A question for Washington pollsters: How wrong must you be to never work again?

“I’m trying to think of anybody put to such desperate shame that they never worked again, but I can’t think of it,” says Edward Lazarus, a former Democratic pollster. “People were fired from campaigns, but I can’t think of it ever ending their career.”

It may not be shocking to hear that behind-the-scenes D.C. isn’t a pure meritocracy. It’s the land of second opportunity. So what if Vice President Dick Cheney miscalculated the situation in Iraq last time? It didn’t stop him from co-writing a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the situation there this summer. Karl Rove will appear on television until the end of time despite his election-night kerfuffle with his own network about whether President Obama had won Ohio. Get into the upper echelon of official Washington, and it’s hard to completely fall out of favor.

McLaughlin gets it right a lot more often than he is wrong. But he’s had a bad string of it lately. In 2012, he had former senator George Allen (R-Va.) up 47 percent to 44 percent just weeks before he lost his Senate race by six points to former Virginia governor Timothy M. Kaine (D), and he had Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney beating Obama in Virginia by seven points, only for him to lose by four.

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