Notes on the Atrocities
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Friday, May 14, 2004  

Who You Gonna Believe, Your Lyin' Eyes or the NRO?

Whereas a year ago I could barely listen to NPR because the crowing of the right was so loud, I now seek out that same crowing for amusement. No better place than the New Republic, where I find two articles to tickle my funny bone. In the first, Don Luskin proves that Bush will not only win the election, but he'll win it by a landslide. How does he know? Because a Yale economist has a model that tells him so.

While polls show Bush and Kerry neck-and-neck, a sophisticated econometric model operated at Yale University -- the same kind of model used for simulating the entire U.S. economy -- is calling Bush the winner by a wide margin, with almost 58 percent of a two-party vote.

Fair has found that presidential elections can be explained by just six factors. And his track record is spectacular. His model explains elections since 1960 with an average forecast error of only 2.4 percent — far better than any conventional predictions derived from polling.

Oh, just one caveat. Those six factors--they don't account for Iraq. Luskin's conclusion? Ready for a good chortle?

Fair’s model is no political deus ex machina, but it has the virtue of grounding our subjective appraisals of a very emotional matter in solid historical reality. With the beating that George W. Bush is taking every day in the liberal media over real and imagined problems in Iraq, Fair’s model may go a long way toward explaining why Bush’s poll numbers are staying surprisingly strong, and Kerry’s surprisingly weak.

Think about it this way. If you were going to bet on the election, whose opinion would you trust? The rigorously proven econometric models of Prof. Ray Fair, or the editorial page of the New York Times?

(Shhhh--don't tell him that it wasn't Krugman who conducted recent polling...)

Byron York authors the second humorous piece, which analyzes why Kerry's doing so poorly in the polls (leaving one to assume that the NRO's teletype machine is down). He knows this because he's consulted a wide sampling of objective analysts. Just kidding--he actually just called Bush's chief political strategist, Matthew Dowd. Surprisingly, he's critical of Kerry (by way of commentary, I'll just italicize the good parts):

"I think it's because Kerry as an alternative is becoming less and less acceptable," says Dowd. "In troubled times, people want someone who's resolute, who is firm, who knows where he wants to go. I think what has happened to Sen. Kerry is that the public has said, 'Does this guy have a firm set of convictions? Does he really know where he wants to go?' In this environment, having that weakness — which I think the public has discovered — that's a problem."

I may or may not get to some satire today. But with the NRO passing off this kind of thing as "analysis," what's really the point?

posted by Jeff | 11:11 AM |
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