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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hacks trying to switch their bets after the race is won

Horse race

Brendan Nyhan, Columbia Journalism Review:

The media has undergone a strange change of mindset. Immediately before last Tuesday’s election, many reporters and commentators ignored or dismissed the consensus among forecasters and betting markets that President Obama was very likely to defeat Mitt Romney and acted instead as if the candidates were neck and neck or Romney was ahead. Afterward, however, coverage of how Obama won betrayed far less uncertainty about the outcome of the election, which was frequently portrayed as a fait accompli—an inevitable consequence of how Romney’s image was defined by Obama’s early ads or overwhelmed by the President’s superior ground game.

So basically, before election night they were all saying, “It’s anybody’s game,” but afterward the media is all, “Of course Obama won… Pffft! What kind of nut would think otherwise?” Nyhan calls this “hindsight bias.” He seems to think that this isn’t deliberate — and for many, it may not be. But for a lot, it’s as deliberate as it can be.

As I always say, the TV pundit’s job is to get you to watch TV. If Nate Silver and other forecasters put the odds of an Obama win in the high 80s or higher, then you go to the polls. Why? Because they show a much closer and more exciting race. And that means viewers and readers.

When it turns out that the forecasters were as right as you probably knew they would be, then it’s CYA time. Yes, the polls were close but Obama really had that ground game nailed and Ohio pretty much in the bag and see how right I am? Please tune in and watch me next time. It’s just about protecting their pay check.

[image source]

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