Monday, November 01, 2004

Let's Test the Conventional Wisdom.

The media hold that the race is tied. But there's an emerging Democrat consensus that there are a number of factors that clearly indicate a Kerry win, perhaps even a landslide. Let's get that Emerging CV on paper to see how it holds up under the weight of events.

1. The New Registrants. Millions of new people have been registered, and they are largely Democratic voters. And they do not appear in the polls, as they have not previously voted.

2. In a similar vein the Cel Phone Vote. In this nugget of ECV, there are millions of voters who do not have land line phones, and are therefore not being counted in the polls. And, of course, they lean heavily Democratic.

3. Nothing Added, Much Lost. This is simply an instinctual theory that few Gore supporters have moved to Bush, while numerous Bush supporters have defected to Kerry. This is often expressed in discussing subsets of voters, like Arab-Americans. Bush got many of them last time, but now many have crossed over to Kerry. Or Cuban-Americans. Or Security Moms. Or White Men. Whoever. This seems compelling on a gut level. Will it pan out in reality?

4. Pissed-off Dems. In 2000, this theory goes, Dems were lazily riding a wave of peace and prosperity, and were surprised by the strength of Bush. Bush's harsh and divisive approach has only served to fire up the Democrats, and the result is an unprecedented effort to mobilize the voters, both in the campaign and on election day.

5. Undecideds Break for the Challenger. In all of the current polls, there remain a non-trivial number of undecideds. Historically, these have generally ended up on the challengers' side. If there are still 4-8% of voters undecided, Sen. Kerry can expect to win 80% of them.

6. The Nader of the Right. Some libertarian clown on the right, Michael Badnarik, is seriously pulling votes away from Bush. If Bush won by a few hundred votes last time, it can't be good news that there is a Nader on his right pulling off ANY votes.

7. Nader ain't Nader any more. In 2000, Nader pulled many key votes from Gore, costing him the election (so goes the conventional wisdom, though there are serious arguments to the contrary). But in 2004, goes the Emerging Conventional Widsdom, Nader is far less of a factor: he is no longer supported by a party, he is on many fewer ballots, and most of his supporters have come to regret handing the presidency to the Evil One.

8. Polls Undercount Votes to Challangers. In this gem, the ECV holds that the polls overstate the results, as people say they're voting for the incumbent, but in reality vote the other way. This is especially true when the incumbent is popular with dominant types (white, male, etc.), and the challenger appeals to the disadvantaged.

9. The Secret 50% Rule. The Secret 50% Rule holds that the incumbent needs an approval rating of at least 50%, or else he cannot win, and President Bush has been holding well below this necessary threshold. I suspect this falls into the same "correlation, not causation" bucket as the Redskins loss = incubent loss, but nonetheless, it is part of the ECV.

10. The Back-firing of Republicans' Voter Suppression Efforts. Many minority, young and new voters will so resent the efforts by the Bush camp to keep them from voting, it just energizes them to vote all the more. "Keep me from voting, will you? Ha! In fact, I'm gonna vote twice just for spite!" Or something.

Well, that's 10, which is more than I would have guessed. Now, let's see how it pans out.

Oh, and let's also hope that Tim Russert managers to make a big enough fool of himself that NBC decides to replace him with Someone With A Functioning Brain.


bill said...

I like your conclusion, and hope you're right, but I am curious about number two -- "And, of course, they lean heavily Democratic." Why would that be?

James W. Pharo said...

In retrospect, it seems I was wrong 10 different ways. But to answer the question, the cel phone crowd as thought to break our way because that tend to be young.

That and a thousand other nuggets now proven tragically wrong by the horrific events of yesterday.