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USAs usannsynlige presidentkandidat.

With current lag, this should really appear in September but I thought I better post it now in case it does not remain topical.

It’s a news article by Linda May Kallestein, which begins as follows:

Sosialisten Bernie Sanders: Kan en 73 år gammel jøde, født av polske innvandrere, vokst opp under enkle kår og som vil innføre sosialdemokrati etter skandinavisk modell, ha sjanse til å bli USAs neste president?

And here’s my quote:

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 5.15.23 PM

I actually said it in English, but you get the picture. Not as exciting as the time I was quoted in Private Eye, but I’ll still take it.

The full story is on the sister blog.


    • Guido Biele says:

      well, google translate missed a negation (ikke = not), which changed the meaning of one sentence quite a bit…
      here is a corrected translation:

      Socialist Bernie Sanders: Can a 73 year old Jew, born of Polish immigrants, who grew up in simple surroundings and wants to introduce social democracy by Scandinavian model, have chance to become the next US President? Andrew Gelman, professor at Columbia University in New York, which believes Sanders does not really have a chance, highlights how uncertain primaries are. He believes it is too early to predict who will be the presidential candidate. “The first primaries do not begin for another few months,” says Gelman. “But if Sanders wins, he will probably get most of the Democratic votes in the presidential election in 2016.”

  1. Chris G says:

    Full disclosure: I support Sanders.

    1. I chuckle in a “This is why we can’t have anything nice.” way at the thought of George McGovern qualifying as an ideological extremist which, in context, I suppose he did, which is the heart of the problem.

    2. With the understanding that Vermont is not particularly representative of the US as a whole, hasn’t Sanders done pretty well with moderates and conservatives in VT? My impression is that he has populist appeal which cuts (at least a little) across party lines.


    • Alex says:

      Practically all of my non-TV-commercial political information comes from, so maybe this is wrong, but my understanding is that even if Bernie happened to be doing well a little more broadly in Vermont (or Iowa), it’s all a bunch of white dudes. Bernie does not do well at all with minorities. It seems unlikely (?) that a Democratic candidate could win without strong minority support. But their suggestion is to what for the South Carolina primary and see. Only a short 6 months away!

      • Chris G says:

        To me, 538 epitomizes the crappy press corps that The Mad Biologist calls out (my Item #3 above). The problem is not that their predictions aren’t reality-based, it’s that they frame elections as events to be predicted – a scientific exercise – without getting into how you’d go about changing the outcomes.

        In my baseline assessment of candidates I don’t care about their “electability”. There are policies I want them to pursue, funding priorities I want them advocate for, legislation I want them to propose (or roll back), etc. More generally, there are things I want the government to do (and not do). Towards that end, I want candidates whose priorities are well-aligned with my own.

        While in my baseline assessment I don’t care whether candidates are perceived as electable, at the next level I do. For example, if my preferred candidate has a -56% favorability rating and my second favorite candidate, who’s priorities overlap with mine almost as well as my preferred candidate, has a +72% favorability rating then I may well be inclined to throw in with the latter candidate. Bottom line: Perceived electability does matter but I’m not going to throw in with a candidate who doesn’t exceed my threshold for acceptability. So where does that put me with respect to the current crop of Democratic candidates? I like Sanders a lot. Webb… meh. I don’t particularly care for Clinton, O’Malley, or Chaffee. Or for Biden for that matter. At this stage they don’t exceed my threshold for acceptable. Unfortunately, Sanders is getting pissed on because VSPs don’t consider him electable. This poses a problem. I want Sanders to win but, as you note, he’s not polling well with minorities and he’s going to need to broaden his support in order to have any shot at winning. That prompts me to ask “Why is he not polling well with minorities and what can I do to change that?” The issue I have with 538 and their like is that they don’t get into the substance of how Sanders and his supporters might change that. I look at the Racial Justice section of Sanders’ website – – and I don’t see a whole lot of daylight between his positions and what Campaign Zero is advocating. I believe that his economic agenda would be good for the vast majority of White and non-White people. Those things noted, it’s not clear to me why he’s not polling better with minorities. I’d like to understand why and do what I can to improve his numbers. How do I get started on that? 538-like election forecasting is of zero use in that regard. (I’m a middle-aged White guy living in a heavily-White upper-middle class suburb. The vast majority of my co-workers and people I interact with on a daily basis are middle- and upper-middle class White people. Fair to say that I have zero insight into why Sanders is not polling better with minorities.)

        Getting Sanders elected will require building a coalition which reaches well beyond his current base of support. Towards that end, what can Sanders offer potential coalition partners to gain their support? I mean that literally. Let’s see some lists. (Campaign Zero has a list and it looks like he’s signed up to it. Is that not sufficient to win their support? If not then what would be sufficient.) My gripe with “election as horserace” reporting is that it doesn’t address how voters might change the status quo. “Election as horserace” reporting ignores agency. It doesn’t address how voters might take action to control the political outcomes which will affect their lives. Never forget, politics is the process by which we decide who gets to do what to whom.

        (Please pardon my ramble.)

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