Dark Horses, Lame Ducks and the Nature of the Political Beast

In his Dec. 31st entry Best Bet for Next President: Prediction Markets Justin Wolfers offers an interesting analysis on the political climate going into the primaries.

According to Wolfers, in the "general election, the markets are titling strongly pro-Democratic, ranking them a 61% chance of taking the White House." This would seem to indicate that Bush is not just a lame duck president, the GOP is a lame duck party.

With Iowa kicking off the primary season, the time for speculation is almost over ... and there doesn't appear to be a clear favorite in either party. Between gaffs and negative campaigning front-runners manage to lose and gain advantage almost daily. With Huckabee and Romney in a stranglehold will McCain surge? Will Edwards prevail, as Obama and Clinton duke it out?

We have had several excellent campaign coverage commentaries posted:

The Wolfers article offers an interesting analysis on the potential outcome of the primaries, based on "experimental prediction markets [...] established at the University of Iowa" and compares this data to polling results.

[...] polling data for Republican candidates is much more consistent with the markets, suggesting a four-way race in which Messrs. Giuliani and Romney are the leading candidates, with Messrs. McCain and Huckabee not too far behind. The markets predicted Mr. Huckabee's surge a few weeks before the polls, and it appears to have come at the expense of Mr. Romney. The big story this week, though, is John McCain, who has resurrected his campaign. The market now judges him to be a clearly credible alternative.

On the Democratic side, national polls suggest a landslide for Ms. Clinton, while the markets suggest that the race is still very competitive, with a one-in-three chance that Obama or Edwards will ultimately win the nomination.

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Can't help but feel I'm back in '04 watching the Bush-Kerry tour in Ohio. Two busses careening around corners of the same town at the same time, blocks (and worlds) apart, with over a billion spent by the time the fat lady sang. What a country.

all that money to win buy an election ....

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If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

Until we have some major election reforms, more in the direction of publicly funded elections, our democratic process of electing officials is really nothing more than a joke. I don't care who we put in office, they will have been bought and paid for long before they even announced their candidacy.

This just popped into my email inbox:

The primaries are officially underway, now the real fun can begin - which is why we're emailing you. We wanted to bring our new website, Pixelection, to your attention. Pixelection lets people "vote with their dollar" while raising money for political candidates and charities.

But they go on to say in their press release ....

Pixelection, the non-partisan organization dedicated to giving advertisers a greater voice in the political process, today announced the launch of its website, www.pixelection.com to coincide with the commencement of the 2008 presidential primary season.

What?!?!? "give advertisers a greater voice"????

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If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

they are non-partisan advertisers!

File under the No comment header.

It's been going round and round my peabrain.

Liberal Progressive blogs are contributed to by a very defined sector of the electorate.

Why on earth would our views be anything other than the worst forecaster of the outcome of an election - even a primary caucus?

For example, Edwards probably speaks most closely to the liberal progressive agenda that is constantly espoused on our blogs (debatable, I realise if you are an Obama supporter) and Hillary Clinton the least. Blog polls reflect this in their results.

Given the passion that we have seen for candidates, the vast majority would find it difficult to give an objective assessment of a voting outcome - except in the obvious case of those who are clearly lagging far behind in the published opinion polls.

I noticed it in relation to the closing ads of the candidate. That of Hillary Clinton was outstanding - outstanding enough to get praise from some - a few - of those supporting other candidates. Yet, in comments from most, the ad that was the best was nearly always that of their candidate, however bad it was. So the overall consensus followed closely the candidate polls run by the blog.

For example, I thought the Edwards ad was awful. Yes, it showed a working class guy who had been unemployed since 2004 who explained how Edwards had spoken movingly to his son about helping his dad get back into work again. It addressed those very issues that are central to our concerns and did so beautifully. But our concerns are not, by definition, those of the electorate as a whole.

On this basis I thought that the Edwards ad was awful as a closing statement to the much broader spectrum of views represented by the caucus. It gave a bleak reminder of fears about unemployment without giving equal time to the inspirational hope and sense of security that should always be in the final message of a candidate.

The Clinton ad was slick, excellently produced and the very thing that makes us nervous of her. Yet, to the Democrats "out there" I am certain it won hands down.

So why do we ever bother to ask ourselves for our collective view on what the voters in general think?

It gave a bleak reminder of fears about unemployment without giving equal time to the inspirational hope[...]

Speaking personally, the "inspirational message of hope" would fall flat. Hope is no longer in my political dialog, cuz I know it is not going to get better soon, I just want to stop it from getting any worse.

So, perhaps the honesty of the Edwards ad will play to the voting public ...

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ePMedia ... get the scoop with us!
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin