Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Egg on Pundits' Faces

As this post is being written, it is not yet known whether Scott Brown will be the next U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. However, we have known for weeks that it is a much closer, more competitive race than anyone would have ever expected even a couple of months ago.

While there is nothing shameful in being surprised, this episode might give rise to some memories from a year ago. Does anyone remember all of those political pundits on the left -- and some on the right -- who declared that the Republicans had become a regional party relevant in the south and becoming extinct everywhere else? Some applauded, or bewailed, the death of one of the two national parties.

That great exaggeration spread just before the Republicans won the governorship in New Jersey, nearly won a House race in New York, and became competitive in a state wide race in Massachusetts.

Now, before conservative pundits imagine that they are being applauded here, one might recall that following the elections of 2004 and 2006, many self-proclaimed expert observers declared that an age of Republican hegemony was upon us. That didn't work out so well either.

We live in a world where access to information provides lots of opportunity for instant analysis, which some people confuse with received wisdom. Perceiving trends usually requires time and patience. In spite, or perhaps because of, the glut of information, those qualities are in short supply.

In a perfect world, many pundits would step back for a time of evaluation and reflection. In the real one, most will just move on to the next thing to be wrong about.


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