The Last Laugh

Gordon Mohr gojomo at
Sat Apr 19 11:56:24 PDT 2003

Jeff Bone gets it all wrong as he writes:
> Bush WILL lose in 2004.  It's unavoidable.  Believing otherwise is 
> nothing but pure delusion.  In order to rationally believe that he'll 
> carry the day in 2004, you've got to believe some significant 
> combination of the following:
> (1)  There are people who voted for *Gore* last time that will vote 
> Bush in 2004

There are millions of swing voters who can easily make this switch. 
The heuristics individuals use to make their votes are incredibly

One particularly large group of people are those non-ideological 
folks who say, "if they've got experience and have done a reasonable 
job, vote to keep them in office." These people would mostly break 
for Vice President Gore in 2000 -- 8 years in office, domestic 
tranquility, strong economy -- but would mostly break for an 
incumbent president like Bush otherwise. 

> (2)  There are people who voted for *Nader* last time that will vote 
> Bush in 2004

There are more things in heaven and earth, Jeffrey, than are dreamt of 
your philosophy. 

Many Nader voters were throwing non-ideological, emotional protest 
votes -- with hardly any affinity (or even knowledge of) Nader's
politics. These people's emotions could easily cut for Bush in 2004.
Economic nationalists, in particular, who thought a vote for Nader
would "protect American jobs" could easily believe that "protecting
American lives from foreign threats" overrides all other concerns,
and that Bush has done a good job. 

> (3)  There are others who voted 3rd party last time that will vote Bush 
> in 2004

Plenty of Pat Buchanan voters and Harry Browne voters could easily
switch to Bush. 

> (4)  There are people who did not vote last time that will vote Bush in 
> 2004

There are millions of newly-eligible voters, who have reached the age 
of maturity or immigrated to the US, since 2000. Meanwhile, millions
of Americans have passed away -- disproportionately older and Democratic
leaning voters. 

Only time will tell whether the net effects of voter inflows and 
outflows, and changing voters' views over time, net benefits Bush or
his opponent. But the pool of voters is far different than your 
analysis considers, and there has been -- over the past ~30 years --
evidence of a Republican drift. 

> (5)  That the sum-total of these people tips the balance, while

Sum totals of popular vote don't matter. Sum totals of Electoral
College votes do. So you'd be better off analyzing swing states 
than classes of voters.

Further, the electoral college tends to benefit the western/
southern/rural interests more closely aligned with Republicans.
This even has a spillover effect on the popular vote totals,
as it lets Republicans better focus their resources/efforts.
(There are more uncontested Republican electoral votes than
uncontested Democratic states.)

> (8)  No "right" spoiler, significant "left" spoiler

There may well be several spoilers. They won't emerge until 2004,
so it's premature to be confident of their net effect. Things
look good for Bush, though, with his base solidly behind him --
no big insurgencies on the right. That Democrats are inevitably 
going to be very conflicted on the Iraq war means there is a
strong chance of a fatal "Dove" spoiler.
> (9)  Significant economic improvement (not until capital starts 
> flowing, and Bush is future-unfriendly)

There's an excellent chance of strong improvement by the
election -- more than 18 months away -- but barring a noticeable
contraction, other issues could easily predominate.

Don't forget:
(10) Bush -- and the downticket Republicans -- will likely have
an even larger fundraising advantage than in 2002 and 2000.

(11) Gore isn't running, and none of the announced Democratic
candidates have anywhere near the experience or stature Gore
brought to the campaign in 2000.

> We'll see.  If I'm wrong, I'll be checking out.

Of FoRK? Of the United States? Of the political-predictions-business?

- Gordon

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