Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Here Comes the "Special" Hype

The death last week of long-time Member of the House C.W. Bill Young last week means we're going to get something that this Congress has managed to put off so far: outrageous hype over a special election.

All House elections are important, and this Tampa-area one will be in one of the relatively rare competitive seats. So it will be an important election.

However, whenever it winds up being scheduled (with March 11 apparently the best guess so far) it will tell us nothing about the November 2014 elections, other than perhaps indicating what will happen in that district. It is not an early warning sign, or anything else. It's just one election.

Does it matter at all beyond the one election? Only to the extent that expectations of electoral swings can, in the right circumstances, become self-fulfilling prophesies. However, if this one does happen in March, then it's a little late to affect candidate recruitment (not all state filing deadlines are by then, but many are). And candidate recruitment is the biggest factor when it comes to "waves" created by elite-level self-fulfilling prophesies. Availability of other campaign resources can matter some, as can press coverage, probably, but those can change over the course of the year, so a single well-timed event is a lot less likely to affect them much.

Mostly, however, expect plenty of unjustified hype. Hey, reporters! Any chance you can avoid it this time?


  1. I consider myself a "fundamentals" kind of guy in most things. And that's why I read you pretty much every day. But what a buzzkill! Can't you even wait until the party starts?! Sheez!

    But based upon the fundamentals of psychology, I believe that there is no chance the reporters will avoid unjustified hype this time. Which does have the advantage of allowing you to write on this subject many more times if you can bear it.

  2. I am old enough to remember that a few special elections in early 1974 helped to convince people--rightly as it turned out--that the GOP was in serious trouble and that Nixon had to go. Especially the one where the Democrats won Ford's old seat (the Grand Rapids congressional district).

  3. This morning I had another talk with the Politco journalist, Mark Allen, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you: ' ... We will of course not unjustifiably hype the results of the Florida 10th district elections as a symbol of the desire to uphold our professional journalistic standards". So there you have it good journalism in our time.


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