Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press
John Boehner said last week that his party faces a “real challenge” in holding its Congressional majority. “I would say that there is a two-in-three chance that we win control of the House again,” he said on Fox News. Then he added, presumably for the benefit of those who struggle with math, “but there’s a one-in-three chance that we could lose.”
Also last week, Karl Rove released an electoral college map with 284 votes solidly for the president or leaning his way versus 172 for Mitt Romney, and 82 toss-ups.
And on Monday, Politico reported that Dan Rather thinks “President Obama is even money at best at this particular time…his odds right now are 50/50 in my book.”
Reporters quickly publicized all of these predictions, and readers should just as quickly disregard them.
Mr. Boehner’s forecast sounds more like a fundraising appeal than a reasoned assessment. If you hand over just a little more cash for attack ads, we’re sure to win! Mr. Rather’s 50/50 odds, in this age of low 50s/high 40s elections, are no better than a shrug. Mr. Rove, who at least based his opinion on polling averages, admits that data is scarce in some states. “Look for ‘lean Obama’ states to shift to ‘lean Romney,’” he says in his polling notes, essentially conceding that the final electoral map will look nothing like his mock-up. (Not in the notes, but certainly implied: If you hand over just a little more cash for attack ads, we’re sure to win!)
In the spirit of flimsy bookmaking, here’s my contribution: I would say that there is a two-in-three chance that all of the above predictions are meaningless, but there’s a one-in-three chance they’re not.