Thursday, December 27, 2012

Predictions

Dave Weigel has a post up detailing the predictions he got wrong this year. It's admirable...not so much because he's taking responsibility, but because of the effort required. Re-reading my own stuff? No thanks.

Now, I do try to keep track of what I've predicted and write about it here if I get it wrong (Tommy Thompson losing his primary? Oops). Fortunately, I think I escaped the election season with relatively few embarrassing ones. Mostly, that's because I try to steer clear of predictions! Not because I'm afraid to (in fact, predictions are pretty popular, and I'm pretty sure that any ratio of correct calls better than, say, Dick Morris levels would be a net plus on that level), but because I just don't really see that as what this blog is about. I mean, I do it sometimes, but I'm not looking to. Really, what matters is whether my analysis is correct and helps readers understand what's going on, not whether I can express any of that in terms of specific predictions.

On the other hand, I had a really nice run in the primaries when the Post included me in their primary-day predictions roundup. Granted, it was basically just reading polls and beyond that total luck, but it was fun! Also, I think I've mentioned this one already, but on a rare one in which I totally stuck my neck out this year -- Todd Akin -- I got it right. But I'm afraid that what WaPo came calling and asked me to participate in their predictions for 2013, I pretty much bailed, and went with a trite political scientist smart-ass reply (although worded politely, I hope). Advantage: it will be correct! Disadvantage: pointing out obvious stuff that always happens really shouldn't count as a prediction, really.

At any rate: if anyone noticed a prediction I made this year that I got wrong and haven't written about, let me know and I'll highlight it.

12 comments:

  1. Do you think you were too bullish on Rick Perry's chances?

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    1. I don't. I think I may have been too slow to conclude that his debate performance was hurting him as much as it apparently was, but I still think (1) he was pretty much running from the start, and (2) he was quite well-positioned up to the time he entered.

      One thing I still don't know enough about: were his debate performances matched by similarly awful performances off the camera, especially with GOP leaders who might otherwise have supported him?

      Of course, the other thing which is still a bit up in the air is how much of his performance is just because he's a terrible candidate, and how much was health-related.

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    2. It was my understanding that he avoided debates in Texas as much as possible.

      For what it's worth, I thought he was a great candidate on paper as well. But the day he declared, someone dumped a ton of oppo research on him. So he was a man who made a lot of enemies.

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  2. This is a bit off topic, but you must be popping the bubbly at The Young Senate Society after Schatz's appointment over Hanabusa.

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    1. Except that it wasn't Gabbard, who is even younger! But yup.

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    2. I actually think it's quite interesting Gabbard didn't make the Short List forwarded to Abercrombie. That will be forgotten soon enough, but must be regarded as a bit of an embarrassment. Ed Case has proved time and again with his electoral defeats Hawaiians don't like pols perceived as cutting in line. Maybe Gabbard's omission is the Party's way of throwing her a brushback pitch.

      It will also be interesting to see if Hanabusa primaries Gabbard in 2012. Which leads me to a suggested post on frequency of primary challenges to appointed Senator vs. primaries to other incumbent Senators - and relative success rate.

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  3. Gun control... Will the Fairness Doctrine be next? ;-)

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    1. Fair enough (and, yes, I know you're mostly teasing, but I'll take it on anyway).

      What I think (IIRC) you were right about is that basically liberals in general haven't budget at all in instinctively reaching for gun control when there's gun violence. That's been balanced, since 1995 or 2001 or whatever, with a choice to not act on that instinct, which in effect meant that liberals had no solution to gun violence. So what happens now is that the instinct to attempt to solve the problem (and being liberals, they definitely like solving problems) overwhelms their political caution. In other words, it's not, in my view, that most liberals have been desperately looking for an excuse to go for gun control; to the contrary, most liberals except for the very small subset of activists on that issue were okay with ignoring it. It's that liberals really can't handle just saying "stuff happens" when something this horrible happens, and that the only remedy they can think of is gun control.

      Which, of course, may not be wrong. But that's a whole different argument than the one about whether liberals have abandoned gun control.

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    2. What I’ve argued against is the narrative that liberals were not in favor of gun control (and that any conservative suggestion to the contrary was either crazy or an opportunistic lie). You seem to be saying that they abandoned gun control for political reasons, while still viewing it as a viable tool to address crime. While it’s true that they downplayed gun control, it was never really abandoned. Obama campaigned for reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban in 2008 and Feinstein was talking about reintroducing it just this past summer. Feinstein has recently been quoted saying that her legislation has been worked on for over a year now. It may be a crass thing to say, but Newtown is a big opportunity for enacting this preexisting gun control agenda.

      After talking to a lot of liberals in the past couple of weeks, my conclusion is that the ones who are the most supportive of gun control are the least interested in whether it actually solves any problems brought to light by Newtown. To partisans, at least, this issue is more about core principles than applying tools to a problem.

      And of course gun control is about way more than just a policy wish-list -- it’s a full-on culture war. Liberals know that the cultural tide is decidedly against them, so a lot of this is just about reversing the growing acceptance of guns in American life. I think they're overplaying their hand, but I guess we'll see.

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    3. Couves, I could be wrong, but I think your last paragraph is projecting a conservative framing of the issue. I don't think liberals think of it that way at all. For the rest, I agree that liberals dropped the issue for political reasons, not because they didn't believe in it anymore. In 1994 the Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress right after passing the first significant gun-control legislation in years. I'm not entirely convinced that that was the reason for the loss, but Democrats were reluctant to bring up the issue for years after that. I don't think that really contradicts what you say in your first paragraph. The notion that Obama talked about gun control, at least in some audiences, but then didn't do anything about it isn't really inconsistent with that either. Feinstein talking about it and Feinstein passing it are also two different things, although it does show that the underlying desire persisted. In this regard, Newtown could be viewed in two ways. You see it as Democrats taking advantage of a particular, tragic situation. I don't actually see anything wrong with that, but I think liberals will see it as Democrats being shamed by the public into finally doing something. I know you will have a different notion of what the public wants, but I suppose each side has a tendency to think of its own constituency as the public and I suspect the Democrats have the larger public on this (although that is an empirical question).

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    4. Scott, Polling has shown increased support for certain kinds of gun control. Whether that reflects a real change in voter opinion or just the current “this time, everything changes” media narrative, I guess time will tell. But the debate currently seems to be driven primarily by political and media personalities who were already boosters of gun control.

      I guess I’m coming around to the conservative position that gun control is a culture war issue. When people who are entirely ignorant about guns say things like “no one needs an assault rifle” they may as well be conservatives saying “no one needs a late term abortion.” It’s an opinion that frequently changes after personal experience with firearms. I’ve talked with liberals after they come back from the range -- after struggling to hit the target with a shotgun and a handgun, they can appreciate how easy it is to shoot an AR-15 and why that makes it a better gun for home defense. Every year, many liberals have this experience with the AR, which is the best-selling firearm in most gun shops. Just like conservatives who realize that their openly gay friends and family are good people, it doesn’t take much for average liberal voters to change their mind about “military-style weapons.”

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    5. Some breaking news on new gun control legislation that will be introduced:

      "The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act will mirror a failed bill introduced during the 112th Congress. Its authors hope that in the wake of the shooting deaths of 20 first grade students in Newtown, Conn., there will be heightened political urgency to act when it is reintroduced on Jan. 3."

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/28/high-capacity-magazines-bill_n_2376838.html

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