Nate Silver’s psephologist brigade crushes pundits and pollsters


Nate Silver

Silver, the computer expert who gave Obama a 90 percent chance of winning re-election, predicted on his blog, FiveThirtyEight (for the number of seats in the Electoral College), that the president would receive 51 percent of the popular vote as he called each of the 50 states, including all nine battlegrounds…

Gallup’s daily national tracking poll put Republican nominee Mitt Romney ahead by five points until it was suspended for Hurricane Sandy, and a final national survey released Nov. 5 gave the Republican a one-point advantage…

Two university-based pollsters joined Silver in correctly predicting Obama’s win, and one of them will be dead-on about the electoral vote tally.

Drew Linzer, an assistant professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta and a former pollster based in California, predicted yesterday morning on the website votamatic.org that Obama would end the race with 332 electoral votes and Romney 206.

Of Silver, Linzer wrote in that post, “his most likely outcome is still Obama 332, followed by 303 and 347, just like me.” Linzer also wrote that his model for votamatic.org had been predicting since June the Obama win with 332 electoral votes.

Sam Wang, a Princeton University professor of neuroscience, posted his final prediction — that Obama would likely receive 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 235 — on the school’s election blog at 2 p.m. yesterday. He reduced Obama’s total from 332 based on late polls yesterday.

Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, hasn’t been called by the Associated Press. Its outcome will determine which of those professors’ final forecasts was accurate.

The Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports poll also had Romney winning the popular vote by one point. It missed on six of its nine swing-state polls. Rasmussen is an automated poll, meaning that it cannot call mobile phones and relies instead on an online polling tool to reach those without landlines. Rasmussen also adjusts data to reflect political party identification, which other pollsters say can change from survey to survey.

Rasmussen Reports had Obama winning Nevada and New Hampshire, tying Romney in Ohio and Wisconsin, and losing in the other five, including North Carolina…

Silver infuriated conservatives with his model, which uses a number of measurements and calculations, including attention to state polls.

I don’t pretend to understand all the maths that Silver obviously excels in. If you click through to the article and the video – please do watch the video. Mike McKee is one of the best economists in the country.

Glad he works down here instead of back up in the GWN.

Which way does the wind blow on Wall Street?

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who works at an environmental organization. We were discussing the absence of any talk about climate change in the presidential campaign, and joked that the United States would decide to get serious only when Wall Street found itself under water.

That turned out to be a very bad joke. There were moments last week when I grumbled that I was paying for it: like everyone else on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, my family and I spent four days with no electricity or water. But others were burying their dead. For us, Sandy was an inconvenience. For many people, it was a catastrophe.

A catastrophe, however, shouldn’t be wasted. Climate change has a political problem: the countries most affected by it are not the ones in a position to do anything. The Maldive Islands are being swallowed by the Indian Ocean. Corn farmers in Kenya are seeing their crops withered by unprecedented drought. The death toll from Sandy so far in the United States stands at more than 100, but in Haiti it destroyed 70 percent of the country’s crops. Between drought, tropical storm Isaac and Sandy, 90 percent of Haiti’s crops have been destroyed by natural disasters this year.

The Maldives, Kenya and Haiti can do nothing to halt climate change. The United States can, but has seen no reason to — until, perhaps, last week. I don’t have any fixes for climate change. We’ve just suffered, however, through a storm that might be a fix for the lack of political will to do something about it.

Hurricane Sandy’s effect on the politics of climate change was immediate. Just three days after Sandy hit Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to make it the focus of his endorsement of President Obama. “Our climate is changing,” the mayor wrote, “and while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be — given this week’s devastation — should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.” All of a sudden, climate change was the phrase of the day: New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, and Senator Charles Schumer and former President Bill Clinton were all talking about it…

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The demographics of Obama’s victory – what it means for 2016

Obama’s demographic edge: Yes, the auto bailout mattered in Ohio. Sure, Hurricane Sandy helped the president. And, yes, the economy was the No. 1 issue. But make no mistake: What happened last night was a demographic time bomb that had been ticking and that blew up in GOP faces.

As the Obama campaign had assumed more than a year ago, the white portion of the electorate dropped to 72%, and the president won just 39% of that vote. But he carried a whopping 93% of black voters (representing 13% of the electorate), 71% of Latinos (representing 10%), and also 73% of Asians (3%). What’s more, despite all the predictions that youth turnout would be down, voters 18-29 made up 19% of last night’s voting population — up from 18% four years ago — and President Obama took 60% from that group. The trend also played out in the key battleground states…

The GOP’s demographic dilemma: Obama’s demographic edge creates this dilemma for the Republican Party: It can no longer rely on white voters to win national elections anymore, especially in presidential cycles. Indeed, according to the exit poll, 89% of all votes Mitt Romney won last night came from whites (compared with 56% for Obama). So the Republicans are maximizing their share with white voters; they just aren’t getting the rest. And come 2016, the white portion of the electorate will probably drop another couple of points to 70%…

Making history: Finally, it was an historic-making election. With Obama’s re-election, we now have the first time since Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe that Americans have elected three two-term presidents in a row… Tammy Baldwin will become the Senate’s first openly gay member… The Senate will have at least 19 female members — the most ever — and there’s a chance that number could increase to 20 if Heitkamp wins… Maryland and Maine became the first states to approve of gay marriage at the ballot box… And initiatives to legalize marijuana passed in Colorado and Washington state.

Romney ran a campaign based somewhat logically on the decisions made by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Hey – it worked for them. Why shouldn’t it succeed, again?

Nixon decided to appeal directly to American racism. In the face of civil rights victories, he knew it would take decades for whites – convinced they are superior to non-whites – to accept and adjust to increasing equal opportunity in a nation that only paid lip–service to the concept for centuries. He won.

Reagan followed the same strategy – updated. He cast growing equal opportunity in education and employment as a threat to white workingclass voters. Your jobs are threatened unless you vote for me. He won.

There wasn’t a single Republican SuperPAC that strayed from the message of FEAR! Cripes, that doesn’t even work anymore for the pope. And demographic changes made the difference.

Democracy and opportunity can’t be stopped for long, reversed at all. Gay rights, a volunteer-only military that had to screw tens of thousands of National Guard members to proceed with Bush’s Wars, Hispanic communities that have learned to fight the political fight for equal opportunity started back in the day of Rosa Parks, come together with the segment of white American workers who battled and survived the Great Recession through the liaison that included trade unions. The auto states of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin were states where white workingclass voters marched in defense of their rights – and for President Obama. The same happened in workingclass communities on either coast.

What do the Republicans have left? The neocons led by Karl Rove tried to order Romney off the stage to halt a damned good concession speech. We saw the tea party and the religious nutball fringe stick to the old guns of bigotry and bibles – and they gave the Republicans the House, again. The Confederate wing of Congress. Then, they got to watch the majority of all Americans join a coalition of colors, ethnicities, gender and faith in democracy that united to defeat them.

Will the Republicans change? Frankly, I don’t give a damn. I don’t think either the neocons or teabaggers have the integrity to change. Sure, they’ll try on some new plastic clothes to disguise whatever their next strategic decision may be. They remain committed to and controlled by the most reactionary elements of American corporate wealth. What will they give up to remain in charge?

I imagine I’ll watch Obama’s team manage Hillary’s campaign four years from now. And I’ll probably vote for her.

Making the market for stolen cell phones go away

Last Wednesday some U.S. wireless carriers implemented the first part of a national strategy to deter cell phone theft: a joint “blacklist” database of identifying information about cell phones reported lost or stolen.

As of now, cell phone dealers are supposed to check this database before honoring requests to reactivate allegedly “locked-out” phones, in order to prevent people from using stolen phones.

It used to be that when you reported a phone lost or stolen, your carrier would suspend service to that device. But the person who stole your phone (or someone who bought it from the thief) could still walk into a cell phone dealer and get your phone reactivated under a new account.

Chris Guttman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA (a global association of wireless carriers), explained: “The point of the blacklist database is to dry up the aftermarket for stolen phones. If you can’t reactivate a stolen phone, it’s just a worthless hunk of plastic and metal…”

…Under this plan, U.S. carriers that use GSM network technology (that’s AT&T and T-Mobile) committed to launching their databases by October 31…The other U.S. carriers, which operate CDMA-technology networks, still have over a year to get their lost/stolen phone databases up and running… According to CTIA, Sprint/Nextel has already implemented its database.

At first these CDMA databases will be carrier-specific; later the blacklists from all carriers will be integrated into a single database

One factor slowing the implementation of a centralized cross-carrier database of lost or stolen phones is the uneven pace of LTE network rollouts across the U.S. Some of the identifying information listed in the database is derived from wireless networks, and variations in network technology make it difficult to create consistent and reliable listings for individual devices.

So, while the carriers work to dry up the stolen phone aftermarket, take a moment to set up remote wipe service for your phone, remember to keep it locked, and beware of low-cost used phones available for sale on eBay, Craigslist, and elsewhere. If you purchase a device that turns out to be stolen and therefore can’t activate it, you won’t get your money back.

Turning an otherwise profitable product – therefore worth stealing – into a chunk of valueless plastic and electronics is the best way to end almost all theft of this type. Remove the market that rewards theft and you take away all the motivation for a thief.

Kind of like legalizing marijuana. The easiest way in the world to get gangsters out of the loop is to rrmove the profits they derive from scarce goods.

Obama – 4 more years

And my analysis and opinions aren’t ready, yet.

New family tasks take my morning priority. But, I can sit down and gather my thoughts after a bit of reading.

One new fact, though – reflecting both faster communications and Obama’s ability to be campaigner-in-chief:

How much longer than 2008 did it take for Obama to be declared winner?

12 minutes.