There is nothing to indicate that quack-doctor-turned-fake-Pennsylvanian Dr. Mehmet Oz has any legit competence to become a U.S. Senator.
Hume was part of a panel made up of one liberal, Juan Williams, “balanced” by two conservatives, plus anchor Shannon Bream. Typical Fox News.
The discussion began with Bream calling the Pennsylvania race “basically a dead heat.”
Then she tossed to Fox political analyst Hume for comments Bream probably knew were guaranteed to give Oz a push for the home team.
Hume acknowledged that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is ahead in the polls but claimed he just doesn’t look like a winner.
HUME: If I had to happen on the Pennsylvania race and things were the way they used to be, where there are not nearly the number of polls we have now, as a political journalist, you kind of assess the landscape, you look at the issues, you look at the candidates and you try to figure out now who looks like a winner.
John Fetterman does not look to me like a winner. However, the polls say otherwise. So, we'll see.
You can probably guess who Hume thinks does look like a winner.
HUME: You know, Oz I think is a candidate, there's been some controversy about him, whether he lives in Pennsylvania and all that. But he is competent, was competent in the debate, he's competent on the stuff. Meanwhile his opponent is, you know, struggling and stumbling and having trouble understanding and needs closed captioning and so on. You wouldn't think it would be that close, but the polls say it is.
On the one hand, “competent” sounds like faint praise. Being called “competent” in a debate and competent “on the stuff” is hardly a ringing endorsement of Oz’s candidacy.
The fact is, “competent” overstates Oz’s qualifications. There was his horribly botched attempt to look like a man-of-the-people when he went shopping for “crudités” at a Pennsylvania grocery store whose name he mangled. There was his panel on drug addiction that was so lame, a previously undecided expert said it persuaded him to vote for Fetterman. There’s Oz's fake farm in Pennsylvania; his animal abuse; his willingness to kill off 2-3% of school children to keep them in school during the COVID pandemic (he called it an “appetizing opportunity”), despite calling abortion “murder;” And, of course, there’s the quackery.
But we know what Hume meant. He meant that Oz managed to follow his handlers well enough to get through a debate without making a fool of himself (like he did shopping for crudités) and possibly eke out a win. That counts for everything on Fox News.
And why should Hume care about anything else? He’s a guy who has all but cheered for people to die in the pandemic and who repeatedly mocked Joe Biden for wearing a face mask. Hume is probably salivating at the thought of rich-guy Oz helping Republicans slash Social Security and Medicare for the rest of us.
You can watch Hume give some campaign love to Oz below, from the November 6, 2022 Fox News Sunday.
The efforts of angry Right Wing propagandists in infiltrating the polling community is not just about a single objective. They have multiple ideas in mind here.
When we were all a little younger, pollsters were groups like Gallup or Quinnipiac or various universities that would just run scientific surveys of voters, usually by calling them on their landlines and asking them a few questions. The pollsters were non-partisan and just wanted to find out what citizen awareness was of various issues and at the proper times, how the citizens were thinking of voting. The Right Wing community clearly got the message that the polls would help build a narrative of what the country was thinking as a community at any given time. So Right Wingers began creating their own partisan polling services to get results that would line up with what they wanted to hear.
There are now a pile of openly partisan Right Wing services like Trafalgar, Rasmussen, Remington, Insider Advantage and more, which make a point of putting their thumb or more on the scale to tip their results to what Right Wingers would prefer to hear. In the case of Rasmussen, they used to play this game up to the last week before an election and then switch up to razor sharp polling in the final few days, and use those numbers to claim to be “the most accurate pollster out there” on Fox. In the case of Trafalgar, the propagandist running that outfit has publicly stated that he takes his results and adds points to the Republican candidate to make up for what he says are the Right Wing citizens who don’t answer his questions. He assumes that anyone not responding or sounding neutral must be Republican. So his results always look wildly out of sync with everyone. In 2020, Trafalgar had a “D” rating and was properly considered unreliable. In 2022, Trafalgar now has an “A-” rating. It’s interesting how they pulled that off.
Propagandists like Rasmussen and Trafalgar are running both a short term game and a long term game.
In the short-term, their intention is to tilt the results of the poll aggregators like Real Clear Politics and 538, so that an average of polls will wind up looking like the Right Wing candidate is always going to win and the Democratic candidate is always going to lose. This allows the propagandist to create a narrative that “The Right Wing is winning!” throughout any election campaign. This in turn leads to mainstream news outlets thinking there must be something to all these polls showing Right Wingers ahead, and they begin running stories saying “Well, it certainly looks like a lot of people are planning to vote Right Wing now…” And this leads to a general consensus that the Right Wing is ahead and the Democratic voters have no chance. Which of course is intended to depress Democratic voter turnout while getting Right Wingers excited about showing up to vote for a winner. Now, this is short-term and really only plays up to the time of the Election. I’ll note that propagandists like Robert Cahaly at Trafalgar are not interested in polling what people actually think – their intention is Advocacy. They’re hoping to influence how people vote – by getting their target audience to show up while depressing their opponents into staying home.
In the medium term, this flooding the zone with partisan push-poll numbers serves a more sinister purpose, as Ellen noted. If the propagandist succeeds in their advocacy and their voters do drown out the rest of the populace, then the pollster can bring a pretense of integrity – and this is how Trafalgar now has an inexplicable “A-” at 538. Trafalgar got more GOP voters to show up in various races in 2020, so their tilted polling results resembled the result that Trafalgar generated. We’ll see if Trafalgar succeeds again, or if their results are belied by the facts we’re already seeing in early voting across the country for 2022. In the event that the propagandists succeed, then we’ll hear the same gloating we heard in 2016, and the propagandists will use this situation as another badge of accuracy and aggregators like 538 will shrug and give them a higher rating. On the other hand, if Democratic voters re-elect Raphael Warnock in Georgia and elect John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and otherwise do not do what Trafalgar keeps predicting, then the Right Wing will use the false narrative we’ve heard in the short-term as a way of spreading a story about “voter fraud” and “illegitimacy” just as they did in 2020. In other words, if the propaganda advocacy fails, the fall-back position of the Right Wing is to then challenge the results as somehow wrong. Which is why we’ve seen angry Right Wingers spending the last 2 years insisting that President Biden did not win when he in fact did.
In the longer term, Right Wingers have a more insidious notion in mind with the polling games. Win or lose, their constant flooding the zone with partisan push-polls winds up resulting in a scenario where the actual pollsters have one result (as we see from Marist and Quinnipiac) and the Right Wing propagandists have a diametrically opposed result. So general citizens take a position that “Well, everybody is biased, so you can’t trust ANY of the polls”. Because the propagandists have effectively poured sewage into the public aquifer. And at the same time that citizens are feeling they can’t trust any pollster, they also lose confidence in the ability of our governmental system to conduct free and fair elections. Because they keep being told that something is wrong with the elections if the Right Winger loses. Repeat this cycle enough times and most citizens throw up their hands and say they’d rather not get involved, as happened in 2016. Which allows Right Wingers to run the table whenever they like.
The only way to counter this is for people to show up and vote and not fall for the nonsense that propagandists like Cahaly and Kent and Rasmussen inflict. Do that enough times, and the propagandists will be repeatedly exposed for what they are, and they’ll eventually either retreat or be forced to live with the public not taking them seriously for a moment. We just need to see if enough Democratic voters have gone to the ballot box this year. It’s crucial that they do.
I’ll add that in the event of extremists like Kari Lake winning in Arizona, we would see a scenario in 2024 where a Democratic presidential candidate wins the state of Arizona, but Lake throws out those votes and install her own “alternate electors” anyway. The second we see that happen, there will be extraordinarily serious questions about whether a democratic republic can survive that kind of abuse. Personally, I’d rather avoid that situation entirely. But it does seem that angry Right Wingers and their pundits want that to happen.
I would add one thing, which is that the right-wing polls and drumbeat of “Dems are losing” stories are not just to keep people home but to lay the groundwork for denying the results if the Dems win.
And yes, the GOP does intend to slash Social Security and Medicare, as well as pass a nationwide ban on reproductive choice. Of course, they wouldn’t be able to get past a Presidential veto for a couple of years, so there’s that.
The real question now is whether or not the current polling has any accuracy. Polls like Marist, NYT and Quinnipiac are established ones that have at least some level of reliability. But we only have a few polls from them. In between, we have a stack of polls from Right Wing propagandists like Trafalgar, Remington, Insider Advantage, Rasmussen, etc etc etc. And at the same time, we are aware that early voting numbers have hit record levels, particularly in Georgia where voter suppression attempts are in full swing. (Voters are reporting that angry Right Wingers are challenging urban voters in Atlanta so that the voters show up at the polling place and are told their status has been challenged and they can’t vote today.) There are also suppression efforts in Pennsylvania, where the GOP is trying to block a number of mail-in ballots from being counted. And there are those armed goons in Arizona trying to intimidate voters from using drop boxes.
So we will have to see whether or not enough people show up to vote by Tuesday, and whether or not the GOP efforts to depress the turnout have succeeded. The constant drumbeat of stories about how the Dems are about to lose big is intended to get voters to throw up their hands and stay home. One truly hopes that those voters will show up and prove the pundits wrong. Particularly if the pundits’ predictions have been based on angry Right Wing propagandists trying to create an outcome where their guy wins.