It’s the War, Stupid!

Election 2006 and Beyond

Political analysts, consultants, and “scientists,” envious of the success of economists in turning the study of wealth creation into a scientific discipline and a lucrative profession, are always searching for rules and laws to explain and discover certain regular and logical structures in human efforts involved in winning, preserving, and expanding power.  Elections provide a wonderful opportunity for the members of this “profession” or “industry” to win fame, fortune, and, yes, power.  Consultants dispense advice to candidates; pollsters “measure” public opinion; academics think-tank about the recent debate between the candidates; journalists cover the horse race; and pundits produce sound bites for 24/7 cable-television news.

In addition to the hundreds of seminars, studies, articles, and books that result from each election campaign, there is the occasional theoretical model to be “discovered” by the clever political scientist or witty pundit.  Couched in statistics and scientific mumbo-jumbo, the model then gives birth to the inevitable “rule” that tends to be recycled to death and transformed eventually into conventional wisdom or even a political axiom.  For example: If it rains in southeast California on Election Day, you can expect that a majority of short white men between the ages of 27 and 38 who live in Upstate New York will vote...

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