Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Seven Things We Learned From The Iowa Results Which Never Need Learning Again

I admit that the new paradigm has been obvious for some time now but the old clung so tenaciously, or rather emotively that I had not quite shaken it off  completely yet. I Lampooned the now hapless Nate Silver for his "Endorsement Chart" which shows the "importance of the "hidden primary" wherein the party Establishment's endorsements magically determine the winner.

As you can see Jeb Bush should be way out in front in the polls and Iowa with such a winning hand. Of course endorsements mean next to nothing now except for very rare circumstances.

This is now just silly but Silver continues with it as some sort of talisman or something.

So we have learned;

1.Endorsements mean next to nothing

2. Nate Silver who lucked in with the two Obama elections is now utterly exploded. His predictions are just so much mumbo jumbo wrapped up in charts and graphs and equations.

3. Polling companies might as well check the entrails of goats. The "Gold Standard" Selzer poll in Iowa was dross. Every other poll especially PPP (Dem) poll was way off. Only the last minute Emerson College poll came very close. But they are the exception poll after poll-the U.K and Kentucky for example were absolute disasters. As for nationwide polls-they are utterly useless in coming anywhere near to predicting state results. All that can be said is that, sometimes, polls nearest to the election day have a chance, just a chance, of being right.

4. Pundits. What can you say? It is now absolutely clear that all political columns should labeled, as with fortune tellers "For entertainment purposes only." Let me be absolutely clear no pundit knows any more how things will turn out than you do. In the old days pundits could pontificate from on high and have some effect on the political scene but the internet has destroyed that forever.

All "pundits" do now is to confirm ones prejudices or give someone to rail at when one's side is doing badly. As a vent for social happiness or frustration they serve a purpose but there is nothing elevated above that admittedly useful function. But to take what any pundit says as having any real value outside those parameters is to give them, however polished their prose of clever their graphs and charts (Philip Bump being a prime example) more than their due. In due course they will disappear as their newspapers fold anyway.

5. Campaign sensations end up as just that and have little or no discernible effect on an election. If Ted Cruz's "fail mailer" and pseudo newspaper had no effect on the outcome then nothing will in future (with the possible exception of a candidate being indicted. All these sort of things turn out to be media beat ups/page click fodder and distractions. At the end of the day the voters consider a whole range of issues that matter to them and disregard these peripheral things.

6. Crowd size means nothing. Donald Trump had massive crows, I can't recall any crowd for Rubio yet he finished just 1.2 points behind Trump. In 2008 candidate Obama drew one million to an event in St.Louis and still managed to lose Missouri despite a huge nationwide landslide. All crowd size shows is that America is a big country with a large population.

7. Fundamentals are called that for a reason. If for example as state like Iowa has a long tradition of retail campaigning and a substantial fundamentalist voting block then that is what works. All the mass crowds and media attention won't overturn attention to those basic elements as Trump found out. The fact that he did as well as he did showed a super human effort and special qualities can bring a good result but not a winning one.