Saturday, May 31, 2008

 

The Enten Pledge: Baseball

I will watch at least 4 Mets games per week for the remaining of the season.

That is all.

 

When is it right to take on an fellow party member in a primary?- Steve Cohen edition

I've always found it difficult to believe that an incumbent has veered so horribly awry on policy that it is necessary to give him the boot in a primary. Lieberman in 2006 comes to mind (I personally was for the incumbent in that race, but no matter, the war was/is a major issue that defines the party). In an issue that is related to policy, but I find to be different, ethics is another issue in which I believe a primary challenger is just. Take Albert Wynn in '06 and '08 (the war was also an issue on policy), his ethical standing on taking lobbyist monies while at the same representing the voters of his district are shady at best. The final and perhaps I believe the most important time for a primary challenge is when the incumbent is doomed to lose in the upcoming general electorate. Claire Mccaskill challenge of Governor Bob Holden in the 2004 Missouri Democratic Gubernatorial primary is a prime example.

These three are the scenarios I personally feel a primary challenge is just.

I for the life of me cannot see any of them in Tennessee's 9th congressional district. Let's first say why incumbent Stephen Cohen is being challenged.... he's white, Jewish (yes you know that scary religion), and gosh darnit, he might even be get this one.... GAY (unsubstantiated, but he is single in his later years)!!! Of course, Tennessee's 9th is a black majority district. Thus, having a white representative is simply unacceptable. I mean because you know... race shouldn't matter... until it does matter. Despite the fact that Cohen won his 2006 primary by 4,000 votes (granted the race was split along racial lines)... was endorsed by the Black Mayor Tennessee... and then won a majority of votes in the general election over a black and white opponent (not splintered along racial lines).... Oh and in case you are wondering, Cohen has the most liberal voting record of all the congressmen in Tennessee (certainly more liberal than fmr. 9th district Congressman Harold Ford (and I love Harold Ford)). He has done right by his district and done it in style.

But you know the saying, the wheel goes round. And so it does in the 9th congressional district in Tennessee. Cohen is being challenged in a primary by Nikki Tinker. Tinker is African-American... and a woman. That's about it... she's no more liberal than Cohen (she's probably less so). I personally don't see how she will be a better representative.

Now, I get the point... African-Americans have gone through a whole hell of a lot... and they have the right to elect a representative in the 9th that represents their interests. But I don't see how Cohen isn't their man... unless of course you are just voting on race.... which I guess is okay... sorta... well no not really (JMHO).

Now, the Congressional Black Caucus didn't allow Cohen in... which I find acceptable (but disagreeable) because he wasn't Black... despite the fact that he represented a majority Black district. But I do find it absolutely deplorable that Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones is campaigning for Tinker.... Is it that she feels that a White congressman cannot adequately represent a Black district? Because I know that it cannot be based on the issues...

Now, Emily's List has come out in favor of Tinker.... Emily's List against a candidate in Cohen who is so pro-choice he honestly makes pro-lifers shiver at the mention of his name. Its because get this.... Cohen is a man... Jeez louise. Instead of spending money on challenging pro-life candidates, Emily's List is wasting money on a congressman who represented woman's rights pretty gosh darn well.

This whole thing is pathetic.

Friday, May 30, 2008

 

Fivethirtyeight.com.. Poblano REVEALED!!!!

"My real name is Nate Silver and my principal occupation has been as a writer, analyst and partner at a sports media company called Baseball Prospectus."

Unreal.

Well only figures that a baseball man could pull this off.

He's getting a job with some bigger up company.

Fantastic!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

 

Clinton calls for Obama death.... or at least what you might think.

Look, folks I get it. Clinton is a reincarnation of the devil herself (or himself, since many refer to Clinton as some form of a man). She plays gutter politics like nobody else. She's trying to take Obama down like a five year kid at K-Mart. Obama is the greatest thing to ever come on to the earth. I mean look at those murals of him actually looking like Jesus reincarnated. He's going to change the world like nobody else before him.

I can buy all that.... but Obama supporters have taken the RFK quote way too far.

Anyone with half a mind knows for a fact that Clinton was not saying Obama might be murdered. The mere idea that Clinton was even suggesting that is mularkey.

Here's what John Harris of Politico had to say upon seeing video of Clinton's comments:

"It was a deflating experience.

The RFK remarks were deep in a 20-minute clip of an otherwise routine conversation. Then, once we actually got to the relevant portion of the video, it was hardly an electric moment.

Clinton does indeed mention the Kennedy assassination, speaking in a calm and analytical tone: "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."

Martin and I both thought we saw a slight twinge in Clinton's facial expression, as though she recognized she had just said something dumb."


Now, don't get me wrong. I think Obama must play the angle of "and Obama is mistake prone? Obama is the one who has skeletons in his closet?"

That angle is perfectly legitimate.

But I fear that playing it for any more than that is old time politics. Obama and his campaign are better than that. Leave it to the Clinton machine to play that game.

Otherwise, you are being hypocritical.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

 

Crown Heights 2008

Perhaps one of the most pathetic moments in Jewish/Black relations occurred 17 years ago. In New York City, the home of the great melting pot, Jewish and Black tension boiled over into what is now known as the Crown Heights Riot. I'm not going to attempt to take sides in the situation, except to say that the inaction by Mayor David Dinkins single-handedly disqualified him from serving another term as Mayor. Although the riots eventually ended, an underneath tension certainly still exists. Perhaps this is no more evident than a friend of mine whose grandparents live in Crown Heights. The anti-Semitic notions they held are quite discomforting. But it clearly isn't a single case. I was very dismayed to learn that tensions are close to boiling over again (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/22/nyregion/22crown.html?em&ex=1211688000&en=bc17ae994489f29a&ei=5087%0A). Thank God, we have a mayor who is in action... and a police force that is mobilized to control the situation. They won't be perfect... and both sides in this unfortunate situation will criticize them. Make no mistake, this is only a temporary fix. We need more understanding on both sides. But at least, we have a band aid.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

 

It's a mystery... general election national vs. state polling

For a Democrat to win the electoral college, he/she (leaning towards the former) needs to probably carry the popular vote by a point or two.... in other words, the way the vote is spread out, Democrats need a larger amount of the popular vote to be assured of election than do Republicans.

But the numbers coming out of these states are still somewhat surprising... Obama leads McCain nationally by 4 points.... he would actually lose if an election were held today. He holds all the Gore states, wins Nevada and Colorado... but loses in Ohio AND New Hampshire. Clinton leads McCain nationally by 2 points.... but she would actually win if an election were held today. Her map is actually the one that looks MUCH different than past Democrats. She would win the Gore states minus Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. BUT she would win, Ohio, Florida, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Missouri.....

A few interesting notes.... first, this will most certainly change once Obama wins the nomination.... a rallying behind the leader will occur. Two, its interesting to see how the popular vote doesn't always predict the winner. Three, I think this is the most interesting point.... Obama has always been the one believed to compete in new states... he might lose a few normally Democratic states but make it up with some winning combo (it always involved the west like what he is doing here), but it also involved a Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, or a Georgia (save that state for Libertarian Bob Barr is on the ballot and might make some hay). None of those latter states have panned out. Clinton, on the other hand, was supposed to hold the Gore/Kerry states then add Ohio and Florida and be the winner... yes, she wins those (kinda like Obama wins in the west), but she also loses Wisconsin and Michigan... granted those have been tight the past elections. Not shockingly, she wins Arkansas... but she also picks off West Virginia and Missouri (and Attorney General Jay Nixon is running for Governor and will win convincingly).

And what the devil is going on in New Hampshire? Both Obama (who I'm told is supposed to be the stronger candidate in the state) and Clinton trail McCain.... though the past couple of polls actually have Clinton running stronger than Obama... I thought this state was trending Democratic... Shaheen is a shoo-in for Senate in November...

I don't get it.

 

When do you end the partisan games? -Illness and Death

For those on the planet Zoron, Ted Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor and will probably die within the next five years (if he's lucky). I personally took the time to reflect on how a man who was seemingly so healthy could have the carpet taken right out from under him. It especially makes me treasure the time I spend with my father who is four years older than Kennedy. I could never think in such a time to make a partisan attack. Luckily, all those that are sane agree. I am extremely disturbed that on some political message boards many have comments making light out of the Senator's illness. Many are just "your a commie, go die"... or some make light of the Chappaquiddick incident and Kennedy getting his come-up-ins. Are you kidding me? I don't go to your house and make fun of your family's illness...

But it got me thinking, when is it okay to celebrate the impending death or death of another human being.

I think we can all agree that Hitler's death should be celebrated. We could probably agree that Kim Jong-il also will not be missed when he goes. But what about people like Jerry Falwell? Personally, I didn't celebrate that occasion, but I know many liberals who did. What about George W. Bush? I know many who would like to see him go. What about former KKK member Robert Byrd?

Where does the line get crossed?

Anyone with an answer?

 

MSNBC move to the left

I only watch one channel for election returns: MSNBC. I like Chuck Todd, the round table, and thank God for no Jonathan King and his damn google maps. But I must say, anyone who isn't noticing a move to the left by MSNBC is nuts. Chris Matthews becomes more of an Obama shill everyday... though his movement started during the Iraq War (granted I think that turned a lot of people off to the Bush and the right). Keith Olbermann has become more willing to show his true colors on the air. He even posted on dailykos..... me thinks that is a little inappropriate for someone who hosts election night coverage. At the same time, Tucker Carlson has gone the way of the oldsmobile (granted he wasn't much of anything anyway). Joe Scarborough, who despite his history with the GOP, was one of the BEST election prognosticators I've ever seen is now in the morning. So, without a rightest voice in the evening.... two leftist voices dominate nights on MSNBC.

I've got nothing wrong with leftist or rightists having shows.... but people who complain about Fox (and rightly so) for being 90% right wing... cannot do so with a straight face if they're not airing the same complaints about MSNBC and its now left wing tilt.

Furthermore, I hear that they want to give Rachel Maddow (Air-America radio) her own voice on MSNBC (or that's at least what the people at DKos) want. I personally find Maddow to be smart and engaging, but I don't need another left winger giving me the same side of the story... how about some balance.

I guess not....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

 

Anyone want to make a little bet?

I'd say Clinton has 30-70 chance to win the popular vote with florida when this is all done..... granted it doesn't matter... and Obama's got the nod... but still, i love numbers.

 

Fivethirtyeight.com gets crushed! tonight

Regression analysis is not all that it turns out. For those who follow these posts, I previously praised fivethirtyeight.com with its remarkable calls in Indiana and North Carolina....

Well now comes the boom. http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/05/kentucky-projection-clinton-by-19.html

Clinton won by 35 points tonight... 35. Not the 19 predicted by the mystery man/woman at fivethirtyeight.com. Not many people will notice this large gap because well 35 vs. 19 is much different in terms of perception than 19 vs. 3.

I'll go through why he got it wrong at a later date... but I think poblano's own analysis warrants merit:

"At least in terms of surface-level demographics, West Virginia looks something like Kentucky less Lexington and Louisville. But Obama actually backtracked about 10 points in those West Virginia type of regions from last week."

Surveyusa, who bit the big one two weeks ago, called for a 31 point Clinton victory.

But the big prize of the night goes to American Research Group... who called for a 36 point Clinton victory... and nailed her percentage at 65. For a polling group, most followers dismiss.... Dick Bennett has actually called the races closer than Poblano the past two weeks... In WV and Kentucky.....

Not bad.

I don't make this posts to dismiss Poblano... and I certainly take his/her word over Dick Bennett... but I do want to say, that my faith in polling has been restored (if it was ever missing)... and although regression can be a powerful tool.... electorates are sometimes just flat out unpredictable.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

 

Gay Marriage and California

California's Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision has decided a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Prior to the decision, California had some of the strongest domestic partnership laws in the nation. Although there are some financial benefits from the court deciding in favor of marriage and not partnership, the true benefit is the word "marriage".

I don't want undersell the importance of the word. It signals equality in the relationship between two men or women or other and that of people of opposite sexes. At one point, blacks and whites were not able to marry... and I wouldn't dare call a long term legal relationship between interracial couples something other than marriage.

If only the argument in favor of rights was so simple.

The fact is that in my mind the most important part of legal recognition of same sex couples are the financial benefits. It is very easy for someone in my position on my perch to argue some sort of a philosophical argument about the merits of equality wording. Yet, despite the stereotype of gay couples being wealthy and urbanites, most are regular Americans.

The question to me becomes whether decisions like the one made by the California Supreme Court does delay the implementation of domestic partnerships in states that are not friendly to gay marriage. On another level, does the court's decision actually delay equality in power AND word (in other word gay marriage) in other states.

It is important not to understate the power of those who oppose gay marriage. By deciding in favor of marriage equality, the California Supreme Court will likely antagonize those opposed to gay rights. They are going to be that much more opposed to not only marriage but also domestic partnership of any type. After the Massachusetts Supreme Court overturned a ban on gay marriage in Goodridge v. Dep. of Pub. Health, a wave of anti-gay marriage and partnership amendments appeared on ballots across the nation. Every single one passed.

I have little doubt that the California Supreme Court's decision will not be overturned by the people if a constitutional amendment is placed on the ballot. I don't have doubt in the people of California. My doubt is in the voters and politicians of other less friendly gay states.

So while I understand the excitement throughout the lefty blogosphere from today's decision, I also think its important to think about the consequences.

If you do so and still feel the decision was good for the cause, then I can understand. If not, I understand.

Personally? I don't have a darn clue.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

 

John Edwards for VP? Are Flipping Kidding Me?

A lot of good things can be said about John Edwards and VP... He's a white rural guy. A clear weak point for Obama. He's liberal... really liberal. Is that a plus or a minus? I don't know.

But let me talk about the one negative that all should consider... Edwards isn't a good candidate.

I mean in his two tries for Prez, he's won how many states? Two. And they both were named Carolina.... and both were in '04. Sure, he came in second place in Iowa in '04.... and in '08. What has he done beside that? He alienated pretty much the entire Democratic Party in North Carolina. He has no Senate record to speak of.... except one that is just polar opposite his rhetoric (Now, he's a true, true flip-flopper).

And perhaps my favorite, he had to have been the WORST VP candidate since Quayle... And perhaps worse (at least Quayle won).

He helped Kerry carry NO STATES, got absolutely CRUSHED by Dick Cheney in the VP Debate (talk about watching a mac truck nailing a corvette), and got along with Kerry about as well as a dog and a cat. They had different slogans for each of them.... when they were running together!

If Obama is smart, he will stay very, very far away.

Monday, May 12, 2008

 

The Dangers of Polling and Statistical Analysis

1/20 a polling result will fall outside the margin of error.... 1/20. I value this number greatly. Many elections will fall inside the margin of error, thus allowing voters to ultimately decide the election. But when the polls predict a result outside the margin of error, I worry that many voters see this result and turnout is either depressed or "the bandwagon" effect takes hold. Let's face it, if you know that a candidate is favored to win by 10 points and you have to take the kids to hockey, you probably will think "the election is already decided". Yet, I can always point to that one out of twenty times (although it is probably greater than this because all polls have to be wrong at once) when the polls are dead.... and I mean dead wrong. Take New Hampshire Primary 2008... Barack Obama was going to cruise over Clinton by 10+ points... but it was not to be... Clinton won by 3. But with the new fivethirtyeight.com, which I have praised, I honestly wonder if we might have reached the point where we ask "why even vote?"

If primaries are so predictable, why even hold them? If the matchup in the fall is so predictable, why hold the campaign season...

Now, I know elections aren't that predictable and never will be... But I always do fear the day.

Friday, May 09, 2008

 

West Virginia and the impending blowout

Clinton is going to blow Obama out of the water in West Virginia... and I mean out of the water. The electorate in West Virginia is only going to be 5% African American. The rest are all white working class folks that have been going to Clinton in droves. In fact, in districts similar to the demographic makeup in West Virginia, Clinton has beaten Obama by 2 or 3 to 1. And if we learned anything from Indiana and North Carolina, demographics remain relatively consistent in this primary season. Don't be shocked to see 70% next Clinton's name on Tuesday night. Heck it might be 75%.... I'm personally thinking closer to 65%... but the other two are possible.

What does this mean? It means bad press for Obama. It means the tv audience will be treated to "Clinton back on track"... In truth, WV is only going to net Clinton a little less what she lost last Tuesday night in terms of the popular vote. And as we know, Obama is just running out the clock.

Clinton would impress me with an 80% total.... but there is a better chance that Betty Crocker (who is a company creation) comes and makes me some cake.

Here's what I can tell you... after Tuesday night, Obama will roll out some more super delegate endorsements.... bringing him closer to the nod.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

 

Fivethirtyeight.com

http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/mp_20080507_8254.php


A great article by Mark Blumenthal aka "Mystery Pollster" on Poblano's near perfect prediction on Tuesday night.

For those that don't know, Poblano (he has a background in statistics) is a member of dailykos.com who also put together some mathematical models to predict the primaries on Tuesday night.

The site is amazing, and I visit it often.

But Blumenthal misses one point... Poblano got somewhat lucky in North Carolina. His model is based off of prior results from other primaries. Obama won a large margin on Tuesday night... but it was due more to his strong African-American vote than his high white vote. Obama lost on the white vote and gained on the Black vote as compared to other states. The two acted as a canceler upon one another.

My problem wasn't so much that I didn't see what was going to happen... I just took it to an extreme. I gave Obama less white vote and more African-American vote, but it turned out that I gave Clinton way too much white vote... it was more 60-40 than 65-35.. further Obama got 92% or so of the Black vote vs 90%. Those two in tandem doomed me.

Poblano got it right because his model is based off of prior performance in the primary... and his correct assumption that the Wright controversy wouldn't make such a big difference in the primary voting.

In Indiana, the Black vote showed up for Obama... especially in Indy...

Obama kept his white vote lost to a minimum..... its something that will serve him well come the general... which is where he is heading.

 

Update on Vito... and a little side comment

If Vito was in fact using government funds when was away with his mistress, then yes he should go. Fathering a child doesn't mean he should however.

And now for something different:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24530214/

Read the article made me sick.... suing? ARE YOU KIDDING? Have a soul man. Have a heart.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

 

Why should it matter? Vito Fossella edition

So the dude is a sleaze, who was cheating on his wife... Why should this matter in his ability to be a congressman? I know the DWI doesn't mean anything.... those have been going on forever. Is it that he was lying about where he was going?

I just don't get it... I mean Clinton stuck his pecker in more holes than Woody (no pun intended... or maybe just maybe). David Vitter cheated on his wife... with a hooker.

I just don't get parties and voters.

Fossella did nothing that in my opinion impedes upon his ability to be a congressman.

Of course, it won't matter in the end.

For back story...

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0508/10124.html

 

Obama's VP-what do you think?

The word unity is being thrown out an awful lot... "Obama should pick Clinton" they say. It will unify the Democratic party. It will help heal the wounds of the primary. White working class voters will come home and vote for Obama. Seniors will feel secure. Women will feel satisfied.

Well, here's what I know... Kerry picked Edwards, and it was a disaster. Why? They couldn't stand each other. More important than anything else in my opinion is the ability for the Prez and Vice Prez to stand each other.

Clinton and Obama aren't the greatest of friends... let's face it. Further, isn't Obama running against the politics of old?

Don't get me wrong, Obama has got to bring the party together.... but not the expense of compromising his principles...

Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard imho correctly proposes Ed Rendell (Governor of PA) to be Clinton's VP nod.

Let's talk about Rendell's one flaw... he isn't a woman. Some of Clinton's strength was white women. Someone would have to do polling on it, but I have considerable doubt that Obama's problem isn't "white women". Its working-class whites.

Rendell is Mister Working Class White. He's big... and I mean big. He won re-election in Pennsylvania by 20 points. He appeals to senior voters. He's a well established name. He has connections to all of Clinton's surrogates... and he is well connected financially (if you know what I'm saying). He has a great reputation in the Black community... he was the Mayor of Philly. More than that, he is liberal. Obama isn't imho compromising his principles by choosing him. As Barnes points out, Rendell would work his heart out for the ticket.

And let me suggest another added plus... if Obama people are so worried about losing the Jewish vote.. then wouldn't Rendell solve that? I mean he is Jewish.

Finally, he would guarantee PA.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

 

Explain to me....

Why should Clinton be the nominee?

She won't win the popular vote with Florida. She might not win it with Michigan (and that f-ed primary already favored her). She certainly won't win the overall popular vote.

She isn't winning pledged delegates (we already knew that).

Most importantly, there is no buyers remorse. I thought this was her most powerful argument. Voters were voting "differently" as more about Obama got known. This argument was proven false.

She'll cruise in WV and KY... but is there is a legitimate reason?

I'm asking... cause I can't think of one.

 

CBS News got lucky

They called the Indiana contest a good 3 hours before any of the other networks... The race was way too close for them to call it. Obama had a legitimate shot to win the state. In the end, they were smart not to retract (never make two wrong calls...). But this was nearly the second time this cycle where a state was called by one "network" (Missouri was called by the AP).

In the end, Clinton's NARROW and I mean NARROW Indiana win gives a semi-quasi-bare reprieve.... But Obama's big win in NC will really seal this thing.

I will thus switch my focus to the general election...

 

I was WAY...... WAY.... off

Let's see what I did have right in North Carolina.... Black turnout. I said it would be 35%, it was 34%. I said Obama would win 90% of the Black vote, he won 91%.

Where I went wrong....
Clinton only won 7% of the Black vote. Further, I overestimated her percentage of the white vote. I thought would be closer to 65%, it was 60%.

Just wrong. But once again, pollsters didn't underestimate the amount of Black voters... they overestimated their vote to Clinton and Clinton's hold of the white vote.
I in turn did so.

In Indiana, African-Americans made up 15%... further away from 10%.

But really, the undecideds went to him... and that is what happened.

Overall, it was a poor night....

Monday, May 05, 2008

 

And in Georgia and Alabama... does the theory hold?

Back to the theory that the Black vote was underestimated in southern primaries...

Well unfortunately, there is only limited data available in Georgia.... but the two sources available were Zogby and Insider Advantage... both of whom predicted around 20 percent victories for Obama in Georgia (the final result was 35). Well it turns out Zogby had the percentage of African Americans about right (he says around half, it was 51). He underestimated Obama's Black support by 20%.... oops.

Insider Advantage breaks the theory! They had Black turnout at 43 and white at 49.. the numbers were reversed on election day. They actually nailed the white vote (that is who whites would vote for)... they underestimated the Black vote by 15%.

So to me, the theory is actually broken again... but maybe you believe differently.

Now, Alabama... I remember the polls being much closer than the actual result.

And, here the theory holds. SurveyUSA said Black voters would make up 42% of the electorate... it was 51%. They also underestimated Obama's vote among Black voters... they overestimated among whites.

And the same story holds in Insider Advantage.

In Mississippi, Insider Advantage overestimated the African-American vote by 7%. But all the undecideds among Blacks went to Obama, and they overestimated Clinton's Black vote by 8. And American research group suffered from the same exact problem.

Both had predicted 16-17% victories for Obama.... when it was closer to 25.

In MS, the theory clearly doesn't hold.

So we got 3 to 1 (or 2 1/2 to 1 1/2). The bottom line is that the polling companies have not on average overestimated Black support and only did so really in Alabama. They overestimated it in Mississippi....

The theory that Obama does better than polls suggest because polling companies underestimate the Black vote is hereby debunked.

What does that mean for tomorrow? Obama isn't getting 40% turnout... Personally, I went 35%, but I wouldn't be shocked with 32% African-American turnout.

I'll be floored if Clinton doesn't make it into the lower-mid 60's of the white vote. I have to think she does better in NC than PA among white voters. VA was a fluke...
Obama will win the Black vote 9 to 1, which is where his strength comes from.

But in the end, she needs 70% of the white vote to win the state, and she won't do it.

But I see single digits in the forecast.... we'll see if that turns out to be right.

 

Great Jay Cost article

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/horseraceblog/2008/05/reflections_on_the_democratic.html

Sums up pretty well what I think will happen in WV.

Also, talks about how well the Obama campaign did to organize.... something I have spoken about since February.

His lead of course... is mostly from the caucuses.... which we knew.... and kudos... Clinton's campaign got blindsided.

 

Are there any polling trends in either Indiana or North Carolina?

Sometimes polling trends are useful in predicting a winner.... if candidate A is gained in the polls, then chances are that candidate will do better than the polls predict.

There has been a trend in this primary season that in those states where Clinton leads, she picks up most of the undecideds. This is especially true if she is gaining in the polls. Unfortunately, there is no trend in the polls that one can pick up on in Indiana. If there is a slight trend, it is in Obama's direction. PPP has Clinton's lead down from 7 to 5 (but Clinton passes the 50% threshold). Insider Advantage has Clinton's down from 7 to 4 (Clinton doesn't pass the 50% threshold). Zogby has them both below 50% and shows no real movement. American Research Group (who is shady as hell... and I don't trust) has Clinton moving from a 7 to a 9 point lead (and above 50%). And the real wrench is Surveyusa which has Clinton moving from 9 to 12 (and over 50%).

Looking at the data, I can come to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite tomorrow, but there is no way to reasonably guess the exact final outcome. I went with the 3% + the current average lead as we saw in Ohio and Pennsylvania (5%). See if that works.

North Carolina is a state that Obama leads in. His lead stands at 7% in the polls. Here's a real whoozer. Early voting has Black turnout at 40%. Now, research suggests that Black turnout is usually higher during early voting than on election day. So we know it won't be 40%. Barack Obama won early voting in Texas but lost the primary.

Those polls that take early voting into account say Obama won it by 15-20 percent. Election day voting should be much closer.

What is the ultimate turnout of African-Americans and Whites will determine the election. If its 40% African-Americans, Obama will roll like a big wheel through a delta cotton field. If however, the turnout is 10% lower, Clinton has a shot. I split the difference at 35%... and thus give Obama his 7 point lead.

As I said, I feel a lot more comfortable about Indiana than North Carolina.

Just to complicate things however, I looked at the polling trends in North Carolina.

In every poll, Clinton has improved from the prior poll except one (where its the same).....

PPP has gone from a 12 point lead for Obama to a 10 point lead. SurveyUSA is the same 5. Insider Advantage from +5 to +3. Rasmussen from 14 to 9. Zogby from 9 to 8 (UPDATE SHOT BACK UP to 14... I think its garbage). ARG from 11 to 8.

What does that mean? Does it mean that Clinton will ultimately do better on election day? What about early voters?

Now, I also want to discuss a trend certain people believe they see. People claim that Barack Obama did better that polls indicated in South Carolina and Virginia (also in Georgia, but I want to concentrate on the other two). Thus they say he'll do better in North Carolina than polls indicate as the states are similar. I decided to look back at some of the polls and found things were not as easy as a, b, c.

South Carolina:
Zogby nails every candidates percentage except for one.... Barack Obama. What happened? There were a ton of undecided in the race.... They were overwhelmingly Black. He grabbed every single one.

Surveyusa: overestimated Edwards (remember him?) black vote. And the undecided White vote went to Obama (it was 2%). Further, "other" received two points in the poll. And those votes went to Obama.
Rasmussen: although we don't have full access to the numbers... all the undecided Black voters went Obama's way.

What does this tell us? Well it tells us that most of Obama's supposed "doing better than the polls" was nothing more than undecided Black voters going his way for the most part. The polls did a pretty decent job at judging Clinton's vote, but they did a poor job at guessing Obama's.

Virginia:
A little more interesting... but once again Obama's support is greater than the polls indicate, while Clinton is a little less (around 2-3%).
Surveyusa: Two reasons... one Clinton was said to get 13% of the Black vote. she got 10 (9 to 1 split anyone?). Two, her white vote was 3 points high. Obama grab white undecideds and the rest is history.
Mason Dixon: over 25% Black undecideds... all went Obama. And as with Surveyusa, Clinton did a little worse among White voters.
Rasmussen: Gave Clinton 22 percent of the Black vote... wrong. Give Clinton 10% and Obama the undecided Black vote... and whalaa.

So are these polls wrong because they didn't take into account high black turnout? No, they were wrong because they were wrong. In South Carolina and in Virginia, the polls overestimated Clinton's Black vote. In Virginia, it was a combination of that and pinning her white vote a little too high (by around 3).

In North Carolina, the dynamics have changed. I believe the election will be much more along racial lines. Clinton will gain in the white vote, and Obama will be 9 to 1 in the Black vote.

And do you want to know something interesting? Surveyusa has Black voters making up 32% in North Carolina. They said Blacks would make up 29% in Virginia, they made up 30%. They said Black would make up 55% of the vote in South Carolina, they made up 55%.

You think they might know something we don't?

I'm going 35% on the Black turnout.... maybe I'm a little high.

And if the turnout is 32%..... watch out because Clinton really does have a shot.

 

Final Predictions Indiana and North Carolina

Let's start with Indiana. I don't see a close race. To me, it just feels like a movie script we've seen before. Obama behind Clinton who leads in the polling average. Clinton near 50%. A lot of so-called "undecideds".

Call it Clinton 54-46.

North Carolina is more interesting. Its a mix between of South Carolina and Virginia. Both of these states went to Obama by 20+ points... in fact it was closer to 30.

The problem with using these states to predict is that while they are similar, they are also different (South Carolina is more Black than North Carolina and Virginia is wealthier than North Carolina).

Early voting was somewhere near 2/5 Black in NC. Obama won early voting in Texas but lost the primary. What that means is that Obama tends to do very well among early voters (his voters are more energetic).

Here's my thinking:
The Black vote will be around 35% of the total electorate. Obama will carry the Black vote 9 to 1. Clinton will carry the white vote by about 13 to 7.

What you get is Obama by 7 points... 53.5-46.5.

Take these numbers for what they are.

I feel much more strongly about Indiana..... I see some people going blowout in North Carolina for Obama. I just don't see it.... then again I don't see a lot of things.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

 

Mark Halperin and bad polling

The debate over IVR vs. traditional telephone is not one I'm going to tackle in this post (I come down on the side of IVR just for your info... all IVR really does is have automated voices vs. live people of traditional).

What I am going to talk about is reporting poll numbers from a bad pollster. What is a bad pollster? A pollster who is further off than the competition.... and often... is a bad pollster. The problem is that most bad pollsters are those of the news media. CBS/NYT comes to mind immediately... with Newsweek a close second. ABC News/Wash Post are decent pollsters.

The problem is that big "networks" can get their numbers out easily. More than that, political blogs will report them because "they are the big names". And of course, they are traditional and not IVR, so this is just another reason to report them.

So when CBS/NYT comes out with Obama over Clinton by 12 and both over McCain by double digits and Halperin posts it on the front page (http://thepage.time.com/), it worries me. In fact, CBS/NYT are the worst of the traditional pollsters... and only do Zogby Interactive (internet polling, wholly unreliable) and Columbus Dispatch (its some form of mail polling) do worse.

Take a look for yourself: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3041/2453391209_6863309983_o.png

Not surprisingly, the national average have Obama up over McCain by a point and Clinton over McCain by 3. Further, Obama's lead over Clinton is about 3 points in the average.

Now, what does this mean? I'm personally very bothered by it. You got real people reading this blogs (especially Halperin who is one of the best in the business). People are given information that isn't the most accurate. And polling is already such a tricky business.

I'm not what you could a theoretical guy. I see what works... and use it.

CBS polling doesn't work. Don't use it. And if you do, don't put it up on your main page without any explanation.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

 

The insanity that is Guam

Well, I think most of us can agree that when Guam and presidential election come together in the same sentence we have gone too far. Now, we all knew that the delegate split was going to be 2-2 (or 1/2 votes from 4 delegates to 1/2 votes from 4 other delegates). The Obama cheat sheet (which is out of date and something Clinton people have to keep quiet about) had him projected by 10+ points. People were trying to make connections between Hawaii upbringing and Guam being an island somewhat like Hawaii (I don't quite buy it).

In either event, the race really came down to whether Obama or Clinton would gain a majority because one of the superdelegates pledged to support the popular vote winner. Well Obama led throughout the day by a comfortable margin until Dededo (the most populous district... who would have known) came in "strongly" for Clinton. This cut Obama's lead to 7... votes. Now, this 7 vote lead is out of something like 4,500 cast in the presidential election. The problem with this 7 vote lead is there are a bunch of so-called "spoiled" votes from Dededo. There are also supposed "missing" ballots.

The news media called this for Obama... but with this stuff out there, I'm not so sure.

But personally, I think the whole thing is crazy.

 

Let's be honest... Clinton needs a game changer to win and won't get it... most likely

Clinton will win Indiana. The problem is that is not a game changer. Its a state with 89% white voters..... who are rural. The state was close because of the Chicago media market... and the "white voters who live near black voters vote for the white candidate, while the white voters who don't live near black voters vote for the black candidate" (this theory does a pretty good job at explaining a lot of Clinton and Obama victories... even if it is simplistic and very worrisome). If Obama wins Indiana (and wins NC), its good night Clinton.

But in the end, Clinton really needs a NC and/or Oregon victory. NC has so many Black voters (39.3% in early voting) that in order to win the state she really needs 70% of white voters. Now, if she ever got that, there really is a case to be made that Obama won't carry white working class voters in the general (an argument that I thought was put aside in Wisconsin in February... but has crept back up). The problem is that getting 70% of white voters is so difficult.

Oregon is mostly white voters.... so what would an Oregon victory prove? Look to the theory in the top paragraph.... its a state where white voters don't live near black voters. Its really the other side of the equation of NC. Its also a state that Clintonites would describe as elitists wine drinkers... whatever the hell that means.


In the end, she needs at least one of those states to have a real shot.... and probably both.

She won't get it.

And that is why Barack Obama will probably be the nominee.

Friday, May 02, 2008

 

Mickey Kantor and War Room

I've watched the film numerous times... and I never stopped to actually think about the scene where Carville and Stephanopoulos are looking over exit poll data. It is one of my favorite parts of the movie... nothing gets me going like exit poll data (I kid you not).

So I was very much surprised to hear that Mickey Kantor (Campaign Chair of Clinton/Gore '92) being accused of not only degrading the people of Indiana but also Black people.

Upon initial look at the undoctored clip, I quickly dismissed the second part of the clip (the one where he says that the people of Indiana "white ni88ers" in the doctored clip). Its clear that there was not only not enough time to utter such a phrase but also that his lips don't seem to be saying that at all. What is he saying in that second part? I'm not sure. I just know its not what the doctored clip has him say.

Now the first part is more interesting. Upon first view, I bought that Kantor said the people of Indiana are "sh8t". It seemed that way.

Then, DA Pennebaker, the mind behind War Room, produced the official transcript.

Here's what Kantor supposedly said:
MICKEY KANTOR: Look at Indiana. Wait, wait. Look at Indiana. Forty-two, forty. It doesn't matter if we win. Those people are s----ing (oh, excuse me) in the White House. How would you like to be... Look at Texas, go down to Texas.

Now, I went back after reading the script and watched the clip again. We get "in the white house" for sure. The BIG question is whether he says "sh8t" or "sh8tting". The difference is key. If he says, "sh8t" it means that he is probably referring to the people of Indiana. If he says "sh8tting", then Pennebaker's version is probably right.

After reviewing the tape, I find "sh8tting" to be more believable than "sh8t". Its very difficult to discern, but he is (to me) using a two syllable word. And the word that rhymes with "hit" only has one.

I buy Pennebaker... and besides, why the devil would they allow this to be in the initial film if Kantor was saying what the doctored clip claims he was saying?

Now, I know that initial film reviews mentioned that Kantor did utter some not nice words. But they heard the same version that I did. It was my experience that I heard the same "hateful" words towards Indianans on first viewing.

But upon further review, Pennebaker's version holds and Kantor is found "not guilty" by this person.

 

Just for fun on the popular vote

I was trying to figure some plausible scenario where Clinton could win the popular vote when Florida and Michigan were excluded.

I used current poll numbers... and clearly had to go in some cases to give Clinton a margin she probably doesn't deserve.

I gave her a 10 point victory in Indiana (its possible).

Gave a tie in North Carolina (probably won't happen).

Gave her WV and Kentucky by 30 (possible).

Gave her Oregon by 5 (a poll out tonight had her down by 6.... so she has some making up to do)

Gave her Puerto Rico by 25 (that's what Jay Cost had as the baseline).

Gave Obama Montana and South Dakota by 10.

If such a wild scenario occurred.... and we use the Washington Primary and not the caucus....

Clinton would win the estimated popular vote by 56 votes. 56.

But it'll never happen.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

 

And now for another poll(s) I don't believe

From Zogby:
In North Carolina, Obama dominates all age groups with one exception--those age 70 and older, where the two are essentially tied.

Democrats--North Carolina
4-30/5-1

Clinton
34%

Obama
50%

Someone else
8%

Not sure
8%

Clinton leads by 10 points among white voters in North Carolina--47% to 37% - but Obama dominates among African American voters, 73% to 10% for Clinton. Among men, Obama leads, 57% to 30%, and he leads among women voters as well--winning 44% support to Clinton's 37% backing.

Asked if the statements of controversial Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright made voters more or less likely to support Obama, 15% of North Carolina voters said they were less likely to support him, while 4% said the comments made them more likely to support Obama.

In Indiana, the two Democrats were deadlocked at 42% each, with 16% either favoring someone else or yet undecided.

Democrats--Indiana
4-30/5-1

Clinton
42%

Obama
42%

Someone else
7%

Not sure
9%

----------------------------------

Why don't I believe these... simply put... Indiana is easy. It goes against all other recent polling (and I mean it goes against anything that has come out post Wright). Even if you ignore Obama being tied with Clinton, the mere fact that 16% are undecided or are voting for someone else makes you think the poll is a little nutzo considering there are four days to vote. 10% of the electorate maybe, but 16%?

As for NC, I refuse to believe that Clinton is carrying less than 50% of the white vote... most polls that have come out in the past two days have it above 60%. And if Obama is carrying 37% of the white vote and still only at 50%... then that means that there are a lot of Black voters he isn't carrying (27%)... which is of course also wrong.

--------------------------------

The real thing to watch in this is whether Clinton gets 70% of the white vote (I think she falls short by around 6 or 7%).. which leads to an Obama victory of around 6% in the end...

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