Phony Trump and His Phony Debate Polls

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Anybody with half a brain knows that Donald Trump was trounced by Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate two days ago. Outside of his unhinged, confused, rambling, impolite world-class-jerk performance and self-defeating answers, his own reactions afterwards (not to mention those of Republican leaders in general) tell the story.

Trump said that the moderator was unfair, while at the same moment his own campaign manager was proclaiming that the moderator did a great job.

Trump blamed his microphone (perhaps a conspiracy, he suggested).

His mic was fine — it picked up every one of his bizarre sniffles with perfect clarity.

Here’s a handy rule of thumb: Debate winners never complain afterwards about conditions at a debate — hasn’t happened in the history of debating reaching back at least to ancient Greece.

His own people (at least off the record) now are saying that they really want him to be prepared for the next debate (implicitly admitting what was obvious, that he was woefully unprepared for the first one), but express concerns about whether he has the patience, attention span, and willingness to do so. They’re not just whistling Dixie.

Near the end of the debate, Trump said that he has the best temperament (to laughter from the audience). Trump claiming that he has the best temperament in this context is like a drowning man screaming “I have the best swimming!”

We already know that Trump’s knowledge of and interest in actual science and technology is somewhere pretty much south of downtown nil, but he doesn’t mind touting fake statistics if they seem to be in his favor.

That’s why we’ve been treated now to his rants — and various postings from his moronic, thuggish minions — claiming that after-debate polls say he won, he won big, he won huge over Hillary.

He won nothing that means anything. And that’s even if we ignore the supposed CBS poll he claimed that he won, that CBS has proclaimed never even existed!

Because not a single scientific, statistically valid poll of which I’m aware showed Trump as the winner. Every one showed Hillary the winner to varying degrees — often by a dramatically large win.

Scientifically valid polls are carefully designed to reach statistically valid samples of voters from whom it’s possible to derive meaningful data that can be used to accurately extrapolate to the population at large. This is getting more difficult in an age of call blocking and cellphones, but when we look at the averages of multiple modern scientific polls over time the results are typically quite accurate.

The kinds of polls that Trump is touting are the fake polls that appear on websites around the Net as clickbait on various stories. They have pretty much the same scientific validity as extracting polling data from a Ouija board — likely far less. They drive real pollsters crazy, since they confuse people about how valid, scientific polls actually work.

These fake polls’ participants are “self-selected” — that is, only people who happen to be on those pages and then choose to participate are counted in the polls. If a story is more likely to attract Trump supporters, those are who you’ll find mostly voting in any polls on that page.

Such fake polls are easily manipulated. Many make no serious effort (or sometimes any effort at all) to prevent repeat voting. They are obvious targets for mass social media action — “Hey fellow Nazis, let’s all get over to that page and vote for our man Donald!”

And they’re also trivial targets for automated, robotic voting as another simple means to skew the counts.

Even the execs over at right-wing FOX News realize this. In the wake of the debate and several of their on-air personalities announcing those fake poll results as if they were scientific, statistically valid polls, a memo was sent around internally reminding everyone there that those polls do not meet FOX New’s editorial standards (try to restrain your chuckling now, please!) and that such polls are “just for fun” — with no validity of any kind beyond that. Notably, even in the wake of this admonition, various FOX News personalities apparently have ignored the memo and are continuing to join Trump in promoting these fantasy polls and their non-data. Shameful all around.

All that said, it does occur to me though that Trump might have one legit gripe about the debate microphone. After all, it was working perfectly. That was indeed a problem for him.

Because if the 84 million or so people who were watching the debate hadn’t been able to actually hear his bizarre performance, he probably would have come out looking better even in the scientific polls.

My advice: Skip the mic check next time, Donald.

You can thank me later.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!