Final Projections (2009)

There were no new polls released today, so I'm calling the polling projections final. The first graph for each state uses our traditional methodology, while the second graph incorporates every poll, regardless of partisan affiliation:

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Election

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Election

2009 Virginia Gubernatorial Election

2009 Virginia Gubernatorial Election

Remember, the point of our projections is not to predict the winner, but rather to access the accuracy of public polling. That being said, the hope is that our projections are accurate under the assumption that the polls were accurate.

You can follow the returns live at each states' respective Secretaty of State website; I've included links below:

Virginia
New Jersey (this link is sketchy, but I'm assuming they'll update the page.)
California CD-10 (not updated yet)
New York CD-23 (not updated yet)
Minnesota: St. Paul Mayor | Minneapolis Mayor

I'll also be recording the historical real-time result; I'll try and post a graph every hour or so depicting the vote totals as a function of time.

Published on November 3rd at 3:59 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Senator Klobuchar's Tele-Townhall

Minnesota Senator, Amy Klobuchar (D) was supposed to have a tele-townhall today, at 7 PM according to her website:

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar will be hosting a live statewide tele-town hall meeting to discuss making health care more affordable and answer questions from her constituents. Joining her will be Dr. Denis Cortese, CEO of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and Mary Wakefield, the highest ranking nurse in the federal government.

The tele-town hall will be held on Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

If you have registered and have not recieved [sic] a call by 7:10 pm or have questions, please call our office at 1-888-224-9043.

Source: Senator Amy Klobuchar's Townhall Registration Website

I signed up on Wednesday and waited for my automated call about 20 minutes ago. The phone rang at exactly 7 pm, but instead of hearing the townhall, I heard another recorded message:

Hi I'm senator Amy Klobachar,

Tonight at 7:00 I hosted a live statewide health care townhall to discuss ways to make the American health care system more affordable and more stable. I was pleased to be joined by Dr. Corteez, head of Mayo Clinic and Mary Wake Field the highest ranking nurse in the federal government. I'm so sorry I missed you but I'd like to invite you to listen to the audio recording of our townhall meeting. It's going to be posted on my website at Klobacher.senate.gov. You can also click on the 10 ways to talk to me about health care link on our website and that ways you can find out about up coming events like when I'll be at the State Fair and share your thoughts on this issue with me if you haven't already.

I really appreciate you being a part of our discussion on health care. Thank you.

[Call ended.]

Source: VoteForAmerica.net [MP3]

Why was I unable to join the tele-townhall?

I then called the office number as provided on her townhall registration in an attempt to remedy the error, but I heard another automated message:

Automated Voice: The mailbox belonging to...

Amy Klobuchar: Senator Amy Klobuchar's Office...

Automated Voice: Is full. To disconnect press 1, to enter another number press 2.

Source: VoteForAmerica.net [MP3]

Why can Senator's voice mail-boxes fill up?

Despite my inability to participate in the tele-townhall, TheUpTake.org is streaming the townhall live, right now.

Published on August 23rd at 7:17 PM CT :: 2 Comments

Realtime Results From Iran and USA

On June 12th, 85 percent of eligible Iranian voters cast a presidential ballot; on June 13th, many of these same citizens took to the streets to protest the apparent reelection of Ahmadinejad. The final vote tally, as reported by Juan Cole, a prominent Middle East expert and History Professor at the University of Michigan, is below:

So here is what Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli said Saturday about the outcome of the Iranian presidential elections:

"Of 39,165,191 votes counted (85 percent), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election with 24,527,516 (62.63 percent)."

He announced that Mir-Hossein Mousavi came in second with 13,216,411 votes (33.75 percent).

Mohsen Rezaei got 678,240 votes (1.73 percent)

Mehdi Karroubi with 333,635 votes (0.85 percent).

He put the void ballots at 409,389 (1.04 percent).

Source: Stealing the Iranian Election via JuanCole.com

Despite the veil of electoral authenticity, rather large anomalies have been identified. Juan Cole quickly provided circumstantial evidence while the academic folks took a little more time completing their peer-reviewed papers. A consensus has emerged, even the Iranian State TV has acknowledged discrepancies in the election.

The purpose of this article is to invalidate the preliminary claims of election fraud in Iran. The first attempt came in the form of a graph popularized by The Atlantic columnist Andrew Sullivan. A composite of the original graphs is presented below; the multiple colors depict different perspectives on the same data set:

Iran Linear 2009 Relationship

Andrew Sullivan posted multiple versions of this graph to his blog on June 13th. From the various versions it became clear that the data source was consistent, but the application varied. Iran's Entekhab News and web based TehranBureau.com both used the election results provided by JameJamOnline.ir to create their graphs; which were later referenced by Sullivan.

The percent of the vote reported at each given coordinate is calculated with respect to the final two-way vote total; the reporting percent is overlaid near its associated coordinate. It is also important to note that there are two data sets. One is blue and has six dots while the other is red and has seven dots; the other red dots are exactly hidden behind the six blue points.

I will now provide four additional facts which have not be explicitly stated; these facts are either crucial to the creation or subsequent interpretation of the original graphs:

1. Ahmadinejad's vote total is represented by the X-axis and Mousavi's vote total by the Y-axis.

2. Entekhab News plotted [PNG] seven data points while TehranBureau's graph [PNG] excluded the first data point, while using the other six.

3. The regression technique is a linear least-squares approximation that is not forced through the origin. Ideally, the linear equations should pass through the origin; because at some point in time, before any votes have been counted, both candidates have zero votes.

4. The original source JameJamOnline.ir is written in Farsi, a language I cannot read; because of this, the coordinates for the data points were not explicitly available. TehranBureau provided [PNG] coordinates for the six data points they used, but the first point used by Entekhab News is still unavailable. It was however possible to use the least-squares equation depicted on their graph and the other six points to determine a very reliable estimate[*] for the first by reversing the regression. The coordinates used on the above graph are presented below:

    Report %   Ahmadinejad      Mousavi       Two Way
     12.98*      3,469,534     1,429,332      4,898,867
     26.45       7,027,919     2,955,131      9,983,050
     39.37      10,230,478     4,628,912     14,859,390
     54.55      14,011,664     6,575,844     20,587,508
     62.10      15,913,256     7,526,117     23,439,373
     66.50      16,974,382     8,124,690     25,099,072
     72.15      18,302,924     8,929,232     27,232,156

     Final      24,527,516    13,216,411     37,743,927		

By applying the data within fact #4, it becomes clear that the graph only encompasses about 45% or 60% of the total vote for the six and seven point graphs respectively. The entire analysis takes place within this region; the respective linear correlations are only valid within these ranges.

Sullivan initially referenced the Entekhab News version but it was not and still is not useful due to the language barrier; Sullivan would later reference the English analysis by TehranBureau.com. Judging from their about page, TehranBureau.com shares strong ties with the Columbia Journalism School and features a slew of qualified contributors. Muhammad Sahimi, a chemical engineer and TehranBureau contributor, provided the following analysis on the six point graph:

The vertical axis (y) shows Mr. Mousavi's votes, and the horizontal (x) the President's [Ahmadinejad]. R^2 shows the correlation coefficient: the closer it is to 1.0, the more perfect is the fit, and it is 0.9995, as close to 1.0 as possible for any type of data.

Statistically and mathematically, it is impossible to maintain such perfect linear relations between the votes of any two candidates in any election - and at all stages of vote counting. This is particularly true about Iran, a large country with a variety of ethnic groups who usually vote for a candidate who is ethnically one of their own.

Source: Faulty Election Data via TehranBureau.com

[The referenced article has since been removed from TehranBureau.com]

Muhammad Sahimi's assertion is not well received and lacks any proper causation; especially given the 45% window of relevance. In fact his "impossible" claim appears to be baseless when compared to relevant data from the 2008 Presidential Election in the USA. I intend to reproduce the high R^2 value using real-time data I collected on November 4th, 2008. The reported vote totals from each state were queued for download about 400 times an hour from MSNBC.com; data was collected in a circular queue as fast as possible. This does not mean that I have a complete set of data; networking and storage issues created significant discontinuities within the data, especially as the night progressed. MSNBC was used as the source because it was the only website that presented the election results as pure HTML; CNN, CBS, et al. used an asynchronous reporting scheme that prohibited the automated retrieval of their reported election results. Using some of this data, primarily from the East Coast, I will prove that a linear trend with a very high R^2 is the expected outcome of such a graph.

Let's first begin by analyzing Kentucky, one of the first states to begin reporting results. The state of Kentucky lies across the Eastern and Central time zones; about half the state's polls closed at 6 ET and the other half at 7 ET. The graph below illustrates the number of votes received by each presidential candidate with respect to the time at which they were recorded; I began collecting data from all states at around 6:40 CT. The graph below depicts each US candidate's vote total as a function of time and looks decisively non-linear, as many would expect:

Kentucky 2008 Election Votes

The graph above simply intends to illustrate the discontinuities and imperfections of our data set in a more logical format. The graph above is not supposed to resemble the Iran graph; the version intended for comparison, using Kentucky data, is presented below:

Kentucky 2008 Election Linear

From simple inspection, the Kentucky graph appears to be reasonably linear, clearly depicting a strong similarity to the Iran graph of internet lore. Although the R^2 is slightly lower than its TehranBureau counterpart, an R^2 value of .9995 still remains plausible. I would argue that Kentucky represents an acceptable microcosm of "ethnic groups," but other factors may be at play. Kentucky may be the norm or it may be the exception, the only way to find out is by analyzing more data. I conducted the same analysis using Virginia's data; first the votes vs. time graph from Virginia for a glimpse at our data set:

Virginia 2008 Election Votes

The Virginia data is clearly smoother than its Kentucky equivalent, but the curves resemble the same general form. I looked at a number of other states and the same general shape held across geographic and demographic borders. We'll now explore the relation between each candidate's vote totals in Virginia:

Virginia 2008 Election Linear

The Virginia graph seems to support the linear trend we saw in the Kentucky graph, but again the R^2 value is slightly lower than our target. This discrepancy can likely be attributed to the large number of points plotted, around 1,500, in the preceding graphs. If we were to strictly adhere to our four previously stated facts, specifically by using just six or seven points, we could probably achieve higher R^2 values. Let's go ahead and do that now.

The observations I made earlier will now play an important role in definitively disproving the "impossibility." Let's first begin by establishing the various threshold reporting levels for Kentucky and Virginia with respect to the original:

                         KENTUCKY

  Report %    Time CT   McCain       Obama      Two Way
   16.76       18:40    173,406     126,564      299,970
   26.49       19:12    268,616     205,480      474,096
   36.00       19:32    371,124     273,229      644,353
   53.03       20:02    532,940     416,231      949,171
   62.09       20:17    621,411     489,848    1,111,259
   64.64       20:24    642,008     514,837    1,156,845
   80.57       20:27    818,572     623,366    1,441,938

   Final              1,043,264     746,510    1,789,774


                         VIRGINIA    
               
  Report %    Time CT   McCain       Obama      Two Way
   13.38       19:02     278,094     214,706     492,800
   26.53       19:32     547,199     430,212     977,411
   40.32       19:52     780,552     705,180   1,485,732
   56.49       20:17   1,049,451   1,031,789   2,081,240
   63.84       20:42   1,179,737   1,172,437   2,352,174
   67.88       20:52   1,251,123   1,250,040   2,501,163
   72.36       21:07   1,328,103   1,338,087   2,666,190
                    
   Final               1,726,053   1,958,370   3,684,423

Some rough extrapolations must be done to satisfy these thresholds; there are several ways to do this, but the two-way vote total was chosen as the measuring stick. When the distribution of the data resulted in two points equally spaced from the intended threshold, the larger percentage was used. This is not a perfect scenario, but it should still serve to facilitate an unbiased result. If you don't like my methodology you can download the data in CSV format at the end of this article and make your own rules.

The composite six and seven point graphs for Kentucky, Virginia, Michigan and Pennsylvania are presented below with strict adherence to the original's methodology:

Kentucky 2008 Election Linear

The Kentucky data set is by far the most variable of the four states depicted and the threshold percentages also have the largest error relative to their corresponding target. Unfortunately, Kentucky is unable to provide definitive evidence, in terms of the R^2 value, to entirely vacate the "impossible" claim. Virginia is our next stop:

Virginia 2008 Election Linear

The R^2 value associated with the six point regression, .9996, is higher than the R^2 value of .9995 associated with the TehranBureau graph. The seven point R^2 value is however lower than the Entekhab News value of .9986. This unarguably debunks Muhammad Sahimi's assertion of statistical and mathematical impossibility. Such an outcome is very possible, perhaps even probable.

Virginia is also geographically representative of the urban/rural population demographics in Iran. Virginia has an urban population of 72.9% according to the 2000 Census while Iran's urban population is 68% according to their 2006 Census. Dissimilarities do however remain, including the margin of victory and the total number of votes cast; and while this may not be an ideal comparison, the aspect of impossibility has been erased. Onto Michigan:

Michigan 2008 Election Linear

The Michigan graph overcomes our seven point target with an R^2 of .9991, but it fails to match the six point result put forth by TehranBureau. The urban population of Michigan, at 75.5%, is also fairly close to Iran's. We have yet another example proving the possibility of such a correlation. Pennsylvania continues the trend:

Pennsylvania 2008 Election Linear

Pennsylvania's R^2 values match the TehranBureau mark and fall just short of the .9986 value needed to equal the seven point correlation coefficient presented by Entekhab News. Pennsylvania is however more urban than Iran by about 10.0%; but given that this is now the third state with an R^2 in excess of, or equal to, the value claimed by an Iranian source, the presence of a linear correlation is irrelevant to the possibility of election fraud.

Having dispelled the individual R^2 values for both the six and seven point data sets, I never ran into a state that met or exceeded both R^2 values. This lack of repeatability may be significant, but based upon the preceding work, its likely just a case of random coincidence and inconsistent data.

The bottom line is this, a linear relationship between two candidates' vote totals is the expected correlation. The direct result of this research does not however prove or disprove election fraud, it simply invalidates the linear correlation metric as a means of identifying fraud.

And finally, the real time data as promised:

Kentucky: [CSV, 49KB]
Virginia: [CSV, 60KB]
Michigan: [CSV, 56KB]
Pennsylvania: [CSV, 62KB]

If you do anything useful or interesting with this data, please let me know.

Published on June 24th at 9:15 AM CT :: 3 Comments

Inauguration Crowd Count

Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States last Tuesday, January 20th at precisely 12:00 PM ET. Many converged on the National Mall for this historic occasion, but exactly how many made this historic trek? Thanks to satellite imagery, provided by GeoEye, an accurate estimate of attendance, or at least area, can be ascertained.

I downloaded the high-resolution satellite image and traced the population areas in Adobe Acrobat. Using the resulting polygons, the area can be calculated:

(Click the image for a larger version)

The Inauguration Crowd Size Covered 2,230,000 Square Feet

The effective scale is acquired by measuring the diameter of the Washington Monument's base (which we know to be 250 feet) on the image, and converting to real world measurements. In this case, each inch represents 500 feet. A table of each polygon's area is listed below:

       Label    Area (sq ft)   Label   Area (sq ft)
         0        132,500        19       15,000
         1         20,000        20       25,000
         2         27,500        21      105,000
         3        302,500        22       10,000
         4         5,000        23       52,500
         5        287,500        24      100,000
         6         12,500        25       27,500
         7         72,500        26      125,000
         8        117,500        27       65,000
         9         12,500        28       75,00
         10        25,000        29       75,00
         11       155,000        30       7,500
         12        40,000        31       57,500
         13       172,500        32       27,500
         14        27,500        33       17,500
         15        27,500        34       7,500
         16        45,000        35       32,500
         17        32,500        36       20,000
         18       140,000      Total    2,365,000

Despite their appearance, these figures are not exact. The area calculations are quantized based upon the capabilities of Adobe Acrobat and the resolution of the image. It would have been better to use a tool like AutoCad to trace the regions, but even so, the resolution issue would still persist. The resolution of the image makes it impossible to accurately trace each and every crowd region. Based upon these assertions, and the knowledge that low-density crowds are not visible to a satellite, we know that some spectators were not and cannot be identified; their exact number will forever remain unknown. It then follows that our 2,365,000 sq. ft. figure excludes these spectators.

While we have a baseline measurement for the size of the crowd, we still do not know the quantity of the crowd. Fear not, our Clinton Era tax dollars were hard at work:

In the model, all people are modeled in circles individually to consider human spatial requirement. The diameter of a circle is determined as 0.4 meter with consideration of the size of body. Using the distance between evacuees and spatial requirements, interactions between people are assessed. It is an important factor in predicting congestion or contra-flows of a crowd.

Source: Building and Fire Research Laboratory via NIST.gov

The area within a circle of diameter .4 m is 0.125 sq. meters; this then converts to a crowd density of one person per 1.35 square feet. If this density is uniformly applied to our baseline area of 2,365,000 ft. sq, we can obtain a minimum boundary for the number of inauguration onlookers; at least 1,748,445 people attended Barack Obama's Inauguration.

Published on January 25th at 12:56 AM CT :: 13 Comments

Ready, Set, Bailout?

The banks got their bailout, will the automakers be next? I'm sadly inclined to say probably, despite the first bailout's focus on presidential politicking. The forthcoming bailout will likely follow the same path. But it doesn't have to be like that; the auto industry can be saved without writing a blank check.

The greatest obstacle to any bailout revolves around the concern of limited monetary resources; is any one entity more worthy than the next? In the case of the big three, a valid argument could probably be made to support the bailout of each company, but a definitive answer does not exist. So what comes next? Two questions must be asked of the situation; (A) Is the company worth saving? (B) Can the company use the money to survive, while providing a service or product that enables all involved to thrive? In the case of the auto bailout, A is essentially unarguable as people need cars, but B presents a dilemma. Is a stagnant, but functional auto industry better than no auto industry at all? Capital Hill seems to be struggling with an answer, but it doesn't have to be like that; the auto industry could be made better.

The American Auto Industry has demonstrated a complete inability to compete with the likes of Honda and Toyota over the past decade. Why should the American Taxpayer be required to prop up these failing entities with years of historical incompetence? The truth is, Americans need cars, and at the moment there are only three American options. In the future a fourth company may arise, but in the interim, at least two of these companies must exist; for both diversity of product and antitrust laws.

If two of these companies must survive, doesn't it make sense to choose the two companies best situated for future growth and expansion? Here's the plan: a massive auto industry throwdown with the winners splitting the currently proposed $25 Billion bailout. Each company sends a representative to a congressional oversight panel and the rules are decided in committee. The competition is open to any company, any entity, any single person meeting predetermined qualifications and will last 6 months. If at the end of 6 months, the designated objectives are not met, the $25 Billion is not allocated and the companies must survive on their own, or fold. If just one company meets the objectives, the next closest company must also receive funding. All of these contingencies, and others, must be established in advance, by the aforementioned committee.

If the participants want to compete, they must be held accountable by providing non-subsidized financing. Banks accepting money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) would be required to provide a loan to any interested participant using reasonable lending discretion. Each bank would also be forgiven of the 5% interest rate associated with their participation in TARP, upto the amount loaned to automotive throwdown participants. Essentially all funding for the throwdown would be provided by TARP through participating banks. The Treasury Secretary could then insure these automotive loans, thus removing liability from the banks themselves. Under these circumstances, the banks benefit by collecting interest and the government is not required to spend additional money (assuming the banks are responsible lenders) for at least another 6 months.

This scenario presents essentially two possible outcomes; either (1) All participants collapse, or (2) at least two participants succeed and the automotive industry gets, what is hopefully a jump start into economic and technological prosperity. In both scenarios, it is assumed that the banks made reasonable lending decisions, and are consequently unaffected by either outcome.

The first scenario presents possible ramifications; I'll start with job loss. Should the jobs created by the autos factor into the bailout decision? There seems to be a growing movement, John McCain included, who foolishly believe once manufacturing jobs are lost, they are gone forever. The manufacturing sector will never disappear so long as there are items to be made. Anybody working, with the right support can be retrained to make another item, so long as there are other items to be made.

So how could the government ensure job availability to these workers in the event of an American automotive collapse? I suggest a public works project. Anybody unemployed can go work for the federal government, in their home state building windmills or solar panels under a newly created National Alternative Energy Agency (NAEA). Using the World War II model, a massive industrial complex could be created that generates new jobs and reduces America's strain on foreign fuels.

If the government is willing to float a $700 Billion check to the banking industry why wouldn't it spend $647,521,359,420 (PDF) to alleviate America's need for fossil fuel generated electricity. Wasn't the down fall of the auto industry higher gas prices? Doesn't it seem absurd to blindly support a failing industry without addressing the central cause of its failure? Yet it seems all too likely that such a thing will happen.

The auto industry has survived on minor revisions for the better part of a decade, but America doesn't need a recolored cozy-coupe, we need a green cozy-coupe.

Published on December 2nd at 12:11 AM CT :: 1 Comment

Our Final Projections

Non-Partisan Polling, Final Projections:

Electoral College Projection Map Senate Projection Map

Partisan/Internet Polling, Final Projections:

Electoral College Partisan/Internet Projection Map Senate Partisan/Internet Projection Map

Published on November 4th at 4:43 PM CT :: 0 Comments

The Multiplicity of Electoral Models

Foreclosure Suppression Model:

Using foreclosure data from 2007, the only data set I could find, a suppression model was devised.

It's quite simple, but gives a good result; I take the number of foreclosures in 2007 and divide that by the 2004 popular vote total in a given state. The result represents the percentage of eligible voters [based on 2004] under foreclosure. The table below illustrates the ten states with the greatest percentage of foreclosures relative to the 2004 turnout:

State Status 2004 Votes Foreclosures %
Nevada (5) Weak Dem 825,899 66,316 8.030
California (55) Safe Dem 12,419,857 481,392 3.876
Florida (27) Core Dem 7,609,810 279,325 3.671
Arizona (10) Weak Rep 2,012,585 69,970 3.477
Colorado (9) Weak Dem 2,130,330 71,149 3.340
Georgia (15) Toss Up 3,298,790 99,578 3.019
Michigan (17) Safe Dem 4,839,247 136,205 2.815
Ohio (20) Core Dem 5,627,903 153,196 2.722
Indiana (11) Weak Rep 2,468,002 52,930 2.145
Texas (34) Safe Rep 7,410,749 149,703 2.020

Using this foreclosure percentage allows us to model a potential source of voter suppression. If we assume that all people currently under foreclosure are voting for Obama, we can simulate what would happen if these voters were suddenly prevented from voting in their home state. I've taken the current projection for Obama and subtracted from that the foreclosure percentage in the given state. The result of this calculation projects the following electoral outcome:

Suppression Model

Bradley Effect Model:

In order to debunk the affect of the Bradley Effect, I'll try and simulate the potential outcome of the election should the Bradley Effect occur; we'll assume a historically significant racial offset as dictated by the Princeton University graph below:

Bradley Effect Graph

Source: Princeton Election Consortium

Judging from the graph and more specifically the data points on the far right corresponding to the year 2006, it can be seen that the Bradley Effect was distributed between +5%, (meaning the African American candidate polled 5% lower in the final result than in the public polls leading up to the election) and -5%. For the purpose of this analysis we are trying to find the maximum degree to which the Bradley Effect could occur; in order to achieve this end we will use the maximum racial offset of +5% as prescribed in the 2006 data.

Incorporating the 5% into the projection algorithm presented the following changes:

Obama's Projection:

I calculated his initial projection and then subtracted 5% of it to arrive at his adjusted projection.

McCain's Projection:

I started by figuring out the number of undecided voters at the end of the initial projection; this is done by subtracting 100 from McCain's and Obama's initial projection. I then added this number to McCain's projection; to account for the adjustment made to Obama's total above, 5% of Obama's initial projection is then added to McCain's running sum to arrive at McCain's final adjusted projection.

Translating the pure formula into words results in a much more succinct correlation to the core principles behind the Bradley Effect. I assumed that 5% of Obama's support was racially tinged so I added it to McCain's total while subtracting it from Obama's. I then also assumed that of all the currently undecided voters, 5% are racist and as a result they will cast their vote for McCain. The result of this application can be seen in the map below:

Bradley Model

Independent Shift Model:

While altering the outcome of our model, I wondered what would happen if all currently undecided voters suddenly moved to McCain en masse:

Independent Shift Model

The next four model's are almost guaranteed to not happen, but since the means to make the maps exist, the maps corresponding to these unlikely models also exist.

Bradley Effect & Independent Shift Model:

I combined the results of the Independent Shift Model and the Bradley Effect Model by first applying the Bradley Effect scenario and then forcing the independents to support McCain:

Independent Shift + Bradley Model

Independent Shift & Foreclosure Suppression Model:

I simply subtracted the Foreclosure percentage from Obama and then shifted the independents over to McCain:

Suppression + Independent Shift Model

Foreclosure Suppression & Bradley Effect Model:

First I applied the Bradley Effect scenario, then the Foreclosure victims were subtracted from Obama's total:

Bradley + Suppression Model

Complete Combination Model:

The absolute worst case for Barack Obama. First the Bradley Effect is taken into account, then Foreclosed voters are suppressed, and then every currently undecided voter decides to support McCain:

Complete Combination Model

The first three models lie much closer to the plane of realism and although their purpose is to depict a worst case scenario, they cannot overcome the ever increasing likelihood of an Obama victory.

Published on November 4th at 5:54 AM CT :: 0 Comments

A Voter Suppression Model

I've already discussed various electoral scenarios associated with the Bradley Effect, but I have yet to look at voter suppression. Using foreclosure data from 2007, the only data set I could find, a suppression model was devised.

It's quite simple, but gives a good result; I take the number of foreclosures in 2007 and divide that by the 2004 popular vote total in a given state. The result represents the percentage of eligible voters [based on 2004] under foreclosure. The table below illustrates the ten states with the greatest percentage of foreclosures relative to the 2004 turnout:

State Status 2004 Votes Foreclosures %
Nevada (5) Weak Dem 825,899 66,316 8.030
California (55) Safe Dem 12,419,857 481,392 3.876
Florida (27) Core Dem 7,609,810 279,325 3.671
Arizona (10) Weak Rep 2,012,585 69,970 3.477
Colorado (9) Weak Dem 2,130,330 71,149 3.340
Georgia (15) Toss Up 3,298,790 99,578 3.019
Michigan (17) Safe Dem 4,839,247 136,205 2.815
Ohio (20) Core Dem 5,627,903 153,196 2.722
Indiana (11) Weak Rep 2,468,002 52,930 2.145
Texas (34) Safe Rep 7,410,749 149,703 2.020

Using this foreclosure percentage allows us to model a potential source of voter suppression. If we assume that all people currently under foreclosure are voting for Obama, we can simulate what would happen if these voters were suddenly prevented from voting in their home state. I've taken the current projection for Obama and subtracted from that the foreclosure percentage in the given state. The result of this calculation projects the following electoral outcome:

Suppression Model

Notice that Ohio, Nevada, Colorado and Indiana all shifted towards McCain, which is to be expected given that we subtracted from Obama, but the model serves to verify the affect voter suppression could have on this election. I should also mention that this "foreclosure effect" will be larger in theory than in practice due to the likely increase in voter turnout over the 2004 result.

While I was messing with the model I went ahead and ran the current Bradley Effect and Independent Slide scenarios. We'll start with the Bradley Effect model:

Bradley Effect

This week Obama gained 14 Electoral votes over last week's Bradley Effect model. Moving on to the Independent Slide model; if all currently undecided voters suddenly moved to McCain en masse:

Independents Rush to McCain

Obama still wins, just like last week but this time he's added 77 Electoral Votes to his total. Its starting to look more and more like voter suppression is the only avenue by which McCain can win.

Update: A reader asked what would happen if the Bradley Effect model were to be combined with the suppression model. Here's the result:

Suppression And Bradley Effect

Any other suggestions?

Published on October 30th at 4:00 PM CT :: 6 Comments

A More Perfect Democracy

The defining characteristic of any democratic government should be the continual pursuit of citizen participation. I often question whether our government truly strives to meet this ideal. From a historical perspective there are few occasions in which our government has pursued democracy first and politics second.

Our nation was founded some 232 years ago on the principle that "all men are created equal," but still to this day not all men are treated to equal rights. The root of this problem lies deep within the fabric of American consciousness and the Constitution provides no further assistance. Each state is allowed to implement voting procedure however it deems necessary; as the Constitution makes no explicit reference to voting, the cornerstone of its very existence.

For most of America's childhood, states reserved the right to limit eligible voters to property owning, white males. On the first day of January, 1863 Abraham Lincoln stated within his Emancipation Proclamation "that all persons held as slaves [within the rebellious states] are, and henceforward shall be free." This famous declaration paved the way for the 14th Amendment in 1866. The 14th Amendment elevated previously indentured servants from 3/5 of a person into full blown citizens. This momentous event laid the foundation for the 15th Amendment in 1870: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

In order to further my dialogue, I must dispel a commonly held and misconstrued belief. Despite what the Republicans may want you to believe, their current platform does not derive their existence from Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln would almost certainly be a New England Lefty if he were around today; need proof: "In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill that imposed a 3% tax on incomes between $600 and $10,000 and a 5% tax on higher incomes." Lincoln was the father of the income tax, a policy the current Republican Party supposedly detests; yet they hypocritically continue to trumpet the man from Illinois.

While Lincoln definitely leaned to the left, he was not single highhandedly responsible for enacting the first major addition to America's democratic model; that task was left to the states.

The next major piece of legislation came in the form of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote. Democratic President Woodrow Wilson played an integral role in securing the amendment's passage. The amendment failed on several occasions prompting Wilson to call a special congressional session in advance of the Presidential election of 1920. Although a member of the Democratic Party, by today's standards he would likely be considered socially conservative. Wilson played a more direct role in the resolution of Woman's Suffrage when compared to Lincoln's aforementioned accomplishments but he still does not deserve all the credit.

The third and final amendment arrived on July 7, 1971. The twenty-sixth amendment was certified by the Administrator of General Services granting anybody aged eighteen or older the right to vote. The amendment was proposed by Senator Jennings Randolph (D) of West Virginia in response to procedural matters within the Selective Service Draft of 1969. Anybody aged eighteen or older could be drafted and fight America's War, but they could not vote. The amendment was ratified by thirty-nine states (eventually forty-two) thus making Randolph's amendment law.

Throughout history, each ideology has helped expand our democracy; regardless of motivation, in these three instances, the people won. If the amendment trend continues, our democracy should expand in some fashion within the next generation despite the forever growing partisanship this country faces.

Published on October 30th at 5:40 AM CT :: 0 Comments

A McCain Victory Requires What?

I'm going to keep this simple because the results speak for themselves. I've taken the Presidential vote totals from 2004 and calculated the number of additional votes needed, beyond what our projection dictates, for the trailing candidate to reach the 50% threshold. The result of this arithmetic can be seen in the Votes Needed column. The EVs Per Voter (10^-4) column takes the Votes Needed and divides by the voting population of the given state in 2004. The results of this calculation are very small, with four zeros directly after the decimal point, but their meaning is very large.

Take a look at the data before I explain its significance; the results are ordered based on Obama's projection percentage in descending order.

State Status Total Votes Obama % McCain % Votes Needed EVs Per Voter (10^-4)
DC (3) Safe Dem 227,586 82 13 84,207 0.356
Hawaii (4) Safe Dem 428,989 67.5 28 94,378 0.424
New York (31) Safe Dem 7,448,266 63.39 29.36 1,537,322 0.202
Maryland (10) Safe Dem 2,384,206 59.79 36.87 313,046 0.319
Illinois (21) Safe Dem 5,274,727 59.3 34.56 814,418 0.258
New Jersey (15) Safe Dem 3,609,691 57.88 37.99 433,524 0.346
California (55) Safe Dem 12,419,857 57.08 33.05 2,105,166 0.261
Delaware (3) Safe Dem 375,190 56.07 41.33 32,529 0.922
Connecticut (7) Safe Dem 1,578,662 55.78 32.64 274,056 0.255
Massachusetts (12) Safe Dem 2,905,360 55.35 34.34 454,979 0.264
Michigan (17) Safe Dem 4,839,247 55.16 37.65 597,647 0.284
Washington (11) Safe Dem 2,859,084 54.41 35.84 404,846 0.272
Oregon (7) Safe Dem 1,827,826 53.84 36.22 251,874 0.278
Vermont (3) Safe Dem 312,309 53.8 27.93 68,927 0.435
New Hampshire (4) Safe Dem 676,227 53.34 38.75 76,076 0.526
Maine (4) Safe Dem 740,748 53.25 32.41 130,298 0.307
Pennsylvania (21) Core Dem 5,765,764 52.76 45.01 287,712 0.730
Iowa (7) Safe Dem 1,505,814 51.68 41.94 121,369 0.577
Wisconsin (10) Core Dem 2,997,007 51.42 44.68 159,441 0.627
Colorado (9) Weak Dem 2,130,330 51.17 45.87 87,983 1.023
Virginia (13) Core Dem 3,192,894 50.99 43.27 214,882 0.605
Minnesota (10) Safe Dem 2,825,866 50.78 39.22 304,628 0.328
New Mexico (5) Core Dem 756,304 50.24 42.16 59,294 0.843
Nevada (5) Weak Dem 825,899 50.11 44.71 43,690 1.144
Florida (27) Core Dem 7,609,810 49.94 42.95 536,492 0.503
Ohio (20) Core Dem 5,627,903 49.81 43.36 373,693 0.535
North Carolina (15) Toss Up 3,498,746 48.15 47.9 73,474 2.042
Missouri (11) Toss Up 2,731,364 46.91 46.46 96,690 1.138
Rhode Island (4) Safe Dem 437,134 46.56 25.11 108,803 0.368
Georgia (15) Toss Up 3,298,790 45.9 48.19 135,250 1.109
Montana (3) Toss Up 450,434 45.29 44.32 25,585 1.173
Indiana (11) Weak Rep 2,468,002 45.16 49.11 119,451 0.921
North Dakota (3) Toss Up 312,833 44.54 42.8 22,524 1.332
Arizona (10) Weak Rep 2,012,585 43.62 48.15 128,403 0.779
Texas (34) Safe Rep 7,410,749 42.56 55.27 551,360 0.617
Kansas (6) Core Rep 1,187,709 42.22 51.19 92,404 0.649
Kentucky (8) Safe Rep 1,795,882 42.19 52.05 140,258 0.667
Mississippi (6) Core Rep 1,152,145 42.19 49.92 89,983 0.570
Alaska (3) Safe Rep 311,808 41.91 53.06 25,225 1.189
Arkansas (6) Safe Rep 1,053,694 41.67 53.06 87,773 0.684
Tennessee (11) Safe Rep 2,437,319 41.23 54.83 213,753 0.515
South Carolina (8) Safe Rep 1,615,606 40.84 53.98 147,990 0.541
West Virginia (5) Safe Rep 755,887 40.35 50.83 72,943 0.685
South Dakota (3) Core Rep 388,215 40.29 48.95 37,696 0.796
Louisiana (9) Safe Rep 1,943,106 38.63 51.65 220,931 0.407
Nebraska (5) Safe Rep 777,255 36.84 57.15 102,287 0.489
Wyoming (3) Safe Rep 242,948 36.36 57.58 33,138 0.905
Alabama (9) Safe Rep 1,883,415 35.8 56.29 267,445 0.337
Oklahoma (7) Safe Rep 1,463,758 34.56 61.84 226,004 0.310
Utah (5) Safe Rep 912,728 27.75 64.93 203,082 0.246
Idaho (4) Safe Rep 597,261 24.9 69.6 149,913 0.267

If you order the results by EVs per Voter the twelve most contested states fall within the top fifteen. This would be great news for McCain if eleven of these twelve states weren't states previously carried by Bush in 2004; Pennsylvania is the exception and ranks fifteenth. Within the eleven he must win, McCain is currently trailing in seven; North Carolina, North Dakota, Montana, Nevada, Missouri, Colorado and New Mexico. If we total the Votes Needed column for these seven states the result is 409,239; this is the absolute minimum number of additional votes (beyond our projection) McCain needs to win the Election.

McCain needs 409,239 votes in seven states to win the election, whereas John Kerry needed 118,599 votes in Ohio.

Published on October 29th at 12:21 AM CT :: 33 Comments

RealClearPolitics.com is Run by GOP Hacks

Yesterday we incorporated two polls conducted by Orion Strategies (R) into our database. Today RealClearPolitics.com followed suit, but in doing so erroneously (or perhaps intentionally) labeled them as Democratically skewed. Orion Strategies LLC is co-owned by Randy Scheunemann, a die hard Republican based on about five minutes of research. You've probably never heard of this guy but he's donated $2,000 to McCain and upon further examination he's actually a foreign-policy aide to John McCain. I don't know how a given pollster could be more partisan, but RealClearPolitics.com seems to disagree with this assessment. Did they even do the leg work?

My guess is surprisingly yes and here's why. RealClearPolitics.com has consistently conveyed a conservative slant; this does not necessarily mean that their polling averages are partisan however; although they do have some questionable practices. Lets give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that their polling methods are impartial. If an impartial algorithm exists, the only way to control the output is by altering the input. Well they tried this and got caught. The only remaining avenue for manipulation lies in the presentation. By mislabeling the polls' party affiliation they do no harm to their averages' credibility (as its still classified as partisan), but they are still manipulating their supposedly impartial presentation to fulfill their agenda.

When RealClearPolitics.com was previously called out for bias they pleaded innocent, but they seem to be repeat offenders. This latest example serves to highlight the fact that RealClearPolitics.com is run by Republican hacks who will go to the end of the earth to further their political beliefs. This example of intentional misinformation highlights everything wrong with the current Republican movement. The means by which they seek to improve the democracy actually runs counter to the principles of democracy.

Published on October 23rd at 10:16 PM CT :: 10 Comments

Debunking the Bradley Effect, Again

About two weeks ago I altered our model to reflect the mere possibility that the Bradley Effect could rear it's ugly head; the article was met with mixed reviews. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my original explanation so I'm going to do it again.

In the next twelve days there will be a plethora of articles relating to the Bradley Effect, but none of them will be conclusive; not because they are poorly reasoned or factually inaccurate, but rather due to the complexity of the issue. Nobody can definitively say whether the Bradley Effect will or will not occur; it's simply impossible to know. There is no historical precedent, on the national scale by which an accurate conclusion can be drawn. Given the aforementioned limitations of the problem, I'll take a different approach. Rather than trying to prove that the Bradley Effect will or will not play a role in the upcoming election, I'll try and show that it simply doesn't matter.

In order to debunk the affect of the Bradley Effect, I'll try and simulate the potential outcome of the election should the Bradley Effect occur; we'll assume a historically significant racial offset as dictated by the Princeton University graph below:

Bradley Effect Graph

Source: Princeton Election Consortium

Judging from the graph and more specifically the data points on the far right corresponding to the year 2006, it can be seen that the Bradley Effect was distributed between +5%, (meaning the African American candidate polled 5% lower in the final result than in the public polls leading up to the election) and -5%. For the purpose of this analysis we are trying to find the maximum degree to which the Bradley Effect could occur; in order to achieve this end we will use the maximum racial offset of +5% as prescribed in the 2006 data.

Incorporating the 5% into the projection algorithm presented the following changes:

Obama's Projection:

I calculated his initial projection and then subtracted 5% of it to arrive at his adjusted projection.

McCain's Projection:

I started by figuring out the number of undecided voters at the end of the initial projection; this is done by subtracting 100 from McCain's and Obama's initial projection. I then added this number to McCain's projection; to account for the adjustment made to Obama's total above, 5% of Obama's initial projection is then added to McCain's running sum to arrive at McCain's final adjusted projection.

Translating the pure formula into words results in a much more succinct correlation to the core principles behind the Bradley Effect. I assumed that 5% of Obama's support was racially tinged so I added it to McCain's total while subtracting it from Obama's. I then also assumed that of all the currently undecided voters, 5% are racist and as a result they will cast their vote for McCain. The result of this application can be seen in the map below:

Bradley Effect 5% Racial Bias

Using a severe over exaggeration of the Bradley Effect's potential outcome, Obama would still emerge victorious. In fact, Obama has gained three Electoral Votes during the two weeks that have elapsed since our previous experiment. The Bradley Effect would likely manifest itself differently in each state, but in assuming this large discrepancy between what would likely happen and what could happen the absolute worst possible outcome (for Obama) is presented. If the most severe Bradley Effect outcome still results in an Obama win, it's fair to say that the Bradley Effect will not alter the outcome of this election.

While altering the outcome of our model, I wondered what would happen if all currently undecided voters suddenly moved to McCain en masse:

Independents Rush to McCain

Wow, Obama still wins. Given the outcome of this scenario McCain must win every currently undecided voter in the United States along with a handful of Democrats already committed to supporting Obama; a monumental task. Our models don't show any chance of this happening.

Update: Several comments have suggested that I also create a voter suppression model; this is a good idea. I'll work on it this weekend.

Published on October 23rd at 2:24 AM CT :: 10 Comments

Minnesota Meta-Polling

The Minnesota Senate race is likely the most contentious battle this election cycle, and will likely end up being the most heavily financed when all is said in done. The race features Incumbent Republican Norm Coleman, Democratic challenger Al Franken and Independent Party of Minnesota candidate Fmr. Sen. Dean Barkley. Coleman and Franken remain the front runners, but Barkley has consistently polled in the high teens; while down, Barkley is not out.

A new round of Minnesota polling was concluded on October 18th from two local media pollsters based in Minneapolis; the Star Tribune Newspaper, and KSTP-TV (the ABC affiliate). Each pollster performed Presidential and Senate polls sixteen days prior to their most recent release. I've included the results of their new polls, their old polls, and our projections for both time frames below:

            Star Tribune [10/17]       SurveyUSA [10/18]
            Dem    Rep    Dem-Rep    Dem    Rep    Dem-Rep
President    55     37      18        46     47      -1
Senate       43     34       9        33     43     -10
Pres-Sen     12      3       9        13      4       9
            Star Tribune [10/1]        SurveyUSA [10/2] 
            Dem    Rep    Dem-Rep    Dem    Rep    Dem-Rep
President    52     41      11        50     44       6
Senate       39     36       3        39     41      -2
Pres-Sen     13      5       8        11      3       8
           VFA Projection [10/2]    VFA Projection [10/18]
            Dem    Rep    Dem-Rep    Dem    Rep    Dem-Rep
President  52.93  38.97    13.96    49.98  43.71     6.27
Senate     41.61  36.64     4.97    38.61  40.15    -1.54
Pres-Sen   11.32   2.33     8.99    11.37   3.56     7.81

The bolded row at the bottom of each pollster's result represents the correlation between that pollster's Presidential and Senate race findings. If you look at all six results, the bolded numbers for each column reasonably agree with the other five. This result shows that within the meta sample of all four polls and our projections the correlation remains consistent. Using this consistency and our projections on October 18th, I have derived a set of simple formulas that correlate Senate and Presidential performance:

Minnesota Polling Formula

An Obama victory in Minnesota with just 50.97% of the vote correlates to a razor thin victory by Al Franken using the above formulas (see note at bottom). Given that the Minnesota Senate race is a three way ordeal and the fact that our projection neglects to allocate independents or uncommitted voters I'll dive deeper into the meta sample.

If we assume that Barkley receives eighteen percent of the vote, as he has in the last four polls, the independents cannot save Norm. As it stands, under this assumption, Barkley is receiving roughly 63% (11.37 / 18) of his backing from Obama supporters, just 20% (3.56 / 18) from McCain supporters and 17% from Independents. Again under the eighteen percent assumption, just 3.24% of population is left undecided. If we just arbitrarily allocate this demographic to Norm Coleman, Obama must increase his popular vote percentage by 4.19% (3.24 / .7725) to 55.17% in order to guarantee a correlated victory for Franken.

Although the current polling doesn't show this kind of lead for Obama; if I were Norm Coleman I would be looking to fundamentally alter the "coattail coefficients" to better situate myself for reelection. Looking at the MN Senate graph below it appears that the scorched earth strategy doesn't seem like an option. Coleman needs a game changer, but with just 14 days to go his options seem limited.

Minnesota Senate Projection Graph

Although Norm has the lead in the interim, his support is deteriorating at a much greater rate than his opposition.

Note: The threshold of victory for a Senate race is found by averaging the projection of the two leading candidates and dividing by two. In the case of Minnesota, a popular vote greater than 39.98% should result in a Senate election victory.

Published on October 21st at 10:50 PM CT :: 0 Comments

How the Base was Won

I'll first start off by overtly saying that this is not a base election, the Religious Right will not carry McCain to glory; just as they did not carry Huckabee to the nomination. This example may make it appear as though I'm picking on the Republican base, but it could also be said that the blue-collar base of the Democratic party didn't get their candidate, Hillary Clinton, the nomination either. As primary season concluded, each party's base was left out in the rain; this void opened the door for summertime scheming. Heading into the general election each nominee likely devised a plan to win over disenfranchised base voters; the extent to which this targeting varied greatly between the candidates and probably shaped the outcome of the election.

While I stated earlier that this is not a base election, the base will no doubt still play a role, just not the whole role. At the beginning of August each candidate was less than liked by their base; Obama was enduring the whole Hillary supporter thing and McCain was struggling with deep-in-the-red conservatives. The VP selection gave each candidate an opportunity to shore up their base, but it also presented perhaps greater opportunities. Obama largely ignored the pleas from the Democratic base and selected Joe Biden for his breadth of knowledge on all things political. McCain chose an entirely different route; his selection of Sarah Palin exclusively appealed to the Republican base.

After the conventions in mid-September, the right wing the of the Republican Party was clearly behind McCain, while the Democratic contingency was left largely in the shadows. Instead of targeting blue-collar Democrats as Hillary Clinton and John Edwards did through their primary campaign, Obama focused on his base; the youth demographic. Obama left the traditional base behind and set about building another foundation. It was a risk, but it appears to have paid off.

The Obama campaign used their excitement gap advantage among the youth demographic to mobilize the stereotypical Democratic base. Obama used his base to win over the party's base. The ingenuity of this entire strategy allowed for a fail safe scenario in the event that the kids don't show up on election day. If however these kids do vote, Obama wins; if not the mainstream Democratic base is still on Obama's side and the two candidates enter the final month in nearly identical positions.

Judging by last month's polls, that didn't happen. Obama was able to capitalize on another aspect of the youth movement; while the kids were out volunteering and winning over the real Democratic base, Obama was able to hold onto his message of hope through McCain's period of negativity. As a result Obama was able to target swing voters before McCain was dialed in on the independent crowd. Obama began delivering his message to the country while McCain was still delivering his message to Oklahoma.

Published on October 21st at 2:57 AM CT :: 10 Comments

Final Debate: Live Analysis

8:01 CT: I have nothing witty to say about Bob Schieffer's introduction.

8:03 CT: McCain with the first word. He referenced Nancy Reagan's recent hospitalization in much the same way he referenced Ted Kennedy's hospitalization on the day of the first debate. It seems to be a strategic point; I wonder why he didn't mention somebody in the second debate?

8:07 CT: "Would you like to ask him a question," Schieffer asked McCain. The response: "No." McCain then brought up a conversation Obama had with a plumber named "Joe" from Ohio. The video of this conversation with Joe is available on youtube.

8:09 CT: Barack Obama's tax policy, "95% of working families will get a tax cut." Obama has completely won the tax cuts vote.

8:10 CT: McCain responded to Obama's economic plan by again bringing up Obama's conversation with Joe. McCain finished by saying this: "the purpose of taxes is not to spread the wealth around." He also brought up the business tax, instead of talking about individual taxes. Nobody cares about business taxes, if you can't pay your rent. I don't not care that Ireland has an 11% business tax rate while the USA has a 35% rate; this statistic does not play into McCain's narrative of helping the little guy. He just stated that businesses should get tax breaks ahead of individuals.

8:17 CT: Why did McCain just overtly say that his depression era proposal of buying crippled home mortgages was supported by Hillary Clinton.

8:19 CT: "I know how to do this," John McCain. Schieffer: "Which ones?" McCain literally couldn't think of anything legitimate. He listed two references relating to Ethanol. If he actually knew how to do this, I would like to think that he could have thought of an example that didn't playing horribly in Midwest battleground states.

8:20 CT: Barack Obama: "Eliminating earmarks will not solve the problem."

8:21 CT: Can either candidate balance the budget? "I am not President Bush., if you wanted to run against President Bush you should have run four years ago." He then answered the question by saying "we can do it;" but his statement was too garbled to correctly write down.

8:23 CT: "Even FOX News disputes it," Obama said in response to McCain's accusation that he voted for "a bill that raised taxes on those making under $42,000." Obama then went on to say that McCain, "On the core economic issues? you have been a staunch supporter of Bush's economic policies."

8:25 CT: The dirty campaigning question. Nobody cares about McCain's town hall meetings, nobody. McCain's number plummeted on the CNN uncommitted graph when he raised that issue. John McCain is about to get destroyed. "I will run a truthful campaign." Nobody cares if Obama backed out of public financing.

8:28 CT: "We expect Presidential campaigns to be tough?.100% of your campaign ads have been negative," responded Barack Obama. "I don't mind being attacked for the next three weeks. We need to talk about what's most pressing to [Americans]."

8:29 CT: Apparently McCain supports federal funding for stem cell research. That's definitely news to me.

8:31 CT: Obama just threw Palin under the bus, while defending Rep. Lewis.

8:32 CT: McCain wants to talk about his healthcare plan when Obama is defending himself, but he doesn't want to talk about health care when it doesn't fit into his "Obama is not one of us" narrative.

8:34 CT: "I'm proud of the people that come to our rallies," responded John McCain after Barack Obama cited an attendee at a Palin rally screaming "Kill Him" in reference to Obama.

8:35 CT: Whenever McCain starts talking the Uncommitted voter line on CNN immediately reseeds.

8:37 CT: "Ayers has become the center piece of McCain's campaign over the last week?40 Years ago when I was 8 he did some bad things." Obama then linked Ronald Reagan to Ayers. Obama essentially nullified the Ayers narrative.

8:40 CT: Obama's facial expressions tell the tale. You better believe people are noticing this. Every time McCain says something outrageous he gives a huge smirk. It's the "you have no idea what you are even saying" smirk.

8:41 CT: Obama just listed several reasons why Joe Biden would be an excellent president. When the question goes to McCain he isn't going to talk about why Palin would be a good President. McCain is going to attack Joe Biden.

8:42 CT: So I was wrong, but McCain let slip this classy quote: "Sarah Palin is a role model to reformers." She's such a good reformer she was convicted of ethical violations in the state she represents. "We need to understand what's causing autism," I would agree, but scientific research requires funding and therefore spending. This very research would get cut under McCain's proposed spending freeze.

8:45 CT: McCain followed up his Sarah Palin rhetoric with "[Biden] voted against the first Gulf War?He also had this cooky idea to divide Iraq." I was eventually right on McCain's attacks of Joe Biden.

8:48 CT: "We need to expand domestic production." Obama just voiced his support for offshore drilling under the "use-it-or-lose" doctrine.

8:51 CT: McCain then misquoted Obama as saying, "We will look at offshore drilling." No, that is not what Obama said, see above quote. McCain then made a starky comment about Obama's elegant style of speech.

8:53 CT: "We can create 5 million new jobs" if the transportation industry is guided down the right path according to Barack Obama.

8:55 CT: McCain just linked Obama to Herbert Hoover. This comparison just doesn't make sense. The uncommitted voters on CNN agreed.

8:56 CT: Obama on his healthcare plan: "If you have health insurance, you don't have to do anything; you can keep your plan. The only thing we are going to try and do is lower cost. We can cut $2,500 off your premium a year. If you don't have health insurance we will allow you to buy into a plan similar to the health care that myself and John McCain have access to."

8:58 CT: "47 million people are without healthcare today." The 47 million people without healthcare know they do not have healthcare. McCain's healthcare plan seems to revolve around exercise credits. McCain also wants to give families a $5,000 tax credit. Obama isn't offering a single payer system, as McCain just suggested. McCain also stated that the government will fine you under Obama's plan if you do not have health insurance.

9:00 CT: "Here's the fine: Zero." Obama just crushed McCain's only healthcare talking point. Obama then countered McCain's $5,000 tax credit by stating that older people will have a hard time getting insurance with just $5,000. "The average healthcare plan costs $12,000."

9:05 CT: McCain has referenced Joe the plumber way too many times during the debate. I'd be willing to bet that Joe is voting for Obama. Organ transplants should not be a right reserved for the rich, this should not be included in the "Cadillac" healthcare plan that McCain seems to oppose.

9:06 CT: McCain just blamed the last eight years on the last two years with a Democratic Congress.

9:07 CT: John McCain just stated that "there should not be a litmus test for Supreme Court Judges."

9:09 CT: Obama just overtly stated that he supports Roe vs. Wade.

9:10 CT: "I supported [equal pay for equal work], John McCain voted against it." John McCain then countered by stating that his vote related to the statute of limitations, "a trial lawyer's dream". Did McCain just justify his vote against this bill solely on the basis that it was "a trial lawyer's dream?"

9:14CT: Abortion: "It divides us. We should try and prevent unintended pregnancies. Nobody is pro-Abortion." ? Barack Obama.

9:16 CT: Last question on education. The USA spends more per capita on education, yet trail most countries of the world. What do you intend to do about it?

9:17 CT: Obama cited the correlation between education and military supremacy. Obama wants to focus on early childhood education and "an army of new teachers, especially in math and science." Obama stated that the affordability of college also plays a role in the diminishing quality of American education. He is proposing a $4,000 college credit in exchange for country service, and not just military service.

9:19 CT: "Education is the civil rights crusade of the 21st century," responded John McCain. McCain wants to eliminate teacher certification for teachers coming directly from the military. He wants to improve teachers by eliminating teaching standards; simply stunning.

9:21 CT: "[President Bush] left the money behind for No Child Left Behind," replied Barack Obama.

9:23 CT: "I don't think America's youth is an interest group, they're our future." That's likely the line of the night by Barack Obama.

9:23 CT: "Lets reform it and fund it," a nice succinct statement by John McCain encompassing the intended message of his campaign.

9:23 CT: Why did John McCain bring up Autism again. Is he trying to when the Autistic parents vote? I agree that it's an important issue, but I'll again reference the funding needed for research which McCain opposes under his spending freeze plan.

9:27 CT: "I think we've had a very healthy discussion," began John McCain's closing remarks. He then went on to state essentially every major issue that needs addressing. Throughout the entire campaign McCain has focused on the issues rather than their solutions.

9:30 CT: "Washington's unwillingness to tackle tough problems [is plaguing America]" Obama just won the debate with that line.

9:31 CT: Insta-Poll Prediction: Obama 55, McCain 25.

Published on October 14th at 7:57 PM CT :: 11 Comments

Measuring the Bradley Effect

The Princeton Election Consortium published an article a few weeks back discussing the diminishing effect of race in our elections; its pretty much a must read. Within the article a graph appears tracing the evolution of racial bias in public polling, the results were surprising. Based on the chart African American candidates have just recently started over performing relative to election polling. This information is all very interesting, but there is no data on the Bradley Effect for a National campaign; it is impossible to tell how race will impact the 2008 Presidential Election. It is thus plausible to assume, for the sake of comparison, that the Bradley Effect is real and will affect Obama.

I've taken the liberty to include a racial bias coefficient into the projection algorithm for a little experiment. The Princeton graph provides a ceiling (or floor, depending on how you look at it) for racially induced bias in public polling at around 5%. I've taken that 5% and incorporated it into the algorithm as follows:

Obama's Projection:
I calculate his projection and then subtract 5% of it to arrive at his adjusted projection.

McCain's Projection:
I start by figuring out the number of undecided voters in at the end of the initial projection; this is done by subtracting 100 from McCain's and Obama's initial projection. I then add this number to McCain's projection along with 5% of Obama's initial projection to arrive at McCain's adjusted projection.

The English version of all this reads as follows: I assume that 5% of Obama's support is racially tinged so I add it to McCain's total while subtracting it from Obama's. I then also assume that all the currently undecided voters, 5% are racist and as a result will vote for McCain. The result of this application can be seen in the map below:

Bradley Effect 5% Racial Bias

If the Bradley Effect manifests itself in the upcoming election, Obama would still win.

While I was messing around with the math I wondered what the outcome would be if all currently undecided voters suddenly moved to McCain en masse:

Independent Rush to McCain

A tie? But this year a tie goes to the African American. In the event of a tie the decision rests within the House of Representatives. Each state's delegation receives one votes. Based up upon the current and probable makeup of the 111th Congress, Barack Obama would almost assuredly become the 44th President.

Published on October 10th at 3:23 PM CT :: 10 Comments

The Second Debate: Live Analysis

8:01 CT: The Brokaw neck jerk leads off the night.

8:02 CT: Obama with the coin flip win.

8:05 CT: McCain probably should have gotten either a shorter stool or a taller stool. It doesn't matter but he should have made a decision, he looks pained.

8:06 CT: Apparently keeping taxes low fixes the bad loans that are crushing the economy.

8:07 CT: "We need to stabilize home values," says John McCain. That is excellent, how do we do this Mr. McCain? "I know how we can fix this economy," John rhetorically responds, but never actually tells us how he will do it.

8:11 CT: What was that Brokaw rant about.

8:12 CT: Anybody who owns a home has heard of either Fannie May or Freddie Mac, John. Their logo is all over mortage documents.

8:13 CT: Obama looks very comfortable in his bar stool.

8:14 CT: "I have to correct some of John McCain's history, not surprising," marks Obama first zinger of the night.

8:19 CT: Section "F," what a segue Mr. Brokaw.

8:20 CT: Nothing has happened so far.

8:20 CT: "The system in washing is broken, I have been a consistent reformer...Senator Obama has never taken on the leaders of his party." Senator Obama has not been in a position during a period in time where the Democratic leadership was wrong.

8:22 CT: McCain agreed that he would not go into the audience, and he just walked between the seating divisions. Clearly against the rules.

8:24 CT: Apparently McCain thinks he can conquer the three biggest issues of our election but yet he cannot campaign and help push the bailout bill. Sounds like a contradiction.

8:26 CT: Some of the "700 Billion that goes overseas is going to terrorists," I have no idea where McCain is getting this number from.

8:28 CT: Why does McCain want a spending freeze on everything but defense?

8:33 CT: I do not want to another image of McCain sitting awkwardly in his chair. I'm glad he's standing now.

8:36 CT: To bad health insurance costs more than $5,000.

8:37 CT: The Social Security question is now out in the open.

8:38 CT: Brokaw says Obama cannot talk about taxes, so Obama takes the next question and responds to the tax question anyway.

8:39 CT: If a small business is useful to society it becomes a big business. A small business should not get tax breaks, unless they contribute to society. You are not special because you have a small business.

8:40 CT: "Social Security is not that tough," what is your plan then Mr. McCain. I do not care about Tip O'Neil. If you want us to have a commission to solve social security with the smartest people in America, while you be in that Commission Mr. McCain.

8:42 CT: I do not care what section the question is coming from Tom Brokaw.

8:44 CT: McCain is trying to distance himself from the Bush Administration on the environment, nobody cares. Apparently John thinks Japan is an example of reusing Nuclear Fuel but Japan is not allowed to have Nuclear fuel. That was part of the Geneva convention. The people who tried to take over the world are not allowed to have Nuclear.

8:48 CT: McCain simply does not understand the concept of the Manhattan Project reference in the question. It has nothing to do with Nuclear it has to do with funding a purely scientific project to conquer the energy problem.

8:50 CT: Why is McCain just pacing in the background. In 2000 Gore startled Bush in a debate so they have no set aside a specific region in which the candidate can be. McCain is all over the place.

8:53 CT: "Obama keeps talking about what the government will do," that is correct Mr. McCain. The reason he believes in the government achieving these objectives is because the private sector has not adequately provided for the citizens, in Obama's opinion.

8:55 CT: McCain's joke fell entirely flat. I know the crowd is allowed to make noise, but there was definitely laughter in the VP debate.

8:55 CT: "With the plan I have that will do that." Thanks, what is your plan Mr. McCain?

8:56 CT: "Health care should be a right," Barack Obama.

8:57 CT: "McCain voted against expanding health care for children," Barack Obama.

8:59 CT: "Did we hear the size of the fine?" I have no idea what McCain was referring to.

9:00 CT: I'm glad McCain understands the concept of Universal Instantiation.

9:05 CT: "We're not going to be able to be everywhere at anytime," is the essence of the Obama Doctrine on humanitarian combat operations.

9:08 CT: "We ended up having to withdrawn in humiliation." Wow John, sounds an awful lot like the current situation. Lebanon seems to have turned out okay.

9:10 CT: "The young men and women in our military our my number one priority, after our country," sounds fairly fascist to me. You have two cows, the government kills you and takes them.

9:12 CT: McCain just blamed the current Afghanistan mess on the 1980s Afghan war with Russia. Who was president during the Afghan war, your boy Reagan.

9:15 CT: McCain just made the leap from "I was joking with a veteran about bombing Iran" to "I know how to handle these crises."

9:21 CT: What is Russia going to do us? The USA has bigger issues at the moment.

9:22 CT: "Energy is going to be key in dealing with Russia," Barack Obama on Russia.

9:23 CT: "Maybe," the biggest moment in the debate. McCain failed to take a stance, Obama did as well, but he talked through the question instead of entirely dodging the question.

9:25 CT: Nothing in the question about Israel asked by Terry Shirey had anything to do with Nuclear weapons.

9:33 CT: Senator McCain invokes an indirect use of the POW card. "When times are tough we need a steady hand on the tiller." Interesting farming reference to concluded the debate.

Published on October 7th at 7:54 PM CT :: 13 Comments

VP Debate: Live Analysis

8:00 CT: Everybody seems to think Joe Biden will make some big blunder. This will not happen.

8:01 CT: Glen Ifill with the introductions. Debate will focus on domestic and foreign policy affairs.

8:02 CT: "Can I call you Joe?" Sarah Palin's first words at the debate.

8:05 CT: You don't need to go to a soccer game to know that the economy is terrible, Sarah.

8:08 CT: Sarah says, "John McCain sounded the Fannie May and Freddie Mac warning bell two years ago." Biden responds with the classic "McCain said the economy was strong." Did Sarah Palin just wink?

8:09 CT: 96% of the time Obama has voted with the Democrats. That is not a good Republican talking point. Sarah should have known not to mention that.

8:10 CT: Joe Biden is going to recall quotes all night long. Sarah Palin cannot match Biden's references. When she starts telling a story or analogy the facts Biden just presented solidify in people's minds because they are not opposed.

8:14 CT: Joe just destroyed Palin's tax increase line. Then he destroyed her by directly stating that she did not answer the question. Joe smiled big.

8:15 CT: Oh sorry Sarah, we're up against the clock. To bad you couldn't make your point in a responsible amount of time.

8:20 CT: How does giving $5,000 tax credits to citizens not cost the government money. This is not "budget neutral," the government is not able to tax that credit, therefore they generate tax revenue on that $5,000.

8:21 CT: "[McCain's health care plan] is the Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere," then Biden turned and looked Palin in the eye as the crowd laughed.

8:23 CT: Sarah Palin is just talking about whatever she wants to talk about. The topic was health care, lets talk about energy because I come from a state that produces oil.

8:28 CT: Sarah Palin goes back to energy again.

8:30 CT: I legitimately have no idea what point Sarah Palin was trying to make.

8:32 CT: The debate started out with each candidate targeting the other parties presidential nominee. The tide has changed and it seems that instead of going after Obama, Palin is spending most of her time saying John McCain did...

8:34 CT: How is "Drill Baby, Drill" funny? Palin though it was.

8:36 CT: Joe just said the Constitution upholds same sex marriages. Is Palin going to play the trump card, the Bible?

8:38 CT: Nobody cares if your friends disagree with your stance on gay marriage Sarah.

8:40 CT: Sarah Palin claims that there is an exit strategy. Please tell.

8:42 CT: Joe wants to hear it too, but he stated, "With all due respect, I didn't hear a plan."

8:44 CT: She was speechless, then called [Obama's] plan a "White flag of surrender...al-Maliki and the Talibani [that is legitimately what she said, exactly as it is written] will work with us."

8:48 CT: Sarah's going back down the "without preconditions road." It clearly didn't work in the presidential debate, why would she bring it up?

8:50 CT: "[Henry Kissinger]'s passion for diplomacy" has nothing to do with your thoughts on meeting without precondition. You regurgitated a talking point to avoid the question.

8:51 CT: Why does Sarah Palin continue to refer to the Bush administration. It's a terrible strategy.

8:53 CT: "Nobody in the Senate has been a better proponent for Israel than Joe Biden."

8:55 CT: Palin has gone back to the Bush administration, again.

8:56 CT: "Change is coming," you are correct Sarah, look at the polls.

8:58 CT: "Can we go back to Afghanistan," looks like she ran out of Nuclear talking points. She then again supported the Bush administration in regard to Afghanistan.

9:04 CT: Joe Biden just told you why he voted for the Authorization Bill. He just gave you that straight talk. And there is no way Sarah Palin watched any of the Democratic Debates.

9:08 CT: How does McCain know how to win a war? What in his history proves this position?

9:09 CT: Does Sarah Palin know that John McCain will eventually die? Is she aware that she will eventually die?

9:11 CT: Joe Biden just subliminally asked the question: "Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?"

9:14 CT: "We need flexibility in 'No Child Left Behind,'" if she's close to the three of four teachers she previously named she would know that no teacher supports 'No Child Left Behind.'

9:19 CT: Palin is the Governor of a huge state. That was good enough qualification for Bush, so it must be for Palin as well. Paying for health care has nothing to do with experience, sorry Sarah, but it doesn't.

9:22 CT: Any women on the fence just moved over to the Obama-Biden ticket after Biden mentioned his authoring of the Violence of Women Act; he then astutely pointed out that McCain voted against it.

9:23 CT: Why did Sarah Palin just reference Romney, Giuliani, and Liebermann. Could she be setting up a VP swap. Very curious.

9:24 CT: Biden just cut in over Sarah's babbling to call out McCain's "Maverick" status. "Maverick he is not, on the important critical issues that effect people at the kitchen table."

9:25 CT: Biden just dropped Roe v. Wade into the discussion. Watch for Palin to close with a mention to this decision.

9:28 CT: Joe Biden's lesson on bipartisanship: "Don't question their motive, question their judgment."

9:29 CT: Sarah Palin just gave her closing statement, and then realized she has to make her closing statement. She blamed the mainstream media and said the "John McCain and I will fight for America." End on a Reagan quote.

9:32 CT: Joe Biden's final statement presented himself as the everyman.

Published on October 2nd at 7:59 PM CT :: 28 Comments

Embeddable Content

With the addition of our new server came the influx of unusable bandwidth. This is a good problem, and I have an excellent solution. I've complied our collection of dynamic images into embeddable code that you can insert into your site or blog. Simply copy and paste the desired code and you're good to go. The images are dynamically updated when our prediction changes so you only have to add the code once. The Silverlight code features a fall through detection mechanism that will at a minimum display the static image, if Silverlight is installed on the visitor's computer the interactive version will be rendered; for this reason I recommend using the Silverlight code.

For our first time visitors, here's what our map looks like:

VoteForAmerica.net Electoral Projection Map

Main Content Map (490 x 350 Pixels):

HTML Code:

<a href="http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx"><img src="http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?Type=Map" alt="VoteForAmerica.net Electoral Projection Map" border="0" /></a>

Forum Code:

[url=http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx][img]http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?Type=Map[/img][/url]

Embeddable Silverlight Code:

<div><object data="data:application/x-silverlight," type="application/x-silverlight-2-b2" width="100%" height="142"><param name="source" value="http://voteforamerica.net/VfA_Map_Small.xap"/><a href="http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx"><img src="http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?Type=Map_Small" width="200" height="142" border="0" alt=""></a></object><iframe style='visibility:hidden;height:0;width:0;border:0px'></iframe></div>

Side Panel Map (200 x 142 Pixels):

HTML Code:

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Forum Code:

[url=http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx][img]http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?Type=Map_Small[/img][/url]

Embeddable Silverlight Code:

<div><object data="data:application/x-silverlight," type="application/x-silverlight-2-b2" width="100%" height="350"><param name="source" value="http://voteforamerica.net/VfA_Map.xap"/><a href="http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx"><img src="http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?Type=Map" width="490" height="350" border="0" alt=""></a></object><iframe style='visibility:hidden;height:0;width:0;border:0px'></iframe></div>

Printable Maps:

Our software can scale the map to larger and smaller sizes. I did some math and figured out the scaling coefficient required to create 8.5 x 11 inch printouts. Print 'em out, hang on your dorm door or cubicle or whatever. Each of these images will take a while to load, so please be patient.

Printable National Map (8.5 x 11 inches, 72 dpi)

High Resolution Printable National Map (8.5 x 11 inches, 300 dpi)

Electoral Scoreboard (200 x 80 Pixels):

Electoral ScoreboardOur last image is a forgotten relic. Before the ambitious creation of the lovely map you see above, this image was used in its place. While lacking in excitement, this image proudly served its purpose. Now replaced, the code remains, and so I figured I should share it.

HTML Code:

<a href="http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx"><img src="http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx" alt="VoteForAmerica.net Electoral Scoreboard" border="0" /></a>

Forum Code:

[url=http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx][img]http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?[/img][/url]

Published on September 28th at 12:52 AM CT :: 1 Comment

The Debate: Live Analysis

8:22 CT: John McCain just referenced his support for the destruction of Ethanol. Is he aware that his support is dropping in Missouri? Does McCain realize that he may be able to compete in Minnesota, perhaps Wisconsin maybe even Iowa. Not anymore. Any farmer on the fence just jumped off the McCain train.

8:32 CT: John wants a spending freeze on everything but Veteran Affairs, National Security and other important problems. That's a lot like saying we should only spend money on what matters. The USA should be doing that anyway. What about Health care? McCain seemed pretty concerned about Ted Kennedy in his intro, even though Ted's at home and fine (although he was hospitalized earlier due to the side effect of his cancer medication), maybe McCain should put his money where is mouth is and support universal health care if hes going to play the sympathy card.

8:34 CT: What a segue, right into health care. John McCain said, "Obama's plan would make health care part of the Federal Government." John, that's the idea. People pay their taxes, Obama is arguing that health care is a fundamental right of all citizens, thus it should be part of the Federal Government.

8:39 CT: How many times is John McCain going to say "I was not elected Ms. Congeniality of the United States Senate?" That is correct John, you were elected as a Senator.

8:46 CT: If the USA wasn't in Iraq would the Administration care if there was sectarian violence? My guess is no, because they clearly don't care about the violence in Sudan or Burma.

8:47 CT: Obama just attributed numerous Bush quotes to McCain; McCain didn't fight back. Instead he went into story time about how he toured an Iraqi market in a flack jacket.

8:55 CT: McCain just indirectly compared Iraq to Afghanistan saying we don't need more troops, we need a diplomatic solution. Sounds an awful lot like Obama's stance on the surge.

8:58 CT: John McCain has taken a magical ride back to 1983 in which he opposed the Lebanon incident position of Ronald Reagan. He then jumped forward to the First Gulf War. I think he might be forgetting something: Keating Five.

8:59 CT: "I will wear this bracelet with honor," John McCain says of a bracelet he is not wearing. Maybe he should have planned ahead, to bad he was to busy disrupting the financial fix.

9:01 CT: "I have a bracelet too," Barack Obama responds, "its from a mother who doesn't want another son to die."

9:02 CT: Obama just challenged McCain on national security. "You don't muddle through the central front on terror."

9:04 CT: If Gen. Petraeus predicts we will lose Iraq, why is he in command, that just doesn't make since John.

9:04 CT: The League of Democracies? I think there is already something like that: The United Nations.

9:08 CT: Here comes the "without preconditions" rebuttal. Does talking equate to legitimization? Last time I checked nobody legitimately died at a discussion.

9:11 CT: I consider the Iran meeting issue over. McCain has no ground to stand on. Henry Kissinger doomed his arguement, amongst other strong points. Obama then played the "you don't know where Spain is" card.

9:14 CT: "Its dangerous [to meet without preconditions]... its just dangerous," really John, why? He cannot come up with a decent arguement.

9:18 CT: Obama can pronounce all the weird foreign names and countries while McCain struggles to pronounce "Ahmadinejad."

9:19 CT: Where is McCain going with this, he just listed every country that used to be a Soviet satellite.

9:25 CT: Obama just pivoted away from the Russia issue into alternative energy; he then dropped a "McCain voted against alternative energy 23 times." John claims that off shore drilling is a "bridge to the future."

9:26 CT: McCain blinked on the, "will there be another 9/11." He should have just said no.

9:28 CT: McCain: "I know our allies, I can work more closely with them." I know our allies too: Germany, England, Canada, etc. You can look it up on Wikipedia.

9:30 CT: Obama got the first word, will McCain get the last?

9:31 CT: SDI, never happened John. They made that corny "Star Wars" video and it died; mainly because it was never proven.

9:33 CT: Obama looking to end on the economy.

9:35 CT: McCain goes back to his experience, tries to link Obama to Bush? Don't really understand this approach.

9:35 CT: John McCain "I will take care of [veterans], that will be my job." That job gets a lot easier by not fighting wars that produce veterans, or American casualties.

9:37 CT: McCain ends by stating that Vietnam Veterans were not treated properly.

Published on September 26th at 8:16 PM CT :: 13 Comments

The 700 Billion Dollar Concession

I haven't read the plan, I don't know how the financing works and I don't know who is getting the money. But I'm definitely not going to see a cent of the 700 billion dollars currently up for grabs. Sure I'll be indirectly affected, but I'll get nowhere near the $2,333.33 that I would if the bailout money were just evenly distributed to the 300,000,000 residents of the USA. The notion of spending such a large sum of money on bolstering America's failing enterprises mystifies me. It seems almost un-American. The can-do doctrine of America, where if someone cannot do it right somebody else can and will seems to be getting a raw deal. The bailout would essentially reverse the defining principle of American economics while setting a terrible precedent. A healthy economy does not rely on an attempt, it thrives on success; where success is rewarded and failure punished.

The Democratic Party has long stood for stringent regulations in the economic realm while the Republican dogma preaches deregulation. Each approach has its advantages, but they both fail when combined; as evidenced by the current state of affairs. Over the last seven years the markets have moved toward the deregulation side of the spectrum, which is fine, remember when the Dow hit 14,000? But when things take a turn for the worst, sudden regulation cannot be a knight in shining armor. The deregulation approach is reactive; it forces markets to adjust after an error has been made, while regulation tends to be proactive attempting to prevent any errors from ever being made. There are obvious problems with both, but choosing both and forgetting about the downfalls of each is not the solution.

The entire Republican constituency seems to struggle with the true concept of deregulation. They stand by it when it's great, but they fail to stand by it when it falters. It's like crossing a major highway on foot when one direction is closed. The Republican leadership seems content to run to the middle (crossing the closed side), stop and then call a taxi to pick them up. They can handle the easy part, but when the going gets tough, they can't handle the possibility of getting hit by a bus. In reaching their objective (by way of taxi) they lose sight of what the original objective was, crossing the highway on foot, or to complete the analogy; letting the markets regulate themselves and actually following through on this premise.

The canonical example of such deregulation neglect comes from John McCain himself. During the initial drop he declared that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" before back tracking and discussing the potential of another great depression. Sarah Palin did the same thing. They each need to step up to the plate (along with the rest of their party) and take a position. Changing where they stand on the markets doesn't help the markets in anyway; as evidenced by the current dilemma. If the Republicans were so committed to the free market principles they would have no problem walking away from Lehman Bros, Fannie May, and Freddie Mac. But for some reason they can't. They cannot follow their doctrine to its logical conclusion because they risk alienating themselves. They are so financially invested in these large companies who took advantage of deregulation, that in protecting the companies they can protect themselves. The very fact that such a widespread crisis occurred highlights the fact that those in control did not put country first, John McCain among them. You can either be for deregulation or your against it, but walking on the fence is counterproductive to both standpoints.

Published on September 25th at 10:11 AM CT :: 3 Comments

Their Possible Pasts

Each campaign sat in a conference room (or presumably something similar) some three or four weeks ago and mapped out their future campaign. Each advisor had "VP" circled somewhere on their memo pad; and each nominee had a VP in mind. But suppose for a second each candidate had a different perspective; could a different decision have entirely effected their nominee's standing in the last four weeks. What are their possible pasts?

Everybody is quick to point out that "if Obama had selected Hillary Clinton as his Vice President, the race would already be over;" I simply do not believe this. In fact I think entirely the opposite is true. Knowing what we know now, Hillary would have doomed the Democratic Party, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. McCain would have been forced to react, and would not have chosen Sarah Palin; I say this with 100% certainty. If you're running against the historic ticket you pick the slick white guy and hope to gain racist and sexist votes; that's the sad reality and I don't think the Republicans would have hesitated. Instead Obama's selection of Biden did no harm, the cardinal rule of VP selection. Ultimately I think Biden will do the most good, but that's not the point of this article.

John McCain likely chooses Mitt Romney (although, Pawlenty, Ridge or Liebermann would still have been options) to counteract the gravitas of the Obama-Clinton ticket; it's hard to predict, after all McCain did eventually chose Sarah Palin. I think Hillary Clinton is the only person for whom McCain doesn't choose Sarah Palin, with the possible exception of Kathleen Sebelius; but I don't think she was ever legitimately considered. Mitt Romney's strength is the economy and it just so happens that the economy is flying into a sharpened fan right now. McCain's possible past is much brighter with a Romney selection (and likely his future), especially after his disastrous week.

McCain likely would not have gotten such a large bounce in the polls had he chosen somebody other than Palin, but it clearly doesn't matter what the polls said at the beginning of September on November 5th. As of right now the only thing Palin has concretely provided McCain was a nice five percent boost in his polling numbers for what amounts to a week; the recent CBS poll shows McCain's support among women plummeting by 21%. Romney may or may not have provided a similar polling spike, but at least he would be useful with regards to the now diseased economy, after all that was Romney's main selling point.

If you take a look into the past and alter the VP permutations the scenario that actually happened appears to the best imaginable outcome for Obama and the worst possible for McCain. The McCain campaign fell into the trap of trying to pick what the central issue of the election would be; they guessed energy and fell flat on their face. Nobody cares how much gas costs because they have no money to buy anything. Most people have lost 10% of their portfolio in the past two days and the GOP ticket is offering no solutions to fix the already ailed economy.

The Obama campaign instead focused on the actual role of a Vice President and selected somebody who actually ran for the position twice. Joe Biden isn't an expert on the economy or energy by any stretch, but his central claim to knowledge is not the fact that he can see Russia, but rather his 35 years as a Senator. The Obama campaign took an entirely different approach to the selection that maximized their chances on any issue; they played the statistics. That I cannot say about the McCain campaign. I cannot conclude within any reasonable bounds of logic why Sarah Palin was selected. There are simply too many other, better possible pasts for John McCain.

The possible future will be theirs to command.

Published on September 18th at 12:08 AM CT :: 7 Comments

The Red November

The current public sentiment clearly favors the democratic brand, but running blue could have dire consequences. In a previous article I looked at how the Minnesota Republican Party is exclusively using the color blue for their incumbent federal candidates up for reelection. Some pointed out that blue has almost always been the color of choice for campaign signs, and this appears to be true, at least as the primary color. My research revealed very little information about House and Senate signs, but I did stumble upon a wide assortment of past presidential signs dating back to 1964.

Sorting through the collection at 4President.org I stumbled upon a curious trend. Dating back to 1964 only four presidential nominees have ever ran a campaign in which their yard signs did not feature the color red; of these four tickets, only two were elected, Carter-Mondale (1976) and Reagan-Bush (1980). Interestingly the 1980 presidential election was devoid of the color red. That leaves just one loser, the McGovern-Shriver ticket of 1972.

1972: McGovern-Shriver (D) vs. Nixon-Agnew (R*)
0

1976: Carter-Mondale (D) vs. Ford-Dole (R*)
0

1980: Carter-Mondale (D*) vs. Reagan-Bush (R)
0

2008: Obama-Biden (D) vs. McCain-Palin (R)
0

A candidate with a blue sign, bearing no red has never defeated an opponent with a red, white and blue sign; this scenario has only occurred twice however. Still the statistics greatly favor the candidate who incorporates all of America's colors.

If we now look at the 2008 campaign signs it is apparent that Obama has a red, white and blue sign, while McCain's features blue, white and yellow. This year's race also marks the first time since 1960, possibly ever, in which a major party nominee has used yellow on their campaign sign. The meaning of yellow on McCain's sign is clearly meant to subliminally convey "support for the troops," of which McCain has clearly not supported [Source: 1, 2, 3]. If McCain was insistent on color messaging he perhaps could have sent a better message by using red instead. As it stands now, the odds are stacked against McCain.

Published on September 11st at 10:49 PM CT :: 9 Comments

GOP Stealing Democrat's Blue Brand

I attended the Minnesota State Fair on the same day John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate. During my visit I made it a point to stop by each political party's kiosk and take pictures. I then took the resulting photos and masked any element associated with the given party. I replaced anything resembling the parties likeness with square brackets ([]), any candidate's name with "First" and "Lastname" and I have censored the presidential signs with purple polygons. I preserved the font and color schemes on each party's individual candidate signs. The resulting images are shown below. Can you decipher which generic campaign kiosk belongs to each party? Pay close attention to the layout and color scheme.

Unknown A: (click image to toggle actual photo)
View High-Resolution: [A : Actual]
Unknown A

Exhibit B: (click image to toggle actual photo)
View High-Resolution: [B : Actual]
Unknown B

Was it harder than you thought? It probably took a bit of reasoning (unless you were already familiar with the sign layouts) to arrive at the correct conclusion because both kiosks are predominately blue; the color associated with the Democrats. I find it very curious that the Republican's are using blue signs for both their Senate candidate (Norm Coleman) and a House candidate (Michele Bachmann). It appears that the GOP is running away from their poor image and actually trying to piggyback on the good image of Democrats (the blue color association) to get reelected.

If for whatever reason the image toggling javascript is not working, the first unknown is the Democratic-Farmer Labor Party of Minnesota and Unknown B is the Minnesota Republican Party's kiosk.

Published on September 7th at 11:17 PM CT :: 9 Comments

Qualifications of a President

The USA Constitution states the three requirements needed to become President; one must be a natural born citizen of the US, one must be at least 35 years of age, and one must have lived in the US for at least 14 years. But there's one more caveat, actually getting elected. To become President elect one must receive a majority of the Electoral Votes (270 for the 2008 Election), with a tie being decided in the House of Representatives. Nothing in the constitution states anything about the qualifications needed to serve as President; rather this decision is left up to the citizenry. The people decide who is qualified by voting.

The basis for the qualification of a President as laid out in the constitution is as follows; let us start by assuming that [Candidate] is seeking the Presidency and has succeeded:

  1. [Candidate] received the most Electoral Votes (ignoring a tie)
  2. [Candidate] theoretically* received the most popular votes, because [Candidate] received the most Electoral Votes.
  3. [Candidate] received the most popular votes because [Candidate] is the most qualified.

*Implies that the popular vote is perfectly reflective of the proportion of the Electoral Votes assigned to a given state. This does not always happen, but is the intention of the system.

The constitution's conclusion is simple; a candidate will receive the most votes for President, and in turn the most Electoral Votes if they are the most qualified. If this conclusion is taken and applied to the current Presidential race, the facts submitted in the previous article are given new light.

Let's first start with the Presidential side of the ticket. If we analyze the vote totals for just the 2008 Presidential Primaries as if it were a poll (assuming 122,295,345 voters, the same as in 2004) John McCain receives 8.05% and Obama receives 15.16% of the total voting population. If you believe the previous reasoning then these percentages can be directly equated to a candidate's qualification level. As of the primary, twice as many people believe Obama is more qualified to be President than McCain.

Now the counter argument is that John McCain secured the nomination earlier than Obama and therefore people in the later states didn't vote in as high of numbers for McCain because the nominee was already decided. This may be true, but of the people who did vote they voted in much higher numbers for McCain because it was essentially a soviet style election, with just one real contender. I'm going to conclude that the ratio of increased turnout for the Democrats due to the tight race can be canceled out by the lack of real competition in the Republican race; I have no concrete proof of this so if anybody wants to concretely prove me wrong, go for it.

It is not the set of experiences that qualify a candidate for the presidency, but rather how a candidate's set of experiences' are translated by the electorate into qualification. The electorate so far, has clearly decided that Obama is more qualified.

Published on September 3rd at 6:53 PM CT :: 8 Comments

Wind Power for Energy Reliance

This paper will specifically discuss the extent to which the USA relies on external petroleum imports and how this dependency could be alleviated in an environmentally friendly and economically stable way by replacing petroleum based electricity generation with wind power alternatives. This principle could pave the way to a brighter future regardless of your stance on Global Warming. The full report with sources and calculations is available for download in PDF format. All numerical sources were obtained directly from publicly available government reports. The calculations using this data are illustrated in the second appendix.

In the year 2006, The United States generated 22% of its electricity from petroleum products, 20.78% of which was imported. This breaks down to 20% from Natural Gas, 18.78% imported and 2% from imported Crude Oil derivatives. These totals accounts for 813 Billion kWh for Total Natural Gas, 763 Billion kW for imported Natural Gas and 81.3 Billion kWh for imported Crude Oil This translates into 844.3 Billion kWh of electricity created using petroleum imports.

To generate 763 Billion kWh of electricity using imported Natural Gas requires 3,177,260,000,000 ft^3 of Natural Gas at an electrical conversion rate of 240.26 kWh per 1000 ft^3. At a cost of $7.11 to convert 1000 ft^3 of Natural Gas to electricity equates to a cost of $22,590,318,600. This number is then added to the cost of importing this quantity of Natural Gas at a cost of $6.88 for 1000 ft^3 which calculates to $21,859,548,800. This result yields a total cost of $44,449,867,400 to produce 763 Billion kWh of electricity using imported Natural Gas.

To generate the Crude Oil contribution of 81.3 Billion kWh of electricity requires 57,448,117 bbls of Crude Oil at an electrical conversion rate of 1415.19 kWh per 1 bbl and accounts for 3.1% of the Crude Oil deficit. To convert 1 bbl of Crude Oil to electricity costs $58.80 and translates into a cost of $3,377,949,251 for the deficit amount. This number is then added to the cost of importing this quantity of Crude Oil at a cost of $59.10 per 1 bbl resulting in an expenditure of $3,395,183,686. The combination of these calculation yields a total cost of $6,773,132,936 for producing 81.3 Billion kWh of electricity using imported Crude Oil.

At this juncture the final deficit is $51,223,000,336 a year to import and then generate 20.78% of the US's electrical output. The objective now turns to the possibilities of creating this 20.78% from other greener sources while still remaining economically viable.

A wind turbine manufactured by General Electric can produce 1,500 kW,2,500 kW and 3,500 kW depending on the model and geographic location of installation at a cost of roughly $1,680 per kW. It is also estimated that any given windmill will operate at 25% efficiency year round. Using these figures to replace imported Natural Gas' electrical production of 763 Billion kWh with Wind Power will cost approximately $585,196,924,101; while the cost to replace imported Crude Oil's production of 81.3 Billion kWh with Wind Power is $62,324,435,318. The grand total required to establish this enormous Wind Power infrastructure would be $647,521,359,420. Using the three GE models requires between 179,867,044, 259,008,544 and 431,680,906 turbines. If we also acknowledge the fact that energy can be resold at a rate of approximately 2¢/kWh-10¢/kWh additional funds can be raised. According to the US Department of Energy the average resale value for wind power is $36/MWh (3.6¢/kWh) and would equate to a resale value of $32,194,800,000 a year. Based on these figures Wind Power could replace Fossil Fuel imports and recoup capital after 7.93 years if interest rates and inflation are ignored and even faster if they were considered.

The region in which a wind turbine is installed is an important factor to consider in achieving adequate electricity generation; for this section we will use farmland as an estimate because it is often flat and therefore windy as well as easily accessible. In 2002 there were 938.28 Million Acres of farm land in the US. Using this information and the requirement for between 179,867,044, 259,008,544 and 431,680,906 turbines to replace the electricity generation power of imported Petroleum leads to a turbine per acre ratio of .487, .292 and .203 respectively for the 1,500 kW,2,500 kW and 3,500 kW models when applied to farmland data. If these same turbine quantities are applied to total land in the USA the numbers then become .202, .121 and .084 respectively for the 1,500 kW,2,500 kW and 3,500 kW models. The kWh need per acre of farmland is 953.127 kWh and the ratio per acre for all land is 395.016 kWh in order to overcome the 844.3 Billion kWh produced from petroleum.

The information provided in the body of this report clearly shows that replacing petroleum imports with wind power could be an economically viable option capable of alleviating the USA's dependence on foreign petroleum imports for electricity production. This environmentally friendly approach would greatly reduce hazardous emissions released when petroleum is processed; these same emissions disrupt the ozone layer and theoretically contribute to global warming. But despite its excellent economic outlook there exist inherent issues that need to be addressed. The turbine per acre ratios are simply too large to warrant serious consideration for installation on either farmland or for total land in the USA. For this project to become a reality it would require mass adoption by the general public which raises additional concerns. The baseline issue would be the steep initial cost preventing adoption by the working class while fundamentally benefiting the wealthy. A system would have to be devised that would level the playing field for all demographics.

Two main proposals rise to the top. The first would be to force all farmers to install the required number of windmills on their property, the installation and equipment would be paid for by the government, and the government would reap the resale profits of electricity sales. However those resale profits would go directly into the farmer subsidy fund and if a given farmer qualified they would receive financial assistance, similar to the current system, but preferably with larger benefits because they are sacrificing some of their resources, mainly land, to provide energy to the country. If the guidelines for farming assistance are not met, the government would simply be allowed to add that money to the budget. There could be different tiers of commitment for the farmers to choose each with different subsidy options requiring certain threshold turbine per acre ratios to be met.

The second proposal would function in accordance with how the current electricity buy back laws work. If a citizen generates excess electricity the utilities are required to buy it back. In this situation the owner of the windmill would directly reap the profits of the electricity resale, but they would also be required to fund the initial investment. This approach increases the time required for the government to breakeven but would also increase the focus on renewable energy and a stronger long term economic outlook. This plan would require moderation to prevent only the rich from benefitting. There could be a set number of windmills that all citizens were entitled to build or there could be some sort of moving multiplier, similar to the tax code that would place a cap on resale returns. In either case the Department of Energy could regulate the process and have the power to make exceptions where necessary.

If a combination of these two proposals were applied wind power could replace imported petroleum for electricity generation in the USA and create an infrastructure of clean, renewable energy for years to come. The only down side to such a proposal is the lack of analysis on other alternatives such as Solar Power that could potentially provide a greater advantage in cost and viability. To provide an alternative comparison to Wind Power, the next publication will focus on the viability of Solar Power.

The results of our research align with the proposals put forth by the American Wind Energy Association and their goal for Wind Power to provide 20% of America's electricity by the year 2030.

Update: The objective and methods described in this plan match closely with that of a proposal presented by Al Gore on July 17th. Al Gore's plan calls for the replacement of fossil fuel generated electricity through the renewable resources of wind, solar and geothermal. While our paper focuses strictly on how wind power could replace fossil fuels, the paper also provides detailed information pertaining how the USA uses fossil fuels to generate electricity and its associated cost. The math behind Al Gore's plan can be found in the second appendix.

Published on May 2nd at 2:26 PM CT :: 0 Comments

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