January 9, 2008

"This could be bad news for Hillary"... or not.

John Horgan and George Johnson — the science guys at Bloggingheads — are talking on January 4th about how — for each of them independently — they couldn't figure out whether they wanted Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to be the Democratic nominee, but then when they looked at the newspaper and saw that Barack Obama had won the Iowa caucuses and felt happy, they realized they were for Barack Obama. Both seem to think that they really already were for Obama and that seeing that he won let them know what was already true.

I say "seem to think" because I haven't watched the whole diavlog, only that clip, which is linked on the front page of Bloggingheads with the line: "Are you on the fence about Obama? You could be rooting for him without even knowing it."

But it seems obvious to me that this is probably an illusion that reflects our capacity to adapt to whatever the situation is. We see that something has happened and we reflexively perceive that it's what we wanted all along — as long as it's within the range of things that are good enough. That's why we're always saying things like: Things happen for a reason, It's for the best, I meant to do that, etc. (A lot of the experiments Daniel Gilbert describes in "Stumbling Into Happiness" illustrate this psychological mechanism.)

I bet Horgan and Johnson didn't know which candidate they preferred, and then when they saw Obama had won, they imagined they were perceiving that they preferred him before they saw the news. They mentally backdated their preference — and are happier for it.

Now, I wonder if when they saw the news today, they "realized" that they had already started to think that Barack Obama was not the best person for the job, somewhere in between Iowa and New Hampshire, their preference shifted to Hillary — and they're still smiling.

Anyway, if you want to be happy, don't firm up your preferences. Stay undecided. Then when you see who wins — whoever it is — you'll feel good that it was your candidate. Could it be that this is why so many people stay undecided? (I include myself!) We're good at keeping happy.

IN THE COMMENTS: We are favored with a visit from our delightful — and long-dead — commenter, Sir Archy:
To Professor Althouse.

Madam,

It is a wise Observation, indeed, that a temperate Detachment is the best course in Politicks. As the Ghost of someone dead these 250 years and more, I have seen many an Election, and many a Scene attendant upon these Publick Actions, such as this one, very justly depict'd by Mr. Hogarth. It may be observ'd, however, that here Mr. Hogarth paints not the Passion, but the Folly of Electioneering.

Passion and Folly are the Sun and Moon of Election Day. A Person may follow Events keenly; but 'tis not worthy of a Gentleman, nor indeed a Lady, such as yourself, to be too visibly attach'd to one Interest or Another. A calm Disinterest becomes all well-bred Persons who would be Rational.

As the charming impressaria of this Theatre of Topicks, as I call it, you no doubt feel the Call to attract the Publick. It speaks well of You and your Theatre, that You do so without Tricks or Displays of false Passion or Rabble-rousing so commonly found in other Entertainments of this Kind. That some of the Groundlings here may arouse themselves to a Pitch of Excitement may hardly be laid against you, for your Attitude of even-handed Equanimity shows the way of a true Philosopher.

By way of closing, I should quote the Example of Captain Halley, the late Astronomer Royal, who Discover'd the famous Comet that bears his Name. Captain Halley—for he always styled himself by his Naval Title, and was Captain in the Royal Navy before he was Doctor of Laws—observ'd at the time of the Glorious Revolution (when poor King James was unjustly expell'd) that he, Captain Halley, was, "for the King in possession. We pay dear enough for our Protection, and we ought to have the Benefit of it."

As attached as some of my Relatives were, at that time, to the auld Interest, as they call'd it, they shift'd for Themselves, and were, in the end, much the happier for it.

Recommending such a Course to your Readers, I remain ever, Madam,

Your humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

48 comments:

Middle Class Guy said...

Will we have a new tee shirt?

Don't Decide
Be Happy

paul a'barge said...

...don't firm up your preferences. Stay undecided.

Yes, that's the ticket. Rather than do the heavy lifting and evaluate all the candidates and sift through all the evidence, try NOT making up your mind.

Sigh. It comes as no surprise that these mutts are DHIMMIcRATs. The science guys? No they're not. Scientists know how to think clearly.

These guys are a joke.

Joan said...

But it seems obvious to me that this is probably an illusion that reflects our capacity to adapt to whatever the situation is.

I don't think this is necessarily an illusion. I only say that because I vividly remember an instance in which circumstances revealed which outcome I was really hoping for, when I wasn't consciously aware of it. It had nothing to do with politics, and the revelation came the opposite way: events turned against a particular outcome, and I was deeply disappointed.

I'd be interested to hear what these guys are saying today.

madawaskan said...

Proof that the "Bradley Effect" is alive and well in NorthEast Democratic electorate-

There is no way that not only the polls before would be off to the tune of 11%-but that the EXIT polls were off by a large amount-

Exit Poll: Obama Has Slight Edge Over Clinton - Fox News

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has a slight edge over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton according to a Fox News Channel exit poll released just after the polls closed Tuesday in New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary.

According to the exit poll, Obama received 39% of the support, compared to 34% for Clinton and 13% for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
01-08-082021ET
Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Sean Wisnieski said...

madawaskan, there's a very easy way that could've happened without resorting to the Bradley/Dinkins effect (though I think that had something to do with it, too).

Everyone said Indy voters were jumping ship from McCain's campaign to vote in the Dem primary. They said it so much, and Obama's numbers got so big, that all the Indies reached the same conclusion: that he was going to win anyway so they may as well vote for McCain in the GOP primary. Which is not only why Obama lost, it's why McCain won by more than was expected by at least some pollsters.

If this is true, it means NH should not be taken as a victory for Hillary. She won by default.

George said...

If you're a player, a heavy hitter, in the Democratic Party, and you're presently supporting Edwards or Obama, it is because you want something from former President Clinton.

You're holding out to do some horsetrading because you don't want to give away your influence for nothing....

Plus, when it gets down to it, that guy is going to break peoples' arms to get their support. The former two-term President ain't gonna be rolled..

All this sloganeering and crying...pfft! That's for the groundlings.

Roger said...

The only poll that counts is the one published by the secretary of state! I should put a sign up by my monitor reminding me of that fact which I always disregard!

PatCA said...

I buy the theory and have seen it in practice. My sister got pregnant, and all the other sisters and friends said realized, oh, I want a baby, too! We had quite a baby boom going on.

madawaskan said...

Sean-

But that Independent migration would not explain the exit poll being off.

John Lynch said...

I don't commit. It's dumb to get attached to any of these people. Most aren't going to make it. Even in the general I don't care very much. A passionate vote counts the same as a casual one.

A last minute decision with less emotional baggage is probably more accurate, if you've been paying attention.

Simon said...

Fascinating. Excellent post. :)

madawaskan said...

I mean why would Independents who in New Hampshire trend republican, go in vote for McCain and come out saying that they voted for Obama?

Look republicans are Machiavellian and all we've got Rove but trust me we just ain't that organized and the electorate isn't that dynamic, cunning and energized.

I know this is the group that the talking heads are trying to blame Obama's loss on because they -the media- can't face up to racism in their own 'hood-

The North East Democrat electorate.

It's an insidious thing and harder to address when it won't be owned up to.

madawaskan said...

Look to boil it down to brass tacs-

If a Republican beat Obama and the polls before the election were this off and then on top of that the EXIT polls were this off what accusations would be made?

The Republican stole the election.

Or-Republicans are racist and it's the Bradley Effect.

madawaskan said...

Cripes I feel bad for every loser-well except tancredo.

But Brownback-what if he had stayed in it!

Biden even-gawd.

I think I'm a "junkie".

Middle Class Guy said...

I read on the Fudge Report that at the last minute Hillary hired some thug ex-con named Chad and had him hang around the voting places.

madawaskan said...

well...

the Fudge Report has a point.

Say the exit poll is crap, and all of the media polls, leading up to New Hampshire were crap.

What's usually dead on because you are paying them the big bucks are the campaign's own internal pollsters-

And Hillary's internals had Obama up by I think 11% and Obama's showed him up 15% or the invert of that-I can't remember where I read/ or heard that last night.

For the internals of both campaigns to be off by that much -I mean significantly well above the margin of error ( because you've got a shat poll if the MOE is greater than 3%) than something is up.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Well, the MOE for many of the professional polls conducted the final week in NH was 4% for the Democrats and 5% for the GOP, so I guess you could say it was all shat, except for those that continued to show a tight race of course. Which renders the whole point meaningless doesn't it?

EnigmatiCore said...

"There is no way that not only the polls before would be off to the tune of 11%-but that the EXIT polls were off by a large amount-"

Were they?

Let's look at what you quoted.

"According to the exit poll, Obama received 39% of the support, compared to 34% for Clinton and 13% for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards."

Obama got 37% of the vote. That means the poll was within 2 points of his final amount-- well within the margin of error. The exit poll was not wrong on Obama.

Clinton got 39%-- 5% more than the exit poll. That's probably a bit over the margin of error, but not egregiously, especially since we do not know what rounding was in the exit poll.

Variability is the rule with sampling, not the exception. The exit poll was not wrong-- only the interpretation people were giving to it.

John Stodder said...

I don't know if Tom Bradley was actually a victim of the "Bradley effect."

It's based on the California 1982 gubernatorial race pitting the LA Mayor (and my old boss) Tom Bradley against Attorney General George Deukmejian.

The polls going into the election did show Bradley with a small lead, and in the end he lost narrowly. How often has that happened when the candidates were of the same race? Many times of course.

In '82, there were two other critical factors that get forgotten.

1) This election was the first time where a major effort to get voters to vote absentee was tried by either party. Before '82, the only people who asked for absentee ballots were people who really couldn't get to the polls due to disability or traveling out of state. It was a small factor. But that year, the GOP realized it could increase its base by making sure its voters got absentee ballots and were encouraged to use them. The polling models didn't account for this.

2) A liberal group put a gun control measure on the ballot that fall. It was a stupid move, obviously. It brought out a lot of rural voters who normally didn't vote -- the kind of voters not generally counted as "likely voters" by pollsters -- to vote against the measure. These were not voters who were going to support Bradley.

I'm not denying the effect pollsters talk about might exist. But I don't think historians believe it's responsible for all the variance between the polls and results. The absentee and gun control factors really threw off the models.

Absentees were partly responsible for Obama's loss, too. What percentage of NH voters had already voted before Obama's inspiring Iowa victory? How many of them might've changed their votes, caught up in the Obama momentum?

EnigmatiCore said...

Another interesting thing for arguing against the Bradley Effect. Take a look at one of the polls that had the race so wrong.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/new_hampshire/election_2008_new_hampshire_democratic_primary

Pretty bad. It had Obama winning by 7 not losing by 4.

But the interesting thing-- it had the percentage saying they were for Obama spot on. And it wasn't a matter of the poll having a lot of undecideds.

So there was no evidence of people telling the Rasmussen robots that they would vote for Obama when they weren't.

However, there is evidence here of voters saying they would vote for Edwards or Richardson, but not doing so. We're going to need a name different than the Bradley Effect for that one. I suggest the Breck Effect.

Same thing goes for the Marist poll, the CBS News poll, and the CNN/WMUR/UNH poll. They all had Obama winning by 7-9 points. They all had Obama's percentage within 2 points of what he ended up getting. They had Edwards too high, Richardson too high, and it seems that Hillary got nearly all of the undecideds.

You know what that is evidence of? Not the Bradley Effect. A well run get-out-the-vote effort by the Clinton campaign, a decent one by the Obama campaign, and a poor one by Edwards and Richardson.

anthony cromartie said...

http://tpmelectioncentral.com/2008/01/obama_campaign_cochair_questions_hillarys_tears.php

so.. is he saying that obama cried when katrina hit.. im a little disappointed with his campaign co chair

EnigmatiCore said...

More evidence to back my claim that it was just good GOTV work by Clinton?

The exit poll shows her beating Obama by 12% among women. And women made up 57%!!!! of the voters in the Democratic primary.

Any poll was not going to have a turnout model with nearly 60% women. As such, any poll was almost certainly going to underestimate her tally, if turnout was going to approach 60% women.

madawaskan said...

well shit..The Breck effect-

LOL!

*ugh* I just come from the Panhandle of Florida military absentee vote fiasco-

And those pikers started that whole mess with a hell of a lot less.

madawaskan said...

I guess the undecideds could have messed up their internals.

But I've had some hard core political junkies tell me that the "undecided" crap is a myth-especially that close to the election.

The pros that were working the internals for both Hillary and Obama should have been able to filter for that.

Then let's go on the assumption that New Hampshire is notoriously undecided-well if it's NOTORIOUS then it's a KNOWN factor and the Hillary pros should have been able to factor that in...

Going back to the undecided myth- isn't their a way to pin them down through the poll question s asked?

And then-if they are so truly undecided I think the theory of the it's a myth proponents is that the undecideds experience such cognitive dissonance that they end up staying home anyways.

Hell maybe Hillary grabbed them up off the couch and dragged them in by the hair.

EnigmatiCore said...

I suspect that the campaigns themselves did not envision women comprising nearly 60% of the vote.

EnigmatiCore said...

Hm. I had not looked at the exit poll for the Republicans. Just did.

57% of the voters there were men.

So it looks to me like when it came to independent voters, the men decided to vote in the GOP primary, and the women decided to vote in the Democratic primary.

That's just weird.

madawaskan said...

Culinary Union in Vegas just enorsed Obama.

Link

I was almost going to call this last night, based on insider Vegas politics.

One of the culinary bosses daughter's is on facebook and she's campaigning for Obama in another state.

madawaskan said...

Women were 60% of the vote!

Jeebus has that ever happened before?

Blue Moon said...

The problem I see for Hillary though is in the South where black women are going to be a whole lot less sympathetic to her. Hillary's base is unmarried white women and white women over 50. In S.C., at least 25% of the primary voters will be black women, and Obama will carry them at least 2 to 1. That, combined with Obama getting black men at at least 2 to 1 means double digit victory in S.C. The opportunity to have a black man (I am one FWIW) be the nominee will be too enticing to pass up for 65 percent of black voters.

anthony cromartie said...

CRY ME A RIVER!

http://tpmelectioncentral.com/2008/01/obama_campaign_cochair_questions_hillarys_tears.php

P. Rich said...

I am surprised that these usually astute posters have not perceived the true cause of the NH results: global warming. algore was seen in local cloud formations. Tears of Hillary! descended from the heavens, anointing the true believers. Thus was the outcome clearly ordained by higher powers in the Kingdom of Bill.

As-Salāmu `Alaykum, y'all.

madawaskan said...

Well wow a guy at the Corner answers some of it-

guess you know why / how all those polls were wildly inaccurate, especially on the D side.

Every one of them uses a "likely-voter" model based on self-identification. Every one of them.

The celebrity-intensity factor for Barack Obama was huge. People who were registered through motor voter, people who registered and hadn’t voted in years, people who weren’t registered at all and didn’t realize they needed to register to vote — they were far more likely to tell a guy on the phone they were absolutely voting than they were to actually find out where they needed to vote and then actually show up and vote.

Zogby was most wrong (16 points off) because his operators push people to give an answer when they are really undecided. Sometimes this works, but when there is a huge celebrity factor, someone who is otherwise not inclined to pick a candidate gives the answer they think they are supposed to.


egnimaticore-

What's weird now is the caucus in Nevada.

The Culinary Worker's Union-those bosses have to be given a tremendous amount of respect in this town-Las Vegas. I think they'll be able to bring it home for Obama.

Weird thing though is that the union is predominantly female.

The casinos are huge and the Culinary Worker's represent the housekeepers-this might be sexist but that's mostly female.

They still went for Obama.

Sir Archy said...

To Professor Althouse.

Madam,

It is a wise Observation, indeed, that a temperate Detachment is the best course in Politicks.  As the Ghost of someone dead these 250 years and more, I have seen many an Election, and many a Scene attendant upon these Publick Actions, such as this one, very justly depict'd by Mr. Hogarth.  It may be observ'd, however, that here Mr. Hogarth paints not the Passion, but the Folly of Electioneering.

Passion and Folly are the Sun and Moon of Election Day.  A Person may follow Events keenly; but 'tis not worthy of a Gentleman, nor indeed a Lady, such as yourself, to be too visibly attach'd to one Interest or Another.  A calm Disinterest becomes all well-bred Persons who would be Rational.

As the charming impressaria of this Theatre of Topicks, as I call it, you no doubt feel the Call to attract the Publick.  It speaks well of You and your Theatre, that You do so without Tricks or Displays of false Passion or Rabble-rousing so commonly found in other Entertainments of this Kind.  That some of the Groundlings here may arouse themselves to a Pitch of Excitement may hardly be laid against you, for your Attitude of even-handed Equanimity shows the way of a true Philosopher.

By way of closing, I should quote the Example of Captain Halley, the late Astronomer Royal, who Discover'd the famous Comet that bears his Name.  Captain Halley—for he always styled himself by his Naval Title, and was Captain in the Royal Navy before he was Doctor of Laws—observ'd at the time of the Glorious Revolution (when poor King James was unjustly expell'd) that he, Captain Halley, was, "for the King in possession. We pay dear enough for our Protection, and we ought to have the Benefit of it."

As attached as some of my Relatives were, at that time, to the auld Interest, as they call'd it, they shift'd for Themselves, and were, in the end, much the happier for it.

Recommending such a Course to your Readers, I remain ever, Madam,

Your humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

Kirby Olson said...

Trying to stay on the side of the winner is very much like the Calvinist doctrine of ELECTION. Har har har, if you ask me.

Maxine Weiss said...

Bad news for the sons of Celine, Cindy Crawford, and Kate Hudson:

http://comments.breitbart.com/080108210454j43titla/

Sean Wisnieski said...

madawaskan, first of all, sorry, I overlooked the bit about exit polls in your first post (I was skimming - bad Sean), and I admit I didn't tune in till election coverage till half an hour after the polls closed, so I missed all discussion of exit polls entirely.

That said, it seems to me the Bradley Effect hardly constitutes racism. If it's true, then it doesn't govern the way people vote -- it governs the way people SAY they will vote. These people were probably planning to vote for Clinton the whole time, or at least were undecided, but when asked about it in public they said they'd vote for Obama to avoid appearing racist. It's not as if they were planning to vote for him all along and then, at the last second, decided they just couldn't vote for the darkie after all.

I would think the Bradley Effect would discredit a racism argument, since (well, first of all, not voting for the black candidate does not constitute racism) it is implicit to the argument that racists are undesirable people and that most folks are willing to go out of their way to avoid being judged as one.

joated said...

Love Sir Archy's comment.

madawaskan said...

Sean-

Ya I just get so tired of the Democrats thinking somehow they couldn't possibly be any racists or chauvinists amongst their own.

Actually your explanation makes a lot of sense.

Verso said...

Ann —
A fascinating post.

And Sir Archy —
Brilliant! :)

Bissage said...

After a half-assed Google search, I am in awe of Sir Archy even more than before.

Insanely jealous, I asked Mrs. Bissage whether she would rather me possess the mimicry skills of Sir Archy or drive a bigger penis.

She said something about my having promised to cook dinner tonight and then she said she was off to fold the laundry.

Life ain’t fair, I tell ya!

Middle Class Guy said...

She has no voice, she is a cacophony of many voices…

Michelle Malkin on FOX referring to Hillary Clinton.

Middle Class Guy said...

Bissage, your phrasing leaves much to be desired. The proper question would have been ...prefer to be hung like a horse.

Then you could have shown her how you found this new income opportunity:

Sir Archy went to stud, sometimes under lease for Johnson, but eventually, from 1818 on, in Northampton County, North Carolina on the Mowfield Plantation (aka Moorfied) of William Amis. Even at the age of 24, his stud fee was one hundred dollars. The son of William Amis estimated that during the years he stood at Mowfield he earned $76,000 in stud fees.

reader_iam said...

My love for Sir Archy extends beyond the grave.

George said...

Arch sounds like a Thompson man.

Like to pop a cork with him.

Trooper York said...

There is a name for front runners who jump on the bandwagon when things are good and run when there is a bump in the road. We call them Cowboy fans.

Meade said...

"...and then she said she was off to fold the laundry."

Bissage ever standing at stud.

Trooper York said...

Meade, that is just euphemism. Like toss the salad

Ralph said...

So Sir Archy is a Jacobite.
That explains his ability to run fast.