Happy new year to all of us. Around here, it dawned — ha ha — so gray and overcast I had to turn on a lamp to read the paper. It’s one of my idiosyncrasies that I really dislike using electric light once the sun is up, probably a leftover from my dad, who was always adjusting the thermostat and turning off lights in empty rooms to save a few pennies on the utility bill. Anyway, when it’s that dark I am at least reminded to take my Vitamin D, and I shrug and think: Michigan. January. Whaddaya gonna do?
One-word resolution for 2023: Balance. So maybe tomorrow will be sunny.
I hope you all had a pleasant NYE. We followed our script: Cooked a better-than-usual meal, watched a movie (“White Noise,” meh), listened to the gunfire at midnight, went to bed. Today I’m scrolling through pix and videos of the Mar-a-Lago NYE party, trying to think what would be worse: Listening to a bad cover band plow through “Footloose” at M-a-L, or standing outside in Detroit, waiting for one round to come down and pierce the soft tissue at the base of my neck.
Outside in Detroit, most definitely. It’s a better, more honorable way to die.
I was thinking again — woolgathering, nothing focused — about 2022 and realized that until I saw one of those Year in Pictures roundups, I had totally spaced that it was an Olympic year. Beijing, the problematic sporting event to open the year, closed of course by the World Cup in Qatar. I recall watching the skiing thinking it would be more pleasant to travel downhill on concrete; not a flake on any of the competition slopes actually fell from a cloud, but was manufactured, and looked and felt like it. The meltdown in the ladies’ figure skating was memorable, but apparently not for more than a few weeks.
Before we put the year entirely to bed, this was an interesting story in the NYT. For those of you who can’t read it, the tl;dr: Politically skewed polls that predicted a red wave in November and the resulting panic may have deprived some candidates of funding that could put them over the finish line.
Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat, had consistently won re-election by healthy margins in her three decades representing Washington State. This year seemed no different: By midsummer, polls showed her cruising to victory over a Republican newcomer, Tiffany Smiley, by as much as 20 percentage points.
So when a survey in late September by the Republican-leaning Trafalgar Group showed Ms. Murray clinging to a lead of just two points, it seemed like an aberration. But in October, two more Republican-leaning polls put Ms. Murray barely ahead, and a third said the race was a dead heat.
As the red and blue trend lines of the closely watched RealClearPolitics average for the contest drew closer together, news organizations reported that Ms. Murray was suddenly in a fight for her political survival. Warning lights flashed in Democratic war rooms. If Ms. Murray was in trouble, no Democrat was safe.
Murray ended up winning by nearly 15 points, which other pollsters had already predicted. But she ended up spending her war chest on her own campaign, rather than spreading it to other, less fortunate candidates. A similar phenomenon happened here, where two-time U.S. Senate loser / empty suit / Trump apologist John James finally will go to Washington — as a congressman — but had a much harder time winning than all the polling indicated. How might he have been thwarted if the DCCC hadn’t written off the race as unwinnable, because Inevitable Red Wave. A little more cash for his opponent might have made the difference. I mean, he only won by half a percentage point.
Polling — good polling — runs the risk of being made irrelevant by bad actors. Trafalgar was the same firm that had GOP challenger Tudor Dixon nipping at Gretchen Whitmer’s heels just before the election, which Dixon lost by more than 10 points. It’s almost like they’re doing this…on purpose.
OK, time to move on to 2023 and greet it properly. Dry January awaits.