Thursday, January 10, 2008

Salvaging Something From The Wreckage

All the post-New Hampshire news reports show us how self-centered our pundits are. "How could we get it wrong?" they all ask. The answer is really quite simple and straight-forward - you got it wrong because you are both stupid and arrogant. You ignored the voters who, up until the last minute, declared themselves undecided (17%), and you hate Hillary so much, you wanted her to lose. Combine the two, and you have a wonderful recipe for pundit disaster.

Among the most stupid new narratives is the one being pushed by the "all Hillary hatred all the time" Chris Matthews - the so-called "Bradley Effect". Now, I had never heard of this - I thought it had something to do with former NJ Sen. Bill Bradley. I had completely forgotten that former LA mayor Tom Bradley ran against George Dukmejian in California, and was out-polling the Duke, yet lost in a narrow contest in 1982. Most pundits at the time insisted that he lost because poll respondents lied about their willingness to vote for a black man. I have also heard this called the "Bradley/Wilder effect", with reference to former VA governer Wilder, but the problem with so naming it is that Wilder won.

In other words, the pundits are trying to decide whether Democratic voters are more sexist or racist. I had heard variations on this theme over the past weekend, and I grew quite tired of them, because, simply put - America, liberal and conservative, Democratic and Republican, is both. There have been visceral responses to both the Democratic Party leading candidates. Trying to figure out which of our social demons will win out in this contest is disheartening. Of course, doing so is a way for pundits to put the onus on the voters, not on their own failures.

In other words, like with Florida in 2000, it isn't the polling that was wrong. It was the reporting on the polling that was the problem. It's really that simple.

Virtual Tin Cup

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