Poll Update (8/31)

Two new polls from New Jersey, but nothing from Virginia:

RacePollsterEndDateDemRepOther
2009 New Jersey GovernorDemocracy Corps (D)8/26/2009414316
2009 New Jersey GovernorRasmussen Reports8/25/200942508

There seems to be divergence amongst pollsters regarding the closeness of this race. Two partisan polls, the one from last week and the DemocracyCorps (D) poll from this week show the race essentially deadlocked. There has yet to be a poll from a pollster we consider to be non-partisan, that shows Corzine (D) within stricking distance as the two partisan polls suggest. Until the mainstream polls began to reflect a closer race, our projection will continue to favor Christie (R):

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Election

Public Policy Polling (D) has their monthly Virginia poll in the works, so hopefully we'll have more Virginia data next week.

Published on August 31st at 10:56 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Poll Update (8/24)

Corzine (D) has apparently retaken the lead in the only new poll released in the last week; the poll is of questionable origins however:

RacePollsterEndDateDemRepOther
2009 New Jersey GovernorNeighborhood Research (R)8/21/2009373528

I found the associated polling report at PolitickerNJ.com along with the relevant description excerpted below. I've admitted the likely voter result into our database, as outlined within our methodology.

Republican Christopher Christie leads Gov. Jon Corzine 39%-36% among definite voters, according to a poll conducted by Neighborhood Research, a survey firm run by conservative strategist Rick Shaftan. Independent Christopher Daggett is at 6%.

...

Among likely voters, Corzine leads Christie 37%-35%, with 6% for Daggett. [Emphasis added]

"If Corzine gets his liberal/urban/Democratic base together he's going to open up a significant lead, forcing Christie to work the right," Shaftan wrote in his analysis.

The poll was conducted between August 12-21 with a sample size of 319 and a margin of error of +/- 5.49%. The party breakout among respondents was 43% Democrat, 34% Republican, 23% unaffiliated.

Source: PolitickerNJ.com

There are some concerns about the sample size and the error that raise questions about the accuracy of this poll. For example, I highly doubt Christie has an approval rating of 20 favorable and 27 unfavorable; a very high rejection rate of over 50%. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll of New Jersey gave Christie a favorability of 42 and an unfavorable result of 26; a more reasonable rejection ratio of about 30%. The results of this Neighborhood Research (R) poll may in fact be accurate, but the noted anomalies are too numerous to warrant serious consideration.

Our projection remains unchanged due to the partisan affiliation of this newly inducted poll:

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Election

If this poll were to be included into our projection, both candidates would converge around 38% with a very slight advantage to Christie.

Virginia remained unchanged, polling wise. More in a week.

Published on August 24th at 8:48 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

Poll Update (8/17)

After three rough weeks of polling for Jon Corzine (D), the tide may be shifting if this week's polls are to be trusted. Creigh Deeds (D) of Virginia however, still appears to be stuck in the sand:

RacePollsterEndDateDemRepOther
2009 New Jersey GovernorDemocracy Corps (D)8/12/2009354025
2009 New Jersey GovernorQuinnipiac University8/9/2009404614
2009 Virginia GovernorWashington Post8/14/200939547
2009 Virginia GovernorRasmussen Reports8/10/2009414910

Chris Daggett, the Independent candidate in the New Jersey election, broke into the double digits for the first time in Democracy Corps' (D) latest poll. If Daggett can pull down 10% of the electorate, as James McCarville's Democracy Corps (D) poll indicates, Corzine may have a fighting chance.

The New Jersey election is beginning to resemble the Minnesota Senate Election of 2008 where Dean Barkley, an Independence Party Candidate (not the same as Daggett) altered the electoral landscape by capturing the disillusioned major party voters. If Daggett's support holds in the coming weeks, the election comes down to base turn-out, and in New Jersey, that favors the Democrat. This of course is a big if because it's just one poll and a series of extrapolations; but at this juncture, it may be Corzine's best opportunity at re-election.

The landscape in Virginia continued to grow darker for Democrat Creigh Deeds as two new polls confirmed his diminishing numbers. He's been down by at least eight for the past month, with no indication of a reversal. Deeds needs something good to happen before the close of September.

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Election

2009 Virginia Gubernatorial Election

Both Democrats are down in the polls, but where do they stand in the money game? Answer; in about the same position. I'll start by providing the latest fundraising numbers out of New Jersey as reported on Jun 22, 2009:

                 Corzine (D)      Christie (R)
Receipts      $ 4,539,006.04   $  5,363,054.33
Expenditures  $ 4,539,006.04   $  5,170,238.97
Cash on Hand  $         0.00   $    192,815.36

Source: New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission

The figures above contain data from the close of the primary period. The leading candidates each filed their report electronically, but Corzine used an R1 form and Christie a G1; the reason for this difference is unclear, but they both contain the same information. Daggett has yet to file a finance report, as he was not involved in a primary election; a result of his Independent platform. The next report will be due on Oct 5, 2009 from all general election candidates in New Jersey.

Each major party candidate raised and spent about the same amount leaving little to no cash on hand. And although Christie holds a slight monetary edge, I do not believe this significantly contributed to his nine point lead. Other factors are at play, but I'm sure the money will help as Christie tries to maintain his lead. Corzine has also been known to spend his own money, so if the race gets truly close, money may buy the deciding votes.

I should also state that I am by no means an expert on campaign finance law within New Jersey, Virginia or any other state for that matter. With that being said lets move onto Virginia's fundrace as of Jun 30, 2009:

                  Deeds (D)      McDonnell (R)
Receipts      $ 6,207,533.60   $ 10,673,988.44
Expenditures  $ 3,486,182.65   $  5,753,365.35
Cash on Hand  $ 2,721,350.95   $  4,920,623.09

Source: Virginia State Board of Elections

Deeds was out raised and out spent during the primary period but the raw data may misrepresent the fundraising dynamics of this gubernatorial election. The nearly 2:1 discrepancy can be explained by the presence of a rigorous Democratic Primary where the donors were split into three campaigns; as opposed to McDonnell's (R) coronation as the only interested candidate. The combined candidacies of the Democratic primary actually out raised McDonnell during this time period. The monetary advantage for McDonnell in the past couple of months likely played a major role in his recent surge.

McDonnell was simply able to focus more time and money on the general election at an earlier point in time. The direct result of this conclusion translates into his comfortable lead in the polls. If Deeds and the DNC, along with Tim Kaine, can get the Democratic fundraising machine on track, the race will likely tighten, but Virginians may have already made up their mind.

More in a week.

Published on August 17th at 11:44 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Poll Update (8/10)

Six new polls in the last week, and they each reaffirm the trend we started to see in our last report. The Democrats in each gubernatorial race face an uphill climb:

RacePollsterEndDateDemRepOther
2009 New Jersey GovernorResearch 2000, DailyKos (D)8/5/2009404812
2009 New Jersey GovernorRasmussen Reports8/4/2009375013
2009 New Jersey GovernorMonmouth University, Gannett8/2/2009365014
2009 New Jersey GovernorGlobal Strategy Group (D)7/30/2009354223
2009 Virginia GovernorResearch 2000, DailyKos (D)8/5/200943516
2009 Virginia GovernorPublic Policy Polling (D)8/3/2009375112

Virginia remains unchanged from a week ago due to the partisan affiliation of the two pollsters listed above, but our New Jersey model has since given Corzine (D) a 0% chance of reelection:

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Election

2009 Virginia Gubernatorial Election

The inclusion of this week's polls seemed to clarify the direction of each gubernatorial race. Corzine has all but lost, and Deeds (D) trails by a significant but non-critical margin. All four candidates know where they currently stand, two hope to maintain the status quo and two hope to change it. Because of this dynamic, the strategy becomes more important than the candidate. Let's take a quick look at each candidate's campaign manager:

Maggie Moran, Corzine (D):

This will be Maggie Moran's first foray into campaign management at any level, although she does have fairly extensive experience within the politicking world. She was a senior advisor during Corzine's first successful run at governor as a well as the NJ State Director for US Senator Franken Lautenberg (D) for several years. She clearly has political know how, but is it enough to erase the current deficit? Probably not.

Bill Stepien, Christie (R):

Bill Stepien has managed several successful state level campaigns for Republican candidates in New Jersey. He also managed Bob Frank's (R) failed bid for the US Senate in 2000 against Corzine. He was also the National Field Director for John McCain's and Rudy Giuliani's 2008 Presidential bids. Stepien clearly has the experience and the lead this time around. I would expect the Christie campaign to soften the dialogue in an attempt to prevent something stupid. Although the McCain and Giuliani campaigns melted down, Stepien wasn't responsible for the campaign's message, this time around he is. Can he avoid doing something catastrophically stupid? Probably.

Joe Abbey, Deeds (D)

Joe Abbey is another Democratic rookie, but he has considerably more experience than Moran. Abbey was the Deputy Campaign Manager for Mark Warner's (D) successful 2008 US Senate Election, a candidate who realistically didn't need a campaign manager. He has also ran a number of state level elections with varying degrees of success. If Abbey can run a successful issues based campaign and really promote voter turnout, Deeds should win. Whether this can actually be done remains the question.

Phil Cox, McDonnell (R)

There is relatively little information about Phil Cox, but a google search reveals possible connections with disgraced and now imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff. These ties came up in the 2005 Virginia General Assembly Election in which Deeds lost to McDonnell by 350 votes; Cox was McDonnell's campaign manager in that race as well. Unless some new information emerges, this pseudo-scandal is unlikely to affect the Governor's race.

More in a week. I'm tentatively planning to look at the money race.

Published on August 10th at 8:36 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Poll Update (8/3)

Just two new polls in the last week, one from each gubernatorial election, and each shows the Democratic candidate a significant distance behind:

RacePollsterEndDateDemRepOther
2009 New Jersey GovernorPublic Policy Polling (D)7/27/2009365014
2009 Virginia GovernorSurveyUSA7/28/200940555

Last week I said Corzine (D) had run out of life lines, and that really hasn't changed; but now he is in better shape than his fellow Democrat in Virginia, Creigh Deeds. They each trail by more than 8 points according to our most up-to-date polling models:

2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial Election

2009 Virginia Gubernatorial Election

Deeds' deficit is almost entirely based upon the most recent poll at this point, in part due to our methodology and in part due to the spread of the most recent survey. Both of these factors may be artificially inflating McDonnell's lead. The SurveyUSA poll is in all likelihood an outlier, but our model doesn't know the difference; the most recent poll receives the most weight. The SurveyUSA poll may also be at fault; the sample appears to skew toward people who voted for McCain by about 9 points, but Obama won Virginia by 6 points last November. This demographic discrepancy would explain the sudden drop in support for the Democrat, or it could indicate that many Obama voters don't care to participate in the off year election as SurveyUSA screens for likely voters.

Corzine is screwed, he's lost the Democratic establishment in New Jersey:

WNBC-TV's Brian Thompson reported last night that South Jersey Democratic Leader George Norcross wants Corzine to drop his re-election bid so that the party can replace him on the ballot. Some Democrats are worried that Republicans might win their first statewide election in a dozen years. One Corzine advisor acknowledged that he has heard talk among Democrats about the governor changing his mind about re-election, but says that Corzine is not considering a withdrawal.

Source: WNBC-TV via PolitickerNJ.com

There are several possible replacements in the hangar and some pollster appears to be conducting a what if replacement poll for Corzine.

More in a week.

Published on August 3rd at 7:18 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Biden's Son More Qualified Than Palin

McCain played the inexperience card throughout the pre-convention period, now its Obama's turn. With Sarah Palin (Republican, Alaska) filling the Republican VP slot the inexperience balance shifts. Sarah Palin's only valid experience in political office started in 2006 when she was elected as the Governor of Alaska. Her previous political career started in Wasilla (approximately 9,000 residents), Alaska in 1992 as a City Council member. She would later become the mayor of Wasilla for the term of 1996-2002. In 2002 she ran for lieutenant Governor and was defeated. Between 2002 and 2006 she did some work for an Oil company and also played an important role in exposing high ranking Republicans in Alaska. The bottom line; her only experience in actual office is her two years as Governor. Right now I could move to any given city in America with a population of 9,000 people, and if I was committed enough I could become Mayor. In fact, somebody much younger than Palin did that very thing, except in a town 4 times the size: Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Another person that comes to mind who may be more qualified than Palin, Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden. Beau is 39 (thanks John, I incorrectly had 29) and was elected in 2006 as Delaware's Attorney General. Delaware has roughly 200,000 more residents than Alaska. The Republican heads are saying she has more experience than the Democratic Nominee for President, but in reality the Democratic Nominee for Vice President's son may have more experience than Palin. Beau Biden received more votes (133,152) in 2006 during his quest to become the Attorney General of Delaware with than did Sarah Palin in her quest to become Alaska's Governor (114,697).

The McCain campaign has continually argued that Obama is not ready to lead; they cite his service as an Illinois State Senator for 8 years, and then follow it up by saying that he has only been a US Senator (Illinois) for 3 years; still more than Palin can put on her resume. The GOP fails to understand the fact that Barack Obama has received more votes, in his political career than has John McCain in that same time. The table below illustrates my point; the vote counts for the senate include the primary and general election.

Candidate 2008 Pres 2000 Pres 2004 Senate 1998 Senate Total
McCain 9,840,746 6,230,475 1,837,092 903,067 18,811,380
Obama 18,534,951 4,253,379 22,788,330

I also feel it necessary to point out that John McCain only met Palin once before naming her VP; now either he's an excellent judge of character, or he did what was most politically expedient. I, myself personally would have liked to get to know the person who will lead the nation in the event of my incapacitation, but apparently that wasn't important to John.

Published on August 29th at 4:01 PM CT :: 11 Comments

Thoughts About Obama's Speech

Besides the brilliance of the speech itself, three things crossed my mind. I'll start by hinting at third, the circumstances of Obama's potential inauguration. Setting that aside I began looking ahead to the debates with the first occurring in Mississippi on September 26th. The one question guaranteed to come up through the course of the debates: "Who would you consider for your cabinet?" In 2004, Kerry established Joe Biden as his choice for Secretary of State, but in 2008 Joe has a different employment status; who will fit the bill in an Obama Administration? Senator Hillary Clinton (Democrat, New York) is the first name to come to mind, but I don't really know if it fits. So the question then becomes what role will Hillary Clinton play?

Hillary is certainly qualified for the position of Secretary of State, but does she want it. I have no idea, and its likely already been decided between the two campaigns; but I'll speculate anyway. I believe Hillary will maintain her position as a Senator from New York and focus on bringing universal health care to all with the help of Senator Ted Kennedy (Democrat, Massachusetts). I certainly think she is qualified to be Secretary of State, but I don't particularly think she wants it. She doesn't need to pad her resume for the next election cycle and I think she would be content to sit back and vote with the party while focusing on her health care quest. Hillary Clinton will be the next Democratic Nominee for president after Barack Obama's reign ends, if she wants it. She no longer needs to prove anything to anybody.

Proceeding through my reasoning Obama's cabinet is still wide open. I think Senator John Kerry (Democrat, Massachusetts) is guaranteed a position based on his lifelong allegiance to the party and his thorough support of Obama's entire campaign. The Secretary of Defense has Kerry's name all over it; Kerry was a military guy and the 2004 Democratic Nominee; it would also kill the Republicans. I think Governor Bill Richardson (Democrat, New Mexico) is also likely to get a position, what it will be I really can't say. Al Gore will be the Energy Czar. I also think Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) is likely to get a position. Other than that I really have no idea; any suggestions?

The third and final point put a smile on my face. What if on Obama's inauguration day he wore a white suit and sported a huge Afro. Wouldn't that just be awesome? If this were his first act as President he would effectively send a message that the establishments strangle hold on the American dream has ended.

Published on August 28th at 11:45 PM CT :: 5 Comments

Kids Vote for a Cause, Not Against

After Mark Warner's (Democrat, Virginia) speech at the Democratic Convention last night, the headline on any number of news sites was something along the lines of this: "Warner pushes for bipartisanship rather than crushing McCain," a true sentiment, but unrepresentative of Warner's message. I went through and read many of these articles but none of them seemed to comprehend Warner's purpose; it's simple really, he understands that kids will not go out and vote for the lesser of two evils, as many people do, but rather they are motivated in favor of a candidate's cause. In his speech Warner empathized with the plight of America's youth while calling upon others to support a future without bounds. Warner's speech embodied the message of Obama's campaign.

Many Democrats are pushing for a harsher message against McCain in light of previous elections, but that simply will not happen on Obama's watch. Obama's youth centric, optimistic message carried him through the primaries and a departure from this stance would be a fatal move; but the campaign understands this. The 3AM text message is perhaps the most obvious example highlighting their understanding of the youth demographic. The aurora of the convention also supports this claim; they are telling kids why they should support their view on the future, rather then why they should not support John McCain's. So far there has been no negativity amongst the prime time speakers, and I expect this trend to continue through Thursday. The media will be upset, some party loyalists will be upset, but the overwhelming message to take from the convention will be an optimistic outlook on the future; a calling card for the youth vote.

Kids don't want to deal with the bullshit that is negative campaigning, they are smart enough to figure out who to vote for based on the information rather than the propaganda. During this week's convention, the Democrats are exposing their ideas to young minds, while setting aside next week, during the GOP convention, to go negative without the media fan fair. In highlighting their message this week, Obama and the Democratic Party are laying their hopes on the youth of the nation, and in turn hoping the youth will support their hope for the nation.

Published on August 27th at 3:42 PM CT :: 0 Comments

The Effect of Cellphones: Revisted

I did some further research, after posting a previous article on cellphones, and it appears that there is a legal caveat to automatically dialing cellphones. This caveat comes in the form of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 which in section (b)(1)(A)(iii) states that it is unlawful to make a call using an autodialer or prerecorded voice to any telephone number assigned to a cellular telephone service. Sounds hopeless, but in (b)(2)(C) an exemption is detailed:

(C) may, by rule or order, exempt from the requirements of paragraph (1)(A)(iii) of this subsection calls to a telephone number assigned to a cellular telephone service that are not charged to the called party, subject to such conditions as the Commission may prescribe as necessary in the interest of the privacy rights this section is intended to protect;

This exemption clearly shows that it is not illegal to include cellphones in a random sample so long as the service provider of the randomized number is known. A quick google search reveals that such a thing is possible. ReverseGenie runs a service that allows a user to enter a phone number, and returns the service provider along with a boat load of other information; the service is $40 a year and allows for an unlimited number lookups. Using this service, or a similar technology would clearly allow a pollster to sift out the numbers they cannot legally dial from a randomized set. Whether pollsters do this once they have a randomized set is unknown (SurveyUSA uses a phone number provider that does include cellphones), but if they take the time to ensure they are not autodialing a hospital (which is illegal and must be done) they likely also have the ability to check the service provider.

I called Rasmussen Reports and asked: "Are cell phones included in your random samples?" The response: "No."

I next called Quinnipiac University and asked the same question. Their response: "The numbers are randomly generated and through that course cell phones are occasionally called. When this happens, the respondent's number is removed from the pool of available numbers." This was a very curious response because Quinnipiac University does not use an autodialer and could therefore legally talk to the respondent, but ultimately they seek to only include landlines in their polling samples.

I'm still in the process of contacting other pollsters to determine whether cell phones are included in their samples.

Published on August 20th at 6:00 PM CT :: 5 Comments

Dissonance Amongst the Delegates

CBS News and the New York Times just conducted a poll among Democratic Delegates asking the VP question. The results, Clinton received 28 (271.6 votes) percent of the vote, while Biden, the next closest responded, received 6 percent. There was however an enormous percentage of participates who were undecided, 36 percent and another 9 percent selected other. I was initially skeptical of this poll's result until I analyzed the statistics present in the sample. The sample included 970 randomly selected delegates, 23.8% of the 4081 total delegates.

Before I detail my analysis I want to first establish the basic variables used in my calculation. Lets first state that as of June 3rd (the night Obama sealed the nomination) Obama had 2172 delegates (53.2%) and Clinton had 1909 (46.8%) delegates; I draw these figures from our Democratic Delegate Estimates page that was maintained throughout the primaries. The delegate poll was conducted to include both pledged delegates and super delegates but of course CBS and the NY Times did not provide the raw numbers, so I'm left with the task of trying to figure it out. Luckily though, the poll provided additional information in the secondary question; Would Clinton as VP help Obama win the election? The matrix below uses these numbers to calculate the percentage of delegates questioned from each delegate group, Obama allocated, Clinton allocated and unpledged.

Within the text of the published poll result it states that 61% of Clinton allocated pledged (Thanks John) delegates supported her as their preferred VP choice, while just 3% of Obama's delegates supported Clinton as their first choice. If we assume that the sample is perfect, each side's percentage in the sample space is the same as their percentage of pledged delegates, then Obama would have 419.99 pledged representatives and Clinton would have 384.57. Using these figures and the percentages noted in the report an estimate to the theoretical support for Clinton as a VP can be determined; 61% * 384.57 = 234.59 for Clinton delegates, 3% * 419.99 = 12.60 for Obama delegates and 20% * 165.43 = 33.09 among the super delegates for a total of 280.278 or 28.90% if the sample were perfect. The 28.90% doesn't line up with the 28% as noted in the final poll result but its very close; Clinton and Obama delegates are over represented in the poll sample while the super delegates are under represented.

Now here comes the problem with this poll. If 410.31 Clinton delegates were interviewed and 61% of pledged delegates favored Clinton as their preferred VP choice, who did the other 39% prefer? The most likely response would be undecided, then other but this conclusion provides nothing of value. In fact its a guarantee that 14% of Clinton delegates choose undecided or other, but its also possible that all 39% voted undecided or other; absolutely inconclusive. The result of the poll essentially says this, "A majority of Clinton supporters think Obama should choose Clinton as the VP. The other half, well we have no idea what they think, it could be anybody because we didn't provide enough data." But this non-result is fascinating in itself. If 39% of Clinton delegates, who are by definition her hardcore supporters, have moved away from blindly supporting Clinton then the rest of the 18 million people who voted for her likely have as well. That's not to say that they are fully supportive, but at least they've taken off their tinfoil hats. The poll also squelches any possibility of a surprise Clinton nomination when the vote is called because much of her original support has boarded the Obama train.

Published on August 19th at 12:20 AM CT :: 1 Comment

Kerry States: Cornerstone of Election

A few days ago I looked at the possibility of an Obama victory if McCain were to win Florida and Ohio. The results effectively showed that the election hinges on the Kerry states. Under this assumption Obama needs only to secure his base, while McCain needs to reach into his opponent's heartland. With the VP decision looming just over the horizon a perfect choice could tip the balance.

If we first focus on the Kerry states that McCain has any shot of winning there are six, Minnesota (10), Pennsylvania (21), Iowa (7), Wisconsin (10), Michigan (17) and New Hampshire (4). Of these six states, three stand out with possible VP choices; Minnesota with Gov. Pawlenty, Michigan with Fmr. Gov. Romney, and Pennsylvania with Fmr. Gov. Ridge. They all have advantages and drawbacks; there is no clear front runner under this scenario.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, viewed by some as the front runner solely on the basis of his Republican status in a blue state, is far from perfect. Two main issues could haunt a Pawlenty Vice Presidency; [1] Pawlenty broke campaign finance laws during his initial bid for the governorship resulting in fines of $600,000 [Source: Minnesota Public Radio] and [2] his association with the I-35W Bridge Collapse. He charged his Lt. Governor Carol Molnau with the task of reforming the Minnesota Department of Transportation until she was removed in the aftermath of the collapse for not reading bridge inspection reports. [Source: NY Times] He also vetoed legislation both before and after the collapse that would have increased the gas tax and in turn infrastructure spending. Pawlenty, as a VP candidate would become the poster child of infrastructure neglect, and Carol Molnau would become the Governor of Minnesota. Not only does Pawlenty have some marks against him, but some people may actually vote against him (although they support him) in order to avoid a Molnau Governorship, if that makes sense; Pawlenty is out.

Massachusetts' Former Governor Mitt Romney (of Michigan ancestry) would likely shift the Wolverine State Blue solely by being placed on the ticket. The problem, McCain hates his guts. Romney is also a Mormon and uninformed evangelicals blindly hate the Mormon religion which could hurt McCain in the Bible Belt. Other than those two issues Romney is the superior choice because he brings authoritative economic know how and a boat load of money to the campaign. But it all comes down to whether whiny evangelicals will accept the religious beliefs of others; don't count on it, Romney's out.

Former Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania could also pose problems. For one he is pro-choice which may hurt McCains's evangelical support, but McCain needs a Kerry state to have any hope of winning so the trade off might be worth it. Tom Ridge was also involved with the downsizing of FEMA in 2003 before Katrina hit, a fact that could be used against the ticket. The reach of Katrina however is probably limited to Louisiana at this point, but it could have an affect in Iowa based on the recent flooding in a multitude of cities including Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. The fact remains however, that Iowa is probably Obama's and Louisiana is so far out of Obama's reach that the Katrina effect just won't matter. It appears that Tom Ridge could be McCain's best bet at winning a Kerry state.

Of all the possible VPs mentioned for Obama only one candidate hails from one of the three states previously mentioned, Senator Joe Biden who grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Joe Biden brings foreign policy experience from his 35 years in the US Senate and his time spent chairing the Foreign Relations Committee. He is also embarking on a solo trip to Georgia which could immediately counteract the Media's blind assertion that McCain is more knowledgeable about foreign policy affairs. There is also no risk of Biden's seat flipping upon his potential election to the Vice Presidency because Delaware is wildly democratic. The only downside is that he voted to authorize the War in Iraq. He is also viewed by the Media as a talker, but who honestly cares, he knows more about politics than probably any other Democrat with the possible exception of Ted Kennedy. Joe Biden solidifies a vital Kerry state while bringing foreign policy and a scandal free past to the ticket all, while forcing McCain's hand into a lose-lose-lose situation.

If Obama were to choose Joe Biden, McCain is left with the decision of whether to choose Tom Ridge and directly compete in Pennsylvania or to choose a more flawed candidate and concede Pennsylvania while trying to compete in another Kerry state. In any case McCain's base will be upset, which is exactly why Obama should take this opportunity to consolidate his base.

Published on August 17th at 12:33 AM CT :: 3 Comments

St. Paul Is Not Minneapolis

Based on some of the responses to our previous story I felt it necessary to clarify that the Republican Convention takes place at the Xcel Energy Center and the media headquarters will be setup at the RiverCentre Convention Center, both located in St. Paul; nothing related to the GOP Convention is officially sanctioned to occur in Minneapolis. To understand why Minneapolis has no part in the convention we must look at the history.

Before I begin I'd also like to clear two points, [1] I live in St. Paul, and [2] Minneapolis and St. Paul are separate cites, together commonly referred to as the Twin Cities (I really wish I didn't have to state this, but apparently some of our readers are ridiculously uneducated; I've provided a map below to aide those who cannot think.)

The Minneapolis St. Paul 2008 Host Committee's main purpose is to organize events within the metropolitan area. The reason the committee has both Minneapolis and St. Paul in its name is due to the proximity of the two cities. If a large event is held in one city, such as the GOP Convention in St. Paul, the other city will be affected regardless of its contribution; therefore the cities co-participate in the planning stages of all events. The Committee's members come predominately from the Twin Cities but neighboring cities such as Bloomington are also represented.

In September of 2006 the Republican National Committee recommended the bid put forth by the Minneapolis St. Paul 2008 Host Committee regarding the undertaking of the Republican Convention. Eventually the plan was agreed upon and a location was established in St. Paul. The official Minneapolis St. Paul 2008 Host Committee website explicitly states that the GOP Convention occurs in St. Paul with no reference to Minneapolis. Instead Minneapolis has their own convention, CivicFest which showcases Minnesota and American History, Democracy and the U.S. Presidency during the same time frame as the GOP Convention.

The bottom line is that any reference to the location of the Republican Convention should be inclusive rather than exclusive. This means referencing either St. Paul or the Twin Cities. The Twin Cities is acceptable because St. Paul is contained in the Twin Cities. Minneapolis is not an acceptable reference because it is an altogether separate city and is not commonly understood to inclusively include St. Paul, because it doesn't. Therefore the idiocy of the Minneapolis reference presented by myself in the previous article raging on CNN and the Pioneer Press' story highlighting the same issue are entirely valid and accurate.

Published on August 14th at 11:34 PM CT :: 0 Comments

CNN Botches GOP Convention Site

I was reading the CNN Political Ticker for some info about the Arkansas Democratic Party Chair who was killed today by a gunmen, when I stumbled upon another story. Entitled 'Another Republican senator skipping convention' the article discussed how some Republican Congressmen are staying home due to the GOP's poor image in hopes of bolstering their reelection image. Now here's the catch, CNN cites the Republican Convention as occurring in Minneapolis, rather than St. Paul. If you are reporting the location of the GOP Convention how does the thought of Minneapolis even cross your mind; [a] you are either completely incompetent (like Michelle Bachmann), or [b] well there is no logical b. In either case somebody at CNN should have caught this because it is terrible reporting. St. Paul was not chosen yesterday, it was chosen months, perhaps years ago and has been common knowledge for just as long; anybody covering politics should, without hesitation, know the site of the GOP Convention. Now for the proof, observe the area boxed in red.

Published on August 13rd at 4:57 PM CT :: 4 Comments

An Obama Victory Minus Florida, Ohio

Taking a look at our recently added flip percentages shows John McCain with a secure grasp on Florida and Ohio, while Obama holds a virtual lock on the Kerry states. Under this assumption Obama would have 252 Electoral Votes, the same garnered by Kerry (Kerry technically received 251 due to a faithless elector in Minnesota) and 18 short of the required 270. There are however states still in play that could allow Obama to reach 270; Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Virginia all have flip percentages over 30 and logically appear to be the most likely states to swing. By my count there are 16 permutations involving these seven states that would garner the 19 Electoral Votes needed. Below is a table with the 16 permutations and each permutations' associated probability. The percentages used for each state are provided by the flip percent on the electoral college estimates page as of August 12, 2008.

Permutation Electoral Votes Probability %
Indiana, Virginia 24 13.73
Indiana, Montana, Iowa 21 21.45
Indiana, New Mexico, Iowa 23 36.18
Indiana, Nevada, Iowa 23 26.16
Indiana, Montana, New Mexico 19 20.63
Indiana, Montana, Nevada 19 14.91
Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada 21 25.16
Virginia, Colorado 22 20.15
Virginia, Iowa 20 35.48
Virginia, Nevada, Montana 21 13.93
Virginia, New Mexico, Montana 21 19.27
Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada 23 23.50
Colorado, Iowa, Montana 19 31.50
Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico 21 53.13
Colorado, Iowa, Nevada 21 38.41
Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada 19 36.94
Obama Wins 1 of 16 Permutations 99.97

As you can see from the table, Obama has a 99.97 percent chance of reaching 270 if he wins all the Kerry states. This conclusion depicts John McCain in a bit of a hole requiring a win in either Michigan or New Hampshire to keep his presidential aspirations alive.

Update: Fixed the number of Electoral Votes Obama would receive if he were to win the Kerry states; as pointed out by a commenter. Kerry received 251 Electoral Votes, but based on the states he won he should have received 252. The one missing vote was cast for John Edwards in Minnesota by a faithless elector.

Published on August 12nd at 12:12 PM CT :: 3 Comments

The Flipping Point Calculation

On the electoral table (as well as on the state graphs) I've added a flip percent column that lists the probability of a given state anointing the minority party of 2004 the 2008 victor. For example Bush won Iowa in 2004, but now the algorithm says there is a 99.75 percent chance of Iowa flipping into the Obama column for the 2008 Election. The probability is calculated using a Cumulative Distribution Function (CDF). The CDF computation begins with the most recent Local Regression result for the minority party of 2004 and the variance of that result; the algorithm then outputs the percent chance of the minority party of 2004 receiving the majority vote in 2008. The majority vote is calculated by adding the most recent Local Regression values for McCain and Obama and dividing by two.

In some cases where a state has just a single valid poll, the result incurs a zero divided by zero error; when this happens the output is normalized to be 0. Washington DC has no polls, thus making calculations difficult; to account for this I assume that DC will be a very large victory for the Democrats (as it has historically) and in turn a zero percent chance of flipping.

Published on August 12nd at 11:20 AM CT :: 0 Comments

Graphs About Oil

As news of Iraq's oil inducing monetary surplus enters the main stream I thought I'd take some time to reflect, or rather research the history of Iraq's oil business. The publicly available data acquired dates to February of 1996, the start of Bill Clinton's second term. The amount of barrels imported from Iraq during the Clinton years slowly grew before leveling out at around the 22,500 thousand barrel level with a monthly max of 28,580 in October of 1999. With the changing of the guard, Iraqi exports remained roughly steady with the USA under the new Bush Administration until September of 2001. The graph below shows a large spike corresponding to September 2001 as it also marks the highest monthly total on record. Source: Energy Information Administration

Could other factors cause such a coincidence, perhaps the age old economic mantra of supply and demand played a role. The next graph shows the petroleum production of OPEC and Iraq; the purpose of this graph is to illustrate that supply did not change in the months leading up to September 2001, yet demand did based on the first graph's large increase during the same time frame. I looked for figures related to petroleum reserves citing perhaps a methodical buildup by OPEC, but the data pertaining to this figures was not collected before 2003; which in itself is fascinating. Source: Energy Information Administration

Now for the graph that begs the question: Why did Iraqi oil exports to the USA drastically increase after the September 11th attacks and then again before the start of the Iraq War? I have no idea what the answer to this question is but there is little evidence to support pure happenstance. I can think of theories but nothing concrete.Source: Energy Information Administration

The next graph has nothing to do with Iraq, but rather Iran. The same Iran McCain preaches about in his energy policy. The data clearly paints a picture though; Iran really has nothing to do with our dependence on foreign oil because the USA has never depended on Iran for oil.

U.S. sanctions against Iran due to Iran's historic support for international terrorism and its actions against non-belligerent shipping in the Persian Gulf impact the development of its petroleum sector. According to the Iran Transactions Regulations, administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), U.S. persons may not directly or indirectly trade, finance, or facilitate any goods, services or technology going to or from Iran, including goods, services or technology that would benefit the Iranian oil industry. U.S. persons are also prohibited from entering into or approving any contract that includes the supervision, management or financing of the development of petroleum resources located in Iran.

Source: Energy Information Administration [Updated: Oct 2007]

This quote from the EIA pretty much says all that needs to be said. The USA has imported no crude oil or for that matter any other petroleum product from Iran since at least 1993, the first year our data source (EIA) began reporting this data. Source: Energy Information Administration

Published on August 6th at 11:00 PM CT :: 0 Comments

The Diminishing Effect of Cellphones

The key demographic of 2008 election is undoubtedly the youth vote; but is the youth vote represented in the current polling figures. It appears the answer may be tied to the inclusion or exclusion of cellphone sampling; younger adults are more likely to be overlooked by landline sampling due to their higher adoption rate of cellular phones. The inclusion or exclusion of cellphones from the sampling model does however vary by pollster. I looked through our polls and picked the four most prominent institutes: SurveyUSA, Rasmussen, Gallup and Quinnipiac University to delve deeper into their polling methodologies.

The results surprised me. Perhaps the most interesting item of note comes directly from the original report on the cellphone effect published by Pew Research. In the first line of the report it states that "Pollsters are continuing to monitor changes in telephone use by the U.S. public, since most surveys are still conducted using only landline telephones." That is just not the case; of the four main pollsters they all appear to incorporate a random digit dialing process that would insure the inclusion of cellphones into the sample. But that's not even the best part, Pew Research goes on to cite Survey Sampling, Incorporated as their data provider; the very same sample provider that SurveyUSA uses. To further the point, I've listed direct quotes from the four pollsters explicitly identifying their use of random phone numbers; this of course is contrary to the Pew report which appears to have neglected the research part.

SurveyUSA:
"We do know that Survey Sampling, Inc., of Fairfield CT, is the largest and most respected provider of 'random sample' to opinion research companies."

Rasmussen:
"Calls are placed to randomly-selected phone numbers through a process that insures appropriate geographic representation."

Gallup:
"Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only)."

Quinnipiac University:
"Professionally trained students and non-students conduct the interviews using a CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing system). For a typical public opinion survey a randomly-selected sample of about 1,000 adults aged 18 and over are interviewed over a 5-6 day period."

Published on August 5th at 11:35 AM CT :: 0 Comments

McCain's Energy Plan of Fear

Our nation's future security and prosperity depends on the next President making the hard choices that will break our nation's strategic dependence on foreign sources of energy and will ensure our economic prosperity by meeting tomorrow's demands for a clean portfolio. John McCain has made the necessary choices - producing more power, pushing technology to help free our transportation sector from its use of foreign oil, cleaning up our air and addressing climate change, and ensuring that Americans have dependable energy sources. John McCain will lead the effort to develop advanced transportation technologies and alternative fuels to promote energy independence and cut off the flow of oil wealth to repressive dictatorships like Iran.

Source: John McCain For President

This quote from John McCain's Campaign Website sounds great, except for one glaring detail: the USA doesn't import oil from Iran, not a single drop according to the US Energy Information Administration and should therefore not be included in a paragraph about eliminating foreign oil dependence. [Source: 1, 2] On the first link you may have to do a little math to arrive at the 'USA does not import oil from Iran' position; and pay close attention to the starred notes at the bottom of the table, but the second link should be crystal clear. Combined the facts speak for themselves regardless of whether or not John McCain blatantly misleads in the introduction paragraph of the 'American Energy' page on his website.

I originally started reading McCain's energy plan after reading another article on tire gauges the McCain campaign was distributing with "Obama's Energy Plan" printed on the side. The intent, I guess, was to highlight the fact that Obama told people they could get better gas mileage with more fully inflated tires and to insinuate that inflating tires is the extent of Obama's plan. So I said, lets just say that is the extent of Obama's plan (it's not) , does John McCain actually offer anything better. Well the truth is I didn't get past the first paragraph of John McCain's plan so I can't answer that, but what I can tell you is that John McCain has conjured false fears in portraying his energy plan.

Iran ranks fourth in international oil exports, with the top five recipients in the order listed: Japan, China, India, South Korea and Italy. The point, well to eliminate the "flow of oil wealth to repressive dictatorships like Iran" the USA, or another country would either have to replace the petroleum exports to those counties, which the USA is incapable of doing, (Canada possibly could in the future, as it ranks second in proven reserves) or export some yet unknown technology that will entirely replace the need for oil. I'll then ask this rhetorical question, why do people have a need for oil: cars. The answer to the oil crisis is electrical cars; the problems: electricity is produced by oil, and cars can't currently run on electricity. The solution would be to allocate trillions and trillions of dollars into research (and no, a $300 million prize isn't going to cut it) to produce electric cars that could then be exported to nations currently reliant on petroleum, combined with an investment in alternative electrical generation technology that could be implemented abroad; thus "repressive dictatorships like Iran" would be eliminated.

The inherit idea in the preamble of McCain's energy plan revolves around the need to eliminate "repressive dictatorships like Iran" through a better energy plan, but when this conclusion is carried to its logical end, (as detailed in the preceding paragraph) McCain's energy policy lies miles away from its presented objective. Therefore either McCain's plan is terrible or his objective is terrible; or his objective is intentionally designed to misled and incite fear. So the question then Senator McCain, how does misinformation lead to solutions, or is nuclear energy the answer to everything?

Published on August 4th at 1:46 PM CT :: 0 Comments

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