Political Business

Lessons on political strategy

Posts tagged presidential race

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Grilled pundit

US Election pundits get their failed predictions grilled.

It’s fun, if a bit mean-spirited.

Part of the role of punditry, for most of them, is pushing particular barrows. Their predictions are more often than not want they WANT to happen, not what will happen. They hope that by predicting it, it will come true.

Trouble is, since most pundits are largely talking to similar people, and the punditry circles, they have very little impact on what most voters actually do.

Filed under punditry pundits predictions us politics election Presidential Race picks

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Infographical evidence of the way social media has turned in modern vox populi. There was an enormous amount of social media activity on the day of the US Election.
But note that the amount of social media activity on the election night had NOTHING to do with the actual voting pattern. We only need one poll to give an insight into that: the actual election.
Which is why the Facebook “vote counter” was stupid. Whether people did or didn’t set their status to voting is irrelevant. It neither measures nor contributes to the election.

Infographical evidence of the way social media has turned in modern vox populi. There was an enormous amount of social media activity on the day of the US Election.

But note that the amount of social media activity on the election night had NOTHING to do with the actual voting pattern. We only need one poll to give an insight into that: the actual election.

Which is why the Facebook “vote counter” was stupid. Whether people did or didn’t set their status to voting is irrelevant. It neither measures nor contributes to the election.

Filed under social media obama romney Presidential Race election

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The keys to power

How to predict elections.

There’s the excellent data-route of Nate Silver, and there’s the gut-feel the formula concocted by Allan Lichtman, the academic behind The Keys to the White House.

In 1981 Lichtman developed 13 “Keys” or categories to measure the performance of the incumbent.

His assumption is that incumbents lose power, rather than oppositions winning. This gels with my observations that incumbents whittle away their own advantage over time. My theory goes a step further - I think it’s possible for political parties to succeed on all measures but still finally get replaced because voters just get tired.

Lichtman postulates that if the incumbent has failed in six or more of the 13 categories, it loses power.

It’s one thing to stipulate these categories, but another to judge performance under them. After all, politics is rarely about actual performance, and mostly about perceived performance.

Lichtman has proved himself quite good at assessing performance in the categories - picking every President correctly since he first outlined his 13 Keys.

I think these keys are relevant outside of the Presidential Race, and can be applied to political party governance internationally.

The Keys are:

  1. Party mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than it did after the previous midterm elections. In an international context, this Key can be interpreted as having not lost by-elections, and local elections where relevant.
  2. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination, or to the leader over the preceding term. 
  3. Incumbency: The incumbent party leader or candidate is the sitting President, or leader.
  4. Third Party: There is no significant third party challenge.
  5. Short term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
  6. Long-term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms. 
  7. Policy change: The incumbent party has brought about major changes in national policy. I’m not so sure on this one, although I am certain that lots of minor changes build up voter resentment.
  8. Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term. 
  9. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.
  10. Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
  11. Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.
  12. Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero. 
  13. Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

Filed under lichtman president Presidential Race obama romney 13 keys election how to win

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Three ways the US Election changed social media

My analysis of the effects of the US Election on social media was published by Social Media Today.

In short:

1) Using social media for fund raising monetised the format, and using the money for mainstream (and digital banner) advertising, relegated social media to being simply being another marketing channel.

2) The nation turned to social media to see what voters were saying about the election - it was validated at the vox populi. But simultaneously, a lot of content online was a kind of talk radio triviality (think ‘big bird’), and thus relegated social media to ‘light entertainment’.

3) The unification of many users around the Obama message provided a commonality to the online expression which defied the factional individualism that has arisen, and been championed, through the channel. At the same time, the strong use of the medium by right wing ideologues has empowered individuals as de facto affiliates of the Republican party - decentralising membership and control.

Filed under social media Presidential Race election usa obama romney

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True believers

The Karl Rove “meltdown" on Fox is becoming a Democrat fanboy icecream today.

It’s hardly a meltdown, but what Rove exhibits when he refuses to accept the Fox early call on the Ohio vote is a problem typical of true believers of any credo; a willful denial of reality.

His approach looks ridiculous because his fate was in the hands of voters. It was a done deal. Wanting it to be different is ridiculous. This is the risk of true believers:  their belief (and self-investment) in the cause affects their judgement of reality.

True believers are essential to any cause. They power it. Their passion is infectious. But they should not hold the reins, because their judgement is impaired.

The positive aspect of true believing is that you hang in loyally with your side when the odds are against you. It’s important in love, friendship, war, and even sport. These things can triumph with true belief - because belief generates energy and effort, and it holds on for that remotest chance that something will happen.

The negative aspect of true belief is that it is essentially all about you. The belief and yourself become entwined. Their destinies are locked.

Democratic politics cannot triumph with only true belief. Because it is about persuasion. And persuasion needs a hell of a lot more than conviction: it needs to understand the motives, beliefs, hopes and fears of those still to be persuaded. That requires a combination of empathy and reason - which is achieved through a measure of distance. 

Politics and politicians regularly suffer from being guided by true believers who are blind to the needs of others.

Filed under true believers karl rove fox news Presidential Race political irrationality political traits

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Punditry is dead?

Nate Silver is basking in the deserved glow of being almost completely right with his mathematical modeled predictions for the US Elections. The nerd community is celebrating a kind of triumph of science over punditry. My own predictions were based on the ‘polls of polls’ connected to electoral colleges, and particularly Nate’s work over the campaign.

But I want to point out that his predictions are scientific evaluation of opinion polls which give numbers to variable human emotions.

Punditry picking can go hang, but explaining and guiding those human emotions to a voting outcome requires a far more complex mix of science and gut feel, than simply extrapolating the recording the binary decision they produce.

Filed under punditry nate silver Presidential Race election polling

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Youth vote critical to Obama

According to research the youth vote broke 70/30 in favour of Obama.

The vote of people under 30 was therefore critical to Obama’s victory, especially in the swing States.

This is interesting because it confirms, at least for this and the 2008 Presidential election that there is a “left - progressive” bias in voters under 30.

Filed under obama youth Presidential Race

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Obama to win - recap

I called the 2012 Presidential result right, and the House result, but was wrong on the Senate, which is dominated by the Democrats.

In the Governor races there were as many one-side races as there were close, but nothing unexpected.

My pick for winner of the 2012 US Presidential Election is Barack Obama: an incumbent who did just enough during a lacklustre term, and had no screw ups - compared to the unknown (literally) of what Romney, the challenger, proposes.

Republicans to dominate (just) the House and Congress.

Nothing unusual to happen in the 13 Governor roles.

Filed under Presidential Race