I used to think that the conservative crutch of “liberal media bias” was one of the worst things about politics. After all it solves exactly zero actual problems facing the nation. It is a mainly opinion based measure, which is why you can find some “studies” that show a liberal media bias, some that show a conservative media bias and others that show no media bias.
But that was before November 6, 2012. On Election Day it became apparent that conservatives’ desire to insulate themselves from reality may have handed the election to the Democrats. Poll after poll showed the election favoring Democrats, yet conservative talking heads convinced themselves and their viewers, listeners and readers that it was all a lie. The media was lying, the polls were lying, the experts were lying, and the data was lying. The election was in the bag for Republicans.
Ironically it could be this conservative meme that cost them the presidency and seats in Congress. If this was an election that was going to be decided by who could best mobilize their base, having Fox News predicting a big win for Republicans may have had the opposite effect. Why should conservatives make any extra effort to get to the polls if all the “lame stream” media outlets were lying and Republicans were assured a win? Conversely Democrats may have gone out of their way to fill out their ballot given how close media reports showed the election to be.
What should really scare Republicans now is that they risk becoming an unreliable narrator. If conservative “experts” had Romney winning the popular vote by five to ten points and then he loses by over a point, it could call into question all of the other “facts” that these pundits offer. For example John Boehner thinks retaining control of the House somehow equates to an endorsement of the Republican obstinance to a tax increase for the rich. Yet the same polls that show Boehner was wrong on his election day prediction also show that only 35% of Americans share John Boehner’s view on taxes.
This of course is only one item in a long list of items where Republicans ignore the experts and the data in favor of their “beliefs.” From the science of conception to climate change to gun rights to taxes to the president’s birthplace, conservatives have made up their own reality. And this insistence that their opinions are correct in the face of piles of data to the contrary means these Republicans could soon turn themselves into the boy who cried wolf.
If Republicans can root out the tea party extremism that has become their party platform in favor of the more moderate views held by the majority of Americans they can easily restore the public’s faith in their party, but if they continue to insist that the media, the polls, the experts and the data are all biased for Democrats, November 8, 2016 may feel a lot like Groundhog Day.