Sunday, February 5, 2012

Behavioral economics and the Republican race

One of the concepts of behavioral economics is the following: suppose a group has to decide where they will go for dinner.  The criteria of their choice are price, location, type of cuisine.  Behavioral economics says that depending upon what order they apply those criteria they will end up in a different restaurant.  That is, if you start by deciding on the price and then move to location and then cuisine you end up making a different selection than if you start with location, then cuisine, and then price.

Which leads me to the Republican nomination race and the question, how different would the race be if the anti-Romney choice had been Santorum from the start?  Mind you, I’m still not sure what I think of him as a potential president, but not knowing anything about him I was impressed with his performance in the early Iowa debates.  I don’t share his emphasis on social issues, but I continue to think he is the only solid alternative to Romney that’s running.  With Gingrich losing yesterday and then having what apparently was a disastrous press conference, it seems plausible that Santorum will finally emerge as the main alternative to Mitt Romney at the point when it isn’t likely to matter.  The race might’ve been different if conservatives had started with Santorum instead of ending with Santorum after going through Perry, Cain, and Gingrich.

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