Just as we’re all slowly starting to heal from the events of November 7, 2016—the election itself, mind you, not the ongoing damage from its results—The New York Times is working to drag us back down into a world of charts, meters, and quasi-reliable predictive models. Just a few hours ago, the paper launched its live modeling page for tonight’s special election in Georgia’s 6th district, which will go down in U.S. history as the most expensive House race ever. Waged between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff, the election is being viewed by many as a referendum on the success of the Trump presidency, hence the massive influx of outside cash.
But while Handel’s reported win tonight is obviously depressing in that light (and others, given her response to questions on topics like LGBTQ adoption), it’s less immediately upsetting than the Times’ chosen presentation, which seemed hell-bent on recreating the data-flood that built up in the wake of the 2016 election, and then washed over the entire internet in a wave of disillusionment and heartbroken poli sci nerds. We’ve got dials, graphs, predictive models, maps, blob maps, and all the other detritus of people trying to work out what the fuck is actually going to happen in American politics. At this point, we’re pretty much one bad Nate Silver prediction and a few “Guys. It’s time for some game theory”s away from a full-blown Election Night flashback.
Of course, if the Times actually gets all its numbers right, it might do a bit to bolster American confidence in the media’s ability to report intelligently on modern politics. (It’s a big might, but oh well.) That being said, if we have to wade through another set of scatter plots to get there, it might not be worth the price.