Behavior Economics

Election 2020: The Safe-Bet Election

Now that we’re down to two Democratic candidates, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, and whatever Tulsi Gabbard’s doing, I think it is safe to characterize this election as the safe-bet election as in which candidate do you perceive as a safe-bet. For many Democrats, that means which candidate is a safe-bet to defeat the Ol’ Pussy Grabber. For Sanders supporters, which candidate is a safe-bet to deliver his platform. For the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s base, which candidate is a safe-bet to continue the New Cruelty unabated and discriminate indiscriminately against everyone who isn’t like them. And for Tulsi Gabbard, which candidate is a safe-bet to be Tulsi Gabbard? Why is she running again? Oh, yeah, the Russian stooge candidate, so which candidate is a safe-bet to take Russian money and mount an independent campaign in an effort to help the Ol’ Pussy Grabber get re-elected and finish off the US.

Right now, we’re all suffering from some kind of psychological distress. As we have written recently, psychological distress is a huge motivator and shaper of behavior. It often causes people to become risk averse and look for the safe-bet. What’s the adage that has been guiding the entire election so far?

People hate taking risks, unless faced with a sure loss.

We are naturally risk averse as a species, unless you are focused exclusively on adolescents and “hold my beer” crowd. The deeper the psychological distress, the greater the risk aversion, and the greater the desire for a sure bet. Absent the sure bet, though, and we’ll take a chance.

The Causes of Psychological Distress

So, let’s play, who’s sure-bet brings out the vote, shall we? Each candidate’s supporters level of psychological distress.

The Coronavirus

Right now, the coronavirus is providing lots of fodder for psychological distress. For most of the country, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s erratic and ridiculous narcissistic response to it has greatly heightened our psychological distress. How can anyone — and I’m looking at you #MoscowMitch and co. — deny the absolute necessity of widespread public testing and paid sick leave? We aren’t laying the groundwork for expanding the number of hospital beds,either. Really, we’re so fucked right now.

The only people who aren’t as psychologically distressed by the coronavirus and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s lies and inaction as the rest of us are his followers who actually believe the most prolific liar in all the land. Unfortunately, they’re likely to show up for his rallies. which will become the new hot spots of contagion, and they’ll get to experience the dysfunction of his testing regime and response and our healthcare system first hand and blame the Democrats for their misery.

So the psychological distress caused by the coronavirus is a wash for everyone’s supporters except for the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s. It probably won’t be driving them to the polls, though. It will drive the rest of us to the polls looking for our sure-bet in the face of this once and future epidemics and novel diseases and public health scary events.

Racists, Sexists, and Xenophobes

Anyone feeling psychologically distressed by our changing demographics, the prospect of a white minority, and diminishing importance of rural America is looking for a sure-bet that will guarantee the preservation of white people’s supremacy in our society. You know, minority rule because that’s worked out so well every other place it’s been tried.

Those voters flock to the Ol’ Pussy Grabber because racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Also, there is some evidence that some of those voters head Sanders way, too. But, in a contest between Sanders and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber among the racist sexist xenophobes, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber wins!

Luckily, this pot of voters seems to be no larger than about a third of the electorate.

Racism, Sexism, and Xenophobia

People stressed out because of the blatant racism, sexism, and xenophobia running rampant through our streets, will be voting against the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and for the safe-bet to beat him. That means Biden picks up the majority of those voters. Rightly or wrongly, he is perceived by the majority of Democratic primary voters — the primary voters Sanders has chosen to run among — to have the best chance at beating the Ol’ Pussy Grabber. This phenomenon is becoming more apparent with each passing exit poll.

Income Inequality

People stressed out because of the inequities in our society like the diminishing returns on doing the “right” things., you know, like working hard, getting a steady, even a good paying job, going to college, the sort of things that my mother told me that if I did them, I’d be better off than she was — I’m not — and that if my graduating seniors did them, they’d be living well — they aren’t. Those things stopped working when I was in my twenties — that’s the 1980’s for those of you following along at home.

The inequalities in our society have only grown worse under the Ol’ Pussy Grabber. With every massive welfare check that the Repubes writes the 1% under every Repube president since Reagan, our inequalities worsen.

Those voters largely go to Sanders, but some will go to Biden, a few of them will be for the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, and probably none for Tulsi Gabbard. Why is she running again? Because rubles. Sanders because he’s preaching revolution, baby! Biden because he’s talking about making a fairer system aka Obama. The Ol’ Pussy Grabber because drain the swamp, nudge nudge, wink wink, whiz whiz, that his fool-hearty followers buy. And because no one’s voting for Tulsi Gabbard but the Russian trolls.


Anyone who is distressed by the abject dysfunction of our healthcare system has a good chance of liking Sanders Medicare-for-All thingee, but that don’t mean they’ll be voting for him.

The problem for Sanders is that anyone who is not a diehard Sanders supporter, is scratching their ass and thinking, Medicare-for-All makes the most sense, but can it get passed? Will my friends, family, and neighbors vote for it? I dunno, maybe we should be voting for the safe bet. We look at what happened to Clinton and healthcare reform in the ’90’s and what it took to get the ACA passed, rolled out, and supported, and wonder if Medicare-for-All is just a bridge too far.

And, there are those few who will vote for the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s long promised be best plan sight unseen because it won’t ever see the light of day. They’ll go to their early grave insisting that it is going to be here any day now. Pathetic stooges that they are.

What’s the sure bet with healthcare? Incremental change or Medicare-for-All? The smart money is on incremental change, like it or not. That means the Biden (Buttigieg) plan of the ACA + a public option is the more popular among Democratic primary voters.

Sexism, again!

People who are distressed by the GOP war on women, specifically on choice and birth control, will be voting against the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and for whoever they think can beat him! Otherwise, there isn’t a lot of distance between Sanders and Biden. But, the fear that we’ll end up with a 7-2 conservative SCOTUS split and Roe v. Wade overturned — it may be in the next year regardless — drives people to voting for the safe-bet of beating the Ol’ Pussy Grabber.

In short, we’re all looking for a sure thing, a sure bet. The Repubes want the candidate that will give them their best chance at creating the single-party anti-democratic autocracy of their dreams. Many Americans are wanting the surest route to continued free expression of their racism, sexism, and xenophobia. They’re voting for the Ol’ Pussy Grabber.

Many of us want the kind of change that Sanders advocates, but worry that it won’t defeat the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and the Repube anti-democratic voter suppression machine and the Russian disinformation operation, so it gets split between Sanders and Biden.

But, the existential crisis of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s war on democracy and American values and his extreme incompetence governance, has left most of us desperate to get him out. We are searching for the surest bet at achieving that goal. For many of us, that sure bet is Biden.

The Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s New Cruelty as evidenced by caging migrant children, family separation, the ill treatment of Puerto Rico, cutting the social safety net, attacking women, denying the LGBTQ+ community their gains in equality and acceptance, and the aggressive promoting of racism and xenophobia have given us all an existential crisis. The mounting disappointments of the Mueller report and impeachment have only deepened the crisis.

Right now we are seeing turn out among the most affected Democratic voters: blacks and women. Those are the two groups that are driving the Biden nomination. In an election that is defined by the search for the surest of bets, Sanders is seen by many as too great of a risk. The Ol’ Pussy Grabber as a guaranteed loss. And Tulsi Gabbard is left out in the cold. Biden is the beneficiary of this perception of the race.

Image Attribution

The image was found using a Creative Commons search. It appeared on Wikimedia. Originally it was a painting by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge entitled A Friend in Need published in 1903. It is in the public domain in the United States.

12 replies »

  1. Jack: The stock market is the holy grail for Trump and I expect he will do anything to hide the facts of the upcoming recession. Joe Bidenis my safe bet to run against him with Kamala Harris as the logical VP choice. Stay healthy. James

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy James!

      The funny thing is that the stock market is Trump’s delusion, not anyone else’s. No one cares very much about the stock market certainly not his base. It need only do okay. His willingness to make terrible economic decisions to prop up the stock market will ultimately be his undoing. His tax give away to the 1% was done to provide money for stock buy backs to keep the market bouyed to an artificially high level. Between that and the1.5 trillion dollars the fed has pumped into the market in the past month, we don’t have enough cash or credit to stimulate the economy and fund a robust response to the pandemic. The ultimate in karma and hubris.



  2. An awful lot of supposedly smart people thought the safe bet was that the Bull Market would go on forever, or, at least until it not doing so would be their heirs’ problem. Risk averse, we certainly are, but humans are also notoriously bad at evaluating risk unless the tiger already has their head in its mouth. I expect Biden to get the nomination, but he is going to need a lot of help to get out the vote and win. On the other hand, it is a clear fact that only smart, fast, agile, and sometimes aggressive and dictatorial Socialism can effectively cope with a pandemic and direct the recovery from it. Market Capitalism can’t. Trump can’t (the numbers will look too bad). I so wish Warren was still having a path to the nomination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!
      How I wish Warren would be the nominee. She seems the right mix of progressive and center-left, but more importantly smart, decisive, and personable. She would be the leader we need during something like this pandemic.

      South Korea has gotten on top of the virus fairly quickly and efficiently as has Singapore. Both have obedient societies, though, that will do as told. There have been stories all over my social media today about people “not going to be told what to do” or “going to live their lives” and participating in crowds like St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. And, then there’s the orange elephant in the room who can’t stop shaking hands with people.

      Given the viruses spread in the southern hemisphere during its summer months, I don’t think warmer wetter weather is going to slow it down much. It seems like social distancing and hand washing are about the only two tools we’ve got… if we’d use them.

      I saw a graph of the day-by-day spread of the virus by country. Everybody is on the same trajectory that Italy is only days or weeks behind. One of the reasons or the death toll being higher in Italy is that they overwhelmed their medical facilities in Lombardy. They simply couldn’t treat everyone who needed it. We could easily be in the same predicament in a week or so. If Trump thought that the number of infected made him look bad, wait til he sees what the number of dead will make him look like.


      Liked by 1 person

      • I think a review of the history of epidemics would find that autocrats do not fare well when they get these things wrong (also works for famines, as in “Let them eat cake.”)

        Not all of those dead will be “Libtards”. He who makes his political success on telling a class of people he will protect them cannot afford to fail.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          People are funny like that. When things are unsettled and chaotic, they grow extremely risk averse and become quite conservative in their decision making. But, when things down right fall apart and completely suck, they become risk seeking even to the point of revolution.

          Right now, we’re still in the unsettled and chaotic part, so people are looking to Biden as a safe choice. But, if it gets bad enough, especially if or when the healthcare system is overwhelmed, they may then be in the mood for Sanders’ revolution.

          I think at first, Trump thought he could gaslight his way through the COVID19 crisis and still keep the base. I think now he realizes that that may not be possible. And, now he needs to tell the “truth” and hope he can gaslight the base into believing it was all the Dems’ fault. We’ll see how far that gets him.


          Liked by 1 person

          • He hasn’t started trying to blame immigrants (except for closing borders) or POC, yet. One of the side effects of The Black Death was pogroms and witch hunting.

            Biden has used what may be the most effective counter to Sanders’ critique of the current health system by pointing out that single payer European systems are overwhelmed. However a medical care system is financed, when it runs out of ICU beds and ventilators, things get ugly fast. I can’t picture any of the Western Democracies building new emergency hospitals in a few weeks as China did in Wuhan.

            Liked by 1 person

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