November 24, 2014

The Placebo Effect: Is Bachmann a placebo?

If a placebo can increase or decrease pain just be convincing the placebo taker that this is the effect, is it possible that our country could use one?  Or maybe that’s what Bachmann is–ineffective as a legislator, but she makes people feel like she can make a difference, and that’s why she wins polls

That, or she just drives in supporters and pays the  straw poll cost for them. Why ever it is–whether it’s because she’s  placebo or because she can truck in more voters than Ron Paul (if barely), check out the video below on the placebo effect. Absolutely fascinating.

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GOP Raw: An unabashed review of the Iowa Republican Debate

Tonight was the GOP Debate in Ames, Iowa. Hosted by Fox News, it was pure entertainment.

Minnesotans Bachmann and Pawlenty returned tit for tat, Ron Paul waxed on about getting out of foreign wars, Gingrich whined about the press, Cain was questioned on his knowledge base, Huntsman distinguished himself as the moderate, and Romney walked away unscathed and still the front runner. Oh, and does anyone take Santorum seriously?  While the last debate was relatively blase, tonight the candidates took off the gloves and went at it with all the grace and subtlety of a grade school food fight.

Ok, they weren’t that messy. But they were none too kind to each other. If you missed it, you missed a good piece of cheap entertainment. I tried to offer some live commentary on Twitter and Facebook, but here are my thoughts on each candidate, in seven words or less, after a few minutes of effortless reflection.

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A graphical look at the 2012 GOP nomination

FiveThirtyEight, a New York Times blog run by Nate Silver, has an interesting graphic up describing the 2o12 race for the Republican nomination for President. (Don’t forget to vote in the poll at the left )

His data is based on how well the candidates are trading on Intrade. It’s an interesting graphic, and the analysis is interesting, as well:

With that said, it is exceptionally important to consider how the candidates are positioned relative to one another. Too often, I see analyses of candidates that operate through what I’d call a checkbox paradigm, tallying up individual candidates’ strengths and weaknesses but not thinking deeply about how they will compete with one another for votes. If you like, you can think of the circles on my chart as stars or planets that exert gravitational forces on one another, seeking to clear their own safe space in the galaxy while at the same time stealing matter (voters) from their opponents.

There are two more kinds of information embedded in the chart. First, the area of each candidate’s circle is proportional to their perceived likelihood of winning the nomination, according to the Intrade betting market. Mitt Romney’s circle is drawn many times the size of the one for the relatively obscure talk-radio host Herman Cain because Intrade rates Mr. Romney many times as likely to be nominated.

Finally, the color of each circle reflects the region the candidate is from: blue for the Northeast, red for the South, green for the Midwest, and yellow for the West.

What do you think? Is it an accurate look at the field as it currently stands, or are there other considerations that have not been included?

Be sure to check out Nate’s analysis at his blog before you weigh in. Among other things, he thinks that:

  • Senator John Thune‘s chances are “overrated.”
  • If Sarah Palin gets in, she’ll compete with conservative outsiders like Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Jim DeMint for votes.
  • Mitt’s got Jon Huntsman competing with him for votes, not to mention T-Paw and Mitch Daniels
  • and speaking of Tim Pawlenty, his positions are conservative, but his reputation is as a moderate…which makes him hard to peg. Oh, and his personality is “not terribly dynamic.”

Thoughts? Who’s your candidate in 2012?

APROPOS: If you’re pulling for President Obama, one of FiveThirtyEight’s readers left a comment for you on his blog:

I was thinking the same thing. We might, for example, normalize the graph by including President Obama. His circle could be, oh, down the street a few blocks?

(h/t FiveThirtyEight)

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