An exercise in logic here: After listening to Dick Morris issue his pre-election prediction that Mitt Romney would win in a landslide, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren came up with an either-or proposition:
Either you’re really, really right and really, really much smarter than everybody else or you’re off your rocker, right? Because no one else is saying this.
Morris responded with what Twitter knows as a humblebrag:
It’s not a question of being smarter than anybody else. It’s that I’ve done this for a living and there are very few people on television who talk about politics who’ve ever made a living doing it, and most of them are partisan and echoing a point of view, but when you get down to it, a guy like Karl Rove or Pat Caddell or me or even Joe Trippi, we make a living doing this and I’ve made a living doing it for 40 years.
He went on, famously: “I know how to read a poll.”
Last night’s returns resolved Van Susteren’s either-or scenario. Romney didn’t win in a landslide, as it turns out; he didn’t win in a squeaker, either. President Obama prevailed by winning swing states by small margins.
Therefore: Van Susteren adjudges Morris as being off his rocker. Yet that judgment doesn’t tell the whole story of Dick Morris’s predictions. A full appreciation needs to go to the transcript, the better to retrace all the glorious and abstruse methodology that Morris used to reach his forecast. Bolded text added to highlight an unforgettable flourish of Morrisian smoke and mirrors:
Pew research has a poll out today that says that Obama will win... 50 to 47...Then you look at their sample, and they have four points more Democrats than Republicans. Well, Gallup, which has done the definitive study on party ID in the last week, with over 4,000 interviews, says it should be three points more Republicans than Democrats. So that poll is seven points wrong. So when it says Romney’s going to lose by three, he’s going to win by four. And then on top of that, in Pew’s own data, they say that Romney voters are 6-8 points more likely to vote than Obama voters, so that’s another three points. Add that on top of it and you have got Romney winning by seven. And then we all know that the undecided vote always breaks against the incumbent. Take the 7 or 8 points of undecided after you move those numbers around, split ’em 2 to 1, you have Romney winning by eight or nine points — in the exact same poll that they’re passing off as being a three point Obama victory. And you go into each of these state polls and you drill down taking account of those three things — the sample being too Democratic, the turnout being oriented toward Romney, and the undecided going against the incumbent — and you get a true sense of the true shape of what this election’s going to be all about.
Morris asked to be invited back on Van Susteren’s show to be held accountable for his predictions. Skip it, Van Susteren.