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
Many of us were very surprised yesterday to hear that Bush is now ahead by
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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