By Charlie Johnston
Now is the time when partisans restlessly read every tea leaf they can find to try to guess the outcome of the election Tuesday. It’s a practice I have ever been ambiguous about. I always figured the second to the last weekend before a big election was the last one in which you could reasonably attempt persuasion of voters. By the time we had reached the last weekend before election, I had always switched our focus to turnout. You had either made your pitch successfully or you hadn’t by that time. But just like the packages under the tree at Christmas, folks can’t help trying to divine what is in theirs before it is time to open them up.
Privately to colleagues, I have always made fun of people who say, “this is the most important election of our lifetimes.” I understand that for the people saying it, with a lot of jobs and prestige on the line, that is how it feels to them, but it has always seemed an absurd bit of hyperbole to me until this year. In most previous elections in my lifetime, we have bickered over how best to achieve shared goals – prosperity, liberty and keeping Americans strong and safe, under God. That began to tatter with Barack Obama’s pledge, in 2008, to “fundamentally transform” this country into something it had not been and was never intended to be. Now, three elections later, we truly are in an election where the argument is not over the best means to shared ends, but a choice on whether we will endure as a free, independent people under God, or degenerate into serfdom directed from above by cunning brutes with a bloated sense of self-importance.
Only a small minority of people in the country actively and intentionally seek to burn it down and seize absolute power over everyone and everything. Yet they are aided and abetted by a huge cadre of what Lenin called “useful idiots.” I have been shocked this year by how many otherwise good people never study the evidence of a single source document. Their definition of being informed simply consists in choosing which news source to believe. In the progressively leftist surge of the establishment media following Watergate, that had already gotten pretty tenuous. In this year, when the establishment media shamelessly and openly calls documented facts “conspiracy theories” and labels actual conspiracy theories without a shred of evidence as “documented facts,” it is a formula for a Constitutional Armageddon. I find myself praying that America’s fundamental consumer instincts are strong. After all, despite the recommendations of many experts, Americans never did buy many Ford Pintos or Chevy Novas – and those were works of genius compared to the lemons all the experts have been trying to sell us this year.
While I have used polls many times, I have never had anything but contempt for the “horserace” question, the question of who will win. It is simultaneously the most useless question on a good poll and the one amateurs – and now most professionals – obsess over. What I used polls for was to forge a path to victory from the issue questions, not by choosing what position to take, but by how to present what we stood for and how to emphasize them. The first statewide primary I ran, we did not do any polls at all. Oh, we watched the newspaper polls and piggy-backed on some other campaign’s polls, but we did not commission a single one. They all told us that our chances were hopelessly quixotic. The first published poll in the Chicago Tribune showed our opponent at 61% and us at two percent. After working tirelessly for months, that will take some wind out of your sails. But my guy stood for something – and we built an army across the state. The last Tribune poll before the election showed us well over 20 points down. Our loss was such a foregone conclusion that on election night, a suburban reporter called me for comment on our loss. She was stunned when I told her we won – and hopped in her car to come on down with a promise of getting a few words with the new nominee.
About a month after the election, I was the speaker at the bi-partisan City Club of Chicago. My candidate was generous in identifying me as the strategic architect of his victory and everyone wanted to know how we pulled it off. After the luncheon, the Tribune’s pollster (who was in attendance) came up to me privately and said he had smelled it coming. Normally, I am cool and welcome such things as an effort to ingratiate – and so don’t discourage them. But this was too much. “You showed us losing by almost 25 points the week before election,” I said in astonishment. “In what parallel universe could that be described as smelling it coming?!” He muttered a few flimsy justifications and slunk away – while I regretted that I had not just nodded in approval and welcomed a new ally trying to save face on board. I certainly had with many others who had gleefully predicted our demise. The only institution in the state that actually picked up rumblings in the week and a half before election was the Secretary of State’s campaign office. Several operatives there had called me (were directed to call me, actually) to tell me their numbers showed we were on the verge of pulling the thing off.
Actually, I don’t think I ever had a poll that projected any of my candidates to win before they actually did. Of course, I specialized in challenger candidates and those who were often little known before a campaign began. I was deadly in primary races – but the high-water mark for Republicans in general statewide elections was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Establishment Republicans figured out how to use plurality primaries to shut out conservatives – and then when only establishment Republicans could prevail, Illinois degenerated into a solid blue state. (In the late 90’s I pushed hard for the legislature to adopt run-offs when no one won a majority in a primary, for I foresaw that the establishment could enforce discipline to rally around one candidate in a primary and encourage multiple conservatives, dreaming of being the king, to divide up the conservative vote. Our legislative leaders paid little heed – but the establishment figured it out by 2004. Bye bye Illinois) In a closely watched Congressional primary, the week before election friends from Speaker of the House Denny Hastert’s staff told me their polling showed we would lose by 10 – but that was a great showing against such a formidable opponent. Yeah, they intended it to be a compliment. We won by 10. Frankly, in my work, I prefer that others be intimidated by me than compliment me.
Polls are very useful in forging a path to victory if you have solid, well crafted issue questions. To be useful, you have to make the questions clean and as free of a priori assumptions as possible. Polls that use such assumptions to try to push respondents to a desired result were called “push polls” – and were generally recognized by professionals as worthless except to try to make a media splash and gaslight the opposition. I never thought the horserace question was good for much of anything BUT gaslighting the opposition and the press. I am astounded that for the last half decade, professional partisans have gaslighted themselves with such polls.
Every key criteria I always used points this year to a Trump landslide of historic proportions. Yes, the level of vote fraud is a concern – and astounding in its brazenness. In Illinois, I always plugged in a three-point fraud factor we had to overcome in statewide races. You could see as much as a 12-point factor nationally this year – and at least a seven-point fraud factor. But I don’t find it as worrisome as some do. Most of the worst of it is coming from states that are solidly blue, anyway. Whether Joe Biden wins California by 10 votes or by 10 million is irrelevant: either way the prize is 55 electoral votes. Yeah, I know, some mindless progressive drones are trying to give all their states’ electoral votes to the California mentality regardless of how the actual people of the state vote – but that does not apply to this election. By the criteria I have always used to judge these things, Trump could win a 48-state blowout or better – and will take over 60 percent of the popular vote (less the fraudulent ones).
I’m just not sure I know the country anymore. My complete miss in 2018 really shook me. On election night, a young fellow I had come to have great respect for, told me, “You don’t understand my generation, Charlie. We don’t care about fairness, decency or honor. We just want to know what’s in it for us. We are the generation that will lose America’s freedom.” That forlorn comment has haunted me ever since. The fellow is very talented – and most emphatically DOES care about fairness, decency and honor, himself. I was delighted to see he works at the national level of Trump’s campaign. I just think that too many people believe that the benefits of being American are due to some magic fairy dust – and not the result of hard work and prudent policy choices. So many seem so eager to cast it all away, to trade off the pearls of faith, family and freedom for paper and paste – that will be cast into the furnace.
If Trump wins according to the normal criteria I use to assess these things, the left will, of course, throw a giant, violent hissy fit. The country must move decisively to shut violence, rioting and looting down, also mounting civil rights actions against state and local officials who fail to work to defend their citizens or seek to deny them their civil rights. A lot of officials must be barred from ever holding a position of public trust again. We must act to denude the bureaucracies, going back to real self-government. I have had quite enough of experts with lots of pushy attitude but no discernable actual expertise. We must defund the university system – which for several generations has been indoctrinating mindless radicals rather than teaching critical thinking. The professors are often worse than the students. Jesus had something to say about the blind leading the blind. We must crack down hard on social media platforms that have decided to censor political thought they don’t like. What an absurdity: you have kids in their 20’s who know nothing about anything anointing themselves as the arbiters of truth for us all. All media members that actively participated in the coup conspiracy must be prosecuted along with the bad actors. If their defense is that they were too stupid to read actual evidence and facts, I’ll go with that…if the media outlets fire them and reform themselves. Otherwise, what a great time to start new media companies that will put a premium on facts, evidence and credibility. Start being reporters instead of partisan hacks. Make no mistake, it will be a long, hard fight – but with resolve and fortitude, it could be accomplished.
If Biden wins, the long, dark night he promised us in the last debate will begin. And so will the real resistance. It won’t be long until he is deposed by the left. All the petty dictators around the country will think this proves they have nothing left to fear from American citizens – and they will double down on the their draconian rules: it was never about public safety, only about bringing the rubes to heel. I wish we had not been such willing rubes. Already, the quarantines that some states have adopted are de facto internal travel bans. Within a year, you won’t be able to go anywhere or do anything without your “papers.” It would have been more fun to be a rebel and insurrectionary when I was young, but I will not allow my children and grandchildren to be impoverished and enslaved without a fight – and that is ALL the left has to offer.
So this election really is about whether we will participate in a years-long mop-up operation weeding out the remnants of the failed leftist revolution against America, against faith, against family, and against any residue of traditional morality and freedom – or whether we will have to mount our own real, counter-revolution against those who would fundamentally transform this country into the new Soviet Union. I prefer the former, but I am prepared for the latter.
The first few days of our matching fall fundraising appeal for CORAC have been heartening. I thank all of you who have already donated – and appeal to those of you haven’t to help out if you can. This week will determine what course CORAC must take – and we are well prepared for whatever course is needed. We will be tireless in standing for faith, family and freedom – and bringing those who cherish these values in collaboration with each other. But we need your help. If you can spare it, won’t you donate now?