Thursday, September 03, 2009

Spectator sports: Racin' and politickin'

My friend John Davis, a savvy political analyst and consultant, notes in his latest political report that Democrats are in the pole position as the 2010 political season begins Labor Day. Democrats control the legislature, the governor's office and the 10-member Council of State (though not the, as he puts it, "'nonpartisan' [wink wink] N.C. Supreme Court." But do pole sitters have the advantage?

Maybe not, he goes on. The long-time advantage of affluence in American elections may be on the wane, he posits. And the bad thing about being an incumbent is that when things go wrong, you get all the blame.

"Democrats in North Carolina are facing a litany of grievances that they will have to defend throughout the race, like their handling of the state budget crisis, which includes raising taxes by over $1 billion and making unpopular budget cuts like the loss of thousands of teachers and state employees and the closing of prisons, cuts that were deemed necessary by the same budget writers who approved a $25 million fishing pier. Can’t you hear that ad? "

And, he notes, there is this fact about pole positions and success:

A recent study of the 2,102 NASCAR races held between 1949 and 2005, shows that "the marginal probability that the pole-sitter wins a race has been steadily declining over time.”4\ Only 480 of the pole-sitters won those 2,102 races.
"Pole-sitters, beware."

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