in his favor.

In the case of Trump, the large electoral majority he secured came from 3 states albeit at a very small popular vote majority. Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that accounted for 46 electoral votes effectively decided by a total 107,000 votes between these three states the balance of electoral votes. Had they been won by Hilary Clinton she would have secured 278 electoral votes and would have become the first female President in the history.

Trump won Pennsylvania 68,236, Michigan by 11,837 votes and by 27,257 votes in Wisconsin, a state that she has been so confident of winning that she never campaigned there. How did it all happen? A look at the poll of polls timeline during the 2016 elections may help us to realize how an overconfidence in polls can result in crashing outcome.  

With hindsight looking at those lines it is easy to see that the comparative strength of Hillary Clinton was precarious as her relative lead often was close to zero  and if one drew a graph it would look like a cardiogram.. Of course, her campaigning was hampered by a bout of Pneumonia and an untimely announcement of an FBI investigation in her private E mails ten days before the election.

Examining the BBC 2020 Poll of poll timeline reveals some striking differences in the comparative strength of the two candidates.

As can be observed the relative advantage of Biden over Trump has been steadily increasing and the 10% percent margin should augur well for the challenger. However past experience has taught us that one cannot rely with absolute confidence, especially in this era where social media can shift instantly opinions.

Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania by 68,236 votes (0.25%), Wisconsin by 27,257 votes (0.38%) and Michigan by 11,837 votes (0.12%). The latest Polls published by the Guardian reports an advantage for Biden of 6.1%in Pennsylvania 7.6 % in Michigan and 7.1 % in Wisconsin, margins well beyond the poll statistical error of 3.2%. So, if Biden carries these states plus the safe democratic States, he should secure enough electoral votes to secure the presidency.

However, there are many other swing states that could compensate any negative surprises. Biden leads in Arizona 3.6% (Electoral Votes: 11) and in North Carolina 3.7% (Electoral Votes: 15) just above the polls 3.2% margin of error. Another 4 states are too close to call. Biden leads marginally in FLORIDA by2.33% (Electoral Votes: 29) and in Texas by 1% (Electoral Votes: 38) while trailing in Ohio by 1.77% (Electoral Votes: 18) and Iowa by 1.2 % Electoral Votes: 6)

So, an optimist psephologist would predict a major landslide with 395 Electoral Votes for Biden given the recent momentum in his favor and enough of an impetus to bring a senate majority. But at this stage, this is a pious dream.

The last sprint is on and our pseudologist is fighting hard to debunk the virus, the scientists and is projecting the dread of a recessive economy under Biden. In the process he is alienating part of his electorate (the suburban women and the seniors) in the hope of assembling more elements of his core base of uneducated voters. His last run dash worked perfectly last time when he had a tired opponent unable to campaign vigorously. Will he make his opponent in the last debate?

The time is short and we may have a part answer in two weeks. The clearer the initial returns are, the less trouble is likely to occur. If the votes look close, prepare yourselves for a long legal battle and social troubles. Let us hope we will not get there.

By Digenis20 October 2020

Read also: In the mind of Donald J Trump

Αφήστε ένα Σχολιο