Wednesday, August 17, 2005

US Presidential elections buy the numbers

University of Buffalo sociologist James Campbell has done a study of the 2004 election. It has a few sobering numbers in it. I am a babe in the woods when it comes to political science and sociology [and much else as I hear from the few who have read my blogging] so I am left wondering a few things when I encounter a paper like Dr. Campbell's.

Some of Campbell's conclusions:
  • According to Campbell, the net result of the 2004 campaign was quite small, shifting no more than one percentage point of the vote in Bush's favor. The election was as close as it was, and there was so little change during the campaign, because of the extent of party polarization in the electorate, he says. "With the public polarized, the campaign in 2008 is unlikely to shift many voters one way or the other."
  • Presidents can survive sub-50 percent approval ratings. "The actual neutral point for presidential approval appears to be in the mid-40 percent range,"
  • With the 2008 election lacking an incumbent candidate, and with one party seeking a third term, we should expect a close race,
  • Opinions on the war of terrorism favored Bush in 2004 by a margin of at least 10 points, but opinions about the war in Iraq were nearly evenly divided. [gagggh!]
  • The 2004 election once again demonstrated that northern liberal Democrats face an uphill battle in post-1968 presidential elections. A majority of the electorate consistently regarded Bush as the candidate who shared their values.
["values"? values shouldn't get people killed!]

My questions:

  1. Is this study to be taken seriously? Most of its conclusions are bad news for liberals. Campbell did predict a Bush victory but by Sept, 04, so were many others.
  2. What does it take for a scholarly treatment at a lesser known academic institution to float all the way to the top of the information sewer so people would even know this information and opinion existed? The author/title get a whopping 4 hits in Google and that is the equivilent of near invisibility. Does everyone just assume invisibility is always deserved? I don't think so.
  3. Full content of the study are on sale in a collection published by the Acadamey of Political Science. The whole book looks interesting but I don't have the time or background to determine this book's proper location in the hierarchy of "things to know if you want to fix America". Any takers? Anyone read it already? Majikthise, you got the chops for this sort of reading, interested?.
  4. If the vote fraud stories have become dust in the wind to all but a few Bev Harris supporters and don't get a line of newsprint any more, is there somewhere else to look beside the papers or Harris' web site when you want to get refereed and reasonably neutral retrospective assessments of the extent of vote tampering? The APS book doesn't seem to directly touch on the matter even though one article calls for electoral reform via constitutional ammendment.