Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Don't bet on the conventional wisdom

I'VE LONG ARGUED that viewing this presidential election cycle through the lens of the "conventional wisdom" would prove worthless. There are simply too many moving parts this time around. Even the polls seem unreliable. Charlie Cook, the longtime sage of political forecasting and a charter member of the CV club, is clearly flummoxed. He essentially threw in the towel with this gem: "It is becoming clear that if President Obama is reelected, it will be despite the economy and because of his campaign; if Mitt Romney wins, it will be because of the economy and despite his campaign." Hells bells, my grandmother could have cooked up that one (pun intended). Talk about hedging your bets. Cook, who is actually a good guy and often right, says that "this is a very close race and one that still could go either way," though the odds of Romney winning are getting slimmer. That of course is the classical conventional wisdom in all of its unimaginative glory. But just as Obama was no ordinary candidate in 2008, he is no ordinary incumbent today. He's a historical figure, and a very likable one to boot. That alone makes him a wildcard. He's also a master politician (albeit an introverted one) who opponents tend to underestimate (see Hillary, McCain, and the late Osama bin Laden). That means all bets are off. Don't be surprised if Obama wins re-election in a walk if not a landslide.

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