Factoid of the day

Via Ezra in a nice post about how to shorten voting lines:

Note that 16 percent of Obama voters had to wait longer than thirty minutes to vote Tuesday, versus only 9 percent of Romney voters, according to a survey by Hart Research.


Education and the vote

There’s actually a lot one could say about this (And it’s not all just some spurious correlation).  Alas, I’ve already done far too much blogging lately.  I originally found this on FB and I’m not totally sold on “happyplace.com” but this looks about right:


Following up on that last post, I just read this Tom Edsall piece from before the election and he talks about lessons learned.  There’s this one:

Truth: An equally significant development has been the strategic decision of the Romney campaign to set new standards in the use of untrue campaign claims.

The ultimate test case of whether it is possible to lie and get away with it will be the outcome in Ohio, where Romney is running ads in open disregard of the truth.

Over the past two weeks, with Ohio once again a key battleground, the Romney campaign has falsely alleged in speeches and in television commercials that Chrysler plans to shift Jeep manufacturing and jobs from the United State to China.

“I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China,” Romney told a rally in Defiance, Ohio on Oct. 25. His commercial declares:

Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.

Glen Kessler, the Washington Post fact checker, gave Romney his worst rating, four Pinocchios, for the speech and the ad. Ohio newspapers have written tough editorials and news stories challenging Romney.

If Romney wins Ohio, every campaign in future elections is going to give much more serious consideration to lying and to open defiance of media rebuttals as a legitimate campaign expedient.

Don’t know that this particular shameful lie worked, but on the whole I think it is fair to say that the Romney campaign’s utter disregard for the truth was definitely more successful than not.  Sad for democracy.

Behind the 1st debate

Fun behind-the-scenes account of the campaign very much centered on the first debate and how the candidates prepared for it.  This was my favorite snippet:

Mr. Obama showed no interest in watching the Republican debates. But his aides studied them closely, and concluded that Mr. Romney was a powerful debater, hard to intimidate and fast to throw out assertions that would later prove wrong or exaggerated. At one debate, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas criticized Mr. Romney for having praised Arne Duncan, the education secretary, days earlier. Mr. Romney flatly denied it, leaving Mr. Perry speechless.

At the White House, Mr. Obama’s communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, took note of that moment, intending to mention it to Mr. Obama. He would later fault himself for failing to fully understand “the magnitude of the challenge” Mr. Romney’s debate style presented.

I love that– absolutely shameless, baldfaced lying as a “debate style.”  Doubtless it worked.

The Obama number crunchers

Loved this Time story about all the heavy duty quantitative analysis that went into the Obama campaign.  A couple of the most interesting snippets:

The strategists fashioned tests for specific demographic groups, trying out message scripts that they could then apply. They tested how much better a call from a local volunteer would do than a call from a volunteer from a non–swing state like California. As Messina had promised, assumptions were rarely left in place without numbers to back them up.

We got a fair number of Obama calls.  In all honesty, I saw this is a mark of inefficiency as their models should have had Kim and I down as certain Obama voters who needed no additional persuasion.  Anyway, all the calls came from “unknown number” in our area code– 919.  Since even my cell phone comes up “unknown number” I pretty much answer any call that caller ID shows is 919.  In one conversation, I learned the caller was calling from South Carolina, yet the system obviously routes the call to make it look local.  Smart!!  I would’ve never picked up from an unfamiliar area code.

This too:

Data helped drive the campaign’s ad buying too. Rather than rely on outside media consultants to decide where ads should run, Messina based his purchases on the massive internal data sets. “We were able to put our target voters through some really complicated modeling, to say, O.K., if Miami-Dade women under 35 are the targets, [here is] how to reach them,” said one official. As a result, the campaign bought ads to air during unconventional programming, like Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23, skirting the traditional route of buying ads next to local news programming. How much more efficient was the Obama campaign of 2012 than 2008 at ad buying? Chicago has a number for that: “On TV we were able to buy 14% more efficiently … to make sure we were talking to our persuadable voters,” the same official said.

The numbers also led the campaign to escort their man down roads not usually taken in the late stages of a presidential campaign. In August, Obama decided to answer questions on the social news website Reddit, which many of the President’s senior aides did not know about. “Why did we put Barack Obama on Reddit?” an official asked rhetorically. “Because a whole bunch of our turnout targets were on Reddit.”

That data-driven decisionmaking played a huge role in creating a second term for the 44th President and will be one of the more closely studied elements of the 2012 cycle. It’s another sign that the role of the campaign pros in Washington who make decisions on hunches and experience is rapidly dwindling, being replaced by the work of quants and computer coders who can crack massive data sets for insight. As one official put it, the time of “guys sitting in a back room smoking cigars, saying ‘We always buy 60 Minutes’” is over. In politics, the era of big data has arrived.

I guess this means I fast-forwarded right by some Obama ads during Walking Dead.  Anyway, I find this ad buying strategy fascinating.

Super-cool interactive chart of the day

Via Planet Money, this charts the birth ratio and ratio of elderly vs. working adults for a variety of nations over the course of the next 50 years or so. Our ratio of elderly to adults is scheduled to rise a lot soon, but then stabilize.  Thanks in part to our higher birth ratios than places like Germany, France, and Japan.  Really interesting and fun to play around with.  Here’s a still below, but click through and give it a try:

Photo of the day

From an In Focus “Election Night in Photos” set:


Spectators react to the election results displayed on large televisions during Mitt Romney’s campaign election night event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 6, 2012. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

And ecstasy…

Supporters of Barack Obama react to favorable media projections at McCormick Place, during an election night watch party in Chicago, on November 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

NC’s blue trendline in presidential elections

So, in comments, former student extraordinaire, Mike M. writes:

One thing I find really interesting, that I assume you’ll be blogging at some point, is the changing demographics continuing to push NC to the left. Given the vote tallies as they stand now, NC was only 4.4 points right of the nation as a whole! Down from 6.9 points in 2008, which was down from 10 points in 2004, which was down from 13.5 points in 2000…

Well, that some point is now.  And all credit to Mike, I hadn’t really thought about this or seen it mentioned anywhere else.  (Though, it may make it into a few NC newspaper stories now as it’s been one of my talking points, thanks to Mike’s post).  If this number continues to move closer to 0, NC wil become one of the swingiest states.  That would be cool– Ohio, we’re after you!

How the NC Republicans did it

Great piece by WRAL’s Mark Binker on how the Republican party has managed to come from the political wilderness to completely take over North Carolina politics within just a couple elections.  Short version: investment in organization, money (certainly helps with the former), and luck.  If you have an NC interest or one in political parties, it’s a must read:


Polling questions answered

I had meant to do a post before the election about all the questions about polling that were going to be answered by this election.  Like much in life, ran out of time.  That said, we can come to a number of important conclusions from this chart of pollster performance via Ezra:

Well, what can you say about Raleigh’s own PPP.  Mighty impressive.  Especially since they are a robo-poller that thus cannot call cell phones.  And I’ve already mentioned Rasumussen.  Okay, then…

1) Having live telephone interviewers and cell phones in the sample is clearly not essential to accurate election polling.

2) Part of that phrasing above refers to the fact that rigorously-conducted on-line polls, notably YouGov and Ipsos/Reuters also fared quite well.

3) Polling is definitely an art as well as a science and it pays to have a good artist.  Tom Jensen at PPP is definitely a great artist.  Scott Rasmussen not so much.

4) Given the cost advantages and overall good performance in 2012, look for even more on-line polling in the future.

5) I’d love it if someone would take the time to compute the average error by mode of survey to see if there really are systematic differences.

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