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Twenty-One

If I put a bunch of political crap into an ordered list, will it look like a syllogism?

  1. Incumbent presidents are really hard to beat, unless
  2. The economy is crappy.
  3. The economy right now is crappy.
  4. But probably getting less crappy.
  5. So it will be a close race between the incumbency and the crappyosity, with the incumbency probably slightly more powerful, but only slightly, and only probably.
  6. There are more than 60,000,000 people who will vote for My Party’s Nominee, and more 60,000,000 people who will vote for the Other Party’s Nominee, and there isn’t anything either campaign can do about that. There are probably something like 15,000,000 people who will vote and who may yet decide to vote for one candidate or the other.
  7. Of those fifteen million, probably five million will vote for Our Only President, largely because they have heard his name and something good about him.
  8. Of the remaining fifteen million, probably another five million will wind up either voting against Our Only President because the economy is crappy or voting for him because it’s getting somewhat less crappy. My guess is most of them will be swayed by the crappyosity. Although,
  9. The economy is differently crappy than it has been for a very long time, so those voters may be more confused than usual about whether it really is a crappy economy or not.
  10. Which may leave more people than usual open to campaign-based persuasion, particularly on the crappyosity question.
  11. In sum, a lot of stuff which ordinarily doesn’t matter, like a debate performance or a commercial or a poster design, might matter this time.
  12. Because doesn’t matter in US presidential elections means sways less than a million people, more or less.
  13. And usually those things don’t all align, so if there are ten doesn’t matter kinds of things, four break for the incumbent and six for the challenger, so the challenger in the end picks up only two million votes, which
  14. ain’t enough.
  15. Usually.
  16. So even if the don’t matter events this cycle have so far split (Our Only President won the conventions, and the Other Party’s Candidate won the first debate, and the Olympics didn’t seem to favor either, and the assassination of our ambassador is as yet unresolved, and so on and so forth), that doesn’t mean that the Other Party’s Candidate won’t make a bunch of mistakes in the next three weeks leading to a nice five-million-vote margin for Our Only President.
  17. Or vice versa.
  18. Which means that you shouldn’t panic overmuch about Your Candidate’s performance in the debate tonight.
  19. Even though a bad performance might conceivably, possibly, in a close election, be the difference between winning and losing.
  20. And nobody will ever really know how many votes any of the doesn’t matter things will have shifted to one or the other candidate, because there are so many of them over the course of the election, and their cumulative impact is small.
  21. At least if you are narrowly looking at the election returns, which is a mistake. Democracy is what happens every day, and things said in the debate might conceivably become part of the Story of What Happened (so much more important than what happened) that narrows or expands the field of political discussion and its patterns over the next generation.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

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