On Punditry And Predictions

By Alex Weprin 

Politico writes about the coverage of the election through the lens of the horse race. The short version: pundits are reluctant to make predictions as to who is going to win, because who knows!

“I think more than any other race I’ve covered this is one where both sides genuinely seem to believe they’re going to win. That’s different,” ABC News correspondent Jon Karl said. “Given that, it’s hard for somebody covering the race to make a call. I’m completely confused. I have no idea who’s going to win. And I usually have a sense of who’s going to win.”

The article notes that pundits may be reluctant to make predictions because no one wants to look like a fool come the day after election day. Some students from Hamilton College, however, showed that it doesn’t really matter. The students examined the predictions made by pundits in newspapers and on the Sunday public affairs shows, and looked at who was right most of the time, and who was wrong most of the time:

The first is whether or not the prediction is a conditional; conditional predictions were more likely to not come true. The second was partisanship; liberals were more likely than conservatives to predict correctly. The final significant factor in a prediction’s outcome was having a law degree; lawyers predicted incorrectly more often. (R-square of .157) Partisanship had an impact on predictions even when removing political predictions about the Presidential, Vice Presidential, House, and Senate elections.

You can read the entire report here.