Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You've got a friend in Pennsylvania

Clinton takes Pennsylvania 55-45. In other words, an Obama win is still inevitable but not inevitable enough that this thing will wrap up anytime soon.

So the eyes of the nation now turn to...Guam!



  • It's like a horrible car wreck flying over itself in slow motion.

    By Blogger Glen, at 12:30 AM  

  • Actually, the margin was closer to 8% than 10%. And Clinton didn't get anywhere near the margin she was supposed to need to have beaten.

    The problem is that the Democratic primary system really wasn't set up to handle this sort of contest; they don't provide the knockout victories that the Republican one does, so a candidate can keep on slogging, and slogging, and slogging...

    Anyway, all I'll say is that if McCain beats Obama in the fall, the Clintons are probably well advised to consider one of those islands in Dubai. America may not be the most comfortable of residences.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:34 AM  

  • Demosthenes, based on CNN, Clinton got 54.7% of the vote, and Obama 45.3. That is a gap of 9.4%, which is closer to 10% than it is to 8%.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 4:15 PM  

  • An addendum, Jay Cost had a series of relatively optimistic predictions Clinton would have to meet in order to win the popular vote (without Florida). His calculations suggested Clinton needed to net 211,000 in Pennsylvania, which is precisely what she got.

    Polls have her ahead in Puerto Rico by 15 points. Moreover, Obama's main political ally there just got indicted. Considering that over a million Puerto Ricans turn out to elect their non-voting delegates to congress it is hardly a stretch to imagine similar numbers showing up to a primary where they can determine who the next president will be.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 4:19 PM  

  • OhOh!

    Flaherty’s in trouble. The Ethics Commissioner is investigating why Flaherty’s speechwriter was improperly hired. Value $122k.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:18 PM  

  • Hose,

    BTW, you haven’t answered this.

    “Could you explain why us voters ‘like corruption’?”

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:19 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6:00 PM  


    I am clearly talking about Daniel Briere

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6:01 PM  

  • If a candidate loses in the general election - it's their own fault - something weak about this blame game stuff.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:21 AM  

  • OhOh!

    Dominic Leblanc just announced that the RCMP should investigate the Conservatives for falsification and fraud under the Criminal Code. Apparently, invoices submitted by the CPC were altered or forged.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:16 PM  

  • he's in only if the Clinton research team doesn't find the real dirt on BO.

    You can bet they are in full dig mode and I'll bet they'll lucky.

    OBy-WannaBe-President has had a free ride up until now.

    Time for real politics to begin.

    By Blogger Fred, at 3:56 PM  

  • I don't think voters like corruption per se, but they don't dislike it as the punditocracy thinks we do. Why?
    1. Scandals almost never have an appreciable effect on the lives of Canadians (except for the beneficiaries of scandals, where benefits are concentrated).
    2. We have a strong party system, so our politics is less personal. Relative to the US, far more Canadians vote for a party, rather than a person. This limits the role of character in elections. It also allows party leadership to dispose of corrupt individuals much more easily. That includes leaders or even party leaders or Prime Ministers - the Liberals essentially ousted Chretien in 2003 (not for corruption), while there are precedents in other Westminster-type systems (Thatcher 1990, Bob Hawke 1991, Kim Beazley, and Iain Duncan Smith)
    3. Because Canadians separate the role of head of state from head of government, character politics is once again, less important to our system. In the US, the president is the symbol of the nation, the governor of the state. This is why presidents are generally better-looking than Prime Ministers, and it is also yet another reason scandals will have less of an impact in Canada. You can be arrested for a DUI (Gordon Campbell) have a mistress (Ernie Eves), or have your wife sleep with the Rolling Stones (Trudeau) and the impact is negligible.
    4. The Canadian media is less sensationalized than that of the US (or Britain). This is because we have greater media concentration and large media outlets like to look respectable (and maintain access to the government). Moreover, we have substantially fewer ex-partisans or open partisans in the press itself. After all Canadian politics is regional politics, and it would not serve broadcasters with national ambitions to take sides too openly (newspapers are more partisan). The advertisers that fund media outlets are more interested in reaching target demographics, of which region is less important (plus I think they can target specific regions anyway by running ads in a limited area if they wanted to).
    5. Canadians are more deferential than Americans, and more generally trusting of government.

    Ipso facto: scandals will not play a large role in Canadian politics.
    If you wanted to you could run a regression to test the effect of scandals on election results. Lets look at the main "data-points", showing major scandals and their effects. That would be a better approach since you could account for other factors better, and more objectively than I have (alternately, with good public opinion data you might be able to build a duration model and see how long parties were in the dog-house for scandals on average).

    Pacific Rail Scandal: John A. Macdonald defeated in subsequent election, but able to make a comeback.

    In 1908 Borden campaigned against Laurier, focusing on a baptist preacher in Laurier's cabinet that hired a prostitute, a drunken militia minister and a corrupt civil service: Laurier loses 4 seats

    Hughes affair (Sam Hughes engaged in wartime profiteering during the first world war): Borden re-elected in 1917.

    Customs and excise scandal: King re-elected with a majority government (had a minority before).

    Alberta pipeline scandal: Louis St. Laurent loses election, but Dief only gets a minority government on a 7-point swing to the Tories from the Liberals (which could easily be explained by Diefenbaker's campaigning skills - note that only the Tories gained substantially in terms of votes - the CCF dropped while the Socreds gained 1% - one would expect a scandal to benefit all parties, since corruption is not an ideologically neutral issue). Dief gained 14 points in the subsequent election, in which the Liberals were led by squeaky clean Pearson, and CD Howe was gone.

    Tainted Tuna: Mulroney re-elected anyway in 1988. John Fraser went to become speaker of the house.

    Munsinger affair: minister resigns two years after it was discovered. Press does not mention affair, so it has no impact (Dief was re-elected with a minority government in '62, but the affair didn't affect that). When the scandal became public in 1966 as the Liberals used it, it backfired on them disastrously, causing gridlock and preventing Pearson from getting much done.

    HRDC boondoggle, Shawinagate, gun registry over-runs, Art Eggleton's girlfriend: Chretien wins three terms of office. Retires way ahead of opposition in every poll.

    Sponsorship scandal: Paul Martin reduced to a minority government. Chretien (who was far more culpable) remains a popular national figure, speaking at the Liberal leadership convention.

    Belinda Stronach floor-crossing: Martin rose in the polls after the budget vote.

    Gurmant Grewal: this is an opposition scandal, but it didn't impact the 2006 election - Nina Grewal (who is clearly the puppet of her husband) remains in parliament.

    Income trust leak: contributing factor to Martin's defeat. Although arguably, it actually had severe consequences for a lot of important (rich) Canadians, unlike the other scandals mentioned.

    Emerson floor-crossing: gee, I don't hear much about that these days. Conservative by-election performance has been strong.

    Case study of Adscam:
    Likewise, Paul Martin survived adscam, and Harper was widely criticized for repeating "scandal scandal scandal" through the 2004 election. In 2006 Harper ran a largely positive campaign with daily policy announcements (there were attack ads but they weren't that numerous). He focused largely on contrasting his own focused approach to the ill-focused one of the Martin government (which was not perceived as being particularly effective). The "Mr. Dithers" perception killed the Liberals, not the sponsorship scandal. This is partly why they remain at 30-odd percent in the polls, even with a leader who is not connected with the scandal, 4 years after the thing broke.

    In Quebec, where the scandal happened, and was presumably a big deal, the Bloc lost ground in the popular vote and seat count by running largely on the strength of the sponsorship scandal and income trust "gate". By contrast the Tories rose considerably following Harper's speech in Quebec city, and a campaign emphasizing that the Tories were the natural home of soft nationalist Quebecers.

    So if history is any guide, present scandals will not have a major impact on election outcomes.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:23 PM  

  • Dear Hose,

    I am impressed by your lengthy paper. Let me offer my understanding of politics and expectations. It also explains why some GROUPS of voters are incensed by corruption, and others less so.

    Politics is about relationships. It is not about absolute morality.

    A politician creates relationships with voters in a variety of roles. He/she could be an agent, a champion, a unifier, or broker. He/she receives and loses support according to the understanding in the contract.

    Green Party leaders see themselves as agents of their members. Direct democracy is a principle of that organization. Direct democracy people have a natural suspicion of non-direct democracy politicians. Any corruption anywhere reaffirms their worldview.

    David Orchard is a champion. He unites voters of a particular conservative nature. They’re on the same page. He doesn’t need policy conferences. His supporters are loyal as long as he walks the talk. They expect the same of any politician relative to his clientele.

    These are relationships between a politician and his loyal constituents. A unifier (like Obama) attempts to transcend ideology and appeals to universal values. How do you translate universal values into policy specifics for various constituents?

    Obama like any saint has to be squeaky clean. That’s why his pastor was a potential deathblow.

    In Canada, we are said to have a brokeage political system. The LPC has dominated Canadian politics in the 20th Century because their platform is flexible and conditional.

    The party leader is a broker. As Prime Minister, he creates coalitions strong enough to maintain stable governments. The broker is not an agent. His task is to do what it takes to keep the country going.

    Broken promises? The LPC politicians routinely break theirs.

    What about the non-politicians? There are some in public life masquerading as politicians.

    Some are confused. They don’t have clear roles and their speeches don’t make sense. Their words are internally logical. But, listeners don’t get it because the offer and acceptance is muddled. Compare the platter of the policy wonks with Winston Churchill’s speech on ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’.

    The policy wonk’s problem is the ability to deliver. Does anyone care if he has a mistress or gives patronage?

    Then, there are the fanatics like harper. They don’t feel that they are limited by a pact with voters. Indeed, they don’t feel any restraint towards voters who didn’t vote for them. They will break promises because they are focused on paradise.

    And, that’s why harper’s conservative support is vulnerable to corruption and broken promises.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:25 PM  

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