Lilly Fast takes a look at the impact of the first presidential debate on the polls. She had the opportunity to sit down with the President of Yale Democrats, Zak Newman, and President of Yale Republicans, Elizabeth Henry, to discuss their own reactions to the debate.
NEW HAVEN, 12 a.m. — The Republican field moved one step close to completely gonzo this evening as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney plowed his way to a victory in the Michigan GOP primary. Romney upped over McCain 38 to 31 percent in the fourth such nominating contest on the Republican side of the ticket; Romney also won the relatively unimportant Wyoming GOP caucuses on January 5. The victory sets up a three, four, or five-man race for the nomination, depending on which pundits and campaign organizers you listen to. Undisputed is the fact that Romney needed a win here tonight; a loss in the state where his father successfully governed from 1963 to 1969 would have sealed the fate of the younger Romney’s 2008 Presidential bid.
he Democratic ballot, on the other hand, was notable for its lack of names. Michiganders had the opportunity to vote for New York Senator Hillary Clinton, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, or Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich. Oh — and an illustrious candidate named “Uncommitted.” After learning that the National Democratic Party would penalize the state’s early primary move by stripping Michigan of delegates, Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards wrote off the state’s contest, choosing instead to focus their resources on South Carolina and Nevada. Results in the Palmetto State next week could hold the fate of Edwards lagging second campaign for the presidency and a victory in Nevada would give the Obama campaign a new head of steam after its New Hampshire hiccup.
With the results in, Michigan voters chose Clinton over Uncommitted by a comfortable margin of 56 to 39 percent, heading off a potentially nasty embarrassment for the former First Lady. Although he bowed out of the race after Iowa, Dodd no doubt appreciates the show of support from a few, devoted core of Michiganders — 3.417 Democrats sent their ballots his way last night, enough to garner him 1 percent of the vote.
NORMAN, Okla., 5:50 p.m. — Considering what many voters perceive as the often disingenuous, self-interested and intricate nature of modern political campaigns, it is no surprise that game theorists — those who study strategic interactions between agents — have turned to American politics as a field ripe with opportunities for analysis.
Yale’s own Justin Fox, a professor in the Political Science Department, applies microeconomics to his study of the interactions between politicians and voter behavior. In a phone interview with the News on Monday, he illuminated some of the more interesting applications of game theory in the current campaign season.
Fox started by explaining the role of fundraising and interest groups in politicians’ stands on major issues. A typical academic paper may explain how politicians find it in their interest to alter their positions in order to attract more money, he said.
“There may not be any explicit corruption going on, but … the fundraising is distorting how politicians behave,” Fox said.
So, according to game theory, it is demonstrably rational to alter one’s behavior in order to bring in more money. But what role does public opinion play? What about politicians like Mitt Romney, who has been accused of changing his positions to make himself more palatable to the Republican electorate?
“I think people see through it, right? I think that’s why he has trouble getting traction —it’s too obvious,” Fox said. “Giuliani’s sort of doing the same thing, but I think it looks less artificial. I don’t think there’s any good data on whether public opinion is a stronger determinant of a candidate’s position than the ability to raise campaign funds. Candidates are going to face tradeoffs when balancing these two goals.”
STRATHAM, N.H., 11:05 a.m. — Mitt Romney spoke at the local Timberland factory this morning, and guess what? He wants to become president to — wait for it — “bring change”!
In a 20-minute speech, Romney talked about “change” a total of 20 times, challenging Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 and Senator Barack Obama for “change” supremacy.
But Romney’s re-tooled stump speech did have a distinct difference from the “change”-mongering proffered by other candidates in recent days. He tied in his business experience and his status as a Washington outsider as the two traits that make him the right man for change.
WASHINGTON, 8:35 p.m. — A new CNN-WMUR poll released this evening shows Senator Barack Obama with a commanding 10-point lead over Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 among likely Democratic primary voters two days before Granite State voters cast their ballots.
The poll, conducted Saturday and today, suggests Obama may be capitalizing on the momentum from his victory in Thursday’s Iowa caucus, in which he defeated the third-place Clinton by eight points. A similar CNN-WMUR tracking poll released yesterday showed Obama and Clinton knotted at 33 percent a piece, with former Senator John Edwards in third, at 20 percent. Today’s poll places Obama at 39 percent, Clinton at 29 percent and Edwards at 16 percent.
MANCHESTER, N.H., 6:23 p.m. — As if it weren’t obvious already, the New Hampshire primary is going to come down to the wire.
A new poll released minutes ago by CNN and WMUR, a Manchester television station, places Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton LAW’73 in a statistical tie among likely voters in this state, with each garnering 33 percent of the vote.
The poll was conducted Friday and today following Obama’s decisive win Thursday in the Iowa caucus. On the Republican side, the poll found Senator John McCain leading the pack with 33 percent, followed by Mitt Romney at 27 percent, Rudy Giuliani at 14 percent and Mike Huckabee at 11 percent.
WASHINGTON, 9:50 p.m. — Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will both leave Iowa and head to New Hampshire tomorrow with the wind at their backs but facing vastly different political terrain as the Granite State’s Jan. 8 primary approaches.
Obama, riding a wave of support among first-time and college-age caucus-goers that put him over the top Thursday, will hit the stump well positioned to grab a second victory five days from now. Recent polls in the state have shown the senator in the lead or in a statistical tie with New York Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, whose aura of inevitability may erode further if she fails to come out on top.
By contrast, Huckabee has much ground to make up in New Hampshire, where former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s second-place finish tonight leaves him and Arizona Senator John McCain in a horse race. More libertarian and socially liberal than Iowa and less populated by evangelical Christians — who make up Huckabee’s base — New Hampshire may prove difficult for the former Baptist minister.
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa, 9:56 a.m. — “These teams in the WAC conference, you get one team like Boise beating Utah and all of a sudden they’re like, ‘Let us play for a national championship.’ Then you put a team like Hawaii up against Georgia, you say, ‘Here you go, try playing a BCS against an SEC team and watch what happens.’”
Believe it or not, we’re talking politics with University of Iowa College Republicans President Greg Baker. Greg is a junior at the U — a polisci/history double major and one of the nicest guys we’ve met on the campaign trail. It doesn’t take much to change gears from Mitt Romney’s suburban support into a a full-fledged debate about the merits of Iowa football.
As much as he loves football, the game of politics is really Baker’s first love. He’s lived in Earlham (pronounced earl-um), Iowa, his whole life, but he’ll go back to Iowa City on Thursday night to make his voice heard in his first-ever Republican caucus.