Either I Win or You Cheated

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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. 
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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.

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