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The Art of Elections Forecasting

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the can-we-get-a-point-spread-in-vegas? dept.

Math 101

ideonexus writes "Years ago Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, a blog seeking to educate the public about elections forecasting, established his model as one of the most accurate in existence, rising from a fairly unknown statistician working in baseball to one of the most respected names in election forecasting. In this article he describes all the factors that go into his predictions. A fascinating overview of the process of modeling a chaotic system."

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101 comments

Educating the Public? (4, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#40249641)

I hope that includes "don't vote according to forecasts". I mean, it'd be nice if more people voted for the candidate they actually want instead of the one they think will win.

Doesn't Matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40249957)

I, the amazing Karnac, predict a Repubmocrat will preside over the United States once again, as it was, so will it be, ad nauseum.

Re:Doesn't Matter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250103)

Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterfuck of a miserable failure.

Re:Doesn't Matter (5, Funny)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#40250611)

Yes, he is. But he is still the best republican president we have had in a century.

Re:Doesn't Matter (1, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40250933)

WTF? Where'd you get that utterly insane idea? There's tons of Presidents who have been better this century, including Bill Clinton, and in fact almost all of them except possibly LBJ (who did both good and bad, bad being Vietnam and good being passing the Civl Rights Act). Obama has been about as bad as George W Bush. And I'd rate him worse, because at least with Bush, you knew what you were getting if you voted for him, a dumb neocon monkey. With Obama, it was all lies, because he gave speeches about how he was going to change everything, but then when elected just backed up all of Bush's policies and extended them.

Re:Doesn't Matter (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#40251003)

You missed the keyword. Best REPUBLICAN president. Clinton wasn't a republican.

Re:Doesn't Matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40251249)

No love for Eisenhower?

Re:Doesn't Matter (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40251195)

I don't think it was lies with Obama, I think it was something i consider worse: naivete. Obama came in promising everything to everyone and their mother, because that's what populists do. But when he got into office he realized that he couldn't actually do all that he set out to do, and that Bush's policies in many cases were the best choice of a series of bad options. Case in point: he promised on the campaign trail to close Guantanamo Bay prison, and when he came into office he wrote an Executive Order closing it. It hasn't happened. Turns out that those guys over there really were terrorists captured on the battlefield, and that having them in an isolated location with 3 square and free time was a whole lot better than trying them stateside and keeping them in a SuperMax, especially when no state wanted them in their prisons.

My biggest problem is not that Obama is a liar, I really don't think he is. I just think he's a moron who sounds intelligent and is a good speaker. He believes in symbols and high ideals that sound great in a speech, like having no lobbyists in his administration, or trying Khalid Shiek Mohammad in New York, getting justice where the crime was committed. Yet when he tries to implement those ideals and symbols, he always seems surprised by the fact that his lofty ideals and symbolism doesn't work in reality, like the cost of the massive security required to host a civilian trial of KSM in New York, the massive protests and unrest, and potential plots to try and free or martyr KSM would come with that, or the fact despite how people hate lobbyists, they're also the best way to communicate to the interests of large segments of the population. Just about everything associated iwth Obama can be viewed in this context.

Re:Doesn't Matter (2)

Coren22 (1625475) | about 2 years ago | (#40251241)

The problem is, you can't claim he is naive either, he is a constitutional scholar, how could he not have known how little the president can accomplish on his own?

Re:Doesn't Matter (5, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#40252547)

Historically, people have been willing to cross the aisle on important policies, especially if you meet them halfway. Obama's health care proposal, cap and trade, and the DREAM act (i.e. citizenship through military service) were all Republican ideas that they would have loved to support as recently as 2006. No one could have predicted the scorched earth tactic they'd employ to bring the president down.

Obama's greatest fault was how long it took him to realize what was going on. Most people had realized all the Republican "negotiations" were a stalling tactic by the summer of '09, the fall at the latest. Obama didn't seem to get it until after the 2010 elections.

Re:Doesn't Matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40253577)

Yes it must have been hard trying to get those policies through when ALL THREE of the branches of government were Democrat!

Re:Doesn't Matter (4, Insightful)

Marcika (1003625) | about 2 years ago | (#40254205)

Lieberman is no democrat. He sabotaged the public option for the republicans by joining the threatened filibuster. Thus no majority. Thus your point is moot, coward.

Re:Doesn't Matter (1)

tbannist (230135) | about 2 years ago | (#40258975)

Obama's greatest fault was how long it took him to realize what was going on. Most people had realized all the Republican "negotiations" were a stalling tactic by the summer of '09, the fall at the latest. Obama didn't seem to get it until after the 2010 elections.

He may have thought that voters would punish the Republicans for blocking progress, rather than punish the Democrats for attempting it.

Re:Doesn't Matter (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | about 2 years ago | (#40256395)

I don't think it was lies with Obama, I think it was something i consider worse: naivete

Reminds me of a line from the movie "The Rock".....

"Great. We're not gutless, we're incompetent"

Re:Doesn't Matter (0)

flyneye (84093) | about 2 years ago | (#40251253)

Repubmocrats all the way back past the New Deal.
No Deal.
No Deposit
No return

I think Lee Ving sang it best:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6aZynalcvc [youtube.com]
No more peace talks
No more disarmament
No more Mr. Nice Guy

No more nothing
No more nothing
No more nothing

No more Playboy
No more Newsweek
No more Walter Kronkite
No more watered down television crap

No more nothing
No more nothing
No more nothing

No more f**kee
No more s**kee

No more nothing
No more nothing
No more nothing
No more nothing
No more nothing

No more Scientology
No more EST
No more Jim Jones
No more suck-ass philosophy

No more nothing
No more nothing
No more nothing

There I've said something to think about and given you a requiem to soundtrack it with.
If you need to believe something else, I gotcha covered too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na9bY9gmhw4 [youtube.com]

It's like the prophet Jagger said " You can't always get what you want, but..."

Re:Educating the Public? (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40250653)

I hope that includes "don't vote according to forecasts". I mean, it'd be nice if more people voted for the candidate they actually want instead of the one they think will win.

An educated public would realize that voting for who you want in today's election environment is not optimal strategy.

Re:Educating the Public? (1)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#40254085)

An educated public would realize that voting for who you want is today's only way to ever break the rep-dem-oligopoly. If you vote tactically, all you do is playing into the hands of the strategists. They plan. They are strategic. You react. You stay tactical.
Start local. Vote people into office you trust, independently of any party affiliation. Be a candidate people can trust, independently of any party affiliation. Focus on issues, not on ideologies. Get things done instead of paying lip service on things that ought to be done. If a solution really solves a problem, go for the solution even if it collides with some grand ideals you might bear. Keep an eye on other regions and their ways to deal with problems to get ideas how to solve your own. Be stubbornly pragmatic.

Re:Educating the Public? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40256633)

The problem is this: Unless you are totally indifferent about the main candidates, the expected "return" of voting for anyone else is less than voting for the one you like better. Thus you WILL NOT get people to do that in sufficient numbers. It goes against the basic greedy human nature.

The only way out is to change the game somehow.

It's all about the money (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40249647)

Ever since the Republican members of the supreme court overturned our campaign finance laws, elections have become an epic bribe-fest where money almost always wins.

You tell me which side is outspending the other 10-1 and I'll tell you who is most likely to win the election.

Let's just save ourselves alot of time and aggravation, and ask the America's 10 most bigoted and bribe-happy billionaires who they would like to win.

Re:It's all about the money (3, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | about 2 years ago | (#40249677)

Even if what you say about 10-1 outspending is true (and it probably is), you haven't established causation, only correlation. Wouldn't you expect a better, winning candidate to be able to get more money as well as more votes than the other guy?

Re:It's all about the money (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40249759)

Democracy = one man one vote.

Capitalism = one dollar one vote.

Only an idiot or a libertarian (but I repeat myself) fails to understand that you can't "vote with your wallet" unless everyone has about the same size wallet.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40249787)

I know this is a politics article, but can't we go more than five comments before someone starts on libertarians? You'd think it was the new socialism or something!

Re:It's all about the money (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40249889)

Libertarians fail in the same way communism fails (in that they are both really good ideas on paper). It does not correlate to the jerk factor. All it takes is one jerk to ruin it for the rest of us... Capitalism has a similar failing but can be blunted 'by the masses' by not buying their junk anymore... Each has its ups and downs. But libertarians fail to realize that 'live and let live' can only be upheld in small communities or someone who enforces it...

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250923)

Have you heard the word "anarchist"? Despite having been co-opted by those who want to watch the world burn, it's the long-standing and still correct term to refer to the people you keep calling libertarians.

The people the rest of the world considers libertarians do recognize that 'live and let live' can only be upheld by someone who enforces it -- which is why they consider anarchists hopeless optimists, and support a government largely restricted to enforcing 'live and let live'.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40251187)

"enforcing live and let live" means I get to sleep in your house as long as I'm not disturbing you, right?

Re:It's all about the money (4, Funny)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | about 2 years ago | (#40250983)

I always thought a Libertarian was just a Republican who wanted to legally smoke weed.

Re:It's all about the money (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 2 years ago | (#40255355)

I know this is a politics article, but can't we go more than five comments before someone starts on libertarians? You'd think it was the new socialism or something!
No, we can't b/c both parts of the statist duopoly(D, R) are most threatened by the libertarians. To the collectivist technocrats, libertarians are evil, greedy, selfish pricks that want to deny the technocrat his confiscatory powers to improve the world. To the puritanical fascists, libertarians are degenerate libertines who want to undo all of civilization. So if there is one thing both Ds and Rs can agree on it's the hate for libertarians. Meanwhile to Joe Sixpack libertarian's are the guys who want to be able to buy liquor on a Sunday, and what's wrong with that?

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250047)

How about Democrat = Repubmocrat
                                Republican= Repubmocrat
                                Only a Republican a Democrat or an idiot (all for one, one for all) fails to understand, it's all the same party and the Libertarians will never,
Never be allowed anywhere in government that matters, comrade.

Re:It's all about the money (5, Insightful)

robinsonne (952701) | about 2 years ago | (#40249773)

You can say "correlation != causation" all you want, but the simple thing is more $$$ = more advertising, and the more advertising = more votes. IOW more $$$ = more votes.

Re:It's all about the money (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#40250009)

You can say "correlation != causation" all you want, but the simple thing is more $$$ = more advertising, and the more advertising = more votes. IOW more $$$ = more votes.

To a certain extent, this is true.

It must be remembered, however, that there are other ways to "advertise".

The "incumbent advantage" is an obvious one - it's pretty easy to get your name in the news just by proposing a new law, even if you have no intention of following through on it. And the evening news is just more advertising for a candidate.

Likewise, if a candidate is preferred by the various news organizations, he/she/it tends to get better coverage than a candidate that is actively disliked by the media. Again, free advertising....

Do remember that it's actually pretty hard to limit campaign spending without tripping over the First Amendment (face it, if a candidate is rich enough, he can just buy a TV station and BECOME part of the media)....

Re:It's all about the money (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#40251309)

Well, we could start with banning all corporate financing and advertising. A corporation, not being human, has no claim to human rights.

Yeah, yeah, don't get me started on ridiculous laws and SCOTUS rulings to the contrary.

Re:It's all about the money (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#40251825)

A corporation, not being human, has no claim to human rights.

But the people who make up the corporation do, especially when those people have formed the corporation for the explicit purpose of exercising the right to free speech. As did Citizen's United.

Yeah, yeah, don't get me started on ridiculous laws and SCOTUS rulings to the contrary.

Yeah, that pesky first amendment. What a pain. Why can't we just ban all speech that we don't agree with?

Re:It's all about the money (3, Insightful)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#40252405)

A corporation, not being human, has no claim to human rights.

But the people who make up the corporation do, especially when those people have formed the corporation for the explicit purpose of exercising the right to free speech. As did Citizen's United.

The people who make up the corporation have their rights, and they are welcome to exercise those rights to the fullest. However, they don't deserve extra rights just because they have more money.

As an individual, I am allowed to donate $2500 to my favorite candidate. A single cent more and the feds haul me off to jail.

But if I form a corporation, I can donate all the money I want to a super PAC. By forming a corporation, I suddenly have more free speech rights than anyone in the country who don't currently control a corporation.

Sure, there are laws prohibiting super PACs from coordinating with campaigns, but the candidate can just have his lawyer form the super PAC and the communication between them will be protected by the attorney–client privilege. (for the interest of partisanship I won't name that candidate)

Re:It's all about the money (1)

Tyndmyr (811713) | about 2 years ago | (#40259573)

As an individual, you can also donate to a PAC or form one, if you wish. Or you can spend your own money to advertise whatever views you want, just like a PAC does. There's no discrepancy here save for the likelihood that the corporation has a lot more money to begin with.

Re:It's all about the money (1)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#40270185)

As an individual, you can also donate to a PAC or form one, if you wish.

As an individual, I am allowed to donate $5000 per election to a PAC. A single cent more and the feds haul me off to jail. You might notice $5000 is quite a bit lower than the contribution limit for corporations. The corporations and I each have our First Amendment rights, but I can't shake the feeling that their rights are a lot stronger than mine...

...or form one, if you wish.

Of course if I form my own corporation and super PAC I can get as set of extra rights as all the other corporations. But what about everyone in the country who don't currently control a corporation?

Or you can spend your own money to advertise whatever views you want, just like a PAC does.

Still subject to the same contribution limits. The FEC isn't stupid you know.

"I can't donate more than $2500 so I should just buy a million dollar TV spot for my favorite candidate." is basically the equivalent of "I don't have to pay income tax anymore if my employer pays me in houses." In the latter case, IRS considers the house barter income [irs.gov] and value it at the market value. If you failed to declare that income, you go to jail. In the former case, the FEC considers the commercial a donation and value it at the market value. If it's more than $2500, you go to jail.

Re:It's all about the money (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#40261189)

However, they don't deserve extra rights just because they have more money.

They don't get any. "More money" has nothing to do with anything, it's just flamebait.

As an individual, I am allowed to donate $2500 to my favorite candidate. ... But if I form a corporation, I can donate all the money I want to a super PAC.

Candidate vs. "super PAC". Different things. Different laws.

By forming a corporation, I suddenly have more free speech rights than anyone in the country who don't currently control a corporation.

Keep telling yourself that and maybe it will be true someday.

Sure, there are laws prohibiting super PACs from coordinating with campaigns, but the candidate can just have his lawyer form the super PAC and the communication between them will be protected by the attorneyâ"client privilege.

Now you really show you don't know what you are talking about. Attorney client privilege does not protect criminal actions participated in by both. And you as an individual have just as few limits on donating to a PAC as a corporatation, so the difference you are complaining about is all in your head.

(for the interest of partisanship I won't name that candidate)

Yes, this debate does seem to devaolve into partisanship. It was, after all, a conservative "corporation" that was spending money to advertise against the liberal darling of the day, Ms. Clinton.

If you have proof of a crime being committed and do not report it, then you are an accomplice.

Re:It's all about the money (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#40252563)

Certainly the individuals within the corporation are human, and as individuals they are welcome to exert those rights. The corporation is not some sort of composite organism, it is a tool created to focus diffuse stockholder wealth into a more concentrated, versatile structure that can more readily generate profit. To claim it should get human rights is quite akin to claiming that a schoolbus or apartment building should get human rights because they contain humans.

It's also worth clarifying as an incidental note that a corporation is NOT "made of people" - it employs people, it is controlled by people, but much like a country, it is MADE of the charters, policies, and regulations that define it. Every last person, from the janitor to the CEO can be fired, but the corporation will continue to exist and own it's assets. The stockholders can appoint new officers, new employees can be hired, and operations will resume.

Re:It's all about the money (1)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | about 2 years ago | (#40250019)

You can say that more money yields more advertising and more advertising yields more votes but as far as I've seen there has not yet been one study that showed a causative effect. I understand that it's definitely worth looking into but there are plenty of feasible confounding factors that would easily disrupt the causative effect. The GP succinctly posted the most obvious one:

Wouldn't you expect a better, winning candidate to be able to get more money as well as more votes than the other guy?

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250151)

Exit polls show that 88% of Wisconsin voters had already made up their mind before the big money came pouring in.

No they don't. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250243)

Exit polls showed that 88% of Wisconsin voters had already made up their mind before the Democrats had put forward a candidate (in May).

The Governor and friendly PACs had been advertising since before January when they knew the recall was coming.

88% of voters made their call when the spending was completely one-sided. Only after the Democratic primary put forth a candidate did they have targeted supportive advertising.

Re:No they don't. (1, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40250867)

88% of voters made their call when the spending was completely one-sided. Only after the Democratic primary put forth a candidate did they have targeted supportive advertising.

88% of people didn't vote for Governor Walker. So that "one-sided" spending didn't have a one-sided result.

The Governor and friendly PACs had been advertising since before January when they knew the recall was coming.

There are two things to note here. First, if the Democrat side really was that short-sighted, then they deserved to lose. That's more a criticism of your erroneous viewpoint than a criticism of the Democrats. For the second thing to note is that the Democrats have run a heavy campaign against Walker since he started his controversial tactics against the public unions. This wasn't a one-sided fight by any means.

Re:No they don't. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#40251853)

Exit polls showed that 88% of Wisconsin voters had already made up their mind before the Democrats had put forward a candidate (in May).

Well, when the election is a recall, it seems reasonable for people to be able to judge whether the incumbent should be recalled or not independent of who the "opponent" is. The fact that 88% of the voters had decided that no recall was necessary should tell you something about the recall effort.

Hint: you don't vote to recall just because you don't like who got elected, it is supposed to be for gross malfeasance or other significant reason. If you're just calling for another election because you didn't like the outcome of the previous one, well, that's not a valid reason for another vote.

88% of voters made their call when the spending was completely one-sided.

They also made their call when the question of whether a recall was required came up, not months later.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250931)

Tell that to Carly Fiorina.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40249799)

Not in the slightest, because votes are distributed on a Dirichlet distribution (probability of 1 vote: 1), whereas money is some sort of self-similar exponential distribution.

Is this a trick question? It doesn't even pass the smell test.

Re:It's all about the money (3, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#40249819)

Oftentimes the guy who gets the bribes(campaign contributions) is the guy more willing to do what is asked of him. The road to increasing political power is less of who is best for the people, but who continually returns good for their campaign contributors. The more you help those who bribe you, the more money they're willing to give you.

Re:It's all about the money (3, Insightful)

bit trollent (824666) | about 2 years ago | (#40249853)

Wouldn't you expect a better, winning candidate to be able to get more money as well as more votes than the other guy?

Not if the better candidate is advocating against the billionaire's personal interests (such as paying his share of taxes) while the corrupt candidate obeys his billionaire owner.

Re:It's all about the money (3, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#40250135)

Correlation != causation.... but only up until you demonstrate the causal connection. The fact that money leads to advertising is self-evident, and the fact that advertising influences opinions and behaviors is also very well established.

Also, then notion that a vastly more popular candidate will attract vastly more money overlooks human psychology. Other than big donors buying access, why would most donors bother giving money to a shoo-in? What attracts money to a contest (as demonstrated most recently in Wisconsin) is a deeply and relatively-evenly divided electorate.

Re:It's all about the money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250465)

Actually the 10-1 figure is quite misleading. The Walker Campaign and supporting PACs spent ~$30 million, and the Barrett Campaign and supporting PACs spent ~4 million. Unions, both in Wisconsin and outside of Wisconsin spent ~$20 million in support of Barrett, but it doesn't count as Barrett spending in the 10:1 figure obviously. Still a healthy 33% advantage for Walker.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250513)

30:24 is a 33% advantage?

Re:It's all about the money (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#40250997)

That's why, according to noam chomsky, the business press celebrated the campaign of Obama, because it was a whole new level of slick and neo-whatever.... suuuure.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40252815)

Sure, that's the other possibility. The problem is, you don't know which of the two possibilities is going to end up being the case in a given election.

And in a democracy, you don't want to allow for the possibility of moneyed interests taking over. So rather than mess with the chance of moneyed interests winning, it's best to take the direct route, and simply allow one vote per person (and not one vote per dollar).

Re:It's all about the money (2, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#40249911)

Seems to have worked for Obama, in spite of the pre-existing campaign finance laws.

Do remember that he was the first (and so far only) Presidential candidate to forgo Federal matching funds for his campaign, since skipping those funds meant he didn't have to abide by the campaign finance limits.

Which left him spending three or four times what his opponent spent...

Re:It's all about the money (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40249987)

Without checking for sure where the funds came from, I believe it was the 5 bucks here, 10 bucks there from everyone vs 1,000,000 bucks and more from 30 folks that helped with that. Since the Republicans cozy up to the millionaires and billionaires, they needed the campaign finance laws changed so they could get the same amount of money the Democrats were getting.

Re:It's all about the money (2)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 2 years ago | (#40250295)

$5 here, $10 there, $15,000,000.00 from George Clooney.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250477)

Indeed. Anyone who thinks that the Democrats are lacking in very rich donors is very much mistaken.

Re:It's all about the money (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#40252469)

Any source for that comment? Because I'm pretty sure it's extremely misleading.

Clooney held a fundraiser in which other people donated something like $40k a head. Now, that is a lot of money. But it's chump change compared to the amount raised by the Republican Super PACs. Romney's personal Super PAC has brought in around $52 million. Karl Rove's has brought in another $28 million. Newt Gingrich has another $24M. Santorum's got a little over $8M. There's another $30M among the smaller Republican Super PACs.

All told, that's around $142 million dollars. All the Democratic PACs have together brought in about $30M. It's pretty clear who the billionaires want to win.

The only reason there's even a chance of Obama being re-elected is because the small individual donors (under $5k) heavily favor Obama: $96M to $11M.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/01/31/us/politics/super-pac-donors.html [nytimes.com]
http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/index.php [opensecrets.org]

Re:It's all about the money (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#40255219)

Clooney held a fundraiser in which other people donated something like $40k a head. Now, that is a lot of money. But it's chump change compared to the amount raised by the Republican Super PACs. Romney's personal Super PAC has brought in around $52 million. Karl Rove's has brought in another $28 million. Newt Gingrich has another $24M. Santorum's got a little over $8M. There's another $30M among the smaller Republican Super PACs.

All told, that's around $142 million dollars. All the Democratic PACs have together brought in about $30M. It's pretty clear who the billionaires want to win.

I take it you're not aware that Obama spent a BILLION dollars on his last campaign?

$142 million looks like a lot, until you start comparing it to a billion dollars...

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40262171)

Well that's just a straight-up lie. You need to stop trusting Fox and Rush. Go ahead, try to find a real source to back up your claim.

Re:It's all about the money (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40250629)

Without checking for sure where the funds came from

A big problem with Obama's campaign contributions is how much of it is anonymous because it is "small" donations. "5 bucks here, 10 bucks there from everyone" looks very similar to a few wealthy groups providing the same funding through small, untraced donations.

Re:It's all about the money (2)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 2 years ago | (#40250213)

Do remember that he was the first (and so far only) Presidential candidate to forgo Federal matching funds for his campaign, since skipping those funds meant he didn't have to abide by the campaign finance limits.

Just to be clear, he's the only candidate who declined the funds for the general election. McCain also declined them for the Republican primary.

It doesn't really matter, though -- the offical spending by the campaigns is sure to be eclipsed by PACs who don't need to disclose their donors. It's the anonymity that pisses me off the most about the CU decision.

Re:It's all about the money (5, Informative)

Thomas M Hughes (463951) | about 2 years ago | (#40250227)

Do remember that he [Obama] was the first (and so far only) Presidential candidate to forgo Federal matching funds for his campaign, since skipping those funds meant he didn't have to abide by the campaign finance limits.

I don't believe that is accurate. This [google.com] suggests that Steve Forbes skipped on matching funds in 1996 and 2000. G. W. Bush skipped on matching funds in 2000 and 2004, which caused Howard Dean and John Kerry to forgo in 2004 as well. Over the last decade, everybody who wins, forgoes matching funds, as well as a significant number of the losers.

There are valid reasons to say Obama is doing things that are bad, but I think we have a real tendency to say "He's the first to do this!" when he's doing stuff that has been the trend for quite some time.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

bongey (974911) | about 2 years ago | (#40250757)

The money won't save Obama , he will lose in a landslide. Just like the polls before Carter/Reagan election which said it would be close.
My family on one side is all democrats and all voted for Obama in 2008. Not a single one will be voting for him in 2012.
The last hold out was my grandma who has voted democrat every single election since the 1930's , and hates republicans but she can no longer stand Obama.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250037)

Speaking of money. If this guy is so good, why is he not raking in the cash on Intrade? Does his Soviet-style forecasting consistently outperform the predictions market?

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250561)

Looks like I was beaten to the punch.

I was coming here to state that forecasting an election is painfully easy.

Who spent the most money? They will win. Why? Because people are stupid, and will vote for whoever they see the most, no matter what they're parading around as their stances on anything (not that I'd expect them to adhere to their policies or fulfill their promises anyway). Therefore, who advertised the most, and most effectively (which in the end comes down to who dumped the most into advertising).
There, I've just predicted the next election.

Elections would be a million times more fair if it were a modified version of Canadian elections. First... limit donation sizes. 2... and here's the big one... limit the amount spent per politician running to $100k. This includes fair, equal values for all advertising of all venues for all politicians. We'll have to have people investigate and check all numbers, to avoid some TV channel or company offering one particular politician say... 200 hours of TV advertising for 10 dollars or something else stupid. All political parties pay the exact same for all services, products, and absolutely anything associated with exchanging money, goods or services for money, goods, or services. And if for some reason a loophole is discovered, it must be closed immediately and the political party ejected from that election for clearly undermining the election process. It's not like there'd be grey areas... it's very black and white. If you're doing something that's technically not against the rules, you already KNOW that it's not staying true to the nature of the election rules.

Added bonus: If you party receives any donations that put you past $100k, that money is transfered equally over all parties not yet at $100k, until such time everyone has reached that amount. Anything past that goes towards national debt. If that's entirely paid off, it goes to the country's infrastructure.

There. Problem solved. Too bad it would never happen before the sun engulfs the earth.

Re:It's all about the money (1)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#40252975)

Kinda ironic that you are bring up Canadian election regulations when their Tory government is close to crumbling over illegal robocalls [wikipedia.org] made in the last election.

Re:It's all about the money (2)

buddyglass (925859) | about 2 years ago | (#40250711)

Anecdotal, sure, but check out the recent Republican senate primary in Nebraska [msn.com]. Dark horse beat two better-funded alternatives.

Re:It's all about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40252867)

And yet somehow Meg Whitman lost the most recent California governor's election to Jerry Brown, despite spending $144 million of her own money versus $32 million by Brown.

Intrade is also as accurate of a predictor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40249749)

Intrade predicted the electoral results of the last election perfectly. When people put their money where their mouth is, you end up with very accurate results.

Re:Intrade is also as accurate of a predictor. (1)

sideslash (1865434) | about 2 years ago | (#40249859)

Which raises a question -- at what point would it make sense to spend some of their huge piles of campaign money on InTrade bets instead of yard signs and campaign events? If you could weight InTrade your way, that would affect... something. Probably illegal, and probably wouldn't shift things much anyway. Oh well.

Noisy and unpredictable system, not chaotic. (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 2 years ago | (#40249965)

The term chaotic has a variety of different meanings, but this seems to be closer to what one would call a noisy system than a chaotic system.

Skimming over this horseshit.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40249979)

Just reenforces my opinion that the "people" are just a bunch of sheep.

These statistical predictions would be irrelevant if folks actually thought for themselves. But they don't. Their opinions are based upon their media of choice. YOU are no excetpion - neither am I. I fight NOT to be manipulated by my media of choice. I make a conscious effort NOT to be manipulated.

No, this is NOT a conspiracy theory. Every writer has a bias. I don't give a fuck who he-she-it is.

Unfortunately, we're all suckers - including YOU my dear superio-not-a-member-of -the-Idiocracy-Slashdot reader. You are just as bad. Yes you are and so am I.

no, really. You are.

When you think you are not, you are part of the problem.

it's a conspiracy of the stupid. Politicians cater to the morons and to their distraction issues.

In the meantime, our civil liberties are being chipped away to make life easier for the bureaucrat. They are the enemy - the government worker who wants to limit our rights to make their job easier - like cops.

Excuse me, I'm a law abiding citizen. Why does MY government need to be able to spy on ME when they want to? There is NO excuse. None. That's an absolute.

This post doesn't matter. You are Sheep. All of you. You think you are not but you are. I am too. We are stuck in this loop and we can't get out of it until folks start realizing what horseshti we're in.

to get out - turn off the TVA, radio and internet sites - like this one. Slashdot is no better. Posters - all of us- parrot shit we see elsewhere. Go ahead and post a retort to this post. I guarantee you are parrotting something you;ve read- from the Economist, THe Weekly, or the New Yorker - ir dones' \t matter - you're parroting someone else's opinion.

We parrots. All fo us. And it's destroying the World.

Re:Skimming over this horseshit.... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#40255235)

Go ahead and post a retort to this post. I guarantee you are parrotting something you;ve read- from the Economist, THe Weekly, or the New Yorker - ir dones' \t matter - you're parroting someone else's opinion.

Seems to me I read something that said exactly this same thing recently....

Compared to Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball (1)

utkonos (2104836) | about 2 years ago | (#40250179)

The idea of predicting elections is quite fascinating. I wonder how its accuracy would compare to one of the better election prediction sites out there, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball [centerforpolitics.org] at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

Re:Compared to Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball (1)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | about 2 years ago | (#40250833)

Nate has a great track record [wikipedia.org] and frequently has posts with a great deal of of details about how he builds the models and considerations/caveats for the statistic and political geeks.

Educating the people? (3, Insightful)

InspectorGadget1964 (2439148) | about 2 years ago | (#40250503)

Perhaps, instead of educating people to understand forecasts, we should be interested in educating people so they can make well informed and educated choices. The great majority of people have little or no education (And I do not mean literacy here). They are unable to analyse, research or investigate in a critical way. They become emotional about things are not possibly capable of understanding and allow those emotions to tell them to whom they should be giving a vote. En educated person, reads between the lines and can see why a candidate is making some promises and can tell which promises will not be fulfilled (Like closing the concentration camp in Guantanamo bay). The only problem, is that politicians that have been elected so far are against the idea of educating people as this will destroy the system as exist today and they will have to get real jobs.

Re:Educating the people? (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 2 years ago | (#40251845)

A major part of education is understanding basic forecasting, how to judge when an extrapolation looks reasonable, when to expect correlation v. causation issues, etc. Moreover, in this case, anyone reading Fivethirtyeight is likely already pretty educated, so this isn't really being aimed at the people with no knowledge.

politicians that have been elected so far are against the idea of educating people as this will destroy the system as exist today and they will have to get real jobs

Most people, even politicians, aren't so evil that they would deliberately try to destroy the educational system. Moreover, most people don't have the foresight to do that. Part of the problem with society is a lack of foresight, so no politician is going to say "Let's spend a decade destroying education so I'll have slightly more job security thirty years from now." In order to actually understand people, realize that shortsightedness, incompetence, short-term greed, stupidity, and laziness do a decent job of explaining a lot of bad results. Long-term evil is very rare.

Re:Educating the people? (1)

InspectorGadget1964 (2439148) | about 2 years ago | (#40252353)

After reading your response, I find myself confused. Are you really that naïve that believe politicians to be honest or are you working on their side and pretending to have totally missed the point just to try to create confusion? Educating people to understand statistics and extrapolation is meaningless if they do not understand the complexities of the underlying data. You cannot teach a person to write poetry if they do not know the alphabet, nor to solve differential equations if they don’t first know how to add and subtract, but you expect them to understand statistics and extrapolation when most people cannot see past the tip of their nose (Politically speaking of course)

I thank You fOr your time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250803)

shaRe, this news [tux.org]? Are you

Fago8z (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40250845)

it just 0wnz.', are just way over Of OpenBSD versus long term survival minutes. At home, bloodfarts. FreeBSD reciprocating bad live and a job to transfer, Netscape company a 2 It was fun. If I'm MAKES ME SICK JUST 'You see, even towels on the floor To predict *BSD's me if you'd like, population as well and building is personal rivalries dying. See? It's future. Even decentralized distribution make or a public club, that support has significantly most people into a to the transmiision and executes a It. Do not share but now they're AMERICA) might be Erosion of user

intrade.com (1)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 2 years ago | (#40250927)

You can go to http://intrade.com/ [intrade.com] to get accurate odds on elections. The odds are accurate because people can bet real money on the outcome, so people with good polling or better insider knowledge can bet on the outcome... It had Scott Walker at 93% odds of winning. Funny watching the media say how close it was going to be... and it turned out to be an easy win for Walker (54-46%)

Re:intrade.com (1)

Boronx (228853) | about 2 years ago | (#40253459)

Enough with the intrade promos already. Intrade is good at showing the summed wisdom of amateurs who pay attention. It's pretty darned at predicting election results ... after it's already clear who is going to win. Go look at the price history for Gingrich.

Re:intrade.com (1)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 2 years ago | (#40264469)

I honestly haven't tracked it much but it has been accurate when I bothered to look at it. Maybe it isn't as good with a wide field of candidates.. Then again, just because a candidate has high odds of winning doesn't mean they will win--just like with any odds, sometimes the 1:10 pays off (for instance, 10% of the time). But with 93% odds showing, I stand by my example that the media was thinking it might be a "long night" when it was actually decided before all the ballots were counted.

Re:intrade.com (1)

Boronx (228853) | about 2 years ago | (#40287221)

I think the real problem is that there's not enough money in Intrade, even on something big like Republican Nomination to attract the real smart guys. The price of Gingrich, for instance, shot up pretty high right before Iowa due to his status as the current Not-Romney, but really his chance of winning was never higher than a couple of percentage points.

Those of us who knew it could look at Intrade and calculate that by shorting Gingrich we might be able to make a couple thousand over a few weeks or months. Not really worth sending a money order off to some guys in Ireland.

Let's screw up his predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40252025)

I don't know how millions of Americans can get on-line and bitch about their politicians and not do anything. Surely to complain and not get active is a tacit admission that the elections are rigged?

How do you predict the outcome of a rigged election? The same way you get elected .. by being an insider.

More concerned (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#40255197)

I'm more concerned about the Art of Elections Rigging. The blatant, organized, top-down plan to disenfranchise every non-white or non-GOP voter in the US is breathtaking, soul-crushing, and judging by the Wisconsin recall result, deadly effective.

You now have to have a photo ID to vote, meaning for all practical purposes, those without a drivers license need an entire day to waste to run through the rabbit maze to get an approved alternative ID. Oh, and in most large, red, square states? The voting stations are placed in far-flung suburban enclaves with no real public transportation. But I'm sure that's not intentional. Nosireebob. Might as well have a sign outside that says: "You must be this rich and white to vote."

Cold-comfort, but they are demographically doomed - though I think their plan is to rape and scorch the earth to completion before giving way.
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