The Shark Attack Factor

The funniest part of Larry Bartels’ article on voter irrationality:

Voters have great difficulty judging which aspects of their own and the country’s ­well-­being are the responsibility of elected leaders and which are not. In the summer of 1916, for example, a dramatic ­week­long series of shark attacks along New Jersey beaches left four people dead. Tourists fled, leaving some resorts with 75 percent vacancy rates in the midst of their high season. Letters poured into congressional offices demanding federal action; but what action would be effective in such circumstances? Voters probably didn’t know, but neither did they care. When President Woodrow ­Wilson — ­a former governor of New Jersey with strong local ­ties — ­ran for reelection a few months later, he was punished at the polls, losing as much as 10 percent of his expected vote in towns where shark attacks ­had occurred.

I suppose they could have organized some kind of hotel bailout.