Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Third Man

For deliberate obfuscation, you can hardly beat political polls. The latest one released today by CNN/Opinion Research is a national poll asking if ______ were the Republican candidate, who would you vote for? This question was asked about the top 4 republican candidates vs the top 3 democratic candidates.

Click to read the full CNN poll. Warning: reading polls can cause brain damage/death. I will save you the trouble by summarizing:

REPUB ...... vs ...... DEM
Guiliani = 45% vs Clinton 51%
Guiliani = 45% vs Obama 52%
Guiliani = 44% vs Edwards 53%

Romney = 43% vs Clinton 54%
Romney = 41% vs Obama 54%
Romney = 37% vs Edwards 59%

Huckabee = 44% vs Clinton 54%
Huckabee = 40% vs Obama 55%
Huckabee = 35% vs Edwards 60%

McCain = 50% vs Clinton 48%
McCain = 48% vs Obama 48%
McCain = 44% vs Edwards 52%

Now, I'm no statistical whiz, but there are a few things about these numbers that fairly JUMP off the page. All 3 dems beat Guiliani by about the same margin. All 3 beat Romney, but it is Edwards who destroys him (by 22-points). Same with Huckabee (Edwards whups his evangelical ass with an amazing 25-point spread there). McCain beats Hillary, ties with Obama, and loses to Edwards (by 8-points). Edwards does the best head-to-head against Republicans!

Does anyone recall The Third Man Political Theory? Edwards is losing ground in the democratic party right now, while Hillary & Obama vie for top place. He is "the third man". But in a national poll of registered voters of all parties, Edwards beats the opposition by greater margins than Hillary or Obama. The Third Man theory involves a scenario where the top 2 contenders are closely tied, but neither side can stomach throwing their support to the other. This stalemate enables the third man, as everyone's second choice, to win the day (although my preferred scenario would be for Edwards and Obama to join forces).

The margin of victory becomes extremely important in the General Election, because thanks to our new improved electronic voting system, in a close election, the ability to manipulate results almost guarantees a republican victory, regardless of the actual vote results. I'm sorry if this sounds pessimistic, but the democrats will need the strongest candidate to overcome electronic prejudice.

OK, I grant you the full impact of Oprah's endorsement of Obama has yet to be felt. He may emerge way out in front in the next few days. Now, I would truly be happy with Obama as my candidate. He's an inspiring man with a fine legal mind, and it would make me proud to see him in the White House. But there remain some issues on which I lean strongly to Edwards. How we achieve universal health care is one. Here is Edwards' current health care policy statement. Too long? Cut to the chase, which for me is the final paragraph:

"New Competition for Private Insurers: The Edwards plan creates new choices for American families. The new Health Care Markets will be available to everyone who does not get comparable insurance from their jobs or a public program and to employers who choose to join rather than offer their own insurance plans. Families and individuals will choose the plan that works best for them. The markets will include a new public plan similar to Medicare. If enough people choose the public plan, then the US will evolve towards a single-payer plan. As a result, private insurers will face new rules and competitive pressures to hold down their costs and deliver better coverage. "

Only Edwards and Kucinich have addressed the Single-Payer issue to my satisfaction. Another important issue difference for me is nuclear power development which I reviewed in a previous post about Yucca Mtn.


TomCat said...

This isn't rocket science.
Edwards is the most electable candidate the Democrats have because his policies are the most different from those of Bush and the GOP.

Clinton is the least electable candidate the Democrats have because her policies are the most similar to those of Bush and the GOP.

Larry said...

You would think the Democratic Party would see how well Edwards does compared to Hillary and start pushing Edwards, instead of pushing Hillary down our throats.

Wonder if they will notice when Hillary loses the general election because of her obvious love of all things Bush.

D.K. Raed said...

Tomcat and Larry:
Thank you guys for commenting. I wasn't sure if anyone but me got happy feet over that poll. I felt that I wanted to document it as a point in time to remember. Things will be changing very quickly as the early primaries get underway.

Tom, if it took rocket science, I couldn't hope to figure it out. My math scores are abysmal, although relationships between numbers are fascinating.

Larry, if Hillary gets pushed any further down my throat, I'm afraid of what the dentist will find when I go in next week. Jeez, no wonder my jaw aches, all this tooth grinding is no good.

Fran said...

I used to conduct polls for a living, believe me, the writes can ask questions in such a convoluted way, no means yes & yes means no, the person conducting the poll, is not allowed to clarify. People wind up saying I think I want to say Yes (with a question mark in their tone). They skate on very thin ice of even having ethical methodologies.

The writers of said polls practice evil genius- by twisting the question around, you can get the answers you want.

Polls Schmolls!

enigma4ever said...

great post...the election is already getting interesting....about the LIST- don't forget the Homeless/House loss issue- by March 3.5 million are perdicted to lose houses....this will effect renters too...sadly....

keep up your great work..."Issues create leaders"...from the 1968 brokaw special....(thanks for reminding all of us of this show)

D.K. Raed said...

Fran: yes, those evil Push Polls! I usually hang up on phone poll calls. I wonder who takes the time to answer their questions. The few times I have participated, because I was interested in the subject, I HATED how they threw a bunch of unrelated stuff in at the very end. But I was told if you don't answer ALL the questions, they discard your poll?!? There's a very funny skit about polls that I heard Norm Ornstein do on Al Franken when he was on Air America. It had to do with the "I don't know" answers, which he found the most interesting ... especially when the I-don't-know's didn't know why they didn't know. sound familiar?:

Enigma: I think I'll include the future foreclosed Home-Less in the "Poverty" category on the To-Do List. Very sad. So many people are only a couple paychecks away from losing their homes. The late fees & penalty interest alone, if you miss a couple pymts, makes it almost impossible to ever catch up, especially if your house has been losing equity in the current market. And a glut of foreclosed homes will further reduce equity for all homeowners. It's a vicious cycle.

If anyone else is interested, The History Channel is repeating that "1968" special with Tom Brokaw on Saturday, Dec 15th. Glad you liked it! I thought it was well done.

proudprogressive said...

I like Edwards a lot, as he does have a committment to the poor. I really really like him because he believes in education. Today in the debate it seemed he did well, though distracted i heard him talk about being realistic about what promises can be made. It is gonna be an epic battle to get big money out of congress,if not impossible. Today a friend told me that since clinton looks like the candidate (please let that not be true) that already Blackwater and big military corps are dumping tons of money her way - blech ! Edwards is publically financed too. There is a lot to like. Sadly Kucinich is just not a factor. and on the stats whats the saying about the 3 kinds of lies, big lies, white lies and statistics or something like that.

We need a single payer health plan so desparately, like other civilized countries. Health care for corporate profit is immoral.

D.K. Raed said...

PProg: I know, I feel that Kucinich has already decided to drop out, or go 3rd party, maybe with Ron Paul. I couldn't take the debates today. Tried, really tried, but the Fox format was unbelievably distracting. I left a long comment about it at DADA's. Tonight, I see David Gergen & Frank Luntz calling the debate a triumph for Edwards. Not sure I care for those messengers.

Oh, I always thought it was Mark Twain that said there are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics. But wikipedia says Benjamin Disraeli said it first.

TomCat said...

Fran, I also have background in opinion research, and on this particular poll, I checked the questions. They were clean. This was not a push poll.

D.K. Raed said...

Tomcat: it looked like a clean poll to me, with unambiguous questions. I don't know if 1,000 respondents are a sufficient sample, nor how they decided who to contact. It says "adult registered voters". Well, one thing's for sure, the polls continue apace & if you don't like this one, there are/will be many more to come! I blame this extra long campaign season for poll burn-out (among other things).

TomCat said...

DK, professional reaearch companies use sampling techniques to insure that the poll is representative, unless they are conduction a push poll, but if they were, the questions would have given it away.