The Corner

Elections

Guessing Game

It’s been kind of remarkable to see how many pundits are admirably cautious about making predictions about what will happen tomorrow. “Nobody knows anything” seems to be the phrase of the day. And that’s fine with me. My guess about tomorrow is pretty much in line with the conventional wisdom: The Dems will take the House, and the GOP will gain one to three seats in the Senate. But I won’t be surprised to be wrong.

This is from NBC’s First Read:

 “A political kaleidoscope”: One day out, there’s a midterm path for both parties: As Democratic pollster Peter Hart put it, maybe the best way to view our final national NBC News/WSJ poll of the 2018 election cycle is as a kaleidoscope.

“It is a political kaleidoscope,” said Hart, whose firm conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “You turn the poll one way, and it looks [good for Democrats].” But if you turn it another way, he adds, “you can see how the GOP squeaks through.”

That sounds right to me. What will be interesting, however, is to see if the humility of the pundit class holds after the election. There’s a natural human tendency to think that whatever happened in the past had to happen the way it happened. Political handicappers of all stripes suffer from this tendency more than most. Every past election was “obviously” going to turn out the way it did. There’s usually a polite phase, in which the analysts say, “In retrospect, it should have been obvious.” But pretty soon, it just becomes, “It was obvious.”

Unless you confidently predicted how the midterms would go before the midterms, you should probably avoid saying, “I knew it” afterwards. But you know a lot of people will do exactly that. And if we’re going to be really honest, most of the people who do get their predictions right didn’t really know what would happen either. They were just guessing, too.

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