Here’s a simpler model that gets 13 of the past 16 elections right: the incumbent party wins if it’s been in office for four years, and loses if it’s been in office for eight or more years. Even if you insist that Al Gore “won” in 2000 because he won the popular vote, it gets 12 of the past 16 elections right.
Ed Kilgore comments:
Ezra gets into the whole topic by stipulating that the “tornado of idiocy that seems to accompany modern presidential campaigns” probably has little or nothing to do with the likely outcome. He seems to come out pretty much where I am on the subject of “what matters” in elections: somewhere in the vast middle between those who think it’s a remorseless process of objective indicators that make actual campaigns irrelevants, and those who think key moments in a campaign frequently have “game-changing” implications.
I’d put it this way: I don’t think the fundamentals are everything. I don’t think models are everything. But I think the campaign matters far less than the media coverage suggests.
Earlier Tuesday, I did an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit that got into more detail on the model, as well as where I like to drink in Washington, D.C., and whether Rachel Maddow is actually a superhero in disguise. You can read it here.