Thursday, August 11, 2016

Elections in Brief: Top 10 Third Party Candidates

I'm tired of hearing about people talking about voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. Not because I disagree with them but because most of them have no idea what voting for a third party candidate means (if this isn't you, don't get offended, it's not about you then). I'd venture a guess none of them have ever heard of Eugene Debs, the most tenacious third party candidate in US History. Do they know anything about historical third parties or their role in American politics? Or why we don't have any small, strong parties today? Instead of mocking these ignoramuses (ignoramii?) , it's time to get educated.

I'm not just going to lecture here about the dangers of third party presidential candidates. Ralph Nader arguably turned the results of the 2000 election. As a result, people who want to vote for a third party candidate keep having to hear about the futility of that decision. Nader won only 2.74% of the vote and received no electoral votes, but he still tipped the election toward the candidate most ideologically opposed to himself, George W. Bush. Is this always the result? With the two parties controlling the entire political process, is there hope for third-party candidates? Here's a list of the top 10 most successful third-party candidates, by success in both electoral votes and percentage of popular vote. Nader doesn't even rank on this list, and he tipped an election.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Elections in Brief: Non-Incumbent Elections & Hillary Clinton

The election of 2016 is unprecedented, and not just because Hillary Clinton is the first woman to be a major party's candidate. If she wins, she will have accomplished something no Democrat has done since 1856. Let me explain.

Since 1788, we have held 56 elections (2016 will be 57). Of those 56, 24 have not included an incumbent president as a candidate, like this go-round. Before 1828, the whole electoral system was very different. That all changed in 1828 when the Democrats won the White House for the first time, so for the purposes of this exercise, we will start there and just lob off the first ten elections. That's 46 elections, 20 of which did not include an incumbent.

Of those 20, Democrats have only won 7, and of those 7, only 2 follow a Democrat president.

 Following a Democrat President
 Year  President Followed By 
 1836  Jackson Van Buren
 1848 Polk Taylor
 1856 Pierce Buchanan
 1860 Buchanan Lincoln
 1868 A. Johnson (VP)  Grant
 1896 Cleveland McKinley
 1920 Wilson Harding
 1952 Truman Eisenhower
 1968 L. Johnson Nixon
 2000 B. Clinton W. Bush
 Following a Republican President
 Year  President Followed By 
 1844  Tyler (VP) Polk
 1852 Fillmore (VP)  Pierce
 1876 Grant Hayes
 1880 Hayes Garfield
 1884 Arthur (VP) Cleveland
 1908 T. Roosevelt Taft
 1928 Coolidge Hoover
 1960 Eisenhower Kennedy
 1988 Reagan H.W. Bush
 2008 W. Bush Obama

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

They've Got Teen Spirit

Just gonna leave this here.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Unexplained List: Starks

1) Ned... game changing
2) Jon... can't be real
3) Robb... unexpected
4) Catelyn... heartbreaking
5) Sansa... unnecessary
6) Theon... excessive
7) Arya... she'll pull through, right?
8) Bran... he just wanted to climb
9) Talisa... not the baby too
10) Rickon... was also on the show

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Numbers Time: It's Over, For Real

This week, I got called out for the bias in my mathematical models. I won't deny it. As much as I tried to sell these ideas as objective mathematical fact, I've seen others taking up the FeelTheMath mantle and turned the numbers around to Sanders. The truth is everyone has a bias, and there is no such thing as objective reporting. As an amateur with no training, especially, I don't know how to write objectively, or even how to begin as such. My only goal is to wade into politics without getting into petty arguments over my conclusions. That's why I chose math. Only someone who cares enough to do this much math would argue with me.

In private, I've had several fruitful conversations, and as the primary winds to a close, I will try to fold some of those thoughts in here.

The Media Anointed Hillary From Day One

The media has played a huge role in this election. A good friend of mine has been pushing this narrative on me for months now, and while I have argued him tooth and nail, he has helped me notice a few things. The DNC stated they didn't want the media to report Superdelegates with primary results, since they're non-binding until the convention. So why do most media outlets report them?
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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Numbers Time: White Knucklin'

You guys, how about Kentucky! That was utter insanity. I'm at work, working on a piece where every time I make a change, it takes 30 seconds to a minute to render before I can review the change. That meant starting at about 4:45 until I left work, I could, every few minutes, refresh the CNN election tracker. And oh my God!

At 4:50, Sanders was ahead by 800 votes with 50% reporting. 800 votes! By 5:00, it was 330 votes, with 61% reporting. 5:02, 120 votes! THEN at fucking 5:03, Clinton was ahead by only 90! At about 5:30, Clinton was ahead by about 2,000, then 4,000. At 5:56, Sanders was ahead by only 200 votes! Then 200 became 2,000 with about 81% reporting, and just a few minutes later CLINTON was up by 2,500, with 95% reporting.

Even right now, with the election called for Clinton, they are only separated by less than 2,000 votes! That's crazy. That's more people than caucused in Guam!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Numbers Time: Just the Math, Ma'am

Bernie's big win in West Virginia still doesn't change much. As per usual, we'll get to that, but first let's talk about California. The basic concept of Bernie's chances to win come from the idea that despite big losses and middling wins, Bernie can win if he has a blow out in California. While yes, that is technically right, let's explore that.

In 2008, Hillary won California with 2.6 million votes, to Obama's 2.1 million votes. She won by about 500,000 votes. To put that into context, let's compare it to the largest margins of this election. Hillary won Texas by 440,000 votes and netted 72 delegates. She won Florida by 540,000 and netted 68 delegates. She won Georgia by 330,000 votes and netted 44 delegates. Unfortunately, there is no analogous data on Bernie's side. His two biggest wins were in caucus states, and the numbers don't translate. So we have to define, based on available data, a landslide that actually seems within the realm of possibility caps around 600,000. In California, a 600,000 vote lead is only 56.3% of the vote.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Numbers Time: Hoosier Daddy?

Hopefully, this one will be quick, as my basic point is Indiana changes nothing. If this is the first of these you're reading, go back and read a few, as I'm not going to re-state my methodology. We're going to do a compare/contrast with before and after Indiana.

Last week, I wrote based on a guesstimate of Bernie being behind by 285. Over the course of the week, that number fluctuated a bit around 287, but even being off by a few delegates, my point still stands. Bernie only won 5 more delegates than Hillary in Indiana.

So...

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Numbers Time: Superdelegates

Bernie Sanders himself has decided to chime in on my series "Shit People Actually Believe." In a press conference, here covered by the New York Times, Bernie talks about the fairness of Superdelegates. He makes some good points. In states where he wins in a landslide, Superdelegates should take that into account when they decide whom to vote for. If the idea in our country is to give people the biggest voice possible, Superdelegates would be the antithesis to that. They only prove the point when they totally ignore state-wide election results.

Where Bernie loses me, however, is when he equates Superdelegates to some possibility of a contested convention. I've already covered how that's not going to happen, but this press conference confuses me even further. His whole point is Superdelegates should reflect the will of the people, so I don't understand how a contested convention would even make sense.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Numbers Time: Contested Conventions

Thank you, Internet for keeping me motivated to write. A friend of mine once told me the Internet is all about conflicting ideas working in tandem to keep both sides feeding on the other's anger. In an attempt to stave off anger (my default position), I'm merely going to fight assertions with facts. This week in "Shit People Actually Believe" is Contested Conventions. I will also talk about Superdelegates as a side note.

As I have said, I am not against people believing in Bernie Sanders. Berners are optimistic and idealistic, and that is good for democracy, and good for the country. I also think Bernie should keep fighting all the way to the convention. He has the support, and he needs to keep pulling Hillary to the left. On the other hand, Bernie only has the smallest chances of winning the nomination, and a contested convention isn't one of them.

Myth #1: If Hillary Doesn't hit the 2,384 mark on Pledged Delegates alone, there should be, in all fairness, a contested convention.

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