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Jason Holliston
Friday, August 20, 2004  
Bush By a Landslide?

Eugene Volokh over at the Volokh Conspiracy is all over some idiocy at the New York Time Magazine. First, I think it's important to get some background out of the way concerning the interviewee. Ray C. Fair, a published macroeconomics professor at Yale, came up with a econometric equation back in the 1970's to predict the winners of U.S. presidential elections. It the main factors in his equation are growth, inflation, and a variable called "goodnews". There are a host of other factors applied, as well, but most of them are static given a certain race (for example, Republicans have a slight natural advantage, and an incumbent always has an advantage). He's been amazingly close in all the elections since he began applying his equation: he predicted a Gore popular vote win in 2000 by 50.4%.

So, that brings us to today. His last prediction was done on July 31st of this year:

These new economic values give a prediction of 57.48 percent of the two-party vote for President Bush rather than 58.74 percent before. This is, of course, still a large predicted share for President Bush, although 1.26 percentage points less than before.

In other words, a complete popular vote blow-out. Of course, he makes the usual caveats that there is a 2.5% error rate and that all predictions are based on prior data, and prior data is never infallible. Still, wow.

Obviously, many people in the press aren't going to like to hear this, and the aforementioned interviewer, Deborah Solomon, doesn't come out looking good:

Fair: Backing away from game theory, which is kind of cute, I am a Kerry supporter.

NYT: I believe you entirely, although I'm a little surprised, because your predictions implicitly lend support to Bush.

Fair: I am not attempting to be an advocate for one party or another. I am attempting to be a social scientist trying to explain voting behavior.

She's surprised about what? He developed this equation back in the 1970's, not two weeks ago. Is she surprised that he hasn't purposely changed the equation so it predicts a Kerry win? Is that what she would do, if the roles were reversed? I hate to read too much into this, but Solomon's statement that she was "a little surprised" really adds credence to the argument that Democrats are moral relativists. Read the whole interview.

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