More evidence for the Crazification Factor

Joe the Plumber, the Republican working class hero whose name is not really Joe and who is not really a plumber, managed to get 24% of the votes in his run for a seat in the US House of Representatives from Ohio.

If you look at the positions that ‘Joe’ took during his ‘campaign’, a campaign in which he barely bothered to actually do anything at all, the fact that he got 24% is remarkable and prompts the question: What exactly do you have to do as a Republican to be considered so crazy that no one will vote for you? And remember that he actually won a contested Republican primary.

This is yet another indication that the 27% ‘Crazification Factor’, the absolute floor below which a Republican candidate seemingly cannot fall, is pretty sound, give or take a few points. John Rogers at Kung Fu Monkey proposed this number back in 2005 and it has proven to be a remarkably robust estimate.

It is clear that about a quarter of the public will vote for a Republican candidate, no matter how crazy. It will be interesting to see what the corresponding floor for a Democrat is.


  1. Rodney Nelson says

    A poli-sci professor told me that 25% of Americans would vote for Satan if he was running as a Republican and Jesus was running as a Democrat, while another 25% would vote for Satan if he was running as a Democrat and Jesus was running as a Republican. The middle 50% will make up their minds and vote for the candidate they like best (or dislike least).

  2. tbrandt says

    Another data point: Mark Clayton, the sort-of Democratic senate candidate from Tennessee, got 30% of the vote. His campaign was at least as embarrassing as Joe the Plumber’s. The humiliated Democratic party eventually disowned him.

  3. raven says

    My independent estimate of the crazification factor is 20%.

    1. 20% of the US population thinks the sun orbits the earth and cannot diagram the solar system, a task I learned in the first grade.

    2. This tells you that, no matter how stupid an idea or belief is, 20% of the population will believe it.

    UFO aliens, the Illuminati, the Moslem commie conspiracy, Obama the Kenyan, that Bush has a brain, the earth is 6,000 years old, UN agenda 21, 20% of the population will believe it.

  4. says

    It will be interesting to see what the corresponding floor for a Democrat is.

    I’d bet it’s about the same. What you’re seeing is the effect of the 2 party system-inspired “if you vote for anyone other than one of the 2 parties’ candidates you’re throwing your vote away” reasoning. That “floor” is a side-effect of the hobson’s choice that is American politics.

  5. lpetrich says

    There’s already a name for such partisans: yellow-dog ones, as in yellow-dog Democrats and yellow-dog Republicans. Meaning that they’d vote for any yellow dog of a politician who was from their party.

    As to voting for the lesser of the two major evils, that’s a part of Duverger’s law (Wikipedia).

  6. Paul Jarc says

    The floor consists of people defecting on the Prisoner’s Dilemma. When, say, a Libertarian-leaning voter and a Green-leaning voter go to the polls, they can cooperate with each other by voting for their preferred third parties: no net effect on the outcome of this election, but pressuring the major parties to move in their respective preferred directions. But more often, they instead defect from each other by voting for a major candidate: still no net effect on this election, and abandoning pressure on the major parties. They both prefer joint cooperation over joint defection, but without any way to coordinate (and enforce coordination), they each individually choose to defect. If you would cooperate on the Prisoner’s Dilemma, vote third party. Especially in swing states.

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