All 59 entries tagged Reflections
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January 29, 2008
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!
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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!
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 15, 2008
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
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.
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 08, 2008
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.
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.
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
I previously said I would try to watch the debates and comment on them, here we go:
This republican debates were interesting, as the double penetration of Huckabee and McCain into Romney became really publically obvious. Whether that will really help them is another matter, as Romney managed to garner more time on the mic than any of the other candidates, or at least I got that impression. Guiliani won the Reagon-O-Meter for mentioning his name over 10 times in the ABC debate alone.
What was most interesting was the ABC people asked the republicans basically to attack Obama and in the democratic debate asked Obama to reply. I’m still not sure whether this is yellow journalism or a really interesting tactic yet. Either way it proved to be more interesting than the republican candidates. I was quite surprised when none of them stated “Amnesty, Abortion and Acid”.
Ron Paul would be interesting, except for the fact that all he talks about is Iraq and the gold standard. You know its a commonly stated opinion, but here it is again for the record – Ron Paul is an honest guy, but he should really be institutionalized rather than elected for his support of the Gold Standard. It just shows a complete lack of understanding of basic economic principle.
Another group I’m going to have a dig against is Fox news, who after their debate had a ‘focus group’ after their republican debate who said that Romney came out best and Thompson came out worst. Lets have a quick think about this – Thompson, who recently voiced his disgust for the process and particularly the media in an interview on Fox, got slated. At the same time Romney – fighting against Huckabee (dislikes big business and viewed by trad republican leadership as questionable) and McCain (sometimes seen as too centrist) – was backed by the ‘focus group’. Lets face it Fox can’t fail to be partisan when even reporting their own side.
As to the democrats, Clinton made a strong showing despite her recent loss in Iowa. It was interesting that two people I was speaking to (almost simultaneously) last night observed that Edwards would make a good running mate for Obama. Edwards does make an impressive debater and is a really strong candidate. Running mates are really hard to judge, since historically one chooses someone who provides things they are weak at (think Reagan/Bush, Gore/Liebermann) but in recent times fairly similar candidates have been chosen (Clinton/Gore, Bush/Cheney) as well. I think Richardson would really boost Obama in areas where he is weakest (Foreign Policy, experience) whilst Edwards perhaps wouldn’t necessarily help add votes to the ticket. I suppose there are plenty of other potential running mates outside of the candidates to be considering as well.
I’ll be posting New Hampshire predictions sometime today/ early tomorrow, though its highly likely that Obama will feature in his usual place.
December 18, 2007
The ongoing battle for US presidency is the most interesting in a while. With no presidential, or vice-presidential candidates entering the race, its wide open for both parties, and this absence has lead to some interesting election strategies being attempted. Lets have a look at the Republican race first …
A year ago or so, the expected lead candidate was McCain, however, his campaign has performed poorly in fund raising and failed to achieve that spark of excitement that the Straight Talk express did in 2000. Additionally he’s an old candidate and no one wants to be Bob Dole. Not even Bob Dole. (Family Guy references should be used more in political analyis I think)
This left Guiliani and Romney as the leading candidates. Their strategies differed considerably, however. Romney pushed for an all-or-nothing early gain, since he trailed Guiliani nationally he splashed money at the opening three states (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina) hoping to gain momentum for “super tuesday” (this is the name given to the day when most states vote). Guiliani lead nationally, but felt he was unlikely to win early states, NH especially, and consequently has been trying the, normally unthinkable, approach of not caring about the first 3 states and hoping that his strong national base will carry him on its own. Its also worth noting that he has consistently been polling well in Florida – a large an important state that votes just before Super Tuesday.
Events of the last couple of months have thrown these plans into disarray however. Firstly Fred Thompson announced, aiming to be the most conservative mainstream candidate in the GOP race. Secondly Mike Huckabee, previously a second tier candidate, has had a massive surge in poll ratings throughout october and november. Consequently the opening three states, which Romney really needed to carry in order to gain a national victory began to be looking really crammed. Finally Guiliani has had a few hiccups in his campaign, including softly worded critcism from the white house.
In Iowa Huckabee has taken the lead, followed closely by Romney, then Guiliani and Thompson, McCain trails this state, and has focussed little energy or money on it. In reality its a two horse race between Romney and Huckabee. Hew Hampshire continues to look like a Romney victory, but Huckabee has made a strong push up the rankings, and the latest polling also shows that McCain’s efforts in recapturing his 2000 NH glory has been somewhat successful. Guiliani has lost ground slightly, whilst Fred Thompson has never had a chance in this state. South Carolina appears to be slightly favouring Huckabee, but given how much swing can occur between now and the primary its pretty much anyone’s game.
So here’s my $0.02, to use american terminology. Huckabee’s rise has left Fred Thompson dead in the water. They are both aiming for the conservative vote and Huckabee’s gains have been primarily at Thompson’s expense. McCain’s campaign has gained some momentum again recently, something its been without for about 6 months, if he can capitalise on this opportunity he has a strong chance in the upcoming campaign, if he fails to win in either New Hampshire or South Carolina I can’t see being able to take the Republican nomination. Romney’s position is precarious, his campaign is heavily attacking Huckabee’s tax rises whilst governor, but this isn’t impacting the polls as desired. His strategy to use momentum from early states to swing the nomination in his favour seems to be failling, however, he is still in 2nd place in Iowa, 1st in NH and as good a chance as anyone in SC, so if Huckabee’s share of the vote shrinks as fast as it has risen in the upcoming weeks then it might work out for him.
Huckabee himself is the hardest to judge, a good public speaker, a natural conservative and without the obvious problems that plague other candidates (Guiliani’s policies and wives, Romney’s mormonism and abortion flip-flop, Thompson’s laziness and McCain’s inability to court the republican base). Its now hard to see how, other than fund raising, why he was a second tier candidate to begin with. The key state for both him and Guiliani is Florida, this is a large state, which has traditionally been Guiliani territory. If Huckabee can take an early state or two, he’s still in fluke territory, robbing guiliani of florida, however, is a big scalp. Having lost all three openers and Florida, I can’t see Guiliani winning, but if he manages to hand on to his lead in florida then that Italian smile will be on your television sets for a few more months to come, a result that I expect to occur.
The democratic equivalent to the early vs late state strategies is running as a fresh-face against running as an incumbent. The Clinton campaign has consistently pushed the idea that she is running from the latter position, using her strong early polling, her brand-name recognition, approaching two Senatorial terms and the last Clinton Presidency to emphasize experience as a key Presidential Characteristic. This allowed her to gain an aura of invincibility and a huge lead over opponents. However, recent debates between the democratic candidates have allowed Edwards and Obama to emphasize her weaknesses, whilst her attempts to fight back left a bad taste in voter’s mouths. The result was a strong rise in Obama’s polling at her expense, and the opening of a small lead for him in Iowa, whilst Clinton clings to a NH lead by the skin of her cliche. Increasing support from Oprah has also helped his campaign. The new “so ridiculous it might just come true” editorial idea is her as vice president under Barrack Obama.
Edwards sits in third in all three openers and nationally. I can’t see him winning from this position, his slick presentation and fresh face are also Obama’s strengths and his attempts to distance himself from Obama don’t seem to have gone over with the voters. He is close enough that if either of the two main contenders slip up he could capitalise.
I’m not sure that Clinton will necessarily win the democratic nomination, even though she seemed a near certainty a few months ago. The problem that she has is that she seems unable to develop a charisma, for example her attempts at laughing on television a few months ago at things that weren’t funny. Her other major issue is that the “re-election” campaign strategy she has fought means that if she does badly in the opening primaries doom will immediately be predicted. in a way that wouldn’t happen for say, Guiliani, even though under current polling one expects Clinton to pick up more states in February than Guiliani.
I’m hoping for an Obama win, both within the democratic party and the national election, and I think he can just about pull it off, but only if he continues to sap momentum from Clinton. I think another factor not often mentioned in political analysis is that several Democratic primaries act under STV if the votes are close enough (I don’t think that the rules are entirely consistently, and I haven’t been able to find out enough information to be 100%), and I’m inclined to believe that Edwards supporters are more likely to vote Obama in a run-off. Perhaps someone will correct me on this, maybe this blog entry has gone on so long no one is reading anymore…
October 09, 2007
Its been an interesting time in politics. The potential excitement of an election (and potential concern of having moved at a bad time) followed by the weighty aftermath announcement. Today was the ‘comprehensive’ spending review, in which The Labour Party outright stole Conservative policy. Its not the first time this has happened, but its the most blatant. Its also another nail in the coffin of Gordon Brown as a career politician. (Though the announcement was made by Alistair Darling it reflects strongly the recent strategy of the current PM and former Chancellor)
The past decade many on the left have presumed that Brown would be a less centrist politician than Blair, but his approach and policies have falsified that thesis. Some still hold tightly to that belief and argue for the chancellor to push his beliefs more, whilst others are more sanguine about the reality.
So, the reader is asking, when confronted with two parties both offering the same ideological vacuum and implementation concerns (Lets not forget Child and Working Tax Credits and who was advisor to the chancellor on Black Wednesday) who do we turn to? Well if are you in a seat where you can swing things to the lib dems then you are a lucky bugger. Not only do you have a vote that counts, but its worth using it. As to the two main parties the conservatives have stolen the agenda back and are bringing policies which suggests they are thinking.
August 23, 2007
I’ve watched a few (mainly mediocre) films recently, but one that caught my eye was Match Point. Actually this is a lie, Woody Allen caught my attention. The film received a lot of buzz stateside, but wasn’t so well received in europe. Its worth comparing for example, Bradshaw’s review with that of Ebert.
Unfortunately I’m more inclined to align myself with Bradshaw’s opinion of the film. Its necessary at this point to echo his desire for a new period of brilliant Allen cinema, I really enjoyed the various Allen films I’ve seen, most notably Annie hall, Manhatten, Hannah and her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors. The big difference between them and Match Point is that the former stand out at the viewer with their stylish dialogue and complementary look. Allen used to be a small scale experimentalist, sometimes this worked (opening sequence of Manhatten) sometimes this didn’t (John Carradine’s dialogue from EYAW2KAS). Either way it was unique, of interest to the viewer, and most importantly endearing.
It was a strong film, well acted, good characterisation etc. But one has to expect more of Woody Allen, especially in the dialogue department. In his classic films he managed to produce ‘overly-clever’ conversations without causing one to question the believability of the characters involved. Part of this comes down to his well calculated ‘artist uber-nerd’ image, but equally important was that the viewer was so interested in the phrase that had just been uttered that they didn’t have time to consider whether it was viable for a normal person to perform the uttering. The idea that there is more luck in people’s lives than we are willing to admit is frankly tedious and unimaginative, even if it may contain more than a grain of truth.
I remain optimistic that we will see another great Woody Allen film, but this is probably more a hope than an expectation.
May 10, 2007
Dijkstra: “anthropomorphising computers is a sign of professional immaturity”
I today realised that I’ve got into a really bad habbit here, though my vice isn’t computers themselves, but my research. I need to keep a list of things I need to do to make myself better. Probably not using the word better as though its not a value judgement should be on there.