Getting Too Close

Offering up a dose of humility before reminding us that he correctly predicted a John McCain win some time ago, Tom Schaller reflects:

Given how much more closely I’ve followed Democratic politics the past four years, I’ve been embarrassed at times by my assessments or predictions of the race for the Democratic nomination.

I think following politics closely may actually be an impediment to forecasting. People who don't follow politics at all can make mistakes because they wind up lacking awareness of relevant facts about the candidates (Giuliani is pro-choice) or general principles (the GOP is the pro-life party) that you need to know in order to predict with a healthy measure of accuracy. But beyond some general level of awareness of who's who and what usually happens, paying close attention tends to overly bias one toward the view that something surprising and interesting will happen. Now it may prove to be the case that 2008 is, on the Democratic side, that unusual year in which something surprising and interesting does happen. But even if Obama wins, it'll still be the case that every cycle some group of clever people is making the case for why this year is the year and it almost never is.