One question on Voter ID Laws

Had a guest speaker in my class today and we discussed Voter ID laws (among many other things).  One clarifying question occurred to me:

Do you honestly think that Republicans would be such zealous proponents of voter ID laws if it was disproportionately Republican voters who lacked ID’s rather than disproportionately Democratic voters?  If you answered yes, you are lying to yourself and probably also think the liberal media is skewing the polls.

How to win the debate

Why, set expectations as low as possible so you can exceed those expectations.  Hilarious story from NPR with Democrats saying what a great debater Romney is and Republicans talking up Obama.  It’s quite amusing to hear the campaigns and surrogates speak so highly of their opponents.  That is, except for Chris Christie who didn’t get the memo.  Well worthy 2 minutes of your time.

Chart of the day

Via Planet Money, a fascinating series of charts looking at PID and income levels:

Political Affiliations By Income Level

Bet that “high income” chart surprises many of you.  At the low end, Democrats still have a big advantage, but at the high end, partisanship is increasingly unrelated to income level (at least in blue states).


Romney down a touchdown with 10 minutes to go

Love that Nate Silver went to a football metaphor (as I love to do) to explain the state of the race.  Rather than down and distance, though, he puts it in terms of lead and time left:

According to the win probability calculator at, an N.F.L. team down by field goal with 10 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter has a 34 percent probability of winning the game. A team down by a touchdown wins just 16 percent of the time.

(A technical note for sports geeks: these cases assume that the trailing team has possession of the football with first down and 10 yards to go at its own 20 yard line.)

If you look at our estimate of Mitt Romney’s chances of winning the Electoral College, which are about 15 percent right now in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, the touchdown analogy works best: Mr. Romney has about as much chance of winning as an N.F.L. team does when it trails by a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

I was pretty curious to put this into a 3rd and XX yards frame, but somehow I absolutely cannot find the states on-line for 3rd down conversion success percentage by distance.  I’m thinking 15% is around 3rd and 10, but that’s just a guess.  If anybody knows where to find this…

Photo of the day

Happy October!  From Alan Taylor’s Oktoberfest set:

Revelers celebrate Oktoberfest in a beer tent in Munich, on September 22, 2012. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

My maternal, maternal heritage (i.e., mom’s side of my mom’s family) is actually Bavarian (her father’s family is from Nordrhein-Westfalen), but I fall pretty far from the tree here.  I simply hate the taste of beer.  Never made my way more than half-way through a glass.  Makes for great photos, though.

GOP and masculinity

I think one of the reasons that my dad moving towards the Democratic party has never been all that “sticky” is that on a temperemantal level, he’s just more Republican.  Many more Republicans than Democrats would happily proclaim themselves a “male chauvinist pig” with no shame.  Hence, this latest research really made me think of my dad. Via HuffPo:

Republican congresswomen appear more “feminine” than their Democrat counterparts, according to a new study by UCLA psychology researchers.

“Female politicians with stereotypically feminine facial features are more likely to be Republican than Democrat, and the correlation increases the more conservative the lawmaker’s voting record,” said study author Colleen M. Carpinella, a UCLA graduate student in psychology, in an article posted to the UCLA Newsroom website.

So what makes a woman “stereotypically feminine?” …

The program, called FaceGen, allows the researchers to measure more than 100 subtle dimensions including the shape of the jaw, the location of eyebrows, the placement of cheek bones, the shape of eyes and the contour of the forehead, to create a score ranging from -40 (highly male-typed) to +40 (highly female-typed).

For the study, the researchers had FaceGen analyze the portraits of members of the111th House of Representatives, measuring how closely the facial features of each face approached the average for their gender.

The findings for female representatives were more telling, however. Republican women rated more “extremely feminine” or more “sex-typical,” according to Johnson. The connection was so strong, the press release notes, that when photos of the same politicians were shown to a batch of undergrads, the students were able to guess with very high accuracy the political affiliations of those women who had been rated most and least “sex-typical.”

The article points out that this is not about physical attractiveness.  Rather,

After analyzing the findings, Johnson concluded that the differences in facial features of the congresswomen reflect the ideals and values of their constituents.

“If you look at the Democratic platform, they strive for equality (salary equity, gay rights),” while the Republican’s platform “enforces and advocates for more traditional gender roles,” Johnson told HuffPost. To be electable, Republican female candidates must therefore reflect their party’s ideals in both ideology and physiology, Johnson added.

Interesting stuff.  I tried my own utterly failed study on facial width a while back.  Really cool idea but went nowhere.  It was based on the fact that wider male faces seems to indicate more testosterone.  Anyway, interesting stuff.

In the end, it’s not Mitt– it’s Politico

Damn, do I hate Politico.  Sure they are worth the occassional link, but as a general rule, they pretty much represent everything that is wrong with political journalism.  Obsessive focus on personality and day-to-day minutiae instead of context and structural factors.  First, it’s way too early to call this election over.  Do I think Obama is a strong favorite?  Of course.  But Romney post mortems already?  Please!

More importantly, though, there’s a whole article about how the whole reason Mitt is going to lose is his failures as a politician/candidate.    Notably, it’s by the Politico top brass, so you can definitely see that their journalistic failings come from the top.  For starters, Obama has hit 50% approval in a number of recent polls.  How many challengers beat an incumbent with 50% approval.  And yes, the economy is having a rough time, but Ezra and others have presented evidence that it nonetheless may be benefiting Obama.  Or, let’s consider the role of the Republican Party in creating a candidate like Romney.  Or, how about the fact that every other Republican who ran would almost surely have been a genuine disaster.

Now, Romney has made his share of mistakes.  But all candidates do.  Even Obama.  Has Romney run a particularly poor campaign in modern historical context.  Maybe, but I really don’t think so.  Obama is a very skilled campaigner. Clinton was a very skilled campaigner.  GWB was pretty good. But Kerry?  Bob Dole?  Al Gore?  Bush Sr?

Of course, with all the blame on Mitt, this will allow the Tea Party to drive the party truly off a cliff in 2016 as they convince themselves that the problem was the candidate– not the party that created him.  And as for Politco, there’s a reason I never actually encourage anyone to read it.

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