I could go back through the history of my comments on this blog in regard to the Republican presidential campaign, and I could count how many times I have said that this or that is “not gonna happen” and have been proven wrong. Wishful thinking (even if against my own wishes), coupled with the charm of competence, led me to speak such in a manner ex cathedra.
Of course, I exaggerate about this.
Nonetheless, I have said “not gonna happen” about Santorum’s campaign and its implication of actually winning the Republican nomination let alone the office of the presidency itself. I have said it about Mitch Daniels returning to candidacy and actually winning the presidency under such circumstances of late entry. I have said it about a “brokered” Republican convention whereby a candidate emerges who is actually electable. I have even said it in exasperation of defeating the personally and eminently likable—even after three years—President, given his outstanding campaigning skills and despite his easily pilloried record on the job. The president may ignore the looming crisis of sovereign bankruptcy, but his rhetoric in terms of pathos and ethos is powerful. Yes, he’s missing out on the logos element.
Looking back, all of my campaign prognostication has been based on unscientific intuition, although it does occasionally reference polls or, on occasion, policy arguments.
So whenever I say that it’s “not gonna happen” be sure to put your money against me. The Irish odds makers are probably as scientific (if not more so) as my own “not gonna happen” statements. The odds makers have at least calculated the numbers of such a topsy-turvy race as this current one.
But numbers miss the importance of persuasion.
Still, all of the above scenarios of what could actually happen—everything from a Santorum win to a brokered convention—are open to the probability of actions, events, and accident, but I think my instinctual “not gonna happen” is not the necessarily best bet.
So as a political scientist, all this only shows my personal stupidity, or at least the weakness of the science to which I am an ironic professor and practitioner. I would be engaged in professional malpractice if I did not mention the bias (an enemy of truth) in my poor judgments.
The partisan in me still hopes for Mitch to be the nominee, the realistic partisan hopes for Rick, the even more realistic partisan recognizes the power of Mitt, and the defeatist partisan sees a re-election for Obama at the end of the day.
Going against everything I teach, I’m too lazy and too ignorant to give a case for my own partisan preferences regarding the common good. Perhaps this is a problem regarding representation simply.
I can certainly say that with auxiliary precautions even the worst of these electoral scenarios does not mean the end of the world. That’s not gonna happen even with legalistic and institutional protections. It’s not gonna happen. Bet against it, even if you wish you need not do so.