Wrong ways to think about elections (slightly updated)

I tried to avoid instant reactions to the election outcome in May. But now that lots of people are making claims I regard as dubious at best, I think I may respond. Before doing that, I thought it would be useful to make some general observations about mistaken/dubious claims that are commonly made in post election analysis, particularly following a close election.

Just about everyone, including me, is prone to these kinds of reasoning. Feel free to discuss, give examples, and so on.

Update: Much of what I planned to write has been covered, much better, by Peter Brent at Inside Story.

  1. The winning party/leader has demonstrated a deep understanding of the electorate, unlike the losers
    At least when the margin of victory is narrow, this is magical thinking. If one or two voters in a hundred had decided differently, the opposite claim would be made with equal confidence.
  2. Factor X was the (implicitly unique) cause of the outcome. As in a close sporting match, every missed shot and every bad call is as crucial as every other. So, there’s no necessary inconsistency between the claims that “we lost because of media bias”, “we lost because of policy X” and “we lost because the leader was unpopular”. Plausibly, each cause was changing any of these factors would have been sufficient (other things equal), and, conversely, none was necessary essential. (There’s an opposite version of the fallacy. If someone says “policy X cost us votes”, a supporter of X may deny it and say “we would have won with a better leader”. As I’ve said, both can be true).
  3. There were big swings in electorates with many voters of Type X. Therefore these voters changed sides.
    This one even has a name, the “ecological fallacy“. To give the classic example, the fact that electorates with a low average income changed hands, does not mean that low income voters necessarily changed sides.
  4. The outcome proves we should do X, where X is something the speaker has been advocating all along.
    Essentially, this is the same as 2, though usually with less evidence that not doing X changed the result.

67 thoughts on “Wrong ways to think about elections (slightly updated)

  1. “So, there’s no necessary inconsistency between the claims that “we lost because of media bias”, “we lost because of policy X” and “we lost because the leader was unpopular”. Plausibly, each cause was sufficient (other things equal), and none was necessary.”

    Thanks for identifying these fallacies. They’re both common, widespread and dangerous.

    My only quibble is wouldn’t it be more accurate in the above portion to say the opposite? That each cause was necessary and none was sufficient? I.e., in a close sports match, unmaking anyone mistake would prevent the loss, hence each mistake is necessary for the loss, both they are not individually sufficient (only jointly sufficient).

  2. Regarding 3- A great example of this ecological fallacy in action is US election analysis, where it used to be trotted out as occasional (fallacious) evidence that the democrats are a party of elites. States with lots of poor people vote Republican, yet across the country, poor people are more likely to vote Democrats.

  3. I am always suspicious of people saying that what a party needs to do in order to win elections is adopt those policies which they (the people saying this) are personally in favour of anyway, partly because I (in contrast) am fairly sure that the electoral performance of any party adopting the policies I favour would be disastrous.

    I remember, and I think it’s relevant, reading a historical account of somebody making a politically controversial speech and receiving an enormous quantity of mail, roughly evenly divided between people saying ‘I vigorously agree with what you said, and I think most people feel the same’ and people saying ‘I violently disagree with what you said, and I think most people feel the same’. (I could give details, but the actual content of the specific position isn’t the point.)

  4. In 1995-96, Labor lost power in Queensland and Federally.

    In the case of Queensland, it was relatively simple to identify where Labor lost. First, at the 1995 State election it squandered four seats (three of which it would otherwise have retained and one of which was at least winnable) through its political mishandling of the South Coast Tollway, leaving it with a majority of one. Then, when the election for the seat of Mundingburra had to be re-run early in 1996, Labor mismanaged its candidate selection for the re-run, enabling Liberal Frank Tanti to win the seat and let the Coalition form a minority government with the support of Independent Liz Cunningham.

    In the 1996 Federal election, Labor lost in a landslide. As the difference between government and opposition was 26 seats rather than one, it was not possible to speak with any specificity about a particular factor (such as a proposed tollway) that caused the loss of particular seats (such as those along the tollway route) and therefore cost Labor government. This therefore created an opportunity for all manner of tendentious narratives to be run to “explain” the election results (e.g. “Labor became too beholden to minority interests”, “Labor became too politically correct”, etc). A lot of Labor’s post-May cud-chewing has a similar tone to it.

  5. Your (JQ) 1 to 4 are interesting, but they seem a bit too wide-ranging and invite too much collection and analysis of irrelevant data.

    IMO, any comparison must start with the previous outcomes, by electorate.

    Those electorates in which the winning party has not changed, can be ignored for the most part, since they played no part in changing the outcome – whatever state of knowledge, biases, ignorance and misleadings that may have influenced the previous result, those elements have continued or not been changed to such a degree that the electorate gave a different result. Call these Blue Riband electorates and ignore them in any analysis.

    But those electorates where a change in result has occurred, it is here that some analysis of the changes to knowledge, biases, ignorance and misleadings is warranted – perhaps your 1 to 4, if you favour those categories or disagree with my categories. Call these Swung electorates.

    After an election, some analysis of what it was that changed the voting patterns of those who voted formally in Swung electorates will be informative, especially to those who wish to influence the state of knowledge, biases, ignorance and misleadings in electorates that could be Swung at the next election.

  6. I notice unemployed appeared to fall between the announcement and the election, so that combination of luck and educated guesswork turned out in the Coalition’s favor.

    It wasn’t until after the election I heard some bookies were offering 7 to 1 odds in Labor’s favor. I don’t understand where that confidence came from. Sometimes I think bookies actually haven’t spent years studying electoral statistics.

  7. But then I’m not a clear thinker myself. Otherwise I would have realized the odds bookies offer don’t just reflect how likely they think an outcome is before I posted my last comment.

  8. The election was lost in Queensland for Labor. The reasons are debatable but the only solution for Labor I see is a new charismatic, Queenslander Labor leader ( another KRudd) or somehow we orchestrate a Quexit.

    Queenslanders voted on 2 party preferred 58 to 42 and a high proportion voted one for xenophobic extremist fringe parties such as One Notion and Clive’s over advertised UAP with their first preference and their second preferences flowed to ScoMo. What the hell do we do with these right wing outliers, who appear to be the less educated, lower socio economic voters who are not politically engaged and if they do see a paper, it will be a Murdoch rag.

  9. Plausibly, each cause was sufficient (other things equal), and none was necessary.

    Plausibly, any/each ’cause’ could have been sufficient, as could any combination of them. No ‘suspected cause’ was necessary (obviously), as (many) others (always possible to have other causes) would have been sufficient.

    People clearly have no idea, and can’t really know why an election was lost (it may be that it was 50-50 and then done canditates voted randomly because they did not care).
    They assume that there was a significant difference (at least one) between the two parties to explain/justify the loss. And then they offer what I guess they believe to be this ‘difference’.
    They never consider, in my opinion, more than this. Again there is no way to tell how right or how wrong they are, that is there is no way we can judge their claims to be either true or false (so in a sense all these claims are ‘equally’ true (or ‘equally’ false).

  10. “Democracy is the worst system of government, except for every other system” – attributed to Churchill.

    In a complex society utilizing complex science and technology and implementing vast systems, education is key for a democracy. An ill-educated populace cannot make informed decisions. Also, so long as situations and outcomes, causes and ultimate effects, are unclear even to the well-educated, there will still be many opinions about the correct way forward. Only when choices are narrowed to a few obvious survival options will public opinion become clear. Burgeoning disasters from global warming, resource shortages and associated problems will act to narrow our choices. When the choices become blatantly clear, a democracy is better equipped that any other system to deliver the consensus and concerted action on the clear way forward.

    What am I saying? I am saying that major disasters will need to start happening frequently and affecting major parts of the population. It’s just about happening to California right now. Only at such junctures do people most clearly realize the magnitude of the crisis and what needs to be done to ameliorate or avert it. At that juncture, the people will force the politicians and corporate oligarchs to do what’s necessary or else force them right out of power. It’s as simple as that. Some people call this process “revolution”.

  11. My thinking is that Australia is essentially an insecure nation and that electors tend to favour strong leaders over policy. Plenty of examples; Pauline Hanson comes across as determined and passionate and wins seats whereas others of her ilk lose them.

    ScoMo won because he showed determination and perseverance whereas Shorten seemed uncertain, even hesitant at times.

    Abbott was tolerated up to the point of ridiculousness.

    The reasons behind this insecurity are manifold, one being that we feel uncomfortable occupying country that had been usurped from its original custodians.

  12. On the other hand, there is also “fallacy fallacy”. Points 3 and 4 are only necessarily false because of the presence of “therefore” and “proved”. Without those, they would be like points 1 and 2, in that they could well be true in any particular case for quite other reasons. It’s just that they don’t follow from the mere fact of the actual outcome.

    So the right thing to do is to use them as hypotheses arising, to be investigated further, but not as actual explanations in and of themselves. It would be just as wrong to dismiss them as worthless out of hand as to accept them – “fallacy fallacy”.

  13. I think QuentinR has provided another example of flawed reasoning, or maybe they’ve just exemplified the ecological fallacy. You can’t ignore seats which didn’t change hands because a) Labor needed to win seats, especially as they lost some, so the failure to win seats is just as relevant a as losing them, and b) the ecological fallacy (or something close to it) says that almost half the electorate could have changed their votes to Labor without getting Labor elected provided almost half also went in the other direction. That’s an extreme example but it seems reasonable to believe that some electorates had significant churn of swinging voters.

    As a Green, I’ll also point out the 2PP fallacy, which is a tendency to talk about success or failure before full preference distributions have been released and it becomes possible to consider 3PP and thus remove the effect of left-wing minor parties.

  14. My thinking is that Australia is essentially an insecure nation and that electors tend to favour strong leaders over policy.

    See John Quiggin’s point 1. After somebody wins an election and becomes Prime Minister, people say that person is a strong leader; Prime Ministers naturally have better opportunities for projecting an image of strength than Opposition Leaders (and than other ministers). The longer John Howard was Prime Minister, the stronger a leader he was perceived as being; I’m old enough to remember that he wasn’t so generally perceived as a strong leader in the 1980s, though. Is Anthony Albanese a strong leader? I have no idea, but I do know that if he leads Labor to victory and become Prime Minister at the next election, there is a high probability that a perception of him as a strong leader will start to become more general, wherease if he doesn’t become Prime Minister that won’t happen.

    Also, ‘Australia is essentially an insecure nation’ is a meaningless statement without an indication of comparators. Most people feel some degree of insecurity; what it means to describe a person as insecure is that the person is being described as significantly more insecure than other people. Likewise, if ‘Australia is an insecure nation’ means anything, it means that Australia is significantly more insecure than other nations. Well, which ones? Which are the nations that favour policy over strong leaders?

  15. J-D, I think you are missing my point ie before an election voters move towards the perception of a strong leader.

    If they were more secure in their national identity they could focus more on policy, perhaps.

    Typical post election analysis seems to focus on groups, swings and seats with an attempt to correlate these with votes. But the swing defies that type of analysis.

  16. J-D, I think you are missing my point ie before an election voters move towards the perception of a strong leader.

    Oh, I get your point. What I also understand is the absence of evidence to support your conclusion.

    If they were more secure in their national identity they could focus more on policy, perhaps.

    Again, there’s no evidence to support this conclusion.

  17. Yep, thanks John. This helped to clear up my thinking a bit on these issues.

    J_D: “Which are the nations that favour policy over strong leaders?”

    New Zealand immediately springs to mind. Aside from the many security-related policy differences, we might note they’ve had three female prime ministers in the last 20 years. And that its National Party leaders began consistently attending Mardi Gras celebrations back in the 1990s.

  18. J-D, it’s just a thought.

    I know that correlation is not causation but it seems I’m not alone re the last election. As Peter Brent observed, taking policies to an election has not been a successful strategy for many years. So what’s left? – character and personality – trustworthiness.

  19. I am fascinated by anyone still willing to analyze the election and by all the highly tenuous, impossible to verify, uninteresting and pointless claims and connections.

    To me personally, the mind of an australian voter is impenetrable and unintelligible and any attempt at analysis a waste of time.

    I’d also say that the difference between the two major parties is not significantly different, unfortunately (weakness unites them so strongly, that any small difference becomes even less important). And this may be either the cause or the consequence, or the mirror, for how the australian voter feels.

  20. And I don’t think that my view is less helpful than any other here.

    What I’d suggest is for each person to instead analyse their own thinking, motivations, etc (and maybe their neighbour’s) and see how trully different their thinking is compared to either party’s; to write down how they’d run the country instead, etc.

    I am told that not all humans are capable of introspection. So I guess we are probably not goung to solve the problem this way either.

  21. J_D: “Which are the nations that favour policy over strong leaders?”

    New Zealand immediately springs to mind. Aside from the many security-related policy differences, we might note they’ve had three female prime ministers in the last 20 years. And that its National Party leaders began consistently attending Mardi Gras celebrations back in the 1990s.

    I don’t follow you. Are you suggesting that the fact that New Zealand seems to have been more open than Australia to women leaders is evidence that New Zealanders place less importance on having strong leaders? If that’s what you’re suggesting, it doesn’t follow. And are you suggesting that the fact that New Zealand has different policies from Australia is evidence that New Zealanders place more importance on policy than Australians do? If that is what you’re suggesting, it also doesn’t follow.

  22. J-D. Any evidence for your null set “Again, there’s no evidence to support this conclusion.”

    Or a reference or sigh-tation for any of your sets?

  23. J-D. Any evidence for your null set “Again, there’s no evidence to support this conclusion.”

    Or a reference or sigh-tation for any of your sets?

    I can’t answer your questions in the terms in which you pose them because I don’t understand them. I don’t understand what you mean by ‘sets’, what you mean by ‘null set’, or what you mean by ‘sigh-tation’.

    When I state that there is no evidence to support a conclusion, I do so because no evidence is evident to support the conclusion. If you think I’m wrong about that and want to change my mind, I suggest that the way to do so is to indicate the evidence supporting the conclusion so that it becomes evident.

  24. Maybe, J_D. I guess I tend to think a greater prevalence of sexism and bigotry in a society goes hand in hand with a greater prevalence of desiring “strong leaders”, and that the more sexist and bigoted people are, the more they tend to equate “strong” with meaning “authoritarian male” who self-proclaim to be “tough on things”…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Material_conditional

    But sure, that’s not evidence in itself, and perhaps I’m just unwittingly engaged in perpetuating the same kind of stereotypes I disagree with and disapprove of.

  25. On the other hand, can you show me a Peter Dutton equivalent in New Zealand politics from any time in recent decades? And if you can’t, does that count as evidence?

  26. Germany appears to have embraced forward thinking policies, Codetermination and Energiewende (renewable energy) being two that come to mind. Despite some setbacks, renewable energy still seems to have strong public support, regardless of who is in power.

    Angela Merkels acceptance of 1 million Syrian refugees was also a brave political move, which worked.

    Germany has not dodged its past and continues to remember and atone for its Nazi tragedies.

  27. J-D, Nick.

    A null set has technical uses in mathmatics but my brain sees connections more than it enumerates. Hence me saying your response was a null set – zero – when saying “If that is what you’re suggesting, it also doesn’t follow” re Nick’s comment. IF x THEN NOT. But you didn’t offer an ELSE.

    We are talking about ” wrong ways if thinking” here related to politics so you telling Nick it doesn’t really follow is logical. Your comment was great for getting clarification – of a subjective opinion as Nick’s reply shows. 

    I was hoping you may come back with an “else”  – a citation or even example or opinion [ I find it very hard to believe you don’t get ‘sigh-tation’ ] to show Nick your rebuttal / opinion or why you would say “it also doesn’t follow.”

    So my brain related to sets – voting / opinions etc.

    “The definition of a topological space relies only upon set theory and is the most general notion of a mathematical space that allows for the definition of concepts such as;
    – continuity – rusted on / “and continue to exist thanks to institutional inertia” from Brent’s article, 
    – connectedness – parties / policy / tribes / rules, and 
    – convergence – to electeion result.
    (a mathmetician would ‘probably’ come back to me re above with ” it dies not follow so mea culpa).

    Null set “Also known as a set of zero-content.” … “Any non-complete measure can be completed to form a complete measure by asserting that subsets of null sets have measure zero”.  refs from wikipedia.

    I appreciate your comments J-D on logic to elicit some evidence, yet in this context without content from you other than logic, it makes Nick tell you. Valuable but not revealing your “wrong-ways-to-think-about-elections” non evidence.

    Are you able to show me some “evidence” in this thread J-D?

    “… evidence covers the burden of proof, … — may include blood or hair samples, video surveillance recordings, or witness testimony.”

    J-D imho, you placed the burden of proof onto Nick, without your testimony.

    Thanks for your clarification Nick. As Nick says J-D, “And if you can’t, does that count as evidence?”

    I really liked Brent’s article btw. Brent’s article has two “facts”. Even Brent seems to contradict himself re facts…
    “miss the fact that at least some of that shift was correcting for swings the other way in 2016, probably driven in part by “Mediscare.””.

    Facts re “wrong ways to think”. Probably!

  28. J-D, it is of course a mistake to unthinkingly equate ‘strong’ with ‘man’, but it may be what many voters do, nevertheless.

    Based on my observation, and some insider knowledge, there is a preference in Australian political parties for ‘blokes’ as leaders, and women are expected to toe the line. Women who assert themselves seem to get pushed out.

    Whether this reflects the perceptions of Australian voters, I don’t know. Pauline Hanson is an interesting case, who seems to succeed partly as a woman who speaks in behalf of (some) men.

  29. J-D, I also find it hard to believe you don’t get “sigh-tation”. It’s pretty clever actually. I do often agree with you that evidence (I would use the broader term evidence rather than citation) is often needed for assertions made on the internet, but being a kind of self appointed marker of internet comments seems … limited at times

  30. I guess I tend to think a greater prevalence of sexism and bigotry in a society goes hand in hand with a greater prevalence of desiring “strong leaders”

    Even if that is so, the number of women Prime Ministers a country has had is at best a severely limited indicator of the prevalence of sexism and bigotry.

  31. Seems I’m the only person commenting at present? So I hope all these comments in a row aren’t bad form. However this article from The Conversation, about the Morrison gov as ‘populist authoritarian’ seems very relevant
    http://theconversation.com/is-the-morrison-government-authoritarian-populist-with-a-punitive-bent-126032?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%204%202019%20-%201452113757&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%204%202019%20-%201452113757+CID_e232d7d19c9a9f8e4e440a82a06762ff&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Is%20the%20Morrison%20government%20authoritarian%20populist%20with%20a%20punitive%20bent

    The depiction of Morrison as ‘warm and friendly’ is relevant. I remember watching the campaign recap on the abc on election day, and noting with a slight concern that Morrison always looked cheerful and Shortern always looked serious and even worried.

    Not claiming to have foreseen the result, but did feel a little uneasy. Wonder how much that ‘good bloke’ thing influenced the result.

  32. On the other hand, can you show me a Peter Dutton equivalent in New Zealand politics from any time in recent decades? And if you can’t, does that count as evidence?

    It’s evidence that I have at best a limited knowledge of New Zealand politics and history, but I knew that already. My limitations are not evidence of the state of affairs in New Zealand.

  33. J-D, I also find it hard to believe you don’t get “sigh-tation”. It’s pretty clever actually.

    Hau? I kann awlsough yuze nonn-standid spelings, buht I karnt feynd ennithing klevah inn thatt pracktis.

    When people spell ‘America’ as ‘Amerika’ I know roughly what kind of point they’re trying to make, but what kind of point is made by spelling citation as ‘sigh-tation’?

  34. J_D: “Even if that is so, the number of women Prime Ministers a country has had is at best a severely limited indicator of the prevalence of sexism and bigotry.”

    So it’s ok now for you to make rhetorical claims of truth without any evidence or argument whatsoever?

    My claim of less bigotry was about conservative New Zealand leaders having no problem being seen having fun at gay pride parades. Or at least seeing at is politically expedient to be seen doing so, whatever their personal beliefs. I’m sure you’re aware it’s quite the opposite situation in Australia, even in 2019.

    An interesting question is why white New Zealand males have less of a need to claim alpha male status compared to white Australian males?

  35. J-D, it is of course a mistake to unthinkingly equate ‘strong’ with ‘man’, but it may be what many voters do, nevertheless.

    Based on my observation, and some insider knowledge, there is a preference in Australian political parties for ‘blokes’ as leaders, and women are expected to toe the line. Women who assert themselves seem to get pushed out.

    If we found examples of, for example, two political parties in the same country, being a country, like Australia, where there is nominal political equality between men and women, and if we were able to compare lists for each party of a thousand people in leadership positions, and if one of them had, let’s say, 487 women leaders and 513 men, while the other had, let’s say, 4 women leaders and 996 men, then I would feel confident in concluding that the first of the two placed less importance on traits traditionally considered masculine, including, almost certainly, conventionally understood strong leadership.

    Australia has had one women as a Prime Minister. New Zealand has had three. The numbers are too small to draw any conclusions. The UK has had two, Canada has had one, Ireland has had none: so what?

  36. My claim of less bigotry was about conservative New Zealand leaders having no problem being seen having fun at gay pride parades. Or at least seeing at is politically expedient to be seen doing so, whatever their personal beliefs. I’m sure you’re aware it’s quite the opposite situation in Australia, even in 2019.

    Again, it’s a question of numbers. How many conservative New Zealand leaders have been prepared to do this? How many conservative Australian leaders have refused?

  37. J_D: “The numbers are too small to draw any conclusions”

    Nope, this claim is an obvious fallacy for several reasons.

    New Zealand has been led by female Prime Ministers for 13 years out of the last 22 years.

    Australia has has been led by female Prime Ministers for 3 years out of the last 22 years.

    New Zealand has been led by 3 female Prime Minsters and 2 male Prime ministers in the last 22 years.

    Australia has been led by 1 female Prime Minister and 6 male Prime Ministers in the last 22 years.

    Are those numbers still too small in your opinion to draw any conclusions?

  38. Val: “So I hope all these comments in a row aren’t bad form.”

    I think that’s pretty common around here 🙂 I wouldn’t worry about it at all.

    Val: “Pauline Hanson is an interesting case, who seems to succeed partly as a woman who speaks in behalf of (some) men.”

    I thought about this a bit last night before commenting. I don’t think I remember her being called a “strong leader”. I think the words used tend to be more like “outspoken”, “brazen”, “firebrand”, “sharp tongued”, “plain speaking” etc. Pretty much just references to her “talking a lot” and “getting angry a lot” – typical tropes for describing women, though spun with a positive twist.

  39. Val. My sincere apologies for not picking up on the “man”!

    It wasnt until I was in my thirties I realized, andIn the end I had to start doing the zen master thing – I’d tap my cheek and apologise in front of them — when for the first time I regularly encountered women in positions of power. Prior to that even the women seemed to just accept it.

    I only say “blah man” occasionally now when in free flowing conversation / observation. If I have situational conversation I don’t refer to “man”.

    I now have an antidote at hand – my child who I and society have embeded equality. I am picked up on it EVERY time.

    I have to conclude though in my dotage, as with first languages, when my neocortex dims a bit, I will be back to man such is the depth at which the term man is buried in my brain.

    J-D if you don’t get sigh-tation I cannot assist you.

  40. Re attending Mardi Gras.

    J_D: “How many conservative New Zealand leaders have been prepared to do this?”

    All of them since Jenny Shipley, with the possible exception of Bill English.

    J_D: “How many conservative Australian leaders have refused?”

    All of them have refused, with the sole exception of Malcolm Turnbull.

  41. Nick; Hanson isn’t a “strong leader” as in the ability to lift heavy weights, her strengths lie in branding. Hanson exploits the electoral distrust of all politicians without having to develop much in the way of policy.

  42. Are those numbers still too small in your opinion to draw any conclusions?

    Yes, absolutely. Those differences could easily be the product of chance.

    I’m not saying they are the product of chance, I’m saying that there’s no way to tell.

  43. Rog. Great cartoon. Not sure if it is point here?

    AleD says:
    November 3, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Lumping all of us who you identify as Australians – “the mind of an australian voter is impenetrable and unintelligible and any attempt at analysis a waste of time” is not really parsing life and context of humans. Just Australians? Who – Young, old, working, in love, falling out, medical condition, etc are universal. I am not trying to he derogatory so if this para seems that way to you my apologies.

    . ..”I am told that not all humans are capable of introspection. So I guess we are probably not goung to solve the problem this way either.” Seems pretty accurate.

    Even self aware humans make mistakes and dubious claims and sometimes under and over think it. I get told way more often that I over think things now, but that is because I have more time and am waaaaay more interested in politics than I was when working full time.

    Your take on introspection did inspire me to look at introspection re Labor. I’ll put introspection in next comment.

  44. Re attending Mardi Gras.

    J_D: “How many conservative New Zealand leaders have been prepared to do this?”

    All of them since Jenny Shipley, with the possible exception of Bill English.

    J_D: “How many conservative Australian leaders have refused?”

    All of them have refused, with the sole exception of Malcolm Turnbull.

    If you tossed a coin five times and it came up tails four times, and if you tossed another coin five times and it came up tails only once, would you think that was a strong basis for concluding that the difference in results was a product of a significant difference between the coins? I wouldn’t.

  45. The introspection angle mentioned by AleD meshes with JQ’s recommended article; “when Labor so energetically inhaled the opinion-page view of “why we lost”” from Brent’s article (great phrase PB). Like a vapour for a ‘cure’.

    So I searched “introspection statistic”. I’ll get to that below.

    “Labor’s aspirational blues…
    “It’s all worryingly reminiscent of that earlier, third term in opposition, when Labor so energetically inhaled the opinion-page view of “why we lost” — it was all about “values,” “aspirational voters” and the “suburbs” — that it ended up losing its collective mind. 

    … “Our major parties have long ago lost their raisons d’être and continue to exist thanks to institutional inertia. … Don’t overthink it.”
    https://insidestory.org.au/labors-aspirational-blues/

    And as Brent says “Don’t overthink it.” Yet 2 professors – JQ & Brent would be seen as overthinking it in any bell curve of “thinking about x”, hardly by us here, but by those Australian’s – read humans – who you think “any attempt at analysis a waste of time”. 

    The statements I really want to hone in on – “for each person to instead analyse their own thinking, motivations, etc (and maybe their neighbour’s)” in conjunction with “not all humans are capable of introspection” and “about mistaken/dubious claims that are commonly made in post election analysis, ” by JQ and Brent’s “Don’t overthink it.”. None of these statements excludes any of the others and you and P M Laurence have pointed out.

    So… Back to introspection.

    “But to my astonishment, our data told the exact opposite story. The people who scored high on self-reflection were more stressed, depressed and anxious, less satisfied with their jobs and relationships, more self-absorbed, and they felt less in control of their lives. What’s more, these negative consequences seemed to increase the more they reflected.

    “We can spend endless amounts of time in self-reflection but emerge with no more self-insight than when we started.

    “Though I didn’t know it at the time, I’d stumbled upon a myth about self-awareness, and one that researchers are only beginning to understand. University of Sydney psychologist Anthony M. Grant discovered that people who possess greater insight — which he defines as an intuitive understanding of ourselves — enjoy stronger relationships, a clearer sense of purpose and greater well-being, self-acceptance and happiness.

    “Similar studies have shown that people high in insight feel more in control of their lives, show more dramatic personal growth, enjoy better relationships and feel calmer and more content.

    “However, Grant and others have also come to realize there’s no relationship between introspection and insight. This means that the act of thinking about ourselves isn’t necessarily correlated with knowing ourselves. And, in a few cases, they’ve even found the opposite: the more time the participants spend in introspection, the less self-knowledge they have.

    “In other words, we can spend endless amounts of time in self-reflection but emerge with no more self-insight than when we started.

    “Why does this matter? After so many years of researching the subject of insight, I’ve come to believe that the qualities most critical for success in today’s world — including emotional intelligence, empathy, influence, persuasion, communication and collaboration — all stem from self-awareness … If we’re not self-aware, it’s almost impossible to master the skills that make us stronger team players, superior leaders and better relationship builders, either at work or in the rest of our lives.”
    https://ideas.ted.com/the-right-way-to-be-introspective-yes-theres-a-wrong-way/

    Links in above article to Anthony M. Grant.

    I wonder how self aware Albo is. I wonder alot now how self aware the Labor party is. And as “Labor so energetically inhaled the opinion” they are splintering and potentially going to “emerge with no more self-insight than when we [ they ] started” as evidenced by their rollover to the right, positioning statements by Fitzgibon, Marles and O’Neil, “will challenge [ their ] colleagues to move beyond election postmortems centred on whether the ALP needs to shift to the right or left, arguing more resonant fault lines are emerging at the ballot box.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/31/labors-clare-oneil-says-party-cannot-afford-to-just-shift-to-the-left-or-right

    Labor have most certainly lost my 1st preference if not my vote for the foreseeable future.

    And don’t over think it. As Brent concludes “don’t stand in their way, don’t be difficult to vote for. Don’t needlessly annoy voters. And leave the big, complicated policy announcements for when you’re in government. “

  46. rog, for sure. Sorry, I don’t mean to second guess what you meant when you used the term originally. I agree she fits the bill, and I think you and Val are right. Lots of tough forceful rhetorical statements. Not much in the way of actual policy in any well-developed sense.

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