About a month ago I was watching the IU v. UK game from 1990 on the Big Ten Network and Damon Bailey’s position in the hierarchy of Indiana Basketball greats came up in conversation. It’s a strange thing, Damon Bailey, because when I think of him the first thought that comes to mind is that he was a middle of the road player. He wasn’t bad, but he was not one of the greats.
Upon further review and investigation, it must be said that I am wrong about that. While it is true that he was never the best player on his team, those honors go to Calbert Chaeney and Alan Henderson, he was a GREAT basketball player. My gut reaction to his place in history is largely colored by two factors. 1.) No national championship, though that is not his fault. Those teams were great and should have won two titles, but shit happens. 2.) He was supposed to be the second coming of, if not Christ, then Alford. Anything less than being the best player on the planet and his career would have been a disappointment. Fair? No. But true nonetheless. Our perception of people and events is largely based on what we expected.
As another example of this I will tell this tale. When I was an undergrad, I was an RA. Every week we had meetings in our supervisors living room. On here desk, every week, was a jar of peanut M&M’s. It was common practice to reach in, grab a handful, pop them in your mouth and enjoy chocolate and candy covered nuts goodness. One week, right around Christmas the jar was filled with Red and Green Peanut M&M’s. I reached in grabbed my standard handful and popped them in my mouth expecting the reward salty-sweet crunchy joy of Peanut M&M’s.
They were mints.
My shock and revulsion knew no equal. They could have been the best mints in the world, but since i expected M&M’s they were disgusting. Expectations color reactions.
Which brings me to last night in New Hampshire. One week ago no one would have been surpised by the outcome of the Democratic Primary. It was a close race between Clinton and Obama that could have gone either way. But on Monday every "news" outlet in America was reporting Obama with a 9-11 point advantage over Clinton.
Well, now the Clinton campaign is in HUGE trouble. She goes on TV and almost cried about her campaign. Obama wisely tells his supporters to chillax a bit and remember to vote because the worst reaction to this news for him would be for his supporters to say, "Oh, cool, we got this on lock down. I guess it’s no big deal if I skip the primary tomorrow."
In the end Clinton pulled it out by some 8,000 votes and roughly 4 percentage points. The reaction this was shock. No one could believe that Clinton was winning. They were willing to predict her win at any point during the evening. This is going to be seen as a huge win for her and a disappointing loss for him. All because of the polls results from Monday setting up our expectations for this event.
In reality, this has been and continues to be a close race. One that I’m sure won’t even have much separation until February 5th. In fact I expect it to get more muddled before it clears up. Edwards will do very well in South Carolina and it may result in 3 primaries, three different winners. All it means is that "THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!" No more, no less. Let’s ride this thing out and see where we end up before we attach too much significance to any one outcome.