First, congratulations to all my friends and colleagues who dared to predict the presidential election. I congratulate everybody, because the first step is to try.
I also hesitate to congratulate only those who predicted correctly because this kind of prediction is difficult, and fraught with problems. It is in the spirit of humbleness that I would like to address some of the problems I see in this prediction process, as well as to herald some things that I think we as a community are beginning to get right.
In the category of right, I congratulate the Political Astrology Blog and Chris Brennan and Patrick Watson for their work through the last two elections in providing a resource for predictions made, and timings recorded. It is extremely useful that the information from one election is not just quietly disappearing before the next cycle: and the next. We can only learn from developing a historical database. It is also for this reason that I urge everyone who has posted predictions or discussions of this election to not take them down. I know that nobody really wants to keep remembering their mistakes, but there is still gold to be mined in understanding both the "correct" and "incorrect" analyses - because hardly anybody gave single reason predictions. I would claim some small credit for Kepler College in helping to initiate a more serious discussion of these matters.
Here are some ideas I would throw out as important.
There are two psychological factors that we have to keep in mind that have major bearing, not only on our predictions, but those of the media, and citizens at large, whether of the country in question, or not.
- It is an extremely well documented observation that virtually everybody makes the mistake of believing that other people agree with them more than is actually true. I have observed and commented for some time that there has historically been a high correlation between who astrologers predict will win with whom that astrologer will or would vote for. If we understand this within the context of this psychological tendency, we understand the very real peril: that if we believe that the universe is ordered, and we are right, then of course the universe will work out according to our own beliefs. While not a fully conscious process, this represents a considerable danger in making predictions.
- When, as today, we are engaging in the post-election discussion, the tendency when one is wrong is to find a factor in the charts that one examined that could be construed as going in the opposite way, pounce on that factor, and then explain one's wrong prediction as being a result of that. So far, this may be plausible. But the real error is then the all too human tendency to believe that, having found the magic bullet, that one's prediction is transformed into a correct prediction, for having been explained.
This simple reality is further complicated by the fact that everybody had a roughly 50-50 chance of being right or wrong. Thus, we are confronted with the probability that some of the correct predictions for Obama were actually fundamentally flawed in analysis and right by chance, whereas some of the predictions for Romney were just slightly incomplete, but primarily correct. How does one tell the difference, especially since we only repeat this exercise at four year intervals?
For now, let me address some particular factors, in the hope that they can help the thinking process for future elections.
- The prediction of two-party models is completely different than parliamentary models, because only two party elections resemble the warfare models of which I am fond. If there are multiple armies on a battlefield, each one is not fighting all others: they are already aligned as allies, which is not how multi-party systems work.
- I think we have to come to agreement for the future that if the US system is that the actual victory occurs through the Electoral College, that winning the Electoral College is the measure of a correct prediction. Frankly, we don't have enough data for a model of when an election is split between popular and Electoral College. However, I have to admit that I am being dragged kicking and screaming into developing some respect for the Electoral College idea. Had a hurricane or earthquake actually occurred on the day of the election, thereby significantly lowering a populous state's voting; or had a state referendum significantly changed the voter turn-out in just that one state; then the popular vote might not actually be more "just" than the Electoral College.
- This election was the first failed case since Al Morrison pointed out the theory: that people nominated under a void of course Moon do not win the election. Obama was, and he did. My comment on this is twofold: first, there are no single factor arguments that I know that will work absolutely all the time. The second point is that the void of course has, imho, been blown up way out of proportion. It is merely one of the ways that the Moon can be afflicted. We must study them all.
- This leads into the next issue: is there any critical event prior to the election itself that determines the outcome of the election? We don't often discuss this matter of multiple events surrounding an event, but we have the time a person announced candidacy, the time the election campaign is established, each of the primaries, the date of the primary at which the candidate receives the votes needed to become the candidate, the time that this is declared by the media, the time the nominating convention begins, the time that the candidate is announced as winning the nomination, and probably several other dates I am forgetting. Are any of these fail-safe predictors of the results? I tend to view these matters in the spirit of electionals in a string of related issues like a relationship (where one can do charts for the time of meeting, the first date, the first sex, moving in together, marriage, etc.): the most important thing may be defensive charting: that none of these event can predict a success, but any of them could preclude one.
- Horary: it's time to give it up. Sorry, but let's stop kidding ourselves. In a world of seven billion people, the idea that any one of us citizens has the special pipeline to the truth about this is delusional. This cannot work, because of two irreconcilable problems: that we cannot know when the question was asked for the first time (making all subsequent attempts bogus with random access results), and we aren't really any more special than any other citizen of the Earth. I was especially disheartened by reading an argument that perhaps one gets the right answer if one has greater virtue. No comment. But I think the fact that there are many astrologers (me among them) who adore horary doesn't make this an appropriate technique.
- It may do well for Americans to study European parliamentary elections as a model for the primary season. We simply don't have a model for what to do with multiple candidates.
- In a world of early voting, it's time to revise our models. Dixville Notch is now a lovely historical asterisk, when literally millions have voted before those intrepid few have stayed up for their election night party. We may see a decline of importance of election day charts as being predictive, because so much of the voting has already occurred.
But most of all, I encourage my colleagues to persevere, always using caution about applying hindsight instead of foresight.