Two past historical events have statistical implications for the current 2008 presidential election. The first event is looking back in history to find the lowest approval rating of a national leader in a democracy. It appears that Alejandro Toledo in 2004, President of Peru between 2001 and 2006 received single digit rating of 5 to 8 percent.
The reason for this effort in an attempt to figure out what is the lowest level any national leader can go, an artificial cellar floor. This concept is to figure out what part of a society cannot be moved to vote disapproval. Put another way, we try to find a statistical amount of people who will still support a ruler under the worst of circumstances. This group of individuals is either brain dead, disconnected from world happenings, stupid, or honestly finding some redeeming value in the ruler. We will call this statistical phenomenon, the bonehead factor. Statistics is all about registering change in people’s attitudes and one can make a really slim case to discount these boneheads because they are cemented into their views. Once we find this figure, we can then use it to figure out how really bad a particular ruler is by subtracting that amount. As one convenient example, we have read reports that President Bush’s ratings have slid down to 31%. We can take a huge leap and bring in the Peru factor of 5 to 8% even though that number comes from a completely different society. If we subtract 5 to 8 percent points, we then get an actual national approval rating of 23 to 26 percent for President Bush. This effort is to point out that statistics can be tweaked to reveal a bit more than what is first apparent. I would not want to stand behind defending that approach, as it is a theory at this stage.
The second example is the Tom Bradley effect, also called the Wilder effect. A very popular black American who was a successful mayor of Los Angeles ran for state governor in 1982. He was ahead in the poles but lost the race. The spread between the polling approval prior to the race and the subsequent percentage loss in the actual voter tally was about 3 percent. Some people think this is a racial factor, white people not ready to pull the lever in favor of a minority when they enter the polling booth. The 3 percent in 1982 has apparently diminished but we have not been able to find by how much.
The presidential race of 2008 brings in a large number of cultural, social, political, religious to mention a few.
The Republican Party is infected by Bush’s sick theology of governing and thus loosing large chunks of support in most statistical categories. The bonehead factor, we first mentioned, might help the Republicans a bit and hurt Obama. The next factor is the Bradley Effect. Obviously Obama could loose some statistical percentage points. Once one realizes these factors the reports one hears takes on different meanings. It is imperative that Obama run ahead of McCain to thwart the Bonehead and Bradley effects. This helps explain whey Obama campaign is still blasting full throttle up to the very end of the campaign. This also explains why McCain camp might be running a really lame, much less energetic run for the presidency. I for one would be appalled to really find out that the McCain strategists did a halfhearted effort because they counted on these statistical effects. That would really be boneheaded on their part. If Obama fails to win because the Bradley effect did come to fruition then that would be really sad for this nation.
The other outcome might take place. If the poles put Obama way ahead of McCain and the Bradley effect drops his chances to a tie vote and these effects put the race into the courts and the Supreme Court does a replay of their last fiasco, the outcome might not end so peacefully. This country already has a number of crises going on and to see our people make a move against the Supreme Court would just add another huge crisis for us to face.