Conor evidently thinks so, or at least something like that, when he suggests that conservative media has to be "honest" with "the rank-and-file" (the jus' plain folks who exist to follow the pundits). What would such honesty consist in? The National Review will announce in September, "Look guys, it's over. We lost before you even cast a ballot. We now have this science of calling up random people and soliciting their extremely incoherent opinions, and it's frankly way more effective than all this voting and franchise stuff because it tells us how you will vote without your even having to bother doing it. So why don't you just forget about all this politics stuff and focus on going to work and raising kids, ok?"
I understand how accurate prediction is better than inaccurate prediction, and how it's also highly statistically probable that predictions based on models will be accurate more often than predictions made from the gut or from anecdotes, but whom does that surprise? What I don't understand is how the accuracy of predictions determines the effectiveness of a campaign, or how it replaces the purpose for which political journalism exists - to persuade. That polls show a candidate up by 2 points doesn't tell me anything about whether I should vote for him unless my sole criterion is to vote for the winner. Polling data can obviously be useful in planning a campaign strategy, but even armed with all the best public opinion models in the world, you only know what the average person who doesn't think of you claims he thinks of you, and not what to tell him to get him to think better of you.
Even Conor concedes that the "misinformation" of the "rank-and-file" wasn't all about the numbers. Something was off about the message too, but not that it failed to persuade, because in the world of numbers and accuracy, there is no persuasion, only an "information disadvantage." And how would a Conor-led defeatist and cringing conservative press improve things? Well, for one thing, it would be liberal. Because the big problem with conservatives is that they're not liberal, and so they do completely incomprehensible things like "waste time on stories the rest of America dismissed as nonsense." Totally - all that nonsense about the HHS mandate and religious liberty, and entitlements spending and health care, and blah blah Libya attack. Who cares about that? Maybe conservatives, but probably not "the rest of America," whose own partisan outlets never engage in less-than-Conorable fear-mongering about the "War on Women" or anything like that. Noted: the War on Women is real, but war in Libya is a delusion.
But oddly, Conor is not comparing the National Review to Jezebel or Mother Jones, or conservative pundits to liberal ones, but rather NR's conservative pundits to the New York Times, a nominally nonpartisan international newspaper with millions of subscribers and hundreds of reporters all over the world (and not its opinion section either). Why doesn't the National Review deliver the same kind and amount of "information" as the New York Times? Some people say statistics are hard to understand, but I would argue that this discrepancy is much more mysterious.