Presidential Politics

08/13/2012 9:00 am
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I am going to attempt to start a cordial conversation about politics, and things related to it. I'll try to present facts that I find as well as ask questions of those among us that might be more knowledgeable in areas that I know I am a little weak. Hopefully this will provide some benefit.

I'll start with a question. Is there a single measure that is used to measure economic success? If so, is it GDP? Is unemployment basically a side product, or is it a big indicator of this as well? I actually am not quite sure about the answer. But, I did some research regarding these two aspects, because we hear a lot about these issues in the news.

Scott's Economic Summary of that last 30 or so years
I created this spreadsheet and did some calculations of my own. My intent was not to prove a point, but simply to provide empirical data with which to come to a better understanding of a possible conclusion. Here is what I found.

Unemployment (Sheet1)(i'm using Bush 43, Clinton, Obama, and Reagan to compare):
Based on the highest unemployment rate on the day they took office, they rank Obama, Reagan, Clinton, Bush.
Clinton is the only president of these 4 who reduced unemployment by July of his third year compared to his first year in office.
Clinton and Obama both reduced unemployment based on the final year and first year averages of their first term.
It should be noted that Bush started with a significantly lower unemployment rate than the other 3 presidents, but unemployment increased the most (as a percent of where it started) through his first three and a half years in office.

GDP (Sheet 2):
Ranking highest growth of GDP from beginning to end of term(s) in office, it goes like this:
Clinton (31%), Reagan (30%), Bush 43 (13%), Bush 41 (6%), and Obama (5%)
Clinton averaged 3.79% average annual change from the year prior, topped only by Bush 41. Reagan averaged 3.51%, Bush 43 and Obama came in at 1.7% and 1.2% respectively.
Clinton had 4 of his year years produce high growth of than the year before. Reagan had 3 years better than the previous, Both Bushes and Obama had 2. Bush 43, however, had 2 in 8 years. Obama and Bush 41 had their two years of positive relative growth in 4 years or less.

I'm not drawing many hard conclusions on this. There are some that stick out, however. Bush 41 lost his bid for re-election in large part because he lied about raising taxes, in spite of the fact that the economy grew considerably under his watch. Clinton had sustained growth greater than any of the presidents in this list. Republicans and conservatives champion Reagan's economic credentials, but it would seem that Clinton should get some props from conservatives on this matter. I recognize that Clinton had a Republican congress for the majority of his presidency, but the economy grew under his watch more more than either of the other 2 2-term presidents. We should look to what the tax and economic policies were under Clinton even before we look to Reagan, should we not?

That is all. I await someone smarter than me to look at this and provide some commentary.
matt.jpgMatt - 3373 Posts
08/14/2012 @ 08:53:47 PM
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I don't think there is one "magic" indicator of how the economy is doing. I think most people would look at GDP, unemployment, or the inflation rate to make a judgement, but even those can sometimes be misleading. I guess you just have to look at everything together and make a call.

I don't seem to be able to access your spreadsheets, so I'll just give some general thoughts of the top of my head.

First, there are too many variables to just look at the numbers and then look at who was President and then give them 100% ownership of the economy during their run. There are certainly things they can control, but there are others that they can't. Like you mentioned, who has control of Congress can affect things. National disasters and foreign affairs can affect things. Decisions of past leaders can affect things. Plus, the economy is cyclical in nature and its cycles don't always correspond to our presidential elections. This isn't to say that Presidents can't make things better or worse, they certainly can, just that sometimes you have to look a little deeper.

Second, the unemployment rate can be very misleading at times. For example, currently the unemployment rate is 8.3%, but the unemployment rate only deals with people in the labor force (basically, people who are able and are either working or actively looking for work). During the last few years the labor force participation rate has fallen dramatically as many people stop looking for work after not being able to get work in this economy. If the labor force was the same as when Obama first took office, the unemployment rate would be closer to 11.0%. (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/people-not-labor-force-soar-522000-labor-force-participation-rate-lowest-1981 ; http://diversityischaos.blogspot.com/2012/08/if-labor-force-participation-rate-was.html)

Finally, I've heard a lot of democrats say something to the effect that tax rates were higher during Clinton's term and the economy still showed strong growth. This is true, but I'll also point out that the level of Government spending was also much lower during the 90's and 2000's than it is now. If you want to find policies from that era that worked, I'd start there.
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scott.jpgScott - You're going to have to call your hardware guy. It's not a software issue.
08/15/2012 @ 11:22:24 AM
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Try the spreadsheet again, I had it listed as "private", but now anyone with the link can access it.
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scott.jpgScott - Ma'am, can you make sure your computer is turned on?
08/15/2012 @ 11:39:56 AM
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And government spending from the 2000s was considerably higher compared to that of the 90s? And while Romney is immune to taking heat for it since he wasn't part of the federal government, Paul Ryan was part of George W. Bush's Congressional rubber stamp.
Ryan voted for the $700 billion bank bailout, the biggest Medicare expansion in U.S. history, a massive highway bill that included the “Bridge to Nowhere” and other big-ticket priorities when George W. Bush was president — going to bat for a high-spending GOP agenda that the tea party base now looks on with regret.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79688.html#ixzz23dIr02hV


I think there's a lot to learn from what went on during the 90s that should be reconsidered today. We actually had a balanced budget and a big budget surplus (or at the very least a steep trend towards that direction) that was (whatever word you want to use to describe it) squandered by the Bush administration with 6 years of Republican controlled congress. Comparing that to what happened in the first 2 years of Obama's presidency, it makes you really worried about any one party having majorities in both houses AND the presidency at the same time. The must successful periods in recent history have come with extended periods of split power between Congress and the White House.
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newalex.jpgAlex - 3618 Posts
08/15/2012 @ 01:45:18 PM
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So should we keep Obama and flip the Senate, or put in Romney and Tammy Baldwin? Obamacare probably wouldn't have passed without Democrat control either.

This is why we need a 3rd party.

Balanced budget should be goal #1. Presumably the easiest way to get there is to cut spending and raise taxes. Neither party seems to be any good at cutting spending, but the Republicans managed to cut taxes. So we're screwed. As a part-time more Republican than Democrat wanna be Libertarian who remains officially Independent, I want to get excited for Romney-Ryan but to me step #1 of balancing the budget is raising taxes on the rich (letting Bush tax cuts expire, closing loopholes, whatever) which seems unlikely to happen under their watch.

"It should be noted that Bush started with a significantly lower unemployment rate than the other 3 presidents, but unemployment increased the most (as a percent of where it started) through his first three and a half years in office."

Why should that be noted? It's a mathematical happenstance.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
08/15/2012 @ 03:50:10 PM
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The only reason I felt it should be noted that Bush had a lower unemployment rate from the get go is because the Obama critics talk about how high the employment rate is under Obama, but they ignore the fact that in terms of the +/- change from when he got in office to July of his third year the unemployment rate has been relatively better under Obama than it was for Bush. The month before Obama took office (December 2008), unemployment was at 7.3 % and it stands at 8.3% now (an increase of 12%). The month before Bush took office it was 3.9% and it stood at 5.5% after July of his 3rd year, an increase of ~ 40%. So while his supports might say that he was so much better than Obama in terms of unemployment because the unemployment rate was only 5.5% for Bush (which is obviously better than 8.3 so Bush is obviously better), the rate increased significantly more under Bush than it did Obama. And even if it isn't compared to Obama, Bush looks absolutely incompetent when compared to Clinton. That's why it should be noted.
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Scott perfected this 2 times, last at 08/15/2012 3:55:13 pm
newalex.jpgAlex - Ignorance is bliss to those uneducated
08/15/2012 @ 04:46:41 PM
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I guess I would argue that the percent change is kind of a meaningless number in this case. You're using the percent change increase as a bad thing in this case, but if you were talking about a decrease you would be "penalizing" whoever started with the higher unemployment percent because their decrease would be a smaller percent change if the actual change amounts were equal. Since the new President has no control over what starting value they were given, percent change isn't really a fair comparison. For Obama it went up 1% and for Bush it went up 1.6%.

Although, like Matt said, they probably don't really have that much control over how that number changes anyway.

But I guess maybe one other angle is, I don't really remember Bush ever saying he was going fix things and lower unemployment. It certainly may have happened and I either didn't care or have forgotten or never heard, but I do recall Obama giving speeches and telling us how this awesome stimulus package was going to fix everything with the economy and unemployment.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
08/15/2012 @ 08:46:30 PM
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Well, I was just pointing out facts. I wasn't drawing conclusions. I just pointed out that from 2001-2008 the unemployment rate went up at a faster rate than the other periods from 1980 to the present.
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matt.jpgMatt - Nutcan.com's MBL
08/16/2012 @ 01:01:45 AM
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Scott Wrote - Yesterday @ 11:39:56 AM
And government spending from the 2000s was considerably higher compared to that of the 90s? And while Romney is immune to taking heat for it since he wasn't part of the federal government, Paul Ryan was part of George W. Bush's Congressional rubber stamp.
Ryan voted for the $700 billion bank bailout, the biggest Medicare expansion in U.S. history, a massive highway bill that included the "Bridge to Nowhere" and other big-ticket priorities when George W. Bush was president - going to bat for a high-spending GOP agenda that the tea party base now looks on with regret.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79688.html#ixzz23dIr02hV


You do realize that the spending by Obama and the Democrats is far, far above that of Bush. Even if Ryan is a "big-spending conservative" (and I don't agree that he is), he'd still be miles better that Obama-Biden. Democrats (and many Republicans) were livid at Bush for spending too much. Where is that outrage by the Democrats now?

This also kind of ignores the fact that Ryan has put out the only serious and realistic plan to balance the budget. It might not be perfect, but it actually attempts to tackle the problems that face us, something no one else is willing to do. Plus, this: http://news.yahoo.com/2011-clip-former-clinton-white-house-chief-staff-221603999--abc-news-politics.html


Scott Wrote - Yesterday @ 11:39:56 AM
I think there's a lot to learn from what went on during the 90s that should be reconsidered today. We actually had a balanced budget and a big budget surplus (or at the very least a steep trend towards that direction) that was (whatever word you want to use to describe it) squandered by the Bush administration with 6 years of Republican controlled congress. Comparing that to what happened in the first 2 years of Obama's presidency, it makes you really worried about any one party having majorities in both houses AND the presidency at the same time. The must successful periods in recent history have come with extended periods of split power between Congress and the White House.


Bush spent too much money, no question about that, but its too simplistic to just say, "we had a good thing, and he squandered it". I agree, we should look back and see what worked and what didn't, be we also have to notice what was unique about the different times and how they affected the economy/budget.

Off the top of my head:

- The 90s started off with the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, which allowed the U.S. to decrease defense spending (perhaps, too much).
- 1994 Republican Revolution, brought focus to balancing the budget. Clinton and Congress worked out budget deal.
- Tech industry flourishes boosting the economy and thus boosting tax revenues, further helping to balance the budget.
- Tech bubble bursts and end of Clinton era/beginning of Bush era pushing us into another recession.
- 9/11 follows shortly afterwards deepening and lengthening the recession.
- Defense spending is raised to deal with terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11.
- Housing bubble bursts, leads to financial crisis and deep recession.

Now, in the 90s Clinton (along with Gingrich and others) certainly deserve credit for balancing the budget, but Clinton also got a bit lucky. He came into office during a relatively peaceful time in the world and his term happened to coincide with the take off of the tech industry and left office right when the bubble burst. Bush inherited the aftermath of the bubble bursting and lost the luxury of lower defense spending after 9/11. After that, the economy was decent until the housing bubble and recession (something that you can't blame entirely, or really mostly on Bush - this result was a long time coming, built on many bad decisions over the years).

Now for Obama. He certainly got "unlucky" by coming into office at the end of a major recession. No matter what, he was going to have a bad economy his first few years. Judging by previous recessions, however, we should be seeing a much better economy now than we are. Instead of a strong recovery, we are on the edge of a double-dip recession. It could just be the way things are and there is nothing he could have done to make it better, but I think at this point, you have to conclude that Obama's policies (e.g. wasted stimulus, Obamacare, "anti-business" policies, runaway spending, etc.) have made things much more worse than they needed to be.

Like I said in a previous post, if your looking to the 90s for policies to fix this, I'd start with reducing spending. Additionally, you also need to create a climate where the economy can grow. A growing economy brings in more tax revenue without having to raise tax rates on anybody. Along with that, it would be nice if we could have a booming sector of the economy now, like the tech sector was in the 90s. One possibility is in domestic energy. We've made many advances in finding and extracting oil and natural gas. North Dakota is having its own energy boom right now and other places could follow. If we can stop subsidizing ethanol and other wasteful "green energy" projects and stop being so hostile to oil/coal/gas/and nuclear, maybe we can actually get something going.
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Matt messed with this at 08/16/2012 1:51:25 am
thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - Washington Bureau Chief
08/16/2012 @ 01:47:01 AM
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Alex Wrote - Yesterday @ 01:45:18 PM
Balanced budget should be goal #1. Presumably the easiest way to get there is to cut spending and raise taxes. Neither party seems to be any good at cutting spending, but the Republicans managed to cut taxes. So we're screwed. As a part-time more Republican than Democrat wanna be Libertarian who remains officially Independent, I want to get excited for Romney-Ryan but to me step #1 of balancing the budget is raising taxes on the rich (letting Bush tax cuts expire, closing loopholes, whatever) which seems unlikely to happen under their watch.


I agree that we need to balance the budget, but I don't agree that step #1 needs to be to "tax the rich". The amount of money the government is spending is astronomical. Depending on how you define the rich, you could jack up their taxes and only barely make a dent in the deficit. By raising taxes, there is also the real possibility that you will depress economic growth (and we're going to need strong economic growth if we are going to get out of the hole we've dug). I don't think we should risk that possibility on something that amounts to a drop in the bucket.

Where we should start is with spending cuts, and not fake "decrease in the increase of funding" cuts, actual across-the-board cuts. Then, entitlement reforms. Entitlement spending projects to take over more and more of our budget. If we can't reform this, nothing else we do will really matter. Lets get these things done first, and then we can talk tax increases to finish it off. I will probably still think they are a bad idea, but they will be a lot easier to stomach then, rather than now.
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2887.gifAlex - 3618 Posts
08/16/2012 @ 02:07:38 PM
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I suppose it's all a giant game of chicken (or of chicken or the egg) in a way as far as who's going to break first, but I think it would be easier for those affected by entitlement reforms to take their lumps if people raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in income were paying more taxes. I'm aware that no amount of only "taxing the rich" is going to make up the current budget deficit. But doing so would not be completely negligible in terms of increased revenue and it would make the other changes that Congress, which tends to be a bunch of rich guys or at least has a disproportionate ratio of rich guys, needs to make to entitlement reform more...defensible?

Matt Wrote - Today @ 01:47:01 AM
By raising taxes, there is also the real possibility that you will depress economic growth (and we're going to need strong economic growth if we are going to get out of the hole we've dug).


I don't really buy this too much. Cutting taxes since whenever the Bush tax cuts started apparently hasn't increased economic growth so going back to previous tax levels won't necessarily depress growth.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
08/16/2012 @ 02:53:06 PM
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Holy crap I actually agree with Alex on something. It's 2:47pm on August 16, 2012, for the record. Even with taking in all the outside factors that Matt mentioned above (which I think are probably valid points), I don't get how raising to top income tax rate from 35% to 39.5% is going to depress much, since the growth when it was at 39.5% was better than when the rate was/is at 35%. I'm open to someone telling me I'm wrong, but there is SOME evidence that what I'm saying might be legit. And for what it's worth, I think Alex is also right about people accepting entitlement reform. If the poor and others on federal assistance programs of some sort are told they need to buck up, asking the wealthiest among us to contribute just a little more would make selling the former a little bit easier. Asking the poor to get by better on their own while also giving breaks to those already doing better than most of us seems shady, in my opinion.

Matt Wrote - Today @ 01:47:01 AM
Where we should start is with spending cuts, and not fake "decrease in the increase of funding" cuts, actual across-the-board cuts. Then, entitlement reforms. Entitlement spending projects to take over more and more of our budget. If we can't reform this, nothing else we do will really matter. Lets get these things done first, and then we can talk tax increases to finish it off. I will probably still think they are a bad idea, but they will be a lot easier to stomach then, rather than now.


I read this after I wrote my post, and I found a couple things intersting. For one, even the Ryan budget plan doesn't cut spending any more than "decreasing the increase" (although, I believe it cuts spending more than Obama's ideas). At least that's what one CBO report I saw concluded. The other is the last two sentences, which relates to my feeling towards both taxes and entitlements. Matt says until we get entitlements fixed tax increases won't do much, and even when entitlements are fixed, taxes are still bad but at least easier to stomach. What I'm saying is that entitlement reform itself might be easier to stomach if taxes are raised on top earners. Both attitudes are probably someone idealistic, but essentially coming from the same underlying feeling. One side is you can't raise taxes without reforming entitlements, the other is you shouldn't reform entitlements without raising taxes. (I smell giant comprehensive entitlement reform/tax code reform that is a lose lose for everyone involved, but that everyone is screwed equally.)
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Scott perfected this at 08/16/2012 3:03:04 pm
thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - Nutcan.com's MBL
08/17/2012 @ 01:16:18 PM
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Alex Wrote - Yesterday @ 02:07:38 PM
I suppose it's all a giant game of chicken (or of chicken or the egg) in a way as far as who's going to break first, but I think it would be easier for those affected by entitlement reforms to take their lumps if people raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in income were paying more taxes.


Scott Wrote - Yesterday @ 02:53:06 PM
If the poor and others on federal assistance programs of some sort are told they need to buck up, asking the wealthiest among us to contribute just a little more would make selling the former a little bit easier. Asking the poor to get by better on their own while also giving breaks to those already doing better than most of us seems shady, in my opinion.


The government over-promised. They did this, most likely, to get the votes of the very same people who will be affected the most by any reform. Why should people be spared the lesson that this is what happens when the government promises a free lunch. I don't see it as valid that every time the government runs into trouble, the first move is to make the "rich" pay a little more, just cause they can. For one thing, you can't use that as a solution indefinitely. Eventually, even the rich will run out of money, and/or you see major economic effects. Secondly, this seems to deflect, somewhat, the focus from the real problem (the government spends too much), in order to scapegoat the rich instead. (I know this isn't exactly what you guys are doing here; my argument sort of morphed into a more general criticism of issues like these).

That said, most reform proposals (including Ryan's plan for Medicare reform) end up means testing the benefits of the rich, so they will be asked to pay more and subsidize the rest even more than they probably already do.



Alex Wrote - Yesterday @ 02:07:38 PM
Cutting taxes since whenever the Bush tax cuts started apparently hasn't increased economic growth so going back to previous tax levels won't necessarily depress growth.


Scott Wrote - Yesterday @ 02:53:06 PM
I don't get how raising to top income tax rate from 35% to 39.5% is going to depress much, since the growth when it was at 39.5% was better than when the rate was/is at 35%.


Both of these statements seem to assume that tax rates are the only factor of economic growth. Obviously, that's not true. There is certainly the possibility that growth in the 90s would have been even better had we had lower tax rates, and growth in the 2000s would have been worse if we had higher ones. The thing is, Federal tax revenues are much more dependent on the strength of the economy than on the rates you have (http://www.deptofnumbers.com/blog/2010/08/tax-revenue-as-a-fraction-of-gdp/). Therefore, if you want to increase revenue, I would say worrying about factors that will increase economic growth and grow the pool of taxable income is much more important than taxing people more, and trying to take a bigger slice out of a smaller pie.

One final thought about this whole thing. Politicians don't like to do the hard stuff. Like Wimpy they'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. My worry, is that taxes will be raised, and when the time comes, the spending cuts will never materialize.
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Matt perfected this 2 times, last at 08/17/2012 1:17:37 pm
2887.gifAlex - 3618 Posts
08/18/2012 @ 01:06:44 PM
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Matt Wrote - Yesterday @ 01:16:18 PM
One final thought about this whole thing. Politicians don't like to do the hard stuff. Like Wimpy they'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. My worry, is that taxes will be raised, and when the time comes, the spending cuts will never materialize.


Certain possible, even likely, which is why we need a third party. A third party could advocate for cutting spending by 50%, then Republicans and Democrats could work together to cut only 20% and they both win and the third party fades away again until needed. Like Batman.

I found this on the internet so it must be true.
http://www.businessinsider.com/history-of-tax-rates

Regardless of the tax thing, spending needs to be cut. But like I said, I want a balanced budget and at this point I don't trust Romney-Ryan to not cut taxes even further, which I don't think will be helpful.
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scott.jpgScott - Resident Tech Support
08/30/2012 @ 09:12:08 AM
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http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/17/1121306/-Paul-Ryan-blames-Obama-for-GM-plant-closed-in-2008-under-Bush

This started on facebook, but here's the link I found. In previous speeches, Paul Ryan comes quite close to flat out blaming Obama for a plant that closed before he even took office.
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scott.jpgScott - No, I did not change your screen saver settings
08/30/2012 @ 09:25:58 AM
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To be fair, the plant officially closed in April 2009, but about 75% of production was halted prior to Obama taking office. Even bringing it up is still incredibly misleading. Paul Ryan would have you believe that a well operating factory just up and left after Obama took office. The plant was falling apart for almost a year and the last pieces of it finally fell when Obama took office. Republicans criticize Obama saying that he spends too much time blaming the guy that came before him; it would seem that Republicans are doing a good job of trying to blame the guy that comes next! My company closed down a plant in Ohio this summer; if Romney gets elected, that's obviously his fault, since some of the employees won't be let go until 2013, right?
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matt.jpgMatt - Nutcan.com's MBL
08/30/2012 @ 10:11:58 AM
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Scott Wrote - Today @ 09:12:08 AM
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/17/1121306/-Paul-Ryan-blames-Obama-for-GM-plant-closed-in-2008-under-Bush

This started on facebook, but here's the link I found. In previous speeches, Paul Ryan comes quite close to flat out blaming Obama for a plant that closed before he even took office.


Without seeing the previous speeches, I can't comment on those, but I'll post here, what I wrote on facebook about this issue, for the benefit of the zero readers here who care.

Ryan's quote (from his speech last night):

"When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.
"

I don't think he was blaming Obama for the closing... he was blaming Obama for promising an economic recovery that could keep open or restart the plant (which is still on "stand-by", apparently), and not coming through with it.
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Matt messed with this at 08/30/2012 10:14:07 am
thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - 3373 Posts
08/30/2012 @ 10:20:56 AM
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Scott Wrote - Today @ 09:25:58 AM
To be fair, the plant officially closed in April 2009, but about 75% of production was halted prior to Obama taking office. Even bringing it up is still incredibly misleading. Paul Ryan would have you believe that a well operating factory just up and left after Obama took office. The plant was falling apart for almost a year and the last pieces of it finally fell when Obama took office. Republicans criticize Obama saying that he spends too much time blaming the guy that came before him; it would seem that Republicans are doing a good job of trying to blame the guy that comes next! My company closed down a plant in Ohio this summer; if Romney gets elected, that's obviously his fault, since some of the employees won't be let go until 2013, right?


1. If the plant was failing when Obama visited... then, why the hell did he imply that he could do something about it? Oh yeah, it was empty rhetoric to get votes from the auto workers.

2. Nobody doubts that Obama inherited a bad economy. The criticism of Obama is that his policies have failed to allow the economy to recover as it should have by now, and have even made things worse in many ways.
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scott.jpgScott - If you aren't enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.
10/30/2012 @ 10:36:54 AM
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In case you haven't made up your mind yet, or if you just want to have your decision confirmed, here is a questionnaire/quiz on issues and then it shows you which presidential and senate candidate you most closely align with. It's one of the better election quizes I've seen in a while.
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2887.gifAlex - 3618 Posts
10/30/2012 @ 02:20:14 PM
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Scott Wrote - Today @ 10:36:54 AM
In case you haven't made up your mind yet, or if you just want to have your decision confirmed, here is a questionnaire/quiz on issues and then it shows you which presidential and senate candidate you most closely align with. It's one of the better election quizes I've seen in a while.


Looks like they are who I thought they were.
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jon.jpgJon - 2866 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 02:38:47 AM
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Everybody Votes!

Or they don't. Whatever. The point is, I don't want you to tell me who you voted/are voting for, but I do want to hear your predictions of who you think will win. You can also include any other predictions for the night if you feel like it.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 06:15:16 AM
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I'm predicting Romney wins when the House of Representatives votes, and Biden wins the vp when the senate votes. But seriously, my guess is Romney wins. I'm in line already, btw.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 08:06:15 AM
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Actually, for all the talk about the possibility of an electoral tie, I see no possibility for that based on the states that are currently listed as "toss ups" or "leans this way or that way". The idea was tossed around about the possibility of a tie, but I don't think it's happening.

Oh, and here's a prediction: the election will not be decided tonight. With something like 200,000 provisional ballots in Ohio alone, the leader after tonight would have to have a pretty substantial lead in order to call the election for that person.

The fact that the national polls are all somewhere in the vicinity of a tie (Real Clear Politics has an average of 48.8 for Obama and 48.1 for Romney), seems like the advantage would be the challenger. The fact that incumbent doesn't have 50% bodes well for challenger. I believe I've seen that historically, the challenger doesn't gain ground typically on election day, but that might be different when the incumbent doesn't have a majority. It would be interesting to see a historical look at what the final polls showed the day for election day over the last 50 years or so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_polling_for_U.S._Presidential_elections
apparently that was easier than I thought, although I'm not seeing much trend to make any assumptions. Although, looking at it closer, maybe there's this. Only 3 times since FDR has an incumbent lost re-election (Ford, Carter, and Bush Sr). 2 of those times, the challenger had a significant lead in the polls by the end of the campaign (Reagan v Carter and Clinton v Bush). The other case (Carter v Ford) showed Ford with a 1 point lead at the end of October. Considering the nature of Ford's presidency and being in the shadow of Watergate, it's hard to draw much from what might have changed the hearts and minds of voters. It might say more about how popular (or unpopular) Carter ever really was. Anyway, Except for one case over the last nearly 80 years (13 elections that featured an incumbent president running for re-election), the only time the challenger won the election was when he had a lead in the polls going into election day. So maybe I really am predicting an Obama victory. Based on the historical nature of presidential polls, Obama wins. But that's only looking at one aspect of it.
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Scott perfected this 5 times, last at 11/06/2012 8:41:34 am
matt.jpgMatt - Ombudsman
11/06/2012 @ 01:58:00 PM
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Scott Wrote - Today @ 08:06:15 AM
Actually, for all the talk about the possibility of an electoral tie, I see no possibility for that based on the states that are currently listed as "toss ups" or "leans this way or that way". The idea was tossed around about the possibility of a tie, but I don't think it's happening.


This might not be the most likely scenario, but it is certainly a possibility.

http://www.270towin.com/2012_election_predictions.php?mapid=buLO
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thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - 3373 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 02:02:14 PM
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Jon Wrote - Today @ 02:38:47 AM
Everybody Votes!

Or they don't. Whatever. The point is, I don't want you to tell me who you voted/are voting for, but I do want to hear your predictions of who you think will win. You can also include any other predictions for the night if you feel like it.


I voted for Nader.

As for my prediction. I'm cautiously optimistic that Romney will win, and here is my cautiously optimistic map: http://www.270towin.com/2012_election_predictions.php?mapid=buOs

Romney 295 - Obama 243, for those who don't feel like clicking the link.
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Matt perfected this at 11/06/2012 2:03:43 pm
scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 02:31:51 PM
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Matt Wrote - Today @ 01:58:00 PM
Scott Wrote - Today @ 08:06:15 AM
Actually, for all the talk about the possibility of an electoral tie, I see no possibility for that based on the states that are currently listed as "toss ups" or "leans this way or that way". The idea was tossed around about the possibility of a tie, but I don't think it's happening.
This might not be the most likely scenario, but it is certainly a possibility. http://www.270towin.com/2012_election_predictions.php?mapid=buLO

I know it's possible, I just was pretty confident that Nevada and Colorado were going to Obama, so it was really a combination of Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and a couple others that I figured were really the only sates in play to make a potential tie possible. I should post my electoral map prediction on this site.
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scott.jpgScott - Get Up! Get outta here! Gone!
11/06/2012 @ 02:38:52 PM
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the latest Ohio poll posted to Real Clear Politics had Obama up in 3 polls and tied in a 4th,

With that said, here's my revised prediction:
http://www.270towin.com/2012_election_predictions.php?mapid=bvhv

and the result is a tie.*

*I wasn't attempting to create a tie, I originally had 2 Electoral votes from Nebraska going to Obama. I also had Colorado and Nevada going to Obama, but I changed those to Romney, it resulted in 269-269.

**what's also funny about that, is that I wasn't basing it off of Matt's "this is how it could be a tie" scenario. It just turned out that way (like, literally the exact same map) when I looked at all the state polls from Real Clear Politics and made the selections based on the most recent polling data.
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Scott edited this 4 times, last at 11/06/2012 2:49:34 pm
scott.jpgScott - Get Up! Get outta here! Gone!
11/06/2012 @ 02:51:46 PM
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Actually, it looks like the most recent poll for Colorado has Obama up 6 points. and Nevada has Obama up 4. It's looking more like Obama 284- Romney 254. The state by state polling data (based on RCC, if it can be trusted) seems to point to an Obama victory.

My Final Prediction of the 2012 Presidential Election
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Scott edited this 3 times, last at 11/06/2012 2:54:01 pm
jon.jpgJon - 2866 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 03:10:45 PM
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I think Obama will win.

I don't think Romney will win enough, or at least the right combination, of the swing states.

I do think there could be some really close results in a state or two.
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thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - Nutcan.com's MBL
11/06/2012 @ 03:11:37 PM
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The question is though, are the poll splits going to reflect who actually turns out to vote. There is a good argument that a lot of these polls are skewing democrat by 2008 margins or more. Now, this may be the case and the polls are right, but I think signs point to a much increased republican turnout. Instead of D+7 nationally (2008) it might only be a D+3 or an even split, or maybe even R+2 or 3. If this is the case, then the polls are over representing Obama's support and Romney will win many of these close states.
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sarah.jpgSarah - How do you use these things?
11/06/2012 @ 03:21:38 PM
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I don't understand the lines for voting. Seems like every time we've gone to vote, we've been in and out in a few minutes. Granted, we live in a po-dunk town, but still. 4 hours waiting in line? That's ridic.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Cube Phenomenoligist
11/06/2012 @ 04:03:27 PM
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There would have to be a pretty fatal flaw in the basic concept of poll taking in general for it to fall in line for Romney, as far as I understand it. Even as far as turnout goes that's presumably accounted for by the switch to likely voter polls.
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matt.jpgMatt - 3373 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 04:17:22 PM
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Not necessarily, even with likely voters, you still have to figure out how to identify likely voters. That method can vary from pollster to pollster. But what I'm talking about is different anyways (from what I understand). All polls use assumptions about the voting population to try and get a sample representative of the voting population at large. Some might weight the raw data to fit a turnout model based on party ID, but i think others adjust for other factors (race/gender/age) that have a secondary effect on the party id splits. If these assumptions are wrong, then the polling is wrong. Not to mention that the response rate for the polls is down to 9%. A rate that low has problems on its own, and can cause poor results if some group is more or less represented in the 81% of calls that go unanswered.

Now, the polls may be right this time, they may not, but when a lot of the polls predict a party id split around 2008... I'm just not seeing it. The enthusiasm is reversed this time.
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thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - Ombudsman
11/06/2012 @ 04:20:44 PM
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Scott Wrote - Today @ 02:51:46 PM
Actually, it looks like the most recent poll for Colorado has Obama up 6 points. and Nevada has Obama up 4. It's looking more like Obama 284- Romney 254. The state by state polling data (based on RCC, if it can be trusted) seems to point to an Obama victory.

My Final Prediction of the 2012 Presidential Election


I saw that early voting in Colorado finished at R+2. Since republicans usually outperform democrats on election day... Colorado looks good for Romney.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - As Seen On The Internet
11/06/2012 @ 04:23:09 PM
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Yeah, but when you average together enough polls those effects start to cancel out.
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matt.jpgMatt - 3373 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 04:27:59 PM
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Possibly, yes...Possibly, no. I guess we'll find out in a few hours.
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newalex.jpgAlex - 3618 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 04:56:38 PM
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Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 04:23:09 PM
Yeah, but when you average together enough polls those effects start to cancel out.


Assuming an even distribution of wrongness. If they are all wrong in the same direction, or consistently more wrong in one direction it doesn't matter how many are being averaged together, it would still be off.

It seems like whether you trust one poll or an average of all polls this election has been sitting right in the margin of error for a while which means everyone is just guessing at results. Wake me up when it's over.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 06:04:41 PM
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Matt Wrote - Today @ 04:27:59 PM
Possibly, yes...Possibly, no. I guess we'll find out in a few hours.


umm...you mean wait, like for the results? I thought this was NutCan. We don't need results to make conclusions!
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8972 Posts
11/06/2012 @ 08:00:37 PM
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Well, there's not a whole lot of reason to speculate given we'll know better, and god willing, outright, in a few hours.

Either way, I really don't see anyone contradicting me. The polling data was clear enough to where a pretty large flaw in the nature of polling, or interpreting polls, would need to exist in order for Romney to win.

Obviously there's a possibility that is the case, and it's not over until it's over. It's just, there's really no reason to think there is a big problem with polling all of a sudden this time.
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Jeremy perfected this at 11/06/2012 8:05:03 pm
scott.jpgScott - If you aren't enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.
11/07/2012 @ 07:13:12 AM
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Scott Wrote - Yesterday @ 08:06:15 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_polling_for_U.S._Presidential_elections
apparently that was easier than I thought, although I'm not seeing much trend to make any assumptions. Although, looking at it closer, maybe there's this. Only 3 times since FDR has an incumbent lost re-election (Ford, Carter, and Bush Sr). 2 of those times, the challenger had a significant lead in the polls by the end of the campaign (Reagan v Carter and Clinton v Bush). The other case (Carter v Ford) showed Ford with a 1 point lead at the end of October. Considering the nature of Ford's presidency and being in the shadow of Watergate, it's hard to draw much from what might have changed the hearts and minds of voters. It might say more about how popular (or unpopular) Carter ever really was. Anyway, Except for one case over the last nearly 80 years (13 elections that featured an incumbent president running for re-election), the only time the challenger won the election was when he had a lead in the polls going into election day. So maybe I really am predicting an Obama victory. Based on the historical nature of presidential polls, Obama wins. But that's only looking at one aspect of it.


It turns out my brief, and last minute, historical analysis of the relationship between past incumbents and the polls leading up to the election was pretty spot on. So at the very least, I'll take that as a small victory.
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matt.jpgMatt - Washington Bureau Chief
11/07/2012 @ 05:31:08 PM
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Well, I was wrong. The polls ended up being pretty much right on. My thinking was that the election would be a little more like the 2010 elections, where the polls underestimated republican turnout, than the 2008 election. Signs pointed that way too. Republican enthusiasm seemed high, democrats low, just like in 2010. But while democrat turnout was down this time, so was republican turnout (at least from what I've heard), which is very surprising to me. In the end, the Obama campaign was able to use their ground game and organization to get enough people out to the polls in the states that mattered to overcome his declining overall support.

Now for some articles I found interesting:

First is from respected psephologists Michael Barone, dealing with how he, also, was wrong in his prediction: http://washingtonexaminer.com/i-was-wrongwhere-it-counted/article/2512860#.UJrldGflD2b (the Real Clear Politics article he links to is interesting as well, though I did skim over the technical stuff).

Second is more a cathartic link for me. It deals with a more conservative/libertarian view of what happened: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/332854/how-romney-lost-kevin-d-williamson
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Matt messed with this 4 times, last at 11/07/2012 6:48:48 pm
matt.jpgMatt - 3373 Posts
11/07/2012 @ 06:46:06 PM
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One theory I've been thinking about, and this is mostly off the top of my head so I may be wrong about a few (or all) things. I've heard/read that historically, polls tend to understate Republican performance (again, may or may not be true, but I'm assuming it is). Since elections only count people who actually vote, people really only pay attention to likely voters in polls. I'm wondering if the "bias" is due in part to how polls screen for likely voters. It's pretty close to a fact that Republicans do better when asking likely voters than they do when asking registered voters than they do when asking all adults. So, if you have a too loose of a screen for likely voters, you may end up including what I'm going to call "almost likely voters", who won't actually show up and vote on election day.

Now, in 2008 and 2012, the polls have been pretty good. This might be because there are more of them to balance out errors, or that polling itself has gotten better, etc. But what if its because the Obama ground game combined with increased early voting opportunities allowed the Democrats to push more of these "almost likely voters" (who were included in the polls, but normally wouldn't vote) to the polls to actually vote. This could also explain why the polls were less accurate in the midterm year of 2010, where there was no presidential race and less incentive to spend the money on the ground.

Of course this is based on past polls tending to favor looser voter screens than tighter ones, which may or may not be the case, but I just thought I'd throw this idea out there before I go and read how wrong it actually is.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
11/07/2012 @ 08:12:27 PM
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Speaking of money, something in the neighborhood of $4 billion some dollars between both parties, PACs, Super PACs, and special interests, all so that we could end up with the same president, same control of the Senate, and the same control of the House. If only I worked for a battle ground state television station.
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matt.jpgMatt - Washington Bureau Chief
11/07/2012 @ 08:43:21 PM
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Were we speaking of money? emoticon
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
11/07/2012 @ 08:47:19 PM
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Matt Wrote - Today @ 06:46:06 PM
where there was no presidential race and less incentive to spend the money on the ground.
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matt.jpgMatt - 3373 Posts
11/07/2012 @ 08:52:54 PM
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Not sure I'd count that.
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scott.jpgScott - No, I did not change your screen saver settings
11/07/2012 @ 09:49:38 PM
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Well, I needed a segue, but I'm not necessarily going to spend too much time on this topic
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thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - 3373 Posts
11/08/2012 @ 12:39:44 AM
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I was just busting chops, but since we are talking now... does all the spending on what turned out to be a status quo result make you more, less, or equally concerned about the effects of the Citizens United decision?
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8972 Posts
11/08/2012 @ 12:50:01 AM
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I guess I don't understand why people thought, other than maybe wishful thinking, that most of that kind of information wasn't already in the polls. Enthusiasm gap, Obama might not get the young vote out, ifs ands and maybes about how Americans feel about his policies, etc, etc, are all things that seem like they would already be part of the model.

I mean, put it this way, if you did a poll of 5000 people whom you've already narrowed as likely to vote, and 18% of them are in the 18-24 demo, and Obama wins that poll by 3%. (and then you do that 30 times) I don't really see the "room" to go "well, yeah, Obama is winning the polls, but not as many people might turn out for him (or not as many 18-24 year olds) as happened in 2008." You just found how many people might turn out for him, and he won. I don't really see how you can take a poll, get the results you do, and then go "On the other hand, most voters opposed Obama’s major policies and found unsatisfactory the sluggish economic recovery that seems to them to be the result" because the whole reason you did the poll was to find out how "most voters' positions" on issues dictated their voting.

I mean, really, what ARE the polls if not gauging the enthusiasm for a candidate numerically, overall, or from specific groups?

Outside of 10% of some subset who said they were likely to vote deciding "screw it" on election day, it seems to me you've already found that data. I understand hoping that an enthusiasm gap might render the preponderance of the data inaccurate in an "that's why they play the games" sense, and certainly any prediction model can be wrong, so I understand pointing out that it could be wrong, but I don't understand predicting/banking it will because of "this or that", because you're already looking at the data that is predicting with data that contains the demographics, "enthusiasm", and "this or that."
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Jeremy perfected this 6 times, last at 11/08/2012 1:23:04 am
matt.jpgMatt - Nutcan.com's MBL
11/08/2012 @ 04:19:59 AM
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I'm no polling expert, but from what I understand the pollsters take the raw numbers and adjust them according to assumptions made about the make-up of the voting populace. So, yeah, some of the enthusiasm/whatever will get factored in, but some might not, if the assumptions are wrong. The polling has gotten races wrong before and they most likely will again in the future. Like I said before, from what I recall, the polls weren't as accurate in 2010 races, so I don't think that it was a sin against math and science to believe that that might have happened again when there were good arguments to be made that 2008 was a bit of an outlier year in regards to turnout and party ID split.

Was some of it hope on a lot of people's part, yeah, but rarely are you going to get polls that are exact to the percentage point... Outperforming your turnout assumption, getting more of the undecideds, or any other of the weird things that polls can miss can easily get you a point or two, and a point or two in an election this close could've turned the race.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
11/08/2012 @ 08:42:33 AM
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Matt Wrote - Today @ 12:39:44 AM
I was just busting chops, but since we are talking now... does all the spending on what turned out to be a status quo result make you more, less, or equally concerned about the effects of the Citizens United decision?


At best the spending now seems somewhat pointless, if not harmless, from a results standpoint. In Wisconsin, Romney and Republican groups outspent Obama and Democratic groups more than 2-1, yet Obama won the state and Tammy Baldwin won the senate race (every other wisconsin race was status quo). What would be nice (and I'm not necessarily advocating laws in this way) would be to require ads to be truthful. If a mouthwash company claims that their mouthwash is as effective or a substitute for using dental floss, despite the fact that they just totally made that up, they have to release a statement saying that their advertising was false, or at least they have to correct what they had said. There is no penalty for just making stuff up in politics anymore. Just look at sites like Politifact or other fact checking sites. The number of "pants on fire" rulings is disturbing. It's one thing for a candidate to say something in a speech that may have been induldged or even a poorly worded statement (that may have been said off the cuff) that turns out to be completely untrue. It's another thing altogether for an ad or a flyer to make a statement that is blatantly false (like so-and-so voted to sell chrysler to the Chinese). Maybe I'm just lamenting the "win at all costs" mentality when it comes to politics, but it's really just sad that so much money is spent on something that is so unbelievably untrue, and they only check to this system it seems is for the other side to match the untruthfulness blow for blow.
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Scott perfected this at 11/08/2012 8:44:03 am
scott.jpgScott - Resident Tech Support
11/08/2012 @ 10:37:46 AM
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Also, I say if we can have laws that regulate how far off the freeway, or how big, or how spaced out, or how bright or how tall billboards on the roadways can be, I say the same principals can be applied to political advertising. Billboards and roadside advertising is regulated to prevent motorists from being too distracted, as well as making sure the country side stays pretty and not cluttered with too many ugly signs. My television is just as, if not more important than the beauty I want to see when I'm driving home for the holidays, and if the television airways are getting filled with incoherent, misleading, mean-spirited, or downright false politically motificated drival for 6 months leading up to an election, I say we enact a Television Beautification Act of 2013 whereby a TV station is only allowed to air one political ad for every 5 non-political ads they air during any given viewing timeframe. I think that's something we can all get behind.
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Scott screwed with this at 11/08/2012 10:38:48 am
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - No one's gay for Moleman
11/08/2012 @ 12:34:27 PM
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You just made commercial breaks 20-100% longer.

Personally I'm not too bent out of shape over the Citizens United case because I fail to really see much of a distinction. As I understand it the case more or less hinged on corporate personhood, and thus their right to free speech. To me even if you ditched that notion, I still don't see much of an argument against it (outside of things like "money is ruining the system", which isn't really a reason it shouldn't be allowed) because ultimately it's still someone's free speech.

Even if the HatinOnGays Super Pac can't have "free speech" because it itself is not a thing and can't have rights, all it ultimately is is a joint effort from people who decided to pool their money for that cause.

I don't like what they're doing on an "emotional" type level, but it seems to me not allowing them, for whatever reason, would be tantamount to saying "one person has free speech, but 2 or more people speaking together don't"*.

*Which, if I were a betting man, I'd guess is one of the key reasons corporations are "extended" personhood in the first place.
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Jeremy screwed with this at 11/08/2012 12:39:40 pm
jeremy.jpgJeremy - Super Chocolate Bear
11/08/2012 @ 12:49:45 PM
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Furthermore, it seems like a problem that might solve itself. If the commercials don't actually do anything eventually companies/people will find better things to spend $6 billion on.
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Jeremy perfected this at 11/08/2012 12:50:00 pm
newalex.jpgAlex - 3618 Posts
11/08/2012 @ 01:31:00 PM
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Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 12:49:45 PM
Furthermore, it seems like a problem that might solve itself. If the commercials don't actually do anything eventually companies/people will find better things to spend $6 billion on.


Like charging less for their products. This is way off topic, but in some theoretical sense I've never really understood how companies can donate $1 million to a charity or give tons of money to this cause or that politician. I don't want to sound like I'm against companies making money, but if your competitors have all this extra money to give away, couldn't you slash your prices and run them out of business (I guess things like patents and access to/ownership of limited resources don't always make that possible)? Just seems weird, like a glitch in the Matrix.
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scott.jpgScott - You're going to have to call your hardware guy. It's not a software issue.
11/08/2012 @ 02:36:20 PM
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Here's a question that is more a lesson on economics than anything: Does the $4whatever billion spent on political campaigns count towards America's GDP? Or is it just a neutral transfering of product from one person to another?
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Scott screwed with this at 11/08/2012 2:36:31 pm
jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8972 Posts
11/08/2012 @ 02:45:29 PM
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Alex Wrote - Today @ 01:31:00 PM
Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 12:49:45 PM
Furthermore, it seems like a problem that might solve itself. If the commercials don't actually do anything eventually companies/people will find better things to spend $6 billion on.


Like charging less for their products. This is way off topic, but in some theoretical sense I've never really understood how companies can donate $1 million to a charity or give tons of money to this cause or that politician. I don't want to sound like I'm against companies making money, but if your competitors have all this extra money to give away, couldn't you slash your prices and run them out of business (I guess things like patents and access to/ownership of limited resources don't always make that possible)? Just seems weird, like a glitch in the Matrix.


Well, assuming you're also a somewhat equally profitable legit competitor, possibly, although their lobbying is generally in your best interest too. Also, as far as charities go, there's tax implications. Though, as a purely theoretical thought experiment, yes, there's obviously something missing. It simply cannot be the case that the prices at Walmart are as low as they could be AND that the Walton family is worth $100 billion. (And no, I don't mean in an "they could afford to just give it to people!" sense.) However, I guess I don't know that that automatically has any implications for Target which is as profitable as it is or isn't independent of Walmart's profit margin.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
11/08/2012 @ 03:40:02 PM
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I have a couple of thoughts about why Romney failed to convince voters to turn his direction. This isn't an exhaustive list by any means, and I'm not even sure it's a huge issue, just something I thought of. I wasn't going to make any "prediction" until afterwards, and now I can speculate about the reason since I know the outcome.

One of Romney's big points he made was that he was a Conservative Governor in a liberal state, and that he was able to reach across the aisle to work with the other side. But there are two aspects of that where I think it was neutralized. For one, his key legislative accomplished (Universial Health Care) was completely off limits for Romney to talk about. Romney was running from it, or at the very worst, in my opinion he never quite convinced people that RomneyCare was different in principal in ObamaCare. So when he would say "I'll repeal ObamaCare", the reaction by many was "wait a minute, didn't you enact something very similar?" (I'm not going to argue the differences between state and Federal limits, nor about the difference between to two laws. I'm just stating the fact that his main point became a point of big confusion or muddied waters).

The other point about his Bi-partisan governance: in 4 years as Governor (in which he attempted to champion his ability to work across the aisle), he issued 844 vetoes. 707 of those vetos were overridden by the state legislature (I don't know the details of all the vetoes, so it's possible that the number doesn't necessarily tell the whole story). So his big point of being a Governor of a liberal state and working with both parties doesn't make much since when the reality appears to suggest that he would just as much preferred to be a roadblock to any idea he didn't agree with.

So one of Romney's main points that he was able to work with Democrats as a Conservative governor of a liberal state seems empty. And his biggest example where he actually DID work with the other side (universal health care) was a Taboo accomplishment that he seemed to spend more time distancing himself from than lauding.

Personally, I didn't dislike Romney as an executive all that much. Maybe he seemed out of touch with reality ($10,000 bet, "$800,000 a year, so not very much", anyone?), but I took the quiz on issues that I mentioned in an earlier post and I wasn't THAT far misaligned with Romney. But he tried to make a case about something that may have left a lot of people scratching their heads. And like it or not, good job or bad, there is a huge advantage to being the incumbent.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - The pig says "My wife is a slut?"
11/08/2012 @ 04:46:40 PM
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I'd say I think he lost because he has to cater to people that think the Government should have no say in anything ever, and to people that think the Government should be the moral arbiter for many personal/social issues, as seemed to be the pundit consensus, however, it's hard to see a whole lot of those people (not that it generally takes a ton) that think Obama lines up more with them. To some extent they're a party of somewhat conflicting extremes, which will tend to show itself in national elections.* They have to cater to the Tea Party, while the Tea Party might be their greatest curse. The Democratic party is certainly a case of herding cats, and obviously no one agrees on everything, but I don't think there's a parallel type internal/fundamental inconsistency.+

I don't think there's any 1 thing to point at, but if I had to pick one thing, I think he lost because Obama's supporters weren't nearly as disillusioned as everyone just kind of assumed they would be, which, to tie into our previous conversation, I understand being surprised by, just not blindsided by.

As for my personal take on Romney. Although I felt (even though I probably say this every time) that the whole "I will say whatever it is in any given conversation to appeal to this particular room of people, even if it conflicts with something I said 2 days ago." was turned to 11*; I left with the impression that Romney is ultimately a nice man trapped in a position where he had to cater to too many disparate groups. Paul Ryan, on the other hand, struck me as the type of person whom I wouldn't trust with the task of watering a plant I didn't like. Although I also don't put much stock into the VP when making my pick. [Insert "I'll say!" Joe Biden joke here.]

*Of course that effect could just have been exaggerated this time by the 3 years of Republican primaries spent attempting to court the extremists.

+Which of course isn't to say individual right leaning people can't be logically consistent, or that liberals can't be complete whack jobs. It's just there's nothing inconsistent with "The government can be 'big' in some areas, and small in others.", nor is the 'big' argument a democratic tentpole, so much as it is a result of those core tenets. Conversely, however, there is something inherently inconsistent with the belief, and constantly flogged, bedrock style, belief for that matter, that Government should be small, should have as little say as possible in your life, and is bad at solving those problems, and then turning around and trying to be the moral police, because suddenly we know better than you.
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Jeremy perfected this 4 times, last at 11/08/2012 11:00:35 pm
jon.jpgJon - 1 bajillion posts
11/09/2012 @ 06:54:09 AM
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I guess I have some thoughts about why it turned out how it did.

But first, somewhat against my better judgement, I'm going to drag out an old horse that was beaten long ago. Because I have a fossilized bone to pick.

Post-election analysis is one of those things that is not at all immune from ideological bias. Not necessarily active bias, but just people seeing things through the same lens they see other things through. People who saw their candidate defeated likely see it one way and people whose candidate won probably see it another way, and each view is probably skewed for various reasons.

For instance:
People who didn't vote for Bush loved, and still love, to say (I think even here on this website) that Bush won the election because people would rather have a beer with him. That analysis has always rubbed me the wrong way. Granted, a 2004 poll did find that 57% of then-undecided voters would prefer a beer with him over Kerry. That seemed to fuel that argument then and continues to fuel it even now apparently. But unless I missed it then, and in retrospective web searches now, no one ever connected that poll to actual undecideds being turned into actual voters for Bush. The exit polls I have seen didn't have that question (or even something I'd consider a close substitute) on it, so I don't know if there's any data to say people voted that way because of that factor.

In fact, if you look at the exit polls of people broken down by when they made up their mind on that election, it'd be fairly tough to make that case. The "beer question poll" was done in August. So it was a poll of people who hadn't made up their minds as of that month. Assuming those people actually even voted and given that it's an early November election, that means they made up their minds, at most, 3 months before the election. Unfortunately, the exit polls didn't break it down in that exact time frame, but they did capture data on people who decided their vote in other time frames, including "last month." The results? People who decided "last month" voted for Kerry 54% to 44%. Those who decided that day also broke for Kerry 52% to 45%. Those who decided the last 3 days also voted for Kerry 55% to 42%. The only group that went for Bush was the people who decided "last week" and they were the smallest of the groups (2% of the total electorate polled compared to the 10%, 5%, and 4% of the electorate that fell into the aforementioned categories) and it was by a mere 51% to 48% margin.

The point?
1. The only poll that people ever seem to quote on the beer/vote correlation fails to actually connect the belief to the action in the first place.
2. Even if you do try to connect the respondents of that poll to the voting patterns shown in exit polls, it's inconclusive at best. When you dig into exit poll data that has even some relation to those questioned in the beer poll, you see they may have actually broke Kerry's way.


So incorporating my earlier point of how we view the results, I think the "have a beer with" explanation is simply easier for Kerry supporters to palate. Even though it's tough to lose to someone for what seems like trivial reasons, it actually hurts less in some ways to accept that than to admit that you lost on something like substance or performance. (We humans do this kind of thing all the time in various "losses" we experience.) Moreover, if you're entrenched in your line of thinking about the candidates or issues, it's hard to fathom how anyone could view things any differently. It actually might make more sense to you that the opposition based their decisions on something other than the arguments each side made, whether that's actually true or not.

All that said, people do actually cast their votes for some weird reasons, and whether they know it or not, some probably put a lot of weight in a candidate's charm or physical appearance. And I think it's fair to recognize that those things happen on various levels. But even in a fairly close election, that's a far far cry from "Bush won because they'd rather have a beer with him."

Or maybe it's not. What do I know?

So, on to this election. But first, one last beer-related thought. Do you think the "beer factor" consciously played a role in Obama's behavior over the last four years? I gotta be honest, I think it might have. I think he took the beer thing fairly literally. Have you ever noticed all the times beer had some role in his presidency/campaigning? He's like the Andy Roddick of presidents. There was the white house beer summit or whatever it was with that guy and the cops a while back. Also, they released a special white house brew at some point and gave the recipe so people could make their own I guess. I think he also had a notable campaign stop where he bought some guy a beer in front of a bunch of people for some reason I can't remember. This is all from memory, you can look it up. I just did, and apparently he seemed to buy, give, talk about, or drink beer at many campaign stops. "Maybe the guy just likes beer," you might say. I assume he does. But in a world where everything in politics seems to be calculated, I wonder if he didn't decide that he would make beer a focus for connecting with people. That way, they would literally see him as the guy they'd like to have a beer with.

An interesting footnote to this whole beer discussion, of course, is that Romney apparently does not drink any alcoholic beverages at all and George W. Bush apparently gave up drinking many years ago. So you're not having a beer with either of those guys.

Now on to my thoughts on this election. Actually, I'm taking a break from that for now. I honestly do have something to say though, but this took way too long and no one would read it at the end of this post anyway. Plus, I still have to break down the 2008 election. Then this year's.
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Jon screwed with this 2 times, last at 11/09/2012 7:04:33 am
jon.jpgJon - Nutcan.com's kitten expert
11/09/2012 @ 07:16:21 AM
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here's my source for the exit polling.

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html
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scott.jpgScott - No, I did not change your screen saver settings
11/09/2012 @ 08:25:50 AM
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Obama brews his own beer (or at least, someone in the white house brews his own beer; maybe like a Ghost Brewer, like a celebrity that has a ghost writer write a biography). But maybe it's all for appearance.

I found this article among the dozens and dozens of articles when searching for "Obama beer". It included a quote from a Beer Judge and member of a brewing association: "“Nobody tries home-brewing without being a beer enthusiast, not even a president of the United States,”
http://www.jconline.com/article/20120825/COLUMNISTS30/308250050/bangert-obama-beer
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Scott messed with this at 11/09/2012 8:31:39 am
scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
11/09/2012 @ 10:10:46 AM
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Also, beer is a hard thing to fake enjoyment for. It is very much an acquired taste. People that don't like beer usually have a sour face when taking a sip. Add in small craft beers like IPAs, stouts, or ambers, and you have a whole set of concoctions that make the inexperienced beer drinker look like one from a mile away. So maybe he chose his beers with the highly calculated selectiveness so as to only ever drink what he knew he would enjoy and look like the average man in the process, but it isn't easy to enjoy a beer in public if you don't actually enjoy the taste of beer.
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jon.jpgJon - 2866 Posts
11/10/2012 @ 12:25:40 AM
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Jon Wrote - Yesterday @ 06:54:09 AM
"Maybe the guy just likes beer," you might say. I assume he does.
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scott.jpgScott - Ma'am, can you make sure your computer is turned on?
11/10/2012 @ 09:22:21 PM
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Well, yeah. I was just reaffirming your point.
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scott.jpgScott - Resident Tech Support
11/15/2012 @ 01:40:04 PM
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Jon Wrote - 11/09/2012 @ 06:54:09 AM
Now on to my thoughts on this election. Actually, I'm taking a break from that for now. I honestly do have something to say though, but this took way too long and no one would read it at the end of this post anyway. Plus, I still have to break down the 2008 election. Then this year's.


We're not going to have to wait until 2016 to hear Jon's 2012 election analysis, are we?
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jon.jpgJon - infinity + 1 posts
11/17/2012 @ 06:58:42 AM
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Scott Wrote - 11/15/2012 @ 01:40:04 PM
Jon Wrote - 11/09/2012 @ 06:54:09 AM
Now on to my thoughts on this election. Actually, I'm taking a break from that for now. I honestly do have something to say though, but this took way too long and no one would read it at the end of this post anyway. Plus, I still have to break down the 2008 election. Then this year's.


We're not going to have to wait until 2016 to hear Jon's 2012 election analysis, are we?


I think I just heard a collective, "I hope so."
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