Mike Murphy Doesn’t Know Why People Vote the Way They Do. And Neither Do You. Nor I.

 

murphy-mccainBecause nobody knows why people vote the way they do. At least, not in any useful sense. The four main theories of voter behavior — micro-sociological, macro-sociological, socio-psychological, and economically-rational — are as narratively compelling as sociology, psychology, and economics at explaining why something happened, but (like those disciplines) are basically useless as prediction tools.

You can read some of this between the lines of a revealing, month-old, twopart interview with Mike Murphy on his plan to cinch the nomination for Jeb Bush through the mega-bucks of the Right to Rise SuperPAC. Amongst the various details that may or may not be misdirection — that the 45 days leading up to March 15 are key; that targeting the southern states for 10 days coming out of New Hampshire could cost $35 million in media buys; that Right to Rise’s war chest is funded by a few thousand donors; how they’re looking to link your mobile phone location data to your voting history; etc. — Murphy refers to his “theories about the Iowa caucus electorate, the New Hampshire electorate, and the South Carolina electorate.”

“Theories.” Because even in a piece that is part advertisement, part disinformation, and part application for his next job, Murphy knows he doesn’t know why people vote the way they do because none of us do. So any argument about “electability” is an exercise in rhetoric, not science. And should therefore be treated with an appropriate level of seriousness: none.

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  1. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    genferei: So any argument about “electability” is an exercise in rhetoric, not science.

    Pardon me, but my rhetoric has been scrupulously peer-reviewed by the voices in my head.

    • #1
  2. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    genferei: The four main theories of voter behavior — micro-sociological, macro-sociological, socio-psychological and economically-rational — are as narratively compelling as sociology, psychology, and economics at explaining why something happened, but (like those disciplines) basically useless as prediction tools.

    Much more seriously, that is a very valid point. Especially at this stage before anyone’s actually cast a vote, we should all recall how little we know and how often (I assume) our predictions have been wrong on this sort of thing.

    • #2
  3. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Conservatives discount the effects of time.

    • #3
  4. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Past results are not indicative of future returns.

    Elections are a snapshot of a singular moment in time that never repeats. Outside of organization and navigating the labyrinth of federal election law campaign managers are usually more lucky than good when it comes to winning an election. And like baseball managers it’s usually the players that make them look like geniuses.

    Any time a political consultant says, “I won…” he’s lying through his teeth.

    • #4
  5. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    If Person A and Person B are running competing campaigns using nothing but their gut then the person with the best gut wins.

    If Person A begins using data then he gains an advantage because he can correct the mistakes of his gut.  Person A wins more often than Person B.

    Person B learns a lesson and uses data and levels the field.

    Now Person A and Person B start to believe that the person with the best data will win more often.  Seems to make sense.  After all, using data increased winning each time it was employed.  However, that’s the wrong conclusion.

    The reality is that it goes back to the person with the best gut.

    Murphy et al. are all data and no gut.

    • #5
  6. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    • #6
  7. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    genferei: Because even in a piece that is part advertisement, part disinformation, and part application for his next job

    This is one reason why so many voters are irritated and frustrated by the political process.  So many consultants, never fully investing in the candidate, and always promoting themselves to get their next gig.

    This Politico article on Danny Diaz, Bush’s campaign manager, was such an obvious self-promotional piece it was nauseating.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/danny-diaz-jeb-bush-profile-215387

    My off-topic gripe about consultants is now over.  For now.

    • #7
  8. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Western Chauvinist:Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    Predicting winners is easy.  First predict all the losers and then grab the only one left.

    • #8
  9. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Casey:

    Western Chauvinist:Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    Predicting winners is easy. First predict all the losers and then grab the only one left.

    Not that easy. I don’t claim to know who all the losers are (I would not have guessed Walker), I just know Jeb Bush is one of them.

    He’s a man out of time, whose only advantage is name recognition. Unfortunately for him, his name is the rhetorical equivalent of “Bushitler” in vast swaths of the electorate — and even he knows it (which explains, Jeb!). Mike Murphy bet on the wrong horse.

    • #9
  10. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Not science for sure, but what is it?  We recognize leaders, winners and losers and are often wrong, but also often agree with many others about one person and against the person some other large group is attracted to.   It’s all gut and probably goes back to hunter gatherers when the wrong guy could get you killed.  We’re also easily manipulated but even the people we are manipulated toward have to have that thing that causes us to recognize them.    The good news is that we’re all experts.  The bad news is we don’t have a clue about the distant future, like next week.

    • #10
  11. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    To further the sport analogy, at the beginning of every season “experts” make their predictions and they always couch them in “ifs.” If player A stays healthy, if player B starts living up to potential, if player C can bounce back, etc, etc. Politics are the same. If candidate X doesn’t say anything stupid, if candidate Y doesn’t go third party, and then there are external events nobody can control.

    • #11
  12. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Does this mean we have another Ricochet podcast coming where Murphy is interviewed, and proceeds to tell us how stupid and backwards we are, and how if we just go socially liberal and Spanish-friendly, why, votes will flow like milk and honey? Because, you know, we enjoyed that so much the first time.

    • #12
  13. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    EJHill:To further the sport analogy, at the beginning of every season “experts” make their predictions and they always couch them in “ifs.” If player A stays healthy, if player B starts living up to potential, if player C can bounce back, etc, etc.Politics are the same. If candidate X doesn’t say anything stupid, if candidate Y doesn’t go third party, and then there are external events nobody can control.

    My favorite part is when someone writes and IF prediction in April and by August every TV expert offers that same prediction as if it is his own thought.

    And then, when that prediction flops they fill their shows with “What happened to Cleveland?”

    That is, our predictions were good but the team played wrong.

    That does sound politically familiar, doesn’t it?

    • #13
  14. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    EJHill: And like baseball managers it’s usually the players that make them look like geniuses.

    Of course horse racing is also an obvious example.  Do the horses need great trainers?  Absolutely.  Does the trainer win the race?  Nope.  Does the jockey win the race?  Nope.  Who wins the race you ask?  The horse is who wins it.  We remember what horse wins the triple crown not who the jockey was.

    • #14
  15. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Putting Mike Murphy in a header is Ricochet Clickbait

    • #15
  16. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    Western Chauvinist:Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    In the early part of the 2008 season, I had no idea who would get the nomination, but I was absolutely certain of one thing:  it wouldn’t be John McCain.

    • #16
  17. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Casey: And then, when that prediction flops they fill their shows with “What happened to Cleveland?”

    That’s too easy. Cleveland always falls apart. Of course, this coming GOP Convention time we get to ask, “What happened in Cleveland?”

    • #17
  18. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    The theory behind Jeb!’s run is that he can raise a lot of money to pay campaign consultants like Mike Murphy and buy TV ads.

    • #18
  19. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    BastiatJunior:

    Western Chauvinist:Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    In the early part of the 2008 season, I had no idea who would get the nomination, but I was absolutely certain of one thing: it wouldn’t be John McCain.

    You have a point there. It’s similar to this season in that there were surprise early drop-outs (Pawlenty 2008, Perry 2016), and surprise later drop-outs (Romney 2008, Walker 2016). Romney’s quitting totally changed the game for McCain, imo. I think the only thing that helps Bush is if the entire field forfeits. That seems to be Murphy’s strategy — wait ’em (starve ’em) out.

    I suppose it’s possible Bush could be the last Romney standing. But, I’ll eat my pundit credentials if another Bush enters the Oval in the foreseeable future.

    • #19
  20. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy

    My questions for Mr. Murphy: Where is he going to run these ad. That is, where is he going to run these ads so that they will actually be seen?Netflix? Or commercial television? Does he know that televisions have fast forward buttons now?

    The days of massive ad buys moving the voters are over.

    Maybe he needs some of those, what do you call them, base voters to go door-to-door and talk up his candidate with family and co-workers.

    • #20
  21. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Western Chauvinist:

    BastiatJunior:

    Western Chauvinist:Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    In the early part of the 2008 season, I had no idea who would get the nomination, but I was absolutely certain of one thing: it wouldn’t be John McCain.

    You have a point there. It’s similar to this season in that there were surprise early drop-outs (Pawlenty 2008, Perry 2016), and surprise later drop-outs (Romney 2008, Walker 2016). Romney’s quitting totally changed the game for McCain, imo. I think the only thing that helps Bush is if the entire field forfeits. That seems to be Murphy’s strategy — wait ’em (starve ’em) out.

    I suppose it’s possible Bush could be the last Romney standing. But, I’ll eat my pundit credentials if another Bush enters the Oval in the foreseeable future.

    You can’t compare Romney dropping out in 2008 well after voting began, to Walker dropping out well before any voting begins.

    • #21
  22. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Z in MT:

    Western Chauvinist:

    BastiatJunior:

    Western Chauvinist:Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    In the early part of the 2008 season, I had no idea who would get the nomination, but I was absolutely certain of one thing: it wouldn’t be John McCain.

    You have a point there. It’s similar to this season in that there were surprise early drop-outs (Pawlenty 2008, Perry 2016), and surprise later drop-outs (Romney 2008, Walker 2016). Romney’s quitting totally changed the game for McCain, imo. I think the only thing that helps Bush is if the entire field forfeits. That seems to be Murphy’s strategy — wait ’em (starve ’em) out.

    I suppose it’s possible Bush could be the last Romney standing. But, I’ll eat my pundit credentials if another Bush enters the Oval in the foreseeable future.

    You can’t compare Romney dropping out in 2008 well after voting began, to Walker dropping out well before any voting begins.

    Right, I was thinking more of the caliber of (and expectations for) the candidate. Romney and Walker both seemed plausible.

    • #22
  23. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Western Chauvinist:

    Casey:

    Western Chauvinist:Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    Predicting winners is easy. First predict all the losers and then grab the only one left.

    Not that easy. I don’t claim to know who all the losers are (I would not have guessed Walker), I just know Jeb Bush is one of them.

    Walker was a winner until he started listening to the political consultants.

    • #23
  24. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Western Chauvinist:Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    How about Western Pundit or Chauvinist Pundit or Warrior Pundit and, of course, Princess Pundit ..

    • #24
  25. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    Western Chauvinist:

    BastiatJunior:

    Western Chauvinist:Which is why I, as an amateur pundit, never try to predict winners. I only pick losers. And Jeb Bush is one of them.

    In the early part of the 2008 season, I had no idea who would get the nomination, but I was absolutely certain of one thing: it wouldn’t be John McCain.

    You have a point there. It’s similar to this season in that there were surprise early drop-outs (Pawlenty 2008, Perry 2016), and surprise later drop-outs (Romney 2008, Walker 2016). Romney’s quitting totally changed the game for McCain, imo. I think the only thing that helps Bush is if the entire field forfeits. That seems to be Murphy’s strategy — wait ’em (starve ’em) out.

    I suppose it’s possible Bush could be the last Romney standing. But, I’ll eat my pundit credentials if another Bush enters the Oval in the foreseeable future.

    I hope you’re right.

    Oddly a small part of me feels bad about poor Jeb!’s struggles.  Maybe it’s the underdog thing.

    • #25
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