Iowa Predictions!

Hi everyone,

Make your Iowa predictions here – Rep, Dem, or both. I’ll make a ‘highscores’ post on Feb. 2nd.

For Republican predictions, the winner will be whoever gets the top 3 correct (Rep) and among those (if more than one person gets the order right) who has the closest match for %s.  For Dems, the winner will be whoever gets 1st correct and among those (if more than one person gets the order right) who has the closest match for %s between the top 2.

Honorable mentions for anyone who gets the top 3 (in order) for Reps or 1st for Dems.

Note: I will be locking the thread at 2PM PST, 5PM EST.


30 days to go!

30 days before Iowa’s caucuses on Feb. 1st, 2016! Iowa is the first state in the primaries calendar.

This means that each day is 3.3% of the remaining time before the first caucuses.

New Hampshire’s primary is Feb. 9th.

What are the big stories of the last 30 days? Here are three.

First, evangelical conservative support has coalesced around Ted Cruz, and he has replaced Ben Carson as the second-place candidate in national Republican polls and moved into first in Iowa. He has been helped by what seems a non-aggression pact between him and Trump – I would be interested to know exactly what is going on in this case, as it is crucial.

Second, Trump has continued to lead the Republican national polls, with his RCP average at 35% as of Jan. 1st (Cruz is at 19.5%). That’s 5 1/2 months in first place in the Republican primaries, defying almost all political pundits’ predictions on this matter. (The only relatively high-profile commentator I’m aware of who predicted this early on was Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. This is a case where an outsider seems to have expertise which ‘insiders’ (conventional political experts) don’t have. If you’re interested, Adams recently also predicted Trump would win the general election in a landslide.)

Third, on the Democratic side, the biggest story is probably that Sanders almost surpassed Clinton in non-Super-PAC fundraising in Q4 ($33.2M to $37M), and that he has retaken the lead in NH. It remains to be seen whether Trump will continue to target Clinton, and if so, whether that will help Sanders.

Turning elections into a non-zero sum game

A lot of academic analysis regarding elections is devoted to questions such as which electoral system is better – proportional representation or first-past-the-post? Or which type of proportional representation is best? And so on.

A problem with these kinds of discussions is that they work within the framework of zero sum elections – to the extent one party wins, another loses.

I think a more important question is, instead, how do we turn elections into non-zero sum (win-win) situations?

Here’s one example. Parties could win funds-to-be-spent, tied to the number of votes they receive. The more votes, the more funds. If people don’t vote, those funds stay out of the process. No longer would the winner be whoever gets 50%+ of the vote (or what have you). Instead, parties win to the extent they engage voters. You could even have it so that voters could vote for multiple parties. The funds could then be spent in ways or on programs the parties thought were important. They wouldn’t be exclusive – both party A and party B could try to tackle some problem by setting up different initiatives using the funds they are allocated through the vote.

I think it makes sense to spend more time focusing on how to create non-zero sum situations in politics.


Tectonic voter migrations in the lead up to the U.K. election

Martin Baxter has an article here showing tectonic voter migrations in the lead up to the 2015 U.K. election.

Tectonic voter migrations in the lead up to the U.K. 2015 election

This chart shows just how complex current U.K. politics is. It also shows how standard right-left descriptions can be misleading. Ukip (‘right-wing’) draws from Labour (‘left-wing’). Green (‘left-wing’) draws from the Conservatives (‘right-wing’). Conservatives (‘right-wing’) draw from the Lib Dems (‘left-wing’).

You can get insight into the U.K. election with our election sim here.

What’s Romney doing?

The reporter linked to in this recent article on Republican contenders dismissed ideas of him running.

So here’s an open question – if Romney isn’t preparing for a possible third bid with his extensive campaigning on behalf of Republicans, appearances on news shows, press releases about Hillary Clinton, and so on, then what’s he doing?

Mormons and the Senate

In the Senate, candidates who are Mormon (CJCLDS members) currently hold 7 of the 100 seats (7%).

(Mike Crapo (ID), Jeff Flake (AZ), Orrin Hatch (UT), Dean Heller (NV), Mike Lee (UT), Harry Reid (UT), and Tom Udall (NM).)

Mormons as a percentage of the general population are about 6,398,889 out of 317,831,000, so about 2%. In the Senate, then, they are out-performing their general population numbers by about 350%.

The current Senate Majority Leader (soon to be Minority Leader) is a Mormon, and the expected next President Pro Tempore (third in line of succession to the Presidency, after the Vice-President and Speaker of the House) is a Mormon (Orrin Hatch, the longest serving Republican member of the Senate).

Also, the number of Mormons in the Senate from outside of Utah, currently at 5, is greater than the number of Mormons in the Senate from outside of Utah in total before now (there have been 4 before the current Senators).

Congress Infinity is here.


Political body language

How does one figure out a potential Republican party nominee’s intentions?

Consider John Thune’s recent CPAC speech. CPAC is a major Republican conference, where potential candidates can get a significant amount of media and insider attention. If one is going to make a speech and is seriously considering running for President, one wants to make a good impression, no? Yet, John Thune gave his speech while making heavy reference to his notes, and his gestures made it look like he hadn’t practiced it that much. After watching, I was left considering two possibilities: 1. He isn’t that good at delivering speeches, or 2. He didn’t think it worth his time to prepare it to a level which would be polished (which at that length would probably take hours). I compared this to Mitch Daniels’ speech, which was delivered at a much higher level.

Shortly after, Thune has announced his isn’t running for President (which I first read through Matthew Newman’s post).

Similarly, consider Chris Christie’s recent AEI speech. Many pundits said it was well-delivered and he didn’t refer to notes. I watched it, and was struck by how poorly it was delivered compared to most speeches Christie gives. He was frequently referencing his notes, and some lines he seemed to stumble over. My conclusion is: Christie is being sincere when he says he doesn’t intend to run for President in 2012. If he were intending to do so, he would have practiced the speech much more.

The basic point is: for politicians who are time-pressed, looking at whether they think it worthwhile to spend several hours rehearsing what would be an important speech (or similar sorts of things) can be an indicator of their intentions.