Political reporting, as we’ve just seen in the cycle completed this week, is 99 percent horserace. But if you read and believed Nate Silver, as the race progressed, polling became more accurate, and it was fascinating to watch the pundits diverge from what the numbers were showing. Silver’s model has been tested in two presidential runs, and both times it predicted the outcome in every state, almost perfectly. The 99 percent of political reporting that’s about the horserace is over, obviated and unnecessary, now that we’ve got automated and near-perfect horserace data, thanks to Silver.
Other elements of previously standard politics that were debunked:
1. Negative advertising. Users pretty much figured it out when the ads were lies, and discounted them. Some of the lies even backfired, the candidates basically spending money to slime themselves.
2. Voter suppression didn’t work either. The voters tuned in, and just waited in lines that were supposed to make them go home. I don’t think the Republicans will try such an open and obvious trick again.
3. The idea that anything any candidate says is off the record. Kind of amazing that after the macaca disaster, that Romney allowed himself to bear such terrible witness against himself. Pretty much have to expect that won’t happen again. Not that the candidate will guard better so his off the record statements are not caught on tape, rather it’ll be seen as too dangerous to nominate someone who is so thoroughly narcissistic, arrogant and dishonest.
The Obama campaign won basically by creating their own private Facebook, with unique features for political campaigns. You could argue that Obama’s network is even more valuable than Zuck’s. Maybe this is his Presidential library, or his version of the Carter Center or the Clinton Global Initiative. Only this time you might call it ObamaBook. The ultimate political machine.
But I don’t think ObamaBook is the last word. In this campaign the electorate was networked in ways that were not controlled by the media or the parties. That’s only going to grow over the years. I hope that we’ll eventually take over the political process, and the voters will start driving the discourse, not just during election season, but all the time.