Sunday, December 09, 2012

One Day On Earth: 12.12.12… So it begins

312755_3876785042879_505673581_nFullscreen capture 1292012 14207 PM.bmp   Fullscreen capture 1292012 12843 PM.bmp   Winner-180x180

Pretty much the same post I threw up in late October about NaNoWriMo 2012. 

Between working on this project and finishing the NaNoWriMo novel (I did get over 50,000 words in during November to “win” the event), I won’t be posting much on the blogs until 2013.

I wanted to do something quick and easy for One Day since the more complex idea a friend and I had will be impossible, since I am in Sacramento and not Portland, but things happen and after doing some planning and discovering that there is a theme for this years event, my idea for this year will be pretty complicated to edit.

Of course, I won’t be filming until Wednesday 12.12.12, but before then there is some prep work, and after there is going to be a whole bunch of editing.  And a whole bunch of writing on the novel.  And a whole bunch of major life stuff.

So the blogs will remain on hold for the time being.

Yes, this is being reposted everywhere…

One Day on Earth - Film on 12.12.12 from One Day on Earth on Vimeo.

One Day On Earth - 11-11-11 - Gresham and Portland, Oregon (720p) from A. F. Litt on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

2012 Election: Lazy thoughts on the morning after…

 Fullscreen capture 1172012 75334 AM.bmp

I could have slept for another hour, but laying in bed, listening to NPR, my head kept filling with sleepy thoughts about yesterday so I decided to jot them down…

Fullscreen capture 1172012 75735 AM.bmpFlorida.  You’re Fired.

Florida…  You are just like every woman I’ve known from Miami.  Crazy and sexy.  And crazy.  And, did I mention, because I want to be very clear about this, crazy. 

But still damn sexy.

Good job America. Probably a wise idea not to invite Florida to the party this year. Yeah, they look way hot, but then they Fullscreen capture 1172012 80106 AM.bmpshow up, get all sloppy, make out with the wrong guy, pass out, and stay too late.

Sometimes, at their worst, you get up the next day and find them still passed out on your carpet for the twenty plus mornings...

And she’s still sexy all down there on the floor like that.  Must have something to do with all that crazy.

I think both parties now have had enough of Florida and will pretty much not playing there any more.  There are other, more solid and predictable ways to win an election that getting caught in the swamp down there.Fullscreen capture 1172012 80016 AM.bmp


Good speeches from everyone. Blown away by Obama's. Sure, it was more enthusiasm than content but its his night and it rocked. There will be time for nuts and bolts later.  Romney seemed to come in a little later than he should have, but from what I understand, part of this might have been because he had not prepared a concession speech. 

I am also sure they were taking a real close look at Florida and Ohio, but after Virginia went blue, all hope was lost. 

Apparently they had ground teams of lawyers ready to go in Ohio and Florida and a third team ready to pounce on a third state, but Obama’s lead was significant enough in enough states that it was clear that there would be no legal recourse that could snatch a victory from the ashes.

For the most part, though, I think we were all surprised by how early this was called last night.  I was amazed when CBS, our choice for the evening, called it around 8:30 our time.  I was guessing it would be around 10 pm our time before this happened.  Not the first blown call of mine about yesterday.

I think this is why it took so long for both candidates to make it to the stage last night. 

Red States Vs. Blue States

From here on out in presidential elections, I am feeling like we have some new blue states.  This was a partisan election and there really was little in the way of swing.  The Democrats won because they ran the better campaign, especially when it came to local organization.  Turn out was the deciding factor, and the Democrats won yesterday.

It is hard to tell and I am sure it will be close in these “swing” states next time around as well, but I think the blue state club is getting a little bigger.

This is going to be tough for the GOP the next time out.  Earlier I wrote about not inviting Florida to the party any more, but the GOP may have little choice.  It may be the only true big swing state left.

Though this is not entirely true.  In an election that is less closely contested, there is some room for swing.  But three out of the last four presidential elections have been partisan elections without a breakout front runner going into election day, and let’s remember, 2008 was pretty close too with McCain not completely out of the game as America headed out to the polls.

Fullscreen capture 1172012 81844 AM.bmpNate Silver

I was wrong to ever doubt you, man.  Whoa.  He called this one.  Nailed it.  Still not sure about Florida, but he only put the odds of an Obama victory there at a little over 50%, so either way, I’d say he picked 50 out of 50 this year.

On the right are his last predictions from election day morning.

Election CoverageFullscreen capture 1172012 82041 AM.bmp

I stuck with CBS last night because it came in on our rabbit ears and the other option, ABC, kept cutting over to the local election coverage which, quite frankly, bored the heck out of me.  Plus, the ABC team was awful.  Diane Sawyer, off script?  Oh my.  My head hurts.

CBS seemed a little better. 

But, really, what just strikes me is how so many people were surprised by the results last night. 

These days everyone is looking for a narrative thread in their reporting.  They are focused on telling stories, not on reporting the facts.

So we had the narrative of Romney’s “momentum.”  This was fueled by the GOP talking heads trying to sell the story, which was never really backed up in the polls, and the media buying it.

Looking for facts to maintain this narrative arc, too much attention was put on the national polls, which have been worthless since the 2000 election. 

Sure, those polls are an interesting piece of the puzzle, but they are a small piece.  But it was the piece that supported the narrative so they were given too much weight by the press going in.

Yesterday, glancing around most of the national news websites, the screaming headlines were that the race was too close to call and that anything could happen on election night.  Of course, if you drilled down a bit- quite a bit- it became clear that Obama pretty much wrapped this one up about ten days ago and had only been increasing his lead since then, around the time I made my first prediction.

So the media narrative last night concluded with Obama smashing through with an unexpectedly large victory in the electoral college, either coming from behind for a decisive 4th quarter victory, or breaking away from a tied game in the final seconds.

However, the facts never supported these narratives.  And, once upon a time, it was the press’ job to tell us the facts to the best of their ability, not to construct narrative arcs for us.

So 2012 is a big media fail in my book.  Not quite “Dewey Defeats Truman”, but close.

The real story of this election is the validation of modeling systems such as Nate Silver’s.  There were a number of intangibles heading into this election day and those of us following this part of the story through the last days of the campaign were all second guessing whether these models really considered and accounted for all of the “intangibles”.

I, myself, tried to “correct” Nate’s numbers with my own assumptions about over and under polling and turn out.  I did call that the GOP would have a harder time getting out their base, but I missed that the Democrats would do even better than they did in 2008 in getting the blue base out.

In the raw polls, in most states, there was an underperforming candidate, and it was Obama.

This the big story and surprise this morning.  Not that the President won the states he won, but the margins by which he won them.

Now, the right wing media…  Wow.  If the mainstream media failed to mention that Obama pretty much had the election locked up, well, the right was going not only with a Romney win but some were even going all the way to Romney landslide.

Were these people stupid?  No.  Well, some of them, but not all of them.  I’ve said it before, this was the only play left in the game book.  1% or 2% will just vote for who they think will win.  Those are votes you want.  If Obama lost, I would be bashing them this morning for NOT playing this card.  They might have been able to run the numbers up a little more if they had.

It is also about the base.  If our guy is going down, it is hard to get the motivation to go stand in line for minutes to hours to vote.  Hell, if you’re like me, sometimes its even hard to get the ballot in the mailbox, even when you are fired up!  But when you are already demoralized?

So this was pretty much a calculated move to get their base up out of their lazy boys.  Be a part of something big!

What shocks me is that it looks like a lot of people who should have known better fell for it.  Including, it appears, Romney himself.  I think he really expected to win last night.  Maybe not by a lot, but by enough.

I know not everyone at the top level of his campaign felt this way or else he wouldn’t have been wasting time and treasure in Pennsylvania the last few days.  That was a pure desperation move, born from irretrievably losing Ohio in the final days.

A lot of his supporters drank the kool-aid.  The buzz I’ve seen from the other side is not, shucks, we lost a close one but, rather, “What the hell happened?  We were supposed to win.”

The word Mandate is as meaningless as the word Momentum

Kudos, so far, to the Dems for not going here, but I am hearing a lot of talking heads trying to use the word mandate this morning.  In 2004, the GOP was using this word after winning one of the narrowest presidential victories of the last 50 years, but since it was a larger margin than they had in 2000, they took a swing at claiming a mandate and got a little traction in the press for their efforts.

This year, since Obama won by a narrower margin than 2008, every one is saying that there is no mandate…  Okay.  I won’t argue.

Because it is a meaningless word.

There are many factors that will determine the level of bipartisanship through the next congressional term.  The president’s margin of victory was never going to be one of them.  Mostly, because of historical patterns, the GOP should know that they do not have the luxury of being a do nothing congress heading into 2014. 

It will be a repeat of 2010 unless they do something.  Anything.  And since they are stuck with Obama for two years past 2014, they should be aware enough to know that he holds all the cards now.

And it has nothing to do with 2012 margins.

Zombie Parties

During the 1980s, the Democratic Party was declared dead.  In the 1990s, the Republican party was declared dead.  In the aughts, the Democratic Party was declared dead.  In the teens, starting last night, I’ve been hearing, guess it, guess it…

No party is dead.  Yes, the Democrats have figured out how to win presidential elections, I will give them this.  This is the first knock down, drag out, get your base to the polls or you are going to lose partisan election that they have won in a very long time, perhaps in my lifetime, and it is good to see.  It is healthy. 

And I think the GOP needs to solve it’s little Tea Party problem before it can get back in that game.

But they are not dead. Like I said, I think we’ve got a couple new blue states in the presidential elections.  This is a story really told when you look at the county by county red v. blue maps.  But it does not mean that the GOP is out “for a generation” as people are always saying about one party or another.

The House

The flip side is the House.  A true sign of how close this election really was is the House races.  It took everything, EVERYTHING, the Dems had to hang onto the presidency and there was not much left for the House.

I really think if more effort had been put into it, they could have taken the House this year.  But it took so much effort to keep Obama in office that there was nothing left.

I know, myself, I barely paid any attention to the Congressional races this year.  Partly that is due to the fact that I live in a solidly blue district where our incumbent usually only has token competition from year to year, but it is also because everyone was working so hard on the presidential campaign that we just didn’t have much left for the House this year.

2014?  That is a different story.  If the new Democrat machine targets the house, it is theirs, unless the Republican caucus really makes some big strategic changes over the next two years.  If they do, then they might actually hang on to it.  The ball is very much in their hands.

I think the GOP will start working with Obama.  They’ll have to if they want to survive in the House.

Up through last night the GOP caucus has been saying they want to negotiate with Obama, but their definition of negotiate is, “Give us what we want, exactly as we want it, or we will say you are playing partisan politics and shred you in the next election.”

We’ll see if the current crop of Reps is smart enough to figure out that this game is played out.  They will need to change strategies or they are going down hard in the midterms.

When functioning well, I actually think having some party splits between the executive and legislative branches of government can be a healthy thing.  When it works, it works by getting the best ideas through from each party, and blocking the more sketchy ideas.  But what we’ve had for awhile, coming to a head with the current Congress, is far from that.  There is nothing healthy about the state of Congress right now at all.

Can they change?  That is the real question.  They may not be able to unless the entire Republican Party grows a pair and quits being held hostage by the Tea Party.  It cost them the presidency this year and will cost them the House in 2014 unless the party grown ups man up and take a stand for sanity.

Post-Election Silence

I’m not going away permanently, but now that the election is over, I’ll be posting to this blog on a much less frequent basis.  I’ll still be checking in from time to time, but probably not much until December. 

Finally, now that this long national debate is over, I can focus on writing the NaNoWriMo novel that I should have been working on this morning instead of writing this post!

This blog has been around since 2004, though.  Sometimes I drift away, but I always come back, eventually.

I Love This Speech


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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

2012 Election: Yes, I Did!

November 6, 2012.

Yes, I did.

vote66550_3363716990708_597740123_nHow we do it in Oregon! (Well, if we didn't mail the damned thing weeks ago)






Beware: Posting a Picture of Your Marked Ballot to Facebook May Be Illegal - Rebecca J. Rosen - The Atlantic:

Want to share your vote with the world? Don't do it by photo unless you are sure of the laws in your state.

Here's to a little civil disobedience!

These laws are important in polling places, where showing a filled out ballot to another person can be seen as campaigning or even voter intimidation. Taking a picture of a ballot at home? Harmless.

PS:  This fellow lost last night.  Seems like a fine person, but there were some concerns that he’s be messing with voting rights.

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Sunday, November 04, 2012

2012 Election: Electoral Prediction Revised


Okay…  I am revising my predictions for Tuesday.  Slightly.  I will point out that my electoral count has not changed much since my first prediction, but I think I have a better view as to how we will arrive there.2012-11-04.01.

On the right are Nate Silver’s current predictions.  He’s using math.  I am using his math, a couple different poll averages, and then spinning it through my gut.

When I made my first prediction, it looked like Colorado was more likely to go Obama than Virginia.  Today, I thought about flip flopping those two states.  However, they are both close enough that I am actually going to toss both of them over to Romney right now. 

If I was running the Obama campaign, does this mean that I’d concede these states and refocus the spending on other states?  Oh hell no.  In fact, Nate Silver has both Colorado and Virginia going blue on Tuesday night, but I don’t like the odds he has on Colorado and, well, Virginia is Virginia.  They might not have a working telephone when the pollsters call, but they will probably vote, so I want a big margin there before I go blue with Virginia.  Yes, Obama has made gains there since I made my prediction.  Not enough for me to turn it blue, though.

So, Ohio.  Well…  I still am nervous about Ohio.  Flip this red and, with my other updates, we’ve got President Romney. 

Fullscreen capture 1142012 101043 AM.bmpI am, however, cautiously accepting conventional wisdom today and turning it blue.  I think Obama is pulling ahead just enough now for me to lay to rest my immediate fear about, um, intangible and unpredictable factors in Ohio affecting the outcome on Tuesday.

One major factor in all of my predictions?  Romney out performing the polls by 1% to 3%, depending on the state.  This is why I’ve also tossed New Hampshire to Romney.  This is a really close call for me.  My gut does lean towards Obama here, he does have a 2% lead in the poll average (1.5% on RCP) and Nate has it with a 79.4% chance of an Obama win here, but it is just not enough for me.  This is a state where I want to see Obama leading by 3% in all the averages and Nate showing at least an 80%.  I hope to be wrong here, but I am being very conservative in my predictions. 

So, looking at the vote totals, I am still pretty close to my original prediction.  In fact, I almost let my original map stand, since it did have the caveat that it was more about predicting the vote totals rather than how we get there in two nights and I wasn’t sure that a 5 vote change in my prediction was enough to warrant a second post.

But there were enough changes in my state by state predictions, I felt, to justify taking a little time to revise my map. 

It is a tight race.  Not as tight as many in the media would have you think, but a little tighter than many pollsters and pundits are predicting right now, I think.  I still think Obama getting close to or more than 300 voted is pretty unlikely.  However, I think his re-election is pretty likely.

I think this is it.  I no longer see any new factors having time to gain enough traction between this morning and Tuesday morning to significantly change my predictions.  Of course, Romney may be discovered to have a second, third, and fourth wives or being a paid operative of the Chinese government and Obama may reveal himself to be the Anti-Christ, but really? 

I think all of the cards are on the table now and even Sandy, well…  Obama has at least a 10 point lead in the states the most affected by the storm, so while changes in margins there are possible due to the devastation, I do not think they will be enough to change the outcome in those states.

Popular Vote:  Too Close To Predict

As for the popular vote?  I’ll revise that to being a coin toss.  I am changing my prediction of a Romney victory there to a too close to call prediction right now.  Edge to Obama, perhaps, but I won’t put my money on that bet either way right now.

Previous Prediction

2012 Election: Polls & Predictions… A narrow and divided victory for Obama?
Election 2012: Ohio for Romney? Really?

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Election 2012: Ohio for Romney? Really?

2012-10-26.  03.

Yes.  I am sticking to my map. Some disagree with predicting that Ohio will go for Romney. Here is a closer look at that...

Honestly, fear of fraud is one reason I put Ohio in the red.

The second reason is that I am not confident that Obama will sweep the toss up states, and this is a way to show that one of the worst possibilities for Obama would still lead to a narrow victory, more a case playing with the vote numbers than actually predicting which specific states will break red or blue...

But the main reason? I am having a lot of flashbacks to Ohio in 2004 right now.

Here are the pre-election polls for 2004 in Ohio:

D.C. Political Report: Slight Republican
Associated Press: Toss Up
CNN: Kerry
Cook Political Report: Toss Up
Newsweek: Toss Up
New York Times: Toss Up
Rasmussen Reports: Toss Up
Research 2000: Toss Up
Washington Post: Battleground
Washington Times: Battleground
Zogby International: Tied
Washington Dispatch: Kerry

I think Ohio is harder to call than a lot of states due to its demographics and mix of urban and rural areas.

I really hope that it goes to Obama, that would make this election a slam dunk for him. But, I am not ready to bet on it.

I am pretty sure this is why a lot of other people are not ready to call Ohio one way or the other yet, also, even though it is leaning Obama, just as it was leaning Kerry in 2004.

United States presidential election in Ohio, 2004 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Pre-election polling showed a lot of volatility throughout the general election. In September, Bush was gaining momentum here reaching over 50% in several polls and even reaching double digit margins in some.

But in October, Kerry gained back momentum as he started winning many of the polls, leading between 48% to as high as 50%. The last 3 polls averaged Kerry leading 49% to 48%.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

2012 Election: Polls & Predictions… A narrow and divided victory for Obama?

It’s getting close to the end now and I am starting to get some gut feelings about this one.  Still, overall, I wouldn’t be surprised by either outcome in the presidential race.  However, I would be slightly less surprised if Obama won. 

November 6 is going to be an interesting night.

Game Changers

A little over a week out… Is it too late for any game changers? 

Probably, but a few things do come to mind.  First, Florida looks like it is tightening up again.  If it tilts blue, done.  Early night a week from Tuesday and we all get a good night’s sleep.

Also, as we get a little closer, there is always the possibility that the press starts paying more attention to the fact that it is really going to be tough for Romney to win the Electoral Vote unless the polls are as far off as Dewey / Truman in 1948.  If the media starts talking about Obama’s Electoral Vote Firewall instead of Romney’s questionable momentum (basically manufactured by GOP talking heads, not recent polls), then this could break more in Obama’s direction.

Why?  Because 1% to 2% of these idiotic, undecided swing voters are going to vote for whoever is in the lead because they want to vote for the winner.  Usually this segment is small enough that it does not effect the outcome of the election, but in super tight races?  Who knows?  Usually when super tight races head into election day, they are too close to call and these folks stay home.  But if Obama is looking solid heading into election day, these folks might show up and vote for him, increasing his possible margin of victory.  

Hell, they might even win Obama the popular vote, but more on that later.

Another possibility, especially if the press starts giving more time to Obama’s Electoral Vote advantages…  Romney starts making some last minute, desperate Hail Mary swings through the silly zone.  When this guy goes big, he starts getting strange. 

At this point, though, can any further goofy headlines effect Romney?  Who knows?  But if he is feeling desperate, we may see some interesting moments a la John McCain’s “See, I’m Not To Old To Be President” marathon bus tour on the eve of the election.

Most likely… I predict we might see things firming up a little bit more for Obama in the state by state races, but I think we are pretty much heading into the popular vote within the margin of error, therefore tied.

So yes.  I am going ahead and posting my predictions for November 6. 

I reserve the right to change my mind later if something crazy happens.

Numbers & Predictions: All Hail Nate Silver

2012-10-26. 02.First of all… Let’s jam through the who’s, what’s, and what’s everyone saying…

Five Thirty Eight: Nate Silver's Political Calculus: Oct. 25: The State of the States -

Thursday was a busy day for the polls, with some bright spots for each candidate. But it made clear that Barack Obama maintains a narrow lead in the polling averages in states that would get him to 270 electoral votes. Mr. Obama also remains roughly tied in the polls in two other states, Colorado and Virginia, that could serve as second lines of defense for him if he were to lose a state like Ohio.

The day featured the release of 10 national polls, but there was little in the way of a consistent pattern in them.

Nate Silver's Newest Prediction: 73% Obama!:

Although the race is still close in several swing states, statistical guru Nate Silver’s newest prediction is 73.1% Obama to 26.9% Romney

Nate Silver’s track record on election predictions is pretty solid, so much so that the GOP is going after him, apparently.

Republicans Desperate to Spin Romney as the Front-Runner Are Becoming 'Nate Silver Truthers' | Alternet:

…in recent days, the Romney-Ryan campaign has claimed that it's moving ahead. As Jonathan Chait noted, “This is a bluff. Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Despite zero evidence that Romney has made any gains since receiving a healthy bounce from the first debate, reporters appear to be buying it, with a raft of lazy stories about Mitt Romney's supposed “momentum.”

A significant problem for conservatives bent on spinning this alternate reality is New York Times ' polling guru Nate Silver and his 538 forecast model, which called 49 out of 50 states accurately in 2008 and is considered the industry's gold standard (the model also pretty much nailed the 2010 mid-terms).

Yeah, don’t even get me started on the “raft of lazy stories about Mitt Romney's supposed ‘momentum.’”  I called that one back before the first debate.

Democracy In Distress: How Mitt Romney will win the first debate:

…what happens next really depends on media spin.  Not the partisan talking heads, but the producers, writers, editors, reporters and directors out there.

The media wants a story to tell.  If the election is pretty much settled a month out, that leaves four weeks of dead air time…  Which they will fill by trying to create the feeling that the race is much closer than it really is.  The problem?  People will start believing it, and everyone loves a come from behind underdog, right?

Sorry, got distracted there for a second.  The press is dead to me and I mourn them from time to time…

Numbers & Predictions: Nate Silver vs. My Gut

So, Nate’s current prediction... 

2012-10-26. 03.

This map brings the Electoral Vote in with Obama winning 303 to 235.  Even if he only calls 49 out of 50, it is a happy night for Team Obama. 

Unless, of course, Nate blows the Ohio call for Obama. 

Oh.  Oops.  Sorry, that was the conventional wisdom I’ve been hearing from press outlets hungry for a story. 

If only one of Nate’s Obama states go for Romney instead, pulling off the 49 out of 50 prediction from 2008, then Obama still wins “easily.”

Colorado, Virginia, and Ohio pretty much ALL have to shift over to Romney for the U.S. to elect its first Mormon president with a final electoral count of  275 Romney to 263 Obama.  (P.S.  I have no problem with a Mormon President and, I fear, that might be the coolest thing about a Romney Administration…)

Of course, there are other paths to 270 for Romney, but this would be the most likely.

There are also a couple paths that lead to the House of Representatives deciding this one.  Even more unlikely than a Romney presidency, but more likely than in most elections.

Nate’s calling this for Obama with a pretty big margin in the Electoral Vote and a bigger margin in the Popular Vote than I am comfortable with right now. 

I think it’s going to be closer.  How much closer?  2000 close? 

I hope not.  But my Electoral College prediction looks frightenly similar to the 2000 numbers.

My Prediction for the Electoral Vote: Obama Wins, 272 to 266

Right now, my personal prediction looks a lot tighter than Nate’s. 

2012-10-26.  03.

This is the tightest it can be with Obama still coming out on top.  Right now, too many things have to break Romney’s way for him to win, in too many states that are leaning blue.  However, unlike Nate Silver, I do not see Obama sweeping all of the “tied” states right now.  This is my worst case scenario for an Obama victory, but I do not think Obama will break 300, though as of now I think he will get 270.

And I am worried enough about shenanigans in Ohio that I am tossing the state to Romney in my prediction.

Obama-Romney Race May Hinge on 2 Ohio Counties | RealClearPolitics:

If the race for president can be boiled down to two key counties in one key state, then those jurisdictions are Hamilton and Cuyahoga, here in the Buckeye State.

And, as Dan Rather put it on election night in 2000, "This race is tight like a too-small bathing suit on a too-long ride home from the beach."

My Prediction for the Popular Vote: Mitt Romney Wins

As for the popular vote, unless some of the game changers I mentioned above occur, I am predicting that Romney will win the popular vote.  Yeah, I know Nate went with Obama.  But I don’t.

2012-10-26. 05.

I don’t like or trust CNN polling this year.  I think they are swinging towards Romney where possible and I believe that they are holding back on making some pretty solid calls on the electoral map just to keep viewers interested and watching, but I do feel like Romney has a slightly insurmountable lead in the COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS national polls. 

However, CNN is not the only one showing Romney holding steady in the national polls. 

2012-10-26. 08.

The polls are pretty much all over the place, but with Obama only leading in three of eleven and tied in one other, I think it is looking pretty bad for Obama in the popular vote.  But, as I said earlier, it doesn’t matter.  Even if we all slept through our civics classes back in junior high, everyone should be real clear on this after the 2000 election - the national popular vote decides nothing.

This Day In History

So, how does this year compare to years past…

2000 was all over the place, a lot like this year. Below is a link to 10 different polls from this date in 2000. 

Bush led in 8 out of 10 polls by margins ranging from 2% to 7%.  Gore led in two polls, by 2% and 3%.

However, the most interesting numbers in these polls come from the swing between Likely Voters and Registered Voters in Newsweek’s poll.

Bush Gains Back Lead in CNN Poll; Gore Maintains Zogby Poll Lead:

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2000

NewsWeek – likely voters (Oct. 18-20)

  • Bush 48%
    Gore 41%

NewsWeek – all registered voters (Oct. 18-20)

  • Gore 45%
    Bush 42%

If this year’s election is still up for grabs, then I predict it will be decided by which side gets their base out and by which side can motivate swing voters leaning in their direction to actually show up and vote. 

This could be a real problem for both sides.  Obama’s base is somewhat dissatisfied with him not living up to the superhuman expectations built up in 2008, and Romney’s party actually thought about going with winners like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum before giving into the inevitable and nominating the only candidate that had with a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Obama.

When it comes down to it, I think the advantage here goes to Romney.  I think the far right’s hatred of Obama will overcome their ambivalence about Romney.  And I don’t think the far left has a motivational force of that caliber working on its side this time around, though the “rape is a gift from God” stories couldn’t have hit at a worse time for the GOP.  But it is probably not enough to balance out the Obama hatred.

However, will that be enough to beat Obama?  Probably not.  In 2004, the far left had this hatred for the GOP candidate working on their side.  They also had their own version of Romney in John Kerry.  It was a close election, it came down to Ohio, there might even have been a few shenanigans in Ohio, but not enough to make a difference in the outcome, most likely.  It was Bush’s night with or without the shenanigans.

Electoral Maps 1972-2008:

The 2004 US Presidential Election

The electoral map shown below depicts the results of the 2004 U.S. presidential election in which George W. Bush defeated John Kerry.  Bush carried 31 states and 50.7% of the popular vote.

2012-10-26. 09.

Here is a look at the 2004 polls from this point in that election.  Today we probably have about a 1% spread between Romney and Obama. Kerry was down by around 2%. All within the margin of error for everything.

2012-10-26. 06.

One thing is for certain, this is no 2008, when Obama comfortably had the popular vote wrapped up by this point.

2012-10-26. 07.

Are We Locked In?  Is This A Done Deal?

Well, in the past, including these elections we are looking at here, there have been some changes in the polls heading into the last week.  Usually whomever leads through October wins, which is what the GOP is counting on right now.

However, this is not always the case.  Of course there was Dewey / Truman in 1948.  The GOP candidate was leading Truman by fairly large margins from the spring on.  The final Gallup poll had Truman losing with 44.5%, and he was behind by about 5% at the end of October.  He ended up winning with 49.9% of the popular vote.

In 1952, in the Gallup poll, Stevenson shot up by about 10% in the last couple weeks of the election, with Eisenhower at 51% in the final survey.  It wasn’t enough and the General won with 55.4% of the popular vote.

1960…  Nixon closed around a 4% gap to a 2% gap in the last month or so, and this momentum continued to election day with Kennedy barely squeaking out a 50.1% victory in the popular vote.  In fact, this election was so close, that in a different day and age, it might have gone like 2000.

In 1968 we had a three party election with Wallace absorbing 13.53% of the popular vote and winning five states (46 electoral votes).  Through October into November, Humphrey closed an 8% gap to about 1% going into election day.  But Nixon’s lead held, of course.

Perhaps the modern election that most resembles the 2012 race is the 1976 contest between Ford and Carter. 

1976 Gallup tracking poll: Ford vs. Carter(very interesting reading!!):

Ford made up additional ground following the third debate in late October, again pulling even. In the final pre-election poll, Gallup's numbers indicated a statistical dead heat among likely voters, with Ford at 49% and Carter 48% (the unallocated numbers had Ford at 47% and Carter at 46%). The actual outcome was 50% for Carter and 48% for Ford. The election was so close that it was not certain that Carter would win until the morning after Election Day.

Then of course, we have the 2000 election… At one point in October, Gore was actually down by 13% in the Gallup survey.  By this week in 2000, Gore had closed the gap to 5% according to Gallup, and he continued to surge (if Gallup’s numbers were right, which is unlikely looking at the chaos in the polls that year). 

Of course, Gore ended up winning the popular vote 48.38% to 47.87%.  Of course, 543,895 popular votes count for nothing compared to Bush’s five extra electoral votes (271-266).

So is this over?  Absolutely not, when it comes to the popular vote.  However, Obama is looking pretty solid in the Electoral College unless the polls are off by 1948 margins, which is pretty unlikely considering the refinements in the polling process over the last 64 years.

Could This Be Another Bush / Gore Style Nightmare?

Short answer, yes.  It is possible. 

Could it break like 1960, where Nixon chose not to contest the counts in several close precincts?  Maybe. 

My gut tells me that it all depends on who is up and who is down.  I suspect the man that will say anything to be president would push it as far as it went in 2000, clinging to any chance at all to be president (for all you tea partiers that think I am talking about Obama, sorry).  Obama, I suspect, is smart enough to see how damaging that process can be to the country, and might not take it that far.

Even in 2004, there were enough questions in Ohio that some thought that Kerry should have called for some recounts.  He, however, chose to accept what was probably inevitable and to go out as a classy winner instead of a sore loser.  This was not like 2000 where it was very likely that more voters did vote for the candidate that lost than the candidate that won in the disputed state.  This was less unlikely to be the case in Ohio in 2004.

Unfortunately for Obama, the elections this year most resembles, poll wise, are 1960, 1976, and 2000.  Like 2000, the polls are a bit all over the place.  Like 1976, we have an fairly unpopular incumbent and an untested outsider hovering within a percentage point of each other.  Like 1960, we have a candidate losing the first debate only to slowly crawl his way back in the polls through the later debates and up into the election. 

The final results for the 1960?  “In the national popular vote, Kennedy beat Nixon by just one tenth of one percentage point (0.1%)—the closest popular-vote margin of the 20th century. In the Electoral College, Kennedy's victory was larger, as he took 303 electoral votes to Nixon's 219 (269 were needed to win).” (Wikipedia) 

303 is also the number Nate Silver is calling for Obama as of the evening of the 26th, according to his map, at least.

So, parallels?  1960, Romney as Kennedy, Obama as Nixon because of the debates…. Romney wins.  1976…  Incumbent loses to challenger.  Romney wins.  2000…  Late surging Gore pulls off a popular vote victory and loses the election.  Romney wins. 

But, Obama fans, take faith in the 2004 election….  In many ways, this year’s election bears more resemblance to that one than any of these others when looking at more than just the polls. 

And our, oh sweet Jesus, Bush wins in the end. 

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Monday, October 22, 2012

NaNoWriMo…. So it begins


Decided to throw this up everywhere tonight.  With the election, I won't be disappearing from here entirely, but...

Pretty much starting in on NaNoWriMo this week. Not with the actual writing, but with character outlines, plot development, outlining, and a smidgen of research. More than anything, preseason training for writing a novel in one month.

Won't be around here much until December (except for when my laptop seizes up and I am spending time on the desktop waiting for spinning circles and endless hourglasses to work themselves out).

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

2012, Debate # 2 analysis & how late night comedy writers will select our next President

While Tuesday’s debate was definitely a win for Obama, it left me with some very ambivalent feelings afterwards…  The following is compiled from my Facebook posts that evening:

Yes, he's not my guy, and I wasn't rooting for him, but from as an unbiased as a perspective as I can manage, I just need to say this...

I think Mitt Romney's debate tonight was the worst performance I've ever seen by a presidential candidate from either party ever. (Well, since the first one I watched in 1984, at least).

Yeah, the post debate “Who Won Tonight?” polls are close, because about 95% of those polled will say their guy won, no
matter what. And don't give me that undecided voter crap on a spot poll taken in the five minutes before the candidates have even left the stage.

But this was a bad night for Romney. It may take a few days for that really to emerge. But it was bad. Bad Bad Bad Bad. Bad.

Bad candidate. Bad. "Was he just trying to help Paul Ryan feel better?" bad.

Going to the mat, standing by his misquote of the President, and then getting fact checked on the spot by the moderator, basically at his own request? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!

This man wants to be the leader of the free world? Oh hells no.

See, this pisses me off. Yeah, I want Romney and Ryan to lose, but this shit is just bad for America, PERIOD.

I WANT two qualified candidates. I want a tough, close election because there is a real choice, not because of blind party loyalties. I want to be able to take both the GOP and the Democrats seriously.  While I rarely vote Republican, I want the option!

I take Obama seriously. Everyone else can pretty much piss off and die at this point. American politics? Dead.

Yeah, I was typing with fists on Tuesday… 

As for the Town Hall format, the moderators (though a big thumbs up to Crowley, it’s not like she busted in unsolicited), and the debate coverage in general…  In response to this post, “BTW, am I the only person that thinks regular Americans seem to ask better questions than paid reporters?—Dave” on The Pragmatic Progressive Page, I spat out, “Of course they do. Journalism is dead.”

Not a good campaign cycle for America.

Considering Romney’s train wreck of a performance on Tuesday, he is lucky that the takeaway is the “binders full of women” comment.  This will not help him, but there were far worse gaffes in the evening than this one.

So, Obama supporters, yes it is funny, but shut up about it.  People forgive legitimate jumbles of words in high stress situations.  Instead, pound on him for the real mistakes. 

Women in the workplace?  Sure, and we’ll even try to get them home in time to cook dinner.

Getting fact checked by the moderator, at his own request, and losing a point where he actually has some valid concerns and questions about a serious national security failure?

Saying that gun violence would be reduced if only there were more two parent families?

This is what noise should be made about, not the “Binders Full of Women.”  These jokes are funny, but they actually help Romney more than hurting him by distracting from his real gaffes on Tuesday.  Gaffes that might actually work towards changing public perceptions about the GOP contender.

This first clip illustrates a couple points I've been making in several of my posts.

First, people are going to think their candidate won no matter what happened in the debate.

Second, those on the fence are going to be swayed not by what happened during the 90 minute debate, but by the sound bites they hear on a two minute news segment, or by the jokes they hear on late night shows, Facebook, and other sources.

These people are shown supporting their candidate, declaring it a win for their guy, spouting pre-debate buzz about debate expectations, without realizing that the debate has not even happened yet. 

And people like this are going to be the one who decide this election, not the well informed voters who, on a regular basis, actually follow the issues being discussed in the debates. 

This election will be won by whomever attracts the least attention from the comics.  In elections that are not close, the jokes probably serve more as a barometer of public opinion, but in close elections, or even elections at decisive turning points, these jokes can actually shape public perceptions enough that they can change the outcome of an election.

A lot of words have been written over the years about how so many in the younger generations get most of their news from The Daily Show, Colbert, and other such sources, but this is not really a new phenomenon.

More than being the source for news, late night comics have provided the analysis of events that really tend to define how many Americans perceive their candidates.  Dukakis was slayed by these folks, losing his lead in 1988 after a series of gaffes that gave the comedy writers a bushel of full of material.  That election ended up not being as close as the last few, but…

Gore and the lock box in 2000?  Probably worth at least a few hundred votes in Florida.

Kerry / Bush in 2004?  Both were hammered about equally as hard.  Well, in these cases, we see that the tie goes to the incumbent.   

In 2008, one of the most masterful pieces of the Obama campaign was staying out of the late night headlights.  McCain, wandering around the town hall debate, Palin’s, well, everything?  These jokes sealed the deal for Obama.  The piling on as the outcome of the election looked more and more certain through the month of October?

This year, we see this playing out again.  Obama broadens his lead after a series of humorous gaffes by Romney, the race tightens after Obama is hammered in late night after the first debate, and now?  Well, over the next few nights, we’ll see, though I think we know where this will go.

So, the winner of the debates is pretty much decided by headlines and short sound bites on the evening and morning news shows.  The fallout, the shifts of momentum in close races, especially after conventions and debates?  Decided by the late night comics.

A lot of people are saying that the damage done by the first debate to the Obama campaign may have been irreversible.  Not necessarily ensuring a Romney victory, but ensuring a very close and tense election night.  And it might have been the deciding factor if Romney had been able to settle down and keep a low profile for the next two debates and not make any more bad mistakes.  Staying on script, never freewheeling it in public, let alone in front of cameras…

He didn’t do that. 

Earlier, I mentioned The Daily Show, and they have always (deservedly, my bias) gone harder after the GOP than the Dems, but this show does not have the influence of Saturday Night Live, Leno, and Letterman because its viewers tend to be progressive anyway.  Same for Fox News.  Whatever these two outlets are saying about the candidates may influence the

passion of the GOP or Democratic base, but they don’t have much of an influence on the almost completely apolitical swing voters who decide close elections.

I was hoping to post up the Leno and Letterman monologues from last night, but I couldn’t find them anywhere yet.  Apparently, CBS and NBC like to not post them online anywhere until they are stale and irrelevant. I haven’t seen them yet, myself. 

So here’s Conan instead.


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Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Vice Presidential Debate Results, Predictions for Tuesday & November


I threw a lot of good links up on the Facebook page tonight, but here is my wrap up of tonight’s debate.

First of all, I think the most overlooked moment of the debate, so far, was when Paul Ryan responded to the question about what he would say to a war vet dismayed by the ugly nature of the political attack ads this year by launching into a four minute bash on everything he saw as flawed about the Obama administration. 

Secondly, Bill Maher won the interwebs tonight with the tweet on the right here…

As for who won and who lost, shortly after the debate, I posted the following…

Overall, I think Biden gave a lot for people to talk about.

While they may say he was too intense, I think he did a good job of waving the bullsh... er, "malarky" flag when Ryan started confusing talking points with facts and I think this will serve the campaign well.

I think this was the only real mistake in the first debate. Team Obama figured the press would do their job and call out Romney on his factual errors and flip flops but, instead, the press got so hot and bothered at the idea that the race might end up narrowing that the facts and flip flops never really received much attention at all.

Watching the ABC coverage tonight, though, I was left thinking... If the infamous "eye roll" Gore/Bush debate was held this year, I think Gore's performance would have gone over much better than it did in 2000. Our views of what behavior is considered "Presidential" seems to have changed a bit in 12 years.

I haven’t seen anyone other than the one CNN poll and Fox declaring this a victory for Paul Ryan, and even Fox only gives it to Ryan on a technicality, saying that Biden was mean and scary.  A few networks and publications are calling this a draw, but most seem to be leaning towards or declaring this a Biden victory.

I think that Biden winning will be the consensus by tomorrow morning, and for the late night comics, and as I wrote the other day, they are the ones who really count. I know the Democrats on FB are pumped up. Much more noise and chest thumping than after the first debate.

Hell, even I was getting burned out on all the Muppets.  And I freaking love pissed off Muppets!

If a Biden victory is the consensus, it really doesn’t matter much what actually happened in the debate, people will be hearing that Biden won, which is good for the Obama campaign.

Of course there will be discussions on whether or not Biden was too over the top, but like I wrote earlier, I this this will just serve to draw more attention the Ryan’s factual inaccuracies and to the Romney / Ryan campaign flip flopping on issues, which is a plus for Obama.

So what does this victory mean in the long run? 

While Vice Presidential debates have, arguably, never changed the course of a Presidential campaign, I do see the final battle lines being drawn out tonight, the laying out of the strategies the two campaigns will be following into Election Day, and those are pretty revealing.

The first thing I really notice is that the Romney / Ryan campaign is spending a lot of time and treasure on their big foreign policy “October Surprise.” 

The GOP’s big theme heading into the final stretch is using the Libyan incident as a centerpiece to focus on what they are calling Obama’s Unraveling Foreign Policy.  Ryan was all over this tonight.  And it seemed to lack traction.  This really seems like a losing attack for them.

One area I feel that most people are pretty happy with Obama is his foreign policy, and for all the noise Ryan made tonight, the few little pieces he had to back up his rhetoric with seemed small and nit picky.  I think one area where Biden had a clear win tonight was leveling him on these attacks.

Continuing to attack the President, who got Osama bin Laden and who is ending two unpopular wars, on his foreign policy feels like a losing strategy to me. 

On each attack point tonight, the result was Ryan essentially conceding that Romney wouldn’t be handling the situations any differently.  And when Ryan went after Obama’s relationship with Israel, well, again, he was flattened.  Badly. 

In the end, I do not think anyone except for some, not even all, Fox News viewers feel like American foreign policy is in any way “unraveling” right now.  This whole argument, let alone making it a centerpiece of the campaign in October, makes me feel like the Romney campaign is very out of touch with the public right now.

So, that probably leaves them running back to the economy, the deficit and tax reform, and “Obamacare.”

The economy is still tough for them, which is why they gave the foreign policy attacks a whirl in the first place.  People are willing to listen to their ideas on the economy, hell, I want to hear them.  But other than slogans and their vague “Five Point Plan,” they offer no real details.  Until they offer details, Obama wins on the economy.

Even tonight, Ryan was spending more time talking about how Obama promised a stronger recovery and let people down, but not denying that there has been recovery.  Until the GOP offers something more than vague tax breaks as a strategy for putting more people to work, Obama wins the issue.  Barely.

As far as deficit reduction and tax reform goes…  Well, vagueness is again killing Romney and Ryan.  When asked specific questions, they shuffle, weave and dart.  Without specifics, Obama wins again, though, again, barely.  And after the 47% comment, I don’t think there’s much trust out there for Romney on his promises not to raise taxes on low and middle income families.

Obamacare?  This is a bad issue for the GOP since it is based on Romneycare.  People’s eyes glaze over when Romney darts back with, well, it’s great for states, just not at the federal level.  And, overall, most people like most of it.  For all the talk of panels, I think most people do just hear the old, silly, losing rhetoric of Death Panels from 2008.  We’re going to keep everything that most people like except for the parts that the tea party doesn’t like seems to be Romney’s alternative to the current reforms.  I don’t think people want to rebuild the wheel if it is going to look pretty much the same as before.  So, Obama wins the issue.  Again.

So where does this leave us.

Right now, Obama is still looking pretty strong in the electoral vote.  National popular vote polls can bite me, they mean nothing. 

There are some indicators coming out over the last 48 hours that Romney’s bump in the polls from the first debate may be fading.  And being continually fact checked by his own campaign is going to start killing him again.  The only thing that saved his tail on that this week was the fact that most of the news coverage was breathlessly heaving about the fact that the race seemed to be heating up and wondering if they could get away with awarding Romney the front runner status (Answer? No, due to that pesky, state by state way we elect our presidents).  His continued battle with foot-in-the-mouth-syndrome was largely overlooked, but it won’t be for much longer.

Another thing to consider is that the polls for the last week were all over the place.  It is tough to form a clear view from them, because there was a lot of noise and chaos last week mucking up the machinery.

Momentum is also a word being used a lot.  Too much right now.  Momentum is built over time.  One win, even if the first debate was a big win for Romney, does not really change momentum. 

A disastrous September, one debate win, and then a likely debate loss tonight leading, four day later, into a debate that Obama is almost certain to win (if only for the same reasons that Romney was certain to win the first one)… Well, this time next week it may be very difficult to talk about momentum in the Romney campaign with a straight face, let alone without a snicker.

The fact that the next debate is only four days away is also a win for Obama, and I do predict that he will win this one with about the same confidence that I predicted that Romney would win the last one.  The pummeling that the President received after the first debate has lowered the expectations on him to the point where he will likely win if he just stays awake through the whole thing.

But this time, my prediction is not just based on expectations going in.  Expectations are only the first key. 

The second key to the next debate is its format: Town Hall.  Romney has never been good with the one on one sessions with regular folks and now he is bringing the 47% comment into the room with him. 

The third key is two debates worth of shaky truths and flip flops from the previous debates.  Now I do not expect Obama to go after Romney like Biden went after Ryan tonight, but I do expect to see him using the next two debates as his platform to address some of these issues.  Probably more gently on Tuesday and, unless the race has broken out one way or the other by the third debate, slightly more aggressively in the final debate, away from the town hall audience. 

However, unless Romney is pulling away in the key states by the third debate, I would not expect to see Obama throwing up a hail mary and really bashing on Mitt.  I still think the plan will be, for the most part, to let the Romney campaign hang itself by flip flopping everywhichway on every issue, under the national spotlights of the debate platforms, until the last remaining undecided voters are just sick of it.

Still, I do expect to see more engagement from the president on Tuesday.  From the beginning I think the strategy was to stand back and to let Romney have the night the first time around and to just not make many mistakes while looking presidential and above it all.  He may have missed the mark by a bit on that, but I am sure that was the plan. 

Obama is playing rochambeau with Romney and he let Mitt kick first.  Tuesday is Obama’s turn. He will step it up. And I think it will go well for him.

Finally, predictions for November... 

Obama should have this one barring a real collapse in either of the final two debates.  I think he takes it even if he does in the next two what he did in the first.  Because even if he does exactly what he did in the first debate in the next debate, he will get better press.  Victory in November might be by exactly the margins we are seeing right now, and he may even lose the popular vote, but he should win the electoral college and a second term.

Slight improvement in at least one of the next two debates?  Then I think he wins solidly.  It won’t be a landslide, it won’t even be by the margins he was running up a couple weeks ago, but we shouldn’t be having that late of a night on Election Day.

On a side note, I wanted to throw this up here… 

On CNN’s poll results ("CNN/ORC poll: 48% of registered voters watching debate say Ryan won. 44% say Biden won. Sampling error is +/- 5%." – CNN), I posted this in response to a comment that the poll results reflected CNN’s viewers these days:

Over the last few years, I don't think CNN is drifting to the right, I think it is drifting to the stupid.

I used to rely on them as being somewhat centrist and fairly well balanced between MSNBC and FOX, but still "Mainstream" enough to rely on as a reasonable sample of what "typical" Americans were watching.

These days I get most of my news from NPR and, watching CNN's post debate "analysis" after the first debate, well, my head hurt a lot. Not because I disagreed with what they were saying, but because what they were saying was just meaningless drivel that really didn't have much to do with anything.

On the first debate, CNN went from draw, to Romney might have had an edge, to Romney destroyed Obama, to Romney has regained the edge and the front runner status in about five minutes and then built the rest of their analyses around this headline without any facts to support it, since it takes days for the poll numbers to roll in.

Unfortunately, most of the major news outlets did this, so people who did not actually watch the debate ended up with a pretty skewered version of what happened during the first debate.

And I will head to bed on this…


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