Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Scattershot Thoughts

Hello all,

Sorry I did a bit of a disappearing act there for a while, you know work happened, life happened.

Anyway, I think its about time for me to pen some thoughts about the future, what with it being the first of the month and all that, a great opportunity to pontificate & predict etc.

Well, politically of course 2012 is a big year - its election time in the States. Obama vs Romney/Gingrich/Santorum/

Well, the Republicans are doing an awfully bad job of choosing their nominee this year.

Anyway, in keeping with the spirits of this blog, which is trying to use models to predict political outcomes, we have a few different models which we can bring to bear on this:

  1. Median voter Theorem

  2. Economic Referendum

  3. The guy that's taller

So most readers of this blog will be familiar with 1. & 2., whilst 3. is the controversial theory based on the simple empirical observation that since the television was invented in the 1920s, the tallest guy has tended to win the U.S. presidential election.

Median voter theorem unambiguously predicts Obama. Obama places jobs above the deficit as his prime concern, like the majority of the population. Obama supports a balanced tax&cuts approach to the deficit, like the vast majority of the population. Obama supports action on climate change, like the majority of the American population. Obama supported the repeal of Don't ask, Don't Tell, like the vast majority of Americans. The list goes on. In fact, Obama's attempt to occupy all of the mainstream Conservative positions has been so succesful that its driven the Republican party into the fringes of its base. With a Gay Soldier being booed in a Republican debate for no reason other than being Gay. So, Median Voter Theorem definitely scores this for Obama.

The Economic Referendum theory is a bit less clear. The basic principle is that the election is treated as a referendum on how well the current president is handling the economy. Until recently, it was obvious this theory would have predicted Romney would walk away with it. However, a few tantalising hints at a recovery (but no actual recovery yet as far as I can see) would suggest that the answer is not obvious. Part of the problem is that the theory isn't as simple as "Unemployment <7% = Incumbent elected, Unemployment >7% = Challenger elected". Partly its about directional movements etc. I would say, that if the economy continues to improve and growth hits 2% +/- 0.3% then this would score it for Obama. Anything less than 1% scores it for Romney. Between 1% to 1.7% is ambiguous.

Mitt Romney is a shade taller, so the third theorem, that the taller guy always wins, would call this for Romney, by an inch.

I'm assuming Romney wins the Repub nomination, which looks likelier by the day.

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