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Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.


Two Days Out, The Money's Still On Bush  | e-mail post

I traded some e-mail with someone who seems very concerned about how the election will play out. I thought I would try to put some information out to ease his mind, and hopefully some other people's minds.

First, let's look at what's locked up: Bush has 191 electoral votes locked up and Kerry has 149. This leaves 198 up in the air. Let's look at a few different metrics.

I'll start with the money. I have already written about the wisdom of looking at election markets and gambling sites in "Election Outcome: Like Deep Throat Said, 'Follow The Money'." Tradesports takes action on the state-by-state results, the electoral vote count, and the basic "who wins?" bets. On an electoral vote basis, the action breaks down like this:

State
E Votes
Bush OddsBushKerry
Arkansas683.0%60
Colorado975.0%90
Florida2759.0%270
Hawaii420.5%04
Iowa753.2%70
Maine47.6%04
Michigan1724.1%017
Minnesota1035.5%010
Missouri1183.4%110
Nevada574.0%50
New Hampshire431.0%04
New Jersey1510.1%015
New Mexico563.0%50
Ohio2050.0%00
Oregon711.6%07
Pennsylvania2125.1%021
Washington117.0%011
Wisconsin1043.1%010
West Virginia585.0%50


Pickups75103


Solid191149


Total266252

So, not quite enough to put Bush over the top, and Ohio is a true wildcard. The one state with even money between the candidates. Note that the wild percentages indicate what you would expect, if Bush has a 10-point lead in the polls, he should have very high odds, as it is winner-take all on the gambling front.

Tradesports has Bush winning 270 or more electoral votes at 52% and had Bush favoring Kerry for reelection at 55-45.

The Iowa Election Market also shows Bush favored for the winner-takes-all contest, at a similar level.

Let's look at other polls. Anyone who reads me regularly knows I am not a fan of Zogby and that I sound like Dustin Hoffman's Rainman talking about Qantas regarding Mason-Dixon polling. So, what does Mason-Dixon say about these races? Well, they don't cover all the races, but most of the races they don't cover are expected to go to Kerry, so, being charitable for now, I will concede all of those races to Kerry. Here are the results from the most recent Mason-Dixon polls:


E VotesBushKerryUndecidedSpreadBushKerry
Arkansas651%43%6%860
Colorado950%43%5%790
Florida2749%45%5%4270
Hawaii4



04
Iowa749%44%7%570
Maine4



04
Michigan1745%47%6%2017
Minnesota1048%47%5%110
0
Missouri1149%44%6%5110
Nevada550%44%4%650
New Hampshire4



04
New Jersey15



015
New Mexico549%45%5%450
Ohio2048%46%5%2200
Oregon744%50%5%607
Pennsylvania2146%48%6%2021
Washington11



011
Wisconsin1046%48%5%2010
West Virginia551%43%6%850





Pickups95103





Solid191149





Total296242


According to Mason-Dixon, things are looking very good for Bush. An important thing to note is that Bush has appreciably larger spreads in states he is winning, other than Ohio and Minnesota, while Kerry only has a healthy spread in Oregon. Kerry's other states are very close.

Minnesota is probably the most in contest, with polls showing a very close race, but a recent Humphrey Institute poll shows Bush up 47 to 44. Of course, the Star-Tribune has Kerry up 49-41, which is simply ridiculous. No poll has shown an 8-point gap in Minnesota, since, well, since the Star-Tribune had Kerry up 9 in early September. Twenty total polls between then and now, and only the Saint Cloud State poll is close to that (and sorry SCSU, but you're no Quinnipiac or Rutgers in the polling business). I've written about the systematic bias of the Strib, back in September. It will be a squeaker, here, that's for certain, but it is still competitive, and the fact that both candidates probably know their way around here like natives after the past month is evidence of that.

Ohio is the wildcard in most of these equations. It's hilarious, actually, the papers there are going nuts on polling. The Cleveland Plain Dealer did a 1,500 likely voter poll (showing Bush up 48 to 45) and the Columbus Dispatch did a 2,880 likely voter poll (showing a tied 50-50 race). Even John Zogby shows Bush up 49-44 in Ohio, but I think he might be bulking the numbers up in the hopes of driving Democratic turnout in Ohio, it's the largest Bush-favored spread in a while. I don't have enough data on the Columbus Dispatch poll, but it is very odd that it's a dead heat for Bush, while presumably correlated elections are blowouts. Republican Senator Voinovich is leading his race 62-38 and State Issue 1 (which is both a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions) is leading 63-37. (One thing I question about the Dispatch poll is the lack of an undecided component.)

I feel pretty good, because I think Bush will likely shock everyone by bringing New Jersey home. If that happens, as I've said, we can all go to bed early. If Bush wins New Jersey, and the other races play out as predicted, Ohio and Minnesota can still go to Kerry and Bush still sails into another 4 years at 281 to 257.

Tomorrow's the last day to explain the facts to people though. Look at some of my posts over the last week to help people know the facts ["Last Chance to Get Some Facts Out"]["There is No Ban on Stem Cell Research"]["The Artisan v The Idealist"]["Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself"].

The level of misunderstanding in this election season, combined with high voter turnout among a lot of, honestly, politically ignorant individuals, is the biggest risk Bush has.

Updates: Federal Review ran some Monte Carlo simulations it would appear, and with 20,000 trials, they assign a 70.4% probability to a Bush victory. Data Seers seems to have done a similar thing, but came up with Bush at 87.8% probability of victory.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Sunday, October 31, 2004

New Jersey Could Let Us Get To Bed Early On Tuesday  | e-mail post

I don't think John Kerry has a reasonably probable electoral vote win path if he loses New Jersey to George Bush, and I don't think that's out of the question right now, especially on the heels of Osama Bin Laden's tape release on Friday.

Quinnipiac University first brought attention to this a few weeks back, which I wrote about on October 12th in "What New Jersey is Saying (We're Safer With Bush/Cheney)." I also wrote about the broader challenges Kerry might be facing in NJ that day as well, in "And What New Jersey Might Be Saying to Kerry (don't call the movers yet)."

It looks like the Quinnipiac numbers out last week continue to paint a bleak picture for Kerry in NJ, and these were from interviews conducted before the Bin Laden tape on Friday. Here's how the Quinnipiac polls have been trending (sorry they don't look great, I just whipped this together in Excel):



The really interesting thing to note, is how the leaners are breaking hard toward Bush. In the most recent polls, pushing undecideds had them breaking five to one for Bush. Democrats have been clinging to the fantasy of the 50% rule and the idea that undecideds break 2:1 for challengers, but I have written about the numerous reasons why I don't think that analysis applies in this election, in "On the Cell Phone Only Polling Bias and the '50% rule'." It looks like New Jersey is backing up that analysis.

I will also get some thoughts together on the Star-Ledger/Rutgers-Eagleton poll, which has Kerry leading Bush 45 - 41 with 12 percent undecided. Just to note, though, a 5:1 break for Bush, as the recent Quinnipiac poll shows, would result in a Bush 51; Kerry 47 result. Even a 3:1 break would play out at Bush 50; Kerry 48.

You can get all the details from the PDF release on the poll at the Rutgers site. The Rutgers guys say the race should have a final polling result of 50-49, favoring Kerry, when they interpret the results. They also acknowledge that over 2/3rds of the responses came before the Bin Laden tape was released. In addition, Kerry's favorability has dropped 8 points since their last poll and Bush has gone from an 18 point to a 4 point deficit among independent voters.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Sunday, October 31, 2004

Clinton's Chief Strategist on Why Bush Will Win  | e-mail post

I've commented previously about how poorly run Kerry's campaign is, and that the real reason is that they fundamentally lack a positive message to offer voters, particularly independent voters.

Even Dick Morris, Clinton's lead strategist for his 1996 reelection campaign, is calling the election for Bush. Why? Because of Kerry's hamfisted and idiotic approach to dealing with the "missing" explosives story. From his NY Post Op-Ed piece on the 29th:
Then came the "disappearing explosives" story. Kerry's handlers, tacticians to the last, disregarded the needs of basic strategy and hopped on the issue with all four feet, running a TV ad lambasting Bush for losing the weapons after the invasion.

Strategically, this flawed decision assured that the final week of the campaign would focus on the areas of Bush's strength and Kerry's weakness: Iraq and terrorism. Tactically, it tied the electorate's confidence in John Kerry to the mystery of what actually happened in an ammo dump in the desert 18 months ago.

Then it began to explode in Kerry's face. Soon we heard that there were only three tons of explosives . . . and they weren't there when we occupied the dump . . . and they were removed by the Russians before we got there . . . and, perhaps, there are satellite photos to prove it.

All of a sudden, Kerry seems just not ready for prime time.

The backfire is amplified by the involvement of CBS and The New York Times. The plans of "60 Minutes" and Dan Rather to break the story on the Sunday before the election reflect overt partisan bias — an overt conspiracy of these leading outlets to stack the deck in favor of Kerry.

This controversy unraveling in front of us all, replete with conspiracy theories and denouement of media bias, is enough to occupy our attention and rivet our focus as Election Day approaches. It will drive all other stories off the front pages and will make the war in Iraq the key element in the election.

At this writing, the possibility that the alleged al Qaeda tape virtually endorsing Kerry will hit the airwaves makes one even more confident of a Bush victory. A threat to let blood run in the streets of America if Bush wins won't intimidate voters, but rather remind them of the importance of sending a warrior to fight the terrorists — and seal Bush's victory.
His basic analysis is that since Bush dominates in polling questions about who would better fight the war on terror, and who do you trust to handle Iraq, the final days of the campaign are all on his side.

The NY Times today has a piece that the Osama Bin Laden tape isn't influencing voters, but they based their conclusion on a relatively small number of interviews in five states: Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio. I would have loved it if they had interviewed people in New Jersey, who have been leaning to Bush in recent weeks because of the war on terror. (see my earlier: "What New Jersey is Saying (We're Safer With Bush/Cheney)" and the latest Quinnipiac University polling in NJ that has Bush and Kerry in a dead heat.)

Dick Morris actually thought Kerry probably didn't have a shot back in March, as his piece in The Hill details. Even then he observed, "Kerry has also made a big mistake in backing the criminal-justice approach to terrorism, seeking to transform the war on terror into a series of DEA-style busts. Voters recognize that Bush is right when he says that this is a war against nation-states that sponsor terror, not a hunt for criminal bands in the mountains."

Morris is right, people trust John Kerry to handle the war on terror probably only a little more than most people would trust Bill Clinton with their 20-something daughters. The big difference is that with the wrong approach to the war on terror, we all get screwed.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Sunday, October 31, 2004

Designer Deconstructs Campaign Logos  | e-mail post

I read a lot of magazines. All kinds, newsweeklies, politics of every stripe, new age, design, technology, industry trade rags. I love absorbing information. One of my favorite magazines is Metropolis. It's subhead, "Architecture Culture Design" sums it up pretty well. From a design standpoint, it is one of the best, what Wired may have aspired to be, in my opinion, but they missed the mark.

Another example of why I love the magazine comes with the November issue of Metropolis, which has a fantastic little piece by Michael Bierut comparing the graphic design of the Bush and Kerry campaigns. Bierut is very much an expert in his field, and is currently a Senior Critic at Yale's School of Art and is a partner at Pentagram, a NYC-based design firm. He also was a co-editor of "Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design."

Although the piece does state up front that for all the talk of candidates being packaged and marketed, you wouldn't know it from the logos, in Beirut's words, "they're primitive, careless and amateurish, better suited to promoting a local dogcatcher than the leader of the free world."

Be that as it may, it seems that the Bush Cheney logo is comparatively better designed. Unfortunately, the piece is not available online. So, I've included pics here and highlight some of his comments. But, please understand, I really believe you have a moral obligation to at least consider buying the Novemeber issue of Metropolis (not to mention, I have left out some of Bierut's bon mots). You could also probably discharge your moral obligation to Bierut by retaining Pentagram, if you have the need and the money.

Color: Bierut jokingly wonders if the red border is an attempt to pander to Time magazine editors. More seriously, he remarks that "just as Pepsi goes with a bifurcated color scheme to counter Coke's monochromatism, the number two candidate can't afford not to hedge its bets."

Flag: Bierut suggests the flags in both campaign logos are needed because the top-of-the-ticket name is shorter than the running mates, and "like almost all adult American men, he has an irrational fear of what metrosexual graphic designers extol as 'white space.'" Bierut says Kerry's flag, however, "looks like a piece of clip art that the local hardware store would use to tart up a Fourth of July special on wading pools." Ouch!

Type: Bierut points out that the use of the Georgia typeface is probably not an olive branch to bring Zell Miller back to his side, but more likely just that it is commonly available on any Microsoft PC. He also points out the typographic no-no of the horizontal scaling of Edwards' name. "What Kerry would defend as subtlety, his foes could interpret as subtrefuge, equivocation and insecurity."

Now, we move onto the Bush logo.


Color: Bush-Cheney doesn't go against convention in choosing a very corporate Brooks Brothers dark blue.

Flag: Rather than using some literal flag clip-art, the Bush logo uses "a flaglike object." As Bierut says, "Republicans hate when you burn the flag to make a political point, but...completely revise its composition - go for it!" He continues to note that conspiracy theorists may appreciate that the waving flaglike object has a "sinister" resemblance to the letter W. (No comment by Bierut that Bush actually makes use of a fair amount of white space in his signs and stickers.)

Type: Paraphrasing would simply not do it justice:
The late eminence grise of American graphic design Paul Rand once said, "It is dangerous to attribute magical qualities to typefaces." But why let that stop us? A bold typeface is stronger than a light typeface. Capitals are more authoritative than upper- and lowercase. Italic is more powerful than roman. Sans serif is more no-nonsense than serif. So by choosing Folio Extra Bold Italic for the ten letters in their names, Bush and Cheney immediately let us know that they are strong, authoritative, powerful, no-nonsense leaders. Any questions?

A side note for the connoisseur, pointed out by my friend Jonathan Hoefler: Typographers call the asymmetrical quotation mark (...) a "smart quote." The default version used by Bush, on the other hand, is called a "dumb quote." You may insert your own highly partisan conclusion here.
The net-net, from my standpoint, is that politics aside, and despite the banality of most political graphic design, the Bush-Cheney logo is in fact more of a genuine "design" than the tossed-together Kerry-Edwards logo. Just a few days until we know if branding makes a difference.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (4) comments |  | Saturday, October 30, 2004

More Facts: There Is No "Ban" On Stem Cell Research  | e-mail post

When I was out last night and the conversation turned to politics, the debate turned for a moment to the "critical issue" of stem cell research. I was reasonably well-informed on the issue as I recently had an extemely lengthy, and at times heated, e-mail exchange about this subject. And after that conversation I realized it's worth getting some facts on the table, as I think this is poorly understood matter.

First, the Bush policy is a restriction on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research that limits federal grants for such research to studies that make use of a limited number of pre-existing stem cell lines. It is not a ban on embryonic stem-cell research; it in no way impacts adult stem-cell research.

Kerry supporters have said to me that Christopher Reeve's death is "the only reason" he won't walk again now, because embyronic stem cell research is not receiving federal support. (At least they don't claim as John Edwards did the day after Reeve's death that electing Kerry will mean that Reeve would walk again). But the weaker claim is nearly as specious. Embryonic stem cell research didn't even exist before 1998, and we are only at the early stages of knowing what its potential is.

Charles Krauthammer, the columnist for the Washington Post wrote about the Kerry-Edwards demagoguery in this area a couple of weeks back. I don't normally point to opinion columnists on science topics, but, you see, Krauthammer has been paralyzed for 30 years, from an injury suffered when he was in medical school, so I give him a little credit for his perspective.

The truth is that while I may support embryonic stem cell research, the necessarily-related issue of abortion is deeply offensive and contentious to a great many people. That group is larger than many seem to recognize, and is certainly even more politically-engaged and effective than their size alone would suggest. Some may regard it as an unfortunate political reality that their wishes must be given some consideration, but America is composed of many constituencies, and politics is often the art of compromise.

Some Democracts then suggest that the compromise is no compromise at all (because of issues with embryonic stem cell lines) doesn't accurately reflect the current state of affairs, from what I can tell:

The fact is, stem cell research does offer great opportunities. There are many ways it can be pursued: it doesn't have to be federally-funded. Don't let Kerry supporters hold this as a black-or-white issue. It is contentious, and Bush crafted an effective compromise. Kerry's juvenille remarks along the lines of "It's not enough to do more, the test is are we doing everything that we can," indicates that he clearly doesn't live in the real world, a world on constraints, of scarcity, of differeing opinions. He is, after all, an idealist as I wrote in my last post, the Artisan vs the Idealist. And idealists don't ever get elected President.

For more coverage of things that seem to be poorly understood by many people, see my "Last Chance to Get Some Facts Out" post from Friday. For more discussion of how an ignorant electorate imperils democracy (and have some laughs related to it) see last night's "A Strange Arc From Juvenille Humor to a Serious Topic."



e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Saturday, October 30, 2004

Comparing The Candidates: The Artisan vs the Idealist  | e-mail post

I get an ungodly amoung of spam, even after my spam filter catches some. It's one downside of having the same e-mail address for over a decade (and I was doing web development back in 1994, so God only knows how many places I've submitted my e-mail over time.) But sometimes an interesting piece slips through, like a piece of mail I got from one of the countless personality/psychology sites; no not Tickle, but good guess. This one was from AdvisorTeam. I actually did take one of their mini personality tests when I was working on a project related to online testing and prescreening, so strictly speaking this wasn't complete spam, I guess.

But to get back to the story. AdvisorTeam sent a newsletter "Election 2004 - Candidates' Personalities," in which they assess both candidates personalities. It includes a view of the personalities of the various candidates, based on the names they assign to the different Keirsey Tempermant sorter outcomes. (Keirsey sorting, like the Myers-Briggs, is what gives you the typical ENTP or ISNJ sort of results.)

In any event, if you're thinking about voting on "character," or voting for "the man," not just the policies or platforms, you may find this worth a read.

The site provides a discussion of Bush and Kerry's personality. Their Bush profile was done in advance of the 2000 election, and they say "the prediction we made about his Temperament has been born out. Bold and decisive could be two words that could describe his Presidency, no matter what political side one is on. Obviously, other words (praiseworthy or derogatory) might be added depending on one’s politics, however, George Bush’s temperament has proven to be that of an Artisan."

They characterize artisans such as Bush, who they specifically say is a "Promoter Artisan" as "masters of the crisis" and point to similar personalities as John Kennedy, LBJ, Bill Clinton and FDR:
Like Franklin D. Roosevelt, he used this opportunity to galvanize the nation to war. Unlike previous wars, this war on terrorism has broken the mold of conventional perceptions of war and uses of pre-emption. Although pre-emption is not a unique concept, it appears to break conventional wisdom, upsetting those who want to be more cautious and conventional.With tactical intelligence, George Bush has boldly brought the war to the terrorists, even attacking them on some of their territory, which is an offense strategy.

Obviously, for some armchair or hindsight generals and politicians, this course of action is considered to be rash and foolish. But only time will tell whether the Artisan tactics of Bush -- like fellow Artisans that were before him -- like Clinton, Reagan, Johnson, Kennedy, or Roosevelt -- were rash or insightful.
Interestingly, I found myself in a discussion last night with someone explaining the fundamental difficulty of judging the historical importance and ultimate merit of our current action in Iraq, in the same way that people judged Reagan aggressive defense spending in the 1980's as wreckless and irrational, not understanding, as Reagan clearly did, that forcing the Soviets into stepping up the arms race would ulimately break the back of their economy, and thus of Soviet Communism. Today, rather than rattling our sabres at one another, Russia and the U.S. share a common enemy in Muslin extremists.

The Promoter Artisan label applies specifically to the ESTP personality. Winston Churchill and Patton were both ESTPs, as were Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt.

They identify John Kerry as a "Counselor Idealist" which is an INFJ personality. It's quite interesting to note that he is the exact opposite of Bush's personality. Where Bush perceives, Kerry judges; where Bush thinks, Kerry feels; where Bush senses, Kerry intuits; and where Bush is extroverted, Kerry is introverted. The write-up they provide on Kerry closes with:
He has spent the last twenty years in the Senate. He tends to vote Liberal, but he doesn’t have a significant legislative actions to his name. Instead he worked on causes that he felt he could contribute to, some of which were controversial. Though he has had eclectic results, Kerry has been able to use his Idealist diplomatic skills to form working relationships with Senators on both sides of the aisle. For example, in an association with John McCain, he strove to heal the wounds of Vietnam – this was one of Kerry’s more visible and notable efforts.

Now John Kerry is running for President, something he probably had in the back of his mind, ever since he first met John Kennedy. Kerry probably views the running for the Presidency as a great cause, to inspire others towards his Idealistic vision of the future.
Doesn't sound really compelling. I wrote about Kerry's lack of executive experience, and the fact that the U.S. virtually never elects Presidents who haven't been in positions of true leadership prior to the Presidency, in "The Buck Stops Where?" In that piece I point out Kennedy as the counterexample, the one non-executive we've elected to the White House since the 1930s.

As an aside, when I pointed this out to two individuals last night, one suggested she thought Americans foolish for placing a premium on executive experience. I can't understand how one could place too high a premium on the issue of executive leadership experience, of being the one person whose decision is the final answer, when choosing a President. It's an entirely different experience than being one of a large group passing legislation.

But getting back to personalities, the news letter includes a table of how America has voted in the recent past:

1960Kennedy (Artisan)Nixon (Guardian)
1964Johnson (Artisan)Goldwater (Rational)
1968Humphrey (Guardian) Nixon (Guardian)
1972McGovern (Guardian) Nixon (Guardian)
1976Carter (Guardian) Ford (Guardian)
1980Carter (Guardian) Reagan (Artisan)
1984Mondale (Guardian)Reagan (Artisan)
1988Dukakis (Guardian) Bush (Guardian)
1992Clinton (Artisan)Bush (Guardian)
1996Clinton (Artisan)Dole (Guardian)
2000Al Gore (Rational) George W. Bush (Artisan)
2004John Kerry (Idealist) George W. Bush (Artisan)

It's interesting to note that the US has never elected an Idealist to be President. In fact, Idealists and not known to be leaders. Gandhi was an Idealist, but he wasn't running a country. Eleanor Roosevelt, while very powerful as FDR's wife, was also an Idealist, but again, FDR was the one running the country, even if Eleanor was an influential advisor.

The full write-ups on Bush and Kerry are on the AdvisorTeam site.

For the definitive text on this question, pick up a copy of David Keirsey's "Presidential Temperment" which has been updated to include Clinton, but doesn't yet include Bush.

Full disclosure: I'm a Rational, like Barry Goldwater and Al Gore (well, not really like Barry Goldwater or Al Gore, maybe a bit of a cross, poltically). The last time I tested, I was an *NTJ (I was neutral between extroverted and introverted). I've also flipped, when I was younger I was *NTP, and am only weakly judging. The "NT" characteristic is the constant that defines me as a Rational, though. ENTJs are known as Field Marshalls and INTJs are Masterminds. For more on the types, see the listings on the Keirsey.com site. I actually decided to take a quick free test and came out as INTP, the "Architect," so apparently I have flipped into more perceiving than judging again. Test yourself if you'd like, with a free 53 question Myers-Briggs test at SimilarMinds.com, which also has other personality tests, if that sort of thing interests you.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Saturday, October 30, 2004

A Strange Arc From Juvenille Humor to a Serious Topic  | e-mail post

I try to write a generally light post, and look what happens...

I don't endorse the anti-gay politics behind this particular movie, but the fact is that the bulk of the movie, a montage of John Kerry and John Edwards and their fairly "touchy" nature, is pretty hilarious. I'd recommend just skipping the bits at the beginning of the flick, as they're needlessly inflammatory. The rest of the film could best be described as "John (hearts) John"

In the interests of equal time, here's a video that represents George Bush as being on a holy war, suspending the consitution, trampling liberty, etc, etc so-on-and-so-forth, you know the drill. What I do like about this clip however is that it is has a great soundtrack including excellent versions of "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "The Star Spangled Banner," and a good enough version of "Amazing Grace," although strange though it may be, my favorite version is the Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music) version, available on his album "Taxi." My friend in the film industry to whom I sent it, because it "fit his preconceived notions" replied to me that his "preconceived notions do NOT include bad editing ;->" [Quicktime: George Bush - A Tribute]

And for a clip that everyone should find amusing, South Park's new episode this week featured a music video for "Vote or Die" the voting campaign led by P. Diddy (and mocked by me already in "Paris Hilton Wants You To Stuff Her (Ballot) Box") You can also get the MP3 for the song via this post thanks to JoeChinni.com. Hat tip to Joshua Claybourn for the link to the movie (actually more than just the music segment). The blog AvoidingLife also has links to an AVI of the episode and a torrent, if you want to see the whole episode (AL also has the MP3).

BTW, the "moral" of the South Park episode is that Stan should get used to voting between a turd and a douche (for their new school mascot), because that's what the choice usually is between.

Parker and Stone have also criticized P. Diddy's Vote or Die campaign in a Rolling Stone interview discussing Team America (about which I've said, "Every American Should See It"). From Rolling Stone:
Parker and Stone now seem officially tired of hearing how Team America might impact the election. In fact, they take perhaps their strongest stand yet -- firmly against P. Diddy's "Vote or Die" campaign. "I think just saying 'Vote or Die' is a serious danger to democracy," Stone says, as Parker breaks into a Cartman-esque voice for a mocking public-service message: "Hey, nineteen-year-old who doesn't know anything -- you choose."

"If you don't know what you're talking about, there's no shame in not voting," Stone says finally. "They say if you don't vote, you can't bitch. But you can bitch all you want. This is America."
Of course, Sean Penn get himself worked into a later about that (see my 'Everyone should see it' post for the link to Penn's letter). But the fact is, they're right, American democracy is harmed by the participation of the political ignorant. I'm a political elitist, and I'll admit it. But when this year:
and in 2000:
they don't have any business stepping inside a polling booth. Sorry if anyone thinks that sounds pretentious, but I'll stand by it. I most likely know some people like this (statistically, it looks like we probably all do), and while I wouldn't insult them by announcing this unprompted, if asked, I would absolutely tell them they have a duty to become better informed before they exercise such power. (That was kind of my point by my first post this morning: "Last Chance to Get Some Facts Out.")

If you want to read where I'm getting those numbers, and just what the problem of an ignorant electorate means, see Ilya Somin's September 2004 report, "When Ignorance Isn't Bliss: How Political Ignorance Threatens Democracy." [direct PDF link] Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, also has a forthcoming book on the subject from University of Michigan Press, "Democracy and the Problem of Political Ignorance." I'll be certain to alert you of it when it comes out. [Somin's page at GMU]

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Friday, October 29, 2004

Like FDR Said: Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself  | e-mail post

Well, the Bin Laden tape ran.

I am still waiting to read a full transcript, but just from the quotations I am seeing in the wire accounts, he has got some serious audacity. He apparently suggests that the best way to avoid "another Manhattan" is to change U.S. policy toward the Mideast. He suggests that the reasons are still there.
""God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind," he said" [CBS]
Update: More Text on Yahoo; love the headine too: "Bin Laden Condemns Bush, Says New Attacks Possible" even though Bin Laden explicitly says it has nothing to do with Bush or Kerry, but just U.S. policy.

So 3,000 Americans lost their lives because of U.S. support for Israeli self-determination, in the face of numerous adversaries? Also, he clearly ignores the fact that Israel has largely been defending herself against terrorist attacks and invasions by Muslim and Arabic nations for years.

I will be curious to see if John Kerry will come out tomorrow and explicitly say we've got to cut and run with regard to Israel. That will be the ultimate act of political expediency he could exhibit. America has a duty to stand by our allies. And the obvious message from Bin Laden is that we either stand by our allies or face future attacks.

I think Winston Churchill's words on June 4th of 1940 in front of the House of Commons may be of interest. (Known as the "never surrender" or "fight on the beaches" speech.) Churchill closes his speech with these words:
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty's Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
Don't believe that this is just about Israel. It is a mortal battle, and capitualtion will only enflame their desires.

The people who crashed Flight 93 into the Pennsylvania countryside 3 years ago rather than ride like lambs to an even larger slaughter are testament to the strength of the American people.

I genuinely hope that it is he who underestimates the strength of the American will, not I that overestimate it.

I'm on my way home, but you should be able to follow the updates at Powerline.

CONTINUED

OK, I'm home now and have just been checking out who else is picking up news:

The New York Times covers the story, and mentions Bin Laden's claim to have decided to attack America in 2001 based on Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The NYT of course neglects to mention that the Israeli invasion wasn't exactly unprovoked, but was in response to the PLO ignoring a cease-fire with the last straw being the attempted assassination by Abu Nidal of Israel's UK ambassador. (Israel has actually usually only gone into other countries in response to being attacked.)

The best part of the NYT story, however, is that the National Jewish Democratic Council is running an ad in the middle of it saying "John Kerry Will Respect Our Religious Liberty." Huh? Bush won't? Actually, that's about all they can say to try to shore up support for Kerry among Jewish voters, as right now, Kerry's Israeli stance even has the editor-in-chief of The New Republic beating on him, as I wrote about in "It's a Strange World Indeed...."

Here's the CNN News story [video link].

Update: Full text via Drudge (it's amazing he's the quickest source for it).

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Friday, October 29, 2004

This Should Be Good  | e-mail post

From Reuters via Yahoo minutes ago...
Jazeera TV Says to Air Bin Laden Video Tape

DUBAI (Reuters) - Arab satellite television Al Jazeera said on Friday it would broadcast a video tape from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) addressing the American people.

It said the tape, to be aired at 4 p.m. EDT, would discuss the reasons behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and their repercussions. It gave no further details.

He's going to discuss the "reasons." The REASONS!? You have got to be kidding me. I mean, the Japanese actually had a "reason" for attacking Pearl Harbor, they had a strategic need for oil which required unfettered control of the Pacific, which was best aided by preemptive action against the largest U.S. Naval installation in the Pacific. But I can't see any "reason," as the very word shares the common root of rationality, that they could possibly have.

In a way, this could be a dream come true. I dare the SOB to tell Americans that voting for Bush will incur Al Qaeda's wrath. The very thought of it reminds me of the pic I just uploaded, originall sent sent to me a couple years back, with the Caption "Bush Speech Before the White House Writers Polished it up".

Or, maybe he does plan to join with the Palestinian authority in endorsing John Kerry.

Stay tuned, it should be on in 20 minutes, now.



e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Friday, October 29, 2004

Kerry Might Be In Deep Caca Over Al-Qaqaa  | e-mail post

This could be interesting. As you know, unless you just left your cave, the whole issue of missing explosives at Al-Qaqaa was the last bit of help the major media could try to give to John Kerry. (For more on the Editor and Publisher report on the media's bias towards Kerry, see my "Not Exactly 'Man Bites Dog'" post).

Well Powerline directs us to see this breaking news in which an Army officer in the 3rd Infantry division explains that his group removed roughly 250 tons of the explosives themselves. [Also AP via Yahoo]

Hindrocket over at Powerline correctly surmises this could be the coup de grace for the Kerry campaign. Given that Kerry has had nothing but a string of attacks to fall back on (cf "Democrats on the Defensive, per Usual"), the Rocket's probably right on the money.

That's the risk of running a campaign without a positive coherent message, unlike the Bush campaign's very positive and quite coherent themes and agenda (see "Last Chance to Get Some Facts Out" for ideas when talking to undecideds this weekend.)

Update: Holy Qaqaa, again, Batman, it looks like Powerline is the epicenter for bad news for Kerry today. News is still developing, but Hindrocket posts news that Kerry may have received an "other than honorable discharge" from the Navy. Ouch. If true, this could be gruesome.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Friday, October 29, 2004

How to Search Firefox History Using Google Desktop  | e-mail post

OK, now for a somewhat atypical post, but it came up as I was really wishing Google Desktop worked on my Firefox history when I was looking for something I had browsed across recently.

If you use, or want to use, Google Desktop, but use Firefox and are frustrated that Google only supports IE for browsing your viewed web pages, Ken Schuette's Slogger Firefox extension might be the ticket. It can automatically (or on demand) save all of your browsing to disk, which is then searchable via Google Desktop (or any other desktop search tool, I suppose). Also, you could use various sorts of desktop proxy server tools to accomplish the same thing. Since Google Desktop itself contains a webserver, I'm surprised they didn't just build a small proxy into it, it's kind of a Duh! move.

Jacques Surveyer has a list of alternatives to Google Desktop as well.
e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Friday, October 29, 2004

Last Chance to Get Some Facts Out  | e-mail post

Well, here we are, the weekend before the election. I'm looking forward to it being over. I'll be happy to go back to covering policy and society more than politics.

But this weekend is also probably the last chance many of us will have to speak with any undecided voters, or possibly talk about the facts with people who just don't have a sense of perspective about Bush's administration

The truth is that the core elements of the Bush agenda are based on a fairly coherent worldview, a view that says:
In contrast, John Kerry offers a coherent worldview that, well, that he is not George Bush, so there.

Seriously, tell people to look at the facts. Then tell them to decide. What are some of those facts? Well, I've covered some of them in previous posts, but here are some highlights.

Iraq: Obviously, this has been one of the main things Kerry has used as an attack issue. I provided some perspective on my "Debate: Rhetoric versus Substance" post (called "stronger and more coherent than most" by one flattering reader. Thanks!). Some things I would call out for a sense of perspective:
Kerry harped on the fact that the U.S. is 90% of the costs and 90% of the casualties in Iraq. This number of course excludes Iraqi civilians and security forices, he is just including the U.S. and our allies. Since John Kerry cites Korea as one our global historical alliances in his "plan," it might be worth looking at the peak Korean troop strength by nation as well as the casualties. I loaded them into Excel to do the math: the U.S. provided 88.89% of the UN troops, and accounted for 88.72% of UN troops killed and 91.51% of UN troops wounded.

Kerry also said he would strengthen the military. According to this Jim Lehrer NewsHour transcript from January of this year, the Army has one-third fewer troops now than it did when it fought the first Gulf War in 1991. Wasn't another Democrat running the country for most of that time? Keep in mind, Bush inherited Clinton's military.
Kerry has suggested that he would have a broader set of alliances, but the truth is we do have a large group of our traditional allies like Australia, the UK, the Netherlands and many others. I've already asked the question about "How Can You Build Alliances if Your Enemy Is Buying Them?" with respect to France and Russia.

Have you noticed that Kerry has kind of shut up about the whole alliances issue? Not surprising, as my satirical piece "Kerry's New Position: World Opinion Irrelevant" predicted. Although it is clear that those with an anti-semitic bias are definitely on Kerry's side.

Then there is the question as to whether or not we should have even gone to Iraq. I have outlined "A Pragmatic Reason for Invading Iraq" whether or not they had WMDs, and the truth is, it's not like they didn't have the technology still very much on hand, as I wrote in "Headlines on Iraq's CIA Report Don't Tell the Whole Story."

I get the print version of The National Interest, and Charles Krauthammer's got a great piece in the current issue "In Defense of Democractic Realism" that articulates why we need to fight for democracy in the crescent.

On the sub-issue of Halliburton, this has just been a huge smear, as I have mentioned in "Who Wants to Debate About Issues When you Can Smear?" "Maybe Heinz Could Buy It" and "Kerry's Halliburton Attacks: He Doesn't Get It."

Taxes: George Bush really did reduce income taxes for every American, and rather than actually giving a huge "break" to the wealthy, under Bush the wealthy pay a greater proportion of the federal income tax burden than they did before, as the Congressional Budget Office has shown, and I have written about in: "Real Numbers on Taxes." (Post includes links to CBO data.)

The Economy: George Bush was elected right after the dot-com bubble of the 1990's was starting to burst Clinton's last year in office saw a 0.3% (zero) rise in GDP. The employment bubble was popping during Clinton's last year as well, rising nearly 20% from 4.0 to 4.7%. [You can view this information graphically at the Washington Posts' "Economy in Perspective" tool.] But even though unemployment is still somewhat higher than people remember from the late-90's, at 5.4% it is well below the average rate for the past 30 years (and that's what it was in 1996 also). Not bad.

On a related subject, the Bush administration has taken a tough stand on corporate malfeasance, signing Sarbanes-Oxley and dedicating substantial federal prosecutorial resources for nailing firms for bad accounting. Enron didn't turn into an unfettered giant during Bush's term, it became that way under Clinton's watch.

Tort Reform: Many people like to say it's a controversial claim that tort reform would reduce aggregate health care spending. Certainly FactCheck.org has suggested this. But when I was "Fact-Checking FactCheck.org on Tort Reform" I found some interesting numbers. For example, California does have tort reform (passed by a Democratic governor and legislature back in 1975), and among other things, I found:
California has a high cost of living, so you might expect that per capita medical costs would be higher in California than the nation as a whole, but you would be wrong. According to the Kaiser Familiy Foundation, California's 1998 per capita healthcare spending was $3,429 versus $3,759 for the nation as a whole, or roughly 9% less than the national number. (Interestingly, this is the high range of the cost impact estimated by the Stanford study that FactCheck likes to discredit as being too narrow).
I'll try to post later about some issues like No Child Left Behind and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Friday, October 29, 2004

Poll Results You Can Use (for laughs, at a minimum)  | e-mail post

Since I was beating up on Zogby's polling earlier today, here's a poll that at least is completely honest: Nerve's Completely Unscientific, Transparently Partisan Sexual-Politcal Opinion Poll. Best result: 45% of respondents say Republicans have the best sex, "because the most outwardly uptight and seemingly repressed people have the craziest, kinkiest, taboo-busting, hypocritical sex behind closed doors." I'm honestly not sure what they might think is hypocritical. Since 72% of the respondents plan to vote for Kerry, I'm pretty sure they're being snarky because they're envious. And they should be.

In all fairness, this is more or less in line with the mid-October poll from ABC News Primetime Live which found Republicans are more satisfied with their sex lives (although they attribute this to the fact that more couples and men are Republicans and those groups also tend to be more satisfied with their sex lives). [complete poll results]

Another interesting result from the ABC survey:
"Blondes have more fun" also goes the way of myth, at least sexually speaking: Blondes are no more apt than others to express satisfaction or excitement with their sex lives. Indeed blondes are a little less likely than other women to always have an orgasm, and a little more likely to have faked it.
In July, I wrote about a Shocking Discovery by two economists who found (are you ready for this?), "Sex is strongly and positively associated with happiness." Whoa! I know that sounds like crazy talk, but they do have the numbers to back it up. Seriously, though, they do have some interesting findings, particularly the disproportionate impact of sex on happiness among the highly educated.

As long as I was looking in the archives to find that one, some of you newer readers might also enjoy a couple of posts from the past:
That's all for now. Get over and give Jay Cost a read, if you haven't already.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Thursday, October 28, 2004

Politcal Ads: Everything Old Is New Again  | e-mail post

Wolf Packs for Truth is a satirical 527 about the wolves taking issue with being used in the Bush-Cheney "Wolves" campaign ad. The Wolves ad has taken some inexplicable abuse, while I think it hearkens back nicely to Reagan's 1984 "Bear" ad, available at The Living Room Candidate, a source for political commercials going back to the 1952 campaign.

While you're at the LRC site, take a look at the first really harsh negative ad, possibly one of the most powerful ads ever, LBJ's "Peace" ad. LBJ's campaign revolutionized political advertising and anybody who thinks campaign ads are "more negative than ever" should really watch. Basically the ad paints a clear choice between, LBJ and death by nuclear holocaust.

And while I'm on LBJ ads, it's interesting how much Bush's "The Choice" ad that starts with a VO of "When it's finally quiet..." and ends with "Alone in the booth, why take the chance?" parallels the message of LBJ's "Voting Booth."

LBJ also brought out a great ad that runs over 4 minutes, "Confessions of a Republican," in which a lifelong born-and-bred Republican explains why Goldwater is entirely different, and a little scary.

As long as I'm on the ad subject, I've already written about the Club for Growth's fantastic and very humorous ad, "Indecision," that highlights Kerry's wishy-washy nature. It's funny, as I can't think of any campaign advertising throughout history that actually criticized someone for flip-flopping.

Maybe it's because this is the first election where someone is running for President who actually seems to lack any real conviction other than his own naked desire to be President. Sadly, I can't expect it will be the last.

If you're interested in political advertising, these are some books that might interest you:
Finally, Bush's "Whatever It Takes" ad is great. It's 100% positive, nothing but Bush speaking at the Republican convention with a few cutscenes, and it is very, very powerful. For another powerful ad, you should see "Ashley's Story," if you haven't already, given that I think it has a $14 million ad buy supporting it.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Thursday, October 28, 2004

Democracts Expressing Themselves  | e-mail post

Ironic timing. I just got an e-mail from one of my Democrat friends. His message:

Support Your Candidate!

---------------
Hi Everyone! Just wanted to get this important reminder out - to show support for our presidential candidates, whomever they may be . . .

If you support the policies and character of John Kerry, please drive with your headlights on during the day on Friday. If you support George W. Bush, please drive with your headlights off that night. Thank you.


I honestly forgot to laugh. Maybe because it just wasn't all that hilarious, as I have frequently claimed that most humor needs to be anchored in some level of truth while this joke relies on the liberal conceit that they are somehow more intelligent than conservatives. (As another friend said to me over the weekend "you're too smart to vote for Bush." Nice backhanded compliment.) I might suggest some liberals are misinformed, or don't carry lines of reasoning through to their logical conclusions, or play fast and loose with the facts (all of which may be fair criticisms of many conservatives as well), but I don't uniformly consider them stupid (and I have little regard for those who do).

Or maybe I didn't laugh because I had just finished reading about how Democrats in Florida are driving;or, more accurately, how at least one feels that it is appropriate to use a car to terrorize an elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives, as just happened yesterday when Barry Seltzer seemed to get a little case of road rage toward Rep. Katherine Harris (who was the Florida secretary of state during the 2000 election). Seltzer popped up on the sidewalk and drove toward Harris and a crowd of her supporters. [Guardian UK] [Police Report at Smoking Gun] "I intimidated them with my car," Seltzer told police. "I was exercising my political expression." No comment.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Thursday, October 28, 2004

John Zogby and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle  | e-mail post

An apology, as I am abusing the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in my title. Strictly speaking, the principle applies to the field of physics, quantum mechanics more specifically, and in casual interpretation suggests that the accuracy of measurement is necessarily influenced or compromised by the very act of measuring. This is not precisely accurate however, and the curious can read more about the subject.

Despite its inaccuracy, my reference to it in the title is based on the common interpretation, and my real point is that John Zogby is not so much an outstanding pollster as he is an outstanding showman, and his role as pollster celebre may actually be of more value to those for whom is a partisan than those seeking news.

In their Election Issue, The New Yorker ran a pretty in-depth piece about Zogby written by Larissa MacFarquhar. (If you're curious about Ms MacFarquhar's leanings, you can read her glowing piece on Michael Moore, "The Populist: Michael Moore Can Make You Cry" as well.) The article on Zogby was what prompted me to buy that particular issue, although I might subscribe again. Not surprisingly, the Election Issue bordered on Kerry campaign literature.

Zogby is certainly a smart guy and fairly creative. You can get a sense of his unconventional approach to getting a feel for voter sentiment:
"How do I get a handle on this election or any other?" he asked the road builders. "I asked one question the Saturday before the election in 2000. I called my call center in Utica and said, 'Put this in the poll: "You live in the land of Oz, and the candidates are the Tin Man, who’s all brains and no heart, and the Scarecrow, who’s all heart and no brains. Who would you vote for?"' The next day, I called Utica and said, 'Whaddaya got?' They said, 'Well we’ve got Gore—,' I said, 'I don’t care about Gore. What’s Oz?' It was 46.2 for the Tin Man and 46.2 for the Scarecrow. It was right there that I knew I wasn’t going to know what was going to happen. But I asked this question again two weeks ago and the Tin Man led by ten points."
Clearly, John Kerry is the Tin Man.

Setting aside his pop-psychology. In any event, the article presents a very sympathetic portrayal of John Zogby and his sense of exclusion from the "clubby" world of pollsters. The truth is a little more complex, though:
Zogby thinks of himself as a natural maverick who stands outside the clubby world of the other pollsters because he finds it pompous and stuffy and because he isn’t a joiner anyway. But it is also true that he uses techniques that are frowned upon by AAPOR, the American Association for Public Opinion Research, as unscientific or unethical.
Of course, after listing the litany of complaints the "polling establishment" has with John Zogby's methods, MacFarquhar brushes them aside simply, "But Zogby doesn’t want to be scientific: he wants to be right." How nice. The fact is, his track record isn't half as good as his spin is, though. But before looking at that, what are the complaints those clubby pollsters have:
It's of interest to note that Zogby probably doesn't particularly care for the non-partisan, non-profit Pew Research Center, as the article notes that when Pew asked for information about his statistical adjustments in the 1998 race, he wouldn't give them up. Most pollsters work with Pew, as they serve a very important function in analyzing aggregate polling results and as a non-profit, aren't really competitors to the main business of pollsters, which is usually corporate research.

Now, what about Zogby's accuracy? As MacFarquhar said, "Zogby doesn’t want to be scientific: he wants to be right." He rose to some prominence when he predicted a much closer election in 1996 between Dole and Clinton, and then got some kudos again for calling Al Gore with the popular vote in 2000. None of this is nearly as impressive as George Gallup's first poll where he not only called FDR's reelection, but also predicted well in advance the incorrect results of the nation's previously-revered presidential poll from Literary Digest within one point. The main thing is that this is a state-by-state electoral vote race, and I don't think that's where Zogby shines.

Obviously, the proof has got to be in the pudding, so we're still a week away from knowing, but in the 2002 research conducted by the non-profit National Council on Public Polls tells a story . (The NCPP is another one of those "clubs" that Zogby is apparently too much of a "maverick" to join, or maybe it's just their disclosure standards that preclude him.) In any event, the 2002 NCPP results (which I have augmented with an accuracy percentage in the last column:

PollsterRacesAvgError*
WrongAccuracy
Mason-Dixon23
1.80%196%
Zogby International
172.50%
571%
Research 2000
13
2.10%
285%
Gallup7
1.40%
186%
Quinnipiac College
4
2.00%
0100%
All Others
952.70%
1287%
Total159
2.40%2187%

* The AvgError column is the "Average Error on Candidate" is best described byt he NCPP in footnote 4 of their results: "The candidate error reported here is half the error on the margin between the top two candidates. The error was calculated by subtracting the margin between the top two candidates in a poll from the margin between the same candidates in the election. For example, if a race was won by 55% to 45% the margin is 10 percentage points. If a poll reported a lead of only 47% to 43% with 10% undecided, the 4-point margin in the poll would be off by 6 percentage points. The candidate error in this case was counted as 3 points, half the error on the margin. No method of judging the error works perfectly."

71%. Hmm. Lower than any other major pollster, lower than the average. Even if we don't grade him on the curve, he got a C- in 2002. Ironically, you can buy Zogby's hindsight-based analysis of the 2002 election, "Decision 2002: Why The Republicans Gained."

I'll put my bias out there, I've been a fan of Mason-Dixon polls for years. They have a very good reputation and a good track record to point to, as the 2002 numbers attest. I'll certainly be curious to see how this race plays out. I'll also be honest that I don't respect Zogby, other than possibly as a businessman. I think he is a far better self-promoter than he is a pollster; his results and his approach both attest to that. I pimped on him last year as an aside about his comments on polling in Iraq (when he erroneously claimed to have conducted the first public opinion polls over there). I've also pointed out comparative analysis that indicates his systematic liberal bias in national polling.

I think for a good chunk of the election cycle, Zogby has been favoring Kerry. The tracking polls he's doing now for Reuters are starting to show Bush with a lead, which I think may be Zogby trying to preserve his reputation by shifting to more objective polling. Who knows? Maybe he's even using some of those crazy AAPOR guidelines he often thinks are too restrictive.

More on this later, I'm sure. In the meantime, Jay Cost points me to DJ Drummond's post in which he also takes Zogby to task: "All in all, Zogby’s habit of confusing his personal opinion with data-driven conclusions, his admitted practice of manipulating the respondent pool and his demographic weights, by standards not accepted anywhere else, along with mixing Internet polls with telephone interview results, forces me to reject his polls as unacceptable; they simply cannot be verified, and I strongly warn the reader that there is no established benchmark for the Zogby reports, even using previous Zogby polls, because he has changed his practices from his own history."



e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  | (0) comments |  | Thursday, October 28, 2004

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