Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pundits lose New Hampshire

In the world of punditry, January 8th 2008 will live in infamy. It was the day that cast upon the ancient art of expert opinion a perfect storm of incorrectness, in which every single person with a byline, a radio microphone, green room access, or their very own weblog was perfectly incorrect.

Myself, I haven't dipped my toes and non-existent credentials too deeply into punditry game this political season. This is because there has always been something that has unsettled me about the 2008 campaign.

In the current media paradigm, in which so many different entities compete for the same news consumer, candidates are dissected and new narratives sought at a rate and intensity never before seen. As the interest in finding the "perfect" candidate multiplies, the chances any candidate could stand up to the scrutiny decreases. I don't know how, in the end, this reconciles. Neither does anyone else.

That being said, if you had asked me 24 hours ago, I would have confidently told you Hillary Clinton has almost no chance of being the Democratic nominee. Likewise, today I will posit Barack Obama has absolutely no shot of advancing in the primaries -- meaning Hillary is a virtual lock for the nomination. The extreme nature of my shift in opinion is based solely on about 10,000 people in New Hampshire not voting the way I (and the polls) thought they would.

So, yeah, I get why a guy like Stephen Colbert can make a career out of mocking the pundits. But before you take too much pleasures in the failures of the so-called experts consider this: If last night is any indication, Chris Matthews is even more obnoxious when explaining why he was wrong than he is when bragging about how he was right.

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