Some Soothing Figures

Among the Substack newsletters I regularly receive are those from Heather Cox Richardson–whom I often quote– and Robert Hubbell. One of Hubbell’s recent missives contained some very welcome information and analysis.

Hubbell began with his frequent admonition that Democrats should be confident, but definitely not complacent–that we will need to work hard to turn out every anti-MAGA voter in November. But that said, he made two very important–and comforting–points:

Trump is running his campaign as an incumbent president. He has accomplished a hostile takeover of the Republican Party apparatus. He has threatened to banish any Republican who supports or donates to his opponents. Under those circumstances, anything less than a Soviet-style win of 100% is a failure.

So, against that backdrop, Trump’s loss of 40% of the vote in the South Carolina primary is devastating. It is particularly bad because he lost 40% in a state that is more favorable to him than almost any state in the union—because of its strong presence of white, older, evangelical voters (60% of voters are white evangelical or born-again Christians). Losing 40% of the vote under those circumstances should send shockwaves through the Republican establishment.

As Hubbell quoted Axios:

If America were dominated by old, white, election-denying Christians who didn’t go to college, former President Trump would win the general election in as big of a landslide as his sweep of the first four GOP contests.

It’s not. That’s why some top Republicans are worried about the general election in November, despite Trump’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Or, as Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo put it, Face It: This is a Weak Showing for Trump in South Carolina.

It is not merely that Trump lost 40% of the vote. It is also that 50% of those voters said they would not vote for Trump if he became the nominee—which translates into 25% of Republicans who will not vote for Trump!

One quibble: it translates into 25% of the Republicans who went to the polls in the primary who will not vote for Trump in the General. Some of those voters will stay home in November, but that percentage probably is also predictive of the percentage who didn’t vote in the primary but who will vote in the General.

Hubbell’s most reassuring–and eye-opening– analysis, however, was his discussion of contemporary polling, and its demonstrable bias.

Polls do not “predict” outcomes of races; rather, they predict ranges of outcomes at different levels of confidence. But on average and over time, polls should cluster around the actual outcomes. That is not happening with polling regarding Trump.

Instead, the polling averages have consistently overstated Trump’s support—something the media and pollsters have ignored or excused. At some point, they should simply admit that their polling models are broken and overstate support for Trump.

Adam Carlson posted the following on Twitter, comparing Trump’s average margin of victory predicted by versus the actual margin of victory by which Trump won the first three GOP primaries:

In Iowa:

  • Final Average: Trump +37
  • Final Result: Trump +30

In New Hampshire:

  • Final Average: Trump +18
  • Final Result: Trump +11

In South Carolina:

  • Final Average: Trump +28
  • Final Result: Trump +20

Notice a pattern? The average of’s polls overstated Trump’s support by at least 7 percentage points in three primaries.

I will add that is probably the most credible of all the polling sites.

Since Hubbell’s post, Michigan held its primary, and the trend held. Trump won by roughly 42 points; the final 538 polling average had him winning by 57 points, an underperformance of some 15 points.

Hubbell is undoubtedly correct when he says that when polls show a consistent bias, there is likely to be a flaw in the methodology that warrants skepticism. Here, that flaw consistently overstates Trump’s support. As he concludes,

My point is that we should ignore the polls. We should not delude ourselves, but neither should we trust polls that consistently overstate Trump’s support. Just keep working hard and ignore the uncritical, breathless reporting about polls that have shown consistent bias in favor of Trump.

I share these little rays of sunshine to remind you–and remind myself–that the future will be what we make it. Nothing is certain–certainly not the polls.

As unsettling as it is, we live in a time where there simply are no comforting political verities, no outcomes we can confidently predict. Polls are inaccurate, artificial intelligence is creating misleading messages, media fragmentation and online propaganda encourage confirmation bias…The list goes on.

We need to “power through” this very confusing environment, separating wheat from chaff to the extent possible. We also need to reassure ourselves that, since most Americans are sane, we need to GET OUT THE VOTE.


  1. Trump’s defense attorneys are adept at Legal Boondoggling which they are using successfully at “running out the clock” on his indictments to assure he is on the Republican ballot in November. Clause 3 of the 14th Amendment is clear in preventing Presidential Immunity from protecting Trump, and any other former, sitting or future president, from running for any political office. Cowardly sitting Republicans who remain mute and idle are subject to impeachment for not carrying out the responsibilities of their jobs; thus, they remain mute and idle in fear of MAGA and Freedom Caucus threats. Post all of the polls you want but, as a friend told me years ago, you can find statistics to prove any issue if you know where to look. When it gets down to where the cheese binds on November 5th, all Republicans will vote for the Republican nominee, with or without Trump, but his personal campaign foundation will be their base and we will still lose.

    We need “Some Soothing Figures” from those mute and idle sitting Republicans in the House to “separate wheat from chaff” to be soothed. The pitiful bid from Indiana to keep Trump from the ballot here, failed miserably…as expected. SCOTUS should not be hearing the Colorado case if Republicans actually want states to run themselves and SCOTUS taking on Trump’s claim of Presidential Immunity goes against the U.S. Constitution which they have sworn to uphold and protect for the rest of their lives.

    I am NOT soothed! But; I continue maintaining my Democratic memberships and donating what I can to Democratic candidates locally and in other states.

  2. Too bad we can’t vote out the corruption on the Supreme Court. They seem to want to abet Trump in any way they can. Gotta serve the master who put them there, after all. In a normal, non-corrupt environment, Trump is already behind bars… the perfect place for such a monster.

    Then we also wouldn’t have to endure that disgusting, fawning photo of Abbott with Trump at Eagle Pass, TX. As a former Texas resident, it made my guts churn. Two monsters loving each other.

  3. Yes, that is encouraging. What is not encouraging to me is the Indiana Dems. What are they doing to “get out the vote”, or energize the Dems in Indiana?
    If there are a number of R’s here who are disillusioned about MAGA, but could not hold their nose and vote Blue, it would seem that there is an opportunity for that mythical Blue Wave, but I am not aware of any work being done in Indiana, by either the national or state-wide Dems to reach those voters who are registered as D’s. I am donating money to the Indiana Dems and the the Biden campaign, but I want to do more.
    Are there any grass roots organizations outside of Marion County doing that work? If so, I would like to help.

  4. This is the first election cycle where the press (legacy media) has lost the people. Even the NY Times is coming under fire for lying about the Hamas rape story and is even questioning their brown employees to see who leaked the truth to The Intercept. Not good!

    The legacy media’s coverage of the genocide in Gaza has also been abhorrent. However, it’s the same across the ocean in the UK.

    The US is in a crisis because the political establishment is corrupt to the core. Neither choice for POTUS is palatable. One supports a genocide and the military-industrial complex and the other is an insane criminal who wants to use the office to pardon himself and take vengeance on his enemies. The other one doesn’t seem to be phased by WWIII with a nuclear power.

    Separating “wheat from chaff” will be very difficult for astute individuals. They’ll have to hunt for independent journalists who aren’t bound by advertisers and editorial boards. Most Americans prefer sitting in their recliner watching TV news or posting memes on social media. These are not informed voters, making the US a second-class country as each year goes by.

    Biden’s recent announcement to avoid college campuses because of the protestors against genocide is a huge mistake. If Trump makes peace his foreign policy, he’ll remove many votes from Biden. Americans have caught on about forever wars and who benefits. The media can no longer hide the fact they are taking the route of manufacturing consent for war to benefit the few.

    The US/UK are quickly becoming pariah states. A vote for the Green Party or RFK, Jr. sure is tempting.

  5. Justice delayed: Jen Psaki “Make no mistake — the Supreme Court just tipped the scales in favor of former
    President Donald Trump.

    By deciding to hear his outlandish claim of presidential immunity, the justices handed Trump the thing he covets most on a silver (or in his case, probably gold) platter: time.”

    Vern; 6:57 a.m.: “Too bad we can’t vote out the corruption on the Supreme Court.” Is impeachment of SCOTUS members prohibited? Article 1, section 5 of the Constitution, “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” This is why flipping the House is vital this year; the fact that McConnell will step down in November opens a possibility of undoing his and Trump’s MAGA House and SCOTUS but maintaining and increasing the Senate majority is also vital. We are at a crossroads and getting out the vote is our only solution.

    James Todd, 7:16 a.m.; “What is not encouraging to me is the Indiana Dems.” I strongly second that!

    Todd Smekens, 7:41 a.m.; “A vote for the Green Party or RFK, Jr. sure is tempting.”
    That is the worst possible solution to saving this country but not too surprising from you.

  6. Todd S., as JoAnn said! For Todd, and anyone else who thi/nks it is “turtles all the way down!,” (from “Prequel:” 3 million pieces of German propaganda had been sent to Americans, with the HELP of 12, or more sitting congressmen, before WWII, in the form of pamphlets, and letters, by way of congressional franking, costing the Germans nought.
    Today, we have social media, Brietbart and its cousins flooding the country with all sorts of right-wing propaganda, some coming directly from (wait for it) sitting congress people, working to undermine Democracy here!
    Yes Sheila, your news is comforting, but people have to get out the vote.

  7. I have been paying attention to the amount of people that are supporting Trump and supporting Biden around me and found it is about equal for both sides. However, a lot of the support I’m hearing about for Biden is coming from people who were Republicans but are disenchanted with where their party has gone. They aren’t necessarily excited about voting for Biden but they don’t see any other choice. Most of the support I hear of for Trump is coming from people concerned about the Border, are homophobic, are concerned about China, and don’t think we should necessarily send aid to Ukraine.

  8. I have not checked, but I believe that in either or both SC and MI, folks could change their registration before the primary so they could reduce Trump’s win and there were strongly organized efforts to do just that. Additionally, no doubt there were many Trump supporters who didn’t bother to vote as they knew he would win. So, things ain’t as positive as we might like…

  9. I maintain that Donald Trump has two primary sources of support in the voting booth. The Murdochs and Vlad the Bad. Both are experts in influencing believers with lies. Both have almost unlimited resources.

    The two have different motivations, which they are passionate about: Putin, power, Murdoch, wealth, both at any cost to any others in the world.

    The triumvirate of P, M & T has perfected the delivery of the Big Lies that powered Hitler to his extremes. This country is ripe internally for takeover but also has the world’s strongest military, so we are only vulnerable from within through politics.

    It’s our turn to defend the liberal democratic republic we have been so lucky to have been given. We are the lucky defenders. We can do it by voting. Comparing that to the hand Ukrainians and Gazans have been dealt shows the extent of our good fortune.

  10. James, Maybe donate directly to candidates you prefer rather than larger organizations who may not always spend your money as you would wish. The three IN statewide candidates are good options for direct donations as are candidates in other states. GOTV groups are a bit different and take a bit of research but are also important for a different purpose. Robert Hubbell and Jessica Craven always have good recommendations for these other groups.

  11. Trump had his best shot at being reelected in 2020. He lost. He has been losing rather than gaining support ever since. There are those among his base who will never believe anything bad about him, no matter what he says or does. But the more outrageous he becomes, the more ex-supporters there are. What I’m not hearing, what I haven’t heard in the last four years, is in what significant segment of the voting public he is gaining support at all, much less enough to offset his losses. Failing that, he will lose again.

  12. Until recent times I’ve always held that things are never as good or as bad as they seem. Now I’m pretty sure that things are likely going to be much worse than they seem, in the event tfg or any of his minions is elected. Remember that what’s left of the GOP has drunk the Kool-Aid.

  13. I know it sounds gruesome but I bet the margin of error in those states means that those covid deaths might mean he continues to lose elections. If tRump followers made the deadly mistake to ignore the vaccine, then they probably got covid and died since 2021. I know of a few people that had escaped covid since 2020 but they caught that virus recently when they let their guard down (after getting the boosters). Those dead voters could be the margin of win that 45 enjoyed in 2020 that he won’t get this year. Let’s hope, fingers crossed.

  14. As I have written before, Trump commands a “noisy minority,” I have also noted that in some if not most elections it is the people who stay home who elect the leadership we thought voters voted into office. If there is any validity to such surmise, our task is clear. Organization! Organization! Organization! Obama proved that Indiana is a purple state with Organization! Hoosiers who were accustomed to staying home came to the polls. Gerrymandering despair? The way to beat the gerrymander is to vacate the couch, after which a friendlier governor and legislature can deal with such electoral cancer on small d majority rule.

    So our urgent task? Talk to our friends and neighbors both Democratic and Republican about turnout and call a spade a spade in the process, like government overthrow, rape, theft, immunity to murder, election-denying, NATO hatred, Putin-loving, dictatorship, etc., asking if that’s the leadership we want to entrust with policy making in our future.

    So one may lose a friend or neighbor with such efforts to save our democracy? It’s worth the risk and a small price to pay to avoid a lawless dictatorship.

  15. Aging Girl, your comment, gruesome, or not, reminds me of an old book, Nikolay Gogol’s “Dead Souls.” In Tsarist Russia landowners had to pay taxes of serfs who had died since the last census, until the next census came along. The primary character finds a way to make hay out of this situation. The book is considered one of the best satires ever written.

  16. It’s official. The Democratic Party has become a death cult. It’s interesting the last comment comes from a retired judge. This thread must be linked and exposed. I will vote against the Democrats at all levels and will assume Destiny Wells ,et al, fele same way. No more continuing to vote locally for my former party. You’re probably coming for me soon,as well
    It appears the Democratic Party is the party of genocide ; Abroad and now domestically.

    I am now a third party independent. I

  17. The underperformance of tfg probably has 2 large components:
    1. Those who didn’t think that they needed to vote because he was going to win by a landslide anyway, and
    2. Those who have been turned off by the outrageous things that tfg keeps saying.

    The latter are our hope and targets for turning the election(s) in the fall. Every time tfg says something stupid we need to jump on it as hard, or harder, than the Rs jump on Bidens stuttering mistakes.

    And we have to hold the media’s hands to the fire for not doing the same!

  18. Not knowing what the majority of Americans are thinking and how they’ll vote/not vote is unsettling. The reports are all over the place, and all kinds of media is frenzied and will only get more intense the closer presidential election gets. We know how exaggerated the chaff is, but it seems a lot of people believe it. That just baffles me. It is comforting that we’re not in this situation alone, and there are others who also want to conserve our inherent freedoms and push away the authoritarian fascist movement.

  19. It seems the perceived threat of fascism from Trump is solidifying a much quicker path toward fascism.

    It’s apparent just exactly what the two choices represent;

    1- Trump style fascism


    2- Biden style fascism

  20. Ian, US currently has Biden as Potus. If God forbid trump once again became Potus, your disagreement would not be tolerated if you criticized him.
    You are aware that Putin discouraged by the strength and opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine planned to dilute aid to Ukraine by funding and directing Hamas to stir up war in middle east. Now US is dealing with two wars that threaten Democracy and may cause a need to send in US troops. Oh and Putin is trying to help trump get re-elected. You need to connect the dots.
    I don’t think you understand what fascism is and I hope you never have to experience it personally.

  21. Ignoring international law and allowing Israel to commit genocide is not the role of the US. The Biden administration is allowing it. Condoning it. Now we see what this ad.inistration rally is about. There’s going to be American troops on the ground.

    Moreover,why are we sending billions via the MIC to Banderites in Ukraine? It’s obvious Victoria (Jabba The Hut) is ruining the show.

    We support genocide, send arms to Ukinazis, giving billions the MIC and jail journalists.

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