Monday, December 08, 2003

(yikes, more politics) the democrats of catan

This weekend, I played the great board game Settlers of Catan with my friends Julie, Craig, and Erin in Chicago. To win the game you need to get 10 "victory points," which you can acquire through a variety of means. In the first game, I was trounced by all because I really didn't have a good grasp of the game. In the second game, I did understand what was going on, but was still trounced again. More to the point of this post, there was this moment in the second game when I looked over my possibilities and where I stood relative to anywhere else and realized that there was no imaginable scenario where I was going to accumulate the necessary 10 points before someone else did. I mean, the game involves dice, and I realized that even if I could telepathically control the outcome of the next twenty die rolls, I still don't think I would have been able to win.

Since I was losing anyway, I started drifting off and thinking about the Democratic presidential campaigns, which occupies an inordinate amount of my cognitive time considering how likely I think it will be that the winner will lose to Bush anyway. I wish there was a smoke-filled back room somewhere where all Democratic candidates were required to provide some plausible scenario for how they would get to the 10 victory points needed to win the nomination (or, better, the general election) or drop out of the race.

I tried to imagine what version of the campaign gameboard Joe Lieberman could be looking at that he would believe there was some path to 10 points. I don't believe that Kucinch, Moseley Braun, and Sharpton really have any expectations to win, and I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of them stayed in the race all the way through the primaries rather then drop out. But Lieberman doesn't seem to be a vanity candidate in this way, and yet I don't think he has any better of a chance of winning than these other candidates. I have no idea what he's thinking. I have no idea where he imagines the groundswell of enthusiasm for his campaign is going to come from, given that it hasn't appeared already.

What does the market say? As of this morning, the market-based probability estimates at Tradesports have Hillary Clinton running fourth among candidates for the Democratic nomination, even though by now it is clear that she is not running and that she would almost certainly not get the nomination even if some crazed neuron fired in her brain and she decided to run. The candidates ahead of her are Dean (58%), Gephardt (10%) and Field (all candidates without their own shares, which basically seems to represent Clark, at 14%). All faith has gone out of the Kerry (5%), Lieberman (2%), and Edwards (3%) campaigns. Of these last three, Edwards is the only one I can see getting to 10 victory points, because he has the Southern Thing going for him and could potentially be a rousing candidate if he got more exposure.

Update, 4:15 pm: Word online is that Al Gore is about to endorse Howard Dean in Iowa. If this is the case, then you can really stick a fork in Lieberman. I mean, you could before, but this would probably help Lieberman to arrive at the conclusion that he can't win. For that matter, the whole race might be over. I think that's might be Al Gore's intention if he does the endorsement, to hasten the arrival at a consensus on a candidate.

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