Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ted Nugent and Kid Rock as Senate candidates?!


What does political science have to say about this?  Ironically, the answer comes from the guy who predicted the nomination of Donald J. Trump in 2016 by the Republican Party before anyone else:  Jonathan Krasno.  Not only did Krasno see Trump coming before any other political scientist, a while back, he wrote a great book about Senate elections called Challengers, Competition and Reelection: Comparing Senate and House Elections.

House elections are, academically speaking, the territory of Gary C. Jacobson, and he pretty much describes them as contests of experience.  The more experienced candidate wins.  Senate races are a little more complex, says Krasno, and part of it is the variation in the challengers they draw, necessitating a more nuanced measure than the simple, dichotomous, Have You Ever Been Experienced? thing that Jacobson uses to such effect for House elections.  (See what I did there?  With the guitar thing?)

Krasno says that Senate elections require putting candidates on a multipoint, multidimensional scale, and his system allows points for fame beyond political experience.  If, as Jacobson says, experience matters because it provides name recognition, then a candidate who has name recognition for other reasons can compensate for lack of experience, in some circumstances.  Krasno also allows for more amorphous characteristics to affect candidate scores throughout his writings.

What about hack musicians?  (C'mon.  You had to know they weren't my thing, and frankly, I don't even know what Kid Rock sounds like).  Well, they're famous.  Nugent has been politically active for a long time, which actually could give him a pretty decent score in Krasno's weird-ass system, although not Jacobson's.

One should not give extra weight to that assessment merely because Krasno called the Republican nomination contest correctly.  Doing that is equivalent to handing darts to a set of chimps, letting them throw those darts at a wall covered with stock names to pick stocks, and making the chimp whose darts picked the best-performing stocks your broker.

However, Krasno was applying a system of reasoning.  He was applying a model consistently.  It worked, even if his model wasn't really intended to be about presidential politics.  Maybe we should all take his 1997 book a little more seriously.  His method of scale construction may have had too much arbitrariness for people like me, but the method works.

It is hard to argue with results.


  1. When did Krasno apply his logic to the 2016 primary?

    1. Indirect communications from Krasno (someone who knows Krasno better than I do kept saying that Krasno was predicting a Trump win).