Do “‘objective’” political facts strain the soul out of politics? Do those “‘subjective’ values”, those “gut hunches” matter more?
“Is your soul weary of all these polls?” asks Ann Althouse in a blog post this afternoon, “Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver’s algorithm?” She seems to be among a small, but perhaps growing consensus of bloggers and pundits to wonder if their “gut hunch” may be a more reliable predictor of tomorrow’s outcome than the polls.
She quotes G.K. Chesteron to suggest that by emphasizing “‘objective’ political facts”, we strain “the soul and significance of politics.”
And perhaps that’s one reason I’m such a fan of Peggy Noonan. That Athena of pundtiry. This morning, she asked questions in a similar vein to those Althouse asked:
Who knows what to make of the weighting of the polls and the assumptions as to who will vote? Who knows the depth and breadth of each party’s turnout efforts? Among the wisest words spoken this cycle were by John Dickerson of CBS News and Slate, who said, in a conversation the night before the last presidential debate, that he thought maybe the American people were quietly cooking something up, something we don’t know about.
(Just read the whole thing.) Peggy took account of things not as clear cut as polling data, of yard signs and enthusiasm. She talked about how confident Romney looks on the campaign trail — and about the crowds he draws. And how his supporters react to his appearance.
By contrast, she finds that Obama seems “ tired and wan, showing up through sheer self discipline.”
As the candidates hit the campaign’s home stretch, Romney does seem more upbeat, more optimistic than Obama. And that could make all the difference.
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