You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Can Someone Explain Mark Penn To Me?

Just a quick word about Mark Penn, Hillary's pollster and chief strategist. Based on everything I've heard and read, Penn genuinely didn't believe the Des Moines Register poll showing Obama up big prior to the caucuses. That, and not just campaign spin, is why he spent so much energy bashing it.

Which is fine--everyone makes mistakes. I'd have reacted pretty violently, too, if all the numbers I'd been looking at said one thing and then along came an incredibly influential poll that showed something very different.

What I don't understand is why Penn, having been proven completely, disastrously wrong in his reading of the Iowa numbers, would then go out on another limb yesterday, claiming Obama would get no bounce from Iowa based on a very early set of polls. It's dubious enough to put yourself out there all over again only days after your credibility has been damaged. But to put yourself out there with a claim that will almost certainly be proven false a day or two later is just completely mystifying.

Penn, for all his faults, is not a dumb man. The only conclusion I can draw is that he's so frantic about what's happening that he's having trouble exercising his critical faculties. Maybe ousting Penn really would help at this point.

--Noam Scheiber