The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Perot didn't cost Bush père the '92 election, then...

I'd suggested as much, in passing (February 7), but it ain't necessarily so. Most likely isn't so, in fact.

Who else than that old bloodhound Bob Somerby to spot that someone over at the American Prospect blog had suggested as much; and to draw attention to exit polling and other evidence in contradiction.

This analysis is in the same sense: had Perot not run, the result would have been closer, but still no cigar for Bush.

What there is, though, feels to non-statistical little moi as rather back-of-the-envelope.

For the full It's A Wonderful Life counterfactual, you'd be surely looking at a complex model taking into account secondary, tertiary, n-ary effects.

For example, what effect did Perot have on the two main campaigns? On Bush policy proposals and actions? On campaign finance? On TV coverage? On Congressional action?

I'm loathe to give up one facile CW only to adopt another one! A 50 page PDF with some heavy-duty maths is the least I'd settle for...

What about Woodrow Wilson in 1912? That surely was down to Bull Moose vote-splitting, wasn't it?

Insufficient data to negative the hypothesis, for the moment! I got sidetracked by moseying over to Dave Leip's site for the 1912 stats by state. Which are great, but the page is unmanageable at the font sizes I use, so I transfer the numbers to a spreadsheet, whereupon the customary fiddling and fettling work begins.

There is, to complicate matters, the small matter of Eugene Debs' 900,000 odd votes not to lose sight, for a start.

Then one finds that of the 236 EVs in the top ten states, Theodore Roosevelt snagged only 53 (NY-38, MI-15). And, in the rest of the ten, Wilson had an popular vote margin over the combined Taft-TR score only in Texas.

Essentially, Wilson has a such a margin only in the Confederacy and Oklahoma.

So that's a slam-dunk for the counterfactual [1] unity GOP candidate?

I'm not so sure. One of those 50 page papers would come in mighty handy! A teaser to return to, I think.

  1. I'm assuming TR had been eaten on safari by one of his carnivorous quarries while Taft was in his chair.

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