We are in the midst of one of the most interesting, and unusual, political races in recent memory. While some of this can be attributed to the unlikely stars of the 2016 president election, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the rest seems to be unexplainable. At least it is for the political pundits.
This past week, a confused Tony Blair told the Financial Times, “I really mean it when I say that I’m not sure I fully understand politics right now, which is an odd thing to say when I’ve spent my life in it.”
There is no question that the surge from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders caught much of the country off guard. Many assumed that there campaigns would run aground before they would ever have reached the Republican caucus in Nevada or Democratic primary in South Carolina.
The inability of almost anyone to explain what is going on right has many of us wondering, are politics getting more unpredictable? Or are politics pundits getting worse? Right now, it appears that the answer is both.
According to a tally conducted by ThinkProgress, over thirty publications have already declared
that Trump’s candidacy for presidency has reached the beginning of the end. We would understand if these were all liberal publications writing these stories, but the fact of the matter is that Republican publications have not faired any better.
Even Nate Silver, who came onto the scene back in 2008 as the answer to this very problem of unfounded certainty, calculated last November that Trump’s support was “about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.” Well, if that is the case then it looks like there are a lot of people who believe the moon landing is a conspiracy.
So there is no question that political pundits are having a difficult time getting a grasp on the current political landscape. It is important to say that we should be wary of thinking that there ever was a golden age of political predictability. But at the same time, I think everyone understands the world has evolved greatly, and it has rapidly changed over the past few election cycles.
Technology has introduced new members to the political arena and elevated the status of celebrity, moving us even further away from predictability. Most importantly, however, technology has limited the influence of the political parties as a whole.
For years, the Republican and Democratic National Committees had an enormous influence over steering the parties ship, positing themselves to have their ideal candidate in position to win when it is all said in done.
Nowadays, the everyday person has more of a say than ever. With the click of a button, you can spread your message to the masses (that is if they actually want to read it, but you get the point).
These two trends can certainly help to explain the popularity of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Are they the people that the RNC or DNC would like to see? No. Are they the candidates that the majority of the country wants to see? Probably not.
We are now living in a time when more people have a voice, and right now it appears that the larger this voice becomes, the more difficult it will be to predict.