Sunday, April 25, 2010

Politics Reduced to a Graph

The following is taken from a posting by Douglas Hibbs:

The graph below shows the strong association of aggregate votes for president to average per capita real income growth in combination with US military fatalities suffered in Korea, Vietnam and (the comparatively small number) in Iraq. Those two fundamental factors explain postwar votes for president remarkably well. Note that the allegedly “ideological” elections of 1964 (when Lyndon Johnson trounced Barry Goldwater) and 1980 (when Jimmy Carter was routed by Ronald Reagan), which anchor the extremities of postwar election outcomes, are explained perfectly by the Bread and Peace objective fundamentals.
Click to Enlarge

I like the graph. It says wonderful things:
  • American voters are rational. They vote pocketbook and peace issues consistently.

  • The lesson for a politician: if you want to be re-elected, focus on "jobs, jobs, jobs" and give the country peace.

  • The voting pattern is stable and explicable in simple terms, therefore it is more credible that this is a true analysis of how "the average voter" behaves (i.e. no sophisticated computation, special knowledge, or ability to peer into the future is required, an "average" voter can understand and act using an internal representation of something very like this simple formula)

  • This leaves no room for crazy ideological politics. (And hopefully the 2010 elections will show that, although the graph implies Obama will have a very hard time winning because of the poor economic condition of the US and his troop "surge" in Afghanistan).

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