Thursday, October 29, 2020

Outside The Echo Chamber

A big reason that politics is so divisive today is due to the fact that most people live in an echo chamber.

Most of what they see and hear simply echoes what they already think or believe.

The proliferation and segmentation of media allows most people to never venture from the small space they inhabit with people of similar mind.

The same is true for the social and work circles that people associate with.

As a result, most people live in an echo chamber world in which they only see and hear facts and opinions that reinforce their own beliefs.

Look no further than this recent survey from Gallup which asked voters their satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S.

All of these people live in the same country. How do you explain the different opinions?

In particular, note the change in the last month.

We see this time and time again.

This infographic from is a particularly good visual depiction of the workings of that echo chamber.


That echo chamber world was a big reason that the media and those on the left could not conceive that Donald Trump could possibly be elected President.

It is also why many on the right still do not understand why Hillary Clinton is not behind bars.

As someone who writes a blog that attempts to deal in actual facts and real data, I find it increasingly difficult to get outside the echo chamber.

It is becoming harder and harder to find anything that is not provided without some slant or spin.

Sadder still, we seem to have now reached the point that what used to be considered legitimate news stories are being purposely censored and ignored because they contradict the prevailing narrative in the echo chamber.

Look no further than how the Big Media and Big Tech companies have totally ignored the Hunter Biden laptop and the testimony of his former partner Tony Bobulinski. 

It remains to be seen how accurate all of this information is and the extent of Joe Biden's involvement in Hunter's business ventures might have been. However, Biden has said he never discussed anything about his son's business interests with him. That looks suspect right now. 

However, how can anyone say that the public does not have a right to know about it and journalistic standards do not require that the story should be more thoroughly investigated? This is even more true since we are on the eve of a very important national election.

Everyone has bias and everyone has an agenda. It is present in all of us whether we want to admit it or not. It is part of the human condition. As I have written about it before, "Bias Is Built Into Your Brain."

I want Donald J. Trump to win the upcoming election. I believe that Joe Biden and the Democrats would be a disaster for the United States of America.

However, I know that others don't share the same views that I do.

I also am asked by many people who I think is going to win this election.

I want to say it will be Donald Trump based on my bias. However, I would rather give an answer that is supported by facts and data that supports that conclusion even if it was Joe Biden. I owe that to those who ask me that question and I owe it to the readers of BeeLine.

I have spent a lot of time analyzing a wealth of data to discern an answer to that question. However, as I have done that, you quickly see that the echo chamber someone is in results in different interpretations of identical data. The same poll or the same early voting data might cause Republicans and Democrats to come to opposite conclusions on what it means.

For example, let's take a look at this national poll from Rasmussen (Oct 25-27) that showed Trump +1 over Biden.

Democrats would call this an outlier poll. Compare this poll to other recent polls at

Nate Silver of the New York Times does not even consider Rasmussen to be a credible pollster even though it was the closest at predicting the final Trump/Clinton popular vote percentages.

It is hard to ignore the overall poll results and attempt to say that they can be that far off. After all, these pollsters do this for a living. I assume they know what they are doing. They know how badly they missed the last time. They have to know they can't afford to miss like that again. Doing so might very well put themselves out of business. Why would anyone pay for something, let alone pay attention to something, that was so far off?

All of that argues that these polls should be taken seriously. They say Biden is going to win.

However, consider those polls predicting a double digit Biden win. There are more than a few.

Are those credible when we look at some past Presidential races that seemed far less competitive than what we see on the ground right now?

I wrote about this several weeks ago in "How Much Can We Trust The Polls".

Barack Obama only beat John McCain by 7 points.

Obama beat Mitt Romney by 4 points.

Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush by 6 points.

Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole by 9 points.

Jimmy Carter only beat Gerald Ford by 2 points and that was after Ford pardoned Richard Nixon.

Franklin D. Roosevelt only beat Thomas Dewey by 7.5 points in 1944 and that was in the middle of World War II in which FDR was on the verge of leading the USA to victory in World War II.

Joe Biden might win but it is hard for me to imagine that he is going to win by more than Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole or Barack Obama beat John McCain. 

In fact, Bob Dole and John McCain are the candidates that remind me most of Joe Biden. Both had been around forever. They were old and seemed to have gotten the party's nomination by default. There was very little enthusiasm for either candidate compared to their opponent. They lost big. Am I supposed to believe the polls today that are suggesting that this time the guy in which no one is enthused is going to win by double digits? I don't buy it.

The bottom line is that it is hard for me to discount the polls showing Biden will win. However, the margins they are showing provides me with just enough doubt to question whether they might be missing something big.

Let's take a closer look at the Rasmussen poll I mentioned above. I was particularly interested in some of the cross-tabs in that poll showing the demographic breakdowns of the support between Trump and Biden.

Many of the numbers are tremendous for Trump if they are accurate. Then again, how can this poll come up with these results when others are so far off these poll results?

Consider the following.

Trump -2 with women. A lot of the other polls are showing Trump -20 or -30 with women. Trump was  -13 with women in 2016.

Trump -1 with ages 18-39. The other polls consistently show Trump down with younger voters. Trump was -19 with these age groups in 2016.

Trump with 30% of Black Vote. Trump got 8% of this vote in 2016.

Trump +2 with Other Minorities (Hispanic, Asian, Other). Trump was -35 with this group in 2016.

If you look at these numbers you would think that Trump should be winning in a landslide but there are also troubling data points in here for Trump.

Trump +7 with Whites. Trump was +20 in 2016.

Trump -10 with ages 65+. Trump was +7 in in 2016.

How do you make sense of it? 

In my echo chamber I can cite the the first set of data and argue that the White and 65+ vote is going to come back to Trump in the end. It is going to be a landslide.

In the Democrat echo chamber they are talking about the gains they are making with those White and 65+ voters and thinking there is no way that Biden is losing those women, younger and minority voters to Trump. It is going to be a Biden landslide if you are in their echo chamber.

There are similar problems in looking at the early voting totals.

Early voting in the last few years has favored Democrats. They have used it to effectively mobilize  their voters to the polls from the inner cities, colleges, Black churches and the like.

The early vote totals thus far are breaking all records. 80 million early votes have already been cast. To put that in context, 136 million votes were cast in the Presidential election in 2016. It would not surprise me to see over 150 million total votes cast in 2020 when all is said and done.

The early voting totals have many Democrats excited as they believe that early votes and a large turnout favor them. This is historically been true.

This tweet gives you some perspective on the early voting in various battleground states. Early voting is particularly strong in Sunbelt states such as Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina.

Here is a chart of the breakdown of early voting by party in various battleground states.


The best data I have found on early voting is in North Carolina which provides more information on the demographics of early voters than most states which includes age, race and party affiliation.

The North Carolina Election Project (@ncvoterguru) has the best analysis I have found on  early voting in North Carolina.

North Carolina has seen around 4 million early ballots already cast. That total includes about 800,000 Black voters.

I have seen some Democrats point to that as being +272,000 in votes compared to the same time in 2016 and conclude this is very bad news for Trump.

However, the early vote total four years ago was at 2.4 million on the same number of days before election day. 

Four years ago Blacks were 22% of the early vote. When Obama ran in 2018 they were 28% of early votes at this stage. Right now they are less than 20%. 

This is a chart from the North Carolina Election Project that shows the percentage of Black voters in early voting over the last three election cycles.

The overall percentage of Democrats in early voting is also down substantially. Although the absolute numbers of Democrats is up in 2020, Republicans and Independents are also voting early in large numbers like we have never seen before. This is pushing the Democrat share down even though the absolute number of voters is up.

Republicans stepped up in early voting in 2016 and have generally maintained the pace in 2020 thus far.

However, Unaffiliated Independent voters have really turned out for early voting in 2020 compared to other years.

The 2020 election results in North Carolina (and elsewhere) will likely be determined in how these votes are cast.

Considering all of these early votes what are we to expect on election day?

Will Democrats have much left in the tank to cast votes on November 3 or has most of what they have been expended in early voting?

Republicans have been known to have large numbers of voters on election day but have they cannibalized that vote this year with so many GOP voters voting early.

I like this final chart from the North Carolina Election Project (below) in which you can see similar voting patterns that seem to appear in every election cycle.

Democrats get off to a fast start which the Republicans usually slowly chipping away until 9 days before the election when Democrats do their "Souls to the Polls" outreach to parishioners at Black churches. This provides a boost to the Democrat numbers The Republicans then make further inroads until early voting is concluded. 2012 was different as Democrats had a late surge with Obama on the ballot that was not replicated with Hillary.

Romney won in 2012 by 2% despite having a Democrat advantage of 20 points in early voting.

Trump won in 2016 by 3.7% despite a Democrat advantage of 5 points in early voting.

Based purely on a comparison of Democrat and Republican early votes, Trump is in better shape than in either of these previous elections. 

However, we still don't know how many of those Republicans might actually defect from Trump and voter for Biden. We also don't know how many Democrats will vote for Trump.

We also have no idea what all of these Independents voters are going to do?

We could also have a surprise late surge of Democrats in early voting (see 2012) or on election day.

Republicans may also have pulled too much of their vote forward.

Again, you can make almost anything out of the early voting you want depending on which echo chamber you are in.

You can point to the Trump rallies, boat and car parades and conclude there is no way that Trump can lose. I have never seen an enthusiasm gap like we are seeing this year between Trump and Biden.

Of course, the same people who look at that Trump rally crowds can look at the massive crowds we had marching for Black Lives Matter and conclude that those numbers are not representative of the nation at large.

However, all those people in both groups have a vote. Whichever echo chamber you are in you should not dismiss that fact.

In my own neighborhood, I would estimate that Biden signs outnumber Trump signs by at least 10:1. Of course, probably no more than 15% of the houses have any sign up at all.

It would be easy to conclude that Biden is going to win big in my precinct. The yard signs were similar last time. There might be a few more Biden signs this time. However, there were NO Trump signs last time.

However, Trump won my precinct by 15 points in 2016. There was a silent majority out there. It was much larger than those who put up signs in their yard.

All of this tells me that you need to be careful of what echo chamber you are in right now.

There are too many variables in play for anyone to say what is going to happen next week.

All I know for certain is that one side or the other is going to be very UPSET and very MAD next week.

They are not going to believe what they see and hear.

They are going to have a hard time accepting the result.

Outside the echo chamber you see and hear things you never expect.

We saw that vividly in 2016.

Take a look at this two minute retrospective of how the news media reacted to Donald Trump's 2016 victory on election night that was produced by The Washington Examiner.

They painted a dark, nightmarish and scary future with Trump as President.

Four years later, how much of what they predicted on that night proved true?

If anyone should be outside an echo chamber it should be the media. We count on them the most to look at all the facts and objectively report on what they find

Unfortunately, there is no one deeper in their echo chambers than the media and the deep state. That now also seems to extend to Big Tech. They all seem trapped together in the same echo chamber.

And that in many ways explains why so many of the rest of us find ourselves in our echo chambers.

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