Will Tuesday’s election be a Black Swan event asks a provocative article in the American Thinker. The author, Peter Landesman, believes it will.
The term, taken from a book by Nassim Nicholas Teleb, refers to something that occurs and fits the following criteria: it comes as a surprise to observers; it has a major impact on its surroundings; and it is rationalized after the fact as if it was expected. Under this definition 9/11, World War I, the financial meltdown and the internet coming about all qualify.
Landesman holds that the midterm election could very well be such an event. He notes that Rush Limbaugh sees a tsunami building. Dick Morris suggests Republicans could gain 100 seats. For Landesman, 150 are possible.
How can this be, you may ask?
His contention is that “prognosticators do not fully grasp the significance of certain variables.Typically, the experts posit a normal distribution (bell curve) of probabilities based on the often assumed principle that a small variation of parameters results in a small change of what is observed. This assumption is not always valid. Sometimes minute changes in initial conditions produce catastrophic alterations.”
In particular, Landesman cites the relatively new art of polling. Gallup, he says, only started in the 1930s. Some big wins, like the 1894 Republican landslide, are off his radar. And, pollsters have zeroed in on finding the best sample of voters instead of analyzing results.
Five conditions could affect voters’ attitudes right into the polling booth, he believes. “First, the government lacks financial discipline. Second, Hope and Change have become despair and the status quo. 3. the promises of open government have succumbed to backroom deals and arm twisting. 4. the president’s attempt to heal our country has not been successful. Last, Democratic legislators have seemed to exempt themselves from the consequences of Obamacare.”
Who knows? He may be right. As the campaigns draw to an end, there is less and less consensus on polling. The variations are confusing; one candidate up 4 points on one, down 2 on another. It seems to get crazy towards the end.
And, who says voters are honest when polled? Many have told me they purposefully lie to thrown pollsters off. Today’s climate is such that many don’t want to advertise their personal beliefs.
“A woodshed moment of epic proportions for the Dems? A mass extinction event? a parting of the Red Sea, biblical proportion event, or a mega-flushing” are comments flung around now.
Let’s hope they are all right and we ride a black swan to victory.