One of the problems with punditry, says Ed Fouhy, is that no one is held accountable when they screw up. Would predication batting averages help? (Eric Risberg/AP)
Florida, which can’t seem to run an election to save its life, has finished counting its ballots, so I guess we can declare that election season is finally over.
Let’s be thankful for that.
But already, those self-styled experts you saw gasbagging all year, are at it again. And they are counting on us, the TV news viewers, to kick back and contract a collective case of amnesia.
The same talking heads who were wrong about the 2012 presidential election are already nattering away about the next election or predicting the future of the fiscal cliff or attempting to spin the Benghazi attack.
Well, in the immortal words of fictional “Network” anchorman Howard Beale, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
What I’m not going to take are the prognostications of the men and women who show up on cable news with titles like “political strategist,” “analyst” or “expert.”
Why is it that we viewers, who get the updated success/failure rate of every baseball player each time he approaches the plate, aren’t given the same information about the confident pundit in the pinstriped suit?
I’m thinking about you, Washington Post columnist George Will, longtime member of the Sunday Roundtable on ABC’s “This Week” program … and you, Dick Morris, a go-to guest on many FOX shows … and you, Washington Examiner columnist Michael Barone, also seen frequently on FOX.
Their collective batting average for this election was .000.
That’s right, not only were they wrong, they were miles off target.
Mr. Will predicted Mitt Romney would win 321 electoral votes to Mr. Obama’s 217.
Mr. Morris saw “a landslide” in his crystal ball, predicting Romney would get 325 electoral votes to Obama’s 213 and that it would be “the biggest surprise in recent political history.”
As a reminder: The final tally was Obama 332, Romney 213.
Here is my modest suggestion: Whenever any of those three commentators — or anyone else who is in the prediction business — appears on television, a batting-average-type statistic should appear as it does in televised baseball games. It would denote the number of times the commentator has been on target in his or her predictions. How many elections has the “expert” called correctly? How many flops? Let’s put it right up there for everyone to see.
Pollsters ought to be rated too. Public Policy Polling was one of the winners, correctly predicting most swing states. The University of New Hampshire pollsters got it right too in the only New England swing state.
But some of the most widely quoted, like Quinnipiac, were woeful. Gallup and Rasmussen Reports pollsters missed the target on election night as they had throughout the campaign, overestimating Romney’s strength by about five points.
Consider this: Mitt Romney has disappeared from television since his graceful concession speech, surfacing only briefly in a conference call with donors, but the so-called experts like Will, Morris and Barone are already back on camera, spouting off on events of the day and counting on us not to remember how far off they were when it counted.
- LISTEN: The Pundit Tracker (On The Media)
- Pundit Tracker: Bringing Accountability to the Prediction Industry
- WATCH: What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger Edition – Media Accountability (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart)
- Pundit accountability: The official 2012 election prediction thread (Washington Post)
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.