Though I’ve made my view of the electoral situation pretty clear, I’m well aware that Tuesday’s election will be damned close. I’m well aware that as encouraging as Nate Silver’s model/conclusions are, he still predicts that Romney would win one or two out of every ten elections (were we able to run the trial multiple times). Some (I wish I could write “many”) conservatives are also undoubtedly preparing to come out on the wrong side of a very thin electoral margin.
Here’s what’s weird: despite the statistical proximity of the two possible outcomes, the two sides are living in wildly different realities. In part, this is because each side has taken at least one turn at believing that they’d cakewalk away with the presidency this Tuesday.
Michael Tomasky reflected on the competing realities situation this morning. He writes:
What’s the state of mind this weekend of the conservative outrage machine? With regard to liberals, I think it’s fair to say as of Saturday that most of us (excepting your allowed-for percentage of nervous nellies) expect Barack Obama to win. If he somehow doesn’t, we’ll be surprised and deeply depressed. But provided the outcome doesn’t involve some kind of Florida-style shenanigans, in a couple days’ time, we’ll come to terms with it. Meanwhile–conservatives? I think that they are certain that Mitt Romney will winand that all information to the contrary is a pack of lies; that they will be completely shocked and outraged if he doesn’t; that, if he loses, it will be the inevitable product of foul play; and that therefore they’ll immediately start scouring the landscape looking for parties to blame and will keep themselves in a state suspended agitation for…days, weeks, four years, forever.
There’s no doubt that one of the United States’ partisan bases is in for a devastating blow—a foundational shock to their worldview. One side’s going to have to come to terms with the fact that they have substantially misread the country.
Seriously. Most of the campaign fights at this point have left policy—and even personal questions—far behind. Instead, partisans are sniping over who really has a clear view of the electorate. They’re arguing over who sees clearly…and that means that someone’s going to be proven wrong. In some cases they’ll be dramatically wrong (paging Ed Gillespie, Dick Morris, etc).
And since few partisans—Nate Silver is a laudable exception to this rule—have tried to keep their predictions close to the vest, they’ll need to pass the buck. HOW did the other team, the nefarious or un-American or women-hating or corporation-loving or marriage-destroying running dogs manage to win the thing? How is it that the team who supposedly “skewed” the data happened to be
right, erm, correct?
Which brings me to a question for the commenters: If your side falls short of the presidency on Tuesday, what reasons will you give? How will you explain what happened?
Two proposed guidelines (which I won’t actively enforce, given my aversion to interfering with the comment box):
1) Stick to explaining your own side’s potential loss. It’s easy to lampoon your opponents’ weirdest myths (etc), but that’s ultimately a troll’s errand.
2) Offer your own reasons for your side’s loss—but also provide cover for the fringe.
Example: I happen to think that an Obama loss is evidence that the Democratic Party hasn’t quite worked out a rhetorical alternative to Reaganomics that can hit the Rust Belt’s heartstrings AND address globalization’s realities (though they’ve improved). However, I think the far Left will aim straight for voting procedure conspiracies. They’ll blame skewed voting machines and voter suppression—especially in Ohio.