Bored With Polls

Nate SilverThis is just getting boring. Like all good liberals, I check Nate Silver’s blog several times a day. (It’s a Good Liberal Club rule!) But now it is just getting predictable. Let’s think about this for a moment.

It must suck being Mitt Romney. Here you are working your campaign strategy of never answering questions. And: bam! This hurricane comes along and makes President Obama look heroic and now your surrogate Chris Christie seems to have a man crush on the President. Damn! And you know Romney was on non-message:

The 9 Ohio polls of the last 4 days all show Obama winning the state—except for the Rasmussen poll, which is kind of like your mother picking you for her basketball team.

But frankly, I don’t give a shit about Romney. He has already had far, far more happiness than he deserves in life. So any pain he gets is good for the universe. The problem is that I’m a little deficient in the happiness race. I’d like to get a little back from the universe. But I’m sure not getting there via the Good Liberal Club and Nate Silver. It’s become de rigueur.

The fabulous Nate Silver [Yawn!] has increased President Obama’s chances of winning re-election to 78.4% with a predicted electoral college total of 299.7. But that’s not all. The most likely electoral college total is 332 votes—there is more than a 17% chance of this being the number of electoral votes he gets. You know what they call that? A landslide. [Yawn!]

There’s never a good first presidential debate when you need it!

Update (1 November 2012 9:48 am)

Our good friend Will wrote to Garrett Haake with the subject, “saw you mentioned on FranklyCurious blog site.” (Thanks Will!)

Is it true that Romney is not taking any reporters questions?

What are members of the Press Corp saying about this to each other and their employers?

Haake, who uses a BlackBerry, wrote back:

It’s true. Not since Oct. 10. It’s frustrating and we complain about it regularly.

Econ4 Explains the Economy

For some reason, people think I know about economics. I kind of do. Mostly, it is just that I read really smart people like Dean Baker. The group Econ4 (4 people, 4 the planet, 4 the future) is attacking the problem of our national crisis in economic thinking. Here is their video. It pretty much is completely in line with the way the economy really does work. It’s 12 minutes long. It’s well worth that time.


The video strikes a blow against all the bad guys, but it also attacks President Obama. Everyone knows that the President is not perfect. This is a good example of important places where the President has been dead wrong. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. If we force him, he will do that right thing.

Sandy to Rescue Our Economy—a Little

Tom LeeThe economy is crazy. The stock market is even more so.

Tom Lee of JP Morgan told CNBC that Hurricanes are normally good for the stock market. How can that be? After all, hurricanes cause some much damage; wouldn’t that mean that the economy has less value? In a fundamental sense, no. True, capital is destroyed. But in a depressed economy like ours, there is a lot of money that is sitting around idle. A big natural disaster makes use of that money. People have to rebuild. They spend cash reserves (their own or by borrowing). And this causes business activity. It stimulates the economy. And you know what that means: jobs! Not that the Wall Street types give a rat’s ass about that.

Lee said:

[I]f we look at markets in 2005, there was an initial sell-off, but markets really started gaining traction as people started to see past the short-term effects and started to see the lift coming from spending.

This is at its base a Keynesian idea. And everyone understands this stuff. It frustrates me greatly. When conservatives are in power, they are huge Keynesians; but when they aren’t in power, they claim it is some kind of communist plot.

Of course, hurricanes are bad. People die. Property is lost. Keynesian spending should be performed by the government on good stuff like education and roads and new technologies. But now that we’ve had Sandy, it is nice that some good will come of it.

Undecideds Unlikely to Affect Presidential Race

Undecided VoterDan Hopkins at The Monkey Cage takes the idea of polling bias for independents more seriously than I do: Polling Biases and Their Potential Impacts. This is in reference to Jay Cost’s claim that the independents are going to break hard for Romney.

Frankly, I don’t see the problem. Over half of all independents are just Democrats (24%) or Republicans (32%). And my experience is that Republicans who call themselves “independent” normally do so because they are more conservative than their party. At this point, all of these people know how they are going to vote. “Independent” does not mean “undecided.”

Let’s do a little calculation, shall we? Let’s look at Ohio where Obama is leading in the poll average by 48.5% to Romney’s 45.8%. I’m going to assume that the makeup of the undecideds is the same as the make up of the independents. This is the best case scenario for Romney. That leaves 5.7% of the electorate undecided. Let’s assume that the Democrats will vote for Obama and the Republicans will vote for Romney. That will add 1.4 and 1.8 percentage points to the two candidates. This makes the race 49.9% (Obama) to 47.6% (Romney).

Let’s further assume that the remaining (true independents) will break as the partisans did: 51.2% for Obama and 48.8% for Romney. This gives an additional 1.3 and 1.2 percentage points. Thus, Obama should win Ohio 51.2% to 48.8%. (Note: the numbers are almost identical to the numbers before we added the true independents because they split so evenly.) This gives Romney an extra 0.3 percentage points over the total he gets from the poll average.

In order to win 50.0% of Ohio, Romney would have to win 74% of the undecideds. That isn’t reasonable given what we know about the electorate.

I did this calculation to show that Romney is not secretly winning in the polls. The kinds of tricks proposed by Jay Cost and his colleagues could also be used to make Obama look better. We could claim that the polls are under-representing who will actually vote. In the end, the polls only give us a decent idea of who will actually vote and how they will vote. At this point, I’m going to believe the polls. The Weekly Standard folk can use the next week to complain. And then we’ll see who was right.