The close-call counterfactual defense (i.e., “I was almost right”) takes the exogenous-shock defense further. From Expert Political Judgment comes an example regarding Quebec secession (Remember that one?):
Experts who expected Quebec to secede from Canada noted how close the second separatist referendum came to passing (“well within sampling error, if a fraction of a percentage point more of the electorate had voted oui, confederation would have unraveled”) and how a more deftly managed campaign could have tipped the outcome (“if a savvier politician, Bouchard rather than Parizeau, had spearheaded the cause, Quebec would be a nation today”). (133).
Invoking this one is simple. Admit you were wrong, then point out how close
your prediction came to actually happening. This of course makes you exactly 0% less wrong. But it may help maintain your reputation.
Bonus Tip: When building up the counterfactual (“If only this this one tiny, itty-bitty, teensy-weensy thing had happened, then I would have been totally, 100% right”) try to confuse the listener by pointing to something obscure and technical that caused your error (“If the left-center technocratic reform coalition hadn’t started that filibuster over those kudzu farming subsidies…”)
You see this sort of pattern everywhere: “If I had just joined Microsoft it 1994, when they asked me to, I would be a millionare by now!” Yeah. But you didn’t. So now you work at Fuddruckers. Get over it.