Sunday, January 22, 2012
Vital Remnants calls the Florida Republican primary
Vital Remnants is now calling the Florida Republican primary for Newt Gingrich. No, we don't have any actual returns in yet. And, yes, the primary does not actually occur for another week. But I watched both Fox News and CNN call the South Carolina primary before any returns had actually been reported, so my own attempt at augury is not unprecedented.
First, Fox called the race purely on the basis of exit polling before any precincts had reported. I then turned to CNN, to see if they too had called the race without actually knowing how people voted. There, Anderson Cooper and another analyst were explaining very carefully why they weren't calling the race at that moment. So I turned back to Fox. Then, about five minutes later, I turned back to CNN where they too, despite not having any returns yet, had called the race.
Clearly CNN felt pressure because Fox had already called the race and didn't want to look. So I'm going to get a jump on all of them and call Florida.
Just as Fox and CNN have their sophisticated metrics on the basis of which they make their predictions, so do I. My procedure is to read the newspapers, take a sip of coffee, check out certain websites, take another sip of coffee, take a nap, watch some coverage of the race on TV, and go get some more coffee. I then go for a walk. After watching a movie (preferably a Western), I go chop some wood for my wood stove.
I then get out my calculator, add up some numbers and come to a total. These numbers are basically random and the total they come to has absolutely nothing to do with anything whatsoever, but they give the whole analysis a vague and dreamy scientific feeling which, after all, is the basis for much of social science.
I am then ready to make my prediction, a prediction which generally depends on how optimistic or pessimistic I am feeling about my preferred candidate (which in turn is affected by how much coffee I have had).
Today, I am feeling good about Newt Gingrich after he won South Carolina yesterday. Should my optimism forsake me in the days leading up to the actual primary in which there will be actual returns based on actual votes by actual people, I may revise my announcement retroactively. This too is not unprecedented.
There may be some who think this procedure is unscientific and partisan, to which I respond that it is entirely within the realm of scientific method. After all, my procedure can be verified through the tried and true scientific process of employing the fallacy of affirming the consequent: if my prediction proves true, it counts as evidence for the validity of my procedure. If it proves false, on the other hand, then it is obviously falsifiable, which, according to Karl Popper, the scientists' favorite philosopher of science, is the criterion for the scientific, broadly conceived.
Gingrich. Florida. Trust me on this.