When last we left Dick Morris, he was pretending to pen a mea culpa about how he had gotten his ornate prediction of a Mitt Romney landslide wrong. Today, we pick up that story anew, with Morris essentially admitting that he is huge partisan hack, and that both his prediction of a Romney landslide and the ensuing mea culpa in which he tried, in fits and starts, to reckon with the reality into which his prediction collided, were both examples of election-year cruft that should be hurled down the garbage disposal.
Sean, I hope people aren’t mad at me about it … I spoke about what I believed and I think that there was a period of time when the Romney campaign was falling apart, people were not optimistic, nobody thought there was a chance of victory and I felt that it was my duty at that point to go out and say what I said. And at the time that I said it, I believe I was right.
Right, so keep in mind that Morris' prediction is not a part of the "Romney campaign was completely blindsided by the facts" genre of post-election recriminations. Rather, the idea here is that Morris perceived that the Romney campaign was hitting a particularly rough patch, in terms of pessimism, and so he went out like a good soldier and tried to stoke a little positivity by publicly proclaiming that Romney was going to run roughshod over Obama on election night. This isn't entirely stupid -- at the time, there was reason to believe that the Romney campaign writ large was playing the traditional "bluffer's game" in the campaign's final weeks, on the theory that lots of undecided voters simply want to align themselves with campaigns that are winning. But the trick to bluffing is to make your bluff seem plausible, and not, say ... predict that Oregon and New Jersey are on the verge of turning into red states.
I suppose one can see where Morris got the idea that a crazily optimistic prediction would help Romney by looking at the way The New York Times' Nate Silver was constantly being characterized as the guy who liberals turned to to bolster their spirits. Silver may have been a source of totemic reassurance for Democrats during the campaign season, but this is still a broad misconception of what Silver actually does: he works with data to rationalize outcomes and their probabilities, as opposed to working backwards from a desired outcome to cherrypick data that supports it. It's possible that this won't be clear to everybody until Silver gets to work a presidential election in which the GOP contender is much stronger than the Democrat, and we find out that he doesn't actually dress up the math to make liberals feel good about things.
Obviously, Morris' admission raises some interesting questions. For instance, if the whole point of his prediction was to provide strategic assistance to Romney, then why did he bother to write a post-election column about what he got wrong and why? But more importantly: do we actually live in a world where more than five human beings derive a sense of optimism about the future based upon the things that Dick Morris says? Because that is potentially sad and/or terrifying.
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