The analytical case for Fred

Byline: | Category: 2008 Presidential Election | Posted at: Friday, 21 December 2007

Depending on how you look at it, I am either blessed or cursed with an analytical mind. So when making big decisions I’ve long attempted to quantify the relative merits of the choices available to me. One simple tool I have found useful is the decision matrix. Even my wife has become a convert to its utility. We’ve used decision matrices to buy three different cars, select a dog breed, and choose our vacation destinations. And so, I have again turned to a decision matrix to help determine who I support for President.

I’ll spare you the suspense regarding the outcome. Fred Thompson won. That didn’t surprise me. What I didn’t suspect was how well John McCain placed according to my analytical estimation.

Using a decision matrix is rather simple. Determine the areas you wish to rank, the criteria for each ranking, and the relative weights of each area. For this decision I had four areas: the three legs of conservatism as Reagan used to call them—national defense, fiscal conservatism, and social conservatism—as well as electability. The criterion for each is a simple rank ordering from best to worst with best being a 5 and the worst receiving a 1. I used the following weights: national defense, which I view as most important received a 4. The other three areas received a weighting of 2 so that the sum of ranks was 10. To calculate the total score you multiply a candidate’s rank (5 is best, 1 is worst) in each area by that area’s weight and then sum across each area. In theory the best candidate could receive a maximum of 50 points.

Okay, that was probably somewhat confusing, so here’s how it looks:

decision-matrix-2008.gif

Let me take some time explaining why I ranked each candidate as I did within each area.

National Defense (foreign policy experience, military experience, perception of strength, and border security): Rudy received the highest score. While his experience in this area is light, he has that same quality that caused Iran to release American hostages on the very day a former President was inaugurated: he scares our enemies. That’s a good thing. To a lesser extent, so too does Thompson and McCain, but McCain rises above Thompson by virtue of his years of military experience. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee bring up the rear. Neither has any military experience, both are recent converts to a strong border policy, and I don’t think either would begin office giving off a perception of strength. In fact, Huckabee’s pardoning past gives me quite the opposite impression.

Fiscal Conservatism (taxes, spending, and the role of government): Thompson wins not just because, like all Republicans in a Republican primary, he promises to reduce taxes and spending, he’s the only one talking about reducing the role of government. For example, when he responded to a question about federal wellness programs, he said that people already know what they should eat but that they lack willpower–and no government program can instill that. That’s a refreshingly honest, non-pandering, non-government-expanding answer. That is typical Fred. Next in line is McCain because he long has made opposition to earmarks his issue. Mitt follows him, who in turn is followed by Rudy, then Huck. Why the difference? Mitt gets the benefit of the doubt because he was a Republican governor of a severely Democratic state. Rudy was the Republican mayor of Democratic city. Just how fiscally conservative could either have really been? But the tiebreaker goes to Mitt because he has the additional experience of having to meet a payroll in private business. Huck, even with the homefield advantage of being a Republican in a conservative state, was just as big government as Mitt and Rudy.

Social Conservatism (guns, abortion, the role of religion in government): Mitt and Rudy are last in this area since both are relatively recent converts (if converts at all) to socially conservative positions. Thompson and McCain lead the pack here since both have a strong history of supporting pro-life and pro-second amendment positions. Both are also a product of their religious beliefs, but neither wears it on his sleeve. Huck is in the middle. While he has many of the right positions, his views on the role of women are archaic.

Finally there is the issue of electabililty. You might not think that this should be an important issue in a primary, but dismiss electability at your own peril. I would rather have the candidate who is with me 80% of the time nominated than the one with me all the time, but who couldn’t win a general election.

Fred Thompson wins this area hands down. Firstly, he has no problem consolidating Republicans behind his candidacy. If he is not already your top choice, Fred is probably in your top three. So even if not ideal, he is acceptable to almost every Republican. Beginning the general election season with an already consolidated Republican Party is a huge advantage when going against a Democratic nominee whose base will be nearly 100% united behind their candidate after eight years in the political wilderness. Each of the other candidates is strong in one or two of the three legs of the traditional Republican stool, but only Thompson has support from all three areas. No matter who the Republican nominee is, he will have enough trouble appealing to independents in the face of a hostile media onslaught. He doesn’t need the added distraction of also worrying about his base. Thompson also has the ability to connect directly with voters like he did with his YouTube response to Michael Moore and his “I’m not gonna play by your silly rules” retort to the Iowa newspaper editor. He has good instincts, and that will serve him well during the general election.

The other Republicans aren’t nearly as strong in the electability column. Romney will lose a few social conservatives who don’t trust his recent conversions, and (unfortunately) others who don’t trust his religion. Rudy will always have to concern himself with keeping social and fiscal conservatives in the fold. Huck will have to overcome small government conservatives who are wary of him and national defense conservatives who might question his resolve. McCain arguably scores well in all three areas of conservatism, but he has been so abrasive in the past that he has alienated away a portion of his Republican base. Plus, the immigration plan he sponsored makes him anathema to many anti-illegal conservatives.

Reagan’s Revolution was possible because he discovered an untapped coalition of people who just wanted to be left alone. National defense conservatives wanted America’s enemy’s to leave us alone. Fiscal and social conservatives both wanted our own government to leave them alone. That coalition of all three groups of “leave us alone” conservatives changed the direction of this country after two generations of increasing dependence on the government for help. Those old enough to remember know how much better off we are today, a quarter century later, because of the strength of a united coalition of the three groups of “leave us alone” conservatives. Of the Republican field, only Fred sits on a stool that has all three legs.

That is why I am strongly endorsing Fred Thompson for President, why I have sent his campaign money, and why next week I will be in Iowa. You too can donate and volunteer here.

NOTE:

If you find this exercise worthwhile, try it for yourself. If I can, I’ll upload the file, so that you can make your own rankings. If you’re a Republican, I’ll venture that whether you’re a foreign, social, or fiscal firster, if you go through this exercise you’ll find Fred Thompson in your top three.

2008-decision-matrix-file.xls

UPDATE:

A reader passed along the results of his modified decision matrix. His top three were Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain. Send in the results of your decision matrix and I’ll post them.

dm2008-5.jpg

OTHER FRED ENDORSEMENTS:

Beldar: Fred is the “Goldilocks Candidate.” Just Right.
Pejman: “A candidate who puts substance over style”
IMAO
Right Wing Nut House: “Fred is real – what you see is what you get. In a way, he reminds me more of Eisenhower than Reagan. Not a simple man but a transparent one.”

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44 Responses to “The analytical case for Fred”

  1. Bob Krumm’s analytical mind: Thompson is the choice for nominee « HoodaThunk? Says:

    [...] the choice for nominee Posted on 21 December, 2007 by Ric James Via Instapundit, I see that Bob Krumm has done an analytical case showing Fred Thompson to be the best candidate for the GOP nominee for President. Obviously, I agree and his reasoning is both sound and well [...]

  2. Mike M Says:

    Bob,

    Thanks for the analysis. Very interesting learning how to do one of these decision matrices. I think Fred, Rudy or Mitt would all be great choices and I wish them all luck.

    I guess the only flaw with this sort of analysis is whether one agrees with your numberical rankings. For instance, for me, McCain is a 0 on national security. He has been in the Senate but done nothing about border security and was a huge proponent of the “amnesty” bill. Yes he has supported our troops. But most of his other positions are bizarre.

    I do think that with Fred, PRE-announcement (before he actually announced his run and there was a lot of enthusiasm) you could assign an electability of 5, but have you watched his campaign? It’s great to have someone draw up great “white” papers on policy, but most people agree you have to burn some shoe leather to make a campaign work. That hasn’t happened with Fred.

    MM

  3. Mike M Says:

    numerical not numberical

  4. Bob Keown Says:

    Thanks much it has helped me realize that I have a lot of work to do before making my decision. I had almost written a check to Rudy’s campaign, however I had some second thoughts and your clarification and the matrix has indicated that I have much more work to do. Fred has never been high on my list but not because of good analysis which I need to do. Again thank you! Let’s hope we get a candidate that is electable.
    Bob

  5. edh Says:

    Small improvement suggested:

    You just need to add weights (that total 100%) to each of category, and apply the weight to the score for the candidate in each category before summing.

    That way, the total score for each candidate better reflects the voter’s priorities. For instance, if military and fiscal are roughly two times as important as social and electability, the voter can assign the weights 33%, 33%, 17%, 17%, respectively.

  6. blaster Says:

    The reason why McCain scored suprisingly high is you forgot the -30 for being a squid.

    Ed: Good point. Beat Navy!

  7. Ron Snyder Says:

    Has Krumm ever won a race for anyone?

  8. Volunteer Voters » The Answer Is Out There And It’s Looking For You And It Will Find You If You Let It Says:

    [...] Bob Krumm decides on his Presidential candidate by using a decision matrix: Depending on how you look at it, I am either blessed or cursed with an analytical mind. So when making big decisions I’ve long attempted to quantify the relative merits of the choices available to me. One simple tool I have found useful is the decision matrix. Even my wife has become a convert to its utility. We’ve used decision matrices to buy three different cars, select a dog breed, and choose our vacation destinations. And so, I have again turned to a decision matrix to help determine who I support for President. [...]

  9. edh Says:

    Woops, you did do that. Sorry, I don’t have my glasses and the font looks a little scraggly on my screen. Mea culpa.

  10. Analysis Indicates Fred « Wilson Fu Says:

    [...] December 21, 2007 at 2:12 pm · Filed under Politics Mr. Fu liked it. [...]

  11. KSM Says:

    There is a web site already set up to use this approach to decising on a GOP candidate.

    Just go to :
    http://www.mydecisionhelper.com/decision/show/gop_nominee

    and follow the prompts. It even generates charts and graphs so that you can graphically compare the GOP candidates.

  12. Phil S Says:

    Just curious what you’re matrix would have said if you would have included Duncan Hunter. It looks like he would be at the bottom in electability, but get top scores everywhere else…

    Ed: Good guy. Would make a great SECDEF. But he just didn’t make the cut.

  13. Freddie O'Connell Says:

    Bob, I’m curious about the weightings of the legs themselves. Do you self-describe as someone who values social conservatism as strongly as fiscal conservatism?

  14. Han Solo Says:

    Yeah, you should add Hunter and Paul just to have a complete list.

    Ed: There was a threshold for inclusion which I didn’t discuss. Hunter was excluded because he could never get over 2%. Paul was excluded because this was an analysis of Republican candidates. (If you don’t think Ron Paul isn’t running third party, then ask yourself why hasn’t he begun to spend his millions?)

  15. Paul A' Barge Says:

    Bob,
    What dog breed did you choose? And what did the decision matrix look like?

    Ed: Labrador. Areas included temperament around children, their need for space (ie size of the yard), loyalty, guarding ability around strangers, and friendliness around friends. We only considered certain size dogs and no long-haired dogs, so automatically some didn’t even meet the threshold for analysis. If I recall the results our next favorite dog breeds were viszla, chesapeake bay retriever, and rhodesian ridgeback.

  16. bob Says:

    Freddie,
    I’m a foreign policy firster. Pre-911 I would probably have weighted it only slightly more important than the other two legs of the stool. Post 911, it’s twice as important.

    What I didn’t get into was what’s called sensitivity analysis. No that’s not all touchy-feely stuff. What that means is to reconsider your analysis and see by how much weightings and rankings have to change for the results to change. In this case, I’d have to give foreign policy twice as much weight as I gave it here for John McCain to catch up with Fred. Or I would have to place McCain ahead of Fred in either the fiscal or social categories. I consider Fred much better in both of those areas, so that’s a ranking I’m comfortable with.

  17. KSM Says:

    I was pleased to see your logical and analytical approach to multi-candidate, multi-criteria decision making.

    You may want to look at a web site that I have recently created that is geared to helping people use this approach in their daily lives. It is pre-populated with many common decisions, with more being added daily.

    I think you will find it interesting and perhaps very useful.

    http://www.mydecisionhelper.com

    Since we are in late Beta, any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  18. K T Cat Says:

    Welcome to the fold of Fred Thompson supporters! Great analysis, too.

    Go Fred!

  19. M. Wright Says:

    I appreciate the grid, and don’t object to the result, but I find your numbers highly problematic.

    Rudy second to last in the fiscal category? Huckabee third in the social category? Rudy better than McCain on National Security? Thompson highest in electabililty? And you appear to dock Romney because of his past rhetoric, rather than scoring the way he governed and his actual record.

    Ed: Rudy is a big government type. That’s what knocked him down in the fiscal category. Huck arguably could be higher in the social category, but I find his view of women degrading. Remember, his speech that wives should submit came not when he was a pastor, but when he was governor. I put Rudy higher than McCain because Rudy has demonstrated that he can lead a large organization in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. McCain doesn’t have a similar executive experience, but certainly he has demonstrated that he can persevere through a significant personal crisis.

    All of these ratings are how I ranked them. What were the results when you made the assessment?

  20. sunshine484848 Says:

    Fred is the true Conservative!

  21. maverick muse Says:

    Analytical Bravo!

    Vote Fred Thompson, President

    Win One For The Gipper!

  22. David H Dennis Says:

    I see Giuliani as the most electable because the national security question unites Republicans and the social liberalism tears away Democrats. I think the Republican base will unite on the security question and his fiscal record is similar to of other candidates.

    I have this vague memory that McCain was against virtually all tax cuts so he might go second to last on fiscal for that reason. I agree that Fred wins on this category, but I’m really not sure where to place Romney, McCain and Giuliani. I think of them as roughly equal. Certainly Huckabee is in a class by his own at an easy one out of five.

    I don’t care about social issues – in fact I’m more or less a social liberal – so I gave social a zero weight and fiscal a weight of 4 to counterbalance it.

    With that, unsurprisingly Giuliani got 42 and Thompson got 40. McCain is surprisingly strong at 36, but as others have said, unscored aspects of his personality make him much weaker with Republicans than he looks on paper.

    Okay, if I replace “Social Issues” with “Loyalty to Republican Party”, and give Thompson 5, Romney 4, Huckabee 3, Giuliani 2 and McCain 1, Thompson wins at 50 and Giuliani is second at 46. McCain is still pretty strong at 38. Of course the problem is that this numeric scale doesn’t work. We should give Thompson 5, Romney 5, Huckabee 5, Giuliani 3 and McCain 1. This gives Thompson 50, Giuliani 48, McCain 38, Romney 32 and Huckabee 20.

    So clearly Thompson is a worthy candidate but I think Giuliani has the edge as being more experienced and more likely to win in a tough general election. If I cared about the social axis, though, my opinion would be likely to change.

    D

  23. Bruce (GayPatriot) Says:

    Hey Bob-

    Great analysis…. if only every voter would take the time to do this, eh?

    I do think you are scoring Rudy much lower on Fiscal issues than you should. He is a tax-cutter, and his supply-side speech is great. I never thought I would be a Rudy supporter BECAUSE of his fiscal conservatism, but after hearing him talk in October… I found myself surprised.

    I’m not suggesting you re-do your analysis… I’m starting to warm to Fred myself. But do some more digging on Rudy’s fiscal conservatism. I think you will also be surprised!

  24. GUYK Says:

    I think Thompson is the only one that can win the election. I personally will not vote if it is a chocie between Rudy or McCain and a dim-a-crit..as far as I am concerned they are dim-a-crits in GOP clothing. Rudy will take your right to own a gun in a heartbeat..and if doesn’t care anything about second amendment rights I don’t figure the rest of the bill of rights means much either. McCain has already said that he could care less about 1st amendment rights when he pushed through the campaign finance bill which limited your right to free speech. And the same applies..if he doesn’t care About my right to free speech then why should I figure he cares about any of the rest of my rights including NOT being crowded off the sidewalks by illegal aliens.

    Thompson has taken a stand..and he refuses to let MSM push him around..I am supporting him as the best in the race that is electable.

  25. Denver Metro Young Republicans » The Time is Now Says:

    [...] Bob Krumm runs a trade study on the candidates and picks Fred [...]

  26. Bloggers for Fred » An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings Says:

    [...] Gribbit at Gribbit’s Word, Bill Quick of Daily Pundit, Misha of Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller, Bob Krumm, Brandon at Conservative Superiority, Curt at Flopping Aces, Darrell of Alpha Patriot, Jimmie of [...]

  27. Daniel W Says:

    I have to disagree with the characterization of John McCain as being solidly pro-gun. When a gun control measure was placed on the Oregon ballot to close the “Gun show loophole”, backed by out-of-state money, he appeared in ads supporting it.

  28. mockmook Says:

    Nice analysis Bob.

    One quibble with the method:

    You assign each candidate a rank from 1-5 (5 candidates). However, I think a better method would be to give a candidate a score in each category from 0-100.

    That way, if all the candidates are strong in a particular category, they might get scores of 92, 88, 78, 78, and 75. That way, the fellow with 75 is nearly as favorable as the guy with 92. In your method, he would be 5 times worse than the top ranked candidate (hardly “fair” IMO).

    This additional “weighting” within each category would seem to give you a better chance to get your optimum candidate.

    Ed: Good point. There are multiple ways to rate within each category–and when I used to do this for a living I would present those different methods as another method of sensitivity analysis. In this case I tried to keep it simple for illustrative purposes. I did go through another iteration scoring candidates from 1-10 and the results changed slightly. Fred, McCain, and Rudy were still my top three under that scenario, but the spread between Rudy and Romney widened some.

  29. Roger A Says:

    Bob –

    It’s always nice to be reminded that there are thoughful, analytical Republicans in my backyard. Sometimes, trolling around the local blogosphere, it’s easy to forget that.

  30. BobKrumm.com » The Uncandidate Says:

    [...] Like discussing social security reforms (he’s done that too), candidates just don’t question farm subsidies in Iowa. Fred Thompson is not your normal candidate. And that’s just part of the reason that I’m supporting him. [...]

  31. Me Thinks My Matrix is Broken « DeMarCaTionVille Says:

    [...] 24, 2007 by demarcationville Bob Krumm is selecting his Presidential candidate by using a decision matrix. Using a decision matrix is rather simple. Determine the areas you wish to rank, the criteria for [...]

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  33. Volunteer Voters » Traversing The Matrix Says:

    [...] went and gave Bob Krumm’s presidential preference decision matrix a try for herself and came up with some surprising results: Yesterday, following Bob’s model, [...]

  34. beyondrightwing Says:

    The voice of reason. Thanks Bob, I’ve been saying the same thing since April. Fred is the best candidate in the GOP. The rest are just pretenders and rinos. Go Fred!

  35. Historic Times : Conservative Superiority Says:

    [...] Gribbit at Gribbit’s Word, Bill Quick of Daily Pundit, Misha of Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller, Bob Krumm, Brandon at Conservative Superiority, Curt at Flopping Aces, Darrell of Alpha Patriot, Jimmie of [...]

  36. Still Leaning Towards Fred at Ray Fowler .org Says:

    [...] The Analytical Case for Fred [...]

  37. race42008.com » Blog Archive » My Full Endorsement of Fred Thompson… Says:

    [...] State, SayAnything blog, Rick Moran of rightwingnuthouse and the American Thinker, Rightontheright, Bob Krumm, Eugene Volokh, Beldarblog, FloppingAces, The DailyPundit (Bill Quick), David Hinz (The Hinzsight [...]

  38. Why I Endorse Fred Thompson for President « Fred Thompson-N-Mo Says:

    [...] State, SayAnything blog, Rick Moran of rightwingnuthouse and the American Thinker, Rightontheright, Bob Krumm, Eugene Volokh, Beldarblog, FloppingAces, The DailyPundit (Bill Quick), David Hinz (The Hinzsight [...]

  39. My Full Endorsement Of Fred Thompson For President : Conservative Superiority Says:

    [...] State, SayAnything blog, Rick Moran of rightwingnuthouse and the American Thinker, Rightontheright, Bob Krumm, Eugene Volokh, Beldarblog, FloppingAces, The DailyPundit (Bill Quick), David Hinz (The Hinzsight [...]

  40. My Endorsement of Fred Thompson | Blogs for Fred Thompson Says:

    [...] State, SayAnything blog, Rick Moran of rightwingnuthouse and the American Thinker, Rightontheright, Bob Krumm, Eugene Volokh, Beldarblog, FloppingAces, The DailyPundit (Bill Quick), David Hinz (The Hinzsight [...]

  41. politicalpartypoop.com » Blog Archive » Blog folks for Thompson Says:

    [...] State, SayAnything blog, Rick Moran of rightwingnuthouse and the American Thinker, Rightontheright, Bob Krumm, Eugene Volokh, Beldarblog, FloppingAces, The DailyPundit (Bill Quick), David Hinz (The Hinzsight [...]

  42. Flopping Aces » Blog Archive » List of Fred Thompson Supporters, Update Says:

    [...] of Beldar Blog, Ala from Blonde Sagacity, Heidi Ann Jackson at Big Girl Pants, Bob’s Blog, Bob Krumm, Patrick at Born Again Redneck, bRight & Early, Rick at Brutally Honest, Cao at Cao’s [...]

  43. Flopping Aces » Blog Archive » List of Fred Thompson Supporters, Update II Says:

    [...] From The Jungle, Ala from Blonde Sagacity, Heidi Ann Jackson at Big Girl Pants, Bob’s Blog, Bob Krumm, Patrick at Born Again Redneck, bRight & Early, Rick at Brutally Honest, Cao at Cao’s [...]

  44. Flopping Aces » Blog Archive » List Of Fred Thompson Supporters, Update IV Says:

    [...] From The Jungle, Ala from Blonde Sagacity, Heidi Ann Jackson at Big Girl Pants, Bob’s Blog, Bob Krumm, Patrick at Born Again Redneck, bRight & Early, Rick at Brutally Honest, Cao at Cao’s [...]