Lots and lots and lots of email along these lines. It’s all anecdotal, but they are anecdotes from, roughly, the demographic we’re talking about. The one theme it seems to underscore is that this election really is about Bush:
After spending the holiday weekend well outside the Beltway with my not exactly country, but close to it family, I can tell you a few things about what is going on in supposedly blue state PA. First of all, almost everyone I talked to outside the family is planning to vote for Bush (within the family it’s a given.) This includes a neighbor who is an elected Democrat in the local government, so it is not a totally slanted sample of opinion. Second, almost everyone echoes the theme of your previous e-mails. The “declining support” for Bush is just a reaction to what they see as him giving in too much to the diplomats and Democrats. It does NOT translate in any way into support for Kerry. Most people I talked to thought that the media and the Democrats were creating a self fulfilling prophecy in Iraq by eroding the public support and portraying it as an unmitigated disaster. The hostility toward the media was surprisingly intense. More than one friend stated that they pretty much ignore media reports on Iraq now.
As for polling and the margin of error, I do know something about statistics, and I’ve always found those error bars interesting. What they represent is called sampling error, or the random errors associated with any statistical sampling problem. Polls never deal with what in any statistical analysis is the real problem, systematic errors. Systematic errors are the result of sampling bias, or to put it simply, assuming that your skewed sample is representative of the population as a whole.
I realize my sample size is even smaller and more error prone than the Greenberg sample, but I just finished camping with 8 of these so called ‘country folk. Around the fire one night, talk eventually turned to politics. I cringed because these 8 are long time friends of mine, and their political views frequently oppose mine. On the topic of George W. Bush, however, 7 support him and plan to vote for him, one opposed him and did not plan to vote this fall. Also, there was consensus that he was being treated unfairly by the media. There was also consensus that we have not been forceful enough in Iraq. All were fairly unfazed by Abu Ghraib.
Looking forward to the return of the G-File. Keep up the good work.