GUEST COMMENTARY: Mandates are impossible in ‘margin of error’ America

GUEST COMMENTARY: Mandates are impossible in 'margin of error' America

It’s that time of year again. With as many as four toss-up contests set to determine which party controls the U.S. Senate come January 2021, another 23 toss-ups poised to crown the next speaker of the House, and the possible impeachment of the president of the United States on the line, it might as well be Christmas for the no-accountability caucus of coastal political pundits and prognosticators who commentate with speculative certainty about too-close-to-call races and issues. But while the Beltway intelligentsia attempts to draw black and white conclusions about what will happen, the data is hardly black and white. In fact, in what I call Margin of Error America, our political future is at best itself a toss-up, giving the pundit class license to write a new chapter of conventional wisdom about what’s to come by the hour and leaving our politics without a clear mandate for moving forward. In the world of election polling, Margin of Error America goes something like this: one day someone is up, the next day someone is down, and on the third day one of them releases an internal poll – all within the tiny sliver of percentage points known by pollsters as the “margin of error.” There is no actual certainty. Of course, none of this really matters because when the votes are cast and the results announced, and a candidate wins by a razor thin margin, they will invariably declare a mandate – a term that has been diluted over […]

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