After a minute and 13 seconds of balls rolling on a frictionless billiard table, the nine ball will drop in the side pocket, according to one experienced observer’s estimate of the next 897 ball collisions and cushion rebounds. Likely true? Then why do you listen to analysts’ predictions about the 2012 presidential race? How right have they been so far?

Just about the only prediction worth making, because it is backed up by actual history, is that the state of the economy, real and perceived, has a huge impact on the outcome. That means that Obama is in trouble, really big trouble, and you can blame him if you want or not, but that’s all we know and all we can know at this point about who will win the election. His efforts to craft a message and frame the issues and reconnect with and fire up the base may possibly prove decisive, but only in the sense that the short guy met the height requirement to become a police officer by hitting himself on the head with a board and creating a half-inch bump.

So my advice is stop reading and watching the horserace stories, knowing full well that you won’t. Also, stop trying to determine which candidate you’d rather have a beer with. Read stories that discuss health care costs and why they are going up so fast, and whether Obama’s or the Republicans’ plans on that make more sense, and have your beer with that.