07 November 2008

Risk sensitivity and voters

While sitting in an Ecological Modeling Class the other day, I had a revelation about why normally sane, rational people were so caught up in the Obamamania. They are economic risk-takers. Risk-sensitivity theory is based on modeling the behavior of consumers based on their preferences when faced with a choice between a 50/50 chance of a high payoff (vs. no or low payoff) and a 100% chance of a moderate payoff. These models are the whole reason for the targeting of low-income and low-education consumers by lotto boards; people with lower incomes and lower educations often (note, not always - no model is perfect) choose the riskier option. They will spend money on the chance of a high payoff, knowing they're more likely to get no or a low payoff. Those who have more, tend to be more cautious and choose the 'certainty' option. They are more likely to choose the 100% option of a moderate payoff.

This sounds to me to be very close to what happened on Tuesday. Only in this case, I think we'd have to add into the 'low-income' category, those who perceive themselves (perhaps 2nd hand) as suffering. These voters were willing to take a gamble on someone who has no experience, a murky background, and offers 'pie-in-the-sky' rhetoric over a true American hero with more experience in his little finger. The Obama-lovers were "risk prone." To get themselves away from what they perceive as the source of their woes (the Republican Party), they gambled. Even with this gambling addiction sweeping our country, and the Obama campaign doing its darndest to buy the election, John McCain would still have won if it weren't for the addition of those 'we hate him so much we'll doom the entire country' Republicans who NEVER SHOWED UP TO VOTE. I'm really angriest at them. How dare they thumb their noses at all of us. Now we all have to find out what the gamble will bring us.

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