Most political observers were caught flat-footed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's blowout defeat by upstart David Brat in the Virginia Republican primary. I was one of them. But I will gladly accept criticism for my lapse in punditry prowess in exchange for the freedom the Cantor debacle provides me to make clear a point I have been making for years.
The Washington D.C. political class of arrogant aides, out-of-touch consultants and dim-witted pollsters has been slowly destroying the Republican Party in America for years. This cottage industry of self-important slicksters is finally being stripped bare and left without its blue smoke and mirrors. And inside their small echo chamber, where the slicksters talk only to one another and believe citizens in "the rest of the country" are easily understood -- and easily fooled -- the money and the high-five compliments are endless.
Maybe the embarrassing butt-kicking that Cantor received will trigger a second thought in the minds of those politicians who treat the words of their own advisors, consultants and pollsters as divine dispensation.
This collection of political "experts" and high-and-mighty staffers needs to consider the consequences of their gross underestimation of the mood of their constituents, and of the manner in which they have been trying to reach out to them.
Let's start with the pollster in Cantor's race. I know him, and he's a nice guy. And given that my firm polls for news organizations and others, I know what it is like to miss a race or two. In fact, those of us who survey for news organizations are constantly being ranked, examined and critiqued. There are "experts" all over the place who will find ways to dismiss any innovative technology we use, criticize our methodology or say we "weighted" a survey incorrectly.
In fact, Cantor's pollster, in working for other candidates has, I believe, critiqued my work from time to time. I understand this, and at the same time, I always stand my ground. But in the case of Eric Cantor, this particular pollster produced a poll showing Cantor winning by some 34 points against what was thus considered a no-name "tea party" candidate. That means the poll, conducted in late May, was either off by some 40-plus percentage points versus the actual vote or the whole world turned upside down in Cantor's district in two weeks' time. I'll let readers come to their own conclusion.
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