Teaching The Controversy (Hopper’s Folly) »« 2011 Psychic Prediction Scorecard

Bad Process? Or Bad Candidates?

The voting public changes hearts
Like tossing dice or throwing darts;
The candidates who join this dance,
Who studiously act their parts
Can’t see this isn’t real romance
But merely just the whims of chance

The process seems to be designed
To favor those who change their minds
Depending on some small demand—
It’s not a rarity to find
A vote because of shaken hand,
Or baby kissed, or pamphlet scanned

It’s claimed that early states can play
A greater role, because they pay
Attention to the things they ought,
And (so the states’ supporters say)
They give the issues proper thought,
Legitimizing battles fought

But looking at the polls this year
No candidate is breaking clear
So… Are these voters unaware?
Or might it be, as some may fear,
No candidate campaigning there
Has done enough to make them care.

Some musings, after the jump:

As we enter the final death throes of the Iowa caucus season, and approach the New Hampshire primary, the two states are engaged in their quadrennial justification dance, explaining to the rest of the nation why it is that they deserve their early status (and the infusion of dollars that represents every 4 years). The mythology is that they have proven their worth, have shown that they are able to critically analyze the candidates in a manner a larger state could not.

Except that this year, their polling is not that far removed from chance. Nearly every candidate has been the frontrunner for a bit, and the radio this morning claims a statistical dead heat at this late date between Romney and Paul, with Santorum a closing third (NPR did not claim Santorum was “surging from behind”, as other outlets did).

In science, as we look more closely, with more controls, at a phenomenon, one of two things happens. If it is real, it shows up more clearly. If it is not, it fades into random noise. What might have looked promising, turns out to be something, or nothing. In Iowa, it appears that the Republican field is turning out to be nothing. I don’t know which would be worse news for Iowa–for them to rightly report to the nation “the candidates suck”, or to admit their inability to find something healthy among all the weeds.

Comments

  1. procrastinator will get an avatar real soon now says

    I think the process is working just fine. Each new candidate is held up to the light of day and found to be not very shiny. And as all political campaigns go, this one has devolved into mud slinging and name calling. My phone is ringing off the hook with people trying to convince me how God fearing, pro-life, and anti-gay their candidate is. Too bad that each of those things convince me that that they are scum.

  2. Art says

    I sometimes vote using a point system. It pretty much just confirms my gut feeling but quantifying it in some way helps.

    Points also for: Person or family:
    Least amount of family and personal money +7
    Involved in real estate -4, developer -7
    Involved with finance or banking -3, investment banking -5, hedge funds -9

    Non-white +2
    Female +2

    Also:
    -0.1 for each and every paid advertising I see/hear/get in the mail.
    -1 for every robo-call
    -15 for every smear or conspiracy call.
    -1 for each reference to patriotism.
    -3 for each religious reference.

  3. Art says

    While there are some easy points that are not likely to change, Mittens is wealthy/from a wealthy family, and his involvement in finance is well documented, I’ve not started my running point totals because the campaign hasn’t started. I limit the points to those scored/lost during what I consider the current campaign. I need to figure out when that date is so I can start my count. I forget when I started four years ago. Suggestions?

    I keep a tally sheet where I open mail, listen to the radio, watch TV. That said the GOP usually, given their relative wealth and the ways most of them made their money, start at a significant disadvantage. A deficit that generally widens when they open their mouths and send out campaign advertising.

    Also some seemingly fixed attributes may change. The Big Fig (Newton), Newt, would gain two points if he had a sex change. Bachmannn would pick up a few if she declared African-American roots. Certainly worth two points each for entertainment value alone.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Art @ # 4: I need to figure out when that date is so I can start my count. …. Suggestions?

    Start immediately!

    Or maybe tomorrow evening, when the Iowa caucus results start trickling out.

    Just, please, for your own health ‘n’ safety: don’t turn this into a drinking game!

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