Pr(Sarah Palin=President)>Pr(John McCain=President)?

by on October 31, 2008 at 7:42 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

Here’s a frightening thought, today Sarah Palin may have a greater probability of becoming president than John McCain.  The betting markets are currently giving McCain about a 16% chance of winning.  If McCain wins then let’s assume that all things considered Palin has a 40% chance of becoming president (either if McCain dies in office or as his successor).  If McCain loses many people suggest Palin could be a future Republican leader so let’s put her chances of becoming president in that scenario at 12%.  Thus:

Pr(Sarah Palin=President) = .16*.4 + .84*.12 = 16.48 > 16% = Pr(John McCain = President).

Dave Prychitko October 31, 2008 at 7:53 am

Over at the Boettke and Prychitko blog I’ve argued that, should he win the election, McCain might die in office not only because of age issues, but also because terrorists have a greater incentive to consider alternative means to take him out of office. Why? So that the U.S. is stuck with a remarkably weak president — Palin.

This might increase her probability, no?

raft October 31, 2008 at 7:54 am

i give palin a <1% chance of becoming president and that's being generous.

five more days and the witch is dead.

david October 31, 2008 at 7:56 am

Depends crucially on P(Palin|McCain wins) and P(Palin), which you’ve more or less pulled out of thin air… I guess it’s plausible though.

Amritraj October 31, 2008 at 7:59 am

for the probabilistic dudes to remember

Lies Utter Lies then Statistics…

The mortgage backed securities were also rated as good investment opps by rating agencies using statistical models

the rest as we know is history

Constant October 31, 2008 at 8:11 am

If I had my choice among the four candidates (for P and VP), based on their actual performance in office I would pick Palin and dump the rest. Based on ideology, I would pick Palin and dump the rest.

JOE THE PLUMBER October 31, 2008 at 8:24 am

People who don’t make Joe the Plumbers list of “real” Americans:

Puerto Ricans
“Mixed” peoples

Anonymous October 31, 2008 at 8:30 am

I have a hunch that a majority of the American electorate views Palin as the best of the four. Evidence? The NYT et. al. have been hammering away at her every day in numerous so-called hard news stories. Despite the polls, there is some reason to be optimistic about next Tuesday’s outcome and it may lead, as some have suggested, to the first woman President. (For what it may be worth I think -and hope- that the first black President will also be a Republican.)

Andrew October 31, 2008 at 8:39 am

Ohhh, and Tyler was doing such a good job of keeping it apolitical.

But what percentage of VPs have been president?

Politicians have nice moat as long as they keep winning. Consider: who the freak is Barack Obama? I’m not being political here. The guy was anointed before he made the 2004 convention speech. But, if he loses, he’s pretty much done. Maybe he gets one more shot. Probably not.

Presidential politics is kind of like the March Madness tournament. One and done. McCain made it to the final four last go around, was kind of robbed, and his division is particularly weak this series, so he gets another shot.

Mike October 31, 2008 at 8:52 am

“five more days and the witch is dead”

That would be Glenda, of course. Wait, she died some time ago, it will be official in five days.

thehova October 31, 2008 at 9:01 am

The thought doesn’t frighten me at all.

Andrew October 31, 2008 at 9:05 am

Behavioral economics for 1000, Alex,

A: The host feels this towards Obama/Biden

B: What is the endowment effect?

Come on. Are these clowns really that much better? If experience really mattered, wouldn’t we only get to select from people who have been president? At a certain point, as in when you leave the echo chamber and enter the executive, gaffes matter. Okay, so they are more likely to appoint people with letters after their names, but those appointees are really not any more likely to have a reality-based ideology.

I’m not one for self-congratulatory, aloof indecision masquerading as independent thinking, but I’m also not a big fan of self-delusion.

I’m all for punishing the Republicans, but not by poking myself in the eye. Why not just say “hey a-holes, I’m not voting for you turkeys because you’ve been jerks and your cynical choice for a candidate and his half-assed campaign doesn’t address your credibility problem.” Why pretend the alternative is that much better?

McCain really isn’t Bush. He’s closest to Bush on the economy and trade. Is that bad? The most important thing is to deny whoever wins any sense of mandate. So, don’t encourage them.

For those who think it is actually important, but not enough to have actually thought about it (pdf)

Joe the Real Plumber October 31, 2008 at 9:16 am

People who don’t make the list of Obama’s list of “real” Americans:

Jews (especially the pro-Israel, clinging to religion type)
Catholics (especially the pro-life, clinging to religion type)
Whites (even if they are his grandparents)
Hunters & Second Amendment types (clinging to their guns)
Judges (only the type he doesn’t like-that don’t misuse their office)
Military (depending on whether he’s cutting the military or not)
Investors (other than Buffett & Soros, if you call Soros an investor)
Hoteliers (who don’t meet his wife’s requests for Iranian Caviar)
Flat, Fair, Reformed and Reduced Tax Advocates

Anonymous October 31, 2008 at 9:34 am

Another MR post designed to attract lots of traffic with comments that will likely result in many unpersuasive (from all sides) flames and retorts….

Traffic down Alex?

steve October 31, 2008 at 9:54 am

Fox News will give Palin a talk show and there she will stay.

B.H. October 31, 2008 at 10:15 am

Guys, everything is relative. I don’t find the low likelihood of Palin presidency has frightening as the high probability of an Obama presidency. The major difference between them is that Palin actually has executive experience. But then maybe someone with experience with shady real estate operatives in Chicago would have a gut understanding of the construction collapse.

Michael Foody October 31, 2008 at 10:23 am

Palin can’t handle an interview she can’t handle a press conference. She’s not qualified for president. If McCain thought more interviews or press conferences would dispel the feelings that Palin was incredibly ignorant, and just plain not bright enough to be president, the campaign would have more interviews. They don’t think that is the case and I am inclined to trust them.

I bet you didn’t think that Dole was too inexperienced when he ran up against Clinton in 1996. No executive experience after all! Find me someone who disagrees with Palin’s ideology but prefers her based on experience or competence and I’ll buy you a coke. There are a number of people who are ideologically closer to McCain than Obama but prefer Obama based on his personal characteristics. Palin is a non starter. If you want a social and fiscal conservative with actual accomplishments and an intellect equal to the job Jindal will be there in 2012. He’s much better than the flight attendant McCain chose.

Joe Kristan October 31, 2008 at 10:36 am

Frightening? You mean “best news I’ll hear today.”

Michael Foody October 31, 2008 at 10:43 am

There are a great number of women who can talk in complete sentences and not wink repeatedly at the camera during a debate who would not solicit that criticism.

David C October 31, 2008 at 10:44 am

Since 1840 and the solidification of the two-party system. Only one VP loser has gone on to the White House. That would be FDR.

John Murphy October 31, 2008 at 11:00 am

Oh, sure, Palin has executive experience. But George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have years of not just executive experience, but experience actually as president! Surely that means they’d both be a better president than she would, right?

Or maybe we can admit that experience, executive or otherwise, is only one factor that should be considered in selecting a president. Grasp of issues, knowledge of the US and the world, ability to make and clearly articulate plans, organizational ability, political opinions, personal beliefs, and just plain old intelligence ought to count for something. Right?

Cyrus October 31, 2008 at 11:10 am

There were plenty of more qualified candidates for the Republic VP ticket. They all had better things to do than be the running mate on a losing ticket. This campaign is not the kind of thing anyone wants on their resume if they go looking for the nomination in 2012.

Bob Murphy October 31, 2008 at 11:54 am

McCain might die in office not only because of age issues, but also because terrorists have a greater incentive to consider alternative means to take him out of office. Why? So that the U.S. is stuck with a remarkably weak president — Palin.

This might increase her probability, no?

Dave, if I were a rogue leader I would fear Palin more than anybody else. She strikes you as “weak”? She doesn’t seem weak to me. Ignorant, yes. But afraid to use violence? Isn’t she a hunter? Isn’t that one of SNL’s raps against her?

And if McCain got taken out by terrorists, you’re saying Palin would be afraid to order a counterstrike because (a) her moral beliefs wouldn’t condone it, or (b) the American people wouldn’t back her?

Hunter October 31, 2008 at 11:57 am

But afraid to use violence? Isn’t she a hunter.

Hunting isn’t violence.

dj superflat October 31, 2008 at 12:05 pm

obama’s community organizing is worthy of respect, not so palin’s time on the PTA?
obama’s time in state legislature is worthy of respect, not so palin’s time as mayor, then head of an important commission in her state?
obama’s two years in senate before running for president is worthy of respect, not so palin’s two years as highly liked governor?

and that’s comparing a starter (obama) to second string (palin). i can’t see how, objectively, this doesn’t undermine the case for obama, rather than undermine the case for palin. don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying there aren’t many reasons to vote for obama. i’ve just never understood how people think attacking palin for inexperience, while supporting obama, makes any sense.

i also love how people think palin’s an idiot. almost by definition, a woman with no political connections/family (i.e., not HRC) and no money (i.e., not edwards or bloomburg or romney) who becomes governor of a state has to be pretty sharp (any of you all dissing palin done anything half as worthwhile?). whatever.

Jim Hu October 31, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Mr Foody: There are a great number of women who can talk in complete sentences and not wink repeatedly at the camera during a debate who would not solicit that criticism.

From a comment I left at Winds of Change a while ago:

As to Palin herself, her Gibson-Couric interviews were dreadful. I continue to believe that those were less reflective of her actual abilities than the material available about her from before her selection. I think she’s less qualified than her most ardent defenders claimed post-pick, and more qualified than her harshest critics claim. Her strongest qualification is not in experience or expertise, but in the act of principle she performed in taking on the Alaska GOP establishment from her Oil and Gas Commission position. That’s a character qualification, not a philosophy or policy qualification, and it is similar in some ways to McCain’s strongest [typo in original fixed] qualification.

I venture that there are not a great number of women, or men, who share that kind of item on their resume. Would I prefer someone with stronger qualifications in other areas? Sure. Do I agree with her on everything? Hell, no. But I agree with Rare Female Reader that your characterization is sexist. Sadly, it’s not unusually sexist.

If she does recover her political career, and become a serious contender for the top spot in 2012, she will have to have worked on her areas of weakness in the intervening years. Otherwise, she becomes a footnote in history.

meter October 31, 2008 at 12:32 pm

dj, I agree with you on the inexperience meme. “Experience”, sometimes referred to throughout this election cycle as “executive experience,” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. GWB had “executive experience” and look where that got us.

As for Palin, I’d call her calculating. How you can watch any of her painful interviews or speeches and come away thinking she has an IQ above 110 just floors me. I can’t even say that she’s only lacking in book smarts.

Her gaffes would be laughable if it weren’t so scary to hear otherwise sane people sloughing it off.

dj superflat October 31, 2008 at 12:41 pm

actually, GWB had little experience compared to just about any other president we’ve had, though he’d obviously been around politics alot, and apparently the governor of TX doesn’t do much. so he’s actually somewhat like obama. GWB undermines the claim that good advisers can make up for deficits in a candidate’s experience (regardless what you think of how cheney and rumsefeld performed, on paper, they were great advisers). as for palin, i don’t see the idiocy (at least, no more than most other politicians), so you may just have to accept that rational, informed, educated folk can disagree on this.

dj superflat October 31, 2008 at 12:43 pm

palin likely is ignorant, in the sense that she hasn’t been on the trail for 2 years like everyone else, and thus already asked every question under the sun, and wasn’t prepping to be VP either. if palin goes home to AK and starts the reading the papers, following the issues, i predict she’ll be a holy terror by 2012, able to knock most questions out of the park. YMMV, obviously.

eccdogg October 31, 2008 at 12:54 pm

To me the frightening thing is that there is a near 100% probability that one of these bozos (Obama, McCain, Palin, Biden) will be our president.

Superheater October 31, 2008 at 1:04 pm

How you can watch any of her painful interviews or speeches and come away thinking
she has an IQ above 110 just floors me.

IQ has nothing to do with speaking ability. Speaking ability is vastly overrated. You want
a great orator, think Germany 1930’s.

How exactly has Obama demonstrated a “world-class” intellect. You melt when he speaks? A world-class
intellect would have some private sector accomplishment other than a law degree, some published work
other than a autiobiography, and an ability to think through economic issues with something more
sophisticated than “spreading the wealth”.

What Obama shares with several recent presidents (Clinton & Reagan come to mind) is the ability to
mask some emotional deficiency by appearing to be engaging and empathic. Reading his book reveals a
troubled individual with furious ambition and attachment to abstraction (exactly what is a
“structural” feminist?) All three seemed to be compelled to seek approval as the result of the
lack of a solid father figure in their life. Of course, going further back, you find episodes of
what we would now refer to as depressions, manias or other “issues” in people such as Kennedy, FDR,
Teddy R, and Abe Lincoln.

We need to start regarding presidents as employees, kings or messiahs. Particularly appalling is the
concept of economic captaincy.

whosonfirst October 31, 2008 at 1:15 pm

She is preferable to the other three simply by dint of the fact that she is not part of the inept kleptocracy that has led us where we are.

Democrats say she lacks experience and intelligence. She has at least as much experience as Obama and, my God, my dog is smarter than Biden.

bjartur October 31, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Not frightening. It’s one of the main (and few) reasons for voting for McCain. Better her than any of the other three. She’s the only possibility of having a decent president within the next four years.

liberalarts October 31, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Superheater: people who speak with candor don’t refer to Obama as “B. Hussein Obama.” That term is pretty much reserved for (1) people trying to play on the ethnic fears of people or (2) the barking mad people who buy into what (1) is selling. By the way, liberalarts is based on the ancient, traditional method of education, with the “liberal” component based in the same root as “liberate.”

Superheater October 31, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Liberal Arts:

As it’s the man’s middle name, I can’t imagine why he’d conceal it. The only other president
that wished to conceal his middle name was James Earl Carter, because he feared being confused
with James Earl Ray. Look where that got us.

Being truly liberal (in the Acton sense) means having a healthy disrepect for
occupants and aspirants to power, especially the ones showing signs of egomania and narcissism, who
erect columnar backgrounds to portray grandeur. Once again, he’s a job applicant, not a messiah and I
reserve the right to flip him, McCain, Biden, Palin or anybody else off.

I have fears with regard to anybody who allows themself to be referred to as the “one” and had he not
made the gaffe about “my muslim faith”, it would carry no weight.

I have no fears about the color of his skin. Its the thinness that bothers me.

Don’t project your stereotypes on me. You are only proving the modern “liberal arts” is brainwashing.

Mark October 31, 2008 at 2:57 pm

I guess you should have known (or did know) that you would get mostly boring ideological comments.
Like you, I DID think it was quite an interesting calculation, whether one likes Palin or not. Another reason I read MR blog.


Scott October 31, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Mr. Belvedere will be her first guest on “Palin, Talking Points” the afternoon gabfest, FOX’s first foray into weekday afternoon programing…..I love it Mr. Belvedere, that’s great

Aris Katsaris October 31, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Superheater, I don’t know why J. Sidney McCain is hiding his own middle name either. Any ideas?

The repetition of “Hussein” merely reveals many Republicans’ racism, in as clear-cut and unmistaken way as you can make. You attack a man for sharing his African father’s African name, not anything he chose about himself. And you choose to focus on his middle name because in these times a Northern-African descent is even worse than a Sub-Saharan African descent.

“I have no fears about the color of his skin”

Yes, and if you weren’t so much focusing on his African descent by referring to his paternal name, we might even believe you about it.

“Don’t project your stereotypes on me.”

Sorry, it’s you who are a walking stereotype: ooh, you’re not attacking him for his *race*, you’re merely attacking him for not changing his name to a whiter one. Like I’ve never heard that one before.

Or are you telling me you’ll be attacking Bobby Jindal, because he isn’t calling himself “Piyush”?

James B. October 31, 2008 at 3:46 pm

What happened to the previous VP Losers

2004 Edwards, competed for nomination and lost in 2008
2000 Lieberman, competed for nomination and lost in 2004
1996 Kemp, Out of electoral politics, I believe
1992 Quayle, thought briefly of running in either 96 or 2000 but barely got past the organizing stage
1988 Bensten, served in the Clinton Adm., but never ran again
1984 Ferraro, ran for NY Senate seat
1980 Mondale, won 84 Dem Nomination
1976 Dole, won 96 Rep Nomination
1972 Shriver, ????
1968 Muskie, competed for nomination and lost in 1972

Tony October 31, 2008 at 4:43 pm

If McCain get’s elected, some Right Wing Christian wack job will take him out believing Got told him to make Sarah President, she will Pursue a direction that will make George W Bush look like a flaming Liberal!

Aris Katsaris October 31, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Superheater, it’s amusing to tell me I can’t read, when you failed to notice I’m not “Liberal arts”, I’m a new poster.

Bobby Jindal — the world class intellect that believes a good exorcism can cure you of cancer.

But yeah, I guess I don’t believe you really care about race one bit — you’re merely utilizing racism for your own purposes. That’s why you ludicrously attack Barack Obama as supposedly sensitive about his name (when he didn’t change it), but you don’t attack Bobby Jindal for his sensitivity when *he’s* the one who adopted a “white” name.

Once again? Why don’t you attack Jindal for his sensitivity about *his* name?

And I’m mostly a laissez-faire liberal btw — I’m only on the “left” from the skewed point of view of American theocrats who think that you need to bash gays and support torture to be on the “right”.

Anthony October 31, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Alex – you’ve missed another possibility which increases McCain’s odds:

P(McCain 2012)

Assume McCain loses this tuesday. Obama wins, the economy tanks for real, maybe there’s a major terrorist attack or a botched war or something. McCain runs in 2012 as the “I told you so” candidate. Odds of such a scenario occurring after an Obama election: 50%. Odds of McCain securing the Republican nomination in such a scenario: 10%. Odds of McCain winning after being nominated: 60%. 0.5*0.1*0.6*0.84=0.0252. Total P(McCain) = 0.16+0.0252 = 0.1852.

David Gagnon October 31, 2008 at 10:52 pm

You know what frighten me the most about McCain dying while being president?

Nancy Pelosi could be one heartbeat away from the presidency…

Patrick November 1, 2008 at 12:53 am

I couldn’t be buggered to read all 84 comments, but it occurs to me that the biggest knock on Palin is her lack of experience. Assuming she spends another 4-6 years as governor and maybe spends some time in a different elected office, wouldn’t that make P(Palin|Not McCain) a less “frightening thought”? Similarly, the odds of her being president includes her being president after spending 8 years as VP.

Alan Brown November 1, 2008 at 6:30 am

she makes me want to go Para Sailin’.

liberalarts November 1, 2008 at 7:48 am

I am pretty sure that economists are largely going to Obama for reasons other than their tax policies. Some economists are concerned about the deficit run up under Bush, and believe -rightly or wrongly- that Obama will better contain that. McCain has boxed himself in fiscally by promising lower taxes, more military and no ss cuts. Obama may blow it by increasing spending a lot, but at least he has a chance. However, I believe that the majority of economists with our various levels of libertarian tendencies just can’t stand the socially conservative message that McCain/Palin are spouting. The McCain of four or five years ago would get better results, but his moves to get the socially conservative base on board drive most of us away. And for those who don’t get whipped into a froth over abortion or gays rights or nonseparation of church and state, etc., there is the war and foreign policy. Most PhD economists have a reasonable amount of contact with foreigners and foreign travel, and it is pretty difficult to find foreigners from any country who think that Bush or his war are acceptable. Anyway, that is my take.

Anonymous November 1, 2008 at 10:00 am

I don’t get it. I don’t get how any economist could even remotely consider voting for a candidate who would have a supportive Congress

Because as smart as many of them are, most economists, like academics in general, are incredibly naive about how Washington works. What counts is not the theatre presented to the world in DC, not the public words spoken by politicians, but the reality of the consequences (and, in a few cases, the good intentions), especially the unintended consequences, of policy enacted into law.

Not to mention the almost universal desire to avoid accepting any kind of responsibility for the messes our elected officials and bureaucrats make by trying to create wealth by “reforming” the private sector.

Every aspect of the mortgage mess is a prime example. (Barney Frank or Harry Reid or Ted Stevens as examples of our “wise elders”? Let’s have them fix our problems. Sheeesh.)

And guess who pays for these mistakes? It’s not the demagogues in DC who play with my (and your) money. (And, in case you need a reminder, if you don’t pay your taxes, you can go to jail.)

Central planning doesn’t work. But it appears that we will have to relearn that lesson over the next 10 to 20 years….

SubstanceBeforeBeauty November 1, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Hey you Sarah fans,

I’m just wondering -if Sarah Palin weighed 50 lbs more than she does, or was 15 yrs older, or was a male with so little inclination toward intellectual inquiry and analysis – would you still be swooning?

No way! Any guy who isn’t terrified to think of such an intellectually lazy person as President is “thinking” with some organ other than his brain. Fans of the female persuasion might want to consider counseling to get over the high school cheerleader envy thing at some point.

Picking her as VP was a desperate gimmick by McCain to energize his campaign (mission accomplished among some, thanks to modern America’s obsession with good looks and youth). Thank God at least some Americans can put thoughtful observation and critical thinking ahead of such superficial nonsense. I hope you’ll choose to become one of us before Tuesday. of THE most sexist things one can do is hold attractive women to a lower standard than others (men or women).

Jim November 1, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Sure, she’s overqualified in terms of executive experience, as compared to the current “frontrunner.”

But that does that really make her “frightening”?

Or is this just your basic misogyny combined with GOP-is-Satan talk?

indiana jim November 1, 2008 at 9:52 pm

OK Alex the jig is up; you are faking your support of Obama in order to rile people up on MR, right?

OK, OK, I won’t tell anyone of your cunning; oops.

Obama Palin Comparison November 2, 2008 at 11:36 am

Hey you Sarah Haters,

I’m just wondering -if Sarah Palin weighed 50 lbs more than she does, or was 15 yrs older-She’d be Hillary!

or was a male with so little inclination toward intellectual inquiry and analysis – She’d be Biden. Ooh, I ride trains! Choo Choo.

But then again “community organizing” and sitting for 20 years in a hate-filled pew is so enlightening. You think the guy would pas “Das Kapital” on the economics bookshelf.

(mission accomplished among some, thanks to modern America’s obsession with good looks and youth). Thank God at least some Americans can put thoughtful observation and critical thinking ahead of such superficial nonsense. I hope you’ll choose to become one of us before Tuesday.

Right, and Obama’s getting credit for grey hair. No thanks, I prefer to think for myself! I’ve had enough superficial nonsense in a double dose “hope and change”.

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