David Kirkpatrick

October 22, 2008

Charlie Cook breaks down …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:51 pm

… the dwindling hopes for McCain and the GOP.

From the link:

At this point it would be difficult to see Republican losses in the Senate and House to be fewer than seven and 20 respectively. A very challenging situation going into September turned into a meltdown last month, the most dire predictions for the GOP early on became the most likely outcome.

The metrics of this election argue strongly that this campaign is over, it’s only the memory of many an election that seemed over but wasn’t that is keeping us from closing the book mentally on this one. First, no candidate behind this far in the national polls, this late in the campaign has come back to win. Sure, we have seen come-from-behind victories, but they didn’t come back this far this late.

Second, early voting has made comebacks harder and would tend to diminish the impact of the kind of late-breaking development that might save McCain’s candidacy. With as many as one-third of voters likely to cast their ballot before Election Day, every day more are cast and the campaign is effectively over for them. The longer Obama has this kind of lead and the more votes are cast early, the more voters are out of the pool for McCain.

One word — ouch.

October 21, 2008

Forecasting the House and Senate …

from the American Political Science Association.

The release:

October 21, 2008: Election Forecast Predicts Democrats Will Gain 3 Seats in Senate, 11 in House APSA Press Release
 

For Immediate Release

In forecasts made in July 2008, Democrats seen as gaining in both chambers but falling short of achieving control of the Senate.

Washington, DC—An election forecast model developed by a political scientist 99 days before the 2008 elections and before the recent Wall Street crisis predicts significant Democratic gains in the 2008 congressional elections—including 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 3 seats in the U.S. Senate.

The predictions are made in an article authored by Carl Klarner (Indiana State University) and published in an election-specific symposium in the October 2008 issue of PS: Political Science and Politics, a journal of the American Political Science Association (APSA).  The full symposium is available online at http://www.apsanet.org/content_58382.cfm.

Traditionally, efforts to call elections rely either on district- and state-level analyses limited to recently collected information (such as polls) or aggregate forecasting models measuring national trends. Klarner notes that “most forecasting models of House and Senate elections have not made predictions at the state or district level” and that “how national factors influence election outcomes is contingent on the distribution of votes across districts or states.” His 2008 forecast refines his own previous work in this area to use a model that combines both approaches.

The House and Senate forecasts were made in late July 2008, and the author’s model focuses on the percent of the major-party vote that the Democratic candidate received in a state or district. Klarner considers three main sets of factors in examining past elections from 1954 onward: district partisan composition, candidate attributes, and national partisan tides. The weighting of these factors is based on a range of historical and empirical data—including most recent votes for Democrats in a district; results of the most recent presidential vote; incumbency; prior experience in candidates; national vote intentions reported in surveys; presidential approval; performance of the economy; and the “midterm penalty” for the president’s party.

The model’s House prediction includes the following items of note:

  • Democrats will receive 247 seats in the House—a gain of 11 seats overall. 
  • There is a 95% probability that Democrats will have between 233 and 266 seats after the election and a 67% probability that they will have between 240 and 255 seats.
  • There is a about a 0% probability that the Democrats will lose control of the House.

The model’s Senate prediction includes the following items of note: 

  • Democrats will have 54 Senate seats after the election—a net gain of 3.
  • There is a 95% probability that the Democrats will win between 12 and 19 seats out of the 35 seats up this election.
  • There is a 2.4% chance the Democrats will lose control of the Senate.
  • There is a 0.3% chance that the Democrats will obtain a filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats.

By integrating long-term data analysis with current local and national political factors, this election forecast model reflects ongoing efforts by political scientists to analyze election dynamics in the US.  Notably, this prediction of the outcome of the 2008 congressional election was made well before the recent Wall Street financial crisis has made the political landscape more favorable to Democrats.

# # #

The American Political Science Association (est. 1903) is the leading professional organization for the study of politics and has over 14,000 members in 80 countries. For more news and information about political science research visit the APSA media website, www.politicalsciencenews.org.

January 31, 2008

Another take on US torture

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:35 pm

Here’s more on Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s testimony yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee from Scott Horton writing at Harper’s. It’s a great dissection from a legal philosophy bent.

From the article:

Watching Mukasey was a painful experience. What the public hoped for with his appointment was simple enough: that someone would occupy the office of attorney general who possessed integrity, common sense, independence and the basic skills that accompany a sound legal mind. The essence of what a lawyer owes his client is independent professional judgment.

Elihu Root, a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt’s and one of the titans of the New York Bar, put it bluntly and in terms that could not be better suited to the current predicament. “About half of the practice of a decent lawyer is telling would-be clients that they are damn fools and should stop.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee put Michael Mukasey to the test yesterday. And he left the hearing room as an embarrassment to those who have known and worked with him over the last twenty years, and who mistakenly touted his independence and commitment to do the right thing, come what may. On the other hand, Vice President Cheney, the principal author of the torture system, must be elated and relieved. Indeed, Cheney’s lawyer Shannen Coffin rushed to National Review Online to give Mukasey’s performance an enthusiastic seal of approval. Mukasey flunked the simple test that Elihu Root posed for all lawyers: he doesn’t have the gumption to tell the president that his torture program is unlawful and needs to be shutdown. Moreover, he’s fully bought in to the cover-up.

From all accounts Mukasey, as described above, was considered an independent and strong legal intellect. The equivocation over torture coming time and again from various members of the Bush 43 administration, and now Mukasey, makes you start to wonder what exactly they now know.

It’s an old dodge to get someone into a difficult position by allowing them information that must be kept secret or their head might be served up on a platter as well.

If this subject if of any interest to you I heartily recommend reading the entire article linked at the beginning of the post. Let’s just say Horton sums things up with, by all appearances the current US stance on torture is it’s fine when we do it, bad when other countries do it. Comically playground-style reasoning, but very depressing since it seems to be current US policy.

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