Swing State Pres

Friday, November 16, 2012

This Could Be the Last Post, This Could Be the Last Post....May Be The Last Post, I Don't Know (November 16, 2012)

No, this is not a song parody on the Rolling Stones’ “Last Time.”  I think I’m just being unduly influenced by the "Crossfire Hurricane” HBO documentary on them last night, which was wild.

There is really only one reason I have for doing one last “election post”…and that is, of course, to see who the lucky person is who provides the correct answers to the following three questions:

1)       Who will be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016?
2)       Who will be the Republican presidential nominee in 2016?
3)       Who will win?

Please send me your guesses (tom@obameter2012.com)….I will keep them anonymous, duly record them on a spreadsheet, bury it in a four-year digital time capsule, unearth it (or whatever the electronic equivalent of “unearth” is) in four years, and reveal the genius(es) to the world.

I started to compile helpful lists of potential contenders but quit after the list, especially on the Republican side, started getting absurdly long.  But I still can provide modest service to you:  I would advise eliminating “David Petraeus” from consideration.  (Just a few week ago he might have been a very popular guess.  Who better to bridge the divide that is the Republican Party than Ike II?)

So, please send your guesses to me via email to tom@obameter2012.com.  The more the merrier.

I have been determined to find a few tidbits that you may not have already read in the mountain of post-election coverage.  Here are my three best:

  • Remember Roseanne Barr, the very loud TV star of a hit show in the latter part of the 20th century called, um, “Roseanne”?  Did you know that Roseanne Barr came in 6th for the race for President of the United States?  That’s right, 56,349 Americans (and counting) exercised their precious right to vote by casting a vote for Roseanne Barr.  She was a candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party.

  • Remember “Joe the Plumber” from the 2008 campaign?  Turns out Joe (actually his name was, and is, Samuel Werzelbacher) got bitten by the political bug as well.  He ran for Congress in Ohio’s 9th District – and won.  Yes, you may have thought the freshmen members of the 112th Congress were a little lame, but they just may outclass the freshmen of the 113th.

  • Remember the Kennedys?  The clan that saw one of its members serve in Congress for 64 years, from 1948 (when JFK was elected) to 2011 (when Patrick decided not to seek another term in Rhode Island).  Well, they’re baaaaaack!   Joseph P. Kennedy III (grandson of RFK) won Massachusetts’ 4th District – Barney Frank’s old seat – and the scuttlebutt  is, Young Joe has the magic.  He’s 32, a former Peace Corps member and prosecutor.  And find a picture of him on Google Images.  He looks the part.  Check back with me in, oh, 2020, maybe he’ll make the VP short list.
Epilogue

Obama won Florida, so Nate Silver officially beat me!  Good call, Nate.  (Damn!) Seven House races remain “too close to call” or challenged or open in some way. 

Washington has quickly moved on to three juicy topics:

  • The “fiscal cliff”…my favorite story was that Obama apparently called both McConnell and Boehner shortly after his victory speech on Election Night and was told (by who, I wonder) on each call that the man was asleep.  What a metaphor!  The outlines of a workable compromise have been signaled – tax “revenues” from the rich go up via closing loopholes or, more likely, capping deductions, but “rates” stay the same.  But this will surely come down to a Christmas Eve action (I really doubt they will stay in Washington through Christmas for a New Year’s Eve countdown to remember).

  • The fate of the Republican Party.  Was Romney a bad candidate, or should the GOP modify its policies to better woo Hispanics in light of the swift and inexorable demographic shifts?  (That is, Hispanics are growing so fast that Republicans cannot ignore them, nor can they afford to offend women, blacks, gays and all other non-white-male voting blocks.)  Most of the chatter seemed to focus on the latter, and that Romney was a victim of the impossible primary-to-general-election gauntlet the GOP forces its candidates to run.  (Do you think Chris Christie is going to win the South Carolina primary?)

  • And, of course, Petraeus.  I heard something on POTUS a few days ago that made me laugh.  On POTUS quite often it is basically the press interviewing the press, and in one of these interchanges the point was made was, basically, “thank god for Petraeus” because a sex scandal is far preferable to cover than the rather dry, wonkish fiscal cliff mess.

Closing Notes

I expect to be back on a very occasional basis, just to keep my hand in, but for now I am signing off.  This started as an email/newsletter that I inflicted (literally, they didn’t ask) on 15 or so friends and family.  I have to thank my friend Bob for turning it into a blog (without asking me!) in June and providing much technical assistance along the way.  I’m sure he regrets it now – as “Connecticut Republican” he also served the role of my foil, a vital “fair and balanced” counterweight to my leftist leanings.

I also must thank an array of guest bloggers, including Wick, Fran, Dave (another Republican friend), Wendy (more on her later) and, of course, Steve, who provided the absolute best commentary on the conventions and the debates that I read anywhere, period.

Many thanks to all of you as well…the best part of this was the many emails I received expressing support for the whole thing, along with the side commentary that supplemented, for me, the many online comments. Somehow that list of 15 people expanded to about 60, and somehow that list of 60 people ended up as 1,973 unique visitors who made 4,655 visits and read 9,258 pages.  Thanks to Allie and others who posted links on Facebook, and to Bob who introduced me to reddit.com!

Final thanks to Wendy for being my most passionate guest blogger, the site’s editor-in-chief (you would not believe how many grammatical errors she had to fix pre-post) and top supporter, even in the face of the ever-increasing encroachment the Obameter made on our lives!

Don’t forget to send me your guesses for 2016 (at tom@obameter2012.com)!  It will be upon us before we know it. But first, the fiscal cliff…the inauguration…the debt ceiling…the immigration bills…the midterms…

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Mortem: No Drama Obama, Nate and Me (November 7, 2012)

It wasn’t as close as any channel covering the election made you think.  The fact that the Presidential election was called so early, at about 11:15 PM EST by all the channels (and they are not allowed to call it before 11:00) is testament enough to the lack of real drama.  I had no doubt at all that Obama was going to win, but if I needed any early clue, it was when NBC called Michigan, Pennsylvania and WisconsinWisconsin! – between 9:00 and 9:30 PM EST.  Three good-sized states that had at one time been (or still were) battlegrounds, and I expected each to be relatively close, a 4 to 5 point margin.  But they were called fast, and their ultimate margin was 5 to 9.  Plus Florida was obviously very, very close from the outset – and that was Romney’s best swing state.  It was really over quite early.  “No Drama Obama” once again…the only drama was manufactured by the coverage.

I’m convinced that pundits view polls with great suspicion, and as a threat to their intuitive so-called genius.  Any number of individual polls can be wrong, of course, and are….the granddaddy of them all, Gallup, had Romney up by 5-6 points just before Sandy hit, which was 4-8 points different from virtually every other poll.  But what Nate Silver is demonstrating is that when you add polls together in some fashion – any fashion -- the margin of error goes way down.  If you sample 1,000 likely voters to represent the 120 million ultimate voters, the margin of error is about +/- 3.  But if you add ten polls together, effectively you are sampling 10,000 people, and the margin of error is +/- 1.

Pundits don’t get this.  I heard even the venerable Tom Brokaw complaining about the number of polls.  But the more polls, the better the forecast.  And this one was called exactly right.  Obama was going to win, if you looked at the polls correctly and believed that Obama’s “ground game” was as good as or better than Romney’s.  And most people believed that.  As did I.

So Nate Silver is today’s hero.  He’s been my hero for awhile!  But, to be a bit immodest, my calls were about 99.9% as good as Nate’s:

  • We both correctly picked 49 out of 49 states (plus the District of Columbia).  Florida remains uncalled; I predicted Romney would win by a nose and I will likely be wrong…Nate predicted a toss-up, which I guess is a bit more correct.
  • We both picked 31 out of 33 Senate races, and got the same two wrong, in fact the closest two races and the last two that were called.  North Dakota and Montana, where the Democrats registered razor-thin upsets, were both called in the afternoon.
  • In predicting the percentage vote in the swing states and close Senate races, Nate’s calls were ever-so-slightly better than mine.  Ohio’s Senate race is an excellent (and representative) example….he said Brown would beat Mandel 52-47, I said 53-47, and the actual was 50-45.  Our differences were even less pronounced in the Presidential swing states
  • And Nate did better on the Presidential popular vote:  he said Obama would win 50.8% to 48.3%, while I said 49.8% to 48.7%, and the actual (thus far) is 50.3% to 48.0%.
  • Nate did not pick the House races…there are still 8 that are not called; thus far I have picked 410 out of 427.
Nate’s methodology is more sophisticated than mine, a regression-based model that weights different polls in different ways.  I do more or less straight line averages, with the key decision being at what point do you consider a poll to be outdated.  I’m sure Nate’s slightly better precision is a credit to his sophistication, but the differences were immaterial and barely discernible.

My crude model for when the race would be called turned out to be too conservative….instead of Wisconsin pushing Obama over the top at 1:20 AM, as I predicted, it was Ohio at 11:13 PM.  NBC was more aggressive than CNN as best as I could tell, but everyone, including Fox, called it around 11:15 PM.  That is, everyone except Romney, who stubbornly held out for another hour with the hopes of pulling an “inside straight” with the first draw being a reversal of Ohio.  I've got some work to do on this one, but I believe I was the only one who attempted to "call the call"!

Of course I have a chart that summarizes all this.  Check it out, below.

Lots of you have asked what I plan to do with www.obameter2012.com after the election.  My current plan is to scale it way-way back, to maybe a post per month on an item of interest.  And then come back for the mid-terms in 2014, heading right on into the 2016 race thereafter!  In the meantime….maybe I have to think of a new name….

I’ll be back with a few more posts in the coming days before I put the election to bed…comments welcome!



Tom Gardner
Nate Silver
Actual
PRESIDENCY
Winner



States Called Correctly

49 out of 50 (FL)
49 out of 49

Swing states Called Correctly

7 out of 8 (FL)
7 out of 7

Electoral Vote
Obama
303 - 235
313 - 225
332 - 206 (FL to Ob)
Popular Vote %
Obama
 49.8 - 48.7
50.8 - 48.3
50.3 - 48.0
Popular Vote
Obama
62.7MM - 61.4MM
dnp
60.1MM - 57.4MM
Time race is called by NBC

1:20 AM EST
dnp
11:13 PM EST
State that pushes the winner over

Wisconsin
dnp
Ohio
Ohio
Obama
51 - 48
51 - 48
50 - 48
Nevada
Obama
51 - 47
52 - 47
52 - 46
Wisconsin
Obama
52 - 47
52 - 47
53 - 46
Iowa
Obama
50 - 48
51 - 48
52 - 46
Colorado
Obama
50 - 49
51 - 48
51 - 47
Virginia
Obama
51 - 48
51 - 49
51 - 48
New Hampshire
Obama
51 - 48
51 - 48
52 - 46
Florida
Romney
49 - 50
50 - 50
50 - 49 (likely Ob)
SENATE




Senate
Democrats
53 - 47
52.5 - 47.5
55 - 45
Races Called Correctly



31 out of 33
31 out of 33
Close Races Called Correctly



10 out of 12
10 out of 12
Missouri
McCaskill (Dem)
52 - 48
52 - 46
55 - 39
Ohio
S. Brown (Dem)
53 - 47
52 - 47
50 - 45
Connecticut
Murphy (Dem)
54 - 46
53 - 46
55 - 43
Pennsylvania
Casey (Dem)
53 - 47
53 - 45
54 - 45
Wisconsin
Baldwin (Dem)
51 - 49
51 - 49
51 - 46
Virginia
Kaine (Dem)
51 - 49
51 - 48
52 - 48
Massachusetts
Warren (Dem)
52 - 48
52 - 47
54 - 46
Indiana
Donnelley (Dem)
54 - 46
50 - 48
50 - 44
Arizona
Flake (Rep)
47 - 53
47 - 52
45 - 50
Montana
Rehberg (Rep)
49 - 51
48 - 50
49 - 45
North Dakota
Berg (Rep)
48 - 52
47 - 53
50 - 50
Nevada
Heller (Rep)
47 - 53
48 - 50
45 - 46
HOUSE




House
Republicans
196 - 239
dnp
194 - 233 (8 tbd)
Races Called Correctly


dnp
410 out of 427
Close Races Called Correctly


dnp
98 out of 108