Thu, 1 May 2014
You can't just poll voters, if you want to predict how voters will choose. You have to poll voters who will choose. If a voter isn't going to vote, that voter will not have much effect on an election.
It is hard to figure out who is going to vote. Some pollsters go by past elections, taking into account what percentage of different ages, races, income groups, and educational levels have voted. So, if you find you're over-representing left handed people with blue eyes, you just count their numbers less. It's called weighting.
But weighting depends on past patterns holding in the future. Patterns are getting tricky.
It's getting harder to figure out who is going to vote for another reason. Republicans have been taking steps to make it harder for minorities and college students and working class people to vote. At the same time, courts are beginning to take a harder look at voter suppression. So it's hard to predict who will have their voting rights taken away by conservatives.
Thu, 10 April 2014
Sun, 6 April 2014
Columbia, Tennessee promotes itself as the mule capital of the world. Every year around the end of March and beginning of April, they hold an annual celebration. Thousands of people come from all over to join in bluegrass, gospel, country music, with dancing and events. This year they tried a sort of take off on a rodeo, with guys riding sticks made up to look like heads of mules. It was like Monty Python for mule lovers.
They also have an annual mule parade. Four years ago, a local Republican candidate for Congress, a tea party favorite, was scolded by a parade organizer for some sort of safety violation committed by his campaign the previous year. The candidate, Zach Wamp, got really steamed. He was reported by the Nashville City Paper to have said a couple of things that make campaign managers attempt to fly from tall buildings.
"I make my own rules!" and "You can’t tell me what to do!"
Yikes. Way to go, Zack.
Thu, 3 April 2014
When Bill Clinton won the Presidency in 1992, conservatives looked for whatever comfort they could generate from his low share of the vote. It had been a three candidate race, and Bill Clinton won with 43 percent.
George Will reacted with some degree of scorn, not toward Clinton, but toward Clinton's critics. He mocked the"delightful Republican attempt to build confidence on a rickety scaffolding of little numbers."
He stated two obvious facts.
One was that the President-elect would have won with a substantially larger share of the vote had the third candidate, Ross Perot, not engaged in a campaign that was self-financed by equal parts big money and big ego.
The other was that Clinton had ... well ... won.
"Clinton`s strong number is: He won 100 percent of the White House."
Unless you are Chris Christie making a ruthless run toward national Republican prominence, that 100 percent of any elective office means you would not be willing to block lanes or break heads to get a few more points past 60 percent. As long as you get enough past half to avoid a nail biting recount, who cares?
That's why it was hard for me to take seriously the Huffington Post headline a few days ago:
Wed, 2 April 2014
Voters in their mid-twenties will remember just one presidential campaign in which the Republican got more votes than the Democrat. That happened in 2004 as President George W. Bush was cast as the anti-terrorist President.
Elections in which the Democratic candidate got more votes:
Elections in which the Republican candidate got more votes:
A trend can be seen in non-Presidential races. The line is not straight, but it wobbles along, generally in one direction. The oscillation does continue. Republicans are victorious, then Democrats win. But Republican victories are becoming narrower over time. Democrats, when they win, achieve greater margins.
What began happening in 1992? Why is it continuing?
Thu, 27 March 2014
Bill O'Reilly's comparison has to be taken in context.
I happen to disagree with O'Reilly about the cause of the crucifixion. His opinion has been shared by antisemitic bigots for centuries. It has caused much suffering among persecuted Jews. I don't think Jesus was killed because he was widely hated. He was targeted, at least in part, because he was way too popular in the nation of Israel.
That does not detract from the point Bill O'Reilly was attempting to make.
Fri, 28 February 2014
Well, that was bracing.
In the month and a half since one time rocker Ted Nugent characterized the President in terms most familiar to those who lived in the days of Jim Crow and lynchings, he has semi-sorta apologized. Between those slurs and his revised and extended remarks, he was greeted joyfully by a candidate for Governor of Texas, was endorsed by a former Governor of Alaska, and was the subject of a host of reactions by public conservatives.
His own remarks were controversial, but not entirely unexpected. They comprise a small part of a massive pattern of longstanding behavior.
More instructive was the disapproving reaction of mainstream Republicans.
Sun, 23 February 2014
What's the most boring thing imaginable?
Watching paint dry? Watching grass grow? Waiting for the History Channel to show history?
How about a news account of a series of meetings by a group of economists?
Except this group of economists is staggering like an inebriated passenger stumbling toward an airplane propeller. The propeller is we now know as the economic crisis of 2008. The combination of innate cluelessness and lack of information combines with the ability to see things retrospectively to form a horror show of policy.
It's like watching a television drama with little kids playing with dynamite and matches. You hold your breath, knowing this won't be good.
Thu, 20 February 2014
The man who killed a teenager over an argument about loud music will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. Still, it was not a verdict consistent with common sense.
The interview with the one juror who has stepped forward provided confirmation of what many of us have suspected. A majority of the jury wanted to convict the defendant for outright murder. Three holdouts refused.
At issue was whether the shooter was acting in self-defense. The definition in Florida seems to be looser than in most of the country in two respects.
An affirmative defense shifts the burden of proof...
Tue, 18 February 2014
For the most part, mainstream media outlets have ignored the obvious coverage. They are, for once, just too responsible to get the job done.
I suppose that, in my heart, I have always known of that ageless quality within. I am too old to be young, but I'll never be too old to be immature. So it's time to take up the slack.