John McCain and the ‘skewed polls’ meme are back, and they should get off my lawn. Also, Bernie Sanders knows squat-all about the Democratic Party. (More)

“I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the President himself”

McCain began by saying President Obama was “personally responsible” for the Orlando massacre this past weekend:

“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq,” a visibly angry McCain said as the Senate debated a spending bill.

“So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies,” McCain said.

In other words, a homophobic Muslim killed 50 LGBTs in Orlando – unlike the homophobic Christian pedophile whose planned attack on the Los Angeles Pride Parade was stopped by alert police work – because we’re no longer losing an average 30 Americans a month in Iraq. Okay then.

But he kinda-sorta-not-really backtracked:

“I misspoke,” the statement read. “I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the President himself.”

McCain added, “As I have said, President Obama’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 led to the rise of ISIL. I and others have long warned that the failure of the President’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.”

So the president’s “decisions” are responsible, but he’s not “personally” responsible. Well that’s as clear as….

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“This relative weighting should have been headed in the other direction”

A new CBS News poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 6%, which matches both the Huffington Post polling average and the RealClearPolitics polling average. But it’s all a media conspiracy….

However, based on the polling details, the final weighted sample of 976 registered voters is made up of just 28% Republicans and 35% Democrats.

In the unweighted sample of registered voters, the relative percentage by party was 29% Republicans and 35% Democrats.

So, during the weighting process, the poll increased the Democrat-Republican spread from 6% to 7%. This relative weighting should have been headed in the other direction.

According to nationwide polling data, Republican Party affiliation has averaged 28% for 2016 so far, and it also averaged 28% since the start of May. This agrees well with the CBS News poll’s composition.

On the other hand, the last time the Democrats were at 35% was early March…of 2013. Since May of this year, Democratic party affiliation has averaged 29%, just 1% higher than the Republicans, not 7% higher.

As a result, this CBS News poll appears to be biased in favor of the Democrats by the same margin that Clinton purportedly holds over Trump, meaning that if the bias is removed, so is Clinton’s lead, and we have a statistical tie.

First, the most recent data in that Gallup poll on partisan affiliation show Democrats leading Republicans by 30-27 – not 29-28 – and when you add “leaners” the Democrats’ lead widens to 48-41 … almost exactly the split found in the CBS News poll.

Second, pollsters don’t weight their samples by party affiliation:

“Party ID is not a demographic quality like age, sex, income or education. It’s an attitude,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. “And it’s an attitude that varies with preferences, so generally when a Republican wins you will see a boost in Republican identification and when a Democrat wins you will see a boost in Democratic identification. If you try to standardize the party ID number, you standardize out some of that change.”

Kohut notes, for example, that Pew successfully called the Republican surge in congressional seats in 2010, but would have missed the change if it had insisted on weighting its results to reflect the Democrat’s pronounced party identification advantage after Obama’s 2008 victory.

Seriously, we went through this with the ‘unskewed polls’ trope of 2012, which had Republicans convinced Mitt Romney would win right up until Karl Rove’s tantrum sent Megyn Kelly into the Fox News election analysis room. And Dean ‘Unskewed Polls’ Chambers clung to his theory even after the election. I wonder if the Grafix Department could whip up something spiffy for that….

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“The current Democratic Party leadership has turned its back on dozens of states in this country”

And in his speech yesterday, Bernie Sanders showed he knows zip diddly squat about the Democratic Party works:

It means that we can no longer ignore the fact that, sadly, the current Democratic Party leadership has turned its back on dozens of states in this country and has allowed right-wing politicians to win elections in some states with virtually no opposition – including some of the poorest states in America. The Democratic Party needs a 50-state strategy. We may not win in every state tomorrow but we will never win unless we recruit good candidates and develop organizations that can compete effectively in the future. We must provide resources to those states which have so long been ignored.

Most importantly, the Democratic Party needs leadership which is prepared to open its doors and welcome into its ranks working people and young people. That is the energy that we need to transform the Democratic Party, take on the special interests and transform our country.

Yes, it’s true there are no Democrats on the ballot in many state and local races. But that’s not because “the current Democratic Party leadership has turned its back on dozens of states.”

It’s because it’s hard to recruit candidates for races where a Republican has won every recent contest by double-digit margins. Your lowly mail room clerk tried – for four years – as vice chair of our county Democratic Party. Her party and campaign committee chairs worked hard too, trying to recruit candidates with solid records of community leadership. And in almost every case, they declined … because they didn’t want to invest thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and uncountable hopes in what cold, electoral math showed was an almost hopeless cause.

A few brave candidates did toss their hats in the ring, and almost all crashed into that cold, electoral math. There was progress; our 2014 candidates lost by smaller margins than their predecessors. Our county is slowly turning blue, and our local Democratic Party are working as hard as ever to recruit a full slate of candidates for 2016.

As for “the Democratic Party needs leadership which is prepared to open its doors and welcome into its ranks working people and young people,” I have no idea what Sanders means. And neither does he. Our county Democratic Party ran recruiting tables at our local college campuses every year. We also contacted recent high school graduates and other young people. Once in awhile, a young person would come to our monthly party meeting. But they rarely came to more than two or three …

… because apart from campaign season, local party membership is a whole lot of grunt work: organizing fundraisers, attending committee meetings, training for phone-banking and canvassing, and the like. It’s not about Big Issues. It’s about details.

Plus local party work is a significant time investment, which few young families have. Many will volunteer for specific, one-time tasks – especially in campaign season – but jobs and kids keep most of them too busy for ongoing, month-to-month party work.

So who’s left? Well, a whole lot of retirees, professionals, and others whose jobs and family situations offer time for civic engagement.

Sanders didn’t say what “the Democratic Party leadership” should do about that, probably because he hasn’t a clue about the real challenges of local party work. That’s hardly surprising, as he spent his career as an independent. Still, he could at least listen to people who do local party-building work, rather than assuming it’s all about Wall Street donors and party leaders who don’t want Millennials.

Lemme go find that wall….

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Photo Credits: Associated Press; Fantasy Stock (DeviantArt); Crissie Brown (BPICampus).

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Good day and good nuts