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A professor guest of Rachel Maddow’s tonight was reviewing the latest polls on preference for potential Republican candidates. She posited that part of the reason that little known Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, tied for second place was that his name might be confused or transmoglorified into McCAIN by some respondents. How does a black businessman get confused with a career white politician? The interviewee supposed that such a name confusion, if that is possible, might account for a 2% swing in Cain’s favor in the poll, putting him into double digits.

If there is a grain of potential truth to that theorem, I propose that all polling be herewith banned. How ridiculous is that kind of use or interpretation of polling results?

Of course, as long as no one has ever voted for a judge because they liked the sound or ethnicity of his or her name, one can be deservedly outraged. But the truth is, who the hell gets polled? I’ve been retired and near the phone for more than 11 years, and I don’t think I’ve yet been the receiver of a political poll. Whomever they are asking, they must be the same people they poll over and over, and do these people take it seriously? If they think Mr. Cain is the second best the Republicans can do for President of the U.S. those people being polled must be in receipt of information I don’t have access to.

I’m not saying that Mr. Cain may not have some very enlightened views on contemporary issues. What I’m saying is that he is unknown and untested, and polling results like this suggest that polling is full of crap. Thus my invocation to “Abandon All Polls — the Ship of State is Sinking!.”

If the professor’s view that name confusion is giving Cain an uptick among potential voters, I may take back my long-held belief that the Electoral College system of picking our Presidents by savvy electors rather than by popular vote (as is the case still in the U.S.) is an obsolete and dangerous system after all. NOT!

February 2023

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