Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Using `who will be the dem VP choice' article in class

I recently read an absurd article that speculated on who the Democratic VICE prez nominees will be. Yes, you read that right, VICE Prez. Gee, wouldn't knowing who the Prez nominees was first help. But leave it to Nate Silver and company to have a fascinating yet... premature article on this. Here is the link: article on who will be Dem VP nominee.  Its hard enough to pick the VP when the Prez is known! I did a blog on how badly intrade would do on predicting VP, here. I didn't predict that intrade would go out of business (`intrade' was short hand for `betting markets' just like `Uber' is shorthand for `hailing a car with your phone'- I wonder if the term `Uber' will still be used if they go out of business?)

After reading I thought

Wow- there are so many If-Then clauses in this that I could make half a lecture about it for my Discrete Math class where we are talking about Prop. Logic.

I emailed the students to read it, and we had a lively discussion. I made sure it was a non-partisan discussion. Realize that a statement like:

If the Prez is a female then the VP will likely be a male because it is thought, righly or wrongly, that all-female ticket can't win

is not partisan or sexist, it is stating an opinion about how voters would go. It may be incorrect, but its not offensive.

Here is what the class thought the article was saying (and I think they are right) expressed in Logic.

Note one other thing-- the Prez nominees  might not be the choice of the party (Trump wasn't the choice of the Rep party in 2016, though not clear who was, see here) but the VP really will be since (I think) the party has more control over that.

If the Prez Nominees is female then the Vice Prez nominee will be male. (I agree)

If the Prez Nominees is white mail then the Vice Prez nominee will be either female or non-white but not both. (Great question to express that as symbols. Not sure what I think- the thought is that two white males will be odd since so many of the candidates are female or non-white. Having said that, in recent years the VP has NOT been someone else who ran:  Clinton-Keane, Keane had not been a candidate, Trump-Pence, Pence had not been a candidate, Romney-Ryan, Ryan had not been a candidate, Obama-Biden, Biden had been a candidate briefly in 2008, but this was not one of these `lets unite the party by picking by OPPONENT to be VP', McCain-Palin, Palin had not been a candidate. Kerry-Edwards. YES- Edwards had been a serious candidate in 2004, though some think he was running for VP all along since he never said an unkind word about his opponents)

Prez from one of the coasts IFF VP from the center. (I won't go over the list again, but this has been less of a thing since Clinton-Gore were both from flyover states.)

Ideology- If Prez is establishment then VP is leftists. (Not sure these terms are so well defined to say this, and their are other ideologies as well, not sure how they fit in.)

If Prez lacks Fed Experience then VP should have Fed Exp. (Quite common: Obama-Biden, Romney-Ryan, Clinton-Gore, Bush-Cheney)

If Prez has fed experience than nothing can be deduced about VP Fed Exp.

If Prez lacks gravitas then VP should have gravitas (tricky! Don't want the VP to outshine the Prez!)

Absolute statement: VP should not outshine prez. A Kangaroo ticket is when the people prefer the VP to the Prez (Dukakis-Bentsen had this problem. Kerry-Edwards might have).

If Prez is boring then VP should be exciting. But again tricky! (I think that was why McCain picked Palin. And she was exciting, but not really in a good way. Couldn't he have picked someone exciting, and perhaps female who was, you know, Qualified?)

VP's like doctors: do no harm.

VP from Swing state helpful but not necc.

Bad to have a VP who is a senator from a state where the Governor is republican and picks the replacement senator.

VP should be someone who the country can picture being president without laughing. I am not talking ideology I am talking about seriousness and experience. Palin was the only one in recent memory who even voters of her party worried that she was not up to being president. One pundit defending the choice talked about how McCain was healthy and hence Palin wouldn't become prez so don't worry about it. NOT reassuring! Quayle was also not seen as serious, though not as much as Palin.

If Prez is old then VP mattes more(?)

Many of the above depend on who the Prez is. And that is one of the points: one can write down a long prop formula with many IF-THEN's to determine who properties the VP will have, and then

1) When the Prez is picked many of the variables are set and hence the formula becomes much easeier and

2) Could STILL be wrong!

MY prediction: my last two predictions have been wrong so I am reluctant go predict anything. But I will tell you my WRONG predictions and then my current one

I predicted Paul Ryan would be the Prez Nominee in 2016. He didn't even run.

I predicted that Al Franken would be the Prez Nominess in 2020- he understands TV and was an entertainer, so he could match Trump. Whoops.

So with that sterling record I predict: Prez: Cory Booker, VP: Beto

I am NOT a pundit- so what I predict is not what I hope happens.  What do I hope? In the interest of full disclosure (gee, shouldn't that have come at the beginning) I admit that I want to see Trump lose but I have no idea what makes someone `electable' nowadays.


  1. I think you are on dangerous ground, and limiting the discussion to "non-partisan" statements does not help. For example, it seems to me that while the statement "medicare-for-all is a good idea" is partisan, the "non-partisan" statements "I think medicare-for-all is a good idea" or "most people in this country think medicare-for-all is a good idea" or "all intelligent people think medicare-for-all is a good idea" are probably equally offensive to people who think medicare-for-all is a bad idea.

  2. Considering that you are the only comment I doubt I am on dangerous ground; however, you do bring up an excellent point that I will respond to and agree with in part

    1) Nate Silver's article and my post TRIED to be non-partisan.

    2) I have seen articles that seem non-partisan but by bringing up a point are quite partisan:

    IS American ready for a female president

    Might be an honest question the denomocratic party is asking OR it might be a way to outsource your own opnion.

    IS America ready for a vegan president (Cory Booker)

    is a way of pointing out that he is DIFFERENT, THE OTHER!
    Fox news has been trying to say he wants to take away your right to eat meat, though he does not.

    3) As for Medicare-for-all:

    A member of the democratic establishment who is on the team to pick the VP might honestly think (rightly or wrongly) that Americans don't want a VP who is for Medicare-for-all, ind of his own opinion.
    OR ze may well think its a stupid idea and his hiding behind `electability'

    4) Taking `electability' into account is a dangerous game in general. Democrats thought Reagan and Trump would be easy to beat. Republicans thought Bill Clinton would be easy to beat.

    5) To REALLY take electability into account the Dem party might have to ask the following bizarre question:

    If we make X are VP will that help us with undecided voters in Swing States.

    So taking your issue they should do a poll about medicare-for-all among undecided voters in swing states. That sounds like
    (a) a hard poll to do, and (b) Some states may become swings states that you didn't expect, (c) polls may be hard to do, (d) some people lie to pollsters.

    While hard, not impossible.

    But in Summary:
    a) I tried to be nonpartisan
    b) Some people claim nonpartisan but are really partisan
    c) Electability can be hard to judge.