David Kirkpatrick

December 16, 2008

Democratic domination in the House

Interesting analysis from Nate Silver at 538.

From the link:

Even in districts where the Republicans did compete, moreover, they were often not truly competitive. The Democrats had 126 districts that they won by 40 points or more (including races that they won uncontested); these are what I call Democrat-Dominant Districts (DDD’s). These districts represent approximately half of the Democratic seats in the House, and nearly 30 percent of the House in its entirety. By contrast, the Republicans had only had 30 districts that they won by 40 or more points, of which 22 are in the South.

What characteristics did the DDD’s hold in common? In general, they were more urban, younger and poorer (although not any less educated) than the country as whole, and contained a significantly higher share of minorities. But, with 126 such districts, there was quite a bit of room for diversity between them. Basically, the Republicans aren’t competitive virtually anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard north of Washington, D.C., and virtually anywhere on the Pacific Coast north of Monterey. They aren’t competitive in virtually any dense urban center, or in virtually any majority-minority district (such as the black belt in the South or Hispanic-majority districts in South Texas). Finally, there are a dozen or so districts where Republicans are virtually nonexistant because of the presence of a large College or University. Collectively, that adds up to a lot of districts — almost a third of the country.

Conversely, the Democrats have very few districts in which they can’t play some angle or another. Nearly all of the Republican-dominated districts fit into a particular template: white, Southern, rural or exurban, lower-middle class (but not usually impoverished), low-mobility, with poorly-diversified economies reliant on traditional sectors like manufacturing or agriculture. There are only a couple dozen such districts throughout the country

November 18, 2008

Nate Silver opines on today’s media and Lee Atwater

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:24 pm

Insightful post from Nate Silver on today’s mediaand an added bit on Lee Atwater operating in today’s blogospherized political environment.

I’m really happy to see Nate and Sean at FiveThirtyEight keeping up analysis of the political scene. For anyone who doesn’t know, Nate is a statistician for Baseball Prospectus and brought rock-and-roll number cruching skills to this year’s election. And pretty much nailed the results. Probably has changed the world of political polling and projections forever, because partisan hacks just get exposed in his model.

He became something of a media darling with multiple television appearances as the site grew in traffic. It was a point of wonder what would happen at FiveThirtyEight once the election was over and there were no projections in the near future. Looks like, to all our benefit, those guys are going to sort through their thoughts and apply lessons learned to share some inside dope with the blogosphere. And I think that’s great. I love the site and hope it only continues to grow.

From the first link:

CBS’s underlying problem — and the commonality between the three items that I described above — is the arbitrary and largely ineffectual nature of the fact-checking process employed by the mainstream media. I have written for perhaps a dozen major publications over the span of my career, and the one with the most thorough fact-checking process is by some margin Sports Illustrated. Although this is an indication of the respect with which SI accords its brand, it does not speak so well of the mainstream political media that you are more likely to see an unverified claim repeated on the evening news than you are to see in the pages of your favorite sports periodical.

One of the questions triggered by the Frontlineprogram is what would have happened if Atwater were still alive today; might he have had more success in undermining Barack Obama than Steve Schmidt apparently did? My answer is very probably not, because the blogosphere serves as the fact-checkers that the mainstream media is too negligent to employ. On the contrary, I think that Mr. Atwater would have been smart enough to realize that he’d be eaten alive by Daily Kosand Media Matters and Keith Olbermann, and would be thoroughly enjoying himself in retirement playing in a blues band in South Carolina somewhere.

October 9, 2008

Obama’s 538 projection now over 90%

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:56 pm

Crazy numbers. And I hope everyone caught Nate Silver on The Colbert Report this week.

If you’re finding this page later than today’s date hit this link for my latest update, or better yet head straight to 538 for their very latest projections.

June 20, 2008

McCain working to nail down Clinton’s fringe?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:12 pm

Nate Silver has some interesting analysis at 538 on John McCain courting Clinton voters. The same voters who initially claimed they would be voting McCain over Obama. Everyone knew for the most part that sort of statement is just passion and frustration rearing up.

Think about how many conservative talking heads and blogging heads and others claimed they would refuse to support McCain once Romney dropped out of the race. Even through the rest of the primary months Huckabee and Paul combined to pull a solid 25% of the GOP vote in protest to McCain as the nominee. Think that bulk is voting Obama? Not a chance. Bob Barr might pull some of the Paul Libertarian vote, but even protest voters will stick with their party come November.

Same with the large bulk of Clinton voters who became angry at Obama’s success (albeit narrow) over the primary season. Particularly the women voters who’ve always voted strongly biased on women’s rights issues such as the state of Roe v. Wade and the makeup of the SCOTUS. These voters will not want McCain in office.

What is interesting there must be a sweet-spot of Clinton voters who honestly prefer McCain over Obama for whatever reason. Nate points out in his analysis McCain seems to be working on the lunatic fringe of Clinton supporters. People who may well vote McCain, but don’t represent the typical Clinton voter and who might scare away a sizable sweet-spot that McCain could’ve tried to exploit purely by dint of the miasma of crazy in the far edges of Clinton’s “support.”

From the 538 link:

McCain, however, appears to be less interested in speaking to the millions of Clinton voters who fall somewhere between the cracks, and more interested in engaging the handful of crazies who dislike Barack Obama for wholly irrational reasons. Take Will Bower, the founder of a group called PUMA (“Party Unity My Ass”). On Saturday, Bower met with John McCain. On Wednesday, Bower attended Larry Sinclair’s press conference, saw Sinclair literally accuse Obama of murder, saw Sinclair’s lawyer wearing a kilt, saw Sinclair flee the room after the press conference because he was moments away from being arrested, and came away saying that Sinclair’s story was “worth exploring”. That means that McCain is either one or two degrees removed from the lunatic fringe, depending on what you think of Bower’s state of mind.

June 17, 2008

The numbers are favoring Obama

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:23 pm

it’s pretty early in the race, but the current numbers look very favorable for Obama. On top of that you have to guess he’s going to get some level of bounce from any debate/town hall meeting/joint appearance with McCain.

I’ve already blogged on outing FiveThirtyEight.com blogger Poblano as Baseball Prospectus writer Nate Silver.

Here’s some great analysis and number crunching from FiveThirtyEight on battleground states:

Those with field experience may recognize the conventional wisdom/general rule that 5 points is the most a great field program’s ground game can make up against an accurate poll of voter preference.

According to 538 regression analysis, there are currently eleven states closer than 5 points, most of which show McCain with a narrow lead to defend.

In order of closeness and color coded by who currently leads, they are:

1. Virginia, 0.2%
2. Missouri, 0.3%
3. Nevada, 0.6%
4. New Hampshire, 1.0%
5. Michigan, 1.5%
6. Ohio, 1.6%
7. Indiana, 1.7%
8. North Carolina, 3.3%
9. North Dakota, 3.8%
10. Florida, 4.0%
11. Montana, 4.5%

Electorally, the 39 states and DC that lie outside this 5-point range: Obama 252, McCain 157.

For what it’s worth, there are twelve states between 5 and 10 points, and each candidate has 6 of them. Obama’s are Colorado (+5.1%), Pennsylvania (+5.7%), New Mexico (+6.3%), Wisconsin (+6.4%), Iowa (+8.7%), and New Jersey (+9.4%), for a total of 67 EVs. McCain’s are Alaska (+6.1%), South Dakota (+6.6%), West Virginia (+8.2%), Louisiana (+8.9%), South Carolina (+8.9%) and Georgia (+9.9%), for a total of 43 EVs.