Beware of the Shifting, Seasonal Political Conventional Wisdom
Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire ““ This year’s New Hampshire autumn was strange. Until September’s final days it was hot and then there was a sudden downpour, an abrupt cooling — and leaves started changing color within one weekend.
Just like the conventional wisdom suddenly changing as a hot media narrative moves out of season and a new one pops into view.
Are we seeing this now in the 2010 mid-term elections?
The University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato points out on that when campaigns veer into October the press looks for every little change but his reliable “Crystal Ball” team see little shift from their Labor Day predictions that the Democrats will likely lose the House. But the new narrative is: Are the Democrats are coming back?”¦Maybe they can stem catastrophic losses”¦Maybe they can hold onto the House.
Conventional wisdom has often been wrong. John F. Kennedy, Jr. was too much of a lightweight to get the Democratic Party’s 1960 Presidential nomination”¦A Catholic could never be elected President”¦Rudy Giuliani was a virtual shoo-in for the 2008 Republican nomination”¦Tea Party candidates couldn’t wrest nominations away from establishment-backed GOP candidates.
Sarah Palin was politically through once she resigned Alaska’s governorship”¦The Republican party was doomed to minority status after Barack Obama’s election and conservatism was discredited”¦We were entering into a post-racial, post-partisan era. And the biggest conventional wisdom flop of all: John McCain is a maverick and a moderate.
In the 70s the press perpetuated the image of a stagnant India. Some media and experts gave up on India getting anywhere. Today, India with its 1.1 billion people has the fourth largest economy in the world, and a growth rate of nearly 9 percent. The Economist’s front-cover headline: “How India’s Growth will outpace China’s.”
The new conventional wisdom involves the enthusiasm gap between the two parties. Barack Obama and the Congressional Democrats have either angered or disappointed many GOPers, independents and some Democrats. Liberal Democrats are dusting off their old line about teaching “their party” a lesson by staying home. But now Obama has been out on the hustings. Are polls showing Democrats coming back?
The latest Zogby poll has the two parties tied in a generic Congressional ballot. Nate Silver sees the enthusiasm gap as 6 percent in the Republican’s favor and notes that Gallup sees it higher. So do all models show the Democrats will lose the House as the media begins hedging on the conventional wisdom? No
A new congressional election forecast model by New York University Political Science professor Sanford Gordon uses available race rankings determined by the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report plus rankings from previous election cycles and their subsequent electoral outcomes. Gordon’s his press release:
“Using the Cook rankings, the procedure projects an expected Republican caucus of 215 seats; using the Rothenberg rankings, the prediction is 213 seats. Two hundred and eighteen seats are necessary for a majority. Gordon also ran simulations to calculate the likelihood of the House changing hands””that is, what are the chances that the Republicans will win at least 218 seats? The simulation using the Cook rankings suggests that the probability is about 37 percent; using the Rothenberg rankings, it is 14 percent.”
NEWS FLASH! Joe Biden will definitely be Obama’s 2012 running mate. Wait: A new CNN story says an Obama-Hillary Clinton ticket is “on the table”"¦.
So beware of the conventional wisdom.
When the votes are counted if the expert, polling, and talking head narratives prove correct, you’ll hear about its accuracy.
And if not?
Then previous predictions will be quickly swept away and stuck in a hidden dumpster ““ out of sight, out of mind — like fallen leaves on a cool, New England autumn day.
Copyright 2010 Joe Gandelman
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org and can be booked to speak at your event at www.mavenproductions.com.
Follow Joe Gandelman on Twitter @joegandelman