Remember what happened in the 2012 election, when polls showed that President Obama would handily defeat Mitt Romney? Republicans refused to believe it and offered all kinds of excuses for why the polls were wrong. There was even a guy named Dean Chambers who created a website akin to Nate Silver’s Fivethirtyeight.com that purported to “unskew” the polling results. Of course, you know what happened: the polls were correct, and the president waltzed into a second term.
Guess what? The right-wing insanity over “skewed” polls has returned for the 2016 election.
In the days since the Democratic Convention, Hillary Clinton has amassed a nationwide lead over Trump that has been slowly but steadily widening. This has led to brand new charges that the polls are inaccurate, or have been deliberately manipulated to show the Democrat ahead. The reemergence of this nonsense appeared to start in late June, with a tweet from The Donald himself:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2016
Shortly after that, Trump supporter and serial liar Alex Jones echoed the claim during a conversation with fellow lunatic Joseph Farah, who runs the unhinged site World Net Daily.
Now, other right-wing media outlets are getting in on the act, claiming that the polls are wrong and Trump actually has a huge lead. On August 7, blogger Joe Hoft, commonly known as “the stupidest man on the internet,” wrote a piece at The Gateway Pundit that claims Trump will win. And not by a little, but by a “landslide.” How does he know? “Social media patterns.”
Hoft claims that because Trump has more followers on various social media platforms, he is actually ahead.
After observing that Trump draws bigger crowds than Hillary, and that he gets more viewers for his Facebook and YouTube live streams Hoft reaches the brilliant [heavy sarcasm] conclusion that “Trump is likely to win in a landslide.” Because, you know, what some yo-yo sees after looking at Facebook and Twitter for 15 minutes is obviously much more reliable and accurate than data gathered through polling methods that have been honed over decades.
Hoft’s post set the right-wing circlejerk in motion. Not long after the original went up on Gateway Pundit, the claim was echoed at Breitbart. “Gateway Pundit: Social Media Patterns Show Trump Is Looking At A Landslide Victory,” the headline proclaims. And the faithful are spreading the word. As I write this, the original post has been shared on Facebook over 1600 times and climbing and tweeted more than 600 times. Breitbart’s story on the post has been shared another 4400+ times.
While it is certainly a possibility that some who plan on voting for Trump are lying low, not wanting their normal friends and family members to find out they support the most racist and hate-filled candidate since George Wallace, it is highly unlikely that those numbers are high enough to eat away the lead Clinton is showing in the polls and turn it into a huge lead for Trump. And Hoft totally ignores the fact that Hillary will get votes from some people who, due to economic or other circumstances may not have access to social media, or may not have internet access at all.
Hoft and the folks at Breitbart are setting up their readers for a potentially huge disappointment. They’re also laying some groundwork in support of Trump’s reckless and dangerous suggestion that if he loses it will be because the election was “rigged” against him.
Karl Rove, who joined in the belief that the 2012 polls were wrong, and who had a famous meltdown live on Fox News when Ohio’s results were announced on election night, isn’t drinking the Kool-Aid this time. He recently appeared with Fox’s Greta van Susteren, who raised the notion that the polls are undercounting Trump’s support. Rove shot down the idea that you can get a better read on how a candidate is doing from the size of his rallies than from polling results, saying,
Well, look, what you are suggesting, and look, I’m not saying it’s not worth considering this, but you’re assuming that, first of all, the polls are not reliable — all of them — and second of all, that a better test of this is the size of the crowds that he gets at his rallies, which are big and enthusiastic.
Dear Joe Hoft and Breitbart: When even “Turdblossom” Karl Rove says your ideas are nuts, it might be a good idea to just STFU.
Featured image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images