Fallows is noticing the same thing I am

Fallows is noticing the same thing I am November 5, 2012

Deep inside the epistemic closure bubbles of left and right, each camp is busy building up a narrative that is not about reality, but about telling the members of the Cult what they want to hear. Over at places like FOX, we are getting prophesies of a Mitt Landslide. On the left, the prophecies are of Obama victory. On the whole, I have to say I think the Mitt Landslide people are more delusional, but I’m not going to call it for either. Personally, my guess (and that’s all it is) is that Mitt will manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory simply by virtue of having been such a cynical duplicitous liar that he managed to hand the election to a president this weak and terrible.

On the other hand, I could be wrong. Dueling polls point in various directions, but reliably wrong pundits like Dick Morris (Mitt Landslide!!!!) are, like Bill Kristol, so consistently spectacularly wrong that one is tempted to simply say, “If *he’s* that confident then Obama is a sure thing.” But that’s not really evidence. And that’s the problem. The result of the fracturing of media has been that people increasingly get all their information from sources within their epistemic bubble. So if Obama wins, we will be told that the Conspiracy gave him the election. Same if Romney wins. And the various media camps will uphold that narrative within the epistemic closure bubbles of each camp. That’s not healthy for a concept like the *United* States of America.

For what it’s worth, some bookie in Ireland keeps sending me junk mail telling me to bet on Obama. Dunno what that means–beyond the fact that I have no idea what will happen tomorrow. I’m half-inclined to expect a replay of 2000.


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  • John C

    I’m not one of those within the “epistemic bubble”. With fear and trembling, I will be praying for Willard.

  • This may be not just a repeat of 2000. We may have five or six Floridas this time.

    • ivan_the_mad

      No. I refuse to contemplate the idea of this loony election not being over and done with by November 7th.

  • No matter who wins, America loses. Only the score of the game is in doubt.

  • Gary Keith Chesterton

    But…but what am I going to do without all the commercials? Crossroads GPS and the rest of them are like family by now.

    • Will

      Wednesday begins the run-up to the 2016 election. Or Wednesday plus however long the losers take fighting over whose fault it is.

      Doesn’t it occur to people that there is something drastically wrong with the continuous campaign cycle?

  • rachel

    NOO, please let the pain stop or at least lessen after tomorrow. I DON’T want a repeat of 2000. That was awful and embarrassing (I live in Florida). I hope that it will be a decisive victory. Whoever wins will be painful for all of us. I don’t like either candidate. I have left it all in the hands of God. Deus Vult whoever it is.

  • Blog Goliard

    Oh, don’t go all Pauline Kael on us. Just because you hate Romney so much doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a realistic shot at a landslide (well, if you can call 320-350 electoral votes a landslide).

    I put the chances of a narrow Romney victory at about 50%; big Romney victory, 30%; narrow Obama victory, 20%. (Yes, I left big Obama victory off the list, as 290 is the absolute maximum conceivable total for Obama.)

    • Mark Shea

      I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen. That’s my point. The predictions are all over the map and tend to coincide with the hopes of the predictor and his tribe. So I’m flying blind. I am–obviously, blindingly obviously–not going Kael on you because–obviously, blindingly obviously–I can point you to a huge readership of people who are not only voting for Romney but yelling at me for failing in my sacred duty to do so.

      • Blog Goliard

        That’s sensible enough…I think I misread your post just a bit at first. Sorry.

        The fact that you know you’re flying blind makes you more sensible than many. Nobody really knows much of anything, because all polls have to make guesses as to the exact composition of the electorate. Nate Silver is among the most laughable with the false precision of his vaunted model; but a large number of commentators either have unwarranted confidence in the poll numbers, or unwarranted confidence in their ability to outguess the polls.

        Yes, any of us can color in around 40 states on our electoral maps right now with complete confidence; but I expect some surprises among the rest. And I look forward, come Wednesday, to pointing and laughing at a whole bunch of people who were certain of things that weren’t so.

      • MikeTheGeek

        Well, I’m one of those guys who views this as a choice between a reasonably decent, kinda-sorta-almost-Christian guy who knows how real-world economics works, versus a functional atheist bolshevik who is forcing me to reconsider my scorn for David Icke’s theories of shape-shifting reptilians running the world. Having said that, I said months ago that I didn’t think it would bee all that close and there would be a clear (not necessarily “landslide,” but clear) Romney win. Of course, as a predictor of elections, I’m a very good biochemist…

        HOWEVER, in confusion lies the potential for profit. You should be running a Guess-the-Election poll with, say, a $5 entry fee. Winner gets the pot – minus, of course, a small fee for your trouble. Maybe 40%.

        • MikeTheGeek

          Well, guess I’ll keep the day job.

  • Blog Goliard

    Be aware, also, that the “both sides are completely awful/not-a-dime’s-worth-of-difference” crowd has an epistemic closure bubble of its very own. Despising both the Republicans and the Democrats, more or less equally, is no guarantee of independent, sensible, reality-based conclusions.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Be aware, also, that the “both sides are completely awful/not-a-dime’s-worth-of-difference crowd has an epistemic closure bubble” crowd has an epistemic closure bubble of its very own. Despising those despising both the Republicans and the Democrats, more or less equally, is no guarantee of independent, sensible, reality-based conclusions.

      Mwahahaha! It’s epistemic closure bubbles all the way down!

      • Mark Shea

        Can’t hear you! Not listening!

  • j. blum

    That’s because the dime is too large a coin to fit the gap between pachyderm and equid. Whatever the outcome of the election, Obamney wins.

    • MikeTheGeek

      Misread that as “between pachyderm and squid.” I will be carrying a very strange mental image around for at least the rest of the week…

  • Ted Seeber


    Thirty-two scenarios on that website predict not only a repeat of 2000, but in fact a Romney-Biden presidency (the scenario where all recounts are certified, each candidate gets 269 Electoral Votes, the Republican House picks the President, and the Democratic Senate picks the vice president).

    Out of more than 300 scenarios.

    Not very likely in other words. The grand majority of paths to victory mathematically now predict Obama as President for a 2nd term.

    The surprise holdouts are Colorado and North Carolina- if both of these go Romney, the chances will change. And both are too close to call.

    • Blog Goliard

      Obama is not winning North Carolina. Period. Romney’s ahead in all the polls, he needs a swing of less than 0.2% from 2008 to carry the state, and NC has a deeply unpopular Democratic governor who’s retiring and is about to be replaced by a Republican in a landslide (McCrory is up 14.3% in the RCP average).

      No, none of us really know anything for certain, when it comes to the states that are in play. But NC is not one of them. Any analyst who posits that it is, is not worth taking seriously.

      • Ted Seeber

        This is one of the reasons I like electoral-vote.com; despite their large Democratic readership, they’re pretty agnostic when it comes to the polling data they incorporate (one exception to that- Rasmussen this year has developed some significant problems with their polling base).

        Here’s their NC poll page, with historical data:

        Note the straight, nearly purple, line for the past two weeks at the end.

        • Blog Goliard

          If PPP proves more accurate than Rasmussen, I’ll eat my hat.

          • Mark Shea

            Mmmmmmm….. Haaaaaaat. 🙂

  • Phil

    The most outlandish prediction I’ve seen is “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer somehow giving Obamaover 400 electoral vote which means Obama would have to win several Red states. Remind mer never to listen to Mr. Cramers financial advice!

  • Replay, Mark, not a reply of 2000, right?

    • Mark Shea