In a way, you can sympathize with Marco Rubio’s professed antipathy to polls. Here he is begging his own constituents to save his presidential candidacy from being croaked by a guy nobody would have imagined winning primaries a year ago, and every poll released in the last few days shows him getting trounced by Donald Trump. So what can he do other than suggest the pollsters have a big comeuppance on tap tonight?
But he probably went too far:
“I don’t look at the numbers,” Rubio told host [Fox News host] Martha MacCallum. “I think a bunch of networks are going to have to ask their pollsters for their money back. Polls this election cycle are horrifying.”
Well, yeah, some have been off a bit, and then there’s the big miss in Michigan on March 8. He could have just cited that one and let it go. But no, he had to say, “I don’t look at numbers,” which is (a) almost certainly not true and (b) stupid. Rubio sounds like one of those old baseball scouts in the movie Moneyball who don’t need no stinkin’ statistics to know a good player when he sees one. If he’s not measuring his campaign by “the numbers,” what is he using? The I Ching? Old men sitting on park benches? His own imperial gut?
No, public-opinion data is not infallible, particularly in primaries. But the answer to bad data is more data and better data, not zero data. And Rubio knows this. Indeed, the people who really would “ask for their money back” if he meant what he said would be donors, who typically don’t invest in mystics and know-nothings.