Thursday, September 01, 2005

Reader S. K. writes:
"Looking all the names in the list of candidates, I thought this election was only a game among politicians, 'cos, you know, most of candidates in the small constituencies are also listed in the propotional vote, so, even if they lose in the consituency, many will be anyway elected in the propotional vote. Then, not so much excited, except dissidents who can only run for the small constituency, and have little chance to win.

Professor S. brings up a salient point: voters have an incentieve to cross party lines between their district and proportional seat voting so as to elect two candidates from their districts.

The clearest case for such a split decision this election is Gifu District #1 where two extremely attractive (and not just in a prurient sense) female candidates are facing off against each other. By putting Sato Yukari in the number #3 spot on the LDP's list for the Tokai bloc, the LDP is begging the voters in Gifu #1 to give their district vote to local sweetheart Noda Seiko and their party vote to the LDP. For the moderate conservative female voter, it's a two-fer.

The problem is when one tries to integrate such hedging behavior into predictions of final vote counts in the district elections. Adding another variable will certainly help one develop a more accurate model.

However a more accurate model will not necessarily deliver better results, if one's data is not particularly good.

For myself, I rely the results of past elections, the likely participation rate (63%?), public opinion polls, basic rules of thumb (Rule #1: the Democratic Party receives about twice as many votes as pre-election public opinion polls predict) and the occasional off-beat thought (Of all the party candidates, those of the Komeito have the highest average age. Is the Sokka Gakkai going into demographic decline faster than the general population?).

At this point, I stop thinking and have to go with whatever I have got--because one can think oneself to a standstill:

"Two elections ago DPJ Candidate A in District Z was an proportional seat LDP representative who served only one term...while three elections ago LDP candidate B was a Shinshinto district representative from adjoining District W. Last election, DPJ Candidate A defeated LDP Candidate B by 2300 votes....AAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!"

Reader O. J. asked:
"Speaking of prurience, have you noticed many of the assassins, includingHoriemon, are divorced? Could it be many of them are single and/orchildless too? What does this say about social isues in Japan? The role ofwomen? Demographics?"

I answered:
"It is hard to run about making revolution when you were up until 12:30 a.m. doing dishes and other housework, the dog needs his walk, the laundry needs to be hung, the spouse has left without setting up breakfast, the seven year old has not done his homework, the nine year old has no idea where her swimsuit is, the birds have crapped on the telephone and shorted it out, the mother-in-law has come to the door demanding to be paid for "babysitting" you never requested, the garbage has to be put out, you have not worked out the meal plan for the gakudo hoiku camping trip (where you have to feed 105 adults and kids for two days), your boss calls, asking if you could come in 15 minutes early today and you live in a bedroom suburb an hour by train away from Nagata-cho."

Unconsciously I was echoing "The Scarlatti Tilt," a two-sentence short story by Richard Brautigan, author of Trout Fishing in America:

The Scarlatti Tilt

It's very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who's learning to play the violin.

That's what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.

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