The History of Herman's Toteboard
Herman’s Toteboard grew out of a series of email conversations with a friend just before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, when we were discussing how we both disagreed with the horse-race "toteboard" odds assigned by an erstwhile contributor to the Boston Phoenix, a publication for which I used to write many years earlier. I outlined my own assessment of the races in both parties and, at the end of one message, jokingly asked “should I start blogging?” My friend offered his own analysis, but also added “I would read your blog.” On January 4, 2008, the day after the caucuses, I wrote the following:
I think Obama's odds have gone way up. And I trust even more the blog that said Hillary was in trouble with the "second choice" voters. CNN had been saying that she was leading in the "entrance surveys," but the results were, really, not even close. I'm especially curious to see if the national polls, which showed Hillary consistently ahead by fifteen or so, were just based on name recognition, or if the Obama victory is a fluke. I don't think Edwards is going to do any better state-by-state than he did four years ago, and Iowa seems to be corroborating that.
I don't think Huck's victory makes him a serious national candidate, but we shall see. His numbers are not good once you get out of the southern and/or evangelical crowd, and even the national surveys that showed him leading were meaningless, because five or six candidates were all basically under 25%. What it does do is seriously injure Romney, and the main question is how seriously. Rudy and McCain can benefit from his implosion, but they did so poorly in IA themselves that they aren't in any position to seize any perception of momentum.
And thus marked the first unofficial appearance of Herman’s Toteboard. I soon circulated this email among a handful of friends, updated the odds after each important primary or caucus, and continually expanded the mailing list of interested friends, colleagues, and friends of friends. More recently, many readers have encouraged me to submit specific installments to influential publications as op-ed pieces, or at least to put the Toteboard on a more public platform, enabling easy sharing and wider public access. And so now, nearly thirteen years later, Herman’s Toteboard is a full-fledged blog, offering election analysis, political commentary, and more.