January 28, 2020

Confirmation Bias

Part of the polarization of America, either as a symptom or a cause, confirmation bias is an existential condition in all things politic today.  Simply put, people tend to fit evidence into one of two boxes: real news or data that supports their beliefs OR fake/untrustworthy news, that can be discarded or ignored.  I've been guilty of it at times, it's hard to avoid doing it, but we need to try.  Below are  two recent examples of both Democrat and Republican confirmation bias.

Firstly a Democrat excitedly celebrating the fact that the Republicans are going to lose the senate (note this is not the consensus among the well known analysts like Politico, Sabato, Cook or Inside Elections) based primarily on a flimsy approve/disapprove for incumbents:

This is confirmation bias used as an extrapolation.  Not only is the Morning Consult polling questionable in my view (I know, that could be confirmation bias) but it is a single view.  More importantly approval/disapproval is not a 1-1 mapping with electability. Anyone who puts some of those red states as Democrat pickups is clearly guilty of wishful thinking.  That's not to say some of the races might not be close, but remember Beto O'Rourke beating Ted Cruz? Me neither.

Next NewsMax interviewing Roger Stone contains the suggestion that Nancy Pelosi's House leader position is in trouble:

I'd like to believe Roger Stone is right, but looking at the congressional map, while I think the Republicans are going to pick up seats, regaining control is not a done deal.  In fact it is going to be difficult (though possible).  While Roger Stone might end up being correct, and I hope he is, it's a bit of wishful thinking at this point to suggest that this is an obvious outcome.

The ONLY thing that is certain at this point is that confirmation bias is definitely an existential part of the political polarization in the country.

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