"Voters have a very strange way of not listening to the pundits." — Gary Hart, to the Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh in an October 5 column titled "Clinton is far from ‘inevitable.’"
Watch out for this quote, or variations on it, to be used by countless political pundits over the next few months. And remember that the reason so many political pundits get to practice their craft over decades and decades is that they are rarely proven wrong. And they’re rarely proven wrong because voters almost always do what the pundits say they will. Just as they almost always behave how public opinion polls predict that they will behave. (Even Hart’s upset victory over Walter Mondale in the 1984 New Hampshire primary was anticipated by late polls — and voters in later primary states confirmed the conventional wisdom by giving Mondale enough delegates to win the nomination anyway.)
If an occasional example of mildly unexpected behavior is enough to justify Hart’s statement, he might as well say the same thing about Academy Award voters, Olive Garden chefs, and the swallows of Capistrano.