What If It’s the OTHER Reality?

Though I’ve made my view of the electoral situation pretty clear, I’m well aware that Tuesday’s election will be damned close. I’m well aware that as encouraging as Nate Silver’s model/conclusions are, he still predicts that Romney would win one or two out of every ten elections (were we able to run the trial multiple times). Some (I wish I could write “many”) conservatives are also undoubtedly preparing to come out on the wrong side of a very thin electoral margin.

Here’s what’s weird: despite the statistical proximity of the two possible outcomes, the two sides are living in wildly different realities. In part, this is because each side has taken at least one turn at believing that they’d cakewalk away with the presidency this Tuesday.

Michael Tomasky reflected on the competing realities situation this morning. He writes:

What’s the state of mind this weekend of the conservative outrage machine? With regard to liberals, I think it’s fair to say as of Saturday that most of us (excepting your allowed-for percentage of nervous nellies) expect Barack Obama to win. If he somehow doesn’t, we’ll be surprised and deeply depressed. But provided the outcome doesn’t involve some kind of Florida-style shenanigans, in a couple days’ time, we’ll come to terms with it. Meanwhile–conservatives? I think that they are certain that Mitt Romney will winand that all information to the contrary is a pack of lies; that they will be completely shocked and outraged if he doesn’t; that, if he loses, it will be the inevitable product of foul play; and that therefore they’ll immediately start scouring the landscape looking for parties to blame and will keep themselves in a state suspended agitation for…days, weeks, four years, forever.

There’s no doubt that one of the United States’ partisan bases is in for a devastating blow—a foundational shock to their worldview. One side’s going to have to come to terms with the fact that they have substantially misread the country.

Seriously. Most of the campaign fights at this point have left policy—and even personal questions—far behind. Instead, partisans are sniping over who really has a clear view of the electorate. They’re arguing over who sees clearly…and that means that someone’s going to be proven wrong. In some cases they’ll be dramatically wrong (paging Ed Gillespie, Dick Morris, etc).

And since few partisans—Nate Silver is a laudable exception to this rule—have tried to keep their predictions close to the vest, they’ll need to pass the buck. HOW did the other team, the nefarious or un-American or women-hating or corporation-loving or marriage-destroying running dogs manage to win the thing? How is it that the team who supposedly “skewed” the data happened to be right, erm, correct?

Which brings me to a question for the commenters: If your side falls short of the presidency on Tuesday, what reasons will you give? How will you explain what happened?

Two proposed guidelines (which I won’t actively enforce, given my aversion to interfering with the comment box):

1) Stick to explaining your own side’s potential loss. It’s easy to lampoon your opponents’ weirdest myths (etc), but that’s ultimately a troll’s errand.
2) Offer your own reasons for your side’s loss—but also provide cover for the fringe.

Example: I happen to think that an Obama loss is evidence that the Democratic Party hasn’t quite worked out a rhetorical alternative to Reaganomics that can hit the Rust Belt’s heartstrings AND address globalization’s realities (though they’ve improved). However, I think the far Left will aim straight for voting procedure conspiracies. They’ll blame skewed voting machines and voter suppression—especially in Ohio.


Conor P. Williams is unreasonably excited for Election Night. For more, find him on Facebook or Twitter. Here’s his email. Here are his credentials.

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357 thoughts on “What If It’s the OTHER Reality?

  1. This is one of those times I feel like an alien. I don’t know how you can look at these polls and derive with such certainty that your guy is winning that the opposite result shakes your foundation.

    Further, the election results are likely to be sufficiently close that it would be foolish to look at these results – win or lose – without looking sharply at what you can do to increase your voteshare. I mean, in 2008, Obama’s victory was so comfortable that they might have had reason to believe that they had a solid and winnable coalition. In the likely event he wins this time, the Democrats still need to be asking themselves hard questions. If Romney pulls out a victory, Republicans need to be doing the same. (Their victory in 2004, which was likely larger than the margin this year will be, was taken by the Republicans to believe that they had a 51/49 nation. Subsequent events reveal what a weak foundation that is. McCain would have lost with or without the economic meltdown.)

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  2. Pretty simple, from the Democratic / Liberal perspective. We’ll blame ourselves for the same reasons we blamed ourselves for the 2010 beating we took.

    1. Reckless promises. Big problem for us. If we could get some bipartisan agreement, even half a loaf, we could keep the majority of our promises. Sorta difficult to explain away GOP intransigence, even if it’s the actual reason for why we can’t keep those promises.

    2. Intramural bickering. The GOP has done a good job of staying on message. Democrats haven’t. Look at the way Obamacare got passed: we ended up having to give that filthy hog Dorgan a big exemption and that’s not the only disgusting dingleberry hanging from the ass-end of such far-reaching legislation.

    3. Philosophical resignation. The nation calls upon the Democrats to clean up after the GOP’s binges. We pick up the broken glass and wet-vac the vomit out of the carpets and when our job is done, it’s time for the GOP to have another big party.

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  3. At this point I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if Romney won. Nate Silver’s model has been based on state polling. As of today state polling is no longer looking good for Obama, with Romney actually ahead one point in Michigan and Pennsylvania looking very close.

    If Romney does win, my explanation will be that the first debate gave him a chance to make himself seem a lot less ridiculous than his nonsensical policies (cut taxes, increase military spending, but reduce the deficit; offend any country we don’t like on principle) and constant flip-flopping make him. Obama had things pretty much settled before that. Which is kind of sad; if he loses because of those few hours on TV, he’ll spend the rest of his life kicking himself over it.

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    • Just for the record, there is one poll from Friday that shows Romney ahead by one in Michigan. A Rasmussen poll from Thursday has Obama +5, and a PPP poll from yesterday has Obama +6. The average of these polls (including the one that shows Romney up by 1) is O+3.3, which is very close to the RCP average of O+3.8. It’s one wild leap from this data to “Romney is ahead in Michigan.”

      Pennsylvania is close? There is, again, one recent poll that shows the race tied. That poll is by Tribune-Review/Susquehanna. For context, their last poll showed Obama only up two prior to the first debate. No other poll at that time showed a margin of less than six, and most had the lead around 9-1o at that time. If you look at the RCP history of polls, the only poll in 2012 that showed Romney ahead in PA was by (you guessed it) Tribune-Review/Susquehanna. No other poll in the last four weeks, including two released since the T-R/S poll, has the margin less than O+3 (the two more recent polls show O+3 and O+6).

      You can look this stuff up. I did.

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  4. Given what happened after the debate in which one or another candidate lost, I predict:

    a) If my side wins: gloating, claims of mandate, mockery of the other side. half-hearted “make me look good” pleas to put the most venomous election in U.S. history aside and work together.

    b) If my side loses: bitterness, claims of race/class warfare, self-reassurance posts, stiffening of resolve to never reach across the aisle

    c) If either side wins: discussions of where the electoral college failed, embittered notions that the Union is a poor investment and the Soviets had the right idea in 1989-1991, a vaguely uneasy feeling that we elected our President with memes rather than policy, sinking disappointment with ourselves for treating this election with all the seriousness that we treat “Lindsey Lohan is drunk” stories, feelings of failure for proving that all the stuff we say to kids about honesty, fair play, and getting along with others is a load of crap that we just say.

    d) a third party wins: … I’d have to rethink math itself.

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  5. No Obama doesn’t win, I think I’d go to the exit polls first off. If the exit polls are consistent with the final vote counts, then everything’s hunky dorry. If not, then we’ve got another one of those very intriguing situations where the established reliability of exit polls and pre-elections polls are contradicted by election day voting behavior. (I still haven’t heard a good explanation of how the pre-election and post-election exit polling were so radically off in Florida and Ohio among other states in previous elections…. puzzling, is what it is.)

    So, if Romney wins, and all the available data is consistent with that, then I’d have to say it was a lack of GOTV on the part of Dems coupled with the media blitz of the GOP.

    {{I apologize for this sounding so conspiratorial, but that’s where I’m at on it.)

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  6. If Romney loses it will just establish what conservatives already knew in their hearts, that half the American population is of below-average intelligence.

    There, this thread is much better now. ^_^

    Actually I never liked Romney as a candidate, probably for the same reflexive reasons most people don’t. The look, the history, gravitas, etc. He comes off like a the world’s greatest vacuum cleaner salesman. But Chris Christie wasn’t ready to jump in, Jeb Bush stayed out, W can’t run again, the Bush daughters are too young, Richard Nixon didn’t have a son, John Bolton’s mustache wanted to stay out of the fray, Tom Selleck’s mustache got shaved off, and Bruce Willis was tied up with “A Good Day to Die Hard”, so here we are.

    Given the fundamentals of the economy, the unemployment rate, the doubling of the gap between white net worth and black net worth, my orange cat should crush Obama in a one-to-one contest, but I couldn’t get her on the ticket. That’s unfortunate, because I think she’s someone American’s could rally behind and her vacations would never go further than the Rose Garden.

    So this is an election of missed opportunities.

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    • The GOP never misses a chance to miss a chance. It’s not like they don’t have viable candidates. But their vetting process always ensures the dumbest among them gets the nod.

      Look at Grimace McCrankypants. Bomb, bomb Iran. And before him, Bush the Dumber. Well, times were good and as I’ve said, the country was going apeshit and jollifying itself and generally building up for the Deregulatory Megachoke of 2008. But we can’t blame that on the Republicans, oh no. That’s out of bounds. Likewise the War on Iraq and the Mushroom Clouds of Mass Destruction Saddam was sposta be threat’ning us with, etc. None of that matters. The Dumbocrats were sposta clean all that up in jig time, without any help from the people who made that mess.

      So, true to form, the GOP has given its imprimatur to that reptile Romney, who’s so desperate to get elected it’s painful to watch. That bozo would say anything to anyone. And as with Bush the Dumber, a good many people just will go on believing such nonsense.

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    • “If Romney loses it will just establish what conservatives already knew in their hearts, that half the American population is of below-average intelligence.”

      Just look at your comment: “I don’t like Romney, but he’s not Obama, and I hate Obama because of GOP, GOP and GOP.” Not exactly a sign of brilliance, ya know.

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  7. 2008 was an election where had the Republicans would have lost had they nominated Zombie Reagan with his running mate Zombie Eisenhower (or vice-versa).

    This election is not like 2008.

    It is, however, like 2004… that is, the president *IS* beatable. While he’s done some things that are wildly popular with the mushy middle of his base, he’s done some things to tick off the crazy people at the fringe and a handful of things to tick off “undecided voters”… and, more importantly, just been the guy ostensibly in charge of the country when some ugly stuff happened that would have happened no matter who was in charge.

    The big mistake the Democrats made back in 2004 was to turn the election into a referrendum on Iraq and *SOMEBODY* decided that the best way to attack Bush would be to call him a draft dodger and bring this trait out into the fore by nominating John Freaking Kerry as their Vietnam Veteran Presidential Nominee. (I’ve said before, I’ll say again, Gephardt or Dean or both would have won all of the states that Kerry won and, on top of that, we’d be able to have discussions about Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, and Iowa).

    Anyway, in a weird piece of synchronicity, the Republicans have decided to run a fairly unlikable North-Easterner to see if they have any better luck.

    Despite some efforts to go a different direction, the election feels like a referendum on Obama more than anything else. So… my predictions for either side:

    If the Republicans win, Democrats will explain that it’s because of racism of the American People re-manifesting itself. It’ll be because Republicans successfully suppressed the vote. It’ll be because of the homophobic backlash against Obama’s support for gay marriage. It’ll be because the American People never truly understood the PPACA. The arguments will swing outward and if there is acknowledgment of anything like how disspiriting some people find drone attacks or dispensary raids, the arguments will blame the people for not liking these things to the point where they just didn’t vote (“what? did those stupidheads think that Romney would be better on marijuana???”)

    If Democrats win, Republicans will explain that it’s because Romney was such a liberal candidate, did so many socially liberal things as governor that the evangelicals didn’t trust him to be good on abortion nor protecting traditional family values. He never connected with the tea parties despite Ryan. He never connected with hawks and/or military families either. Romney failed to make people want to “Vote For Romney”… he merely was the other option when people didn’t want to vote for Obama. “They were calling *ROMNEY* an extreme conservative! ROMNEY!!!! If we’re going to be tarred with that brush even when we nominate someone as squishy and centrist as ROMNEY, we’d be better off just nominating Jeb Bush in 2016!!!!” There will be no mention of the Republican Senators who kept popping up yelling about rape and abortion. There will be no mention of the country’s tentative support of gay marriage.

    Short version: Democrats will blame The American People if they lose, Republicans will blame Romney… but both will be wrong because both parties seem to be trying their damnedest to lose.

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        • Pre-9/11, I was sure he was a one-termer. Post-9/11, I was sure that he would be bulletproof come election day… and that waned until I saw that Kerry was nominated.

          The day after the election, however, I said that the Democrats have 2008 sewn up. Hell, they have 2006 sewn up.

          So I’ll say this: barring something about the size of 9/11, the party that wins this election will not win the next one.

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          • I’m not sure about that. If ROmney wins, I think he might get back in. The economy will get better, and that’s the biggest thing. But he might pass some compromise legislation with Dems (cuz that’s the only type of legislation that can be passed!) that tilts things enough into the middle that come 0-16′ that he’s in a pretty good political as well as policy place. It’s not impossible. Of course, if he lets the TP faction of the GOP run roughshod over the legislative process, then nothing is gonna get done, and that’ll make him look like a stooge.

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        • If Obama wins, I expect a sharp uptick in the use of the word “secession” by the far right. And, of course, the ensuing increase in the use of the phrase “let them go” by the far left. While I’m of the opinion that the US will not remain intact for more than another 50 years (yes, I know that puts me out on a lunatic fringe), the fact that the red/blue split is actually a rural/urban split makes a split along current red state/blue state lines unworkable.

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          • No offense taken but largely out of curiosity:

            1. Why do you think the U.S. will break up within 50 years?

            2. Based on your urban/rural observation, how do you think the break-up will proceed?

            3. Will there be brief periods of joining together for “old-times sake”?

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            • I see it as an east/west split, with the 11 contiguous western states leaving (and the East willing to let them go). A largely deserted Great Plains — a long-term and now accelerating trend — provides a 500-mile wide buffer between the two parts. Energy is one of the main contributors. Long-haul transportation will have been reduced significantly. Electricity supplies will be the final straw. The East has to address some serious problems that the West doesn’t (or at least not to the same degree). In 2010 75% of generation in the Eastern Interconnect was from aging nukes and coal (EIA numbers for 2011 should be available this month). Eastern renewable resources are significantly worse in quality and quantity than western renewables. There are a number of issues that pull the West together because they’re just different than the East: federal land holdings, water, fire…

              Or alternatively, just consider where the two populations are focused in an energy-constrained future. The natural anchor for the 11 western states is California. The anchor for 36 of the other contiguous states is the BosWash urban corridor. And Texas is its own thing. The advertising slogan “It’s like a whole ‘nother country” may come true.

              In its entirety, it’s a long complicated story. I’m working on a book.

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              • Why would California leave? And in 50 years, Texas will be majority minority — as it is, Texas has some very blue cities and it’s only gonna spread. (We do apologize for exporting the crazy. Especially Tom Delay. We apologize).

                The South is really the outlier, in terms of not fitting in with the rest of the country. In the traditional red/blue colors — the NE is blue, the west coast is blue, the south is deep red, and everywhere else is pretty purple.

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                • Texas’ major cities are almost all blue: Houston, Dallas in the city, El Paso, Austin, San Antonio. The only real outlier is Fort Worth.

                  Texas’ Republicans, recognizing the demographic trends, set things up so that when the demographics begin to really shift, they’ll still be able to maintain dominance for a while based on the way the districts are drawn. But it’s only a matter of time before the GOP either makes real inroads with the state’s Hispanic population or begins to lose the state. I assume it will make some inroads, and lose the state by a bit. If the Democrats have Texas, the electoral math becomes really tricky for Republicans.

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                  • There’s a reason a lot of people have been saying this is the last election the GOP has a shot at winning based on just the white vote.

                    There’s a lot of tipping points built into the GOP coalition, but I think that’s sorta part of being conservative in the old sense — you’re slow to change, even when the world changes around you. (There are good and bad things to that).

                    Anti-gay animus has to go, or you’ll lose the young of any color. Immigration issues have to be massively tempered, because hispanics are a growing block of voters.

                    On the bright side, I doubt hippy punching will ever grow old. :)

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      • Some people have a problem with “taxachussetts”.
        AFAIK, Romney’s not really a northeastern guy (no more than Ford would have been from the Midatlantic). Call him from Michigan, call him from Utah. Either’s more accurate.

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  8. As for the polls, the whole hubbub is about how to weight them, how many Dems there are. 2008 was D+12 acc to Gallup, now it could be even.*

    In answer to your question about this particular election, Conor, I think Obama’s on a pass, sorry. I like Mitt, a B+ candidate. But I don’t think Ronald Hisself Reagan would do much better against The Mule, a freak of nature and demographics, and not another one in sight. His re-election would signify Not Much–especially if he’s cost his party 12 points in the party preference column since 2008. Frinstance, Congress will likely look similar to 2010, which was very good to the GOP.

    _______
    *The largest changes in the composition of the electorate compared with the last presidential election concern the partisan affiliation of voters. Currently, 46% of likely voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with 54% in 2008. But in 2008, Democrats enjoyed a wide 12-point advantage in party affiliation among national adults, the largest Gallup had seen in at least two decades. More recently, Americans have been about as likely to identify as or lean Republican as to identify as or lean Democratic. Consequently, the electorate has also become less Democratic and more Republican in its political orientation than in 2008. In fact, the party composition of the electorate this year looks more similar to the electorate in 2004 than 2008.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/158399/2012-electorate-looks-like-2008.aspx

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    • Not interested in litigating the accuracy of polls in this thread. That’s been done ad nauseum—indeed, the ambiguity there is precisely what makes this OP possible. If you’re interested in that, maybe check these Very Serious People at Princeton whose professional reputations largely depend on correctly judging the polls:

      http://election.princeton.edu/2012/11/04/comparisons-among-aggregators-and-modelers/

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        • If you can find a fellow interlocutor, go for it. I’m not him/her.

          Meanwhile, the premise of this post is that there are a number of partisans on each side who are convinced that their guy is likely to win by a substantial margin. One side is going to find out that they’re wrong. That will require them to come up with some sort of explanation for how their polls were so wrong.

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          • Yes, and you were given the rationale from the red side, Conor. Peace.

            One might also note that McCain’s loss wasn’t particularly mourned on the right. There was a general acknowledgement the GOP had it coming. This time is different though. The only explanation would lie in the 47% theory or as GBS put it

            “A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul
            can be assured of the support of Paul.”

            Me, I just might say screw it and join the 47% meself.

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            • You don’t have the strength of character to be in that group – soldiers fighting on the line; people who slaved all their lives working in tough jobs (even two jobs) and now are retired; and people currently slaving at low to min wage jobs with no benefits or any paid leave and are forced to work unpaid overtime – these make up most of the 47%. That’s right, you have the delusion that it is all welfare ‘steak’ eating black males? Wrong again – most people on welfare are white CHILDREN; try learning facts instead of the propaganda that you are spoon feed by your 0.01% betters.

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        • It’s not denying statistics, it’s more fundamental. If you called every single person in the land and asked them how they’d vote, there’s no statistics involved at all, just simple counting. You’re still not going to get more than 4% accuracy because people aren’t that accurate in predicting their own behavior, and they act more like crowds than ideal gases, which is why you can choose any poll you want and watch the graph swing up and down and up and down like an audio waveform, based on spontaneous events like funny tweets or a bizarre news item.

          Things like Nate Silver’s analysis is amusing because it’s like a meteorologist saying there’s a 72.935% chance of rain, and yet weather forecasts aren’t trying to predict fleeting and transitory opinions, they’re trying to predict the outcome of an application of the laws of physics.

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          • Except that the track record of pre-polling and exit-polling had been an indisputable and unquestioned indicator of election results until … recently.

            Why are they suddenly so unreliable? Reliable even outside the margin of error?

            I think that’s the question that even Yoda couldn’t answer.

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            • Ah, sorry to stick reality in here again, but –

              “Nate Silver’s 2010 track record:
              He correctly predicted 34/36 Senate seats whose outcomes were resolved by November 4, 2010
              He predicted a net gain of 54 seats in the House for Republicans (the House actually gained 63 Republicans)
              Nate correctly predicted the outcome in 36 of 37 gubernatorial elections

              Importantly, even the elections that Nate got wrong were with in his published margins of error — i.e., the candidate was projected to get 50.5% of the vote +/- 1.5%, but got 49.5%; it’s technically ‘wrong’ (wrong candidate won), but still a very good prediction. Really, the best measure of Silver’s accuracy would be to compare how often reality fell within his margin of error bars; better yet, how often reality fell within his error margins compared to others.”

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            • “Nate Silver’s 2010 track record:
              He correctly predicted 34/36 Senate seats whose outcomes were resolved by November 4, 2010

              Anybody here could successfully predict all but a few Senate races, because only a few Senate races are ever in much doubt. ”

              Feinstein wins. McConnell wins. *zips through about thirty races where everyone of us predicts exactly the same outcome*

              If we had a pool, the biggest loser would get 32 of 36 right and the winner would get 36 of 36, 35 of 36 at the outside. Basically, we’d only be guessing on about six of the 36 races, and the monkey score on six guesses is 3, so 33/36 is the score to beat – a monkey.

              There’s an old saying. “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, blind them with BS.”

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              • Pretty much, George. This guy duplicated Silver’s formula with a few bucks worth of software.

                [T]he FiveThirtyEight model is a complete slave to state polls. When state polls are accurate, FiveThirtyEight looks amazing. But when state polls are incorrect, FiveThirtyEight does quite poorly. That’s why my very simple model and Silver’s very fancy model produce remarkably similar results — they rely on the same data. Garbage in, garbage out.

                So what happens if state polls are incorrect?

                In 2008, the RealClearPolitics polling average was incorrect in two states — Indiana and North Carolina. Silver botched Indiana but correctly called North Carolina.

                In 2010, it was much worse. State polling averages were wrong in Alaska (they said Joe Miller would be elected), wrong in Colorado (they said Ken Buck would be elected), and embarrassingly wrong in Nevada (they said Harry Reid would be involuntarily retired). FiveThirtyEight incorrectly forecast the winner in each of those states, perfectly reflecting the inaccurate information contained in the state polls.

                Thus, of the five major state races in which polls were wrong over the last four years, Silver only got one right. I’m no baseball scout, but batting .200 when it counts won’t get you into the big leagues, let alone the All-Star game.

                Silver has made a big deal this election cycle about how state polls are generally more accurate at forecasting the winner of the Electoral College and the popular vote than are national polls. That may well be true, although a Monte Carlo simulation of the final week’s worth of Florida polls in 2000 suggests otherwise…[blockquote]

                Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/01/is-nate-silvers-value-at-risk/#ixzz2BJO6MAcs

                See also

                http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/11/04/tarnished-silver-assessing-the-new-king-of-stats/

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                • Darndest thing.

                  The first article you link to mention’s Taleb’s ‘The Black Swan’, and I’ll be darned if I haven’t been thinking about his work on uncertainty the whole time I’ve been watching people squabble over polling models.

                  Naturally, US elections are not black swan events. They are, however, moving systems with a lot of parts. We should never be surprised when a model that has been designed to backcast fails to accurately forecast the behaviour of such a system.

                  Doesn’t mean Obama is going to lose, of course, or that this uncertainty should make Republicans feel comfortable about their chances. For all we know a larger than expected Obama victory is in the offing.

                  As a final point, anyone touting Silver’s infallibility should be aware of how badly he and 538 cocked up their prediction of the British election in 2010.

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              • Again – you appear to know little on this topic and seem to understand even less – Silver got the vote numbers within his error bars; either you or most anyone else could do that. Try learning what statistics means and how probabilities are calculated.

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            • Here’s the thing. It’s possible to argue that Silver overestimates Obama’s chances. But you are making bad arguments.

              (1) The fact that he relies heavily on state polls is no secret and no accident. They are usually right. Not always, but usually. Saying he does poorly in those few cases where the state polls are wrong … doesn’t tell us much.

              (2) A real critique of Silver needs to do one of two things, neither of which you do:
              (a) Point to another prediction method which does better on a consistent basis, or
              (b) Get down into the specifics of THIS election and talk about why you think the state level polls (and, increasingly, the national polls) are getting it wrong. And people have tried to do this, though the people doing in good faith have assigned Romney around a 40% chance of winning. But if you are going to make that argument, you need to … make that argument. Not just assert it without evidence.

              As for 2010, his Senate record isn’t evidence for or against his model IMO. It’s correct to say that 34/36 is not THAT impressive, given relatively few close races, but it isn’t evidence AGAINST his model either. And his house and governor results were, respectively, good and very good.

              IMO, even I was somewhat persuaded by some of the “state polls “biased” (int he statistical, not colloquial, sense). Until recently, with the national polls and some other polling factors lining up better with the state level data, I’m increasingly optimistic. But even if you buy the Silver model, yes, Romney still as a shot. Even if Silver is “right.”

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  9. If your side falls short of the presidency on Tuesday, what reasons will you give? How will you explain what happened?

    It’s clear; if Gary Johnson doesn’t win it will be the consequence of a vast conspiracy.

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  10. I’ll blame it on the vast right-wing conspiracy perpetuated on Real Americans™ by the corporate-owned main-stream media, undisclosed political contributions to political action committees only identified by a PO Box in Texas, the candidate wives wearing dresses instead of suits, and Nate Silver’s sexual preferences.

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          • Last night, my sweetie said something about the Walton family; I paraphrase, but something to the tune of, “7 people owning 40% of the nation’s wealth.’

            While I don’t know if this is fact, it’s probably enough to accurate, showing we already have Robber Barrons. And we SHOULD make fun of them.

            They can afford it.

            But the Koch brothers. It’s like the ’80’s all over again, but without the big hair.

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            • The robber barons were better than these foolz.
              The robber barons understood how to take risks, and what risks would mean to them and everyone else.
              Plus, they actually made their money.
              Since the 1970’s, the superrich have arisen. And they haven’t made their money, just sat on their asses paying someone else to manage their money. Breeds a certain sort of coward, kinda like Mitt Romney.

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  11. Wow, great post and great question. And – since I had readers dare me to revisit my early predictions if I ended up being wrong – it’s a question I might well have to answer in a post of its own in about 72 hours.

    That being said, if it turns out I’m wrong than there’s no question the fault will be mine and not the system’s. Much of my prediction was and has been based on my own assumption of group dynamics, which is this:

    If you’re a guy that is

    a. disliked by your party’s base,

    b. distrusted by your party’s base,

    c. embarrasses your party’s base, and

    d. won’t be mentioned by name to you party’s base by that base’s leaders two months before the election for fear they won’t vote/donate/volunteer, then I just don’t see how you can expect to win what is basically a national popularity contest.

    If he does win, then I obviously have to go back and revisit that assumption.

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  12. If Obama loses I don’t think there’s any great mysteries here.

    First, sober social scientists will tell you that he loses 4 to 5% right out the gate from his skin color. Note: this isn’t Republican racism; any that exist would be expected to vote R anyway. This is racist Democrats, particularly in some of the tighter states in Appalachia. A white version of Obama (says and does the same things, just in a different body) with a more “American” name would be a cake-walk.

    Second, advertising works and Citizens United has resulted in a metric butt-ton of money being spent by rich fucks to unseat him. Size of the effect? Dunno. Obama has raised and spent a lot, too, and there’s evidence that the swing states are over-saturated, but it has to count for something.

    Third, I agree with Stillwater. Polling is very well-developed science. These people really know what they’re doing and they have reputational reasons for very much wanting to get it right. Furthermore, they have very good track records in the last few election cycles. It’s very unlikely that there is any systematic, methodological bias. That being said a lot of these states are VERY close, within the error of margin. So if a consensus has Obama up by 1 or 2 points but the polls have an error of margin of 3 or 4, then it just means that it’s possible, though unlikely, that the true state of reality is a Romney win. With Obama sitting at about a 85% probability of winning, a Romney victory would be… suspicious. Not necessarily indicative of foul play, but worth a looky-see, and certainly fodder for conspiracy theories.

    My worst nightmare, and paradoxically fondest hope, is to see Obama win the EC and lose the popular vote. It might just spur some real movement toward electoral reforms.

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    • Just a quick note on the concept of being within the “margin of error.” Any one poll has a margin of error, usually around 3-3.5%. But when you start aggregating polls, the margin of error of the aggregate figure rapidly drops. For heavily polled states like FL, OH and VA, the margin of error is much less than 3-3.5%, likely around 1%. This is what Silver means when he indicates that, for Romney to win, we’ve reached the point that the only explanation is that all the polls are flawed, because there is no longer a mathematical overlap between the range of results if the the polls are accurate and “Romney wins.”

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      • As I said upthread, if you actually counted everyone and did a simple sum, you still probably couldn’t beat 4% accuracy because there’s that many people who honestly have no idea how they’re going to vote, and an unknown percentage who aren’t honest with pollsters or themselves, either about their choice or their likelihood to vote.

        The idea that you can aggregate polls that are 4% accurate compared to other polls and get a 1% accuracy for the actual voting, when an actual enumeration prior to voting wouldn’t be that accurate, is highly doubtful. It assumes that the only errors in the polling are sampling errors, and that’s not the case.

        Put another way, the polls usually predict an election to within a few percent. I’m saying that no matter how much you increase the coverage and sample size, polls probably can’t predict a national election closer than a few percent or so, because that’s the fundamental noise level, essentially set by dipwads whose voting habits are about as predictable as where a chicken will poop, no matter how many times you’ve ask them what they’ll do beforehand.

        Put another way, you can watch the aggregated tracking polls swing up a few percentage points up and down in a random fashion, you can’t reliably predict those swings because they’re based on unknown future events, weird things like the mood of a crowd or whether election days is sunny or rainy.

        What would be interesting is to actually measure the error rate inherent in a polling sample by somehow observing the voting-booth behavior of those who were polled to see how many of them voted in accordance with their recorded answers to the pollster. You could ask them afterwards, but you don’t know how many would lie to appear more consistent, or who wouldn’t honestly admit how they’re voting either before or after.

        That might put some bounds on the maximum achievable accuracy of any poll or aggregated polls, and might even provide some insights for further corrections.

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        • couldn’t beat 4% accuracy because there’s that many people who honestly have no idea how they’re going to vote, and an unknown percentage who aren’t honest with pollsters or themselves, either about their choice or their likelihood to vote.

          Isn’t this a wash?

          Unless you’re thinking that more people are are inclined to be undecided and/or lying about in voting on one particular direction rather that another?

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        • I’m thinking that in some cases it might cancel out, and in some cases it might not cancel out at all, because it might be as flaky as teens voting for American Idol contestants. Keep in mind that for many of late deciders, they actually are voting in a popularity contest using criteria we can hardly imagine.

          Is Obama’s nose cuter than Romneys? In the 2004 election Bush had a much cuter nose than John Kerry, whereas the McCain/Obama noses were pretty much a toss up. Romney has a pretty huge snoz, and that might hurt him certain demographics.

          One of my housemate’s frequent visitors watched all the debates with us, and we’re pretty sure he’s going to vote exactly the same way as the last person he talked to right before he walked into the polling booth. If it’s a cute girl in an Obama shirt he’ll vote for Obama. If it’s a guy in a Romney hat he’ll vote for Romney. He’s that flaky when it comes to politics. We talk to him all day. Not only do we not know which way he’ll eventually vote, we know that we can’t know which way he’ll vote because he doesn’t have a clue how he’ll vote, either, even when he claims he does. It’s like asking a 13-year old which cheerleader he’s sweet on.

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          • Doesn’t that essentially mean that he can be modeled as a coin toss and be factored out entirely? A collection of 10,000 people who flip back and fort at random should split the vote very evenly down the middle and not affect the outcome at all.

            What we’re looking for is an explanation of why this randomness would skew so strongly as to produce a 4% shift in one direction. That seems staggeringly unlikely to me. I can see a 4% error happening, but it would have to be sampling bias.

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  13. If Romney loses it will be because the election was rigged by Democrats. My model, which isn’t as famous as Silver’s model, but way more accurate and reliable, shows Romney winning by a landslide. There’s no way Obama can win without some serious cheating going on. So, if Obama wins, his presdiency will not be legitimate. We can all ignore him, even though we’ll have to allow him to serve his four years. It’s not like Presidents matter, according to Tod — they’re interchangeable doofuses. The only other explanations for an Obama win would be that people feel sorry for him because he looks so thin, ashen and weary, or, like Turner said, the spread of idiocy has reached majority proportions.

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  14. I’ll be voting for Gary Johnson, so if my side loses, it will be because of massive and unprecedented (since it has actually never happened anywhere) in-person voter fraud by the Democrats, and/or massive manipulation of the results by GOP rigged vote counting machines. Seriously- how else could you explain a loss by the former New Mexico governor since more people i know are voting for him than for anyone else?

    Of course, in reality, if Obama loses it will be because the economy still sucks; if Romney loses, it will be because he is Generic Republican at a time when a good chunk of folks outside the Deep South think (with good reason) that the GOP has lost it’s frickin’ mind.

    Whichever party loses of course will find a way of pretending the results are illegitimate.

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  15. I yield to no one in my rabid partisanship, but I am of the opinion that liberalism actually exists only as a very fragile coalition and could easily collapse.

    Plainly put, we have lost the white working class, and a good portion of the ethnic working class as well.

    My thesis is that by yielding to the logic of self-interest, or “rights” instead of “obligations” we-paradoxically- encourage people to vote against their own self interest, if only to preserve their tribal identity.

    Contrary to what many conservatives like to imagine, most peoples self interest does not lead them to loot the Treasury in a welfare orgy, but to play the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and cut their neighbor’s benefits, even if it leads to a long term loss for everyone.

    Community, kinship and altruism; patriotism, and self-sacrifice are incredibly difficult to construct and maintain. Liberals need to change the culture we live in, before we can build a governing majority.

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  16. If Obama loses (Khas vesholem!), it will be due to a number of factors:

    1) Ignorance. The belief that somehow, if he’d only tried harder, Obama could have made the economy better (but you can’t blame the bad economy on Bush because of some reason). The GOP, which just the year before was saying that the “Office of the President” has to be respected, regardless of who occupies it, now does everything it can to drag Obama down, including screwing over the economy, but hey, it’s not the Tea Party.

    2) Voter suppression. The laws that the GOP put in place, stating for the record that they were meant to be discriminatory, were voided very close to the election. There may not have been enough time to counter-act these provisions. These acts, combined with other acts of sabotage, may be enough to put Romney over the top.

    3) Tribalism. Folks like George will vote for Romney, HOPING that he presides from the center, but having no true basis in fact. Just because he’s not Obama, and Obama is bad because… well, he just IS, OK?

    The triumph of stupid and evil — men (almost always men) saying things they KNOW aren’t true, and the populace, too complacent to check (and with a media that feeds the complacency), voting based on ignorance.

    =================================

    I have not seen one word on this blog indicating why someone should vote for Romney. Not one. You should vote because he’s not Obama. And that’s on one of the most literate and well-informed blogs out there. If we can’t change the mind of Will T, what luck do we have with Joe the Plumber?

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          • I’m pretty sure David Duke supported John Kerry. He was heavily involved in the anti-Iraq War protests in San Francisco and Seattle, using them as a recruiting ground for his movement, pushing the Neocon=Jew angle. Finally someone noticed burrowed down and noticed that two of the protest’s servers were named “David Duke 1” and “David Duke 2.”

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            • Write a guest post.

              I think there have been two “enthusiastic” Obama supporting posts among the FP crowd, and a few nose-holders, and the rest are voting third party or like Doc aren’t pushing their Presidential selection on the FP. We have Tom and Tim, who are voting for Mitt.

              So we have a few more nose-holders for Obama than we have nose-holders for Mitt, but otherwise, we’re pretty much split.

              This reminds me of the PPACA debates when people kept saying, “You guys are pro-PPACA” and then a survey showed that more than half of the FP/main commentariat were against.

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                  • I’ll think about it, but I don’t know how much I can add to the discussion.

                    What really bothered me wasn’t so much the discussion around Romney, but an early thread where it was implied that anyone who supported Romney and the GOP was clearly a shitty racist, or at the very least an enabler of shitty racists. From the perspective of someone outside of the whole thing, that is somewhat offputting, and tends to cast more heat than light (I have always appreciated LOOG’s focus on light). It is like accusing everyone who votes Democrat of being a shitty baby murderer; all useful discussion ends.

                    That being said, I am sure much of the unpleasantness (at least on this site) will subside following the election, provided nothing exceptionally nasty happens, and things can get back to normal.

                    I have been thinking about the argument that the US system is structurally unsuited to the introduction of third parties, though. I suspect that it is more a historical artifact rather than anything truly inherent in the system. There are other first past the post countries, after all, which have strong nationally-based third parties despite a similar system. Canada and Britain, off the top of my head. The only wrinkle is the presidency, really.

                    We’ll see if I have the time; rather busy lately.

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                    • What really bothered me wasn’t so much the discussion around Romney, but an early thread where it was implied that anyone who supported Romney and the GOP was clearly a shitty racist, or at the very least an enabler of shitty racists. From the perspective of someone outside of the whole thing, that is somewhat offputting, and tends to cast more heat than light (I have always appreciated LOOG’s focus on light). It is like accusing everyone who votes Democrat of being a shitty baby murderer; all useful discussion ends.

                      Bingo.

                      That being said, I am sure much of the unpleasantness (at least on this site) will subside following the election, provided nothing exceptionally nasty happens, and things can get back to normal.

                      That too. As Mom used to say, “Keep it down to a gentle roar.” I miss the gentle roar.

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    • 3) Tribalism. Folks like George will vote for Romney, HOPING that he presides from the center, but having no true basis in fact. Just because he’s not Obama, and Obama is bad because… well, he just IS, OK?

      Hey, I don’t hope Romney presides from the center. There ain’t nothing in the middle of the road but white stripes and dead possums.

      The middle is what got us into that deficit mess, because in the middle you have to give both sides everything they want, and they want a lot. The last president with a balanced budget was Clinton, which he got by swerving right to dodge the busload of welfare cases.

      Bush was a road hog in a Winebago with a gun rack and a “Compassionate Conservative” bumpersticker, flinging out pill bottles to the old folks, lollipops to young folks, and tellin’ everyone he was going on a camel hunt.

      When Obama took the wheel he didn’t swerve one way or the other, he just tromped on the gas and drove like Bush, half the time not even watching the road. Now everybody is car sick, the Winnebago is almost out of gas, and somebody clearly doesn’t know how the port-a-potty works.

      For God’s sake, someone else take the wheel before Marlene vomits.

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      • You know, I respect that opinion, though disagreeing. But you know, I GET why people like you are voting for Romney. But there ARE a bunch of people who do buy into the centrist technocrat thing, and a lot of them are Romney voters. As I said below, I really don’t get that.

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        • Romney ran as a generic Republican. He’s everything you want a Republican to be, and nothing else.

          Obviously that makes him different to different people, but it was a good strategy — generic anything always polls better than specific ones, since specific ones have to commit to iffy things from time to time.

          So a lot of people see the Romney they want to see. A lot more, I’d imagine, than look at Romney and think “Why should I believe he’s gonna be the Romney I want and not the Romney that other guy wants?”

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  17. Whatever the result, I will do the same as I always do and hope for the day that everyone heeds these words from Walt Whitman:

    This is what you shall do:
    Love the earth and sun and the animals,
    Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
    Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
    Devote your income and labors to others,
    Hate tyrants, argue not concerning God,
    Have patience and indulgence toward the people,
    Take off your hat to nothing known or unknown,
    Or to any man or number of men,
    Go freely with powerful uneducated persons,
    And with the young and with the mothers of families,
    Read these leaves in the open air,
    Every season of every year of your life,
    Reexamine all you have been told,
    At school at church or in any book,
    Dismiss whatever insults your own soul,
    And your very flesh shall be a great poem,
    And have the richest fluency not only in its words,
    But in the silent lines of its lips and face,
    And between the lashes of your eyes,
    And in every motion and joint of your body.

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  18. I’m casting my vote for Gary Johnson this year. If he doesn’t win I’m blaming it on the media. They allow third party candidates to be suppressed with their complicity. Even when I was the most partisan of Republicans I thought this country needed more options than the two-party system. I loved Perot and voted for Nader in 2000. These days I feel like Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin.

    Now get off my lawn!

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      • Perot was just awesome. Of course, I was also only 17 when he ran the first time so that may have just been my youthful ignorance.

        Nader was a protest vote because I HATED Gore and I thought Bush’s people treated McCain terribly in the 2000 primaries.

        Johnson appears to align most with my political leanings these days. I am still a bit surprised myself.

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              • Seriously a horrible move for their long-term political career.

                If you’re a young veep, you have to figure that it’s possible that your Prez will be a two-termer and that you’ll be the presumptive nominee seven and a half years from when you become veep.

                Don’t piss off people who are 14, especially if you’re Team Blue. They’ll be 21 when you run, and youthful exuberance is one of your main drivers in election season.

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                • In the overall view of “terrible PR moves committed by politicians”, this had probably the least-bad actual consequences for the country. Shoot, it gave Carlin a name for a album, and nobody that I knew was ever forbidden from buying an album because of a sticker (that they wouldn’t have had repossessed by their parents upon hearing it if the sticker wasn’t on it in the first place). Parent who care about that sort of stuff don’t need stickers.

                  Still, from a pure politics standpoint, a boner.

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            • You know, that warning label was the single best thing that happened to the recording industry in the ’90’s. (Well, perhaps the CD, much cheaper produce then vinyl, and their old contracts royalty spreads were still written based on vinyl production.)

              But if you wanted to move a lot of albums to young boys, you made sure it had one of Tipper’s labels.

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              • That’s the great irony, isn’t it. Just like The Last Temptation of Christ; by throwing a public fit the moralists just ended up ensuring that far more people would actually go see it.

                Given the actual message of the movie, I’m inclined to say that God works in mysterious ways.

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                • Ugh.

                  I homeschooled one of my kids (for reasons not of my own choosing) for one year. We HAD to join a homeschool group; only one in the remotely close area was a Christian group. First meeting, the organizing mom had come down from her off-grid mountain to house sit for a friend for a few days. And found FOX news. She sang it’s praises. I knew this wasn’t going to be my cup of tea.

                  Second meeting, they spend the whole time talking about taking a field trip to see that movie. TAKING SMALL CHILDREN, SOME ONLY 3, TO SEE A SNUFF FLICK.

                  I never went back. State also never checked up on what I did/did not teach my kid. Not once.

                  I don’t believe in God. But I do believe in mysteries, large and small. And math and science.

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                  • I’m mostly in sympathy with you here, but “snuff flick?”

                    Not that I think it was by any means an appropriate movie for little kids, but it actually had a pretty deep meaning. (Although to be fair, the meaning is a lot easier to discern in the book than in the movie.)

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                    • Good call, Mr. E. I usually get the gist of everybody’s musings, but was scratchin’ my head on that one. 0? [new emoticon?]

                      And yeah, inappropriate for children.

                      My earliest memory, or one of them, confirmed by my mother, 5 yrs old mebbe, was her telling me about The Passion. I was in the tub, hot tears falling into the bath.

                      They did that to him?, I asked, incredulously. I couldn’t bear to watch the movie. In the mind’s eye of a five-year-old, once was enough. The tears still burn, eh?

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                    • Actually, Zic, it was to deeply respect your comment after it was explained to me. A loving mother explaining what Jesus went through is right for a five year old, not Mel Gibson’s movie. The horror of it.

                      It made such an impression on me at age 5, and reliving it in my teens and my adult life in the Good Friday ritual, the “Stations of the Cross.” that I could not bear to watch the movie. If you get it, it hurts more than anything. But everyone needs to experience it once.

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                    • Ah, thanks to Jesse for clearing that up. I was puzzled that fundies would take their kids to “temptation” not so much about “Passion.” That one I never saw nor had interest in seeing.

                      Tod, good to meet a fellow reader of the book.

                      Clarification for TVD. As I read the book, the author was in fact seeing Jesus as both God and man, in accordance with fairly standard theology, and was focusing on the tension that created. It draws in part–nor explicitly–from Jesus’ tempting by Satan, and his prayer to “let this (crucifixion) pass from me,” if it was his Father’s will. The biblical retelling are pretty bloodless–not its literary high points–and Nikos Kazantsakis was trying to understand (with some artistic license) the real depth and meaning of the Messiah’s temptation and crisis moment. It’s actually a deeply reverential work. (And I agree–Denzel W. would be a better Jesus than Willem D., as much as I respect the latter’s acting chops.)

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      • You know, this comment makes me feel old. Because of George Wallace, John Anderson, and Steve Forbes.

        3rd party spoilers are an aging tradition, well entrenched in my political history; though Wallace ran 10 years before I was old enough to vote.

        Nader, though, really peeved liberals who thought he betrayed many of the values he supposedly held dear by not running, and essentially handing the election to Bush. I felt, and I’m not alone, that he put his ideology first, actual events and outcomes second, and so became a very tarnished and diminished anti-hero.

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        • I find that highly unfair. If he didn’t feel that a Gore administration would represent his values, he had every reason to run. If the people who voted for Nader didn’t feel that Gore represented their values, they had every reason to vote for them; and if he hadn’t run they may well have simply stayed home rather than vote for Gore, so there’s certainly no cause for blaming Nader.

          If Gore couldn’t manage to give people reasons to vote for him rather than for a third-party candidate, then that was his problem and his own fault, not Nader’s. If one court decision had gone the other way, Gore would have won, realized how close he came to losing, and paid a lot more attention to the issues that caused people to vote for Nader, and we all would have held Nader’s campaign up as an example of highly successful third-party action. As I understand it the courts, not Nader, gave Florida to Bush.

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            • I don’t think Gore did win FL; and I’m suspicious of everyone who says the votes were actually counted.

              WaPo said they did, and Gore lost.

              Greg Pallast said he did, and Gore won.

              And I don’t trust Pallast, he’s definitely got a bias.

              But. Before the election, 20,000 souls were cast from the voter rolls because they had names remotely similar to known felons in in a swath of states across the South. So if there was a fellon named ‘Kim Kimsie,’ and your name was ‘Kim K. Whimsie,’ good chance of you showing up at the polls and not being allowed to vote.

              Thousands of people, far greater then the vote difference, did show up at the polls; nobody’s sure the exact number. And were turned away. Almost all in poor, minority communities.

              So my take is that Bush did indeed steal the election, but it happened before a single vote was cast because several-thousand voters, likely Democratic voters, were disenfranchised of their right to vote.

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          • As I understand it the courts, not Nader, gave Florida to Bush.

            Not exactly, Katherine. 12 years later people still don’t know the story. God spare us from a repeat this time around!

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12623-2001Nov11.html

            “In all likelihood, George W. Bush still would have won Florida and the presidency last year if either of two limited recounts — one requested by Al Gore, the other ordered by the Florida Supreme Court — had been completed, according to a study commissioned by The Washington Post and other news organizations.”

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              • The FL legislature was constitutionally authorized to decide, and it would’ve. Or the GOP-dominated House of Representatives. But your aspersions at the Supreme Court are exactly why Chief Justice Roberts won’t let it happen again in ’12. If it’s to be a big stinking mess, let it be one.

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            • What Mike said. It’s okay because now we get to guess who might have won instead of actually counting people’s votes?

              As for a repeat, I’m half-hoping for Obama to win the EV and Romney to take the popular vote just to see absolutely everyone fall over themselves trying to contradict what they said twelve years ago while insisting they’re not doing so.

              I decidedly do notwant a repeat of people’s votes not being counted, though the Republican government of Ohio seems to want that very much, fearing that democracy will not be in their interests.

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            • Bush would indeed have won in any of the recounts–as subsequent actual recounts of the ballots have shown–or if the FL legislature had voted an electoral slate (as they were preparing to do).

              However, had Palm Beach County not bungled their ballot, it’s most likely that Gore would have won.

              In an election that close, it’s statistically a coin flip anyway.

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        • 3rd party spoilers are an aging tradition

          Well, I’ll only throw in this much to the debate.

          The term “spoiler” already includes a normative – presumably objective but actually very subjective – conception of what’s preferred.

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  19. Romney wins 52.4% of the popular vote but Obama somehow wins the electoral college, there are cries of foul on both sides but like when Satan gets sued by God, the GOP can’t find any trial lawyers on their side of the fence.

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  20. First a couple of fairly unlikely scenario specific situations:

    Romney wins a narrow EC victory based upon a very narrow win in Florida and/or Ohio: I am generally very skeptical of the various “steal the elections” scenarios. But Republican state governments in both states have engaged in very public, not at all secret, and even arguably borderline legal attempts to surpress the Democratic vote – this scenario does not depend on any “secret” shennanigans. The courts have mostly stopped the worse excesses, and it is doubtful that it will make the difference in the election. But if either state is closer than say 10,000 votes, and if that state provides the margin of victory in the EC, then yes, you can legitimately start talking about a “stolen” election. I think the chance of this scenario occuring is low but non-zero.

    Romney wins PA very narrowly and that proves to be the winning margin in the EC – hurricane related; while PA was not hit nearly as hard as NY, NJ, etc., probably voting will be a little surpressed by it in the bluer parts of the state. In a narrow Romney win, that could make the difference. However, if PA is that close, probably Romney is doing much better everywhere so PA won’t decide the election. So low probability on this.

    Those scenarios aside, if we are simply looking at a situation where the polling is off and Romeny wins a narrow but convincing victory, I’d say simply “the economy” and “heck if I know.” The “heck if I know” comes from bafflement as to why Romney is doing at all well with moderates. Part of that may be Obama related (the economy), but part of that appears to be trusting that the real Romney is going to govern as a non-warmongering center right technocrat. Which I guess is possible, but why someone would have any confidence in that given (a) the astonishing plasticity of Romney’s expressed viewpoints, (b) the incoherence of his policy positions, and (c) the identity of the majority of his foreign policy advisors combined with his apparent disinterest in foriegn policy detail. Given that, I want to say “voter ignorance,” but yeah I know how that sounds.

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    • Look, I am actually pretty good at getting into the heads of people I disagree with, so at one level I suppose I sort of get it. I mean, I see the logic: “he governed as a center right Republican in Massachusetts, and he had to pretend to be ‘severely conservative’ to win the primary and the Republican base.” But the former doesn’t mean much; a Republican in Massachusetts has to govern from the center to succeed. And the later, if one has really been paying attention, is very much the triumph of hope over the facts. Or to put it another way, if you assume he is “really” a center right technocrat, you also have to believe is his astonishingly dishonest even by the standards of the modern presidency. Even if you’re willing to take the risk that the “real” Romney is the center right technocrat, why would you want that kind of sociopath governing the nation?

      Though I guess a lot of people DON’T pay very close attention to the election.

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