Saturday, February 02, 2013

No One Sits on a Scoop Anymore: an Impression from Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

So I'm reading the Hunter S. Thompson book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, which is Thompson's book about the presidential race that year between George McGovern and sitting president Richard Nixon.  It is interesting to me because it is my first introduction to the Hunter S. Thompson writing style, but it's also interesting to me to compare and contrast that campaign with modern presidential campaigns.  Thompson's descriptions of campaign events, the horse-race primary coverage, and the campaign narratives established by journalists are highly relatable to campaigns of today.  In part this is because Thompson's writing style remains fresh today in ways that wouldn't be possible for many other establishment figures of the time.  But despite the many similarities I have found in the book so far, I just read one passage that could never possibly happen in today's media world.

Ed Muskie, U.S. senator from Maine at the time, was considered the Democratic front-runner because he polled the best out of a crowded field, and at least one poll had shown him leading Nixon. But he wasn't that popular with the left of the party, and there were a couple of political behemoths to the right of him (Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace).  Muskie won Iowa and New Hampshire, but his margin of victory was unimpressive in both, which set up a devastating Florida primary where he spent loads of money but finished a disastrous fourth with only 9% of the vote (Alabama governor George Wallace won big by courting the NASCAR vote).

After Florida Muskie was devastated.  And this is where the crazy impossibility happens.  Thompson writes:
"...Muskie called a meeting the day after the primary to announce that he was quitting the race. [Muskie's staffers] had managed to talk him out of it, agreeing to work without pay until after Wisconsin, but when word of the candidate's aborted withdrawal leaked out to the press ... well, that was that. Nobody published it, nobody mentioned it on TV or radio -- but from that point on, the only thing that kept the Muskie campaign alive was a grim political version of the old vaudeville idea that 'the show must go on.'"

Muskie went on to win Illinois a couple of weeks later, and at one time he polled even with Hubert Humphrey for the lead in the crucial Wisconsin primary that year, but George McGovern pulled off a surprise win in that Wisconsin primary and went on to take the nomination.  The fact that Muskie survived for another month before dropping out would not have been possible today.  There is no way that in today's media environment someone would get word of that meeting where the former frontrunner announced he was quitting and just sit on it.  Let alone a whole traveling pack of campaign trail journalists sitting on what would be a candidate-killing story. It was the first campaign trail anecdote I read that basically reached out and slapped me in the face with its shocking foreignness.  It surprised me so much I had to write about it here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Liberal Media Bias - A Blog Post About Losing a Bet With My Wife

This post comes from a challenge given to me by my wife.  We had a discussion about the reputations of certain websites for being too partisan to be taken as serious news sources (Huffington Post), and during the course of our discussion I said that NPR and the New York Times exhibited a sort of liberal bias through the selection and emphasis of stories that would reaffirm a liberal worldview.  She called me on it though, and so now I have to see if what I said was actually true (this look-before-you-leap assertion philosophy of mine is also a primary reason why she usually wins all our arguments).

I took snapshots of news websites' front pages at the same time on Thursday afternoon to see which stories were being emphasized by particular news organizations and which stories were being ignored.  Thursday night was the night of John Boehner's big fail of an attempt to pass a partisan symbolic "fiscal cliff" solution that involved raising taxes on millionaires, the so-called "Plan B".  It was also 6 days after the tragic Newtown elementary school shooting, so lots of stories relate to this.  For scoring purposes, any Newtown policy story critical of guns will be scored as D +1, while any policy story that talks about any other theory will be scored as R +1.

I have decided to analyze the headline (and only the headline) of everything I can see in these snapshots, which only include the top part of the front page of these websites.  This includes both news articles and opinion pieces.  I summed up all the Republican sounding headlines and all the Democrat sounding headlines and came up with a total score of partisanship.  I start with a few right-wing websites just to show what bias really looks like.

Daily Caller

Daily Caller is basically your number one source for trolling.  They show a story right there at the top of the page; the headline is "Teachers Union chief: Teach for America helps kill children in classroom".  It is also repeated in the "Popular Articles" column on the right. As are the words "ANN COULTER", so, you know.

Plan B stories: Obama belittles a GOP plan (Neil Munro) (+1 R); Congressional hypocrisy (Alex Pappas) (a fair both-sides-are-hypocrites headline and sub-headline) (neutral); a Boehner talking point (Nicholas Ballasy) (+1 R). None of these headlines scream "tax hike!"

Newtown/gun stories: Ann Coulter (+1 R), teachers unions kill kids (+1 R), "My AR 15 Is Not An Assault Rifle" (+1 R), "Guns for dummies" (+1 R), Morning Joe says GOP needs to not block gun reform (neutral).  The NRA is not mentioned.

Other: Miss Venezuela (neutral), The 10 Hottest moments from the Miss Universe pageant (not news), a reporter gets paid to check Craigslist for end-of-the-world sex (neutral).

Total: +6 R


Newsmax, which markets to conservative voices, definitely foretold of Boehner's eventual failure due to conservative voices.  They repeatedly emphasize the "tax hike" part of Plan B, which echos a conservative worldview on taxes.

Plan B/fiscal cliff stories: GOP about to vote on "Tax Hikes" (though it's anti-Boehner, it presents Plan B as only a tax hike, so +1 R): AP says the tax averages $100,000 (but doesn't give percentage of income) (+1 R), Rick Scott presented in a good light (+1 R), Boehner says Obama will eat the blame (+1 R), Wall Street Journal hates the Boehner deal (as if we should care what the Wall Street Journal thinks) (+1 R), Boehner "pushes" Plan B "tax hike" (+1 R).

Newtown stories: Hmm, where are the Newtown/gun control stories? Oh, I see one, way down there, just above Newt Gingrich's head! Chris Christie says we should talk about guns (D +1). On the opinion side, just one story about guns from Michael Reagan's perspective (R +1).  The NRA is mentioned nowhere.

Other: Main story #3 is Hillary Clinton being at the "Center of Benghazi Debate", though she wasn't at the hearing, an actual news event (this framing suggests R +1), and a neutral sounding Susan Rice article.  Then there's Gingrich evolving on "marriage equality" (D +1, also the fact that the Newsmax headline says "marriage equality" and not "gay marriage" is a great sign for the movement). Hunger and homelessness are featured in Newsmax only to make Obama look bad (R +1).  On the opinion side, neutral yuletide statements, farewell to Clinton, something something energy policy, and one thing about Chuck Hagel's possible nomination to defense secretary. From the headlines these seem neutral, though I doubt the pieces actually are neutral. 

Total: R +7

Fox News


Fox News was harping on this one story that I hadn't heard anything about apparently on their cable news network as on their website. It involves both a government's legal action against a gun owner and a vehicle in which Mexicans are viewed negatively, so it is a natural fit as a Republican story.  It gets five clickable links, all five are R +1. 

Plan B/fiscal cliff stories: Nothing stands out. In the "Latest News" section of the front page, lawmakers are on a "collision course" and Grover Norquist's absolution is mentioned, but nothing notes the plan as a "tax hike" like on Newsmax.  The fact that Plan B news got buried probably means something, but it's not on an obvious partisan axis.

Newtown/gun stories: Story #2 is Newtown, but the stories focus on, in order, mentally ill (rather than guns (R +1), a teacher's memorial (neutral), mental health (rather than guns (R +1)), and the overreaction of police to a piece of wood with "rifle" written on it (R +1).  The NRA is mentioned nowhere.

Other: The weird anti-Mexico story aside, there aren't many other partisan stories, except for the video link that begins "Top government regulations Santa will ..." (R +1)

Total: R +9

Washington Times

Plan B/fiscal cliff stories: The Washington Times was a little bit more trusting of Eric Cantor's statement that the GOP had the votes for Plan B, and so their coverage assumes that the story will be that it passed.  Thus the Cantor talking point (R +1), Jay Carney saying that it's an exercise in futility (neutral), and the fact that their main story characterizes rules for debate as "House Republicans won an early test" (R +1).  The demonic picture of Obama on a fiscal cliff story is hilarious (R +1), and the fact that they are presenting the fiscal cliff through the eyes of "franchise businesses" is a Republican way of looking at things (R +1).      

Newtown/gun stories: Literally none.  This was the NRA's tactic at the time as well.

Other: Not one, not two, but three obits for Robert Bork, two of which sound glowing ("an original" and the one where Scalia remembers Bork) (R +2).  I would say nothing else is partisan, except for maybe the "Christmas skirmishes as old as Puritans", which sounds a little (D +1) if it is debunking the "war on Christmas".

Total: R +5

Overall, conservative news sites took different tacks regarding Plan B: Washington Times and Daily Caller went with an establishment Republican viewpoint, Newsmax went with a conservative tea party viewpoint, and Fox News either didn't know what to do or they saw a defeat and humiliation likely to come for Boehner, so they just buried all fiscal cliff/Plan B stuff.  Most of the conservative news sites ignored guns as part of the Newtown coverage, with the notable exception of the troll-bait articles praising guns by the Daily Caller.

So if conservative sites ignored guns, you can bet Huffington Post took the opposite tack.

Huffington Post


Plan B/fiscal cliff stories:  Plan B gets one sad looking Boehner picture along with the line "appears likely to pass the house", which in retrospect, ha.  I don't understand the gist of that Boehner quote, and since I'm only judging by headlines and what I can see on the front page, I can't assess the partisan slant in showing it.  Overall it seems HuffPo was expecting Plan B to pass too, and they were getting right to the business of ignoring it because it is irrelevant (and because this is what Democrats would have wanted to do).  Robert Reich's blog post (D +1) and story #5 (D +1) appear to attack centrist Democrats from the left, as Newsmax was attacking from the right about "tax hikes!" in Plan B. 

Newtown/gun stories: Unlike the conservative media, HuffPo hits Newtown and guns hard.  Story #1 (D +1) and #4 are about the NRA and victim funerals respectively.  The bottom one includes words about guns, so it is a D +1.  There are also two blog posts about gun control (D +2).

Other: Cory Booker runs for a senate seat two (two!) years from now (neutral). There are some other words under the Cory Booker picture that I guess I have to count as separate links: "Boehner on the Brink" (neutral?), "Stewart Blame" (neutral?), "Coward GOPer" (D +1), "Palin mocks O" (Oprah? Anyways, nobody but partisans talks about Sarah Palin anymore (D +1)), "Coulter Slam" (D +1), "'Bigot' Scalia" (D +1).

Total: D +10

New York Times

Plan B/fiscal cliff news: The Jonathan Weisman-story headline writer provides a very accurate summary of what was going on with Plan B at the time, though one could make the argument that describing it as "a plan to cancel tax increases for all but the wealthiest" is a Democratic way of saying "raising taxes on the wealthiest"  There is nothing else on Plan B.

Newtown/gun news: the op-ed columnists are talking guns: The NRA's Blockade (D +1), On Guns, America Stands Out (D +1), and Looking for Lessons in Newtown (neutral).

Other: NY Times has a wide ranging front page of their website, which is neat, including the first bit of world news seen on front pages so far (Benghazi hearing doesn't count).  Very neutral about the Benghazi hearing.  There doesn't appear to be anything partisan about the non-Opinion Page stuff.  This is what a professional non-partisan news site should look like, I must admit.

Total: D +2


Plan B/fiscal cliff pieces: Plan B barely gets a mention, making it only to the "More News" section, where we get an extension of a dumb metaphor ("a push over fiscal cliff") that I don't even understand. 

Newtown/gun pieces: Story #1 is about an opinion poll on gun control (not mental health or 12-year-old husky boys, D +1).  Other stories on the site center around Newtown-inspired acts of kindness.

Other: The phrase "Big Food" is definitely D +1.  This is a much more diverse bunch of stories than one would find on other news websites, including NYT.  The malaria-fighting "French aperitif" story, the Mount Everest thing, the Mayan apocalypse thing, the Black Arts thing, the photo blog, the existence of something called a "cosmos and culture blog".  Though no other piece is overtly partisan, I would suggest that a panoply of ideas is associated with liberal values.

Total: D+2

Like the NY Times page, NPR seems to be mostly non partisan (except for "Big Food And The Big, Silent Salt Experiment" - making it sound like a big nefarious conspiracy from agribusiness).

So, once again, I'm forced to concede that my wife was right and I was wrong.  NPR and NY Times don't seem at first blush to be partisan towards Democrats, only that they lack a Republican bias. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

Dark Smudge All That Remains of Sandy Island

I was intrigued by the saga of Sandy Island, an island that never did exist in the south Pacific between Australia and New Caledonia. To summarize this article from the Telegraph (U.K.), some scientists took a ship to this island and discovered when they got there that it wasn't there.  But the island appears on Google Maps.  Or it did until it was apparently erased, according to the article.  Curiousity sent me looking for the island on Google Maps and found that it hadn't yet been entirely erased.

From a zoomed out level, you can still see it pretty clearly, though it is unlabeled so you have to know what you're looking for.

But as you zoom in on it, the island mysteriously disappears.

But switching to satellite view reveals something interesting.

 This inky black smudge is all that remains of Google's satellite data around the former Sandy Island. It resembles something that was hastily erased in Microsoft Paint or something.

The eye of Sauron pierces all shadows!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Romney's Zero-Vote Precincts in Oklahoma: There are Actually Three!

If you've been poking around the right-wing media looking for some of their excuses for why Republicans lost the election (or if, like me, it was brought to your attention by reading this Dave Weigel article), you would have stumbled across this fact nugget: 59 precincts in Philadelphia and 16 precincts in Cleveland tallied zero votes for Mitt Romney.  Zero!  How is it possible that not a single Romney voter lived in any of those 75 precincts?  You could come to one of two conclusions: that the votes recorded are an accurate count of the will of the electorate reflecting the popularity of the current president and/or the deep unpopularity of Mitt Romney specifically and Republican policies generally; or, FRAUD!!!!!11!!

It's not hard to see that these are likely legitimate totals.  Black people make up somewhere close to 100% of the population in these precincts, and 96% of black people went for Obama in Ohio.  There isn't a comparable monolithic voting group on the right, so one wouldn't expect to find as many precincts recording zero votes for Obama as there are precincts that record zero votes for Romney.  Even the reddest county in Oklahoma (Cimarron County, way up in the panhandle) recorded some votes for Obama (9.4%).  So this got me thinking, did Oklahoma have any zero vote precincts for either candidate?  Yes!

Using data from the Oklahoma State Election Board, I made a spreadsheet and some charts.  This was the distribution of precincts in Oklahoma that voted for Obama.  The largest block of precincts (725) gave Obama between 20% and 30% of the vote. 

This is Romney's distribution.  As you'd expect from a state that allows no write-in candidates and no third-party ballot access, it is basically a mirror image of the Obama chart.

But as you can see, four non-empty precincts recorded no Obama votes, and three recorded no Romney votes. Where are these precincts?

Here are the precincts with 100% Romney support (maps adapted from OU's Center for Spatial Analysis).

Kay County, precinct 407 - Romney 34, Obama 0 - wedged between Newkirk and Ponca City on Hwy. 77.

Wagoner County, precinct 105 - Romney 6, Obama 0 - A couple of farmhouses northeast of Broken Arrow

Woodward County, precinct 104 - Romney 6, Obama 0 - Northwest Oklahoma, rural precinct not near anything

Woodward County, precinct 303 - Romney 2, Obama 0 - Northwest Oklahoma, rural precinct not near anything

For those four precincts, it's Romney 48, Obama 0.

Oklahoma County, precinct 237 (near the boathouses) - Obama 4, Romney 0 - There's maybe one house left in this precinct since the new crosstown expressway, the boathouses, Lincoln Blvd.'s realignment and the Boulevard's construction has taken every other property.

Oklahoma County, precinct 188 (the state fairgrounds) - Obama 3, Romney 0 - I guess the three homeless people living on the fairgrounds all like Obama.

Cleveland County, precinct 90 (Moore, north of NE 27th, between I-35 and Eastern) - Obama 1, Romney 0 -  It could have gone either way.

For those three precincts, it's Obama 8, Romney 0.

But this all doesn't tell us much.  Besides that Kay County precinct, these are all fringey precincts with very few people that all have a pretty good chance of voting unanimously just by random chance. What about precincts where the candidates get 95% of the vote or more?

Beaver County, Precinct 13 (way up in the panhandle northeast of the town of Beaver, north of Slapout) - Romney 119 (95.2%), Obama 6 (4.8%) - Over 250 square miles, and only 6 people voted for Obama.

Harper County, precinct 303 (the next county over from Beaver County, east of Buffalo) - An even bigger precinct, even fewer Obama voters. Romney 107 (98.2%), Obama 2 (1.8%)

Kingfisher County, Precinct 303 (between Kingfisher and Okarche, northwest of Oklahoma City) - Romney 110 (95.7%), Obama 5 (4.3%)

Kingfisher County, Precinct 106 (between Kingfisher and Crescent, but near nothing at all) - Romney 79 (95.2%), Obama 4 (4.8%)

Logan County, Precinct 301 (next to Kingfisher precinct 106) - Romney 167 (96.0%), Obama 7 (4.0%)

That's it for Romney's 95% precincts.  They're all rural precincts in the northwestern part of the state that happen to be just a couple of percentage points redder than their surroundings.

Obama has more 95% precincts than Romney, and they are all more populated and all in Oklahoma City or Tulsa (with one exception).

Oklahoma County:
Precinct 115 - Obama 987 (96.7%), Romney 34 (3.3%)
Precinct 240 - Obama 829 (97.0%), Romney 26 (3.0%)
Precinct 242 - Obama 542 (98.0%), Romney 11 (2.0%)
Precinct 243 - Obama 864 (97.8%), Romney 19 (2.2%)
Precinct 244 - Obama 807 (98.4%), Romney 13 (1.6%)
Precinct 245 - Obama 895 (99.6%), Romney 4 (0.4%)

These are all the precincts around M.L. King south of Remington Park and north of I-40 in Oklahoma City, the traditionally black neighborhoods.  Out of the 5000 voters in this section of the city, only 100 of them voted for Mitt Romney.  But see precinct 30 and 31 down there in Del City? 1198 Mitt Romney voters live there. I'm just amazed at the sharp contrast in the Obama electorate from its surroundings.

Here's an awesome map from Eric Fischer showing 2010 census race and ethnicity data for Oklahoma City.  Each dot represents 25 people, red dots are white people, blue dots are black people, orange dots are Hispanic, and teal dots are Asian.  Not surprisingly, those blue areas are where Obama's 95% precincts are.


Tulsa County:
Precinct 1 - Obama 877 (96.9%), Romney 28 (3.1%)
Precinct 4 - Obama 910 (95.1%), Romney 47 (4.9%)
Precinct 6 - Obama 956 (97.0%), Romney 30 (3.0%)
Precinct 10 - Obama 565 (95.3%), Romney 28 (4.7%)
Precinct 13 - Obama 913 (97.0%), Romney 28 (3.0%)

 Basically this is all of the Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa and everything north of it.  Here's Tulsa's dot map.

Logan County, Precinct 310 (Langston University) - Obama 606 (99.5%), Romney 3 (0.5%) - Langston University is Oklahoma's only historically black university.

Friday, November 09, 2012

State Poll Results: Mason-Dixon, Rasmussen Duke it Out for Last Place

So which pollsters were the best and which were the worst? That depends on how you want to analyze things. 

I'm not a statistician or anything, so my analysis can only be very rudimentary. But here it is.

I took only the final state polls from every pollster I had in my database*.  The most recent final poll was from the day before election, the oldest from September 13 (Quinnipiac poll of New York), but most were from October and November.  I used the pollster's spread as the metric by which to measure it against the actual election's percentage spread as of Friday morning.  I calculated a house effect for each poll (predicted minus actual) and an error for each poll (absolute value of predicted minus actual); averages were the sum of each poll's house effect / error divided by the number of final polls that pollster did.

I analyzed every pollster's final poll, but I focus on the eleven pollsters with five or more states in this analysis. 

By the lowest average error metric, Marist won, with PPP second.  Mason-Dixon was by far the worst, with Rasmussen being the second worst.

The most centrist national pollster ended up being Pharos.  Pharos was also the only pollster with a left-leaning house effect on average over all presidential and senate polls.  Everyone else tilted right of actual results, even PPP.  The most partisan pollster on the right?  ARG (4 points).


You could also say a quality pollster is the one which has the most number of guesses within some given number of points. 

The spread in every single final Marist poll was within 5 points of the actual result in both the presidential race and the senate race, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment.  By contrast, fewer than half of Mason-Dixon's polls were within five, also an amazing accomplishment really.

Quinnipiac had the best senate poll on-the-nose mark (3 of 8 within a point), Gravis (amazingly) had the best presidential on-the-nose mark (3 of 11 within a point), but PPP had the best combined on-the-nose mark (9 of 35).  Mason-Dixon was not within a point in any of its 15 final polls (president or senate), though Rasmussen's 2-for-38 mark deserves some special scorn as well just because they had so many more chances than the rest. 

Pharos was within three points of the final margin 9 out of 14 times.  For comparison, Mason-Dixon was within three points only 2 out of 15 times.


Another way you can take the measure of the best and the worst pollsters is by the number of battleground races that they call better than anyone else, because really it's the battleground races that most people focus on.  So I looked at the presidential races in the battleground 9 states plus the expanded map 3 states of Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania.  I also looked at the 14 closest senate races plus Nebraska. 

The overwhelming winner by this standard: PPP.

(1 * indicates a pollster was the best or tied for the best national pollster in the given race, but not the best pollster. 2 ** indicate the best or tied for the best pollster. 1 ? indicates a pollster was the worst or tied for the worst national pollster in a given race, but not the worst pollster. 2 ?? indicate the worst or tied for the worst pollster.)

PPP was tops among national firms in 15 races: Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Nevada senate, Virginia, Virginia senate, Wisconsin senate, Arizona senate, Connecticut senate, Montana senate, New Mexico senate and Pennsylvania senate.  They were the worst only in the Ohio senate race (showing a 10 point Sherrod Brown win when it was only 5.2 points).

Conversely, Rasmussen was the worst national firm in 10 races, Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wisconsin senate, Arizona senate, Massachusetts senate, New Mexico senate, North Dakota senate and Pennsylvania senate.  They were the best in only three races (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Indiana senate) (interesting that they were both the best and the worst in Pennsylvania: Rasmussen's 5-point Obama win was almost dead on, but the 1-point Casey win was 8 points lower than reality).

So you can pick your own best and worst from this info.  It's pretty clear to me that the best pollsters were PPP and Marist, and the worst were Rasmussen and Mason-Dixon. 

I look forward to seeing Nate Silver's pollster ratings.

*my database excluded a few polls for reasons of methodology that in hindsight I wish I had included, including Mellman polls. 


Thursday, November 08, 2012

My Election Prediction Report Card

I know you all are wondering how my predictions stacked up against reality.  No? Well, I'm going to tell you anyways: not that great.  Certainly not Nate Silverish.  Here's a graph of my prediction of the margin versus the actual margin in each state.

The worst prediction in terms of margin was Hawaii (the topmost dot), where two polls led me to guess an Obama margin of 27 points that was actually 15.8 points too Republican. 

Here's the same graph zoomed in on the battleground states.

My prediction for every battleground state except Ohio was too Republican.  The median poll spread method I chose called Michigan a 3 point state (ludicrously).  The real margin was 8.5 points.  Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada -- all these states went more than 3.5 points more for Obama than I had predicted using the median poll spread.  The model got the call on Florida wrong, and it predicted only a tie for Colorado, which wasn't even the next closest state (Ohio was). 

On average, my guesses had a 1.6 point Republican house effect overall, but a 3.3 point Republican shift in states that went for Barack Obama.   

The worst prediction in terms of margin was Hawaii, where two polls led me to guess an Obama margin of 27 points that was actually 15.8 points too Republican (the real margin was 42.8). 

As bad as my results were in the presidential race, my results in the 33 senate races were worse.

There is a systemic leftward shift in that data, which means the actual results were more Democratic than I had predicted.

Here's the same graph zoomed in on the battleground states.

 I predicted a 6 point race in Missouri (that dot way at the top of the zoomed in map) that was actually a 15.5 point walloping by Sen. Claire McCaskill.  The model only missed on Heidi Heitkamp; I had predicted a 4 point loss.  But my average error more than makes up for the fact that it correctly called 32 of 33 races: I had a house effect of 4 points towards Republicans.  The only Democrats who won by less than my prediction were Sens. Sherrod Brown, Martin Heinrich and Tom Carper, and I was too kind to Bob Kerrey, who lost to Sen.-elect Deb Fischer by a huge margin.  But that's it. Only four races out of 33 were redder than I expected, and 29 were bluer.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

It's Election Day!

Well, Dixville Notch already voted, so I guess I'd better make official predictions.  My method predicts 303 electoral votes for Obama (actually 294 with a tie in Colorado, but I'll wager that Colorado goes blue) and 54 senate seats for Democrats.

  • I didn't add polling data from the states shaded gray in my database -- either due to no polls, no credible polls, me being lazy and not adding in uncompetitive states, or not wanting to deal with three-way senate races (MD, ME) -- so the spread I'm forecasting in those states is just my best guess. 
  • I'm predicting Oklahoma will not be the most conservative presidential-voting state this year.  I predict those "honors" will belong to Utah this year. 
  • My official guess will be based on spread, not Obama's total or Romney's total.

And the senate races.  There's a huge gap between the 58th senate seat (Nebraska) and the 59th (Texas).  If Democrats manage to upend polling convention by 20 points, opening up holes to long-established mathematical laws and basically breaking the entire field of statistics, they still will only get 58 seats. Also, no way do I think Ted Cruz will only get 52% of the vote, and even a 20.5% victory seems low.