Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mountains Out Of Poll Hills

Why does the media punditocracy insist on imbuing Tuesday election results with so much predictive power of future elections. In the states and district that comprise this would be backlash against the the democrats and the president a total of roughly 16 million people live. That is about five percent of the total national population. I have not heard any convincing evidence of this great shift from the 2008 presidential election result. So I took a quick look at some election results and attempt to show that the 2009 results are not that revealing.

The turnout for the three races in 2009 was 4.4 million. From these same three political geographic areas the turnout in 2008 was 6.7 million. In VA turnout was down 47 percent. In NJ, turnout one year later is down 40 percent. In NY23 turnout declined by 36 percent. It does not seem like a repudiation of the 2008 national mandate. It is safe to assume that turnout will rise in next year's mid-term congressional elections and then again in 2012. The people who vote in off years, can I say dull electoral years, are severely self selected. The more committed people come out for these elections so we need to take the result with a bit skepticism.

Going down the ballot in VA and NJ reveals more information that takes away from the conventional media wisdom that 2009 is predicate for the next two elections. In NJ 31 out 51 legislative elections went democratic. In VA five out of 15 went democratic. These are not shifts from a historical perspective.

In a structure of government that is designed to be slow and not subject to whims, the media creates an illusion that the president can make changes that are immediately witnessed on the ground. As interesting as the discussing the predictive value of off year elections the media creates expectations that are unreal and unfortunately we the people buy it.

I think this is an indication of the value of the 24 news environment.

Note that my quick math on these numbers may be off slightly. Sphere: Related Content

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