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News you can use (against me later)

love-that-demFirst of all, everyone who’s coming here from the Green blog rolls and such, welcome.  THM won’t be participating in the upcoming Green blog “parties” on Election Day…mostly because I’ll be “on the air”.  Yes, our sister site, The Secret Frequency, a Green podcast, will be on for much of the night with updates, in a fashion that I’ll explain in the next post.

For right now, I wanted to make some predictions having to do with the election and some politics and events in general, because…y’know, that’s what blogs like this do, and because I’m seeing some trends that are neat to mention.  I don’t have the benefit of the megascientific-but-still-somehow-flawed polls…so most of these are a combination of trends with some numbers behind them and a lot of gut feelings.  Ordinarily I cast aspersions on such gut feelings, but hey, going with your gut can often give you some insights that those too deep in the forest might miss.  And of course, going with your gut in doing a blog post and going with your gut when running the country are two very different things, the first being merely fanciful and slightly edgy and the second being galactically stupid.

Anyway, here they are:

  • Barack Obama will win the Presidency with about 51.5% of the popular vote.  John McCain will take about 46%, and other candidates will take the remaining 2.5%, including three-quarters of a percent for Nader and Barr and about half a percent or probably less for McKinney and Baldwin.
  • In the Electoral Collusion College, Obama will take 311 Electoral Votes, McCain 227.  Of the “battleground states” (Definition: the small percentage of Americans who will actually decide who the President is while the rest of us toss our votes merrily into the Diebold machine like darts at the wall), Obama will take Colorado, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, and – a very recent call in our highly scientific Secret Frequency/Hidden Message poll – Ohio.  (Some of those weren’t “battleground”…so sue me.)  McCain will take Missouri, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, and Florida.
  • There will be shenanigans.  Both sides will engage in them.  At this point, McCain has about a 3% chance of winning, according to fivethirtyeight.com, and I concur; if McCain wins, however, that would mean about a 90% chance of obvious shenanigans on the part of the McCain campaign if not the GOP (who really would prefer to sit this one out rather than go hog-wild electing a guy they don’t all really like, anyway).  There’s a non-zero chance that there’ll be some violent shenanigans, perhaps direct voter intimidation, or, in a more advanced case, election day “riots” in strategic locations, or violence against candidates.
  • The Greens will take three state legislative seats.  Not a biggie for some, but a key element in getting the Greens back on track following this campaign; it’ll mean more Greens with actual governing experience, more Greens to teach everyone else how things are actually done.  (Incidentally, didja see McKinney in the Post?  Mixed bag.  A poor article, but then, the Post detests Greens for running against their pet, anointed Dems – so there wouldn’t be any such thing as a good article.  McKinney’s strategy seems to have been simply to tell them nothing and make them look foolish themselves as they tried to make her look foolish; mission only somewhat accomplished, as she really is that much of a liability.  Had she been very competant, the Post would have found the most patchouli-oil-and-tie-dye guy in the room and written about him, or just buried the story on page D14 – essentially what they did with David Cobb.
  • There’s about a 1% chance that the Republican Party will have some significant chunk break off before the next election – probably either the libertarians or the evangelicals, maybe both.

12 Responses

  1. I think you’re putting too much stock in Nate Silver. His methodology consistently skews the race to the Left. I believe he uses an “expanded” model for likely voters, which basically amounts to a guess by each individual pollster as opposed to simply including people who have voted in 2 previous elections, know where their polling place is, etc…

    And while I think an expanded model is necessary in an election that will almost certainly have a high number of first time voters, it’s still a very subjective number. No matter how much math is included, it’s still pretty much a guess. Some of the early vote numbers in a few Georgia precincts show that African American turnout is between 90 and 95% — should we assume that trend will hold nationally? Probably not.

    Silver averages out the polls, same as RCP or Pollster, but he acknowledges that he weights their value based on past election results. Really? That would put Zogby pretty high up there, since they were the only poll that correctly predicted the 2000 election (and yeah, Silver uses national polls to measure the trendline). But most other pollsters think Zogby uses some kind of voodoo to weight his likely voter model. Seriously, his polls bounce around every day – +10 for Obama one day, +2 the next. But he was lucky enough back in 2000 to, I guess, get a little extra love from 538.

    My last caution about Silver is the common sense factor. No way McCain’s chances are at 3%. InTrade has had him pretty consistently at 16 – 17%, and they’re putting their money on it. Yesterday, when the Mason Dixon poll had McCain within 4 in PA, Silver dismissed it as an outlier. Didn’t seem like it to me: McCain has practically moved there over the past couple of weeks while Obama has camped out in Florida; Obama had his ass handed to him in the Primary there; Philly had low turn-out in the Primary; it’s ALWAYS one of the closest swing states; and Murtha calling western PA “racist” and “redneck” probably didn’t help. So it seemed like there was a basis for the movement in the poll… it didn’t feel like an outlier. This morning, a new poll has the state within 5 points.

    Much as I’d like his analysis to be right, I just can’t pay much attention to someone who uses creative math to dismiss the polls he doesn’t like. Probably best to just pick one tracking poll (any one of them) and follow it every day looking for trendlines. I usually do this with Gallup. I have no reason to believe they’re the best poll, but at least it should be predictive in terms of direction of movement, and they include 3 numbers – registered, likely (traditional), and likely (expanded).

    … 3% chance. Give me a break.
    Of the three national polls released this morning, two have McCain within 4 points, and one has Obama up 6. Oh, and the one that has him up 6 is the Daily Kos poll.

    Your guesses in the electoral college seem pretty good, though I wouldn’t necessarily put Florida in the McCain camp. I’m also not convinced about North Carolina — the early vote there has been very good for Obama (as opposed to in Florida, where absentee ballots which are more Republican are balancing the pro-Obama early voters). On the other side, I’m concerned about Pennsylvania and Ohio, and I’m not even ready to call Nevada for Obama yet. Actually, even Virginia has started to tighten up quite a bit.

    It’s Halloween, and I am frightened.

  2. Well, you are a Democrat.

    Silver dismissed it as an outlier because it is. CNN/Time has Obama +12, as does Quinnipiac, AP, SurveyUSA, and Muhlenberg. Temple University has Obama +9, Rasmussen has +7. Moreover, on closer look, Mason-Dixon is showing 10% undecided – nobody else has more than 6% – and McCain’s percentage in the poll is no better than it is in the CNN/Time poll. Who’s doing the “creative math” here? Either Mason-Dixon is a bit off – it’s within statistical limits – or everyone else is. It’s pure common sense. I don’t have a dog in this hunt, remember?

    (ETA: Oh, btw, on the same day, Mason-Dixon showed McCain +4 in Arizona.)

    And what’s with Zogby? His polls have an eight-point shift, he completely blew 2004, and he was off in the Dem primary in California this year by 23. That’s the guy you think is better? Sure, he hit a homer in the Series a year or three ago, but he’s batting about .220 since then.

    Besides, I’m assuming a bias as well, which is why I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid on the 350+ EV predictions. There wil be shenanigans, and it will tip at least one state. Thing is, I know these guys, and they can’t tip that many states that far that fast without leaving big, obvious footprints in the sand. If McCain wins, you may reasonably assume this election was stolen; the evidence should present itself without having to look hard for it.

    McCain with a 3% shot makes perfect sense when you look at it soberly. Sure, he can win Virginia. Might get NC, too. Might get Florida. But take a look at all those swing states across the country…they’re all on the red side. McCain has to win all of them. Every single one. Any one of them goes for Obama – and I mean Nevada, or New Hampshire, or Colorado, or Montana, or the district around Omaha, Nebraska – any of them goes blue, and the race is over. Maybe a 5% chance of that happening? Dunno, but no way is there a 17% chance.

    But while I’m on a roll, here’s something for you to consider. Let’s say that Palin stokes up the yahoos and the South rises again on Election Day. Obama takes NH and Pennsylvania, but loses Virginia and the rest of the South completely, along with Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri. Panic. The Obama folks frantically redouble their efforts in the final hours and take Nevada and New Mexico, but the vital state of Colorado is lost.

    Your final score? Obama 269, McCain 269.

    Pleasant dreams!

  3. I see how why you’re a Green. I’d never seen anyone wearing as much tinfoil in their hat, at least in mainstream politics (if you count the Greens as “mainstream politics”) as Cynthia McKinney from what you say of her, and now you’re sounding a little like her.

    Sure I agree something untoward might happen, any right thinking person with a sense of history knows that. But most of your post belongs in the “way out there” category.

  4. Okay, now I’m curious: which part do you think that about? Obama takes Ohio? Election shenanigans? This was pretty tame, given the last few elections…

  5. OK – it’s late, so all I have time for is a quick correction. You just illustrated my point about Zogby. His numbers are all over the place, and very few people would consider him “reliable.” But Silver’s measurement of reliable polls is about how close they were in 2000 and 2004. By that measure, people like John Zogby, who “hit a homer in the series a year or three ago” is given more credibility than other pollsters. I’m saying that’s wrong.

    Oh, and your 269 – 269 prediction? That was Tim Russert’s prediction. I don’t remember if he took that same path to get there.

  6. Well, Zogby got it in 2000 and blew it in 2004, so I figure that about averages out.

  7. Alright — the last 4 public polls out of Pennsylvania are:

    Obama +4
    Obama +5
    Obama +8
    Obama +4

    The 3 PA polls before those 4 (all taken before 10/27)

    Obama +14
    Obama +9
    Obama +12

    But there’s no tightening. No cause for concern. Just 4 consecutive outliers.

  8. *snrk* Okay, one of the polls you cite as “tightening” from a net +8.5 is a +8.

    Okay, I give up. Feel free to panic; ain’t my party, anyway. Just please…stop trying to convince me you’re being rational.

  9. Oh, and btw: latest Rusmussen poll which is Obama +4? McC takes 20% of the black vote in Pennsylvania.

    Tell me please that you believe McC will take 20% of the black vote in Pennsylvania.

  10. I’m actually surprised McCain is doing so well in predominantly black states (ie the South), I was under the impression that blacks traditionally vote Democrat, and having someone who is African-American run for the Democrats is even more excuse for them not to vote Republican …

    (As I heard one comedian put it, “a black person joining the Republican Party is like a deer joining the National Rifle Association.”)

  11. True that. Thing is, blacks in the South typically do not come out to the polls; it’s something of a leftover from the Bad Old Days when turning out to the polls could mean losing your job or your life.

  12. […] I get to that prediction that I made long ago, I’ll pull out a number of predictions I made on this blog just before, and about, the 2008 Presidential Election to see if they conformed with any kind of […]

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