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Decade Scenarios (1980s, 1990s, 2000s, etc.)

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I don't know about you but I've long enjoyed playing through the scenarios trying to create a whole "scope" of history. Basically, something like you have say Reagan v. Carter in 1980 and then run the 1984 scenario, then 1988, etc.

One of the problems is when you "change history" and have to re-run a scenario trying to tweak who runs, etc. Since the 1988 scenario has gobs of candidates in both parties I found myself often whittling this down until time to make the jump to 2000 with either 2000 or 2008. (2008 since it has McCain, Gore, Gingrich, Dodd, Biden, etc.)

The solution I came up with was to create some "decade" scenarios and basically fill them with candidates from that era. Then you can have something like McCain wins in 2000 and easily run him against a 2004 Democratic field. Or maybe Bill Bradley triumphs over both Gore and Bush, leaving him to face more significant Republican challengers than just those who ran in 2000. And also do some overlap so Bob Dole can win in 1996 and not have to face off against just 1988 candidates or Gephardt/Dodd.

So far I have "workable" 1990s and 2000s scenarios. I used the 2012 scenario as a "core" so there are some "modern quirks" in there. (Mainly things like the fact that Ross Perot will be asked to appear on the Rachel Maddow show.) But have corrected for electoral votes and party strength. Along with some changes to the issues, some tweaks to financing, etc. So these are "beta" not anything near "final."

I also made one gameplay decision. I turned the primaries into proportional with 1% = 1 delegate. The strongest candidates do win most of the time, but it allows for more "drama" as candidates surge late, votes are split or randoms get enough delegates that they hang around. From testing I'll guess that the "best candidate" still wins 90+% of the time.

Anyway, I'm posting to see if there's interest in this. If so I will zip them up (in whatever the current state is) and stick them in my dropbox and post the links here. And then occasionally update the dropbox files as I continue to. Along with maybe expand to 1980s and earlier in a reasonable time frame.

A few other notes:
-I tried best as I could to properly give the candidates their "positions" by scouring articles, news sources, ontheissues, c-span videos, etc. And the same for their attributes (although sometimes I just fell back to a rubric, especially for "less popular" candidates) and overall "initial support" factors. Feel more than free to suggest changes, criticize my selections, get angry about my political bias or question my sexuality. If I'm unsure on something I'll probably take your suggestion but I wouldn't mind if there were some kind of sources. (For the attributes I tried to set them relative to each other mostly, but you may find a candidate more charismatic or whatever compared to me, if multiple people suggest I will "moderate" between us all. I did also pay some attention to articles where "senior Republican insiders" or "anonymous Democratic sources" said the person was a boring plank of wood or whatever.)
-Third parties are a bit of a mess. Work here will continue, but imagine how hard is it to find out about these candidates when you can't easily find out crap about say a former Secretary of Labor like Lynn Morley Martin. Even finding pictures can be a pain.
-"Minor Others" are there to basically prevent nominations from instantly becoming decided forcing even an "incumbent" to not go after the opposing party until Jan/Feb at the earliest. They're incredibly weak (aside from an unknown problem that gets them winning 1990s Green Party nods over Nader randomly) but do seem to hamper an incumbent enough so challengers can be more viable in the general. Consider them to be like that feller in jail who beat or nearly beat Obama in a primary or whatever it was this recent cycle.
-Will also take suggestions on strength, support, cash, etc. I set many of these relatively based on a scale and it works decently but there are candidates I'm unsure on.
-Overall the scenarios have some crudeness and rough edges, these are the second and third scenarios I have ever made for the game and the first one was basically messing around with splitting the GOP and Democrats into multiple faction parties and trying to figure out aspects of how things work in the game.

Here are the GOP and DEM candidates so far (as of today March 11th) in the two scenarios:

DEM: Clinton, Tsongas, Kerrey, Harkin, Brown, Wilder, Gephardt, Dodd, Biden, Graham, Bradley, Gore, Cuomo, Kerry, Dean, Jackson, Bayh, Wellstone, Beatty, Daschle, Bentsen, McCurdy, Griffin, Casey, McGovern.
GOP: Bush, Dole, Buchanan, Forbes, Alexander, Gramm, Wilson, Lugar, Specter, Keyes, Dornan, Duke, Strassen, Martin, Powell, Cheney, Gingrich, Rumsfeld, James Baker, Weld, Quayle, W. Bush, McCain, Fred Thompson, Allen, Elizabeth Dole, Kasich, Ashcroft, Hutchison, Hatch, Tommy Thompson, Smith, Bauer, Hunter, Campbell, Kemp

GOP: W. Bush, McCain, Romney, Giuliani, Paul, Fred Thompson, Forbes, Huckabee, Elizabeth Dole, Kasich, Brownback, Hatch, Quayle, Cain, Tommy Thompson, Alexander, Tancredo, Smith, Keyes, Bauer, Hunter, Gilmore, Cox, Gingrich, Chafee, Gary Johnson, Jeb Bush, Powell, Rice, Frist, Watts, DeMint, Pataki, Allen, Daniels, Pawlenty, Wilson, Ashcroft, Sanford, Hutchison, Whitman, Santorum, Kemp
DEM: Obama, Clinton, Gore, Bradley, Kerry, Edwards, Dean, Richardson, Gephardt, Bayh, Dodd, Biden, Kucinich, Lieberman, Clark, Vilsack, Graham, Moseley Braun, Sharpton, Gravel, Wellstone, Hart, Daschle, Bill Clinton, Warner, Kerrey, Durbin, Jackson, Sebelius, Feingold, Napolitano, Beatty, McCain

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Here is the first beta version of the 1990s Scenario, I have just zipped it like the other scenarios on the site rather than use 7zip or anything more exotic: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/820953/1990sElections.zip
I can mirror it elsewhere if there are any problems with the link.

Important Note: For whatever reason, you have to have at least two Democratic and Republican candidates if the parties are on in the primaries or else it will probably crash or the party won't show up at all. (Depending on how upset the game gets.) As noted above "Minor Others" is the best choice opponent for an "uncontested" incumbent.

I changed one of the issues recently in the 2000s one and I just want to go through and double check that nobody is on the "wrong side" of it at least. I was going to wait and put them up together but figured since it's been a week since my original posting I should at least post one of them.

This 1990s one should be "okay" even if quite crude and rough around the edges.

As noted above: any comments or questions, no matter how negative, are welcome. But I do hope you have a good time with it. (And at minimum, I hope it works for everyone.)

After I check and post the 2000s one, I will go back and edit my first post in the thread so it's easy to check and see the release date and major changes of the latest version of whatever scenario as well as download it from the very top of the thread.

Oh, forgot to mention, I'll take candidate suggestions as well. I was thinking Ann Richards in particular might be a nice addition to 1990s (I also meant to put Sam Nunn and Chuck Robb, along with probably Dukakis or Bruce Babbitt, in there but had forgotten I meant to do that until right now), along with Ron Paul as a possible Libertarian candidate. (Libertarians also need more "real" candidates in general, as it's just Harry Browne right now.)

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Also forgot to mention, actual VPs don't really exist currently. I've been focused on creating the candidates with the idea that I can go back and make a bundle of VPs fairly quickly later. I started to make them in the 2000s one and realized it was better to flesh out the candidates first, especially since a lot of those are also potential VPs.

When the AI picks the placeholder I often pretend they picked the "actual" VP (Gore/Kemp/etc.) or runner-up although they mostly pick one of the other candidates so you really tend to see this when you run against an "incumbent" in which case I pretend they just re-picked the same VP. (Which I tend to do even if they dump them if they get "challenged" in a primary.)

And almost none of the candidates have any kind of crusaders (for similar reasons), suggestions for some of those (who aren't wives or husbands) would be appreciated.

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This looks great! I tried playing it and I had a very interesting race with Dan Quayle v. Joe Biden ("A battle of the Gaffes"). It's quite great for a beta, and I have some suggestions:

1.-Al Gore should be stronger, I had him run against Bill Bradley and/or some minor democrats and he always lost the primaries in landslides.

2.- I think the scenario should start in October/November, otherwise it's just too early and the primaries seem to go out of control (like John McCain winning Iowa with 70% against Jack Kemp or Dubya).

3.- Colors. I know it's hard to assign colors due to the limited numbers, I found that red appears too often with democrats (I tried playing the RL field of 1992 and everybody but Clinton was in the same shade of red).

Finally, keep up the good work, I'd love to see a full version!

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Thanks for the comments, I'll try to address them:

1. Will take a close look at Gore, I tried to balance him between 1988 "strength" and VP "strength" but there's a good chance I underpowered him. Gore had been almost too strong for a while in both the 1990s/2000s scenarios (vaporizing Bill, Hillary and Obama as challengers for example) so I might have ratcheted him down way too much.

2. Yes, I've seen that runaway momentum issue. (I do tend to see this more in the GOP field, if you notice it's happening mostly there or across all parties, let me know.) I had actually originally started the scenarios two years before election day and it just made one candidate untouchable a lot. I've also toyed with endorsers of various issues in that pre-primary stage but found that once that momentum starts they would all flock to the frontrunner (even things like "far-right" pro-life groups endorsing "far-left" pro-choice candidates) and it'd be over at Iowa. I will take a look at both the support levels and also shortening the pre-Iowa calender.

3. This was an oversight on my part before posting. You'll notice that the GOP field (mostly people who actually ran) generally runs through the entire available color palette. I simply forgot to edit all the Democrats I had recently added. I will make this a priority since it is pretty unsightly and confusing.

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After messing around a bit with it I'm going to move the start dates from the start of April to August (or last Tuesday of July) with the Ames Straw Poll. Still looking at tweaking the support, I've been messing with various changes to my original system and the main thing I've come away with is to take another look at how the candidates are balanced in terms of quantity vs. depth. Thinking of a situation like the recent election where every seeming non-Romney rose and fell, in particular how Rick Perry entered the race as a clear frontrunner and with great fundraising but collapsed quickly. One candidate in the 1990s scenario who is sorta like this is Phil Gramm who was leading or tied with Dole in many 1996 polls, was the top fundraiser and basically the conservative frontrunner and it all evaporated before the primaries. I tried to set him up in the scenario with good polling support but weak in committeds and have mostly seen him always fade as a primary candidate if there's heavy hitters like Dole or Kemp or even a Cheney or Rumsfeld in the race. I'm going to take another look at the candidates and see if there's room to improve and add stuff like this. (Or the inverse, a Rick Santorum type with no money and 2% in the polls sticking around long enough to be the "other choice")

Has anyone seen an explanation for how exactly AI candidates determine to leave the race? I've seen no-money, no-campaign "extreme" candidates like Al Sharpton and Kucinich ditching races almost always early on while others like David Duke or Mike Gravel or Alan Keyes will often hang around until the convention. At the same time I've seen someone like Colin Powell be near tied for the delegate lead, leading in the polls and the projection showing him still having a good shot at it and he'll bail after Super Tuesday or before the Illinois primary (roughly the "big" middle primary in the setup I used) and I'm wondering if it may be tied to one of the character attributes?

I intend to post an updated 1990s Scenario (color fixes, new start date, a few more candidates, etc.) along with the 2000s Scenario sometime this week. I'll also setup a tumblr to also post updates to incase the forum goes down again. (And it'll be another place to easily go and get the scenarios.)

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As of this moment the following are in:

Libertarians: Browne, Barr, Badnarik, Johnson

Green: McKinney, Cobb, Nader
Constitution: Phillips, Peroutka, Baldwin
Reform: Buchanan, Hagelin, Trump (2000 version), Perot, Ventura

Then there is an independent Nader who is actually more of a "2000" version as he's stronger than the Green Party (even though he was on the Green Party line that year).

There are also Sam Nunn and Johm McCain as independents since there was speculation and flirting and such regarding both and also because I felt McCain at the least was fun to have in such a role. (Same reason I've stuck him in the Democrats as some media types frothed up about such an idea.) I had intended to put Bloomberg and Trump (modern version) in a 2010s scenario, but I guess Bloomberg could be added to this one as another independent.

I could add Colbert, though I'm not entirely sure how to "properly represent" him in the game lol.

I'll give them both another once over (especially since I changed the start dates and forgot about the colors last time) and post them up hopefully by Monday.

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Yes, along with Barry Commoner. My intent was to try and include any of the candidates/parties who got higher than 0.2% of the vote or were "famous"/interesting for some other reason. (Part of why I included Griffin, Duke and Stassen in the 1990s scenario.) I did explore going lower to include "regular" parties like the Socialists or Prohibition but kept running into issues finding pictures and just basic information on the candidates. So for the first pass I tried to make it be the top five or six parties.

1980s will likely be the next scenario I start working on rather than 2010s so if anyone would like to make some pre-emptive suggestions for candidates/issues/etc feel free. Dale Bumpers, William Proxmire, John Danforth, and Gerald Ford are a few candidates who didn't actually run who I'll probably be including. Maybe Charles Mathias. Thankfully like the 2000s and unlike the 1990s, lots of speculated people actually did wind up running for President in the 1980s. Especially on the Democrats side thanks to all that losing. (1990s has basically Clinton, Gore, Bradley, Harkin, Tsongas, Kerrey, Wilder and Brown if you stick to people who actually ran AND include 2000.) Even though Reagan-Bush were there for twelve years (and with 1984 being a non-entity) you still had Kemp, Dole, Baker, etc. all taking a stab at it in the primaries.

If there's a clamoring for doing 2010s I could be convinced to go that route either before 1980s or after because it is a much easier one to do since finding information takes almost no time. Otherwise I'll probably go onto at least a 1970s one before coming back to 2010s because if I toss in Goldwater, LBJ and Bobby Kennedy you can sorta play that one back to 1968 or even earlier if you combine with the 1960 scenario that exists.

I'll keep refining the ones posted as well, though there's just something more fun in getting a basic one up and running with all the candidates and playing around with it even if unpolished than going through and rechecking things.

EDIT: Oh, and if anyone would like to suggest some 1990s era (and earlier for later usage) replacements* for the media interviews I'll start "correcting" those. (And suggestions will get me to also do my own research to fix them all.) One thing I did with them currently is kinda exaggerate their positions so it'd hopefully "pull" away from the center and maybe "trip up" candidates. Something along the lines of left becoming far-left, center-left becoming left, etc. Since I mentioned Maddow above, the idea is basically that she would interview the candidates from their left (even if they're center-left or near left) most of the time and someone like Hannity would interview them from their right less than what their overall positions on the show may really be. I have no knowledge on if the game does the real life thing where candidates would just avoid the "opposition views" or not but I did want to sorta simulate that effect with a "pull" to the extremes.

*Crossfire, McLaughlin, Firing Line, etc. Even if candidates don't necessarily appear on the shows, going back with the lack of 24/7 cable and its time to fill reduces these compared to today but I wouldn't mind still having a decent amount of them. One justification I make is that it replaces the "talking head" shows that do influence decisions even if candidates wouldn't appear. (Or campaign managers, etc. would.)

Edited by benji
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In terms of future scenarios, I think a 1950s-1960s hybrid scenario would be neat as there were so many high-profile and historically significant politicians during that period who never actually ran for President. Sam Rayburn, Joseph McCarthy, Mike Mansfield, Carl Hayden and Ross Barnett are a few I can think of off the top of my head.

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Here is a 2000s scenario beta, I think I fixed up most of the outstanding issues including those related to the start date shift (I spacebarred through a few AI games and it seemed to work okay, will do important fixes faster if found), wanted to get it out anyway since I had been delaying for so long: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/820953/2000s%20Elections.zip

Unlike the 1990s one there are some VP candidates since this is where I realized it was dumb to start there instead of leaving a generic candidate initially.

Just realized I should make Cheney as a candidate.

Need to still fix up a couple things in 1990s to do another beta version, had a busy week so apologies for this not coming out earlier as planned. (And even more apologies for 2000s taking so long. You get changing one thing and then another and even though they're betas, etc.)

This was my "first" scenario after my test bed fantasy one so there's probably more weird stuff still lingering in this than the 1990s one where I had already learned quite a bit.

Hope this scenario works for everyone.

Oh, and I tested something using the Green Party for third party primaries, let me know if that's horrific. I'm still somewhat unsure how to handle a race in those.

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Well, this scenario beta also works well, there are lesser problems due to the July start (even if I would recommend September) and most of the primaries are playable. The issues I have found so far are two:

1. The lack of "favourite son" effect: While candidates like Giuliani and Gingrich can carry their homestates without any problems, there are candidates like Bob Graham who have the same strength in all 50 states. I know it must be hell to set individual strength to all candidates in all of the states, but this is something that could be improved in the future.

2.- Ron Paul. Somehow, and in every game in which he was present, he had 50% leads in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina by October, and despite minor problems while fighting Dubya, Romney and Giuliani, he always prevailed with a supermajority of delegates.

Still, I think these are just minor details, these scenarios are simply awesome... Please, keep up the good work!

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Well, this scenario beta also works well, there are lesser problems due to the July start (even if I would recommend September) and most of the primaries are playable. The issues I have found so far are two:

1. The lack of "favourite son" effect: While candidates like Giuliani and Gingrich can carry their homestates without any problems, there are candidates like Bob Graham who have the same strength in all 50 states. I know it must be hell to set individual strength to all candidates in all of the states, but this is something that could be improved in the future.

2.- Ron Paul. Somehow, and in every game in which he was present, he had 50% leads in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina by October, and despite minor problems while fighting Dubya, Romney and Giuliani, he always prevailed with a supermajority of delegates.

Still, I think these are just minor details, these scenarios are simply awesome... Please, keep up the good work!

1. Bob Graham certainly didn't have his set for some reason. I'll recheck everyone most candidates should have support 2-4 times higher in their home state and sometimes also in neighboring or otherwise strong states. Of course, for some like in Graham's case even the high end boost still wouldn't make him very strong against an Obama/Clinton in Florida. But that does seem realistic.

I will try to "individualize" the state strengths in the future, one reason I didn't just replicate their actual performances as much as try to "rate the overall candidate" is because of that "changing history" aspect to the goal of these scenarios. Not to mention how quickly people drop out so it's hard to "guess" how they might have done.

It does seem to be contributing to the domino effect however. (Which also does seem realistic in some regards, winning three or more out of Iowa/NH/SC/Florida/Michigan does tend to "win" you the nomination.) I'm not sure to what extent the AI will target states to setup a "firewall" or do something like Rudy did in 2008 and focus all in on an early primary.

2. Wow, I've only ever seen him win a primary once or twice in realistic fields. Even putting him in some favorable fields it's been rare to see him come out with the nomination. If he hangs around it's mostly in a seemingly proper gadfly role. I just noticed that for whatever reason his strength was elevated in Iowa/NH, must be a left over old rating that went unchanged, correcting that alone should probably put a bit of a damper on The Revolution. There might be a few more of these legacy things hiding in the 2000s one in comparison to 1990s since I had shifted over to working on the latter for a while before coming back.

The problem I have been having is whenever I scroll down on the polling, I get an error code saying "list index out of bounds."

Are there particular candidates or a particular party this happens with? I will try and recreate it on my own to see what the issue is.

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I haven't been able to recreate that error so far unfortunately.

Forgot to reply to this:

(even if I would recommend September)

As I noted I originally setup the scenarios to be two years out and tried figuring out a way to play that early period. The recent GOP race is probably fresh in my mind with the rise and fall of Bachmann, then Perry, then Cain, then Gingrich, then Santorum. But I found it did nothing but guarantee the runaway train of the frontrunner, I have yet to figure out how to deny this and have jockeying in the polls before the primaries.

That's why I shortened to April (just prior to debate season last time around, first I believe was in May with candidates like Johnson, Paul, Cain, etc., and created regular debates) and now first Tuesday around August (Iowa Straw Poll) but depending on what I can either figure out or not, I will consider moving it up again. (Maybe I have set things up wrong, but debates don't seem to matter all that much prior to the primaries.)

Also as noted, I had messed with issue based endorsers like Sierra Club, Right to Life, NOW, Planned Parenthood, etc. to fill in that long empty calender. Along with local endorsers like newspapers. But I found that once one went they all fell in line behind the frontrunner and momentum went even more out of control. (Even where anti-abortion groups were endorsing pro-choicers no matter what I did.) That's why the endorsers you DO see currently are financially focused with a few related to foot soldiers.

Maybe I should mess around with a cloned scenario or my old fantasy test one some more than I have since I got these off and running. Try some more extreme settings out.

Also should really see about getting some more surrogates in the game, I've seen them be really valuable at times when playing.

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It's strange, I can't recreate that. Though I have with other scenarios sometimes run into errors on my laptop that I never get on my desktop. I will take a close look at those two candidates in particular and the party as a whole to make sure there is nothing I know that causes the error lingering.

I've addressed most of the issues mentioned in this thread in the scenarios themselves (outside of those I've waxed philosophically on, which probably won't ever be "fixed") so far and thus am looking towards posting some updated downloads by next week. Also going to start messing with the 1980s, I may also try something with the 2010s in terms of iterating more often since I already have a good number of the candidates from 2012 and even 2016 potentials already in the game and so that scenario could be more about slowly adding candidates. (Unlike 1980s where you have to throw out a lot of the 1990s candidates and you're missing the heavy hitters like Reagan and Kennedy and Mondale and Carter, etc. And the candidates you do have you have to rework, ala Dole who wasn't anywhere near as strong.)

If you guys would prefer I also push out the 1980s scenario regularly as more of a work in progress I could do that as well. I don't know if you guys are enjoying the scenarios more just from their whatever state or when they get more polished up. Like my oversight of fixing the colors in the 1990s one before I posted it. I personally enjoy just being able to get in and play when I get scenarios to that point so perhaps I should do that even if "incomplete." (Maybe I'll post my weird testing scenario just for fun.)

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