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Friday, December 07, 2007

Who is the most "comprehensive" candidate?

Following up on my rant concerning "comprehensive plan" and "comprehensive reform," I thought I owed it to the other candidates to see exactly how "comprehensive" they have been during the campaign.

I combined each candidate's full name, e.g. Rudy Giuliani, with, alternatively, the term "comprehensive reform" and "comprehensive plan." I gathered these data and combined with a Republican indicator, the current-day support as reported by CNN (admitedly potentially not accurate) and the total cash raised thus far as reported by Open Secrets.

Here's the rank ordering of our candidates on the total Google hits of the two search terms combined:


. list candidate compreform compplan comptotal dollcomp

+----------------------------------------------------------+
|candidate compreform compplan comptotal dollpercomp|
|----------------------------------------------------------|
1. | dodd 838 1520 2358 .0001734 |
2. | gravel 1180 2400 3580 .0149951 |
3. | hunter 2980 912 3892 .0020583 |
4. | huckabee 856 4750 5606 .0023898 |
5. | kucinich 643 5430 6073 .0028509 |
|----------------------------------------------------------|
6. | paul 1010 8630 9640 .0011659 |
7. | biden 677 12300 12977 .0015795 |
8. | tancredo 11300 3760 15060 .0042563 |
9. | romney 6420 9470 15890 .0002529 |
10. | thompson 5250 14500 19750 .0015396 |
|----------------------------------------------------------|
11. | edwards 6310 14500 20810 .0006861 |
12. | obama 7600 16900 24500 .0003053 |
13. | richardson 9540 15100 24640 .0013177 |
14. | giuliani 5480 20100 25580 .0005413 |
15. | mccain 22800 24400 47200 .0014693 |
|----------------------------------------------------------|
16. | clinton 9480 40200 49680 .0005463 |

Of course, many google hits are repliations of the same story but if the number of duplicates is proportional to the number of original stories and the level of support the candidate has then you might be able to use the number of "comprehensives" per dollar raised as a yardstick.

Sens. Clinton and McCain are clearly the two candidates that are the most often associated with the term "comprehensive reform" or "comprehensive plan." Sen. Obama and Rudy Giuliana and Sens. Edwards and Thompson are also near the top. Those candidates who are the least associated with the term "comprehensive" are Sen. Dodd and Rep. Gravel and Duncan Hunter.

Plotting the log of the total number of "comprehensives" against the log of total cash raised you find a positive correlation (which is not the same as causation!):



If you run a naive regression model, one obtains:


. reg lncomp lncash repub

Source | SS df MS Number of obs = 16
-------------+------------------------------ F( 2, 13) = 8.48
Model | 7.12582184 2 3.56291092 Prob > F = 0.0044
Residual | 5.46376171 13 .420289362 R-squared = 0.5660
-------------+------------------------------ Adj R-squared = 0.4992
Total | 12.5895836 15 .83930557 Root MSE = .6483

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
lncomp | Coef. Std. Err. t P>|t| [95% Conf. Interval]
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
lncash | .4179242 .1020025 4.10 0.001 .1975611 .6382872
republican | .1532107 .3241873 0.47 0.644 -.5471535 .8535749
_cons | 2.607475 1.670787 1.56 0.143 -1.00204 6.21699

The result suggests that Republican candidates are not significantly different than Democrat candidates in their association with one or both terms. However, a one percent increase in the number of dollars raised yields a 0.42 percent increase in the number of "comprehensives" in Google. This, as I say, is not a test of causation, but the strong correlation makes you think there might be something here.

Perhaps candidates offer more "comprehensives" as they gather more money, in essense "paying off" their contributors with promises of milk and honey. On the other hand, candidates offering more comprehensive plans/reforms might cast a wider net and therefore gather more contributions.

The tounge-in-cheek measure of dollars per comprehensive puts Gravel in the clear lead.

The difference between "comprehensive reform" and "comprehensive plan" is striking in several cases. McCain is the most "balanced" in his association with the terms. Tancredo is much more loaded towards "reform" whereas Clinton and Biden are much more loaded towards "plan." I wonder what that means - "plans" might be less polarizing than "reform"?

Here, compratio is "comprehensive reform" as a percentage of total "comprehensives":

+-----------------------+
| candidate compratio|
|-----------------------|
1. | biden .0521692 |
2. | paul .1047718 |
3. | kucinich .1058785 |
4. | huckabee .1526935 |
5. | clinton .1908213 |
|-----------------------|
6. | giuliani .2142299 |
7. | thompson .2658228 |
8. | edwards .3032196 |
9. | obama .3102041 |
10. | gravel .3296089 |
|-----------------------|
11. | dodd .3553859 |
12. | richardson .3871753 |
13. | romney .4040277 |
14. | mccain .4830509 |
15. | tancredo .750332 |
|-----------------------|
16. | hunter .7656732 |
+-----------------------+

Comments:
I have to be 100% honest. I've never been a fan of using Google hits as a representation of association.

I think the correlation your picking up is much more simple. Being more well-known causes a candidate to get more Google hits to raise more money. Even when you limit your search to just hits that include another term like "comprehensive plan", the more well-known candidate will have more hits just because that candidate has more hits overall.

You might mitigate this problem by instead using the ratio of restricted hits (those which are reported in conjunction with another term) to unrestricted hits.
 
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