Posted by Rojas @ 12:39 pm on November 2nd 2012

Things I still care about re: the election

We appear to have ceased to be a political blog in the sense that we were four years ago. This is not surprising in the sense that the pet issues of this site’s most active bloggers have no major party advocate in the Presidential race. No matter who wins the Presidency, no matter who wins Congress, the role of the government in the social and economic lives of citizens will expand, and the protections of individual citizens from government abuses will erode.

Nonetheless, I will stay up Tuesday night to follow the returns, and I will primarily be following four stories.

1. CAN GARY JOHNSON MAKE IT TO ONE MILLION VOTES? There will likely be about 120 million votes cast. Betting at InTrade is running approximately 2:1 in favor of Johnson exceeding 0.5 percent of the popular vote (600k) and 2:1 against him making it to a full 1 percent (1.2 million). The consensus, then, is that the former two-term Governor of New Mexico is likely to pull in both a larger share of the popular vote and a larger number of total votes than any LP candidate since 1980. For him to break the Clark/Koch ticket’s record, he basically needs to crack 1 million. If he can’t, then the LP’s two-term experiment with sane, responsible candidates–with people who could actually be President, instead of empty vessels for a protest vote–will have proven futile, and it will be hard to fault them for choosing candidates based on ideological purity in the future.

2. IN HOW MANY STATES WILL THE COLLECTIVE THIRD PARTY VOTE BE SUFFICIENT TO HAVE TIPPED THE BALANCE? With the exception of Virgil Goode, almost the entire set of third party candidates are running on broadly pro-civil liberties and noninterventionist agendas. As neither major candidate has chosen to pick up that baton, it becomes interesting to ask whether having done so might have been worth a few electoral votes. There seems to be a chance that the collective protest vote will hold the winner to a plurality rather than an outright majority in certain western states. This will not in itself prove that civil liberties and noninterventionism are electoral winners, but it will at least raise the question of whether parties need to address these constituencies more directly. Along those same lines:

3. MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION INITIATIVES. Colorado’s goes the furthest; if it passes, the state will arguably be the only jurisdiction in the western world in which the entire process of cultivation, processing and sale is entirely legal. Washington and Oregon are considering more limited variations on the theme. This represents a pretty substantial step forward on the drug prohibition front and, should the initiatives pass, will make it practically impossible for the Republican party in the western US to be both pro-states rights and pro-drug war. It is not going too far to say that Tuesday could be the beginning of the end with regard to marijuana prohibition in America.

4. POLLS AND QUESTIONS OF VOTER SAMPLING. There has been considerable attention paid to the variance between the Gallup Poll and other national surveys. Both campaigns have their surrogates screaming in the popular press that they are on the path to victory–and it’s a more credible claim this year than in years past. If we accept the assumptions adopted by most polling organizations regarding the composition of the voting electorate, then the President is likely to be re-elected, even if he loses the popular vote by a point or two. I find myself intrigued, however, by the argument made by some analysts–often, but not always, associated with the Republican Party–that Gallup has it right, and that the polling organizations are making very wrong assumptions about the breakdown of the electorate. These analysts contend, persuasively in some cases, that Romney’s margin in the independent vote is likely to make a hash of what the polls appear to be telling us. Others contend that the independent vote, in the tea party era, isn’t what we think it is. The braying of theorists doesn’t much matter except to the dedicated partisans–on election night, we will see who’s right, and I’ll be intrigued by the outcome.


  1. Good post.

    As much as a political junkie as I’ve been my entire life, I have to confess a total ambivalence to this election. I can’t even gin up outrage or annoyance at this point, nevermind any kind of rooting interest. Trying to parse between Obama and Romney just seems sad to me; trying to get enthusiastic about Gary Johnson winning 1.2 million votes or 700,000 likewise doesn’t animate. I’ve always frowned on people who have given up on the process or cloak themselves in cynicism, but…

    In any event, #3 on your list is about the only one I’m interested in. I would add to that single item a handful of local races – mostly the Senate races in MA, WI, AZ, and PA and House races in MA-6 and FL-18. And even then, outside of AZ and the house races my interest feels more anthropological than vested (would love to see Jeff Flake be a Senator, would cheer a House rid of Allen West, and having a gay libertarian Republican in the caucus is worth almost any price).

    Comment by Brad — 11/3/2012 @ 2:45 am

  2. Yes good post. I concur with Brad’s addition of FL18: I would really like to see disgraced wackaloon Alan West lose. Of course he would leave office and proceed directly to his new position on Fox News, but still.

    Also, gay marriage is on the ballot in four states, and I may be owed a bottle of scotch quite soon. Therefor: important!

    Comment by Jack — 11/6/2012 @ 11:39 am

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