The Thought Refuse

A Virtual Repository for the Mind

The Presidential Race Not Immune To Randomness

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I have sobering news for all of the political fanatics out there feverishly consuming every tidbit of news around the presidential race as confirmation or refutation for the support they’ve thrown beyond their respective candidate.  The presidential race will not be decided on the laundry list of pros and cons for each candidate that you’ve taken painstaking effort to lay out.  No, the presidential race will be decided by a randomness.

The presidential race of 2008 will be decided based on the crash of the housing market and the subsequent drop it caused in the nation’s economy.  For as much as the media and average citizens strive to transform the economic crisis into a politically derived problem, it is not.  I have previously made numerous posts concerning the reasons behind the economic crisis, and specifically attributed the error in management on the risk management models used by financial institutions.  The post illustrated how randomness poses a severe threat to these models.  The qualification for a random event is an event which cannot be predicted which precipitously qualifies the economic crisis as the consequence of a random event.

Just as the financial institutions risk management models did not predict a fall in home prices greater then 10%, political pundits could not predict the massive shift in the presidential race that the economic crisis would cause.  Prior to the first day the stock market plummeted nearly 800 points and the final realization that the economy was teetering, McCain was neck and neck with Obama.  Some polls showing McCain with a slight lead and others having McCain trailing by only a couple points.  Immediately after, McCain’s poll numbers began slipping, and as the nation became inundated with daily news that the economy was on life support, McCain’s numbers began to suffer from the war of attrition.

The economy became the center issue in the presidential race.  It thrusted itself to the forefront to become the deciding factor.  For political purposes, the affair was tailored by each candidate to suit their campaign in what amounted to an advertising campaign.  Voter perception leaned heavily towards Obama as being the one best suited to guiding the country back to economic health.  This voter acumen, as it turns out, resides without substance.

Considering risk management models bore the fertile blame for the financial catastrophe, how then can the politicization of the problem be justified?  It simply cannot.  However, it certainly has played a critical role in the shape of this presidential race.  Partisan advertising, voter ignorance, and media saturation loaned it the power necessary to become the deciding factor.

Barack Obama constructed an unwittingly genius advertising campaign while battling Hilary Clinton in the Democratic primary that was designed to link the presumptive Republican nominee to Bush’s economic policy.  Coupled with Obama echoing sentiments of economists, he painted a bleak economic picture.  In a speech earlier in the year, Obama said:

We are not standing on the brink of recession because of forces beyond our control.  This was not an inevitable part of the business cycle. It was a failure of leadership in Washington — a Washington where George Bush hands out billions of tax cuts to the wealthiest few for eight long years, and John McCain promises to make those same tax cuts permanent, embracing the central principle of the Bush economic program.

The Obama campaign as continued to connect the economic polices of George Bush as “failed” and inexorably tying McCain to those “failed” policies.  From a strategic standpoint, it stands as the center point for his presumed presidential victory.  Yet, it’s quite simply inaccurate in the sense that the term “failed” predicates that the economic policies of Bush/McCain caused the economic crisis.

The center of this recession and possible depression does not even remotely revolve around tax cuts.  Tax cuts putting money in the pockets of the poor, middle class, and rich has no bearing on sub prime lending practices or the flaws in statistical risk management models.  The concept is absurd.  In fact, it’s counter intuitive.  A middle class family receiving a tax cut would be more likely to take that money and use as a   on a home mortgage and would be less likely to enter into a sub prime, no down payment home loan.  Additionally, it’s clear that the wealthy, for whatever tax cut they might receive, are not consumers who are or were entering into sub prime mortgages.

The only credible accusation that can be made against Bush and his administration is government regulation.  But it’s difficult to conceive that the government, using the same risk management models and statistical information as the lending industry, would have been able to see what the financial sector could not.

Despite Obama’s inaccuracy, it was a strategic success due to voter ignorance.  Voters are not apt to critical thinking when examining the issues.  They display a preference for short and concise soundbites that can regurgitated on command.  We gravitate to linear paths and there is not a more straight path to making the connection between an administration that’s been entrenched for the last eight years, “failed” economic policies, and an economy entering a recession.  We are susceptible to the narrative fallacy and Obama beautifully catered to our ignorance for his own political gain.

The media onslaught that followed the stock market crash solidified Obama’s strategy.  There has not been a day in the last month that we have not heard more bad economic news.  Every time a voter read or watched a news piece on the economic crisis they made the connection in their mind between the state of the economy, those “failed” policies, and the message Obama has been preaching for months and months.

The fact of the matter is that no Republican or Democrat administration would have prevented the current economic crisis.  Short of the government heavily reducing the capitol requirements for lending and shifting the economy away from the debt based economy we have been operating on for nearly half a century, politicians were equal bystanders in the unfolding events that lead us to where we are.

So, it should be quite sobering to realize that if your voting for Obama or McCain primarily because you believe either candidate can bring the economy out by it’s bootstraps to know that you are casting your vote based on a random event.  It might even seem incomprehensible.

Randomness has the peculiar nature of being incomprehensible.  How can we understand that which we cannot predict, otherwise we would have already known it’s impending occurrence and been able to take steps to avoid said event.  Just as the statistical risk management models failed to predict the drop in housing prices, no one predicted that the decisive event in the presidential election would be, at it’s root, born from randomness.

How are we to feel knowing that the next leader of our country rode the wave of a random event into office?  I know I’ll be punching Obama’s name come November 4th for reasons divested of that random event, but it’s given me serious pause to come to terms with the fact that many other have been influenced by randomness knowing Obama’s poll numbers have reached double digits since the stock market crash.

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Written by huxbux

October 17, 2008 at 6:33 pm

One Response

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  1. […] 9 in 10 voters who wanted “change” cast their vote for Obama.  I had previously detailed the effect the economy would have on the election results, and it certainly bore fruit.  voters clearly wanted […]


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