Tag Archives: 2012 presidential elections

Nate Silver’s Election Forecast Was Deadly Accurate Again

Nate Silver is a statistician that gained some fame after developing a system for predicting the performance of baseball players. That field is now known as sabermetrics, and is the basis for Moneyball — both the book and the movie. In 2008, Silver turned his attention to politics and started a blog called Five Thirty Eight (which is the total number of electoral votes), where he developed a system that, using all polling data available, correctly called not only the presidential election, but how 49 out of the 50 states voted, and how all of the 35 senate races turned out. (Indiana was the one state he missed, which went for Obama by 1%.)

For the 2012 election, the algorithms were even better: he got the all 50 states completely right.

Nate Silver's election forecast on the morning of the election


CNN's election map the day after the election


On the morning of the election, his blog — which was bought by the New York Times in 2010 — predicted, with a confidence level of 90.9%, that Obama would win the election. To anyone following this and other polling data, like Princeton’s Election Consortium‘s, the results on election night amounted to a complete lack of surprise. But of course, all pundits on the news coverage of the election ignored these predictions and instead spent the entire night making their own, much less rigorous forecasts, based on personal knowledge and gut instincts instead of mountains of polling data and algorithms. Then again, how else would a dozen news networks fill as many hours of programming, except by pretending that the future is unknowable?

The always insightful xkcd hit the nail on the head:

The comic’s hover text reads:

As of this writing, the only thing that’s ‘razor-thin’ or ‘too close to call’ is the gap between the consensus poll forecast and the result.

(Updated November 9th to reflect that Florida was called for Obama.)

From Five Thirty Eight and xkcd

No, Tebow Doesn’t Think All Democrats Are Bums

There’s a tweet going around from the eve of election day 2012:

I’m predicting Obama will take an early lead tomorrow… Until all the Republicans get off work. #RomneyRyan2012

It’s supposedly by Tim Tebow, except for the fact that the real Tebow, the Messiah of football, would never say anything negative about one of God’s creatures. And he especially wouldn’t imply that Democrats are lazy, unemployed freeloaders that do nothing but occupy public spaces while waiting around to vote themselves entitlements paid for by the 1%. No, he would say nothing remotely close to that. Love him or hate him, you have to agree that the Mother Teresa of the gridiron should be picked up by the Saints, because he is one.


So what about the aforementioned tweet? It’s not really from @TimTebow, but from a joke account called @TheTimmyTebow. The real Blue Jesus has, for better or worse, still not yet sunk to our level. His last few tweets deal with college football and good wishes to the victims of superstorm Sandy. Also, people need to read those Twitter bylines; fake Tebow’s account clearly says:

Savior of football. (Parody account) Not in any way affiliated with Tim Tebow.

In other Tebow news, he was recently voted the most overrated quarterback (his teammate Mark Sanchez tied for second place, along with Tony Romo), he trademarked Tebowing (not to make money from it, but to protect how it’s used), he is a reluctant Ohio State fan now that his good buddy/father figure Urban Meyer is coaching there, and he’s finally got a girlfriend: an actress you’ve never heard of named Camilla Belle:


See also:

From Twitter

Jim Lehrer Looks Like He Would Sound Craaazy

That’s what the people at Bad Lip Reading figured out, and then they made this awesome video, which proves it while lip smacking the Presidential debates:

“It’s party time, chumps!”

From YouTube, via Neatorama

Obama Would Probably Beat Romney In A Fist Fight

An Esquire/Yahoo! poll has Obama taking Romney in a fist fight by 58% to 22%, with another 20% having no opinion. The poll also asked who would win the election, and the numbers were similar: 57% for Obama, 30% for Romney, and 13% couldn’t be bothered to guess. It did not ask people if they were racist and simply thought that the black guy was always tougher than the Mormon. It also seems to have been the first time the question was formally polled, so there’s no way to tell if there’s a correlation between the winner of the fist fight and the winner of the election. However, if you think about the last 30 years:

  • Obama would’ve beat McCain bloody
  • W would’ve easily taken Kerry
  • W vs Gore is a hard one, because Gore is a softie, but he’s also a big guy who might have a temper
  • Clinton would’ve easily beat up old, one-armed Bob Dole
  • Clinton would’ve had trouble with the original Bush though, who had a sort of spit-and-nails quality about him.
  • The original Bush would’ve been all over Dukakis
  • Reagan would’ve probably lost to Mondale though, but of the two, Mondale would’ve probably been the one driven to tears — by Reagan’s wit
  • Reagan vs Carter is hard to call, because it’s hard to imagine either of them actually getting into a fight, but Carter had a big age advantage
  • Same with Carter vs Ford: they would most likely just work it out without ever resorting to fists. But if they absolutely had to fight, Carter probably had a little more ganas.
  • And of course, Nixon would take pretty much anyone except Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt.

For more in the same vein, there’s a Reddit thread about a mass knife fight to the death between every president. And if you want to try your hand at presidential combat, there’s an iOS app for that, called Vote!!!.


From Esquire, via Politico and Tom

Bikers Stare Awkwardly As Biden Canoodles Their Woman

Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP

From NPR

Obama Meets With Clint Eastwood


If you don’t get it, then you haven’t seen Clint Eastwood’s speech (below) at the Republican National Convention, in which he starts talking to an invisible Barack Obama, who is sitting in an apparently empty chair and loves telling people to shut up and asking them to violate themselves. Of course, the Internet is all over the whole empty chair thing, and there’s already a t-shirt:



From Lester Aponte and Busted Tees

Romney More Powerful Wizard Than Obama

A major showdown between two of the greatest mages of our time has ended in Mitt Romney’s favor. Hurricane Isaac, designed by president Obama to devastate the Republican National Convention in Tampa and seriously call into question Mitt Romney’s abilities, has failed. Instead, it has been diverted by the Republican nominee to the Democratic stronghold of New Orleans, a city revered by the left wing after the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the 2010 premiere of the hit HBO show Treme.


Early in the bout, most meteorologists predicted Obama’s unexpected move would succeed, as the nascent tropical storm making its way toward Tampa was poised to become the first hurricane to hit the city in almost a century. But in the end, Romney and his Republican party proved themselves a force to be reckoned with, as the storm not only failed to make its way to the convention, but also to achieve hurricane strength by the appointed time, instead arriving in New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Katrina. The miscalculation of Romney’s obviously significant power was a costly one for the sitting President, and a retaliatory move on Obama’s home base of Hawaii cannot be counted out at this time.

Your Favorite Websites Reveal Your Politics

A digital media agency in DC crunched some numbers and correlated which websites people visit with how engaged they are politically, and who they’re voting for in November. The results in the infographic below are pretty interesting, and make a lot of sense:

  • Paypal and Ebay users are Republicans who are politically very active
  • Etsy, reddit, tumblr and xkcd visitors are disengaged Democrats
  • Farmville and Zillow: disengaged Republicans
  • Wikipedia, Quora, Buzzfeed: heavily engaged Democrats
  • Everyone’s on Facebook, YouTube, foursquare, Pandora and Skype, so being one of those users says nothing
  • Bing users are more Republican than Googlers
  • Instagram, Yelp, Spotify and Zappos are populated with moderate Democrats
  • Amazon, LivingSocial and Pinterest with moderate Republicans
  • Gmail users are very political people

From Engage, via Neatorama

Quick Political Quiz Tells You Who To Vote For

The website is called I Side With, and the quiz has 23 questions — 34 if you opt to go deeper — with generally three questions in each of the following categories: social, environmental, economic, healthcare, domestic, foreign policy, immigration and science. Most questions have yes or no answers, but all give you the option to make a more nuanced choice. At the end, it tells you not only which of eight candidates you side with — it counts minor parties, too — but also a percentage of how much you agree with each candidate, with the voters in your state, with Americans nationally, and with the various parties. Finally, it also breaks down which candidates you agree with the most, for each category.

Candidates on iSideWith.com


And the ideological pool that it draws from is surprisingly big; besides Obama and Romney, it includes nominees of parties you’ve never heard of:

It also, surprisingly, includes Ron Paul even though he’s not a nominee for any party, presumably because he would win the Libertarian Party nomination if he would only seek it instead of pretending he’s a Republican. But the good thing about all of this is that it educates voters to the fact that they might agree with a third party more than they do with one of the major two — even if, as Ron Paul undoubtedly knows, they would never throw their vote away on a third-party candidate.


From I Side With, via NPR

Ron Paul Raised More Money Than Anyone But Romney

Yesterday, Ron Paul effectively bowed out of the presidential race by not spending any more money on the states that haven’t had primaries yet. But the remarkable thing is that he raised almost 36m$ for this election; Mitt Romney raised almost three times as much (87m$), but Newt raised only 22.5m$ and Santorum, 22.6m$. (Obama raised more than all of them combined — almost 200m$ so far.) So Ron Paul came in 2nd as far as cash goes, but 4th as far as delegates go: Romney has 966, Santorum 264, Newt 130 and Paul only 104. The effect, it would seem, is that Paul is more popular with the people who donate to elections. Unfortunately for him, money doesn’t win elections. Yet fundraising ability is still a great predictor for election outcome, because donors are investors in campaigns, and no one likes to throw their money away.


The fact that Paul raised so much money probably means that a lot of people agree with what he’s saying, which makes sense given that a majority of Americans might actually be Libertarian — whether they know it or not. In any case, it must feel very good for him that after 40 years of campaigning and prophesying, the Libertarian platform has gained enough ground to make him a household name. Given that his popularity has been driven substantially by young people — not to mention celebrities from Kelly Clarkson to Vince Vaughn to Snoop Dog — who want to see the TSA abolished, pot legalized, wars ended, and disappearing entitlements revamped, it seems likely that the movement will continue to grow.


See also:

From The LA Times and The New York Times, via Slashdot