Sean Hannity, political reality, and my finest hour

My finest hour?

The morning after the election, Wednesday, November 7, I was in Montenegro, six time zones away from Maine, ready to give political commentary on behalf of the U.S. State Department.

And everyone I had talked to there before the election was coming up to me to shake my hand and say, hey, you were right.

Why? Because when they met me before, they said it looked like the U.S. presidential election was real close and it wasn’t at all clear which candidate was likely to win.

And then I said, well, I generally don’t like to predict but, you know, if you look at the state polls, Obama is clearly ahead in the electoral college. He’s ahead in nearly every swing state. Obama’s doing quite well in the excellent prediction models of Sam Wang and Nate Silver. And through the country, Romney is seen as not understanding the problems of “people like you” and “the middle class.” Moreover, Romney has never been ahead in the Ohio poll averages, not even on one single day, and he needs to win Ohio to win the presidency. Besides that, Obama has an amazing field operation. So it’s pretty unlikely Romney will win.

You may be wondering: Why is Fried telling me this?

It’s to make a broader point — reality should matter.

Going forward into 2013, there will be all sorts of claims made about what will or won’t matter.

To judge those claims, look at the underlying details and evidence. When it comes to public policy, scientific claims and constitutional arguments, look at the quality of research and the track record of the person making the claim. And the same goes when it comes to those who discuss politics and public opinion.

We have so many people giving you their political analyses and so there should be some accountability for pundits.

No one can get it right all the time, but when someone is consistently wrong, he or she should have close to zero credibility on future claims.

Now, to some extent, there has been some accountability. For one, Fox News benched Dick Morris and Karl Rove for a time (are they back yet?) because they blew their predictions so badly. Both were convinced that Romney would win. Rove even tried to get Fox to rescind its call of Ohio for Obama.

By the way, Rove even affected the Republican candidate’s timing.

[Romney] was about to concede around 11:15 p.m when Republican strategist Karl Rove made his now-infamous appearance on Fox News Channel, insisting that his own network was wrong in calling Ohio for the president.

The concession call was canceled, followed by an hour of uncertainty. Then, after Fox ­executives dismissed Rove’s concerns and stood by the network’s projection, Romney said: Call the president. [Source]

As for another Fox News personality, it appears that Sean Hannity has lost half of his audience since the election. According to an article in the NY Daily News:

The going wisdom is that viewers who basked in his preelection anti-Obama rhetoric tuned him out when they were stunned to wake up on Nov. 7 and discover that the President had won a second term — a scenario that Hannity had all but promised could never happen.

Before the election, Hannity was riding high in the ratings and topped thought leaders on the right, like Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Peggy Noonan and talk radio bulldog Mark Levin, who predicted Obama would lose in a landslide. . .

And when the dust settled, it turns out Hannity’s viewers opted to vote again — with their remotes. [Source]

As I said in Montenegro, I don’t tend to predict. But I will continue to give you my best assessment of what I see in polls and public policy.

Now I won’t agree with some criticisms and I don’t respond to people who call names or are uncivil. But, dear readers, I do count on you to give me your own honest, reasoned opinions.

For, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Our critics are our friends, they show us our faults.”

Happy New Year.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.