One Response to Potpourri

  1. Nadia Hassan July 9, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    John, I have a question, though. In what you were kind enough to share with me of “The Gamble”, you and Professor Vavreck talked about how your own views and hers run contrary to how some of this work is shown as being, “Economic determinism” and “campaigns don’t matter,” but what exactly are people supposed to think? And if commentary basically oscillates between “oohh…look at this hard number” and the latest punditry, are you really drawing attention to the signals and helping as many people as possible understand 2012 through that prism?

    I guess that’s what your book is about.

    I was looking back at 2000, and I wondered: “Larry Bartels, a Princeton University political scientist who is not one of the forecasters, said the prognosticators “serve a very useful purpose by focusing attention on the most crucial factors influencing the outcome of presidential elections: the state of the country and the state of the economy… Emphasizing these…strikes me as a valuable antidote to the press’s overwhelming focus on candidates’ personalities, campaign tactics and other ‘unique,’ campaign-specific factors which are more interesting to write about but much less important to the outcome of the election.”

    Another 2000 recollection: http://steelhorsemag.com/gore_to_win_election.htm

    A lot of you have this attitude. But consider, while there might be more people in an insular circle who assert this and journalists writing about this stuff, are the underlying things that make a few of these models work well informing discourse in ways they could?

    I say this, because we frequently see claims that the economy means Obama is toast or about high unemployment. But, economic indicators are mixed, though looking down.

    Also, I feel frustrated because this research can truly illuminate the dynamics on the trail and in the polls beyond “x” number is key, which is what it often comes down to.

    For instance, a May analysis by a writer-forecaster familiar with this research foreshadowed analyses that emerged in surveys in late June surveys.


    While some posited things like the great power of negative advertising or demography as they saw stability or small Obama gains in the late spring and early summer, they did not necessarily tough upon the fundamentals of say a “Time for Change” model.

    Or consider, the polls and debate following the health care decision and your own column on the issue.

    Simply asserting a few numbers can go far and hitting on how dog-gate is not a game changer does not shine a light on the signals themselves and how they might play out in the months to come.