June 29, 2020
BY JEFFREY H. BIRNBAUM
Three words rarely uttered in Washington should become its new mantra. They are: “I don’t know.”
The 2016 presidential election and the timing of this year’s pandemic should have cured the nation’s capital of making predictions. Yet prognostication remains a staple of public discourse.
That’s a shame. When someone confidently projects who will win the presidential election this year, the appropriate response is to politely turn away and do something else. Nobody knows what’s going to happen.
At the same time, a few considerations grounded in past elections — but short of soothsaying — have a chance of holding up.
The first is: Whatever is important today won’t be as important five months from now.
The public’s attention is riveted by something new almost every week. But that changes all the time. Injustice against Blacks, the economy’s decline, and the need to defeat COVID-19 are challenges that won’t disappear. But significant new issues surely will emerge by November and, to repeat, we don’t know what they’ll be.
Second, watching the news is not a good way to guess who will win the election.