game theory analysis of elections or why jim bunning is just pretending to be crazy

    In game theory there is game called entrance deterrence.  The idea is that when a person or firm challenges an incumbent it goes along two nodes of thought.  The first is the challenger's decision to go against the incumbent.  The second is whether the incumbent fights the challenger, or defers to him.  This game will be able to predict both what Specter and what Bunning are doing this election season.

If the challenger decides not to play, his payout is 0 for the challenger and 2 for the incumbent.  If the challenger decides to fight, then it's the incumbents turn to make a decision.  If the incumbent fights then his payout will be -1 to the challengers 0, and if he defers to the challenger it will be a payout of 1 to each.

    As two-bit challengers appear against incumbents from time to time, it should be clarified that this game only applies when two factors are present.  The first is that the incumbent is in danger of losing his election either due to his low popularity, or his opponent's high popularity.  The second factor is that there is gain from leaving the senate, such as a high paying job, or prestige of being a retired senator who didn't lose.  

    An example of this is the election of mark Warner.  Last cycle John Warner was considering retirement, but wasn't sure.  Mark Warner threw out hints that he would run.  John could say that he will fight mark regardless of what mark does, but that is unlikely.  The payoffs show that should mark run, and john fight, john will have a payout of -1, worse than his payout of 1 should he defer to mark, and retire gracefully.  

    This payout comes from john either losing a fierce election with mark, ending his long running senate career in disgrace, or eking out a bare win, where he will be in the extreme minority, and his reputation still varnished.  Thus, when it became clear that john's plans not to retire were bluffs, he realized the most logical move would be to retire.  This is what happened.  If you replace mark with Toomey (scary I know) and Warner with specter, you have the reasons why specter will retire should Toomey run.  There are variables of course, but if specter can't independents in the primary he will retire, soon after, or shortly before Toomey announces.  

    This should suggest that Bunning will retire, as a plausible republican challenger would defeat him, but there is a flaw in this plan.  This all depends on logic, Bunning's potential challenger has to realize the payouts described above, as does Bunning.  If Bunning is Crazy, and playing illogically, then the challenger won't play.  Why bother running, when your payoff will be 0 either way.  Either 0 for not running, or 0 for losing to bunning/winning but getting beaten up, to go onto lose to your democratic opponent.  This is what bunning wants us to think.

    I theorize that he understands this game and the payouts, that's why he has been playing up the whole "I'm crazy" shtick of late.  He's trying to convince his opponents that he would not act logically at this game.  That if he was challenged he might defer, he might fight, he might find a third option.  Either way it would be better not to enter at all.  The reasoning is that the number of votes he loses by acting crazy is less than that he'd lose by losing the primary (where the general election votes are irrelevant) or winning the primary bloodied up and broke.  

    This assumes that he's sane, eccentric, but sane.  He has had a tendency to act weird, but the type of crazy being described here is not that of bunning.  It suggests a sincere lack of logic, not simply acting weird.  Take Bunning's performance back in 2004, it's weird, but not illogical.  Considering his money, the partisan tilt of Kentucky, and the fact that bush was expected to do well, he probably figured he could phone it in.  Lazy and stupid, but there was logic to it.

    Furthermore, consider his recent acts of crazy.  It's all stuff that only would anger liberals, and the political class.  Suggesting that Ginsberg will die soon, picking fights with Cornyn and the NRCC, it's not the kind of stuff that would anger conservative primary voters.  He's not expecting much help from either the political class or liberals to begin with, so there's little to nothing to lose by fighting with them.  There is logic in his eccentricities.  

    This of course assumes that bunning is eccentric, but not illogical.  If he is in fact crazy crazy then everything stated is wrong, but the only way to tell that is to wait until a challenger appears and see what he does.  If he defers, then bunning is still logical, if he keeps on trucking, he's not.  If no challenger appears then all we will know is that it worked.  

    Game theory has numerous applications in politics that are still being understood.  This game shows why other politicians retired and will show why specter will retire.  It will also do what few thought possible: explain Jim Bunning.

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poll-october surprise

what do you think the october surprise will be?  vote in the poll! some are serious, some are not (i mean no offense by the " people realize obama's black" part, it's just to poke fun at the possible racism in the election.)  if you vote other, please specify.  and have fun.

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Vermont Gubernatorial update SYMINGTON FOR GOV!

For months now Democrats have merely been in the speculative phase in terms of having a candidate for governor.  First "Young Dunne," former state legislator Matte Dunne who nearly took down Brian Dubie two years floated his name, but reneged.  Peter Gailbraith, a former ambassador had been floating his name, but he was a second tier candidate at best, without any legislative or executive experience to speak of.  Meanwhile, "Tony the Prog," Anthony Pollina, a perennial candidate for the progressive party announced that he was running, and hoped for a two man race. This was a rather sad state of affairs, considering how strongly democratic Vermont is, and the opportunity that a surge of democratic voters in the presidential election could bring us.  Then House Speaker Gaye Symington announced that she was going to run, challenging incumbent governor Jim Douglas.  

With four years experience as speaker of the house, and a progressive record on health care, the economy, and childcare issues, she is clearly a top tier candidate.  Speaker Symington has been a legislator for twelve years, first elected to the house in 1996.  During her freshman term as a legislator, she worked to pass Act-60, the plan that funds Vermont's education system.  After democrats lost the legislature following backlash from both the aforementioned Act 60, and civil unions, Speaker Symington helped bring the democrats back into the majority in both the house and senate, and they now enjoy a 2/3 majority in both houses.  It is because of this, I am asking the netroots to look into Speaker Symington, and contribute.  Her website is a bit primitive at the moment, but should be enhanced soon (at least it better be).

Despite her qualifications, she still faces steep odds, especially in a three way race.  Under the Vermont Constitution, if none of the candidates receive a majority of the votes, then the legislature chooses the governor.  Jim Douglas was elected in 2002 with 45% of the vote to Doug Racine's 42%.  The democratic legislature chose Douglas as he was the vote leader, despite having the votes to elect Racine.  This occurred as many legislators were asked by opponents and constituents to pledge to vote for the popular vote winner.  With Anthony Pollina in the race, this will most likely happen again.  Symington however, may be planning to just keep Douglas under 50% in an attempt to get the legislature to elect her, who knows?  

Currently there are not any polls on the race, but the race will most likely become a fight for moderates.  Douglas will keep his base on the right (the 5,000 people who voted for Huckabee in the republican primary) and right of center moderates, Symington will aim for left of center moderates and Pollina will consoldate the far left progressives.  Both Scudder Parker in 2006 and Peter Clavelle in 2004 (a former independent mayor of Burlington) aimed for the far left and left of center moderates and couldn't get better than 41%.

With an expected surge in democratic votes, Symington may be able to benefit in ways former gubernatorial candidates could not.  2006 nominee Scudder Parker (his real name) only managed 41% despite the overwhelmingly democratic year. Others however, were able to capitalize on the strong democratic leanings of the elections.  Brian Dubie, the republican LT. Governor barely received a majority of votes (51%).  Had he not received a majority, the legislature could have chosen democratic nominee Matt Dunne as LT Governor.  Tom Salmon son of a former governor of the same name, managed a narrow victory over incumbent Randy Brock to become the newest auditor of accounts.  These democrats were able to utilize the strong democrats tide of 2006, and Symington can and will utilize the democratic leanings of 2008, all she needs to get elected is your support?  Will you step up?

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introduction to Hilrithmatic

    Introduction to Hilrithmatic POLS 400

    Course description:  Hilrithmatic (I officially claim credit in coining Hilrithmatic unless someone can prove it was created by them before today) is a very complicated subset of mathematics, more unrealistic than Huckamath, and with a stranger name than Obamath. To understand the twin aspects of Hilrithmatic requires an ability to suspend belief, logic and clear thinking.  Those without the ability to see all ten sides of a square should drop out of this course now and get a full refund.

Required materials:  

TI-83 calculator  
A loose record of accounting
My Life by Bill Clinton
It takes a Village
Living History by Hillary Clinton
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Making crime pay, the Lori Beth Denburg way.
A south park "you will respect my Authori-tay" t-shirt.
2+2=5?  It can, If you REALLY want it to.


The first half of the semester will be dealt with the primary aspect of Hilrithmatic, counting what isn't there.  Hilrithmatic is based on the idea that 1500>1630.  While this is not mathematically correct, it is Hilrithmatically correct, because it is the conclusion Hillary wants.  Covered in this part of the course is which states count, and which are irrelevant wastes of space occupied by hippies, elitists, "proud African Americans" caucuses, leftists, rightists, and people who don't need a president.  If it helps your studying, the answer is that the states Hillary wins are those that count.  We will also cover how Obama's pledged delegates are not really pledged while hers are, and why the super delegates should overturn the will of the people.  

The second half will deal with the transitive property, an important aspect of Hilrithmatic.  The transitive property of Hilrithmatic states that everything any Clinton does is immediately transferred to Hillary, unless it is something bad.  Bill Clinton was a good president, thus Hillary is too.  Many people growing up in the nineties had a crush on Chelsea, so they also have a crush on Hillary.  Socks is a very nice and clean cat, and so is Hillary.  Anything bad that a Clinton does (even if it's Hillary) is not her fault, it's someone else's.  Her healthcare plan failed, it was bills fault.  People don't like her, it's a vast right... left... middle?  Conspiracy.  

Cheating Policy:

If anyone is caught cheating on their exams they will receive a zero, unless their names start with an "M" or an "F." In this case the students will either be given the scores they first received, or will be allowed to take the exam again.  They will also be given extra time and resources in order to make sure that the teacher (me) looks good by you getting high scores.  I will not be helping anyone who is not in my class, and can help me look good in any way shape or form.  

Hilrithmatic is a very difficult subject to understand and takes years to fully master, but has innumerable benefits.  The ability to ignore reality and take what you want because you believe it's owed to you will get you many places in life.  But have a nice Anglo-Saxon name, or you may find yourself in jail.  

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delegate math: cribbage not poker updated for the latest primaries

note:  I've written this as a short story, rather than a diary. if it violated some rules, I apologize, I just wanted to try something new.

    The latest round, of what has become the most exciting game of cribbage in memory has entered the next round.  After a brief hiatus, the two players, Hillary "solutions" Rodham Clinton and Barack "yes we can" Obama have restarted their game.  Now, in the early rounds of the game Hillary fell behind, as she was still learning the rules.  While she got several very good hands, including a 29 in the California round, Obama got a seventeen hand, which made the gains minimal.  He meanwhile blew her away with several ten and twelve point hands, while she only got a points.  Now we begin with the Vermont hand, and they're counting their cards.
    Obama looked over his cards, counted quickly in his head then nodded, pacing them on the table.
    "I've got eight points, a double run, with no fifteens." Hillary then placed her cards on the table, moving her hand to her chin.
    "Fifteen-two, fifteen-four, fifteen- six." they moved, their pegs, inching ever closer to that magical 2025 number and started the next round, Rhode island.  Obama had a five point hand and she had a nine point hand, with a couple fifteen and a run of three.
    "Ohio?" he asked, shuffling the cards like a an old pro.  She shook her head and suggested Texas.  The cards were dealt, pegging done, and they counted their cards.
    Obama's cards: 6, 7 8, 8,  
    Center Card: 6
    Clinton's Cards: 4, 4, 5, 6

    "fifteens, and a double-double run, I have a 20 point hand." Hillary nodded, then went over her card.
    "double-double run is 16, fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six, 22, I won this hand!" she moved her peg up 22 points, then Obama placed his hand on hers, stopping her.
    "24," he said.
    "You missed a fifteen, it's a 24 point hand, you get an extra two points."
    "Oh, uh, thanks." she moved ahead, and Obama counted his crib (the caucus).  He declared he earned three points and moved ahead.  
    She dealt the cards for Ohio, and played their hands.  She had 20 points to his 12 twelve, and inched ever closer.  Then he dealt Wyoming and Mississippi, and pulled away from her by the same amount she gained.
    "So," she said, shaking her head, "we're pretty much at the same place as before we started, aren't we?"
    "Looks like it," he replied.  "want to take a month and a half break before Pennsylvania?"
    "You know, my husband was the world's greatest cribbage player?"
    "Yup, I know, he was a very good player."
    "We could just stop the game now, and you can be my co-winner.  I learned from the best you know?  Best to quit now before you lose."
    "there's a lot about the game you can't learn from anyone, you either know it, or you don't.  my lead isn't insurmountable, (at least not yet) so let's keep playing.  I'll see you in April."
    "I'll destroy you!" she exclaimed, her right hand shaking.  "I'll Crush you like a bug!"
    "Uh huh."

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Hillary: you're playing cribbage, not poker.

    There has been a lot of talk about why Hillary Clinton is losing in the delegate race, and just what exactly this means for her campaign.  The simple fact is, she didn't realize what kind of campaign she was running, or more to the point, what type of game she was playing.  Hillary assumed, wrongly it seems, that a presidential campaign was going to be like a game of poker, instead it seems, it's more like a game of cribbage.  If you don't know what poker is, go here, for cribbage go here
    To be fair to Hillary, most campaigns have been like somewhat like a game of poker.  All the candidates come in to the table, raise and bluff for months on a single hand (Iowa) then all but two or three players are left at the table.  From there, the front runner raises a lot, bluffs a little, and destroys his opponents in a couple of hands.  He may lose one or two hands, but he'll win enough to quickly get the nomination.  
    It was like this on the republican side this year and that's why McCain won the nomination so quickly.  In Iowa, Romney put down a large chunk of his money and political capital, then lost all of it to Huckabee, whereas no one else invested much in that game and survived in tact.  Then in new Hampshire, McCain won the hand, gaining a large chunk of political capital (and money) at the expense of Romney and to a lesser extent Huckabee.  From there, while McCain lost a hand or two, (Michigan, Maine, Nevada) the respective pots for those states were so little that it didn't matter.  He won all of the chips in south Carolina, Florida, and then won enough hands in super Tuesday thanks to the winner take all rules to secure the nomination.
    This is the strategy Hillary had been using, win new Hampshire, possibly Iowa, then win enough hands on Super Tuesday to secure the nomination.  Unfortunately for her, as she played her cards, she quickly realized that due to the rules of the democrats, she was playing cribbage, not poker.  
    Cribbage is quite similar to poker in the sense that pairs, and runs are relevant, but unlike poker, it is not winner take all, even if you lose a hand, your not at that much of a disadvantage unless you lose big.  In cribbage, each player gets plays two rounds, a round of pegging, and a round of counting cards.  The pegging is where players put down their cards, and try to earn points by getting runs, pairs and fifteens.  Each round in pegging goes up until the cards add up to 31, or get close to 31 where no player can put down a card without going over 31.  This is done until both players use up their cards.  
    This is quite similar to the democratic system of super delegates, points racked up outside of primaries or caucuses, depending on luck, strategy and  cards.  The second round, after pegging is where you count out fifteens, pairs, runs, flushes, and knobs to get points.  In this case, points are the same as delegates, and this round is equivalent to the primaries and caucuses.  Just as both Obama and Clinton are running to get 2,025 delegates, in cribbage you play until one player gets 121 points.  Unlike poker, and many of the republican races, neither the democratic primaries/caucuses, nor the rounds in cribbage are winner take all.  Both players, depending on how they play their hands can come out with similar delegate amounts, regardless of who has the better hand.
    The 20+ primaries and caucuses throughout Super Tuesday were equivalent to 20+ hands of cribbage.  Hillary won big states, getting a lot of delegates, just as you can get a 20, or 24 point hand in cribbage (the largest hand is 29 points) unfortunately for her, due to proportional rules, and close margins, while she won with a 20 point hand in new jersey for example, Obama had a 16 point, a very small net gain.  Despite the large number of delegates in  new jersey, she only gained a net of about 12.  This was true all over the country as she gained few delegates in big states winning with 20, 24 point hands against Obama's 16, 18 point hands.  In the caucuses meanwhile, there weren't many points available, but she lost by such margins that it didn't matter, Obama won in the net.  Minnesota for example was like Obama winning with a 10 point hand to Clinton only having one pair (two points).  Sure there weren't that many delegates up for grabs, but he received such a large net gain of delegates that it was enough to keep him in this.
    Now, with super Tuesday, the cross country, and the Potomac primaries over, Obama has a slight delegate lead, and pledged delegate lead of about 7%.  In cribbage you can still catch up if you fall behind, but it requires one player to get one or two VERY good hands, while the opponent gets no better than a mediocre hand.  In other words if Clinton wants to win, she needs more than wins in Texas, and Ohio, she needs blowouts, while holding her own in Vermont and Rhode island, otherwise that gap will just keep getting larger and larger.  

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Cautiousness is exactly why this isn't Hillary's time.

Her time has come and gone, and she missed it.  One of my biggest problems with Hillary is that she has consistently put her own self interests over the party.  The main instance is in 2004.  The party was divided, but the incumbent was so incredibly divisive that even John Kerry, the inept charisma grye was able to nearly win.  

This was Hillary's moment.  The 47-47-6 ohio-florida strategy would have worked perfectly in 2004 and she would have won, had she the guts.  It would have been close, but her ability to stand up to the basic GOP tactics, swift-boating and gay bashing, would have put her over the top, with around 52%.  If Kerry managed 48-51 she could have gotten 52.  

Only she was too afraid.  The Mario Cuomo of 2004, she let yet another Massachusetts liberal get set up and knocked down by a bush, so she could run in 2008.  It's this cautiousness, this fear of doing anything that isn't 100% safe that leads me to believe she is not fit to run in 08.  The tactics of GOP past will not work.  Gay bashing failed across the country, with Arizona actually shooting down a proposed ban.  Obama's likable enough and the public is smart enough not to fall for any more swift boats.  All this leaves us with is two nominees.  

One, while not at Clinton's stature, is still growing.  Ohio has immense potential to grow within the office, and surpass Hillary very quickly, perhaps by the end of the election.  One who aims high, maybe too high, but I'd rather aim high and come close than aim low and get a direct hit.  

Hillary meanwhile tells you everything she has plans.  She's become rigid and inflexible, as was evidenced by her inability to shift gears in her campaign, as the campaign quickly changed.  She's done growing as a person, she's told everyone everything she has, and it's not enough.  She finished growing a while ago, and will soon be overpasses in depth and breadth by Obama.  Sure Obama is light on specifics, but until now, he hasn't had the luxury of being able to talk about ideas.  When you're 20 points behind, and platitudes about hope fill up the chairs, you don't change your message; it's as simple as that.

when you take everything Clinton has offered, subtract it by the normal pandering every politician engages in, and the obstructionism of congress, you're not left with much, because she's just to cautious to try for more.

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this needs to end on march 4th

Whether or not a brokered convention is possible, it is not acceptable.  It doesn't matter if you're pro Obama or pro Clinton; I think everyone here realizes that the only way democrats can win 08 after a brokered convention is by nominating al gore.  He would be the only person with both the name recognition and the favorables to wage a TWO MONTH campaign for the Whitehouse.  A battered Hillary or Obama, even with both of them on the same ticket would likely lose.  Looking at the calendar, we see that after March 4th, there is only the Wyoming caucus, Mississippi primary (both Obama states most likely) then a month and eleven days until Pennsylvania.  After, a few more states, totaling about 500 delegates vote over the next month.  This is far too much of a head start for McCain.  A one month head start?  Fine, he wants the war to last 100 years, and we have excitement in the party, we can survive that, but not knowing until June, or even august?  No.  After march fourth, the candidates and DNC need to access who has the popular vote, money, delegate count, states, both number and region, and momentum then apply all the pressure they have to get the loser to withdraw.  That loser would almost be guaranteed the veep slot out of necessity, things have become far too divided, and while there is certainly animosity between the two candidates, they wouldn't be the first prez-veep ticket with problems.  Gore/Lieberman, kerry-edwards, Reagan-bush nixon-agnew ike-nixon.  It might be awkward, but would help a lot more than hurt.  What I'm, basically saying is, both to the blogosphere and the DNC (though I hold no delusions that they're listening) fix this mess!!!!!!  DNC you let the states front load this and we're screwed, fix this!

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superbowl ads, who would gain?

Over at WAPO, there's been talk of some of the candidates taking their campaign national with a super bowl ad.  Seeing as the SB is only two days before Super Tuesday, for the first time ever, it would give tremendous bang for the buck.  The question is which candidates would (and could) purchase such an ad and who would benefit the most?  My picks for both sides of the aisle would be Romney, Obama and of course, Huckabee.  Romney can easily afford it, and needs to take his campaign national.  He always assumed momentum would do this, but momentum has been absent of late, and even if momentum was a factor, he doesn't have it.  Same for Obama.  While he has more momentum that Romney, the dem race is much less fluid, and he needs to get as many people as he can.  The fact that large numbers of men watch the SB doesn't hurt either.  Huckabee however, would benefit the most.  All he would have to do is create a new Chuck Norris ad, throw it on the SB, and he'd probably jump five points in the polls.  

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