The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Did You Say ‘Preference Cascade’?

Posted on | October 15, 2012 | 22 Comments

“One might have thought that the 2010 mid-term elections . . . would have convinced the Left that they had miscalculated. Instead, they placed their confidence in Obama’s ability to navigate the new environment . . .
“Everything seemed to be proceeding in accordance with those beliefs until Romney dismantled Obama in Wednesday’s debate — a psychological shock that has unhinged the Left, causing them to begin lashing out furiously and rather erratically at anyone who suggests that the dam has broken and that the ‘preference cascade’ may doom Obama to defeat in November.”

Robert Stacy McCain, Oct. 6

“[I]t is possible to imagine a scenario where Mitt Romney comes into the Oct. 16 debate sitting on a 4-point lead in the national polls with just three weeks to go before Election Day. And if I can envision such a scenario, you know that Democrats must be imagining the same possibility with a sense of Fear and Loathing.”
Robert Stacy McCain, Oct. 7

As a great man once repeatedly said, “Don’t get cocky,” but there are good reasons for Republicans to be optimistic with 22 days remaining in the 2012 campaign. Ed Driscoll has previously invoked the phrase “preference cascade” to describe what we may see if Americans wake up to the reality of the SCOAMF’s incompetence. And today Ed Morrissey employs the same phrase:

I don’t think that Obama has lost the election yet, but there is only three weeks to go now. This is when preference cascades begin to materialize, and usually away from the incumbent, who has had nearly four years to make the case for re-election.

Exactly. While defeating an incumbent president is always an against-the-odds project, history would suggest that (a) the debates would be a decisive factor, and (b) the shift toward the challenger wouldn’t happen until fairly late in the campaign.

If this is what we’re seeing now, then Obama’s poll surge in September — on Sept. 29, he led the Real Clear Politics average of national polls by 4.3 points — was in fact a mirage. Whether or not those of us whom Jonathan Chait called “poll denialists” were right about the skewed samples, Obama’s poll lead prior to the first debate was actually an illusion that did not take into account the underlying reality of (a) Obama’s failed policies and (b) his inability to defend those policies when challenged by Romney outside the media filter.

So far, only one poll (Pew) has shown Romney leading by 4 points nationally, and Romney’s biggest RCP lead was 1.3 points on Saturday, but the latest Gallup tracking poll has Mitt leading 49-47, and if Obama doesn’t score a clear win Tuesday, the whole thing may shift toward an outright Romney landslide.

The RCP Electoral College map currently has the race at Obama 201 and Romney 191, with Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Michigan and Pennsylvania in the “toss-up” category. By this point in 2008, John McCain’s campaign was in meltdown mode and had already pulled out of Michigan. For Romney to win any of those four states would almost certainly be decisive: If Mitt wins Michigan he won’t lose Ohio, and if Pennsylvania is even competitive in the final week of the campaign, Romney could win as many as 300 of 538 Electoral College votes.

What will happen in Tuesday’s debate? Both campaigns are “working the refs” with CNN’s Candy Crowley as moderator, Michelle Malkin reminds us of “plant” infestations at town-hall debates and Noel Sheppard quotes Ed Hart: “We will know in the fullness of time.”

Keep watching the slo-mo walkback by Nate Silver, whose Incredible Mystical Forecasting Model™ has now raised Romney’s odds to a precisely calculated 36.7% after having him at 12.9% Oct. 4.

UPDATE: The Insta-Driscol-lanche! Thanks, Ed.




22 Responses to “Did You Say ‘Preference Cascade’?”

  1. DaiAlanye
    October 15th, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

    Assuming a continuing Barack/Hillary/Joe meltdown, Romney at 320 to 360. Probably won’t reach 400.

  2. JeffS
    October 15th, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

    Great article, Stacy. Just the right blend of optimism and skepticism. The Dhimmicrats and their media lapdogs are still trying to spin this in their favor, but there are tinges of desperation in their efforts.

  3. Diana Allocco
    October 15th, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

    Your Driscoll link includes this, but just want to explicitly credit Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds for his 2002 coining of “preference cascade” –>

  4. Watch Out For Democrat Plants At CNN Presidential Debate | The Lonely Conservative
    October 15th, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    […] failed to disclose those affiliations and activism during the broadcast.Read the whole thing.Via The Other McCain, whose post you should read if you need a little cheering up.Tweetvaso linkgoogle_ad_client = […]

  5. Adobe_Walls
    October 15th, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    Romney wins big or loses small. That’s what some have been saying for a year now. While it’s still possible he loses small I don’t think so. By any rational metric Obamsky can’t win with the state of this country and it’s economy.

  6. Bob Belvedere
    October 15th, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

    If Nate Silver continues his walkback, he’s gonna fall of a cliff of his own making.

  7. Adjoran
    October 15th, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

    Reuters/Ipsos has a poll out (no details provided, so no link) showing Obama leading 47-45 and claiming he has “stemmed the tide.” Sorry, Snookums, but an incumbent at 47% three weeks before the election is going down hard (hear me, Claire?).

    One thing we must never forget about this year: the final proving of what a lying little leftist weasel Nate Silver is.

    Also, Romney raised $170 million in September, $10 million less than Obama, but all from legal and traceable American sources, no foreign billionaires or terror-sponsoring regimes contributed to Romney.

  8. Instapundit » Blog Archive » DID YOU SAY ‘PREFERENCE CASCADE?’  The cockiness; do not affect it. …
    October 15th, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

    […] YOU SAY ‘PREFERENCE CASCADE?’  The cockiness; do not affect […]

  9. Regular joe
    October 15th, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

    I am a swing voter and Romney’s anti-SCOAMF position is what is really convincing my family.

  10. werewife
    October 15th, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

    I wish I were as confident as you guys, but I fear the awful and terrible power of massive vote fraud. Let us pray: Please G-d, prove me wrong!

  11. actionsspeaklouder
    October 15th, 2012 @ 7:34 pm


  12. K-Bob
    October 15th, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

    Glenn didn’t claim in his writing to have “coined” it, he refers to it. See Paragraph 5. He refers in his work to the writings of Timur Kuran and to a paper on modeling of groups by Joshua M. Epstein, John D. Steinbruner, and Miles T. Parker.

    The cascade effect was being discussed by Kuran, in relation to social/ethnic norms.

    But it may be fair to say that Glenn was the first to reduce the concept to preference alone, and may have been the first to use the phrase.

    The others had more to do with societal change and actions of groups. Glenn takes it back a bit further upstream; to feelings about a single concept or candidate.

  13. Wombat_socho
    October 15th, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

    Good. Once he recovers consciousness, he can go back to writing about baseball and give up this political foolishness.

  14. Wombat_socho
    October 15th, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

    We can smell their sweet, delicious fear. 🙂

  15. Adjoran
    October 16th, 2012 @ 1:01 am

    “Yeah, Nate, this picture of you on the edge of the cliff is gonna be great. Could you back up a few more steps, pal? It’ll make you look almost accurate!”

  16. Adjoran
    October 16th, 2012 @ 1:11 am

    Whatever the cause of the strange poll samples showing bigger than likely Democrat turnout and Obama in the lead, at this point the spin is needed more than ever – not to discourage Republicans, but to keep base voters involved.

    Obama’s strongest support groups – blacks, young voters, single women under 40 – are notoriously easily discouraged and need strong motivation to turn out in force. The shine is worn off “Hope & Change” and as it turns out “we” weren’t “the people we’ve been waiting for” after all.

    If these voters get convinced Obama is losing, they won’t bother. And that’s disaster for Obama AND the down-ticket candidates.

    Obama is under tremendous pressure to perform NOW, in tomorrow’s debate, or risk being swept out by the cascade.

  17. Ross Perot Endorses Romney, New Polls Confirm Shift, Will #p2 Dems Panic Now? : The Other McCain
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  18. docweasel
    October 16th, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

    I think there is a 97.694% chance Nate Silver pulls his figures out of his ass.

  19. world's greatest orator
    October 17th, 2012 @ 2:43 am

    At this point Romney’s made whatever impression he can (the rap always went that 50% is his ceiling, etc.) Even before this year the mystery was how dedicated are Obama’s backers. It’s now perceived as safe to defect cuz he looks washed-up. BTW that goes even if he manages re-election–it’d still be a very lame lame-duck term.

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