[Paleopsych] elections

Werbos, Dr. Paul J. paul.werbos at verizon.net
Fri Aug 27 11:57:58 UTC 2004

>Good morning !

Certainly the recent developments in the election between Bush and Kerry 
are worth our thinking
about further.

Many of us were very surprised yesterday to hear that Bush is now ahead by 
two points.
But I was not quite as surprised as most other people.

You may recall our discussion of the model by Ray Fair. With aggregate 
statistics alone, one cannot do much better then using a model with only 
two independent variables.  Unless one can predict with an accuracy of 
better than what he does.  Therefore, most of the conventional wisdom about 
what drives elections, is essentially speculative in nature. It is possible 
to use more micro-level data to develop richer models.  But this reminds me 
a great deal of the old energy models, where people tried unsuccessfully to 
predict variables like gasoline consumption based on consumption patterns 
in very small niches of economy. Unless one is extremely sophisticated 
about statistics and systems theory, such models typically are even less 
reliable than simple two-variable kinds of aggregate model. I seriously 
doubt that anyone involved in this type of political forecasting has the 
required backgrounds in statistics and systems theory in order to do 
better. This much is not speculation on my part because I have seen the 
types of statistical analysis which are common in political science and 
energy forecasting, which is a related field but somewhat more 
sophisticated on the whole.
because of these difficulties.  It is possible to have some speculative 
impressions, which are much more firmly  grounded in reality than those of 
the usual political consultants, which are nevertheless, fundamentally 

And so I would like to suggest that Ronald Reagan's old concept of trying 
to seek a kind of moral high ground  (even as one pursues other goals in 
parallel in a campaign) may be more realistic than most cynical analysts 
would understand. Thus I do not think it is a coincidence that Bush's 
standing in the polls actually rose more than in the past after he bit the 
bullet and denounced the Swift Boat liars with a degree of energy and 
clarity that few political consultants would have recommended.

On the other hand, a temporary two-point advantage does not make an 
election. Bush is facing considerably more serious moral challenges than 
the swift boat episode.
Even the financial community is now deeply concerned about what is happened 
with issues like energy and the economy.
The Financial Times this morning has a major article about this. The 
electric power grid in the United States is really in a state of shambles.
This is not such a small issue as you might believe, because it has led to 
two in the overt reliance on natural gas as a fuel, which in turn will have 
serious implications for the worsening world oil situation, which needs to 
be addressed within the next five years in order to prevent problems in the 
Middle East much more serious than what we're looking at today.
with electric power, and with many other issues.  The primary difficulty 
has been a certain kind of lack of leadership in cracking down on what 
amounts to gross corruption in the detailed formulation of laws and of 
legislative strategy. Certainly the situation with Halliburton is 
well-known but it is far from an isolated event.
At this point I tend to feel that Bush's chances in November will be much 
less than 50% if he does not replace Cheney as a vice presidential candidate.
On the other hand, they would be much better if he replaced Cheney with 
McCain - McCain in particular - along with a strong promise to McCain and 
the nation to crack down much more on the patterns of pork barrel and 
corruption which have been such a problem in the last few years.  This by 
itself would still not be enough to overcome other issues which the Bush 
campaign is facing but it would make a fairly large difference.

On the other hand I am somewhat surprised that the new Democratic quick 
response team did not quickly respond to the unique opportunity which the 
Al Gharib (sp?) report provided to Kerry coming so quickly after the Swift 
Boat dispute. the fact is that there are military veterans who felt 
somewhat betrayed by the way in which carry blew the whistle on abuses 
which were a car and at that time in the Vietnam war.  Many of them view 
that as unpatriotic.  The experiences regarding the Al Gharib prison in 
Iraq demonstrate very vividly what can happen to the United States if no 
one is patriotic enough to rise up and tell the truth and blow the whistle 
even if one strongly supports the stated objectives of the war.
by pushing this analogy more vigorously very could achieve several things 
at once. First he would explain some of the motives of the swift boat 
people in a way which is sympathetic but ultimately does not support their 
negative conclusions. second he could strengthen an underlying his own 
commitment to something which is very badly needed in Washington these days 
of a stronger commitment to creating a corporate culture of truth -- as 
opposed to a corporate culture of high school kids trying to be loyal to 
their football team without any inhibitions whatsoever, without any 
limitations on the destructiveness of their partisan behavior.him

There's certainly much more to be said about the underlying policy issues
here but perhaps this morning is not the best time for me to talk about 
them on this particular list.



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