One Thought

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November 3, 2020 4:17 p.m.

I’ve mentioned this a few times. I will once more. In elections like this when all the motion seems to be in one direction, when the margins are fairly large, when one side’s strongholds are suddenly in contention the party with what looks like the lead tends to over-perform. ‘Tends’ … so tends to happen more frequently than not except when it doesn’t, which is a decent amount of the time. This is what I would say, based on experience and history, if I were indifferent to the outcome and not deeply scarred, as so many are, by the experience of 2016. We saw this in 1980. We saw it in 2008.

Of course, I’m not remotely indifferent. And the scarring of 2016 isn’t a trauma of the past. It’s a reality we have lived within for four arduous, endless years. We have the same players. Many, though by no means all, the common dynamics. So it’s right to bear the shattered confidence of 2016 constantly in mind. I say this now in part because there’s no one to make complacent.

The contrary take would be that this is mutual intensity. You’re not seeing one side demoralized the way you had it in 2008 and in key ways in 1980. Intensity appears to be greater on the Democratic side but only by a bit. Both sides are energized in ways we haven’t seen in decades. There’s a very good chance we’ll have the biggest voter turnout in percentage terms as we’ve had in a century. But in general, I think this is still the pattern. It’s similar to what we saw in 2018. This isn’t a prediction. I base predictions on data and knowledge not vague historical patterns. It’s simply an observation. We will know soon enough.

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