Duelling narratives on Iowa ground game?

If you want to really appreciate the chaotic nature of the pre-caucus environment in Iowa right now, contemplate the two stories below (both via Hot Air Headlines):

  • People reading the New York Times are being told, effectively, that the ground game race is effectively between the technocratic Mitt Romney and the plucky Rick Santorum (with his 1,000 precinct leaders!), with the weird Ron Paul only still on the board because of the cult-like devotion of his campaign staff. I’m paraphrasing, mind you, but you can tell that the NYT writes for an audience who considers Mitt Romney the least incomprehensible specimen of that most exotic (and no doubt poison-secreting) species known as Republicans.
  • Meanwhile, people reading CNN are being told that Rick Perry has recruited over 1,500 precinct leaders, covering 95% of the 1,700+ caucuses (some precincts are combined into one location); and that neither Romney’s or Paul’s organizations are ready to give that information out. Note that the CNN article is not precisely complimentary to Perry in its tone: articles that start with “Even as they grapple with mediocre poll numbers, a gaffe-prone candidate and internal staff feuding…” rarely are.

So, which one is right? Well, that’s why there’s going to be a caucus on Tuesday; to find out. But if you know somebody out there confidently telling you that he or she knows who is going to win… smile, nod, and don’t write any checks based on only that. Right now there’s the mother of all selection bias going on out there, and everybody – and I mean everybody – is more than happy to ignore the evidence that doesn’t favor their own side. So I suggest that you make up your own mind and vote accordingly… which is, of course, the point of the whole system of representative democracy in the first place. Also: remember that somebody is going to win the caucus on Tuesday, and that it’s not particularly easy sometimes to tell a genuine prognosticator from a lucky guesser.

I’m sorry, no, it’s easy: the lucky guesser is the one that actually exists.

Moe Lane (crosspost)