Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball
http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/ljs2003110301/
Export date: Mon Dec 11 17:08:04 2017 / +0000 GMT

Executive Decision


The Democratic Crystal Ball Formula

Candidate debates? So far, they’ve been sound and fury, signifying nothing. The real campaign is a set of very different numbers, and the Crystal Ball has crunched them.

Your Crystal Ball has been studying history for decades, and puzzling over the current race for president on the Democratic side since the contest began about a year ago.

So who’s ahead and likely to win the nomination? Two key questions must be answered first: (1) Which campaign factors are predictive? (2) How much does each factor matter?

UPDATED DECEMBER 2, 2003:

Howard Dean has widened his substantial lead a bit, mainly because John Kerry has dropped in both New Hampshire and Iowa. Dick Gephardt now claims an undisputed second place. John Edwards has moved up slightly to tie Wesley Clark. All other candidates remain in the same position.

Last month the Crystal Ball unveiled its formula for predicting the eventual nominee, THE THEORY OF POLITICAL RELATIVITY...

The DEMOCRATIC CRYSTAL BALL FORMULA - V=MP2

(Victory = Money times Polls and People squared)

ORIGINIAL ANALYSIS, NOVEMBER 3, 2003:

Candidate debates? So far, they’ve been sound and fury, signifying nothing. The real campaign is a set of very different numbers, and the Crystal Ball has crunched them.

Your Crystal Ball has been studying history for decades, and puzzling over the current race for president on the Democratic side since the contest began about a year ago.

So who’s ahead and likely to win the nomination? Two key questions must be answered first: (1) Which campaign factors are predictive? (2) How much does each factor matter?

The one factor we refuse to consider is national polling about the candidates. It is utterly useless because we do not have a national primary. The state-by-state method of delegate selection, and the schedule Democrats have adopted for 2004, mean that all states are equal, but some are more equal than others. (George Orwell would have approved.)

Which ones are more equal? The District of Columbia has the first primary on Jan. 13, and we persist in believing that the news media will give this contest more attention than they admit at the moment. (They’ll be too excited, with excess adrenalin, to help themselves when the day comes. Think kids the week before Christmas.) DC may generate a ‘little Mo(mentum)’ for its winner, and a couple other top finishers. Howard Dean appears to be faring best in D.C. so far, though the lack of reliable polling makes it difficult to tell. In this month’s analysis, then, we will acknowledge D.C.’s effort but leave it out of the calculations below. Still, we may return to it in later months for the reason suggested.

For all their drawbacks, Iowa (Jan. 19) and New Hampshire (Jan. 27) are still vitally important, and there’s just no denying it. So the abundant poll ratings in those states can easily be converted to candidate-by-candidate comparisons.

Contenders not expecting to do well in the first contests, as well as those who hope to be in the winner’s circle in D.C., Iowa, and New Hampshire, have been building ‘firewalls’ in other states that have their primaries immediately following the first three (South Carolina, Oklahoma, Delaware, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, etc.) (Nomination Schedule) If the first three contests are the crucial Phase One of the nominating process, then these secondary states are Phase Two, where some of the losing contenders will attempt to play Lazarus and the winning candidate(s) will try to seal his/their victory. Though less reliable and revealing than the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, the public opinion surveys in some of these states are valuable and worth considering.

So Iowa, New Hampshire, and Phase Two states provide three vital clues to the identity of the Democratic nominee. But two other pieces of information must be added to the mix before calculations can begin: fundraising and ‘people power’. The former is obvious and has been historically significant (though not always determinative) in picking the nominee. The latter is less appreciated, but almost as indicative as money. How much enthusiasm does a candidate generate? How many volunteers (not paid consultants and staffers) has a candidate attracted? How widespread and dedicated is that citizen backing? Whether the volunteers come from individual whim, internet mining, or interest group encouragement matters little. It is the number and intensity of ‘people power’ that separates winners from losers.

Your Crystal Ball rates these factors in the following order:

  • 5 points – money raised and available to spend, plus potential for future fundraising
  • 4 points - ‘people power’
  • 4 points – New Hampshire poll results
  • 3 points – Iowa poll results (Iowa may be first, but New Hampshire has a full field and Iowa in ’04 does not)
  • 2 points – Phase Two ‘Firewall’ polls (Iowa and New Hampshire may change these polls, but there is still some significance to the early lineup)

Now, drum roll please...

Our first semi-predictive Theory of Political Relativity (with apologies to Albert Einstein):

The DEMOCRATIC CRYSTAL BALL FORMULA - V=MP2

(Victory=Money times Polls and People squared)

Ky., La., Miss. Governor's Contests: A GOP Three-fer????

The Crystal Ball’s current guess is that there’s a 50 percent chance all three gubernatorial races will go GOP, with a less than 20 percent chance all three will go Democratic. This can only be seen as good news for Republicans and President Bush. Yes, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana are all "red" Bush states, but the likely outcomes suggest that Bush is consolidating his position (and the Republican party is firming up its hold) on the Red States. Let’s not forget that the 2000 Red States equal 278 electoral votes for 2004 – an additional seven since 2000 thanks to the census and population growth in the South and West.

Post date: 2003-11-03 00:00:00
Post date GMT: 1970-01-01 04:59:59


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