Daniel Drezner and Jean Buridan

Daniel Drezner remains on the fence, concerning the next Presidential election.

He writes about supporting Bush, Kerry, or perhaps a third party candidate (unlikely). But why should he restrict himself to “pure strategies”? Why can’t he support some candidate with some positive probability? How about, for instance, “I support Bush with p = 0.63.” Or “I support Kerry with p = 0.57”, and so on. That way we would know how strong (or weak) his current view is.

We could interpret those p’s in several ways. First, it could be Dan’s current estimate of where his final support will end up. Second, it could be a general measure of expected relative enthusiasm for the candidates.

It is not enough to make up your mind, you should also give the world some sense of your confidence in such judgments. And “Bush with p = .50000001” is a very different story than “Bush with p = .997”. (As an aside, note a potential paradox of voting. How many meta-rational voters, aware of their own fallibility, can justifiably believe that their error-prone participation will improve the final outcome?)

Then a question arises. Once you are playing around with these p’s, you don’t need to have a final point of view at hand. You will have some “p” right now.

Dan writes: “This year I can’t muster even the tiniest amount of enthusiasm for any candidate.” Fair enough, but why not give us a number?

What about me?

Alex is precluded by the Constitution, so can I go with “Dan with p = 0.73”? He is photogenic, and could handle both economics and foreign policy.

Addendum: I enjoy asking people the mischievous question “with what probability do you believe in God?” It is amazing on one hand what strong opinions people have on religion, and on the other hand how ill-prepared they are to come up with an actual number.