Election 2010

November 2, 2010

Through all my posted articles, many people may have wondered exactly where I fall on the political spectrum.

I don’t.

The political spectrum, Left vs. Right, is one dimensional.  Few people really fall right on it.  We are told that if we have a certain opinion on one subject, we must therefore have a correlated opinion on a variety of other topics.  If you are against abortion, you are against taxes.  If you are for gay marriage, you are for unions.  If you are for gun control, you are against religion.  Absurd.

These policies and positions are so uncorrelated I am often surprised how it ended up this way in the first place.  Consider:

Poor, Black women are the most likely to get an abortion.  Republicans don’t like it that there are so many poor, black people.  Republicans should support federal funding for abortions.

Democrats want to help the less fortunate.  Iraqis being blown up by terrorists are less fortunate.  Democrats should demand our troops to stay in Iraq forever.

Republicans hate gays.  Stem cell research may give us a way of curing homosexuality.  Republicans should support federal funding for stem cell research.

Et cetera.

These examples are as contrived as they are ridiculous, but they serve a point.  One can start with the same set of partisan assumptions but end up with a completely different policy preference than expected.  Thus, I am not on the Left-Right axis.

What about the Economic-Social Plane?  This is what the Libertarians often use to get themselves in the debate.

Well, after a number of (online, therefore infallible) tests, I generally score “center-libertarian’, around the Centrist-Libertarian dividing line.  OK, well, that does show that I am not on the Left-Right axis, but is it any better at modeling my beliefs?

Hardly.  I have a good friend, Daniel Torriente, who also falls where I do on such tests, but we disagree on a tremendous number of issues.  Here is the trouble:  When measuring where one falls on, say, the Social axis, assume it asks 10 questions.  If I am for government intervention in issues 1-5 but against intervention in issues 6-10, it will grade me as (Socially) a centrist.  But my friend can be against government intervention on issues 1-5 and for it on 6-10, opposite what I believe, and be graded a centrist, just like I am.

Thus, the Economic-Social Plane test cannot accurately describe my political beliefs.

Neither one nor two dimensions work, and I have yet to find anyone pushing a three dimensional test, so I think I must define myself differently.

I am pretty sure I am a Moderate Jingoistic Libertarian Radical Militant Centrist.  Allow me to parse this:

Moderate – On average, I consider myself a Moderate because I can consider issues from many sides and see the logic (even if ill conceived) of opposing view points.

Jingoistic – Simply, Pro-American.  But mostly I just love the word “jingoistic’.  America has presided over the greatest period of human expansion (including economic expansion, expansion of freedoms, growth of sheer numbers, growth of technology, communication, trade, prosperity, etc.) the world has ever known.  A unipolar world following the USA is the easiest way to continue this expansion, therefore the USA must remain powerful.

Libertarian – For freedom, economic and political.  The bedrock of such freedom is freedom from government interference.

Radical – Many of my ideas are very strange…

Militant – …and I believe them very strongly.

Centrist – But they all average out to be somewhere near the middle.

Now, for my Political Prognostication:

These data are taken from realclearpolitics.com, my favorite source of news.  They compile reams of data into manageable chunks.  Their linked articles are from not only all over the political spectrum, but also from all over the world.  For this, however, I am most interested in their polling data from nearly every race in the country.




Races have been divided between Solid, Likely, and Lean Republican or Democrat and Tossup.  I use a simple algorithm to make my prediction.  Solids always go for their party, Likely is 90% for their party, Lean is 75%, Tossup is 50%, Lean to the other party goes 25% for the first, and 10% of the likely other party goes to the first.

Thus, my prediction for the 112th congress is as follows:
House:  241-194, Republican Control.  This represents a gain of 63 seats for the Republicans.
Senate:  53-47, Democrat Control.  Gain of 6 seats for the Republicans.

My algorithm astounds and confuses me.  I am predicting a larger than average gain in the House for the Republicans and smaller than average gain in the Senate (compared to the predictions I have seen recently online).  Well, I refuse to finagle the algorithm, so my prediction remains as is.

What does this mean?

On a Saturday morn, long, long ago (ca. 2007), I was bored.  I decided to start a mini-project for myself.  I took economic data for the entire history of the USA (specifically, real per capita GDP growth) and political data (who controlled the Presidency, House, and Senate every year for the history of the USA), shoved it all into a spreadsheet, and calculated.  I wanted to see who was better for the economy:  Republicans, Democrats, or shared control.  The results were plain and unambiguous.  Since 1945 (really, the first year in modern politics that the parties have had their current philosophical underpinnings, IMHO), years with shared control have contributed, on average, 3 times the economic growth than garnered under Republican or Democratic control.  The best years were those with a Democratic president and a Republican controlled House.  Control of the Senate had no bearing on economic growth, oddly enough.

The same was true for periods before 1945, but the parties were different then, increasingly so before the turn of the century to the point that they had different names.

My theory is that shared control forces parties to move slightly closer to the center to pass legislation.  This generally removes the ideological garbage in any given piece of legislation.  If this fails, the result is usually gridlock.  I have a low opinion of the power of government to make things much better, thus I have a high opinion of gridlock (with exceptions – government can make things better by making itself smaller, but gridlock generally prevents government shrinkage).  Also, Budgetary bills start in the House (Constitutionally speaking), so it makes sense that Senate control should not matter nearly as much as House or Presidency control.

And so, I find myself rooting for the Republicans this midterm.  Of course, my theory has not always panned out.  During the Bush years, the economy grew the fastest (by far) when Republicans controlled everything.  When Democrats controlled Congress, the economy worsened.  Well, the economy is pretty bad now, so hopefully this midterm will bring us back to historically expected norms of economic growth during shared control.

Will this election be a Republic mandate?  Hardly.  Not even Republicans like the Republican party.  No, this is merely a repudiation of Democratic policy.  We will return to being a center-center-right nation, at least until Republicans overstep their bounds once again.



Who will win this election year?  Well, the overall, overwhelming victors will be politicians.  Politicians are always the ones to win elections.  Their qualifications for the job?  Being good at winning elections.  The problem should be immediately self-evident.

One survey (sadly now behind a pay-wall) found that 41% of Americans think people randomly selected from a phone book would better govern the country than Congress.  I am certainly among that 41%.

Generally, I believe no one should make a career out of “public service”, i.e. not only term limits for individual positions, but a 20 year cap on elected positions whatsoever.  This would generate a large amount of turnaround.  While less would be known about the voting habits of any particular candidate, we could be sure they must have other outside skills above and beyond “running a winning campaign”.  If they do not, they don’t have much of a future after politics.


One Response to “Election 2010”

  1. teachergirl Says:

    i totally believe your algorithm that predicts a larger than average turnaround in the congress with a smaller than average change in the senate, and i will use myself as my best and most awesome sample.

    i am more likely to reaction-vote (meaning, i am more likely to swing toward a party to create a major change because i don’t like how things are going now) for congress because it’s a two year commitment. i can commit, happily, to possibly making a mistake for two years because i have the chance to rectify it ASAP.

    six years in senate? i think harder. i am more careful. i am more deliberate. even if i do end up making the same party choice, it’s sometimes with much less happiness and “stick it to ’em”ness than with congress.

    i don’t think i’m alone in this. at all.

    i am the same way with governor. how i voted today surprised even me, but i have to go with my gut. some people skeeve me out, and that may be a bad way to judge, but when you are a centrist and pretty much (dis)agree with everyone, it makes it more difficult.

    i hate this election. i hate these politicians. and i’m with you on the 41%. i totally think joe down the street would likely do a better job than any one of the people who are up there.

    the end.

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