August 15, 2004
FAIR WEATHER AHEAD:
Bush Landslide (in Theory)! (Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON, 8/15/04, NY Times Magazine)
Q As a professor of economics at Yale, you are known for creating an econometric equation that has predicted presidential elections with relative accuracy.
My latest prediction shows that Bush will receive 57.5 percent of the two-party votes.
The polls are suggesting a much closer race.
Polls are notoriously flaky this far ahead of the election, and there is a limit to how much you want to trust polls.
Why should we trust your equation, which seems unusually reductive?
It has done well historically. The average mistake of the equation is about 2.5 percentage points.
In your book Predicting Presidential Elections and Other Things, you claim that economic growth and inflation are the only variables that matter in a presidential race. Are you saying that the war in Iraq will have no influence on the election?
Historically, issues like war haven't swamped the economics. If the equation is correctly specified, then the chances that Bush loses are very small.
It is no small feat, in an age that contains Charlie Rose, to be the most annoying interviewer in America.
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 15, 2004 12:56 PM
You omitted the best part of the interview, towit:
"Are you a Republican?
I can't credibly answer that question. Using game theory in economics, you are not going to believe me when I tell you my political affiliation because I know that you know that I could be behaving strategically. If I tell you I am a Kerry supporter, how do you know that I am not lying or behaving strategically to try to put more weight on the predictions and help the Republicans?
I don't want to do game theory. I just want to know if you are a Kerry supporter.
Backing away from game theory, which is kind of cute, I am a Kerry supporter."
Having explained why her question was meaningless, when she admits she doesn't know anything about game theory, he then proceeds to game her. Priceless! The best laugh of my day.
How do these people get a job at the NYT? Blair notwithsatnding, I thought they at least had to be smart.
You should have seen and heard Charlie Rose when he had his own Phil Donahue-like talk show on KXAS down in Dallas-Fort Worth in the early 1980s.
It's a good thing, they don't widely elaborate on the fact that Huntingdon, the clash of
civilizations man, regarded as a nativist, for his
assimiliationism, and of course; according to Chomsky, the 'father of the strategic hamlet' voting for Kerry
"The strategic hamlet" - applying that to John Kerry works on so many levels.
Here's what I found intriguing - - apparently she believes that if the media convinces the voters that Candidate B will win, then SOME voters will preferentially choose Candidate B(the 'winner'.)
"Predictions can be self-confirming..." - - see BELOW.
- - - - - -
DS(interviewer) - I don't want to do game theory. I just want to know if you are a Kerry supporter.
RF(professor) - Backing away from game theory, which is kind of cute, I am a Kerry supporter.
DS - I believe you entirely, although I'm a little surprised, because your predictions implicitly lend support to Bush.
RF - I am not attempting to be an advocate for one party or another. I am attempting to be a social scientist trying to explain voting behavior.
DS - But in the process you are shaping opinion. Predictions can be self-confirming, because wishy-washy voters might go with the candidate who is perceived to be more successful.
RF - It could work the other way. If Kerry supporters see that I have made this big prediction for Bush, more of them could turn out just to prove an economist wrong.
- - -- - - --
Could any other folks at the New York Times(or elsewhere) - - places which sometimes wallow in assessments of who is ahead - - believe in the influence that she mentioned? --> "But in the process you are shaping opinion. Predictions can be self-confirming, because wishy-washy voters might go with the candidate who is perceived to be more successful."
"...your predictions implicitly lend support to Bush."
I too think she's a nitwit, but in addition she might have "spilled the beans" on an institutional mindset.