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American Journalism Review
A Comeback for the Conventional Wisdom  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   September 2010

A Comeback for the Conventional Wisdom   

Web exclusive
This time the pundits and the pollsters got it right.

By Rem Rieder
Rem Rieder ( is AJR's editor and senior vice president.      

Score one for the Punditocracy.

As a general rule, there are few ways to get rich more quickly than by betting against the received wisdom of Washington's wide and noisy array of political analysts.

You know, the ones who assured us: Hillary Rodham Clinton is a lock for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. But Republican John McCain is toast. And look out for that looming GOP juggernaut Fred Thompson. Fred Thompson?

And, best of all, after the Democratic sweep two years ago: The Republicans will be out of power for, oh, I don't know, a generation.

But this year the Convention Wisdom was right on target.

Before the first voter went to the polls Tuesday, if you were paying attention, you knew:

-It was going to be a big day for the resurgent Republicans and a tough one for President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats.


-The Republicans were going to regain control of the House, by a healthy margin. They did.

-But the Democrats were going to hold onto the Senate. Yep.

-The Republicans were going to dominate in gubernatorial races. That's what happened.

When it came to specific races, the pundits and the pollsters were similarly on target. They told us that some of the most outre and lightly qualified candidates - Tea Party faves Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Joe Miller in Alaska, as well as Linda McMahon in Connecticut - wouldn't do so well. They didn't.

The smart money also had the Pennsylvania and Illinois Senate races right, close but likely to go Republican.

One mild surprise: The Nevada Senate race was considered a tossup, perhaps leaning toward Republican Sharron Angle. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won fairly handily.

So props to everyone's favorite piñata, the D.C. chattering class.

Well played.



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