by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
PINE TOWNSHIP [PENNSYLVANIA] — Had you spent any space of time in this northern suburb of Pittsburgh listening to voters, finding out what things mattered to them when it came to schools, community growth, economic prosperity, and the emotional impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, you would have at least been skeptical of the media narrative and the polls that claimed suburban voters here are no longer center-right.
Not Republican per se, just center-right.
Most reporters certainly didn’t take the time to do so. Instead, they relied on the scolding of our cultural curators in sports, media, and Hollywood as an indicator of how these college-educated, affluent voters would vote. Surely, they thought, these suburbs would cave under the cultural pressure, push left, and their votes would send a blue shock wave across the country.
These reporters put their faith in what they saw in polls or on Twitter, and they predicted the vilification of center-rightism would drag the country leftward — except the people who voted here, and in down-ballot races across the country, vigorously rejected that pressure. …
… Going into Election Day, the polls and the media narrative expected that Republicans were going to be swept out of office down the ballot in a blue wave. They believed the country had now fully embraced “wokeism” and rejected center-right values and principles.
Pollsters let President Trump get in their way in understanding the electorate, and so did reporters and political scientists.
For a brief moment as a reporter, I struggled with lining up what the data was telling me. It conflicted with what my reporting was telling me, conflicted with what voters were telling me, and conflicted with what cultural cues were telling me. So I went back out in search of that blue wave in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
It turns out that the only place that blue wave existed was on Twitter or in a poll — never once in an experience or an interview.