Like compulsive gamblers who react to every losing streak by changing their betting strategy rather than quitting outright, political handicappers adjust to every stunning campaign development by unapologetically peddling new certainties.
Normally, the stunning collapse of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren in the New Hampshire primary would have inspired a burst of humility. TV pundits had been calling the former vice president the front-runner for months, and Warren was last summer’s smart-money favorite. But instead of admitting their mistake in singling those candidates out, the TV handicappers and newspaper analysts are now actively promoting new theories about the field.
Wednesday morning brought ludicrously overconfident headlines like this one from NBC News: “Bernie Sanders is now the front-runner. And moderates may be too divided to stop him.” The McClatchy Washington bureau went with a similar morning-after headline: “Sanders emerges as the Democratic frontrunner—but don’t expect the race to end soon.”
To use a line that Ronald Reagan employed to devastating effect in his 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter: “There you go again.”