Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is among the most accurate pundits commenting on politics these days, according to an empirical study by five students at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.
Called Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air? the study looks political predictions offered by 26 politicians, journalists and pundits who appeared on national talk shows and wrote columns in 2007 and 2008.
The study found liberals’ predictions somewhat more accurate than conservatives, and journalists no better than anybody else.
From the report:
“There were nine prognosticators who were classified as ‘good’ predictors. They were Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, Ed Rendell, Chuck Schumer, Kathleen Parker, Nancy Pelosi, David Brooks, Eugene Robinson, and Hank Paulson. Five of these were journalists at the time of our sample. Six are considered liberal, and the average partisanship score was 5.87 (with 5 being a perfect moderate.)
Three are female and one is black. It is clear that there is a significant amount of diversity in the ‘good’ category.
And who should you not listen to? Individuals who hold law degrees are less accurate when making predictions.
Conservatives, according to our data, are also less accurate. But it is also important to keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of demographic factors have no bearing on a prognosticator’s accuracy. Gender, race, and age are all irrelevant, as are most career path choices, such as becoming a journalist.”
I’ve covered politics for most of Rendell’s career, and the finding is in keeping with my sense of him. He’s often wrong on details – he likes to pepper his arguments with numbers, and sometimes remembers them incorrectly – but his broader political instincts are very sound. And he’s more candid than most of the talking heads on TV, which gets him in trouble from time to time and endears him to journalists.
You can find the whole study here.
This afternoon I’ll be reporting on the campaign finance reports of municipal candidates as they’re filed at the city commissioners’ office. I should have my first report up around 3 o’clock.