Saturday, August 31, 2013

Political Guessing At Its Worst

Political Guessing At Its Worst

Whenever the news reports that a political candidate is up a certain % in the polls, it always infuriates me to a personal level as a journalist because it represents the resurgence of election prediction as a kind of journalistic nutra-loaf.

Something like "Hispanic 20-somethings would have voted for Hillary Clinton if we'd held the election yesterday" is not a useful piece of information for anyone except the campaigns themselves and really don't need to be reported on. The election will still be in November or whenever and the day after any single one of us will be able to call the result with the same pin-point accuracy as Nate Silver himself congratulations, I guess.

But Silver and the whole Cult of Wonk have reimbued it all with a veneer of respectability and relevance and now people just cannot shut up about it. Like, I guess you could make the argument that people who follow politics are tribal anyway and might as well be considered active campaigners. But I refuse to believe that there's people out there chomping down their Lucky Charms thinking 'welp, guess I better get out there and talk to some Presbyterian single moms!"

And even if they do, there's little to no consideration of how policy might inform preference. I guess I'm being willfully naive. In general, people who find joy in following the minutia of political horse races gives off the same vibe as people who really like to collect Nazi artifacts, as any reasonable person would look on those subjects with horror rather than earnest fascination.

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