Tuesday, October 23, 2018

For Crying Out Loud, Stop Watching The Polls

Hey you, you over there looking at 538.com. Yeah you. Are you a campaign professional or political journalist? No? Then turn that shit off!

I used to be like you, you know. Back in 2016 I was watching the polling averages every single day. I pored over the results and got overpowered by anxiety whenever Trump gained, and felt a euphoric relief when Clinton increased her lead. The roller coaster finally crashed on election day. Did any of my poll watching make a damn bit of difference? Nope.

In fact, all that time I spent comparing polling methodologies could have been spent a lot more productively. I could have volunteered in local races or contributed money. I could have driven people to the polls on election day. Instead, I did nothing but descend into an endless spiral of paralyzing anxiety.

Let that be a lesson to us all.

This time around there's a desperate need for labor on the front lines of the election war. This is why I have taken a no polls pledge. I have pledged to not look at a single poll until election day. Every time I feel the need to look at the polls I am going to try to do something more productive.

I find the poll-watching impulse to be symptomatic of certain pathologies among liberals and progressives. We tend to think of ourselves as being on "the right side of history," which breeds a certain level of complacency. If it's all down to the tides of history, that excludes us from actually having to do something. Once this fatalism takes hold, a lot of people sit back and try to read the portents of the polls as if they are Roman priests examining lamb entrails.

The time for fatalism is over. In case you haven't noticed, there's a war on. Republicans are suppressing votes, telling outrageous lies, and ginning up white racial fears and resentments. The only possible way we have a chance is to aggressively confront these forces and fight them until they submit. Watching polls is a way to avoid fighting, and in this was I do not look kindly upon draft dodgers.

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