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18

They’re mad. They’re livid. They’re out for blood.

One angry Republican said, “We got them the House, we got them the Senate and even the White House and they still can’t get it done. If we leave Ryan and McConnell in charge, nothing’s going to change.”

That was the gist of the newspaper story but can a reporter – based on interviews with a handful of people – put her finger on a political tsunami sweeping across the Republican hinterlands?

Every month or so a candidate will walk into my office, sit down, look at me across the conference table, and say, What should I do?

And I usually give him ­or her the same answer: First, raise money. Second, take a poll.

He usually doesn’t like either idea and, after a bit of hemming and hawing, he’ll say, Why do I need a poll? I know what to do.

Which leaves me in the awkward position of having to explain to someone – who means well – he doesn’t know quite as much as he thinks.

I’ll say: I’m a sixty-five-year-old white male Republican. And almost all my friends are white-haired men just like me. That’s the world I live in. Then I’ll explain that:

1) 70% of the voters are white.

2) And that half of those voters are males – so my ‘group’ just shrunk to 35%.

3) That I’m also a Republican – so 35% just shrunk to 10%.

4) And that I live in a suburb – so 10% just shrunk to 5%.

And that’s the world I live in. And what I see of the other 95% of the world, day in and day out, is little to nothing at all.

What I’m trying to explain to the candidate is simple: He lives in a small world. What he sees and hears and feels is subjective. And one tool that allows him to reach beyond the small world he walks, lives, and breathes in is a poll.

Once I’ve explained that the candidate will usually frown and ask, How much does a poll cost?

And I’ll say, Around $20,000.

And, more often than not, that’s the end of our conversation.

That newspaper report about a tsunami in Republicanland was a fine tale. It was a tale of ‘I loved you – but you betrayed me.’ The anger was riveting. But did a reporter spot a wildfire of rage rolling across Appalachia by interviewing a handful of people in one small town in the mountains west of Asheville?

No.

That story wasn’t revelation. It was an entertainment. Written to sell newspapers. For revelation you have to walk a harder road.

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