John Cole has a very interesting post at Balloon Juice on the election coverage, with specific reference to the heat Nate Silver is taking for his forecasts. From NYT's new public editor, Margaret Sullivan:
“Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they’re jokes.”
The above words are those of Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. He’s talking about Nate Silver, the statistics wizard whose FiveThirtyEight blog is licensed by The New York Times, and who writes for The Times frequently online as well as in print.
OK -- for starters, this is Joe Scarborough calling calling Nate Silver an ideologue. Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman and current right-wing talk-show host.
Silver's a statistician who started off as a baseball analyst. Y'know, baseball, which relies on statistics and accurate forecasts. And he has an enviable record.
Cole goes on to quote from a piece at DeadSpin. This is the key item, to my way of thinking:
The political media hate precision: No one tunes in to a boring horse race. The volatility of day-to-day polling allows them to explain how the contest (in which, till recently, no actual votes had yet been cast) has been lost and won and lost again with each news cycle—an endless series of decisive revelations and foundational truths about the candidates or the public.
Basically, the punditry needs a horse-race, or no one will pay any attention to them. And so, since they are not constrained by any of the requirements of actual journalism, they keep calling it a horse-race.
It's really very simple -- it's not about the election, it's about them.
(An added fillip, from Cole:
Read the whole Deadspin piece, read the whole NY Times piece, and tell me- which one was more informative, and which one is just more of the same fail we get from the media every single fucking day. The difference in the deference to facts and analyses as opposed to feelings and village think is both breathtaking and heartbreaking.)
I really think it should be illegal to campaign for any public office more than a month before the election. As it is, I can hardly wait for next Wednesday.