Don’t Kill the Messenger

Dana Perino is about as uncontroversial a political pundit as it gets so the Twitter storm that resulted Thursday turned into an extended explanation from Perino.

It all began when Perino and co-host Eric Bolling on Fox News’ “The Five” disagreed over current presidential polling numbers. Her big misstep was making this statement: “I will never lie to you.”

After much controversy, Perino took to Facebook to expand on her comment:

It’s time to be frank.

Let’s talk about the state of the GOP Presidential race: it is not good.

The presidential polling — it is what it is. Trump’s campaign and many of his supporters are trying to put the best spin possible on the numbers. I get that, but they are suggesting that the polls are rigged. They are not.

They also say the size of Trump’s rallies, the enthusiasm at his campaign events, and his robust social media following are more predictive of Election Day turnout than independent presidential polling. That is not true.

On Thursday Dr. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics noted that Walter Mondale’s supporters believed right up until the election of 1984 that their candidate would win because of the huge crowds he was pulling out, and then were shocked when Mondale lost 49 of 50 states to Ronald Reagan.

Perino pointed to the 2012 polls:

In the 2012 election, Republicans believed that the polls were skewed in Obama’s favor, and did not take conservative enthusiasm into consideration. I was one of them — I believed we were going to win. I believed the polls were wrong.

When President Obama easily won reelection, I vowed to never put myself in that position again. I wouldn’t simply listen to what I wanted to hear. I would instead take the numbers for what they were, because the polling involved specifically in presidential elections has been accurate since 1952.

By believing that the polls were wrong, I had let both myself and our viewers down. I had done them a disservice. After the election, our viewers were mad. And they had every right to be.

For Perino’s honesty, she is being excoriated in the comments, particularly interesting considering Perino talked about how disappointed she was four years ago when the polls were not skewed, much to the chagrin of a disappointed Republican Party. Commenters have not only bashed Perino but have also taken the opportunity to swipe at George W. Bush and Mitt Romney with the usual vitriol all too common on the internet.

Perino is not being anti-Republican or anti-Trump by pointing out the obvious. Perhaps we should have listened more in 2012. We have the opportunity to do that now.

But don’t kill the messenger.

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