Which Calamity Will Decide the Election? Pick One

by on July 7, 2020 · 3 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach

By Colleen O’Connor

It is conventional political wisdom that nothing changes in an election’s trajectory from July until November. Behind in July. Loser in November.

It matters not the amount of money or the massive political ads. The dye is cast. Except, the 2016 election where Clinton, led, until she didn’t. (That assumes Russian interference played no role).

Leaving that aside, every voter should be able to pick the dominate influence in this election year. Look at the Big 4 contenders; the #MeToo movement; COVID-19; Black Lives Matter; and the fractured economy.

Pick the one that will dwarf all others and dominate the news from now until voting begins.

This is all part of a new web-based movement to harness the wisdom of the crowd.  A lot like the dream of direct democracy. It is called Good Judgment.

All it takes to participate is a rapacious knowledge of current events; an ability to count; think logically, and voila, you are “superforecaster.”

According to Philip Tetlock, a professor and founder of Good Judgment, “Talented amateurs who pay attention to both the science and the news seem to be better at putting accurate probabilities on key outcomes.”

Indeed, “GJP’s forecasts were so accurate that they even outperformed intelligence analysts with access to classified data.”

Thus far, they correctly predicted the Brexit vote; Russia’s food embargo against some European countries; and the world COVID-19 cases hitting the 200,000 mark one day earlier.

Why? Because, these forecasters exhibit skills that experts lack. They may be “more flexible than traditional scientists, because they’re not bound to a particular discipline or approach.”  And they have good “gut feelings.”

According to Time magazine, “Unlike history’s prophets, these superforecasters, do not claim to possess supernatural abilities. They tend to share certain personality traits, including humility, reflectiveness and comfort with numbers.”

Most importantly, they “put their ego aside, and are willing to change their minds when challenged with new data or ideas.”

Try your hand. Forecast the massive breakout news that will still dominate through November.

Here are the choices again.

The #MeToo women’s movement; the COVID-19 pandemic; the Black Lives Matter campaigns; and the looming, financial crisis.

For now, leave out Trump’s multiple personal, financial and political scandals. And the multiple damning books from Bolton, Trump’s niece, and Melania’s best friend. He engulfs all of the above. Trump against Trump, he loses.

So, which of these jaw-dropping, binge-worthy stories will dominate the new cycles through summer and fall, enough to most affect the election outcomes in November?

The #MeToo Women’s march and movement including the allegations engulfing Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein (died in jail). Donald Trump’s multiple accusers keep coming. The latest complainant, E. Jean Carroll, claims Trump raped her, and has proof. The Donna Karan dress, with DNA.

These cases all winding their way through courts, jails, and tabloid headline news.

The FBI’s recent arrest of Epstein’s associate, Ghislaine Maxwell has added more fuel to the fire. The Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s office has indicted Maxwell on multiple charges of conspiring to entice girls as young as 14 to engage in illegal sex acts with former boyfriend Epstein at his residences in New York, Florida and New Mexico, and at Maxwell’s London residence.

“She was, arrested on Thursday at her $1m estate in New Hampshire, has been detained without bail and considered an ‘extreme risk of flight’ citing her access to more than $20m in 15 bank accounts and three passports.”

The accusations keep multiplying from afar. Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents 16 of Epstein’s accusers, said, “I now have more victims contacting me … from Europe, and the UK as well.”

What could eclipse that long-lived saga?

Probably, COVID-19, the mishandling of which has caused Trump’s poll numbers to collapse to a dismal 38% approval rating (Gallup).  Masks or no masks, the virus is deflating and defeating Trump’s swagger.

That leaves us with Black Lives Matter — a movement centuries in the making.  How many more marches will there be?  How many more statues will be toppled pro and con? (Latest to fall, statue of abolitionist, Frederick Douglas by racists).  How many flags burned or waved? Businesses trashed? How many votes suppressed? Guns drawn?  People killed? With racism still alive in the White House?

Again, pivot to COVID-19.

The Black, Latino, and elderly populations are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19 infections and deaths.  Yet, this does not concern the President of the United States. “I don’t take responsibility,” he says.

Neither does he take responsibility for the economic calamity everyone sees and millions are experiencing.

Lots to consider.  Pick the one.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter from South O July 7, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Give the white house mafia time. We’ll have something entirely supervillainish to horrify us.
And if the “dye” is cast, I hope it isn’t orange.


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman July 8, 2020 at 3:05 pm

How about restructuring presidential candidates’ TV “debates” in 2020 from WWW entertainment to a format for informing and educating voters? Let’s drop the coliseum-like spectacle of customary presidential “debates” — picking the “winner,” naming the “loser,” cheering and groaning — in what’s become mainly a quadrennial showcase for national television journalists.
Let’s move to a different arrangement, commensurate with the gravity of the moment. Televise Biden and Trump singly meeting the press, having to answer tough questions as individuals, as candidates for President of the United States, in a hall without a partisan audience. It would be strictly fair to the candidates, restore dignity to the battered Fourth Estate and more fully inform the public about our important choices in 2020.


Peter from South O July 8, 2020 at 4:14 pm

Never gonna happen. Too much money involved with the networks, parties (they fund raise BIG time after each debate) and advertisers to switch to a format that would resemble CSPAN. People want to see the spectacle.
I’d watch, but the high ratings would not be there.


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