Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Why are YOU voting for Obama?

I wanted to start a thread here because we've had discussions about substance and campaigns. I want to be as honest as possible, so I am really thinking about the order of these preferences.
1. First and foremost, I'm voting for Obama because he's a Democrat, not a Republican. There's no point in mincing around on that. This puts me in a distinct minority of the population. Yellow dog, yes I would.
2. I trust him to restore constitutional government and abolish torture. Again, few have put this so high up on the priorities list. I could change my vote if this were to shift.
3. Character. I think Obama the smartest man to run for President in living memory. Period. I think he is also clean, not corrupt - the best in that regard since Carter. Surprisingly, perhaps, I identify with his background (his generation, his career track and goals, but not the racial thing). Also, he's not another damned southern white guy. I'm tired of the Colonel Sanders/Foghorn Leghorn brigade running the roost. Sorry, my prejudice. Again, these views are somewhat representative of Obama's youthful, urban base, but not of the electorate as a whole. This is not about policy per se. I think this point is where Obama's base and the electorate diverge the most.
4. I want a push for universal health care. This is the first real "policy" issue.
5. I want to end the war in Iraq.
6. I want to restore America's reputation in the world.
7. I want more money for education (K-12 and universities), plus sensible reforms.
8. I want action on climate change.
9. I want money for mass transit.
10. I want to move towards a balanced budget.

What do you tink.


Valar Morghulis said...

1. More money for education
2. More money for mass transit
3. Balanced budget
4. Universal health care
5. End the war on Terror

These are my top five for voting for Obama.

As a side note, I'm currently reading Freakonomics which has got me thinking more about our society and how we can improve it. Education, health care, mass transit that's safe for everyone, and a balanced budget are in my opinion the most important things to get this country to where it thinks it is. I think Obama is more the type of man to get these things done than Superduper POW dude.

Dr. Strangelove said...

My top ten, compared to LTG. I have also given this some thought. I am voting for Obama for these reasons.

My Rating [LTG's rating]
1 [1]: Democrat.
2 [-]: Gay rights.
3 [4]: Universal health care.
4 [2]: End torture, Guantanamo, military tribunals, "unlawful enemy combatant" designations, etc.
5 [8]: Global warming action.
6 [5]: End the war in Iraq
7 [3]: Character and race
8 [6]: Restore America's reputation in the world.
9 [-]: Fight terrorism better
10 [10]: More fiscally responsible.

USwest said...

1: Democrat
2: More likely to take positve action on Climate change through internatioanl treaties and promotion of green business here at home.
3: Improve Amercia's standing in the world by ending the Iraq war, bringing back multilateralism, ending HR and Constitutional voliations.
4: Promote socially responsible business be it pharma, media, energy,transport
5. He will invest in infrastructure which will energize our economy at home and renew America's confidence in itself.
6: Tax programs that favor the middle class
7: Most likely to deal wisely with health care reform
8: Most likely to deal with social security reform
9: I believe that he is be best leader to help us all make the attitude changes we will need to make in order to operate in this fully globalized world.
10: He is young, smart, urban, and he is one of us.

Raised By Republicans said...

1: Democrat
2: End the war in Iraq
3: End torture
4: Restore constitutional government in the executive branch
5: Fiscal responsibility
6: Health Care
7: Environmental responsibility/Energy policy
8: Inspiring leader
9: Smartest guy in the room (really!)
10: Urban Midwesterner with no boomer/Vietnam baggage.

Raised By Republicans said...

If I could keep going I'd put gay rights in there in the mix too along with improving US reputation in the world and fighting the war on terror more effectively (and in the right countries!).

The Law Talking Guy said...

Oh dear, don't take Freakonomics seriously. The two authors appear to be enormously pleased with their ability to run regression analyses. So pleased are they with their genius at punching the appropriate button on their statistical software package (or asking their grad student to do it) that they heap disdain on all other kinds of expertise. In fact, they basically seem to believe that their statistical genius makes all other forms of education irrelevant.

Worse, they play fast and loose with correlation and causation. Regression analysis is an important tool, but it tells you very little about causation. It is best for disproving causation - since there logically must be a correlation if two things are causally related. Regression also depends entirely on the accuracy of the data. Complex, multifactor concepts like "crime" or "socioeconomic status" or "political ideology" are hideously difficult to capture in one-dimensional statistics.

For an example of bad data, I just took a "health survey" that my company wanted me to. I am, it turns out, obese, have bad eating habits and a bad attitude to exercise. A regular John Goodman. The devil is in the coding.

First, it classified "regular moderate exercise" as some form of exercise 5-7 days a week. So there is no difference in the survey between being a total couch potato and working out 3-4 times a week (running and weightlifting) as I do. The fact that I have no intention to increase this regimen to 5-7 days a week (which I was honest about, because I have no time) means I am also coded as having no ambition to exercise.

Second, I was asked if I ate 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. I answered truthfully "no." I probably eat 3-4 servings a day, but some days little and others a lot more. So, I was classified as having an unbalanced diet. I could have succeeded had I classified a potato as a vegetable. My guess was no; the cornucopia picture of vegetables accompanying the question did not include the spud. Ketchup neither.

Third, I was asked if I had a low-fat diet, which had three components, including specifically avoiding butter. I don't specifically avoid butter. Now, I don't eat it by the stick, but this failing means I have an unhealthy diet.

Fourth, I was asked if I was aware of my daily caloric intake. No, I don't measure my daily calories. This, too, coded me as a Bad Eater.

Finally, I was asked whether my wasteline was above or below 37". This is apparently a crucial bifurcation in the population. I wear size 36 jeans but size 38 slacks. My shorts are usually size "L" meaning 36-38". After some contemplation, I answered "no" to this question.

Getting life insurance also means doing battle with actuarial tables based on data this stupid.

As you can tell, I disliked Freakonomics and was very annoyed by the health questionnaire.

freedomformonkeys said...

I can't vote since I'm not a citizen, but here is why I support Obama:

1. restore constitutional government and abolish torture
2. end war in Iraq
3. suppport for universal health care
4. character. He seems more honest than most politicians.
5. action on climate change
6. I hope for a more liberal supreme court (I guess this vaguely resembles the 'He is a Democrat' argument.)

Valar Morghulis said...

The book has really just been a springboard for getting me more excited and interested in thinking/pondering about our society and the truths we assume. I'm not buying into every opinion the authors have, but I do appreciate the fact that I'm more conscious now, more open to other ways of thinking.

But back to Obama. I love the guy. I've wished for him to be our President ever since I first heard him speak at the DNC two elections ago. I don;t know how I'll react if he loses this election to Grumpy Old Man

The Law Talking Guy said...

It's interesting that we bloggers did not say "to fix the economy" whereas "the economy" is the voters' number one concern, in poll after poll. USWest came closest, I think. Perhaps most of us on this blog realize that the president's control over the state of the economy is indirect and long-term. Clinton's commitment to balance the budget in his first term helped lead to prosperity in the second; but he couldn't predict the tech bubble.'

It makes me wonder how people connect the economy to voting. Political scientists have models showing that poor economic performance correlated with electoral change from the incumbent party, but I wonder how this actually works in voters minds. Do voters think a new party will improve the economy in the short term? The long term? Do voters just naturally react to hardship by punishing whoever is in power?

I also note that I (and others) did not put gay rights on the top ten. Perhaps some of us conflate that with the political party in our minds now, such that it was subsumed. I think that gay rights is, sadly, like the abortion issue: almost all the single-issue voters are on the wrong side (against both).

Bell Curve said...

I think that gay rights is, sadly, like the abortion issue: almost all the single-issue voters are on the wrong side (against both).

Oh? Would you ever vote for a pro-life presidential candidate? I suspect we will never have a pro-life Democrat running for office, but if we did, I would strongly think third party.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Bell Curve has a good point. I happen to know a few women for whom abortion rights are simply non-negotiable: they would switch parties before they switched positions. For me, gay rights is similarly non-negotiable.

In fact, single-issue voters who stand for these rights might even be more stubborn in their support than those who oppose them. The voters with the largest and most deeply personal stake in women's rights and gay rights are women and gays.

Pombat said...

LTG: If what's happening here in Oz at the moment is anything to go by, the average dumb voter absolutely connects the economy with the government, believing that the government is in direct and immediate control of the economy. I'm seeing/hearing a lot of views along the lines of "the Rudd government's been in for seven months now, and the economy's shot - they've wrecked it!". Needless to say, the intelligent people I speak to are well aware that the economy takes time to react to governmental policy changes, and even then is not 100% controllable by the government of the country, given all the foreign influences. But there are a lot of dumb voters out there, who will punish - by voting out - whoever is in charge once they feel financial pain.

Bell Curve & Dr.S: I have to agree with you on the non-negotiables - there is no way I would ever vote for a pro-life candidate. And it's not because I ever intend to have an abortion, nor would I condone the 'casual' attitude to abortion that the pro-lifers seem to think would result from 100% available, safe abortion, but because I want to know that whoever's in power believes in and deeply respects my right to make my decisions about my body at any point in my life. Simply put, if the powers that be are happy to take away one decision from me, what's to stop them taking away all decisions?

I would also vote against an openly anti-gay-rights candidate, for twin reasons: one is that I just hate that kind of baseless prejudice, and really wish we could all just treat each other with dignity and respect, since we're ALL human (for this reason I would also vote against openly racist etc), the second is that if someone is that openly prejudiced against one group, what's to stop them turning on 'my' group at some point in the future?

Raised By Republicans said...


I think we are not representative. All of us on this blog are more educated and weathier than most voters. Not only is the economy not as bad for us as it is for many Americans but we mostly recognize that the President's influence on economic performance is exagerated.

But models that predict election outcomes based on retroactive economic voting perform the best.

Raised By Republicans said...

Valar Morghulis,

Go ahead and read Freakanomics if you want. You should you think about issues of causality when you read statistical analyses of course. But statistical analysis, when done by people who know what they're doing, can be much more informative than impressionistic single case analyses.

USWest said...

Just saying, "Fix the economy" is vague and lazy. What specifically would we like a president to propose? I love "education presidents". Those kill me because the US President has no control of funding for education. It is mostly a local, not federal matter. And what federal control is exercised is done so mostly through Congress voting to cut federal funds to those states that don't comply with USDE desires. That is how NCLB was born. Carrot. stick.

Presidents can propose budgets, use the bully pulpit to encourage public spending, and set over all budget and regulatory priorities. But Congress has to do the rest and final implementation is really done at the local level.

As for single issues: I don't want to demean the importance of issues like gay rights and abortion. But considering the huge problems we are facing as a nation, any single issue just doesn't get my attention. I think Gay rights are well on the road be to being recognized and that we will continue to see progress on that issue regardless of who is elected. As for abortion: It has no place in politics as far as I am concerned and should de-politicized. The longer we allow it to be used as an acid test, the longer it will be a political issue. I am fortunate, though, because Obama is pro-choice enough for me.

What I really want is a leader who puts the American people first and who is responsive to their call. We've had 8 years of the American people saying "no!" No to war, no to Gitmo, no to unwarranted surveillance,etc. And we have been ignored at every turn by Congress and by the White House. I want a leader who says, "I hear you. Let me tell you what I think. Let's talk!" I don't want polls. I don't want self-serving politics or politics that plays to one audience. And if Obama can show he respects the public, then we will all have a more positive outlook and the economy will come back on its own. So much of this is about the public mood. Obama, I think, gets that.

The Law Talking Guy said...

BC: Would I vote for a pro-life Democrat? Depends on who the Republican is. Depends on whether the Democrat intends to act on it or (as Harry Reid) not to do so. But there are many, many more pro-lifers who will never vote for a pro-choice person, because they believe it to be a mortal sin.

Seriously, polling data back me up on the abortion thing. I can't find the studies now, but they've been done.