13 February 2008

Policy changes do not occur in vacuums


A rigorous statistical examination [in the Journal of Public Economics] has found that smoking bans increase drunken-driving fatalities. One might expect that a ban on smoking in bars would deter some people from showing up, thereby reducing the number of people driving home drunk. But jurisdictions with smoking bans often border jurisdictions without bans, and some bars may skirt the ban, so that smokers can bypass the ban with extra driving. There is also a large overlap between the smoker and alcoholic populations, which would exacerbate the danger from extra driving. The authors estimate that smoking bans increase fatal drunken-driving accidents by about 13 percent, or about 2.5 such accidents per year for a typical county.

I suppose the question is whether this is transition cost or a long-term effect. Still, well worth thinking about, because second-order effects often dwarf legislative intent. Link via Marginal Revolution.

Posted by Evan @ 02/13/08 12:33 PM | Comments (0)        


08 February 2008

He makes a good terminal

Peter Brown (not the very liberal Houston City Councilman) analyzes why a Mike Bloomberg run looks less likely. I've posted on Bloomberg frequently here, for many reasons: a) a Bloomberg candidacy completely reshapes the race when he decides to drop $1 billion on his candidacy, b) I think a Bloomberg candidacy is likely -- though not guaranteed -- to cripple the GOP candidate, a la Perot, and c) I'm fascinated by the arrogance by which many politicians think they can win, even when they can't.

Anyway, Brown's points are well taken:
1. The enduring Democratic race makes it more difficult for
2. Bloomberg's stated rationale has been that he'd run if the parties nominated polarizing candidates. McCain isn't that, and isn't seen that why right now (though that perception could change).
3. Polls haven't been particularly kind to Bloomberg's idea of himself as non-partisan wunderkind.
4. I agree with this:

Yet Bloomberg is apparently confident that the logistical obstacles to an independent White House effort - getting on the ballot, creating campaign operations in all states, hiring staff, etc. - can be surmounted.
When you're willing to blow a billion on the race, all logistical things are possible. Doesn't mean you'll get votes though.

I've occasionally gotten the sense that Bloomberg really wants to run and is looking for an excuse. If he really only wants to run if he can win and he is rational, then he definitely won't run. But then, I wouldn't bet on billionaires being rational in self-assessments of their capabilities. And trust me, any political consultant who gets near Bloomberg is telling him that he can win, because if Bloomberg gets in the race, political consultants see dollar signs.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/08 02:34 PM | Comments (0)        


Using others' words to write my own post-mortem

Jay Cost notes in a Romney campaign post-mortem:

It is fair to say that Romney was a polarizing candidate. Few candidates rouse such strongly divergent feelings among his fellow partisans. All campaign cycle, my email inbox has been full of people telling me Romney was the GOP's best hope and people telling me he would ruin the party.

Cost posits:

How might these negative attacks have hurt Romney? My sense is that it likely kept him from winning over those who supported McCain or Huckabee. That is, at its most basic level, it backfired; not only did it fail to convince Huckabee or McCain voters to back Romney, it alienated those voters from him. Pew found that Romney's net favorability rating among McCain voters was just +7 in January and +1 in February; among Huckabee voters it was -9 in January and -4 in February. The only candidate who had so much trouble with another candidate's voters is Giuliani, who was not liked by Huckabee voters. This is different - Rudy's divergence on social issues and his scandal-plagued autumn can explain most of that disregard.

I think the fact that Romney was viewed so poorly by McCain and Huckabee voters, but not Giuliani voters is a consequence of his attacks on McCain and Huckabee.

I think Cost is onto something. Romney attacked frequently -- and sometimes spuriously -- on issues, even though he had flip-flopped on the issue. That's the sort of thing that will reduce your chance of winning over an opponent's supporters.

Campaigns are about introducing yourself to the public and why you're the best choice for the office. Which is why individual tactics -- however advisable on a micro-level some tactics are -- must fit an overall strategy. Frequently Romney seemed to be sending the message that he would do anything to win, or that he was too weak to stand up to his advisers suggestions. Voters don't tend to like either possibility.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/08 02:23 PM | Comments (0)        


07 February 2008

Evan Smith interviews Mark McKinnon

Interview here with McCain adman Mark McKinnon, formerly the Democrat whose ads helped put W in the White House and re-elect him. Timely topic, with McCain the nominee. Some of the questions are a little dated, as the interview was before Super Tuesday, so you can see why Smith wanted to get it out.

Posted by Evan @ 02/07/08 03:24 PM | Comments (0)        


05 February 2008

Willie Nelson is crazy

Willie jumps off the deep end -- and not just by supporting Dennis Kucinich. KVUE:

[Willie] Nelson said the collapse of the World Trade Center towers reminded him of a hotel implosion in Las Vegas.

"The day it happened, I saw one fall and it was just so symmetrical," Nelson said on Alex Jones' talk show. "I said, 'Wait a minute, I just saw that last week at the casino in Las Vegas', and you see these implosions all the time, and the next one fell and I said, 'Hell, there’s another one.' They're trying to tell me that an airplane did it and I can't go along with that."

Posted by Evan @ 02/05/08 10:33 AM | Comments (1)        


Texas Southern Law to lose accreditation?

Bad news for Houston's embattled Texas Southern University: under proposed ABA standards which are likely to be adopted, Texas Southern's law school would lose accreditation for a low bar passage rate.

That'd be a real shame. One more reason not to be a fan of the ABA.

Hat tip: Paul Caron.

Posted by Evan @ 02/05/08 10:26 AM | Comments (0)        


The earliest post-election spin I've ever heard

Clay Robison prints Mark White spinning why Obama and Hillary lost, before the Democrats have even settled on a nominee.

White, the former governor, said Democrats in recent years have "gone out of their way" to lose elections, and he fears they are following that path now.

He said Clinton and Obama are both "talented beyond belief, but I'm worried about their electability."

America may be ready for a female president, but nominating Clinton, with her history (fair or not) of political controversy, will give Republicans the opportunity to activate their "built-in hatred line," White said.

And, he predicted, Republicans will let their dirty tricksters unleash racial attacks against Obama if he becomes the first black presidential nominee, much as they did against Harold Ford, a black Democrat who lost a highly watched U.S. Senate race in Tennessee in 2006.

White and Robison clearly subscribe to the "if Democrats lost, then it must've been Republican dirty tricks" school of excuses. If you've read Robison -- chief of the Chronicle's Austin bureau as well -- and his column, you won't be terribly surprised.

It couldn't be that an Obama loss is because he'd be the most liberal nominee since McGovern (though he's campaigned honorably and impressively) and lacks experience on the world stage. It couldn't be that Hillary might lose because she was a stridely liberal voice in the 1990s turned calculating politican who will do anything to put the Clinton dynasty back in the White House. [Side note: perhaps the Kennedy dynasty doesn't like the idea of being supplanted by the Clinton dynasty?]

I've never quite understood why both sides like to claim that the other fights dirtier. On the presidential level, the American people do a pretty good job of filtering information and picking presidents.

Posted by Evan @ 02/05/08 12:11 AM | Comments (2)        


04 February 2008

This profile of Borris Miles in the Chron is pretty interesting, but I don't really feel like I know anymore about what's happening in the rematch with Al Edwards than I did before.

Posted by Evan @ 02/04/08 11:50 PM | Comments (1)        


Caller on Watts

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times caught up with Mikal Watts, publishing a long profile of the quit-before-he-could-be-defated Democratic Senate candidate.

Watts campaigned for five months, raising money and pledging $10 million of his own to the race. He had a staff of 17. Then, in September, he says, he started to doubt his decision. His youngest daughter cried that she never saw him. He prayed with his wife. He nearly bowed out that month, he says.

But what pushed him to actually do it was a trip to Washington, D.C., in early October, Watts said.

"I was pretty specifically aware that running for Senate would take me out of commission for the year, year and a half I was running," he said. "Myself and my family were ready to make that commitment. I went to Washington in October and really got a firsthand look at how senators live their lives and how little personal time they have. I reached the conclusion I wasn't sacrificing 16 months with my kids. I was in fact sacrificing the relationship for the duration."

So Watts made the announcement Oct. 22 that he was leaving the race, a move that surprised even some of his closest friends. He now says he plans to stay involved in politics through fundraising and contributing and to run for Senate again after his youngest graduates from high school in 10 years.

Clearly, it was just incidental to his decision to quit that he wasn't going to beat Rick Noriega.

Posted by Evan @ 02/04/08 11:43 PM | Comments (0)        


Vote on the next Texas license plate

In January 2009, Texas gets a new license plate. You can vote on which you like best at TXDot.

Posted by Evan @ 02/04/08 11:20 PM | Comments (1)        


Consultant for president

The "I hate Romney" club. I think I wrote on here awhile back that the enmity all the GOP candidates have for Romney was going to make it difficult for him to win the nomination.

The degree to which campaigns' personal dislike for Mitt Romney has played a part in this campaign cannot be underestimated," says an adviser to one of those rival campaigns. While sharp words have been exchanged between practically every Republican candidate at one point or another on the campaign trail, the aversion to Romney seems to go beyond mere policy disagreements. It's also a suspicion of what they see is his hypocrisy and essential phoniness — what one former staffer for Fred Thompson called Romney's "wholesale reinvention."

Posted by Evan @ 02/04/08 04:17 PM | Comments (0)        


02 February 2008


Shelley owes half a mil? Ouch. That's not as much of a spendthrift as Lampson in his 06 campaign against Shelley, but...ouch.

Numbers from the AP:

Shelley: Raised $262k, $435k cash on hand, $500k debt.
John Manlove: $175k raised, $229k cash on hand
Hrbacek: $147k raised (+113k personal loan). $120k cash on hand.
Pete Olson: $200k raised

Posted by Evan @ 02/02/08 06:01 PM | Comments (0)        



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