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opinion | Experts must abandon their pretense of political omniscience

One day, experts claim that mid-term polls are about to “change direction.” Then they say the Senate races are getting smaller. Then another scandal erupts involving Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker and new polls in Pennsylvania show Democratic Senate leader John Fetterman growing.

Democrats may have lost momentum in the House, although Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman notes that “seven of our ten rating changes are in Democrats’ favor.” That suggests an unusual trend is underway. “It is rare for so many race classifications to shift to the president’s party in an interim year,” he writes.

Perhaps President Biden’s rising polls bode well for Democrats. On the other hand, Biden’s misguided and embarrassing attempt to pry Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman out of Russia has come to naught, and he now faces a Saudi attempt to raise gas prices. That is never convenient for the party in power.

The point is, experts need a healthy dose of humility. They have yet to figure out exactly what went wrong with their 2016 and 2020 models and their ongoing dilemma of figuring out who a “probable voter” is. of errors, so what appears to be a “shift” or a “narrowing” is probably statistical noise.

A reasonable approach is to ignore everything and wait for the election results. Political reporting has to keep turning the controls and looking into the microscope to generate new takes. But that doesn’t mean news consumers should play along with the canard that a two-point lead in the polls followed by a two-point deficit means something significant.

What we can say is that in senate and governor races where the candidates have established identities, the quality of candidates makes a difference. Months ago, few would have thought that Ohio’s Senate race would have Democrats in better shape than Wisconsin’s. if Democrats win the former and lose the latter, you can attribute that counterintuitive result to Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and the predictable problems Democrats face when nominating a progressive vulnerability on issues such as crime is in a swing.

Likewise, if Republicans lose what could have been winnable races in swing states (e.g., senate races in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona; governor races in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kansas), much of the blame will fall on former President Donald Trump and his MAGA supporters. who singled out election deniers and rampaging extremists to compete in competitive matches.

Finally, the Supreme Court ruling dobbs The decision has clearly impacted Democrats’ enthusiasm for the midterm elections, has encouraged a disproportionate number of women to vote and introduced a powerful challenge to inflation. Whether it will be “sufficient” to save both houses of Congress for the Democrats is very much up in the air. But dobbs certainly changed the politics of abortion, pushed Republicans on the defensive, and pushed Democrats to give their full support to preserving women’s right to self-determination and health care. That could affect not only this election, but many that will follow, as Democrats strive to maintain support among women, youth, suburban and educated voters.

In short, daily flying in search of some minor movement in close races does not yield illuminating political coverage. It is more helpful to understand the uncertainty in the poll, the quality of the candidates and developments such as: dobbs breeds much more insecure than the forecasters would have us believe. Sometimes you just have to wait to count the votes.

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