Political science models. President Obama’s re-election has already been thoroughly mythologised, particularly by those disappointed by said re-election. One can read worried, or admiring, examinations of the data-mining and thoroughly internetted campaign techniques used by the Obama campaign, complaints about media bias, dark musings about the implications for the future of the US and so forth.
Or one can read some of the political science commentary which will direct you to things such as this graph (via), which maps share of two major party vote against per capita (income) growth in the second and third quarters of the election year (i.e. the two quarters before the election) discounted by length of tenure of the incumbent Party. As one can see, the remarkable thing about President Obama is how little either of his election wins is an “outlier” result.
As political scientist Larry Bartels observes in the post:
Perhaps the president deserves some sort of award for his unmatched fidelity to the “laws” (irony intended) of political science.
I was fairly confident that President Obama was going to be re-elected, because I read the Monkey Cage, a group political science blog in which the aforementioned post recently appeared. The blog had periodic posts on what the political science models were reporting on the US Presidential election prospects, and those models put the President’s re-election at a very high probability.
The US Presidential election is a gift for political modelling because it happens at the same time of the year every four years. It turns out, that one can get (by the standards of social science) remarkably accurate “fits” of the data with remarkably few variables. As political scientist John Sides observes in an earlier post on The Monkey Cage, this still leaves a role for political campaigns. But the next time you read any commentary on the election result — particularly commentary that implies President Obama’s re-election was a surprising result that needs special explanation — consider the above graph, and the similar results other political science models generated.
This is also the Saturday chit-chat post.