All entries for January 2008

January 31, 2008

Electoral Update

So Florida went as expected, but big things have happened since! Firstly Guiliani dropped out. Thats fairly sensible on his behalf – he had no chance of winning from this point. Secondly McCain having won Florida, took the backing of both Rudy and Also Arnie, which lead to some obvious and hilarious headlines . Schwarzenegger for president is all I have to say. Which gives Mitt the Mormon (whilst writing this article I actually mistyped Moron) a problem, possible unsurmountable, of how to make a comeback. He has less backing, less momentum, and lower national polling numbers.

Finally Edwards has now also dropped out – leaving a straight Clinton vs Obama showdown. In some ways I’m surprised Edwards left it this long, since his wife’s cancer problems had resurfaced a while ago. I suspect that his campaign didn’t have much money left to run on at this point as well. One of the interesting things is that Edwards hasn’t yet endorsed anyone. If he leaves it till after super-tuesday its unlikely to have any significant impact. The only real motivation I can see here is that it leaves the door open for him being a vice presidential nomination for either candidate.

Which brings me onto another interesting question that a lot of people keep on asking – who could be a vice presidential nominee. I won’t bother covering Edwards, since I’m sure everyone reading this blog was alive in 2004, but I’ll offer a few of options either way.

Bill Richardson
Popular new mexico governor, with hispanic background. Has strong experience as energy minister and foreign affairs minion under Bill Clinton. Also has plenty of hair. Would offer more to Obama than Clinton by adding experience to his idealism and strong backing amongst the hispanic community thats crucial in swing states like new mexico, and especially florida.

Evan Bayh
Former governor of Indiana, and current senator from Indiana, Bayh nearly made a presidential run of his own this year – forming a committee and raising $10 million but decided not to enter the race due to strong competition from other candidates. Considered to be a fiscally conservative democrat Bayh has served as chair of the Democratic Leadership Council (the same position Bill Clinton held before his Presidential run). He also serves on the committee for Armed Forces, which might offer something to counter McCain. Additionally has been considered as a running mate for both Al Gore and John Kerry, and Bill Clinton has suggested that he would make a good President. In my opinion more likely for Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama.

As to republicans, Guiliani could make a viable running mate for possible candidate, as would popular former florida governer Jeb Bush. Bush would have strong fundraising potential, and also help the swing state of Florida remain republican.

If Michael Bloomber decides that he won’t run, he would make an ideal running mate for anyone out of McCain, Clinton or Obama. Currently New York Major, practically limitless fundraising abilities (he’s worth $11 billion), fiscally conservative but socially pseudo-liberal. Success in business is often seen as a good administrative indicator in politicians. Been a member of both parties in the past, and is often seen as advocating better cooperation and less partisan politics. I wouldn’t be too surprised if there was a tussel for him as a running mate.


January 29, 2008

Florida

Follow-up to Fallacies from True Contradictions

Its time for some florida predictions! The democrats will finish in the following order: clinton,obama,edwards. There are no delegates and consequently none of the major contenders have been heavily campaigning there. And thats all i have to say about them!

Guiliani
So in my original primary blog post I observed that Guiliani’s strategy relied on him ignoring early states and winning the Florida primary. Unfortunately for Mr. Guiliani he has fallen in polls nationally in the last month, and now looks out of the race. The LA Times are already predicting that Guiliani is ready to drop out after Florida. Don’t get me wrong – he’ll finish strongly, but not win the states. its worth taking a brief sidetrack to examine what went wrong for Rudy.

The majority of news outlets have proclaimed that his strategy of ignoring early states and concentrating on Florida lead to his downfall. I’m entirely convinced that this is the case myself. Whilst McCain is looking strong at the moment, the early primary victories have been split between him, Romney and Huckabee. This has left no candidate with unstoppable momentum coming into Florida. I wouldn’t write off the free publicity that each of these candidates has gotten through their victories, but i don’t think ‘momentum’ really counts for that much more.

One factor is that Guiliani is competing for moderate republican voters who are big on national defence. This is funnily the same demographics as McCain – and really when Guiliani looses voters it is likely that they are going to McCain. Now McCain’s campaign has been on the rise since October 2007 – long before the first primary. This is based on solid performance in the debates (in the early ones Rudy said ‘9/11’ and very little else, in the later ones ‘Reagan’ and little else) and improved news from his campaign. You may recall that early in the campaigning season McCain was hamstrung by poor fundraising and disorganisation which resulted in negative publicity. His resurgence has hit Guiliani hard.

Another important trend that has emerged over the course of the campaign is that national security has diminished in importance, and the economy has emerged as the key issue. This leaves Guiliani’s trump card out of the deck. Mainstream news media tend to sideline core issues such as this in favour of ‘character politics’ – but its important to recognise that a lot of people are very driven by how a politician presents issues. Until recently Guiliani, despite his record as NY major, hasn’t really emphasized the economy as a key priority. Unfortunately I now feel it is too late for him.

Before moving onto the actual predictions, I’d like to make it clear that I think he’ll do a little better than the polls are predicting due to the propensity of Florida’s voters to go to the ballot boxes early (estimates suggest up to a third of them will do so). Nonetheless its a safe bet to make that Guiliani will go out at this stage.

Predictions

I was hoping to be able to make an unset prediction for Romney, before any of the polls could. He was surging up on McCain over the last week. Watching the weekly Zogby tracking poll has been as exciting as watching tracking polls can ever get. Unfortunately, for me, the endorsement of governer Crist seems to have just given McCain the edge, and so I’m going to have to go with him as the safe bet. Unfortunately for Romney Florida is first past the post, so McCain will overtake him in delegates. Huckabee has fought well, but this isn’t really his state in terms of politics. Not even Chuck Norris can save him. In summary the order is as follows:

McCain
Romney
Guiliani
Huckabee
Paul

just a final thought – we’ve had two Kennedy’s back Obama in the last 2 days. Perhaps Hillary isn’t as dominant as people think …


January 28, 2008

Fallacies

The South Carolina primary was interesting – Obama, as predicted on this blog, came out strongly ahead of Clinton. What was less interesting was the breakdown in media outlets after the event. The most hotly debated topics of the primary were racial tensions and Bill Clinton’s involvement.

Bill Clinton loves Hillary?

Bill has been playing the role of Hillary’s attack dog leading up to, and throughout the South Carolina campaign. This allows Hillary to viciously lay into the Obama campaign, without seeming unpresidential. When asked in interviews about this, she can simply put it down to his love for her. The reader may insert a Monica Lewinski related cheap-shot of their own preference at this point. After the primary the media have been banging on about an exit polling statistic that shows 6/10 voters thought Bill Clinton was important in the primary and that most of those people voted Obama.

Based on this statistic many people have claimed that Bill hurt Hillary’s campaign. They ignore some of the relevant details of the statistic. Firstly that Hillary’s average amongst people who felt it was important was 10% higher than her average amongst voters overall, and secondly that one’s likelihood to vote for Hillary was directly correlated with how important they felt Bill was. Look at the statistics for more detail, but for example of the 26% who thought he was ‘Very Important’ 46% voted for her, of the 19% who didn’t think he was important at all – only 9% voted for her.

Now having criticised mainstream media for offering easy conclusions based on fallacious reasoning, I’m claiming that this correlation of Bill’s importance causing votes for Hillary over Obama implies a causality. Come on, I’m not that stupid! I think whats important is that Hillary’s voter increase is better correlated to Edward’s voter dropoff than Obama’s. In other words in attacking Obama Bill didn’t stop people from voting Obama, but he made it clear to voters that it was a two horse race. This allowed Hillary to retain 2nd place. Very few people read the daily tracking polls, but Edwards was coming from behind for a while – as the race row burned on, his momentum seemed to drop. As usual with primary related theories it holds a low probability of being correct and its hard to have ‘smoking gun’ evidence – but at least the theory I have outlined above explains the statistics presented by exit polling, rather pretending to explaing them, whilst actually ignoring them.

Obama is a black candidate?

So far we have seen strong demographic biases in these primaries – as you imagine in a battle billed as ‘black guy vs woman’. Again the message thats being put out by the Clinton’s – and being bought by the international media – is that Obama won because most democrats in the states are black. Since most Americans aren’t black we can write off this advantage nation wide. This completely ignores the fact that 60%, yes 60%, of the voters were women! In both the primaries that he has won Obama has beaten Hillary in terms of female votes. My point is that in order to properly analyse trends we need to very detailed statistics on who voted how. For example, amongst black voters in S.C Hillary had 15 times more voters than Edwards. Is that because Hillary has stronger ties to the black community, or were those people voting for her women impressed by her status? Another trend one could identify from CNN’s statistics is that you are more likely to vote for Obama if you are a regular church goer. Lets extrapolate this and, since Americans are more likely to regularly attend church than democrats and conclude that he is the religious candidate. Again easy answers based on one dimensional correlations provde fallacious. Especially when they can’t explain the qualitative, as well as quantitative results.

And now for something not very different…

When I wrote my predictions for South Carolina I observed that all three candidates had excellent shots of taking the state. This was based on their fundamental appeals to the type of people who vote in democratic primaries in S.C. When the race and female factors are taken into account John Edwards goes from first to third. My point here isn’t that demographics are all important in elections, but in situations where all candidates may seem very appealing to voters having something extra to ensure other candidates get perceived as an ‘other’ rather than related to you helps swing the race in your favour. A very banal conclusion, but at least its one that I can believe in.


January 25, 2008

South Carolina

Follow-up to Next Primaries from True Contradictions

Recap

My previously rushed entry was actually surprisingly accurate, given the low levels of late research undertaken in its support. I correctly predicted the winner of all 3 races, and got correct ordering on democrats in Nevada and top 4 republicans in South Carolina. I feel like Stephen Colbert – there’s an election happening and I’m talking about awesome I am.

Dirty Politics?

There’s been an increasing trend within the media to portray the democratic race as being contentious and full of racial tension. I’m not convinced that this is quite the terror people make it out to be. Watching the debates, it seems they are a lot more issue focussed than some of the republican debates. (If I had a penny for everytime I heard someone say “Now Ron…” in a patronising manner…)

A lot of what is discussed seems to be about people trying to clarify their record in their words. Still one can always ask for more next time. The latest debate also included one of my favourite moments of the campaign so far: Barrack Obama was asked whether he thought Bill Clinton was the first ‘Black’ President. He responded by saying he’d have to examine some evidence that he hadn’t yet seen, for example his ability to dance. Klassic!

The Primary

Its also worth noting that since I’ve been ignoring Mike Gravel for months (he’s a Taxi driver in NY ffs) we are now down to 3 candidates after Dennis Kucinich’s departure from the race. (On a side note google correct the spelling of Kucinich, but no the capitalisation of his first letter) This is a good thing, since he’s a sideshow, albeit an entertaining one.

The demographics of South Carolina are worth noting as well – a high black population throughout the state, that actually forms a majority amongst registered democrats.

Edwards won the primary here in 2004, his only primary victory of his campaign that year (despite him coming 2nd in delegate count). He was also born in the state, and his populist streak would seem to appeal where there is high unemployment. Unfortunately the strength of his opponents this time are likely to relegate him to 3rd place. He has been coming back a bit in the polls recently here, but its probably too much of a gap to make up before the big day.

Hillary Clinton on paper is another strong contender for South Carolina – her perceived strength on the economy would go down well in a state with an above average unemployment rate and her improved polling nationally since New Hampshire should show through here. I believe she is handicapped here because of strong support along racial lines for Barrack Obama and will place a distant second.

After New Hampshire Obama cannot afford another slip up. His lead in polling data within this state seems formidable, but in reality is no more than he had in New Hampshire at a similar point, several polls also show a large of undecideds. Nonetheless I’m backing him to win it, because strong fundamentals (demographics of race, democrats in southern states better accepting his message) should back him here in a way that was only really equalled by momentum in New Hampshire.

Its worth noting that this is the last democratic race that will have such detailed coverage. Whilst I intend to go in depth on Republican Florida race, the democratic one has 0 delegates and has purely nominal campaigning going on. After that there is Super Tuesday – after which point the races may be decided already (cough especially given Clinton’s lead in California, New York and New Jersey cough). Whilst I intend to give predictions for both sides on super Tuesday, for as many states as I can research there are a potential of 160 placings – so I doubt I will managed in depth coverage of all candidates everywhere.

In a few days I shall be putting up the Republican predictions for Florida, hopefully along with an analysis of campaign strategy.


January 22, 2008

The Barber of Seville

I was in seville last week, so i visited a Barber, who was also a hairdresser:


January 18, 2008

Next Primaries

This is a quick entry, since I’m using it to fill in time whilst people shower. As I’m sure some people saw, Romney won Michigan by a quite a bit (39v30 over McCain), whilst I predicted him in a close second place. Bad luck better Mullet. I think the reasons I cited in the article for him coming back strongly to second place can be applied to his victory, I simply wasn’t aware of the strength of the economic feelings there.

Republicans:

They have both Nevada and SC tomorrow, so I will be predicting both:

Nevada:
Romney
McCain
Thompson
Guiliani
Paul
Huckabee

South Carolina:
McCain
Huckabee
Romney
Paul
Thompson
Guiliani

Nevada is a state thats traditionally quite socially liberal, NB: gambling, but also very interested in business and extremely pro-free market. Its consequently good territory for Romney to pickup another win on the trot. I think McCain will go over socially conservative candidates, potentially Guiliani could do alright here, if he was really b othering with it.

Democrats:

Nevada:
Clinton
Obama
Edwards

The democratic polls are slowly leaning back Clinton’s way after the Obama insurgency. Again I’d like to observe that Nevada is poorly polled compared with earlier primaries. In fact despite the primary being tomorrow, I’m seeing more activity for big, super Tuesday states (New Jersey, New York, etc.) than I am for Nevada. The same issues apply as in the republican race as far as I can tell, and Clinton’s emphasis on detail will probably play stronger here than Obama’s message.


January 15, 2008

Michigan

Follow-up to New Hampshire from True Contradictions

There is a democratic Michigan primary but it doesn't count for any "delegates":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_primaries_2008#The_Michigan_primary

Republicans


I have to say that michigan is the closest race of the primary season so far.  Its also the hardest to predict - McCain is polling between 34% and 22%, Romney between 30% and 21%, Ron Paul's polling varies by a factor of 3.

On one hand we have McCain, fresh from his NH victory and riding the crest of the wave, on the other hand we have Mitt Romney, finishing a strong second in both Iowa and NH on the back of substantial ad spending.  Why is Mitt Romney now competitive when, despite spending millions, he failed in Iowa and NH? 

The key issue in Michigan is the economy, whose unemployment rates are double the American average and has been hit by the credit crisis harder than elsewhere.  As a businessman Romney is perceived as being stronger on the economy than McCain, whose strengths are generally perceived as being immigration and anti-terrorism.  Additionally Romney was born here in Michigan, in short if Romney can't win in Michigan, he is unlikely to win anywhere.

Mike Huckabee is also campaigning strongly here hoping to get a'better than expected' result in order to boost himself going into the critical south carolina primary.  He will be expected to gain strong support amongst evangelicals and people liking his 'down to earth' style.  It is worth bearing in mind that he is in a distant 3rd, and anything higher will be considered a major result for him.

Another aspect of this poll is that since the democrats have basically nuked their own primary in the state a lot of democrats and republicans will be voting in the republican one.  It is generally expected that this will help the more centrist John McCain. 

Candidate Vote Share
McCain 27
Romney 25
Huckabee 16
Guiliani 7
Paul 7
Thompson 7

I doubt I will be able to post predictions for Nevada and SC - due to my situation this week, but at this moment in time I'd guess Obama over Clinton in Nevada though I wouldn't be too surprised to see Edwards grab another 2nd place here, since last polls I checked had all 3 of them within statiscal error margin of each other.

Its also worth noting that there are few polls going on in Nevada, since few candidates are campaigning there and pollsters don't want another embarrassment after NH.

As to republicans in Nevada I'm currently thinking about McCain, Guiliani, Romney, Huckabee, Thompson and finally Paul.  I don't state this predication with any expectations of accuracy for the same reasons I outlined for the democrats.


January 09, 2008

I am not Nostradamus

Follow-up to New Hampshire from True Contradictions

At the time of writing, I only have 80% reporting, so things might change slightly, I'll check it out tomorrow morning and update if I get any closer. In Iowa I was close with the democrats, and slightly further with the republicans, this time its the other way around. Its worth noting that in terms of average placement I'm very close, in the republicans I predicted the exact ordering of all 6 major candidates, for the democrats the only mistake I made was predicting OPbama over Clinton, rather than the other way round.

Candidate Predicted Vote Share Actual Vote Share
Obama 38 36
Clinton 28 39
Edwards 20 17
Richardson 8 5


Kucinich 3 2

If we ignore Hillary Clinton, I was within 3% of the actual score for each of the other Candidates. As to Hillary - what can I say? Her victory was certainly a surprise to me, and much of the polling data was inaccurate leading up to the event, a linear regression of polling data would have predicted a 15-20% lead for Obama. So whats changed? Here's a few theories that I believe are plausible:

1. Obama's base assumed he would win and didn't come out to vote.
I don't believe this is true, due to the level of passion that he has been able to engender in his supporters, throughout this campaign.

2. Iowa has a caucus system that requires people to wait for hours in order to vote, thus in Iowa young mothers (a key Hillary demographic) were disadvantaged compared to New Hampshire's primary system
This is a possible explanation, if its the case, assume a national bias in Caucuses for Obama, and primaries for Hillary. So this is somewhat testable.

3. Hillary did well in the debate and last minute campaigning
During the debate Obama and Edwards made their points more stylishly than Hillary, however, Hillary frequently made the superior arguments, for example by offering superior levels of detail in her policy, or by giving an example of something she had done in the past to backup her case.

4. Bill Clinton
Bill loves New Hampshire, it was here that he coined his 'comeback kid' phrase and got the momentum to push forward to the democratic nomination for his first term. He is massively liked in New England and will have been a tremendous attribute to the Clinton campaign.

Its finally worth making one point that you probably won't hear in the media, Obama and Clinton each won (assuming the current shares continue with the remaining votes) 5 precints each, and consequently split the number of pledged voters from the state. So even though this may have been a surprise upset in term of the winner, in terms of the hard numbers its a score draw.

Candidate Predicted Vote Share Actual Vote Share
McCain 33 37
Romney 30 32
Huckabee 12 11
Guiliani 10 9
Paul 8 8
Thompson 3 1

Perfect ordering for all 6 candidates and all within 4% of actual votage share. Having lost Iowa and New Hampshire one is almost obliged to conclude that Mitt Romney's campaign is over, even though he currently has the most pldged voters (thats right, I was one of the 5 people who actually read the Wyoming result). He may not drop out yet, but I certainly think that his strategy has failed. Fred Thompson looks fairly dead in the water, and I suspect is really sticking in the race, hoping that he can do well in South Carolina (where he was previously polling strongly) to give him any chance of making the Presidency.

This leaves us with McCain, Huckabee and Guiliani. Its too early to tell whats going to happen here, though I doubt McCain will get the momentum he wants from New Hampshire, unless he picks up another pre-super-tuesday state. I'm waiting till Florida to judge Guiliani, as I mentioned in my original entry, he is playing a risky game, but having seen whats happened to Romney it might have been his most sensible strategy. Huckabee is the front runner in South Carolina, and we will another test of his presidential metal winning that campaign against strong competition from all comers.


January 08, 2008

New Hampshire

Follow-up to Iowa from True Contradictions

Time for some New Hampshire Predictions!  This time I'm going to be really bold and predict percentage share of the vote for different candidates.  Don't worry that they don't add up to 100%, some candidates who have dropped out will still have their names on the ballot.

Democrats:

Candidate Vote Share
Obama 38
Clinton 28
Edwards 20
Richardson 8
Kucinich

3

Obama has got massive momentum from his Iowa win, and is now looking strong for
New Hampshire, his speech afterwards got massive props.  He also looked good in the debate.  Clinton did well both in the debate and her post-Iowa speech, but part of the problem that she faces is that by running as an inevitable candidate and having lead the race for so long, any sign of weakness is a real problem for her.   One of the reason that Clinton lead for so long is that people perceived Clinton to be more electable than obama, now this veneer has been shattered (these predictions need more mixed metaphors) by his victory in a highly white rural area and with a high %age of the female vote, Obama is surging.  Additionally I suspect there will be many "comeback kids" related puns.

Republicans

Candidate Vote Share
McCain 33
Romney 30
Huckabee 12
Guiliani 10
Paul 8
Thompson 3

McCain's position is on a knife-edge, and his win depends on independants turning out for him in New Hampshire.  (In New Hampshire independants can vote either way) Romney has gained on him in the last day on the back of a superior performance in the debates.  (I don't believe he did well, merely that McCain was poor)  I don't believe Huckabee will take much traction from his Iowa win, since the people who backed him to the win there (evangelicals and social conservatives) aren't exactly out in force in New Hampshire.  As with Iowa Guiliani is doing poorly in early states (at the very least) Paul is a terrible candidate who won't win.  Thompson has a similar situation as Huckabee, except that the people who might have supported him, have nearly all switched over to huckabee. 


January 07, 2008

For Sale: RAM

I have 1GB of Crucial RAM for sale, in the form of 2×256MB DIMMs and 1×512MB DIMM. I am happy to sell these together or seperately, they are all in working condition as far as I can tell. The 512MB DIMM is DDR400 and CL 3. Both of the other two sticks are DDR266 and CL2.5.

Anyone interested probably has about a week before these go on ebay.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me.


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