Today, David Brooks Is the Low-Hanging Fruit

Why isn’t Barack Obama doing better? Why, after all that has happened, does he have only a slim two- or three-point lead over John McCain, according to an average of the recent polls? Why is he basically tied with his opponent when his party is so far ahead? …
…So, cautiously, the country watches. This should be a Democratic wipeout. But voters seem to be slow to trust a sojourner they cannot place.

Etc. Sigh. We know that David Brooks reads political science, or at least social science that is relevant to politics. So, I cannot imagine that he believes this election is supposed to be a “wipeout.” He has to have some passing knowledge of the forecasting models—discussed on this blog, among other places, here, here, and here. See also Andy’s post on why the lack of a landslide is absolutely no puzzle whatsoever.

To repeat: the forecasting models predict a close election. They’ve never said otherwise. This year is not supposed to be a Democratic landslide. But why should the such prosaic facts keep David Brooks from his patented pop sociology (e.g., “smart post-boomer meritocrats”)?

7 Responses to Today, David Brooks Is the Low-Hanging Fruit

  1. Matt Jarvis August 6, 2008 at 5:52 pm #

    I could see someone agreeing with the theoretical insight of the models but disagreeing with the measures in them being appropriate in 2008.

    I’m thinking of the economic measures in particular. I can see an argument that GDP/RDI-based measures might not capture the particular kinds of economic pain that people are feeling these days.

    Of course, there’s another possibility, one that Nelson Polsby recounted to me with great frequency. “How did Adlai Stevenson lose? Everyone I know voted for him!” I could easily see the argument where David Brooks knows people who voted for Bush in 2004 but doesn’t know anyone who’s voting for McCain in 2008.

  2. AaronSw August 6, 2008 at 9:46 pm #

    Come on, John. Forecasting models aren’t God; they’re curve-fitting. The complaint against Obama is that while the Generic Democrat poll is up eleven points, the Obama poll is up one or two. “Why isn’t Barack Obama doing better? is a perfectly legitimate question in that context.

  3. John Sides August 7, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    Aaron: My view is that the electoral landscape and its advantages for either party are better delineated by “fundamentals” like the economy and war than by that generic poll question. At a minimum, these fundamentals, and what they imply, deserve discussion in a piece like Brooks’.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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