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Many moons ago, in my street rat days as a Chicago political junkie, I once went to a Democratic gathering. It was actually a cross between a seminar and a convention. My reason for going was to meet my idol, iconic Chicago political reporter, Mike Royko. Meet him I did, and it was everything I had hoped for.
But I actually ended up spending a significantly greater amount of time with a man who did more to shape the way I look at politics, and especially polls, than anyone in my life. His name was Jacob Perlman, a successful Chicago Democratic strategist, and long time pollster, a subject that has always fascinated me. He was kind enough to sit down at a table with me, and kill off a couple of bottles of Old Style, while he initiated the rookie. And what he said is one of the reasons I’m so bullish on Joe Biden.
Kid, he told me, there are actually two numbers in every poll, and the one you can’t see can be as important as the one you do. The poll number you see is the support for your candidate, but there are actually two kinds of support, hard and soft. And the soft number rises or falls exponentially from the hard number.
Let’s say that your candidate has 40% support. Basically you can figure that about 3/4 of that is hard support, people are mostly locked in on him. The other 25% is soft support, maybe they just saw a yard sign, or a billboard, and his was the first name that came to mind when the question was asked. Those are people who could change their minds tomorrow.
Now, let’s say your candidates support rises to 45%. That should bring his soft support to 35%, right? It doesn’t, it’s actually at 38-39.5%. Don’t ask me why. I think it’s because as a candidates support number climbs, more people wanna ride the winning horse, so they lock in. All I know is that it is what it is.
The Holy Grail is, of course 50%. If you can hit that, then your hard support is 48-49%, and you’re gonna be in it to the finish line. If you can hit 53%, then your hard support is at or above 50%, and unless you’re a Republican in Chicago, there’s no way you can lose! After which he laughed in that way that only Democratic political insiders in Chicago can laugh, malicious glee brought on by a good, old fashioned fix.
Jesus, that conversation must have been close to 40 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. Partly because as I’ve gone on in my life, I’ve regularly applied Perlman’s Principle as I call it to so many races I’ve watched, and never found it to be off by more than 1%. I don’t know why any more than he did, but as he so aptly put it, it is what it is.
This is one of the reasons I’m so high on Biden’s chances, and why I basically said that it’s over as long as we don’t get complacent. The latest Monmouth poll has Biden 53-41% nationally. If you use the Perelman Principle, Biden is actually somewhere between 59-51.5% hard support nationally. But don’t forget, the principle works both ways. If Trump is at 41%, then his hard support is somewhere between 33.5-35%, pretty much where I long ago pegged his true base of support. Which makes Biden’s durable lead at more like 14-15%.
Look what’s happening out there as we speak. Trump went to Tulsa, and offered himself up as a super spreader of the coronavirus to a measly crowd of about 6200 people. Then he went on to Phoenix, where he strove to infect 3500 young moron’s, half of whom probably aren’t even old enough to vote. And now he’s going to South Dakota, to do his best to see that they don’t recover from their coronavirus meat packing plant spike.
And Joe Biden? He’s holding online conference calls, town halls, and symposiums from the safety of his basement. He’s issuing beautifully produced issue statements from in front of a presidential looking backdrop in his basement. And he’s holding a virtual fundraiser with Obama that raised almost $8 million.
Don’t get me wrong. I. Want. More. Joe. Biden. And he slowly seems to be becoming more aggressive in his responses to Trump. Every time Trump says or does something stupid, Biden is finding a county commission meeting, or a racial divide symposium to appear at, wearing his mask until he speaks, and then replacing it. This is all we need. The more insane Trump looks, the more we need to see Joe Biden out there, looking calm, controlled, compassionate, and Presidential. The results will write themselves.
Look, you can believe or disbelieve The Perelman Principle, it’s no skin off of my nose either way. Personally, I’ve never seen it explode. But just to make my point, let’s just throw the damn thing out for a minute, forget I ever mentioned it. The simple fact of the matter remains that, when you reach 122 days before election, and the media is seriously talking about states like Texas, Georgia, Ohio, and North Carolina becoming battleground states, then Trump has already lost the war. Because that means he gave back Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and lost Iowa, Arizona and Florida. Stay focused. Do the work. And let’s put an end to this once and for all.
To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen
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