Monday, August 13, 2012

Why Perot Did Not Cause Clinton to Become Pres in '92

I get really tired of hearing that Perot "stole" the election from Bush the Elder in '92.  This is usually uttered by folks who are attempting to convince you that voting for a third party candidate is a vote for [scary mainstream candidate from the party opposite that of the accuser].  It's been 20 years since that election.  Perhaps it's time we actually do some analysis.

First, let's set the stage.  In '92, Republicans had held the White House since '80. The White House tends to swap parties with some regularity. Bush's base was fractured. He'd torqued off gun-owners by his '89 ban on importation of so-called assault rifles by Executive Order. The economy was in the tank, and he'd foolishly promised that his Democratic-led Congress wouldn't raise taxes. (They did.)

I think this article lays out a descent case for why Perot's 19% of the popular vote wasn't enough to affect the outcome of the election.

The outcome of the electoral vote was 370-168 with 270 needed to win.  According to '92 election data, there were 17 states where the vote total between Clinton and Bush was <5%.  Of these states, the authors let Bush keep the 6 states that he won, plus they spot him all but WI and TN. I think we can rule out WI as a Bush win based on the fact it went Democrat in '88 and '96. To win TN, Bush needed to win 73% of Perot's votes, which seems a bit of a stretch to me. (He had to make up the difference between himself and Gore plus win half of the remainder of the Perot votes.)

Of the 16 states that were within 5-10% of each other, the authors spotted Bush 8 of the 16. MI and OR were Democrat in '88 and '96, so let's count them as solidly in Democrat territory. The article assumes Bush would have taken Maine. The other five states are listed below with the % of votes that Bush would've needed to win.  Remember, he had to make up the gap and then take 50% plus one vote of the remainder.
- Iowa: 66.1%
- Connecticut: 64.9%
- Deleware: 70%
- New Mexico: 76.5%
- Pennsylvania: 74.8%

With all the article spots him, the electoral vote count would've been 281-257. It would take Bush winning all of the those states in the article, plus Iowa (7 electoral votes) plus Connecticut (8 electoral votes) to win.  This is my oh-dark-thirty back-of-the-napkin calculation, so please tell me if I missed something.

In further analysis, George Easterbrook writes :
(1) Economic anxiety was high, causing Bush’s poll numbers to drop to poisonous levels — by the fall of ’92 he was not an incumbent who, on paper, should have won reelection; (2) Not a single public opinion poll from the middle of July (when Perot dropped out the race) through the end of September (when Perot returned) gave Bush a lead over Clinton — not even in the immediate wake of the August ’92 GOP convention. In fact, Clinton’s average lead in this period was double-digits — and the race was not tightening at the time Perot jumped back in; (3) A comprehensive national exit poll found that Perot voters were divided almost evenly on their second choice and that Clinton — in a two-way race — would still have beaten Bush by 5.8 million votes (his actual margin was 5.3 million in initial ’92 tally).
The '92 election has always intrigued me.  A lot of die-hard Republicans use Perot as the sole reason Bush lost without any analysis to back it up. They refuse to admit that Bush lost a lot of votes on his own (22 states that he had carried in '88). 

Feel free to debate me on this one.  All I ask is that you show me numbers.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Gun Owners Will Continue to Win the Gun Control Debate

Despite the recent mass murders that have taken place in Aurora and Milwaukee, support for additional gun control remains relatively low. Thankfully, according to recent polling, the majority of Americans support either the same amount of gun control or less gun control.  Nevertheless, it seems that our opponents in the gun control debate are marshalling their forces once again to attack so-called "assualt weapons."

It is the dream of every gun owner to be able to enjoy his Constitutionally-enumerated rights in peace; however, the average AR-15 owner is 35 years old or older.  While our rights seem relatively secure at present, now is the time to vaccinate the next generation of shooters against the twisted "logic" of gun control.  The good news is that we have two big advantages in this: truth and fun.

First, we can keep setting the facts straight any time the subject of gun control rears it's head.  Use correct terminology.  Josh Sugarmann, head of the anti-gun Violence Policy Center made this statement in 1988:

[A]ssault weapons . . . will . . . strengthen the handgun restriction lobby . . . . [H]andgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. . . . Assault weapons . . . are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. . . . Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.
As you can see, disinformation is part of the core strategy of our opponents.  We combat this by being firm but polite, and never letting a lie remain unchallenged.  As radio host Tom Gresham likes to say, "A lie that remains unchallenged becomes the truth."  Be polite, but be informed and be engaged.

The second prong of our strategy is the fun part.  Take someone shooting.  It is critical that we be friendly and professional.  Make sure all your guests understand safety before handling any weapons.  Start them out with a .22.  Remember, you are an ambassador for the sport.  You are helping your guests form an opinion about firearms that they will carry into the voting booth.  If instructing others is something you find you like, there are many ways to scratch that itch and serve your neighbors at the same time.  For instance, you can become an NRA-certified instructor and/or teach shooting for an organization such as the Boy Scouts or 4-H.

Gun owners currently have the high ground in the battle for gun rights.  The way to ensure that we hold the high ground is to educate our friends and neighbors that are either undecided or anti-gun.  The good news is that doing so is very rewarding.