Monday, November 5, 2012

What's with all the optimistic partisans?

Does anyone else think it's odd that, at least among the chattering classes, optimism about the substance of the Republican policy platform translates so consistently into optimism about the GOP's political prospects?

There's no obvious reason this should be the case.  I happen to believe in the fundamental correctness of a large chunk of the Democratic platform but I don't think being correct confers the Democrats any particular political advantage.  Plenty of times, I've headed to the polls and cast my vote for a Democratic candidate, knowing full well he or she would probably lose.  Nothing makes me think my experience here is unusual: the support of high-information partisans isn't likely to be swayed by the political landscape.  

But then you look at a rundown of election predictions, and you see the likes of Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, Kathryn Jean Lopez, George Will, Michael Barone, and Jim Pethokoukis all prognosticating a Romney victory by middling-to-considerable margins, and virtually no Democrats expecting any such thing, and you have to think: what is driving this?  Why is the category "pundits who believe Romney will win" essentially a subset of the category "pundits who are Republicans"?  Shouldn't there be some panicky Democrats in there, as well?  Even Republicans who are expecting a Romney loss are somewhat more optimistic about his prospects than the polls suggest (e.g., Ross Douthat).  Is there some partisan aspect to the interpretation of poll data that I've missed?  I'm a long way from DC, but it sure seems to me that "I want lower marginal tax rates" and, say, "I believe Latin voters are systemically undersampled, skewing the polls against Obama" are perfectly compatible beliefs... that nonetheless never seem to coexist in the wild.  Strange, right?

I don't have any great insight here.  Just wanted to point out another little bit of pre-election oddness.

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