Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON
LECTURE ONE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d__In2PQS60
LECTURE TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al7O2puvdDA

ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ONE THROUGH TEN ON IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE



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Sunday, May 8, 2016

STAYING SANE

We have now gone down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, politically speaking.  It is two months until the Republican Convention and six months until the election.  If you believe, as I do, that the election of Donald Trump as president would be a disaster, you will have many anxious moments between now and then.  Reading speculative pieces by pundits about the ways in which Trump could win or the reasons why Democrats are foolish to feel confident is guaranteed to give you a permanently acid stomach.

The antidote is facts, data, statistics.  Your best bet is to bookmark Sam Wang's Princeton Election Consortium on your computer and check it from time to time.  Wang is a Princeton neuroscientist who, in his spare time, crunches poll numbers and runs computer simulations.  He had a spectacular record in 2012, predicting the outcome of the presidential election extremely accurately and also correctly calling virtually all of the senatorial races.

His work differs from that of Nate Silver at 538.com essentially in relying entirely on statistics rather than on a combination of statistics and general political wisdom.  It turns out that statistics alone actually are better predictors.

At the moment, six months out from the election, Wang gives Clinton a bit better than a 70% probability of winning.  We will know a good deal more in the weeks and months to come.  

One of the most interesting statistical tidbits I have found during my obsessive surfing of the web is this:  If you add up the extremely unfavorable, unfavorable, favorable, and extremely favorable poll numbers for Trump and for Clinton, in each case the total is very close to 100%.  In other words, almost everybody in America already has a strong positive or negative opinion about each candidate.  This means that both of them are astonishingly well known, which in turn implies that the campaign is going to change very little [since there is a great deal of evidence that confirmation bias tends simply to strengthen already existing opinion.]  There will be endless commentary about the impact of speeches, gaffes, debates, endorsements, and the like, but none of that, in all likelihood, will make much difference.  Since Clinton is now rather strongly favored to win, she will probably simply increase that likelihood as we get closer to the election [since the percentage estimate is a function of closeness to the election as well as poll numbers.]

I await Bernie's call to support an on-going progressive movement.

6 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

To add to your indigestion, here's an article from the Guardian economics section about how a possible downturn in the U.S. economy may help Trump and how Trump may be intentionally abetting a downturn.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/08/donald-trump-given-a-fighting-chance-by-ailing-us-economy-election-stock-market

Charles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles said...



So I sez to myself, sez I: if Mr Wang is so good, did he call the Trump nomination?

Yup. On January 13, the man wrote, "Since late December, polls have become predictive enough to point toward Trump as the eventual nominee. New in The American Prospect, I give a detailed analysis of the GOP Presidential delegate-assignment process. This analysis includes a simulation of how vote share translates to delegate share. My principal conclusion is that if his current levels of support hold in a divided field, Donald Trump could well win his party’s nomination in the first round of voting at the Republican National Convention. These same mechanisms cause Marco Rubio’s chances to shrink. Unless the Republicans get their act together soon after New Hampshire and cull the field, it could be too late for anyone but Trump."

Better'n I did.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I called it in December on the basis of the same calculation. Just sayin'

Viktor said...

Today I was reminded of something you said in August last year (apologies for quoting it this early):

"I am going to make a prediction about Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential campaign, and I invite you to recall it in twelve months' time in order to judge whether I am correct.

Here it is: If Donald Trump is nominated by the Republican Party next July [no longer an Alternative World impossibility], I predict that he will move sharply and unapologetically to the center of the political spectrum, rediscovering his Pro-Choice inner self, embracing the undocumented eleven million, calling for higher taxes on financial types, and leaving Hillary Clinton no room to move to her right.

Why do I make this apparently implausible prediction? Because Trump is a deal-maker with absolutely no ideological convictions whatsoever."

With Trump's recent remarks on the minimum wage and on taxing the rich, he has now made a move of this sort, and may well continue to do so. It's surely a smart thing for him to do, and who knows how that will pan out.

Charles Pigden said...

Apart from it's being a smart thing to do, his huge ego will push him in that direction, as he is clearly royally pissed off by the snottiness of the 'principled' conservatives. I they reject his anti-abortion olive-branches he may decide not to offer them a second time. Ditto with their other policy fetishes. If he gets no credit for pandering to them he may decide to pander to other sections of the voting public.