Tuesday, September 9

Audience Surrogate

A few months ago, I said McCain was very good value on the Intrade market at 32.6% for president. If you'd taken my advice you'd have made almost a 50% return as McCain is now trading at over 47%. Unfortunately, these prediction markets are illegal in the US and I couldn't take advantage of this. I still think McCain is great value at 47%. Not to hold for a while and sell - he probably won't trade much higher - but to hold until the election. He'll win.

I'm very pessimistic about Obama's chances now. Palin's entry into the race will only amplify the disturbing racial dynamics of the race. And she's very difficult to attack because so many Americans will take any criticism of her personally. So what if she doesn't believe in evolution or global warming and only got a passport last year and has barely traveled outside the US? I believe that each of these things on its own shows that she is hopelessly unqualified to be the most powerful person on earth. But none of these traits are exceptional: see stats on global warming, evolution, and travel. Only on global warming is she arguably outside the mainstream (but it's not a major issue). Palin has become a kind of audience surrogate in this election - a weird and unprecedented development but one that will help the Republicans (with their damaged brand) enormously.


To make up for this depressing post, here is a link to a free song by Blue(ish). Obscure but excellent:

Go to Bed Business Casual


Blogger Nicholas said...

Sorry to have become your resident quibbler, Dan, but I can't see anywhere in that article you linked to where Palin says she doesn't believe in evolution.

"In an interview Thursday, Palin said she meant only to say that discussion of alternative views should be allowed to arise in Alaska classrooms:

"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum.""

To somebody not brought up with the American terror of mixing church and state, this doesn't seem such a controversial idea to me. The absurdity of "intelligent design" seems to be something that exists as a reasonable proposition in the minds of many Americans. The idea that science teachers, if it comes up in discussion, must refuse to talk about it, instead of explaining clearly why it is incorrect, seems absurd.

Not that I'm a Palin fan - she's so absurdly right wing that my ambivalence about the US election result is fading. Though I still can't stand Obama's glibness and tendencies towards protectionism, isolationism, and moral relativism.

1:21 AM  
Blogger dan said...

Jeez Nicholas, can't get anything past you.

Ok so she refused to answer the question directly (yes I did see that) - but do you really have any doubt that she's a creationist? I don't. And if she's not, she can tell us (oh, but wait, she won't do any interviews or even take questions on the trail).

And she's was talking about making creationism part of the curriculum despite her later hedge (she opened with she "is a proponent of teaching both"); meaning to teach it as an alternative view - not to explain why it is clearly incorrect. If that's what people who wanted creationism discussed in schools wanted then even I'd be in favor of it. You've got to read between the lines a little here, understanding the context of these debates in US politics. You've read this interview in a vacuum.

8:38 AM  
Blogger gazza said...

Yeah, I desperately don't want to believe it, but I have an awful sinking feeling that you're right that McCain is going to win. Palin is such a grossly incompetent pick for VP, but nobody seems to care. Even Obama is refusing to point out her obvious flaws publicly, saying that's the media's job. But of course the media's not going to take that on. So we're screwed, unless there's some kind of miracle -- like Palin saying something unconscionably stupid (like, "I plan to have Alaska secede so we can get rich selling oil to the rest of the country and then build lots and lots of bridges, whee!!") when she finally starts giving interviews.

9:44 AM  
Blogger dan said...

If only you and I could vote Gazza.

No taxation without representation! That's what I say.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Among the small department of six academics I work with (all historians), I am the only one on the left predicting a McCain victory (our resident conservative is enjoying every moment of every day). The others seem convinced that Obama can pull this out based on an observation that I made: the under 34 demographic crucial to an Obama victory are not accounting for in the polls because they tend toward cell phone and away from land-based phone lines. I calculate at least a 7 percentage point bump that is not accorded by the polls.

Despite this, our post-rational age seems to have matured to the point where drinking a hypothetical beer with a candidate is the measured criteria for a vote rather than the abilities to intelligently analyze, communicate, and govern. Talking like a cheerleader has become a virtue rather than a liability. I doubt Obama's ability to rally his invisible seven percentage point bump to victory. Like Kerry he refuses to confront swift boating when it emerges.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Steve Peterson said...

One thing is that I think it's important to remember that Obama doesn't have the same options when responding to attacks that Hillary or a white man would have (though Hillary would've had her own complexities). He needs to be the Jackie Robinson of politics -- and somehow manage to come off as both tough and respectful.

If he wins, this won't be a problem next time since he'll have established his credentials. But it makes things delicate for him now.

6:28 PM  

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