What Could Go Wrong Here?

Before the change in direction of the polls and polling analysis became apparent yesterday, I knocked out a TPMCafe column discussing the various things that could go wrong for the GOP between now and November 4, from a surprising money disadvantage to a candidate gaffe. I was less concerned with prophecy than with reminding myself and others that strange things happen in the final stages of elections that defy both the “fundamentals” and earlier expectations. If historical precedent provided the only guide to how elections will turn out, Terry McAuliffe would not be governor of Virginia (after all, he broke a streak of nine consecutive gubernatorial elections in which the party controlling the White House lost). And earlier expectations didn’t factor in Kansas becoming extremely competitive this year.

Once the dust settles on November 4 (or 5), I’m sure we’ll continue to have arguments over why what happened happened. After all, we’re still arguing over the true meaning of the elections of 1980, 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2008. But sometimes accidents happen, and even predictable developments combine in ways that produce surprising outcomes. That’s what makes politics fun for junkies, even if it drives the determinists crazy.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.