Why this wasn’t the “Moneyball” election

I have heard from so many people that the 2012 election was the “Moneyball” election. A google news search showed 2,510 results.

Quick background: Moneyball is a book by Michael Lewis (that was then turned into a movie) about baseball’s Oakland A’s and their general manager Billy Beane. It detailed how the A’s were able to win despite having almost no money.

“Moneyball” has become a catch-all term for the baseball statistics revolution and people have been comparing political data journalists (IE: Nate Silver but I would like to emphasize that he is NOT the only one, just the most well known) to Bill James and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

The baseball revolution was done by outsiders who eventually got jobs in front offices. Baseball writers were writing about statistics that general managers didn’t even know about. You can contrast this with campaigns who were paying close attention to polls, turnout in different counties and all the math since at least the 1970s (but probably before).

In baseball the media (and mostly the non-mainstream media) led the change where in politics the journalists were well behind the trend.

Bringing it back to the specifics of Moneyball: it was largely about how a small market team could beat the teams with more money than sense. The Republicans and Democrats both had tons of money so this comparison doesn’t work.

A more apt Moneyball election would be if a third party candidate with virtually no funds won a few states (keep in mind that the A’s haven’t won a world series since 1989).

On another note: can we get a little bit more creative when it comes to naming these things? Overuse of the “gate” suffix (IE: Troopergate and Bountygate) is out of hand. Maybe we can call this election: “that one time where some journalists finally started paying attention to math and polls instead of just relying on partisan talking heads feelings.” Well I can at least hope.


~ by realfactsandbeer on November 12, 2012.

2 Responses to “Why this wasn’t the “Moneyball” election”

  1. I completely agree with the gate suffix overuse. I saw Stewart use Spygate for the Petraus scandal and I know he was joking. Really hope it doesn’t catch on. What was the one for the patriots reading lips?

  2. Apparently, Spygate was also used in the Plame affair (according to Wikipedia). But the Patriots Spygate was about the Pats videotaping the Jets’ defensive signals from the sidelines

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