SETTLING THE SCORE

NOW WE'RE EVEN. THE PRESIDENTIAL TALLY IS 3-3, WHICH MEANS BOTH SIDES SHOULD STOP CLAIMING THE MANTLE OF HISTORY

On election day American political journalism typically turns on a dime. Before the election reporters and pundits are obsessed with the minutiae of the campaign: consultants, fund raising, TV spots, sound bites. The premise is that these quotidian details are crucial to a highly uncertain outcome. Immediately after the outcome is known, however, journalists start treating themselves and their customers to grander themes: the voters' message, the sweep of history and so on. The premise is that these larger forces explain what happened.

As storytelling, this change makes perfect sense. As logic, it's puzzling. What was held only hours before the...

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