Crazification factor

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Crazification factor (alternatively known as the "Keyes constant"[1]) is a neologism coined by blogger John Rogers to refer to the portion of the electorate comprising the nuttiest of the wingnuts and the batshit crazy. The passage relates to the 2004 Senate election in Illinois, and reads:
Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him.[2] They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That's crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% crazification factor in any population.[3]

Furthermore, another factor in Obama's favor at the time that Rogers didn't mention is that the original Republican candidate, Jack Ryan,[4] had been forced to suspend his candidacy after his divorce and custody records were released to the press, revealing that he had taken his former wife, actress Jeri Ryan,[5] to various sex clubs (including, in at least one case, a bondage club) and tried to have her perform sex acts on him out in the open.[6] Keyes was the GOP's last-minute replacement on the ticket after the sordid details of Ryan's divorce came out. So not only was it a normal candidate running against a clearly crazy opponent, but the crazy guy also had the baggage of the last guy's sex scandal following him, and had been drafted into the campaign with little time to prepare.[7]


[edit] The ultimate test: Hogtown

The downside of the crazification factor is that it's prone to partisan hijacking; simply because a minority of the public supports a politician, or expresses a viewpoint, counter to that of a sizeable majority does not mean they are wrong. The problem is very visible in the 'bluest' of blue states and the 'reddest' of red states, where it is common for Democrats or Republicans respectively to rack up 70% of the vote, regardless of circumstances.[8] This makes it difficult reproducing some semblance of the conditions surrounding the 2004 results.

One decade later, we finally got that chance: the 2014 mayoral election in Toronto (Chicago's sister city) was a referendum on the legacy of none other than Rob Ford, who was elected in 2010 in a misguided bout of populism and soon became a world-renowned Caligula re-enactor.[9] Involved in so many scandals that any other figure would have had the sense to resign months before[10] and shunned by his own allies, it took a cancer diagnosis for him to finally drop out... with his brother Doug (a Canadian version of Keyes if there ever was one[11]) taking his place. Really.[12]

Both Conservative and Liberal parties coalesced around a compromise candidate (and eventual winner) John Tory, yet Doug Ford still managed to finish at 34%, suggesting that the factor may be slightly larger than previously thought.[13] Identity politics seems to continue playing a role even when you have a clear choice between "crazy" and "not crazy" — unlike Keyes, who alienated all but the Religious Right in rural Illinois counties,[14] the Fords convinced many low-income immigrants to, bizarrely, vote against their own interests in favour of sticking it to "downtown elites."[15]

[edit] More examples

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. The Alan Keyes Constant, Chicago Magazine, 21 April 2011.
  2. And it wasn't fully representative of die-hard Republicans: 40% of conservatives voted for Obama, while Keyes managed to get 24% from Independents.
  3. Lunch Discussions #145: The Crazification Factor, Kung Fu Monkey, 7 October 2005. (Hahaha.)
  4. No relation to the character from several of Tom Clancy's novels.
  5. Best known for playing Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager. Yeah.
  6. Ryan file a bombshell: ex-wife alleges GOP candidate took her to sex clubs, Chicago Tribune, 22 June 2004.
  7. Keyes challenges Obama for Illinois Senate seat, CNN, 9 August 2004.
  8. Reddest Reds, Bluest Blues: Obama-Romney Contest, Bloomberg, 9 November 2012.
  9. Toronto’s ‘scandal mayor’: World media weigh in on Rob Ford, The Globe and Mail, 1 May 2014.
  10. Rogers was already being cited before the initial crack allegations.
  11. Doug Ford’s six greatest moments … so far, Ottawa Citizen, 11 September 2014.
  12. Toronto goes to the polls to vote for new mayor, BBC, 27 October 2014.
  13. John Tory elected mayor of Toronto, Toronto Star, 27 October 2014.
  14. The South in Obama's backyard, Los Angeles Times, 2 August 2008.
  15. Toronto’s mayoral election in four maps, Spacing, 29 October 2014.
  16. Why so many Russians still love Stalin, The Week, 5 March 2013.
  17. Job Performance Ratings for President Nixon, Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (When did it first drop to 27%? Here's a hint.)
  18. Majority reject Japan mayor on comfort women: poll, AFP, 20 May 2013.
  19. 1992 Senatorial Democratic Primary Election Results - Kansas, Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, 18 January 2007.
  20. Candidates Focus on Alphabetization, Segregation, ABC, 17 October 2004.
  21. Tennessee election results: 2004, Washington Post, 24 November 2004.
  22. 1 In 4 Americans Thinks The Sun Goes Around The Earth, Survey Says, NPR, 14 February 2014.
  23. One in Four in U.S. Are Solidly Skeptical of Global Warming, Gallup, 22 April 2014.
  24. Poll Results: Natural born Americans, YouGov, 22 May 2014.
  25. America’s Favorite ‘Star Wars’ Movies (And Least Favorite Characters), FiveThirtyEight, 22 July 2014.
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