That's the word political scientist Helmut Norpoth used to describe his current lot in life, one that finds his professional credibility intertwined with a politician who appears to have less and less of it: Donald J. Trump.
With mind-boggling confidence, Norpoth's "Primary Model," his heretofore successful election forecast system, projects Trump to win the presidential election in less than two weeks. The model puts the odds of this above 87 percent.
And despite a blizzard of public polls to the contrary, Norpoth isn't hedging his bet. Instead, with invocations of "Dewey Beats Truman," he's calling into question the consensus of survey research that shows Hillary Clinton on the glide path to 270 electoral votes.
Norpoth's contrarianism comes with the perks of publicity.
“I have never gotten anywhere near (this) attention for my other forecasts,” Norpoth told CNBC.com in a telephone interview this week. He added that if given the choice between “a forecast that is right and gives you almost no publicity (and) a forecast that turns out to be wrong in the end that gets a lot of notoriety, I would certainly take the latter.”
But what is the cost of riding this tiger? For some, very little, but for a respected academic like Norpoth there's certainly a risk. And some of his colleagues are already preparing the post-election woodshed for his comeuppance. In January, Norpoth is scheduled to be part of a panel discussion at the Southern Political Science Association meeting in New Orleans.
"He is going to have some 'splaining to do, as they say," said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University. Like Norpoth, Abramowitz also has stewarded a successful election forecasting model, "Time for Change," which likewise predicts Trump will win the election. But while their projections are similar, their reactions have differed greatly.
At a Labor Day gathering of political scientists in Philadelphia, where both men presented their findings, Abramowitz immediately backed away from his. He has since argued that the unique self-destructiveness of the Republican nominee will likely overwhelm the other variables of his model.
"My forecasting model may be the least significant wreckage created by Trump," Abramowitz told CNBC.com.
In a way, Norpoth and Abramowitz are serving as case studies in a separate kind of social science experiment, one that tests the exigencies of academics, presidential politics and modern media. What is clear now is that nobody is talking about Abramowitz's Trump-picking model, while many are talking about Norpoth's.
This time four years ago, similar buzz surrounded the work of two political scientists at the University of Colorado, Kenneth Bickers and Michael Berry, whose forecasting model projected that Mitt Romney would win the presidency with 330 electoral votes. Their model was one of the few that year to use state-level economic data to project voting booth behavior, which seemed compelling on its face.
However, after the votes were counted, and President Barack Obama won, Bickers acknowledged that the model's assumptions about the domestic economy's role in voter behavior were fundamentally flawed. Although he initially indicated he might try to revise the model for future elections, he ended up scrapping it.