What if President Obama wins re-election and Republicans don’t believe it? The question isn’t far-fetched. For several weeks, we have seen Republicans challenge the veracity of a number of election-related facts, and the outcome of the presidential election may be no different. First, some Republicans claimed that public opinion polls were all skewed to show an Obama lead. As Slate reported, 71 percent of self-identified Republicans and 84 percent of Tea Partiers believe in the skew. Republicans confidently claim that the polls are oversampling Democrats, not realizing that these are self-reported party identifications, which rise and fall with candidates’ support. Distrust of the polls is not a new phenomenon, and it is not confined to Republicans. As Nate Silver pointed out, when Democrats were behind in 2004 they believed the polls were skewed toward Republicans. Fortunately, the Romney debate performance last week apparently was enough to “unskew” the latest numbers.
Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a relatively rosy jobs report, which not only reported better-than-expected hiring for September but also upward revisions for earlier months. Soon thereafter, a number of Republicans, including former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, questioned whether or not the numbers were accurate. Welch tweeted: “Unbelievable jobs numbers … these Chicago guys will do anything … can’t debate so change number.” What evidence did Welch have? Nada. This week features what conservative blogs are touting as an “explosive” new report suggesting that the Obama campaign is illegally accepting massive foreign contributions via credit card. The so-called proof comes from a number of foreign visits to the Obama campaign website, the lack of any federal requirement to publicly disclose contributions from individuals who give less than $200 overall, and the Obama campaign’s supposed failure to use credit card verification tools to make sure the contributions are coming from inside the United States.