A followup to my earlier post about what I'll call "poll panic." While I was writing that, I had a thought that didn't quite fit the logical framework of the piece, so I thought I'd offer it as a sort of addendum.
Poll panic may not be the worst thing ever for Democrats, it may be worse for Republicans. If, as seems to be the case, Mitt Romney's numbers are the result of a bounce, they're going to fall again. In fact, they probably already are. And if poll panic is irrational, then it's sibling poll triumphalism is as well. The right is currently engaging in triumphalism.
The problem with triumphalism is that it would be terribly demoralizing to see what you thought was a turnaround evaporate. And that demoralization would have an effect on the behavior of Republican males -- Romney's strongest constituency -- the most. Last weekend, Victoria Bassetti, writing for the New York Times, explained that male voters tend to be more affected by electoral setbacks. Studies show that in voting, men engage "'head-to-head in a contest for dominance" in election and losses actually result in a loss of testosterone. As a result, men have a larger tendency to be non-voters.
"Could the unpleasant feelings male voters experience when their candidates lose discourage them from revisiting the polls?" she wrote. "No wonder they stop voting. It hurts too much."
And is losing and expecting to lose really that much different -- especially to the dinosaur brain where all this stuff is going on? To watch the polling swing back and to take it personally might be enough to keep Republican male voters home. It's a thought worth considering anyway.
Still, I'd prefer it if everyone was just a realist. But I doubt there's much chance of that.