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August 24, 2006

Interesting Psycho-Political Science

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
Mark Twain

If the 2004 data predict behavior, many undecided, moderate, and even liberal voters will be moved in the Republican direction by any news about terrorism.

Cass Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago (and referenced in these pages previously by Doug), has an interesting comment at The New Republic Online (free registration required). Professor Sunstein extrapolates to the 2006 and 2008 elections the results of a research study conducted after the 2004 elections. The research purports to demonstrate that voters tend to view Republicans more favorably when confronted with terrorism, and perhaps their own mortality.

Professor Sunstein wonders whether, in the light of the recently unveiled plot to bomb trans-Atlantic airliners, Republicans will have an election advantage, so long as terrorism remains in the forefront.

I have little to add to the Professor's provocative thought experiment, other than to note that it is interesting.

One wonders, though, about the Game Theories that could be played out based on this research.

Theory 1: The efforts of the Bush administration, and Congressional Republicans, in quelling worldwide terrorism bear fruit. Worldwide terrorism diminishes. The mind of the American public wanders to other matters. In a scene that hearkens back to Churchill's defeat in 1945, a Democrat is elected President in 2008 and Democrats extend (or take) their control of Congress.

Theory 2: Terrorism thrives (or at least continues apace), despite the efforts of the Republicans. Viewing the Republicans as still being stronger on terrorism, the American public votes in a Republican as President in 2008 and continues to give Republicans a bare majority in Congress.

There are, of course, multiple other permutations.

Posted by Mark at August 24, 2006 11:56 PM

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