Monday, June 16, 2008

Like all good nerdy Americans, I've been reading fivethirtyeight.com for awhile now. And it depressed me. It depressed me because I was forced to revise my wild-ass guess evaluation of where the election really is likely to end up.

So, for proper context here, we need a story. I was hanging out with a nonpartisan group in 2004, and though they truly were nonpartisan, they weren't actually braindead, so were hoping desperately for Bush not to win reelection. There was optimism around the fine oak table. Everyone thought that Kerry's two-point lead augured well. Then I piped up:

A president with this track record shouldn't be polling higher than 30 percent, said I. Hush should be trailing by at least 20 points in the polls. Bush will win.

Psychic I am not, but Bush did win reelection. And now I'm forced to reevaluate my earlier optimism this time around.

A candidate who has witnessed the previous eight years of failure and responds by promising to follow those selfsame policies, merely with greater vigor. He's 72, can't give a speech to save his political life, and really honestly plans to take bad policies to a further extreme in the pursuit of Republican self-parody and the enthusiasm of his wary base.

Against a strong, engeretic, idealistic candidate who has ideas and policies that might take the United States in a positive direction at home and abroad, the first guy shouldn't stand a chance. Yet he's only down by 3-5 points in the polls. And the Republican attack machine has hardly gotten started.

Run monte carlos scenarios, and Loess regressions all you want, fivethirtyeight.com. Your analysis is missing the boat. Looks to this American like we're in for a long, painful four years.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The pundit class has gone hog wild over the latest Clinton gambit. This one's her campaign to win one person's vote to be the vice-presidential nominee.

I can see their point. It would be hard to engineer a ticket that's more fun to cover nor more fun to pillory.

Hillary and the pundits make the case that Obama is weak among women and blue-collar white voters. Coincidentally, Hillary's great strength is among women and blue-collar voters. Voila! Match made in electoral heaven!

Yet the logic doesn't hold. Sen. Clinton's only claim to strength amongst those voting segments is that she won their votes in a one-on-one race against Sen. Obama. If he's truly weak amongst them, her collection of their votes was no sign of strength. If, instead, women and blue-collar whites is for Clinton a great strength, Obama's failure to win many of their votes is probably not a weakness of his after all.

(To take an example that Clinton supporters can understand: Black voters. If Hillary had won the nomination and also hadn't worked so hard to antagonize them, she clearly would have won 80-90% of black voters in the general. Obama's strength obscured Hillary's matching, but lesser, strength in the primaries.)

There is some chance that he has a genuine weakness and she the genuine strength to match. The results of a zero-sum game don't provide that intelligence with nearly the certainty that the politicos in the media would have us believe.

Labels: , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?