Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Straight Line Projection Is For Suckers

This is a pipe, but it's also a straight line.
The WSJ points to the latest Quinnipiac poll, which puts Arlen Specter modestly ahead of Pat Toomey in the general election. Across the pond, Labour appears to be close enough to the Conservatives that they might squeak out a plurality and form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, despite earlier predictions of a Tory landslide.

All of which is a fancy way of saying that there's never, ever, any reason to assume that the today's polling will persist until election day, and that forecasting outcomes years on months in advance based on current poll numbers is a sucker's bet. It's entirely plausible that the public may sober up a bit and reject GOP rule as we get closer to election day. It's also plausible that the unemployment rate might drop to 9% and give some people confidence that things are getting better. It's also plausible that some terrible scandal will engulf Democrats. Many things are plausible. That's what makes the future so exciting--we don't know what's going to happen in it! The best way forward is for Democrats to put their heads down and get to work, so that economic circumstances are on the up-and-up and they can put themselves in a situation where they can hold more seats.


Die alte Aechzener said...

Um, no offense but that may be the most obvious and least useful column written this year (at least by a non-republican)

corvus said...

And yet for all it's obviousness, it's advice just doesn't seem to be sinking in among our elected officials.

Even if advice is obvious, that doesn't mean it does no good to say it.

zosima said...

The implied non-obvious point: polynomial fits of order 2 or greater are for winners!