Either I Win or You Cheated

RCPnov1.png
RealClearPolitics

Looking in on the "I'll show you nerds how to math" theme, James Fallows points out the wide gap between what pollsters, poli-sci types, and poll aggregators are thinking, and what Republicans are expecting. Fallows concludes:

Someone is out of touch with reality here, and in a more fundamental way than I can recall. 

The point is not that an Obama win would "prove" Rove and Gingrich wrong, or a Romney win would "disprove" the state-poll models. We're talking about probabilities, not certainty. (To spell it out: A tossed coin has a 50 percent probability of coming up heads. The fact that it comes up tails doesn't "disprove" that probability.) But this is not like the normal closely-run election, in which both sides are saying, "It will be close, but I think it will turn out our way." Nor is it like the normal impending landslide, in which one side maintains a brave face but knows how things are headed.
The one thing I would say is that in 2004 I detected the same "We're gonna shock the world" feeling. The thinking at that time was that Bush had pulled some sort of "upset," when in fact he'd basically done what polls said he'd probably do. With that said, should Obama win expect to hear a lot of talk about voter fraud, just as you heard a lot of talking about allegations of fraud in Ohio in 2004. 

There is one big difference. On the right, voter fraud is an actual issue, and voter-ID laws are endorsed by basically every organ of the conservative movement. On the left, the notion that Bush stole Ohio was debunked by Mother Jones. The difference between left and right isn't the lack of appetite for intrigue and conspiracy. It's that the left has a partisan press, whereas the right has a partisan press office. 
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

From This Author

Just In