IN THE HISTORY OF election forecasting, 2012 was 1936 all over again, with the roles updated. In 1936, a trio of new forecasters—Elmo Roper, Archibald Crossley, and George Gallup—used statistical sampling methods and predicted that Franklin D. Roosevelt would win re-election, contrary to the best-known “straw poll” of the time, conducted by The Literary Digest. The Digest mailed ballots to millions of automobile owners and telephone subscribers, groups that in the midst of the Depression drastically over-represented Republicans.
It's too bad the only newspaper reporters who understand how politics actually work are writing for the business page: The first thing to say is that while those of us who are Washington insiders may be focused on health reform, the country has its mind on lots of other things. First and foremost is a lousy economy that has resulted in lots of lost jobs and lost wealth, a big spike in the federal deficit, and big budget shortfalls for state and local governments.
PRESIDENT Roosevelt’s overwhelming victory promises to change the face of American political life. Even those expert observers who predicted a landslide did not envisage the unprecedented majority, both in popular vote and the electoral college, that he rolled up. As early as eleven o’clock on election night, when the first returns indicated a Roosevelt victory in every one of the doubtful states, and a popular majority of perhaps 9,000,000, leading Republican politicians and newspapers began to concede that their cause was hopeless; only the incredible John D. M.