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I’m taking part in the Online 100, a panel put together by
PoliticsHome.com, a terrific website that offers breaking political news and analysis. The Online 100, which is meant to provide “the first daily tracking poll of the blogosphere,” includes Arianna Huffington, Karl Rove, Joe Klein, Joe Trippi, Mike Allen, Mark Halperin, Mark Blumenthal, Dana Milbank, Jonah Goldberg, John Fund, Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd, Marc Ambinder, and Andrew Sullivan.
The first poll asked, “At this point, who do you think is more likely to win the Presidential election?” Barack Obama was picked by 49 percent of the panelists, and John McCain by 48 percent. Overall, panelists had relatively little confidence in their predictions. Those identified as being on the “left” picked Obama 76 to 24 percent, while those on the right picked McCain by 82 to 18 percent.
What does all this mean? Basically, that the Online 100 has no better idea of who is going to win the election than your next-door neighbor–and that the views and analysis offered by pundits are largely shaped by their personal beliefs and desires and have very little prescriptive value. How else to explain the fact that three-quarters of liberal panelists think Obama will win, while four-fifths of conservatives believe McCain will emerge triumphant? What could possibly account for that huge split, other than wishful thinking?
That’s not to dismiss the panel (especially being a member of it), which will provide a rough daily snapshot of where things stand and assess the impact of key events. But the campaign is a toss-up. Does Obama really have a better ground game than McCain? Is the country “ready” to elect an African-American president? We’ll find out on Election Day.
I was recently speaking with Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic consultant in North Carolina. “With historical elections, you never know until it’s all over,” he said. “Then everyone sits back and says, ‘I saw that coming.’”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”