Democracy Doesn’t Workby Brad Warbiany
Yet another in a long line of evidence showing that while democracy might be a way to gauge the public’s general mood or satisfaction, it’s certainly too clumsy of a tool to really have anything to do with setting policy:
Led by Loyola Marymount University’s Andrew Healy, a team of researchers compared 44 years of US presidential, gubernatorial, and Senate election data to the results of Division I college football games. After controlling for demographic effects, they found that at the county level, a local athletic victory one week before an election gave incumbents an average 1.70% gain. (In contrast, post-election victories or games more than two weeks before polling day had no effect on voting.)
The effect didn’t arise from athletic triumph alone—the emotional intensity of a win seemed to determine its electoral impact. For example, Dr Healy and his colleagues calculated the unexpectedness of each victory based on point spreads from the betting market. They found that a surprise win garnered a bigger electoral bump (2.59%) than an expected one. And in “powerhouse” districts with an especially fervent fan base, a victory could yield up to 3.35% for the incumbent.
So what’s the over/under on the first attempt by a politician to pay refs to influence the outcome of a game when they’re in a tight race?