Guarded Language

I’m not a very superstitious person by any means, but I do have my quirks.  Chief among them is a strict adherence to jinx rules, and a deep seated belief that one does not tempt fate.

Armando over at Talk Left pulls together some polls that more or less validate the fourteen point lead for Obama in the CBS/NYT poll that raised so many eyebrows.  LA Times gives Obama nine, Research 2k (the D-Kos poll) gives Obama 11, and Battleground gives Obama 13.  All well and good.  But then Armando says the following:

The Presidential race is over and after tonight’s debate – the focus should shift to the Congressional races and what a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President need to do to get the country moving in the right direction. The correct answer is we need a new New Deal.

I couldn’t disagree with the opener of this paragraph.  The Presidential race is not in fact over; there are just under three weeks left which as anyone who has been following for the past two years, can be an eternity.  Which brings me back to jinx rules and tempting fate.

I have been very careful to use guarded language when discussing Obama’s chances, especially in the last two or three weeks when he really started to jump out in front of McCain.  I’ve been careful not to say that he’s going to win definitively, but instead have used phrases like, “he’s in a strong position to win,” or he “is very likely to win,” or “there’s a 95% chance that Obama will be our next president.”  Incidentally, 95% is not a number I pulled out of my posterior; that number comes from Nate Silver’s wonderful site.

And frankly, unless that percentage becomes 100%, you will not see me deviate from this practice.  Even if John McCain has a .01% chance of winning the election, I will respect that narrow shot.  Partly because if you don’t, that’s precisely when the .01% actually happens, and partly because my work deals in part with statistics.  I know that occasionally the highly improbably happens, just as I know there are ways for an insurmountable lead to evaporate on election day.

Further, this behavior smells of complacency, which I think is not something we can afford.

So, for the next three weeks, I will not say one candidate will definitively win over another.  The one exception to that will be on the evening of November 3rd, when I will write up my Mark Shields piece.  What I will write in that piece and why I call it my Mark Shields piece you will find out then.

(edited by DrGail)

2 Responses to “Guarded Language”

  1. Brenda Kula says:

    Oh no, we don’t want to jinx it! Another four years of Republicans would be our undoing!

  2. Yes indeed. I don’t fuck with jinx rules. I just won’t do it, not at all!

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