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Saturday, August 14, 2010
Wishing Is Not Analysis

Here's a good example.

A month ago I was betting that the Republicans would make big gains in both the House and Senate, but would fail to gain a majority in either chamber. Today I think the Republicans might win the House but still come up short in the Senate (primary results in several states have hurt the GOP’s prospects). Next month the picture could be a bit different, and by November it could change even more. Today’s CNN analysis may turn out to be prescient. But it also might turn out to be bogus. I suggest we wait until the morning of November 3 to make that judgment.

The narrative that the writer (Les Francis at the Frum Forum) is pushing is that the current GOP is far too extremist, and while they may be looking good now for November's elections, that could change in an instant. I disagree.

First, he dismisses the polls. But as Nate Silver points out, the polls even a few months out are meaningful. They may not turn out to be completely accurate in individual years, but they are very accurate on average.

Second he engages in the commonplace "the Republicans are much more extremist than they used to be," BS that we've been hearing almost every two years. Those of us who've been around the block know that those charges were leveled in the Bush years, the Gingrich years, and the Reagan years.

Third, it is silly to say that the Republicans may be looking good this month, but the Democrats could still turn it around. Sorry, but there are now only about 2-1/2 months to the election. There is no way to turn the ship away from the iceberg at this point, even with a couple of positive jobs reports (which are looking increasingly unlikely anyway).

My guess is the GOP takes over the House, with a slim margin. In the Senate, it is looking increasingly possible that they will emerge with a split, although I admit that would require them to virtually run the table.
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