The Spectacle Blog

Predictions vs. hunches

By on 6.17.08 | 1:46PM

As any of the winners of my ill-advised election wagers can attest, I've got a lousy track record as a political prognosticator. One of the sharp operators who've fleeced me in the past, Dave Weigel, just sent me an e-mail chiding me over today's article about Barack Obama's Electoral College problems. Dave cited a new partisan Democratic poll showing Obama up 50-39% in Ohio. I replied:

I hope you understand that, having invested in the idea that Team Obama doesn't know what they're doing, I am now predisposed to disregard all contrary evidence. In reality, I haven't the foggiest clue what Obama's poll numbers are going to look like tomorrow, next week, or next month. A couple of weeks ago, however, I detected the stench of McGovernite arrogance emanating from the Obama camp, an aroma that they've done nothing to dispel in recent days, and experience leads me to suspect a McGovern/Dukakis-type meltdown might be in the offing.
I could be mistaken, of course. Prognostication has never been my strong point. But when I saw that McClatchy story about them planning to send Obama to Europe, so as to showcase how beloved he is by the European masses -- well, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!

Over and over in my lifetime, liberal Democrats have shown a tendency to overestimate the American voter's enthusiasm for liberalism. This tendency often manifests itself in the kind of overconfident talk now being heard from Team Obama.

Maybe my impression of Democratic overconfidence is wrong. Maybe the European tour idea, like David Plouffe's suggestion that Obama can win without Florida and Ohio, is just idle chatter. And maybe Obama will crush McCain in November. At this point, however, my hunch is otherwise. But it's a hunch, not a prediction. Despite my confessed predisposition to defend my hunch and ignore contrary evidence, I'll be willing to revise my opinion if and when Team Obama starts talking common sense.

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