It’s always amusing to watch media pundits rationalize the hell out of a loss, but what’s even more entertaining is watching members of the general public play fast and loose with the data.
To wit: in the wake of the three-way race for the Barnstable County Board of County Commissioners, a self-styled “citizen activist” (I won’t play to his ego by naming him here, but most people in county government know who this particular individual is) posted this curious analysis of the results, which had incumbents Mary Pat Flynn and Sheila Lyons winning over Eric Steinhilber (splitting the vote, respectively, by 37, 33, and 30 percent):
The following is merely an observation of fact by one Cape Cod voter regarding the November 6th Barnstable County Commissioner election. In four of Cape Cod’s major municipalities, the challenger, Eric Steinhilber received substantially more votes for Barnstable County Commissioner than the incumbent County Commissioner, Sheila Lyons. Those towns were Barnstable (the Cape’s largest town), Bourne, Mashpee and Sandwich. In essence, these election results translate into a significant VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in the failed and weak leadership-style so clearly exhibited by Ms. Lyons during the last four years of her regional government tenure.
To recap: in a 15-town race, placing third in four “major municipalities” equals a harsh damnation of a candidate’s ability to do her job.
Well, let’s take a look at the Cape-wide results in full context. The following chart is from Globe.com, with color-coding added by Snark-Infested Waters, with green indicating a first-place finish, yellow second place, and red third place.
It is also true that Mr. Steinhilber, our citizen activist’s preferred candidate, finished third in 10 towns — and lost some of those towns by several hundred votes compared to both the first and second place finishers. So if losing four towns is a grim statement on Ms. Lyons’ capabilities as an elected officials, then losing 10 must surely by a scathing condemnation of Mr. Steinhilber’s potential in that same role.
But the point is not to extol one candidate or lambaste another (I frankly don’t care who wins these races, so long as they return my phone calls). The point is to illustrate how anyone can take information and, with some selective omission and creative interpretation, present it as evidence to support a shaky base argument.
We’re seeing a lot of that going on at the national level too, with the Fox News talking heads trying their damnedest to explain how Barack Obama did not “really” win the election, and bitter Romney supporters predicting with an air of doom and gloom and no small amount of perverted glee how the next four years will turn America into a hellscape of broken dreams.
The races are over, folks, and the winners have been chosen. Crying and whining over coming out on the losing side of history, whether it’s the presidency or a race in your own back yard, is not going to solve the problems these elected officials must now tackle, and you’re not making things easier by playing cheerleader for failure, just so you can four years from now crow “I told you so.” That self-absorbed, self-righteous, defeatist attitude will do much more to sabotage our success than anything the people in power will do.
Just ask the Republicans who lost the presidency.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.