The Charlotte News

Saturday, August 24, 1940


Site Ed. Note: The principle of "Minority Rule", suggesting the power of special interest lobbying groups to cancel the majority will of the people and its disastrous consequences to the country and to the world during 1939 through 1941, of course still holds. While in a representative democracy, the minority on any given subject has the right and should have the opportunity to be fully heard at any time, a problem inevitably arises: Whether democracy is defeated if injected into the process are well banked brainwashing campaigns to turn opinion or block the implementation of majority opinion on the basis of purely emotional appeals which have no rational basis in fact; bankrolling and advertising and demagoguing to try to promote and give merit to a cause rather than doing so through rational debate based on fact and honest representation of a position's strengths and weaknesses.

To further complicate matters, the question arises as to whether we can trust public opinion polls to tell us what the majority point of view is on any given issue. Polls have become so numerous and so tortured in their sampling that it is hard to know which ones to trust unless one also looks at the underlying methodology and understands a little on how to analyze that methodology.

Nowhere are the polls more evidently divergent and bizarre as in the last two presidential elections, 2000 and this one in 2004. At any given point, the polls are radically divergent as to who is ahead or by how much. Leads shift weekly if not daily. At least, that is the perception left.

By most of the current election cycle polls, the incumbent went into his party convention behind by 2 to 5 points. By some of the polls he came out of the convention with a lead of 7 to 11 points. Yet, other polls were showing daily tracking between the two candidates as being in a virtual tie throughout this period. Still others showed the incumbent with a much narrower lead after the convention, from 2 to 4 points rather than 7 to 11. Now, in mid-September, two weeks after the incumbent's convention, the polls have narrowed, but are still divergent, showing anywhere from the challenger with a one-point lead to the incumbent with a seven or even a nine point lead, one sore-thumber even showing a fourteen-point lead. So what is going on?

One explanation is the proliferation of cell phones since the mid-nineties. Since polls are based on random samples from telephone listings, a whole segment of the voting public is either no longer part of the population from which the sample is chosen, or is not answering their hard-wired phones anymore.

But while that change would explain the divergence between polls and election results of late, it only goes so far to explain the wide divergence between the polls. The root of the current divergence in the polling data, as we have suspected, appears to be the result of skewed samples, as recently uncovered by pollster John Zogby. At least one of the two polls showing the Republican incumbent with an eleven point lead in early September used a sample comprised of 38% Republican, 31% Democrat, and 31% independent. Yet, in 2000 the actual voting population was practically the reverse of these numbers, 39% Democrat, 35% Republican and 26% independent. As Mr. Zogby points out, if one adjusts the inverse sample to the actual voting population in 2000, the polling results would be essentially tied by adding 8% to the Democrat and subtracting 3% from the Republican. (This result would be expected to vary somewhat as about 80% of Democrats support the Democratic challenger while 90% of Republicans support the incumbent. Still, as adjusted for this variance, the addition of 80% of 8% to the challenger adds 6.4% while 90% of 3% subtracted from the incumbent takes away 2.7%, for a total of 9.1% change, leaving a variance between the two candidates of no more than a 1.9% lead for the incumbent rather than an 11% lead.)

The most recent major network poll, one of three polls which had the 2000 result more or less correct on the last day, has the incumbent up by nine points in a sample taken between September 12 and 16, 2004. But, not unexpectedly, this poll, utilizing registered voters rather than the more usual "likely voter" sample, repeats the sampling problem of other polls with such a large disparity between the candidates. That is, the sample is comprised of 36% Republican, 31% Democrat, and 33% independent. Again applying the adjustment for actual electorate composition from 2000 produces an addition of 6.6% for the Democratic challenger (.83 x 8%) and subtracts .9% (.87 x 1%) from the incumbent, leaving not a 9 point spread but rather a 1.5% spread between the candidates. Taking away the 7% of independents over the number voting in 2000 favors the challenger by another .46% since independents in this poll favor the incumbent by 47% to 39%, leaving only a 1% spread between the candidates. (We pick on this poll--with full awareness that an alumnus of its sponsoring network, Charles Kuralt, once worked circa 1955 for The Charlotte News--only because they have the good decency to publish the party composition of their sample.)

And the problem thus evidenced is exacerbated by the fact that registration and polling data suggest the expectation of an even wider divergence between Democrats and Republicans in actual voting in 2004 than was present in 2000.

Thus, there you have it. It's probably tied--and probably always has been throughout most of the last several months, if not since election day 2000.

The questions become: Are the polls, showing wide divergence from this apparent fact based on obviously skewed samples, trying to fool us for political reasons or are they just trying to sell us soap? Do close races appearing to see-saw back and forth weekly, and controversial wars, bring viewers to the networks and readers to major news magazines, the latter ailing in readership with the advent of the internet? All of the above?

We leave it for you to ponder and decide. The only fix for these problems, either inaccurate polls or lobbying groups with half-hashed "facts", is for each individual to examine both sides of every issue and remain informed and to inform others in one's midst. And if someone should experience "Boss Pressure", they either should inform the boss or quit the five and dime--or simply pull the curtain tight behind them when they enter the booth, making doubly sure then that the stylus sticks clean through or the electronic button punches correctly.

But whatever you decide, vote on November 2, regardless of what any poll may suggest the outcome is likely to be for your candidate. Remember what the polls told us on election eve, 2000. A viable democracy cannot exist without each of our individual votes. We wouldn't wish to wind up like Argentina in 1940...

Test Case

Fate of Argentine Hangs on Confidence Vote for Ortiz

The contest revolving around President Ortiz in the Argentine may, and even probably will, decide whether or not that country is to have a Fascist government and be brought fully under Nazi influence.

Ortiz is anti-Fascist and, so far as he judges it feasible, in favor of closer relations with the United States. But he was elected by a Conservative coalition which saddled him with Ramon Castillo, an ardent Fascist, as Vice-President.

Some months ago the condition of Ortiz's health became so poor that he handed over the active control to Castillo, though without giving up his office. It was the machinations of Castillo which made most of the trouble for the United States at Havana.

But last week scandal descended upon the Cabinet, when it was revealed that War Minister General Carlos Marquez, also an ardent Fascist, had bought an airport for the Government at five times its actual worth.

Yesterday Ortiz came actively back upon the scene by resigning, at the same time declaring vehemently his own innocence of any part in the airport deal. That put it up to the Argentine legislative assembly. If it gives Ortiz a vote of confidence he will remain in office. If not, the presidency will pass to Castillo.

Naturally, Castillo and Marquez are moving heaven and earth to block such a vote of confidence. And the preliminary canvass yesterday showed that about 123 out of 160 members of the assembly would have probably voted for it just the same. For the moment, therefore, the Argentine seems to be alive to the Nazi danger.

Boss Pressure

Private Coercion Is as Bad As Government Coercion

Carl B. Tuttle, vice-president of the S. S. Kresge dime store corporation, told a Senate committee, in connection with the letter he sent to Kresge employees requesting contributions for Wendell Willkie's campaign, that he had been with the firm for 41 years and went on:

"I've never coerced anyone yet. I have never been coerced, and certainly I have never sandbagged anyone."

There is no reason to doubt it. Nevertheless, Senator Reed, Republican of Kansas, was correct when he said that the method used by Tuttle "opens the way that I think is not consistent with our idea of a free electorate and it ought not be done."

The Senator went on to say that it was extremely difficult, however, to frame legislation to forbid it. That may be true. It was extremely difficult to frame the Hatch Bill also, and in practice it has already proved to have a number of loopholes. But the basic game in one case is as clear as in the other.

The Hatch Act is designed to forbid the solicitation of funds to be used for political purposes, from Federal employees or state employees paid in part by Federal funds by their superiors. It ought to be quite as feasible to draw a measure, as effective as the Hatch Act, to forbid employers or their representatives from soliciting funds from their employees to be used for political purposes.

Coercion of a private employee by his boss is quite as bad as coercion of a Government employee by his boss.

An Excuse

Only Indiscriminate Mining Could Make This True

The Nazi Government is very tender of the American Neutrality Act, for the present. Until it has destroyed Britain and is ready to begin its American attack in earnest, the last thing on earth it wants is anything which might bring the United States into war by the side of Britain or move the United States really to arm.

However, it need not worry. The isolationists in the Senate are a guarantee that Hitler's game of "divide and destroy" will work out to perfection.

Nor is it likely that the Nazi Government worried Wednesday when it gave its tenderness for the Neutrality Act as an excuse for refusing to give its word for the safe passage of ships bearing children away from Britain to safety over here. It had, it said, planted mines in furtherance of its "absolute blockade" of the island kingdom. And it was, oh, very fearful that the ships with children would run into these mines and so cause bad blood between those two dear friends, Nazi Germany and the United States.

A flimsier excuse was never given. Or if it was true excuse, then Nazi Germany has carried her anarchy to the ultimate limit and is strewing loose mines in the Atlantic indiscriminately. And if that is so, then, with the ocean currents what they are, it ultimately menaces every American ship which sails from our own Atlantic ports, even though they are only coasters.

But the probabilities are against this kind of anarchy on the part of Nazi Germany. It might really make us mad--too soon. And the chances are that she is merely pleading the mines as an excuse to hold the children in England in order to visit the kind of terrorism on them and their parents visited on a southeast coast town by the torpedo bomber.

Minority Rule

Organized Pressure Groups Cancel Out Majority

The various public opinion polls indicate that popular sentiment in the United States is about two to one in favor of immediate conscription. And by definition a Congressman is by and large a man who crouches in his job as a rabbit in its form until he is quite sure about public opinion.

How does it happen then that the Congress still refuses to go ahead and enact conscription? The answer probably is: special pressure groups of organized minorities.

Take the case of Champ Clark as a salient example. He comes from St. Louis, which swarms with people of German birth and recent German descent. Most of these people belong to organizations of one kind or another ostensibly or really designed to preserve "the German cultural heritage." A good many of them are openly or secretly in favor of Nazism. And the majority of them, even when they don't go enthusiastically for Nazism, still feel a great loyalty for Germany, refuse to believe in its crimes as real, bitterly resent the idea that our interests lie with Britain and that Germany is to be regarded as a menace to us, want us to come to friendly agreement with Germany (often without fully realizing what that means).

All these see that conscription proposals proceed from the idea that Germany is a menace to us, realize that it means that we see Germany as rapidly becoming our out and out enemy, and that we are preparing if necessary, to engage Germany with force to block her aims. Hence they are dead against it. More than that, they make their organized opposition to it fully clear to Senator Clark by deluging him with telegrams and letters. And Clark wants to keep his job in the Senate, knows that these Germans will vote solidly against him next time he runs unless he pleases them.

The case of Clark is more or less typical of all the isolationists, save the great Tar Heel statesman, Robert Rice Reynolds--whose obstructionism is mainly his own idea. But it is not only the isolationists, of course. By themselves they could accomplish nothing.

Every Congressman from the great cities of New York, Chicago, etc. is subjected to the same pressure from German groups. From Italian groups also. And now even from growing French, Belgian, Polish and Scandinavian groups, who want the war to end quickly so their countrymen can be fed and fear conscription may encourage Britain. In many smaller towns and even rural areas in the Middle West and the East the same thing goes on. And in all the greater towns, of course, the Communists also join in. Many of the Reds pose as Republicans and Democrats and regularly vote as such.

And finally, throughout the country but particularly in the East and Middle West, there are literally hundreds of so-called "peace" organizations. Some of these are undoubtedly financed by the Nazis and Communists (they have mushroomed enormously in recent months). But some of them are authentic aggregations of sentimental and muddle-headed pacifists. And all of them carry on an insistent campaign to whip up sympathy for their ideas and to urge people to follow their own example and swamp Congress with letters and telegrams.


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