Potpourri

by John Sides on February 3, 2012 · 10 comments

in Potpourri

  • Michael Lewis-Beck and Charles Tien update their presidential election forecast.
  • Former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett imagines a world where the superPACs rule.
  • Map of where people say soda, pop, or Coke.  My homestate, North Carolina, is surprisingly heterogeneous.  When I was growing up, we said “Coke.”

{ 10 comments }

Andrew Gelman February 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

John:

I hate to dignify a link to the sex survey with a comment, but I have to admit I clicked through. They do not report that Republicans have more orgasms or even that Republican singles have more orgasms. They write:

Republicans—and conservative Republicans, for that matter—reported the highest frequency of orgasm of all of the survey respondents, despite having the least amount of sex. More than half of those who identified as conservative Republicans said they reached climax almost every time they had sex, compared with just 40 percent of liberal Democrats.

To state it in mathematical terms: #orgasms = A*B + C, where A is the probability you have an orgasm when you have sex, B is the number of times you have sex, and C is the number of orgasms you have outside of sex.

The report is that, in their survey of single Americans, a higher proportion of Republicans than Democrats report that A=1.0. But they also report that the average value of B is higher for Democrats. And they don’t say anything about C.

John Sides February 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Andy, it was worth linking to that study and describing the finding with less-than-perfect clarity just to see you write a mathematical equation for the number of orgasms.

Andrew Gelman February 3, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I’m happy to oblige. But I feel so . . . used.

Geoff G February 4, 2012 at 10:18 am

If conservative Republicans believe that tax cuts increase revenue and that the earth is cooling, I’m going to take any self-reports about frequency of orgasm with a grain of salt (but not saltpeter). Conservatives have a well-known tendency to confuse what they wish were true with what actually is true, though fairness requires me to add that in this particular area, I too am guilty of some wishful thinking from time to time.

Realist Writer February 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm

The only question I have is whether this was a scientific survey. If the only people Match.com polled was its own userbase, I’d ignore ANY insight that survey says.

John Sides February 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Click on through. It was a representative sample.

Andrew Gelman February 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm

It was a representative sample whose results were horribly misreported.

Robert February 5, 2012 at 12:11 am

Did they control for the fact that men are more likely to be R’s, and men are also more likely to orgasm? It seems to me that this could skew things.

Erik February 5, 2012 at 9:43 pm

We don’t have to imagine a world where the superPACs rule.

They will continue to rule as long as voters choose candidates that take their money.

For me, the most frustrating aspect of this is how easily voters could defeat the legalized corruption of campaign finance, if voters acted collectively across party lines. Voters can look at less publicized candidates. Voters can reject immediately any candidate who takes any form of influence buying. Voters can support candidates who publicly warn that they will give no beneficial treatment to donors of PACs that independently advertise on their behalf. By doing those things, voters could render that influence money powerless.

Most voters would not vote for a candidate who had been convicted of bribery while in public office. It wouldn’t matter how “electable” he/she is or what his/her policy positions are. So why vote for any candidate who accepts legal bribes in the form of special interest money?

Public discussion about campaign finance usually has the unspoken assumption that voters won’t consider a candidate who does not have tons of advertising and endorsements. That does not have to be true, especially because voters can use Google to easily learn about all the available candidates, and give them equal consideration. Granted, this requires people without Internet-connected devices to go find a way to access the Web. It also requires people to figure out what to type into the Google search box (something like “Presidential candidates”?), and how to dig through the results. My opinion is that it’s reasonable to demand that effort of anyone who will bother to vote; people who can’t be bothered to look at the full range of choices should not vote.

There’s a saying: “In every democracy, the people get the government they deserve”. We’re getting abused because we choose the wrong representatives. It’s our fault, and it’s our responsibility to change that.

There’s also a saying in business: “Management is always to blame.” In a republic, the voters are the topmost level of management, because they choose the politicians.

For instance, we should be talking about this guy as much as Romney:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddy_Roemer#2012_presidential_candidacy
Notice his $100 donation limit. We must vote for that kind of candidate, to eliminate corruption. And he’s a former governor, so it’s not like he’s an inexperienced oddball.

If I were a Republican, maybe I would keep casting protest votes for somebody like that, and hope that other voters also will rebel one of these years.

But the Republican Party would spend corporate donations on his behalf, if he won his party’s nomination. He might be mindful of that support, and feel pressured to reward it. So we really need a centrist third party (so both Democrats and Republicans might tolerate voting for its candidates) that refuses all special interest money. Until that happens, I’ll keep casting protest votes for random minor party candidates.

The great problem for that kind of candidate is that he will be thoroughly outspent by candidates who accept influence money and buy lots of mainstream media advertising. Because too many unthinking or lazy voters only consider heavily promoted candidates, most contestants feel compelled to raise as much money as possible, and many media pundits and voters assume that poorly funded candidates cannot win.

The mutual fear of the opponent’s campaign spending is a terrible trap stopping us from removing the corruption. Democratic and Republican voters must recognize this trap we are in, and then stubbornly refuse to allow that fear to push them into voting for bought politicians who seem “electable” because they are heavily marketed.

Joel February 6, 2012 at 11:13 am

LOVE the coke chart.

i never could convince friends in college that a typical hometown restaurant order went like this:

“and what would you like to drink, honey?”
“coke”
“what kind?”
“sprite”

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