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Figure of speech

Andrew Sullivan links to Noam Scheiber in the New Republic describing the Kerry phenomenon, using the now-famous cliche:

Kerry is clearly benefiting from the fact that people think other people are going to vote for him down the road, which is why they're voting for him now; they're not voting for him because he's the candidate they personally want to be president. As Chait points out, this is classic bubble behavior--you buy a stock not because it's intrinsically valuable, but because other people are buying it and the price is going up (and you think both of these things is likely to continue).
But what the heck kind of sense does this analogy make? When you buy a stock that everyone else is buying, it's because you can make money by doing so. The value's going up, and you want to get in on the way up. But what on earth does that have to do with Kerry? A voter doesn't derive any benefit from voting for him just because everyone else is. A voter can't wait until his candidate's delegate total peaks and then sell at a profit.

How is it "bubble behavior"? Democrats are voting for Kerry because they think he is "intrinsically valuable" in this context -- that is, they think he can beat Bush. Yes, they're voting on "electability" rather than his stance on specific issues, and yes, I understand that reporters think this is a shallow approach. (But in the larger picture, they are voting based on his stance on various issues: they prefer his views to those of George Bush.) But that doesn't make it "bubble behavior."


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