June 19, 2013
Oct 15 - Craig and Deb Bensen
Key pollsters (Rasmussen Reports) continue to show a statistical dead heat in the Presidential election. Romney’s numbers started to rise when Ryan was added to the ticket. Then Obama’s numbers started to rise the week of the Democrats’ convention in Charlotte. Before the October 4th debate, mainstream media polls were casting Mr. Obama as the leader in the popular vote and in most swing states with Romney’s campaign failing to gain traction. Post-debate, one wonders if the mainstreamers were trying to create the reality that they wished to be living in…
When one fires a rifle, there is an adjustment that is necessary for “windage” or the effect of the prevailing wind. A similar adjustment needs to be made for most polls. With the exception of Gallup and Rasmussen, most published national polls have a prevailing political bias built in to them.
Some of this bias comes from economics—good, valid polls cost big bucks and require experienced organizations—but in today’s tech age every media outlet can have its own poll on the cheap. But you do get what you pay for! A poll of 200 random voters might cost $1000 versus an in-depth polling of 800 likely voters from key regions of the country for $10,000. But the small poll will have a statistical significance of +/- 8% versus the larger polls +/- 3%.
Much of this bias comes from politics. If the “story” you believe to be true is that Mr. Obama is winning—or should be winning—that’s the story you tell, and you commission a poll to back this up. This year, pollsters who should know better are mysteriously designing polls with faulty assumptions. The biggest assumption is that the voter turnout in 2012 will mirror the records set in 2008. Historically this is a wrong assumption as second term elections generally have significantly lower voter turnout. The conventional wisdom is that Mr. Obama is not evoking the passion of the 2008 campaign and voter turnout among key groups of his 2008 supporters will be much lower. But many pollsters still poll from the 2008 voter lists, not from the more accurate lists of “likely 2012 voters” who voted in the 2012 primaries. Why? Using the 2008 lists tilts the results in Mr. Obama’s favor. Which is the “real” story anyway, right?
Prayer for honest scales, true reporting and the exposure of deeds of darkness would be useful in this area.
Post-debate Electoral College projections are trending from “It’s a toss-up!” to favoring Romney.
Obama leads with 237 to Romney’s 181 but 120 are undecided. No one has the 270 needed to win. The “Swing States” include Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and New Hampshire.
Polls project that Senate races could result in a leadership flip moving the 51 seat lead from the Democrats to the Republicans. Republicans are likely to gain seats in Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Harry Reid will shadow Nancy Pelosi’s 2010 move from Majority to Minority leader - Mitch McConnell would likely become the new Senate Majority leader.
In the House polls project that Republicans will lose 2-3 seats but retain strong control with a 240-195 majority. John Boehner would likely continue as Speaker of the House.
The first Presidential Debate on October 4 proved to be a game changer. A likeable, articulate, reasoned and unflappable Mitt Romney pretty much ate Mr. Obama’s lunch. The nation watched it happen and has responded by slowly turning to the Romney-Ryan ticket as the best equipped to lead us over the next four years. History may well rank Romney’s debate performance against Mr. Obama right up there with Kennedy’s versus Nixon back in 1960.
The Vice Presidential Debate on October 11 saw an aggressive Joe Biden control the time and space of the encounter by use of animated gestures and direct verbal challenges. Biden was the classic Vice Presidential attack dog, doing the dirty work that the President can’t do and remain “looking Presidential”. Biden made the Democrats’ base feel like things that should have been said by Mr. Obama on Oct. 4 finally got national air time.
A composed, factual Paul Ryan refused to take most of the bait which Biden offered to him. Ryan had a clean, friendly performance that affirmatively answered the question - “Is this man competent to become the President if needed?” Both Biden and Ryan gained recognition and built trust among undecided voters. Biden got a win from debate coaches for controlling the air time; Ryan got a win from younger voters for keeping his cool, being factual and not being the “angry, old white guy who reminds you of Dad reading you the riot act”.
The October 16th Presidential match was not expected to be a big vote changer as the “town meeting” style is a much more controlled format than direct debate. The actual event was much more like a direct debate as an energized Mr. Obama decided to attend this time. Both Obama and Romney sidestepped or avoided the moderator’s directions at times - resulting in a “two rams butting heads” style of interaction. This was more entertaining than listening to a string of canned campaign rhetoric - but not very enlightening. Both teams claimed a win for their guy but the independent voters called it a draw.
The last match on Oct. 22 could be more significant if either Romney or Obama makes a big mistake or loses their composure. Perhaps this match will give us a historic “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moment.
Debates are good events for prayers of truth being made clear, character being revealed and spells being broken.
TIMELINE FOR PRAYER
We want to be praying with insight. Part of that insight should be that we are praying ahead of the curve. Across America congregations will be doing much pulpit led prayer in the 2-3 weeks prior to November 6. Strategic prayer needs a different timeline.
Absentee, overseas and military voting has already begun. Depending upon your state, between 15-25% of the ballots are cast in the month before November 6. Absentee ballots have become a big chunk of the vote - essential for those in the military, a great convenience for many others. The campaigns love absentee votes because they are “locked in”—no bad news, no candidate mistake, can alter the vote once cast. So prayer for those casting their ballots needs to be already underway. And add in some prayer that the big mess involving military ballots not getting to the foreign bases on time will not result in our citizens in the armed services losing their right to vote in this election.
Start thinking about the prayer needs of our nation come November 7. We might be in a time of indecision as in 2000 with Florida’s “hanging chads”. We might be experiencing riots due to dissatisfaction with the results of the elections. We might be facing another financial crisis brought on by the collapse of the economy in Greece or Spain.
We know for certain that post-election we will endure another “lame duck” session of Congress from mid-November until the Christmas adjournment. “Lame duck” Senators and Congressman can be deaf, dumb and desperate critters. Should there be a “Lame Duck” presidency, great mischief could be worked during this time period. Plans need to be made now for focused prayer during this time period. And add some prayers for a spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship to fall upon the Congress - “may their later days be more blessed than their former days.”
THE PERSON OR THE PLATFORM
When someone tells me that they can’t vote for someone because of their party affiliation, their religion, their “not being a Christian”, etc., I suggest that they focus on the platform behind the candidate rather than the person running. We as believers have a moral obligation to cast our votes in the direction of righteousness. If one party is supportive of righteous positions while the other is supportive of unrighteous positions, the party platform best promoting righteousness should be our choice even if we don’t care for the particular individuals running for the offices.
At the national level, who ends up in Congress or the White House has a strong influence on both the passage of righteous laws and the interpretation of those laws—i.e., appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hence the platform positions of the two major parties are very important to look at. To read the actual platforms use these links:
The Democratic Platform
The Republican Platform
To help you with key social issues related to Family Values and Life, I offer this synopsis:
If you support “same-sex marriage”, repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (D.O.M.A.), “abortion on demand”, Planned Parenthood as our national sex educator, no restrictions (even parental notification) on school students receiving abortions and full federal funding of abortions without a conscience exemption—then the Democrats have the platform for you.
If you support “one man to one woman marriage”, the Defense of Marriage Act (D.O.M.A.), overturning Roe v. Wade, abstinence education funding, parental notification for children before they receive abortions and no federal funding of abortions—then the Republicans are your party of choice.
PRAYING THE DECISION POINTS
Working on the belief that God will be looking for our prayers to release His plans during this election season, we may offer these prayers:
1) That God’s choice(s) would have volunteers, funding and favor in full supply to accomplish their calling in this season.
2) That the Light of Truth will shine where it needs to shine revealing the good, the bad and the ugly about the candidates, the political parties and the process.
3) That leaders and opinion influencers would make godly decisions about who they will be endorsing.
4) That the plans, schemes, “dirty tricks”, etc., of those seeking to manipulate the elections would be exposed and/or fall prey to the Law of Unintended Consequences (what is meant for a curse becomes a blessing).
5) That God’s people would purpose to vote in this season and would vote informed by facts, prayer and the Holy Spirit.
6) That citizen support for strong family values would be a major message perceived and reported by the media during this season.
7) That this election season would be characterized by the quality of the ideas and solutions debated, not by the false hopes and promises of past elections.
8) That our citizenry would be more and better informed, resolute in choosing candidates of substance.
9) That we would demand a new era of Americans working together to solve our problems and to move into our future; that we would vote for those who share our vision.