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About those claims that the election forecasts hurt the Democrats in November

One reason that I’m skeptical of these claims of depressed voter turnout is that I’m old, and I remember the 1980 election. People blamed the Democrats’ poor performance in the west coast on the fact that the election had been called for Reagan before the polls had closed in those states. So the message seems to be: If the Democrats think they’re gonna lose, they won’t turn out, and if the Democrats think they’re gonna win, they won’t turn out. I guess it’s possible that Democrats are more sensitive than Republicans to the perceived closeness of the election, but what I really think is going on is that most of the people doing these analyses are Democrats, and they’re implicitly acting under the assumption that Republicans’ behavior is fixed and Democrats’ behavior is changeable. I connect this to the so-called fundamental attribution error in psychology. I could swear I wrote a blog post ten or fifteen years ago about this general point (the idea that historians often seem to give their own country more agency when writing about past events; one example is the various British historians who blamed World War 1 on . . . Britain), but now I can’t find it . . .

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