Henry Farrell rebukes me for spurious pattern recognition:
Human beings are cognitively predisposed to perceive patterns in the world. Many, likely most of these patterns are garbage. Without good theories, and good ways of testing those theories, we’ll never be able to tell the garbage patterns from the real ones.
He may well be right. You should never put much weight on crude pattern extrapolation. 70% is a guess. I’m not betting on it, and no one else is, either.
The only thing I’d add is that I would bet on crude pattern extrapolation before I would bet on the apparent certainty among a lot of Democrats that they’re headed for a permanent majority. There are a lot of people on twitter and in these comment threads who are basically saying “Are you crazy! Republicans suck!” I think they’re overextrapolating their own feelings about Republicans to the rest of the American public.
This is not in any way to suggest that this is all the folks who are disagreeing with me are doing. There are all sorts of very good reasons I might be wrong. As I say, no one should bet on my off-the-cuff guess.
But by touching the filibuster–and I think setting the conditions for the whole thing to unravel–Reid is betting that the GOP won’t have control of the Senate and the White House for quite a while. Polls are no good this far out, so what should he wager on? Judis and Teixera’s demographic theory? Maybe, but probably not decisive in 2016. That seems to leave crude pattern extrapolation or one’s gut instinct about the GOP’s chances. Of the two, I’d rather rely on crude pattern extrapolation, not because it’s without problems, but because one’s estimation of the GOP’s chances tends to be heavily influenced by one’s personal feelings about the GOP. The more complicated your analysis, the easier it is to choose the factors that make you feel good about your party’s chances.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that my thesis certainly doesn’t rise to the level of a peer-reviewed study, or an academic theory. But whatever decision method Harry Reid is using, I’d bet that it doesn’t either.