The Magazine

Realignment Myths

A lively dissection of confident predictions in politics.

Mar 19, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 26 • By MICHAEL M. ROSEN
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Trende also reflects a growing trend toward what we might call the numerification of political analysis, as signified by center-left number-crunchers such as Nate Silver of the New York Times FiveThirtyEight blog, center-right data junkies such as the remarkable Jay Cost (who appears in these pages), and perhaps most significantly, the emergence of his employer RealClearPolitics as the ultimate clearinghouse for the numerical exploration of political developments. Charts, graphs, and regressions abound in today’s discourse, with popular political commentary at times becoming as infused with numbers as your average quantitative textbook.

While this trend has its definite downsides—the decline of quality prose; the disappearance of an inchoate appreciation for a partisan gestalt; an overreliance on county data and maps undifferentiated by population—its finest practitioners, including Sean Trende in this impressive debut, marry the best of a rigorous mathematical investigation to succinct, persuasive writing in a successful attempt to defy the conventional wisdom.

Michael M. Rosen practices law in San Diego.