With the political climate heating up, we can expect to hear the so-called experts weighing on, telling us just what we should expect. That's fair enough--that's what they're paid big buck to do, to either attempt to get it right or to if they happen to be party hacks, to spin with a straight face.
However, equally as fair is that we hold these "pundits" accountable, and the only way to do that is to look at their past track record. How many of us ever wonder, as we hear someone like Democrat hack Bob Beckel express with absolute certitude just how well Democrats will do in the upcoming election, just what kind of track record these soothsayers have?
I wonder and back last October for my tv show (More Politically Alert--I had not yet begun this blog or I would have posted it here as well), I created a graphic listing the predictions of a series of pundits regarding how many seats Republicans would pick up in Congress. One does not create such a graphic unless one plans to revisit it at a later time.
Now is the time.
Keep in mind this was in the final weeks prior to the election. Most pundits spent most of the year predicting much lower gains for Republicans. Only when Gallup came out with a poll in the final month showing Republicans up by double digits in the all-important generic Congressional ballot did many of these pundits up their totals. Charlie Cook, Larry Sabato, and Stu Rothenbert are considered the demi-gods of punditry, so I list them first.
Note that for my prediction, I didn't have the resources of the three gentleman noted here to look at every contested race in the country in detail, so I simply decided that an eight point victory margin was likely nationwide (54-46) and that it would result in Republicans gaining not merely the 39 seats necessary to take control, but someting north of 60--I settled on 61-- (54% times 435 would equal a Republican advantage in the range of 235-200). The gambit worked very well as we'll note here. Real Clear Politic's Jay Cost and I came closest to hitting the 63 number; we both had 61 while Bob Beckel was worst; the Democrat hack was at 48 but did equivocate suggesting it might reach 50.
I'm not big on equivocation, so for people like Dick Morris who picked a 60-80 range, I guess we shoud force them into an average of their two number.
Let's look at the numbers. For those who don't trust me, I will show the graphic on More Politically Alert, but I'm not so good at scanning things in, so I'll simply retype it here.
Headline--"Experts" Agree GOP Will Take House
Subhead--(39 Seat Pick-Up Needed To Take Control)
Charlie Cook +52 ("substantially more" possible)
Larry Sabato +47 (will update to 50+ the Thusday prior to the election)
Stu Rothenbert +45-55
Dick Morris +60-80--right but (closer to 80--wrong!)
Steve Lombardo +65 (in one Huffington Post column)
David Brooks +52 (New York Times)
Jay Cost +61
Steve Vaillancourt +61 (More Politically Alert and soon-to-be nhinsider.com)
Bob Beckel +48 (or into the 50s)
538.com (New York Times) +51
There were undoubtedly other pundits, but that's what I came up with in scoruing the media, both TV and the Internet.
On another graphic, I noted that The Real Clear Poliics Average was +60 which (they had 220 leaning Republican, 178 leaning Democratic, and 38 Toss-Ups). That's a pretty reason to --when in doubt--trust averaging.
538.com noted that the GOP chances of taking control were 80% (right) but with only a 30% chance of picking up 60 seats (wrong). The blog noted a 12 % chance the GOP would pick p 70 seats and only a three percent chance it would get to Dick Morris territory--80 seats.
My point is that while some "experts" work hard to provide us with legitimate insight, people like Beckel (a Democrat hack) and Morris (a Republican hack these days but mostly just a hack for whomever will pay to subsidize his foot fetish--ouch!) simply cannot be trusted. Their predictions are more spin--what they'd like to see--than reality (what we can expect to see).
This is the kind of report pundits don't like to read, but accountability should count for something.
Ah yes, you might say, but I'm being selective. Not at all. That's why I reviewed my 11 for 2011 picks just a few weeks ago. I must admit I missed two Senate races (Nevada and Colorado). I hope it was not because I loathe Harry Reid so much that I simply could not pick against him--in fact, most polls had Sharon Engle up a few points going into that fina weekend.
I still loathe Whorehouse Harry Reid (talk show host Jerry Doyle's name for him based on actual audio of Reid explaining how he learned how to swim in a Las Vegas whore house), but alas, he won, and I was wrong on that one.