Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A look back at 2000 and predicting presidential elections

Al Gore's big mistake was picking Lieberman as his running mate.

He thought it would bring moralists who disliked Clinton to the party and carry Florida's Jewish vote. In reality, only a minuscule percentage of voters pay attention to Senators or politicians outside of their home state. While it may have helped marginally in Florida it reinforced an image of the Democratic Party as a collection of liberal special interests.

Instead of an East Coast wealthy Jewish Senator who is liberal on domestic policy but conservative on moral and foreign issues a Gore pick of moderate conservative Senator Graham of Florida would have helped in Florida, the entire South, and the overall vote.

Why? Sen. Graham is from Florida, he is from the South, and his pick nudges the party more toward the perceptual right/left center sweet spot. All of these are factors in the presidential election electoral college game.

American presidential elections are over 90% predictable based on the last few presidential elections party votes by state, the state of the economy, the home state of the president and VP candidates, candidates from the South, and the perceptual left/right centrality of the tickets. Some models use slightly different but similar factors but only a small part of the electorate are really swayed by the campaign.

The South, includes Texas and Oklahoma, is the only region that adds a few points to the tickets with regional candidate selection. Bush had already negated much of the Democratic Southern strategy by being from the South but adding another Southerner gives a nudge.

There was an early computer game that came out based on this voting pattern. It actually had on the cover of the box the states that each side won later that year. (The game itself made small adjustments for campaign stops and advertising and positions on the issues or style in simulated debates.) It appears to be an earlier version or an Apple version of 'President Elect 88' by Strategic Simulations Inc.

You can download that game free here This wasn't the version I played which I don't remember being so 1988 issues specific. (Lot's of pop-ups and spam at site.)

ADDED - Found the game I played on Virtual Apple. Play it online. It was using a slightly different model than I remember.


Robert Nagle said...

I don't think Graham was the right one; Graham had some nutty ideas, although I liked the fact he was a proto-blogger.

Lieberman was awful, agreed. However, I enjoyed his presidential run tremendously. He was so awful that I actually made it a point to watch any featured interviews with him. It's beyond simple cluelessness but total delusion about what it takes to run for president.

Gary said...

Democrats wanted somebody to arouse passion. That was bad for a few candidates and great for Dean until they decided electability was the key issue.

They then decided another Northern liberal was the most electable!

The download of the game has a bug on my computer where the nice color graphic distorts after a couple of screens. I had forgotten all the options in the game. Nixon vs. Kennedy is a close election favoring Nixon if he makes no big mistakes.