Comments: Not News. Olds. And Truths.

Most presidents' parties lose seats in midterm elections (why, I don't know, but there it is).
Bad economic results produce anti-majority votes.

Combining those two apparent facts explains 99% of the vote. Explaining those facts in the face of the disjunction between votes and intentions, on the other hand.....

Yeah, I don't get it either.

Posted by Ahistoricality at November 10, 2010 09:42 PM

Well, you have to correct for reality before you can start working with the data. The gap between what people (Left and Right) want when they vote and what they get makes 'intent' when you try to talk about voting patterns--well, it's all but meaningless.

You know my 1/3 theory. 1/3 of the voters wouldn't vote Republican if it was the only choice available. 1/3 of the voters wouldn't vote Democrat if you held a gun to their heads. It's largely the middle third that decide elections. And I stand by my theory--they tend to vote "anti" more than "for."

They may be the most realistic of us all. They may be the only ones who actually understand how little difference there is between the two Parties any more.

Posted by Anne at November 11, 2010 08:20 AM

Actually, it's more like a 1/6th theory. 1/6th of the population will reliably vote, and vote Democrat; 1/6th of the population will reliably vote, and vote Republican; 1/6th of the population, the most motivated of the remaining 2/3rds, will show up and vote their outrage, and the winner is determined by whether inconsistent voting Republicans are more outraged than inconsistent voting Democrats in any given cycle.

A lot of research about independent voters has convinced me that they actually constitute a very small share of the population compared to weak-voting Democrats and Republicans who only show up to vote when they're angry. So the "independent voter" in exit polls oscilates from cycle to cycle not because independents are changing their minds, but because different people are showing up.

Posted by Ahistoricality at November 11, 2010 11:25 AM

Well, you know me - I'm more of a 'gross generalizations' kind of whiner. :)

I think your analysis is right, that "independent" voters look more flexible than they are (in terms of how they cast their votes) because it's not the same pool of voters being polled every time.

OTOH, I suspect that the actual percentage of "don't like my Party any more but would never cast a vote for the Evil of the Other Side" is somewhere between your estimate and mine.

Posted by Anne at November 15, 2010 09:12 AM