When I read Nate Silver, Sean Trende, Charlie Cook, Jay Cost, and the others who make a profession of political prognostication, I pay close attention to their attempts to dissect the polling data and predict what is to come. But I also take everything that they say with a considerable grain of salt. You see, I lived through the 1980 election, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and I was struck at the time by the fact that next to no one among the political scientists who made a living out of studying presidential elections, communism in eastern Europe, and Sovietology saw any of these upheavals coming. Virtually all of them were caught flat-footed.
This is, in fact, what you would expect. They were all expert in the ordinary operations of a particular system, and within that framework they were pretty good at prognostication. But the apparent stability of the system had lured them into a species of false confidence – not unlike the false confidence that fairly often besets students of the stock market.
There were others, less expert in the particulars of these systems, who had a bit more distance and a bit more historical perspective and who saw it coming…. They were aware that institutions and outlooks that are highly dysfunctional will eventually and unexpectedly dissolve.
Rahe goes on to analogize Obama’s popularity to the Soviet system:
In my opinion, none of the psephologists mentioned above has reflected on the degree to which the administrative entitlements state – envisaged by Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives, instituted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and expanded by their successors – has entered a crisis, and none of them is sensitive to the manner in which Barack Obama, in his audacity, has unmasked that state’s tyrannical propensities and its bankruptcy….
When the American people pause to pay attention, they will not vote for four more years of misery, four more years of corruption, four more years of lawlessness, four more years of race-baiting, and they will certainly not vote to embrace Obamacare….
In the meantime, you should not be afraid. This is going to be fun, and our margin of victory is going to be large.
Certainly we cannot be overconfident just based on our gut feelings. But I get the same feeling as Rahe when I hear polls about how popular Obama still is.
I wonder, who are these people?
Sure, I know the liberals, but only one-fifth of the population self-identifies as liberal. Really, after 3 1/2 years of Obama, who are all the non self-identifying liberals who are going to return Obama to office?
Sure, there are many people dependent on government largess and some otherwise conservative people who will vote for Obama for racial and/or ethic reasons, but can combining liberals with non-liberal government dependents and racial/ethnic voters really get Obama over the top?
Do I live in the same country as these mysterious non-liberal Obama supporters?
… it is doubtful that Mr. Obama leads by as many as four or six points now (as some other polling aggregation Web sites suggest), and even more doubtful that he is seven or nine points ahead.
I hope my gut is correct and this nation is not so obsessed with short-term selfishness and racial/ethnic identity politics as to put those demands ahead of our children’s futures.
Which is why Obama’s only choice is to destroy Romney. It’s how Obama wins, because there is no majority ready to return Obama to office.
President Hope gets re-elected by being Candidate Destroyer. I think Rahe may be missing that.