According to a report from the New York Times, Republicans have only themselves to blame for the midterm election disaster that saw them take over the House by a far slimmer margin than they expected and actually lost a seat in a Senate that seemed ripe for a similar takeover.
At issue, the report notes was an over-reliance on sketchy Republican-leaning polls that fed into a popular narrative among conservatives that a "red wave" was coming which, in turn, led candidates to make critical mistakes in the waning days before voters headed to the polls.
While much attention has been paid to the influence of Donald Trump in the selection of GOP candidates, a substantial number of whom went down to defeat, Republicans bought into their own invincibility and failed to listen to warnings from naysayers who pointed out that few races were slamdunks.
As the Times reports, "Surveys showing strength for Republicans, often from the same partisan pollsters, set Democratic klaxons blaring in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Colorado. Coupled with the political factors already favoring Republicans — including inflation and President Biden’s unpopularity — the skewed polls helped feed what quickly became an inescapable political narrative: A Republican wave election was about to hit the country with hurricane force."
ALSO IN THE NEWS: 'Final nail in his coffin': Trump's taxes contain 'powerful evidence of criminal tax evasion'
Pointing out, "The skewed red-wave surveys polluted polling averages, which are relied upon by campaigns, donors, voters and the news media. It fed the home-team boosterism of an expanding array of right-wing media outlets," the NYT report added, "The virtual 'bazaar of polls,' as a top Republican strategist called it, was largely kept humming by right-leaning pollsters using opaque methodology, in some cases relying on financial support from hyperpartisan groups and benefiting from vociferous cheerleading by Mr. Trump."
According to Steven J. Law, the chief executive of the Republicans’ Senate Leadership Fund, he saw the warning signs early.
“These frothy polls had a substantial, distorting impact on how people spent money — on campaign strategy, and on people’s expectations going into the election,” he explained.
Law added that his own internal polling showed candidates were in tighter races than were believed but candidates failed to adjust their messages -- which left him in distress.
“All of these effervescent polls and giddiness about a big red wave led some Republican candidates to believe all they had to do was play to late-night cable and the hard-core base, instead of reaching out to independent voters who decided the election,” he lamented.
Another contributing factor, the Times is reporting, was rightwing outlets cheering on a potential red wave which helped boost ratings while at the same time, in the case of Fox News, "The network’s own polling unit, respected throughout the news industry for its nonpartisanship and transparency, was not detecting a Republican wave."
That didn't stop popular host Sean Hannity from promoting polls from Trafalgar and InsiderAdvantage -- which ended up being wildly wrong -- with the Times reporting both "had long been viewed with suspicion in the polling industry for their opaque surveying methods."
According to Jason Damata, the founder and chief executive of Fabric Media, Fox News hyped the questionable pollsters for a reason.
“The culture of programming does not take kindly to narratives of ‘we’re behind’ or ‘we’re losing,’” Damata explained. “Fox has a profound understanding of what’s going to keep audiences coming back and being engaged.”
You can read more here.