Showing posts with label 2016 Election. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2016 Election. Show all posts

Friday, May 8, 2020

Coronavirus and the 2020 Election

Today there is a wealth of statistics being released including the ones that I have compiled here.  The official unemployment rate increased from 4.4% in March 2020 to 14.7% in April 2020.  The unofficial rate (which some call the true unemployment rate) rose from 8.7% in March to 22.8% in April.  The official rate counts people who are unemployed and are looking for work.  The unofficial rate includes those who have given up looking for full time work and those who are underemployed (including myself).

Undoubtedly, the political campaigns are going over these numbers to see how they can gain an advantage over the other.  As of today, Joe Biden has a 4.4% advantage in the Real Clear Politics poll average over Donald Trump.  On this date four years ago (May 8), Hillary Clinton had a 6.5% advantage over Trump in the same poll average.  On the same date four years ago Bernie, Sanders had a 13.4% advantage over Trump in the RCP average.  At the time Sanders dropped out of the race on April 7, he had a 4.2% advantage over Trump in the RCP average.  On the same day, Biden had a 6.1% advantage over Trump.


It may be to early to say what impact Tara Reade's allegations have had on the Trump-Biden race.  Both candidates have lost support in recent weeks as can be seen above.  At the beginning of April, Trump's overall approval rating reached its highest point at 47.4% in the RCP average.  It has since fallen to 44.6% which is close to where it was before the pandemic started.

I stay away from making predictions, especially this far out.  Anything is possible in the next few months.  The crisis has given the administration cover on the economy.  They can blame it on the virus.  Both sides will demonize China.  Pennsylvania Governor Wolf has announced that 

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Trump's GOP Opposition in Utah Gave Romney Some Backbone

Mitt Romney becoming the first Senator in the President's party to vote to convict on one of the charges in Trump's impeachment trial did raise some eyebrows.  It may not be as surprising given that he and Trump have butted heads.  However other Republicans who have butted heads, with Trump in the past, such as Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and Ted Cruz, were fine with giving him a blank check for future abuses of power.  Could there be another explanation for Romney's not towing the line?

Utah has been one of the reddest states in the union for decades having not voted for a Democrat since 1964.  In 2012 Romney received 72% of the vote there over Barack Obama for President.  That was the highest percentage of the vote he received that year. He received 63% of the vote when he ran for the Senate there in 2018.  

The election numbers for the state look different in 2016 for Utah.  Ted Cruz won the GOP caucus there with 69% of the vote.  In the general election, Trump won the state with only 45% of the vote.  Independent candidate Evan McMullin received 21% of the vote in the state while Hillary Clinton received 27.8% that year.  

This year, the support for Donald Trump in Utah is at 52% as of December 2019 while his disapproval is at 44%.  This gives him a +8% net approval rating.  At the same time, neighboring Wyoming is the state with the strongest net approval rating with +27% (62% approve and 35% disapprove).  

These numbers were not enough to persuade Utah's other Senator, Mike Lee, to vote to convict, but clearly they did not dissuade Romney from doing so.  It may still be a tall order to get the state to go blue this fall but it clearly has an independent streak with lukewarm support for Trump.  William Weld should spend a lot of time campaigning there.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Iowa: what we know so far


It was scintillating watching C-SPAN's coverage of the Iowa Caucus in West Des Moines on Monday night.  You can see a rebroadcast of it here.  In this one caucus room, Bernie Sanders had the most votes in the second round with 99 followed by Elizabeth Warren with 76, Pete Buttigieg with 73, and Amy Klobuchar with 57.  With these totals Sanders, Buttigieg, and Warren were each awarded three delegates to the state convention each (abbreviated in as SDE in the table above) with Klobuchar getting two.  Biden did not have more than 15% of the 333 caucus goers and received no delegates.  The statewide numbers as of this writing are presented above with 96% of the caucus rooms counted.

Like everyone else, I was flabbergasted when the results were not immediately available.  The entrance polls (exit polls are used in the primaries and general elections) showed a close race between Sanders and Buttigieg.  Forty two percent of the caucus goers were male and 58% were female.  Ninety one % were white, 3% were African-American, 4% were Latino, and 2% were other.  Sanders edged Buttigieg among young, male, and nonwhite caucus goers.  Biden did best among caucus goers who said foreign policy mattered most to them (13% of the total).  Sanders won among those who said income inequality was most important (18% of the total).  Among those who said health care was most important (42%) Sanders and Buttigieg were tied.  Likewise they were tied among those who said climate change was most important (21%).

The overall results so far show that Sanders leads among the first and second round caucus goers but Buttigieg leads among state delegates by 3.  In 2016, Bernie lost to Clinton by a razor thin margin in the state delegates and it may happen again this year depending on the last 4% still to be counted. This was the first year they reported who the caucus goers preferred rather than just the delegates.  The result of the delegates could change as the last 4% is counted.



Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez has called for a re-canvassing of the caucus results.  The phone app that they used to send the results but at least they had a paper trail.  These results are similar to those of the electoral college in the 2016 and 2000 elections.  Both systems should be reformed.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Zuckerberg Mentor Denounces Facebook



In a follow up to my posts on social media and the upcoming elections I came across this interview on Democracy Now! with Roger McNamee.  He is an early mentor and investor of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.  He now says the company is a threat to US Democracy.  In the clip below he talks about how his warnings of Russian interference in the 2016 elections were ignored.  



It's hard to glean this kind of information from numbers but we can still see that something is awry.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Game of Growing Up and Outgrowing Fantasy



I have been tied up with other writing assignments to post on this blog lately.  I saw this video on Facebook from Real Time with Bill Maher where he criticizes comic book fans and thought I should comment. I posted it on my Facebook and got one negative comment and one positive one.  The negative one said "The ironic part is that in a 100 years people will likely remember Stan Lee and others like George Lucas. But will not remember Bill what's his name. Bill M. has been and always will be jealous and condescending of things that are more relevant to others then he will ever be to them. I honestly don't know how he even stays on the air."  I responded by saying that "...thanks for your input. Will Rogers is still remembered last I checked.To which he replied "As he should. Along with Mr. Rogers."  

The positive comment was "Thanks Paul. The same childish culture elected DT.Well I don't know what percent of Stan Lee fans voted for DT (which I assume means Donald Trump).  I know at least a few of them didn't.  

I also notice that Maher criticized Marvel Comic movies like X-Men, Iron Man, and Black Panther. At the same time he did not criticize Game of Thrones which his own network (HBO) makes a lot of money off of from many of the same Stan Lee fans.  


Anthony Hopkins (the mad scientist who designed the park), and robots James Marsden and Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld
Westworld, HBO's other science fiction series, makes a point about how the division between fantasy and reality is becoming increasingly blurred.  It's about an western amusement park with lifelike western robots where guests can act out their wild west fantasies (however raunchy).  Later the robots all go berserk.

Science Fiction/Fantasy can be a way of shedding light on the modern world.  It can also be an escape from it.  I know several people who have or will be writing their own Sci Fi books.  The online poll for The Great American Read has, I am sure, received more votes than my Best Non-Fiction book poll.  I has received one vote since my last update.  Three of the top five vote recipients in the fiction poll were the SciFi/Fantasy books Outlander, The Game of Thrones, and The Lord of the Rings.  

I know the vast majority of Comic Con fans can distinguish between fantasy and reality.  There is the tiny minority who can't such as the man in Aurora, Colorado who shot up a movie theater during the showing of a Batman movie while dressed as the Joker.  It's not that different from John Hinckley being inspired by the movie Taxi Driver and the novel Catcher in the Rye.  The phenomenon is also similar to how millions of evangelical Christians give their money to televangelists in hope of finding spiritual or physical healing. 

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Managing Predictions with Bayes Theorem


I have been reading Nate Silver's book The Signal and the Noise, about how hard it is to make predictions even when we have complete data. I tend to be a slow reader so I've been reading it for a while.   Finally I got to the chapter on his years as a professional poker player.  He talked about how players like him get overconfident if they start out winning.  Poker is a game of skill and luck.  The great player are lucky and good.  He argues is a thing that can be managed according to Bayes theorem.



In layman's terms, Bayes theorem says that people bring their preconceived notions to a situation and then update their notions based on what happens in that situation.  The image above shows the mathematical formula for the theorem.  If we know the probability of event B occurring given that event A has occurred, If we know the overall (or marginal) probabilities of events A and B occurring separately from each other we can calculate the probability of event A occurring given that B has occurred.  An example of this theorem is shown below.
table1.PNG
The table above (that I used in my first post on data driven journalism) shows the 2016 primary wins for Clinton, Trump, and Sanders.  The probability of Trump winning a state given that Clinton has won in the other party's contest in that state is 25 out of 29 or 86%.  We can use Bayes Theorem to find the probability that Clinton wins the state given that Trump has won.
  

First we need the overall probability of Trump winning the state overall which is 37 out of 51 contests (DC is included) or 73%.  Next we need the probability of Clinton winning a state which is 29 out of 51 contests or 57%.  We can now plug those numbers into Bayes theorem as in the above image.  The percents were converted to decimals for computation sake.  

We update our knowledge of the probability of Trump winning given that Clinton won in the other party with the overall probability of Trump and Clinton winning to find the probability of Clinton winning given that Trump has won.  That number is 67% which is considerable lower than the original 83%.  This is because Trump was more likely to win on his party's side than Clinton was in her party.

We can calculate these probabilities easily after the contests are over but it is different making these predictions beforehand.  Nate Silver was wrong about how many primaries Bernie Sanders would win and who would win the general election after correctly predicting the winner in 2012.  How will he update his predicting model for the 2018 and 2020 elections?  Time will tell.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

How we see the world when we're young and old

I have an Op Ed posted in yesterday's Johnstown Tribune-Democrat on how the number of hate groups in Pennsylvania have decreased in 2016 and how the numbers look even better for the state if you adjust them for population.  The response on Facebook has been generally positive with a few negative comments that basically state that "Why are only right wing groups listed as hate groups."  The image below from Facebook shows that of the 1,526 people who saw the post: 31 either liked or loved it, 166 clicked on it, 6 people commented (myself included, some more than once), two hid the post from their timeline, and one shared it on their timeline. I don't know the age breakdown of those who responded.



I remember when I was a substitute teacher in third grade, one girl held out a card to me and said "FBI!"  Watching James Comey be interviewed by George Stephanopoulos made me think of that girl.  She's too young to hear about J. Edgar Hoover, Stormy Daniels, or the Trump pee tape.  What would it be like for her to conduct her first investigation?  I wonder what it would have been like for her to interview James Comey. What would she think of Trump's tweets about him?  Would her thoughts be different from the responses to my article?



We have our beliefs and it can be uncomfortable when they are challenged.  My mom would have been crushed to hear about the crimes that Bill Cosby has been accused and now convicted of.  It can be sobering to see people's reaction to information that may challenge what they believe these beliefs.  Sometimes the responses are sobering when childlike.  Other times they can be an indication that you are on to something.  The positive feedback can be reassuring.  One must evaluate all the responses to get a clear picture.

**Update**


Thinking about the Cosby verdict I'm reminded of this interview that Groucho Marx gave to Bill Cosby in the 70's when I was a kid.  Looking at it now I wonder if Marx knew something we didn't.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cambridge Analytica was Behind the Results I Found on Facebook and the 2016 Election

Image from Mother Jones article on Cambridge Analytica
The Cambridge Analytica (CA) story may have fallen on the back burner because of the March for Our Lives (rightly) and Stormy Daniels (wrongly).  Mother Jones magazine published a detailed chronology of how it became involved in the 2016 election.  First they were partnered with Ted Cruz's campaign.  They claimed credit for his winning Iowa and finishing second overall in the delegate count.  Mother Jones reports that CA used the data in 2015 for Cruz's campaign to make psychographic profiles of users from the data from 50 million Facebook profiles..  Because Steve Bannon was on Cambridge Analytica's board, it was brought on to the Trump campaign.

At the same time in 2015 I was keeping track of the Facebook followings of the Presidentical candidates.  Below is a table I compiled on May 23, 2015 from each candidate's Facebook page such as the number of followers, the the most common city on their page from their followers, and the most popular age group on his page.  Donald Trump hadn't announced his campaign yet.  Lincoln Chafee had no Facebook page.

Four of the GOP candidates pages were receiving traffic from Houston, TX while three of the Democrats were receiving it from New York City.  For three of the four GOP Houston  candidates, their traffic was coming from users 65 and older.  About this time Cambridge Analytica was working for Cruz's campaign.  When I looked at the Facebook pages of pundits in January 2015, Houston was the most popular city of conservative pundits (10 out of 17) I looked at.

Party
candidate
Followers as a Pres Candidate
Most Popular City Since Becoming Candidate
Most Popular Age Group as Candidate
Dem
Hillary Clinton
839,186
New York, NY
25-34
Bernie Sanders
477,839
New York, NY
55+
Martin O'Malley
65,714
Baltimore, MD
25-34
Lincoln Chafee
.
.
Joe Biden
823,846
New York, NY
25-34
Jim Webb
21,489
Washington, DC
19-24
GOP
Ted Cruz
1,244,398
Houston, TX
65+
Mike Huckabee
1,734,080
Perth, Australia
65+
Rick Santorum
259,186
Pittsburgh, PA
45-64
Ben Carson
1,413,206
Houston, TX
25-35 and 
45-54
Rand Paul
1,922,875
Houston, TX
65+
Lindsey Graham
107,881
Columbia, SC
65+
Jeb Bush
176,284
Miami, FL
65+
Scott Walker
278,201
Milwaukee, WI
45-54 and 65+
Marco Rubio
861,005
Miami, FL
65+
Chris Christie
104,166
New York, NY
35-54
Rick Perry
1,174,115
Houston, TX
65+
Bobby Jindal
239,530
Baton Rouge, LA
35-54
Carly Fiorina
55,400
Los Angeles, CA
45-54
John Kasich
107,224
Columbus, OH
45-64

In August of that year,  the numbers for the candidates had changed with a large gain for Trump in both support and Facebook following.  About this time Facebook stopped providing information on the cities and age groups where their pages were most popular.  They still provided data on the number of followers who engaged with their page.  

Candidate
Party
Followers
June
Gain in
Followers,
June
# engaged
June
Engage
% June
Followers
Aug
Gain 
Aug
# Engaged
Aug
%
Engage
Aug
Engage
change
Aug-Jun
Real 
Clear
Politics
Avg
Hillary Clinton
D
871449
32263
164721
0.19
1209179
337730
327399
0.27
0.08
49.3
Bernie Sanders
D
530262
52423
136772
0.26
1225552
695290
355980
0.29
0.03
25
Martin O'Malley
D
70478
4764
15535
0.22
76953
6475
3675
0.05
-0.17
1.7
Lincoln Chafee
D
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Joe Biden
D
831968
8122
8998
0.01
841644
9676
1596
0
-0.01
12
Jim Webb
D
21745
256
2366
0.11
30544
8799
9956
0.33
0.22
1.3

Donald Trump
R
1792016
113658
53880
0.03
3282608
1490592
743935
0.23
0.2
22
Ted Cruz
R
1249160
4762
134836
0.11
1385876
136716
242349
0.17
0.06
7.3
Mike Huckabee
R
1743599
9519
231343
0.13
1827423
83824
415975
0.23
0.1
4.3
Rick Santorum
R
261168
1982
17289
0.07
264796
3628
11625
0.04
-0.03
1
Ben Carson
R
1487589
74383
168658
0.11
2418003
930414
869374
0.36
0.25
9.7
Rand Paul
R
2001304
78429
281904
0.14
2060430
59126
122158
0.06
-0.08
4.3
Lindsey Graham
R
111795
3914
10982
0.1
130110
18315
5621
0.04
-0.06
0.3
Jeb Bush
R
178172
1888
4681
0.03
250731
72559
30841
0.12
0.09
10.7
Scott Walker
R
283102
4901
24483
0.09
359444
76342
40554
0.11
0.02
7.7
Marco Rubio
R
874898
13893
83916
0.1
978401
103503
54927
0.06
-0.04
7.3
Chris Christie
R
104785
619
3014
0.03
118868
14083
8055
0.07
0.04
3.3
Rick Perry
R
1183094
8979
40992
0.03
1208938
25844
17278
0.01
-0.02
1.3
Bobby Jindal
R
243034
3504
5174
0.02
277777
34743
23878
0.09
0.07
0.7
Carly Fiorina
R
60165
4765
12713
0.21
281637
221472
86799
0.31
0.1
6.3
John Kasich
R
107703
479
7320
0.07
138213
30510
17159
0.12
0.05
0.3
George Pataki
R
15391
4512
29
18330
2939
6892
0.38
-28.62
0.1
The story about Cambridge Analytica and what I found looking at the candidate's campaign pages appear to correspond.  I was looking at publicly available data on Facebook usage and polling from Real Clear Politics.  Obviously I did not have access to the same data as Cambridge Analytica but I was able to glean that something was going on.  

Cambridge Analytica was not able to help Cruz overtake Trump in the primaries.  It is debatable how much assistance they were to Trump in the general election but the fact that Trump won the electoral college vote (while losing the popular vote by 3 million) is all the validation they need.  They also assisted in winning the Brexit vote in 2016 for which they are also under investigation.  Below is a communications professor suing CA for the data they may have on him.

**Update**

The Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wiley was interviewed on Amanpour on PBS about the what CA was up to.  It's a gripping interview which is in the second half of the show.  You'll have to fast forward to get to it.


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Houston, TX: A Hotbed of Conservative Facebook Activity?