Science, Statistics, Politics, Current Events, Photos and Life.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Could we therefore see a female candidate, not necessarily H. Clinton, in the year 2016?
I think there are some verbal miscues in my previous posting, but I think I'm just gonna leave 'em alone.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I took the final estimates from these four sites to compare to the actual vote totals. A caveat should be kept in mind: Silver was making an explicit prediction about the election, while RealClearPolitics and pollster.com are aggregating and summarizing polling data, though presumably with the purpose of predicting the election. RJ Elliot also was making predictions, though I didn't see any explanation of his methodology. For actual results, I took data from Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. I didn't try other sources, this was the first that I found.
Final cavil: I collected fivethirtyeight.com and RealClearPolitics' predictions on the day after the election. The pollster.com and RJ Elliot predictions were collected later, on Thanksgiving or the day after. While I don't think have any suggestion that any of these predictions were changed after the election, there certainly is the possibility of that happening.
Herewith the results. I took the predictions for Obama and McCain's state by state percentage, subtracted from the actual percentage, squared the difference, averaged across states, and took the square root. This gives a root mean square error (RMSE) of prediction difference from truth for both the Obama side and the McCain side of the estimates. The results are in the image. Hopefully the image shows up in the right place.
For each site there are two results, for Obama and for McCain. For each row there are two numbers. It turns out that RealClearPolitics (RCP) only predicted results for 38 states out of the 50 states plus DC. The others predicted for all 51. The first column (starts 3.0, 2.9) includes all 51 states plus DC plus the national vote treated as a 52nd state. The second column is the predictions only on the 38 states where RCP made predictions. So the first column you can compare 538, pollster and Elliot. In the second column you can compare all 4 sites.
The states where RCP did not make predictions were the very partisan and small states where the winner was very clear throughout the entire election (think Utah and DC) and where there were very few polls. Both 538 and pollster do much better in the accuracy of their predictions for the subset where RCP was making predictions. On the 38 states where RCP made predictions, we see that 538 had the smallest RMSE followed by pollster then Elliot with RCP having the worst predictions.
Across the 52 predictions (50 states + DC + national), Elliot edges 538 perhaps barely, both of which definitely beats pollster. The RCP result in the first column is not comparable to the other numbers. I inspected the individual residuals (differences prediction minus reality) in the states where RCP did not make predictions. These residuals were often very large. The largest residuals for 538 were from the states (Alaska, Arkansas, DC, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada, Vermont, Wyoming), defined as being in error by more than 4% on either Obama's or McCain's vote total. DC, Hawaii, Louisiana Vermont and Wyoming were not predicted by RCP.
Monday, November 10, 2008
- At Henri-Chapelle in Belgium, Meuse-Argonne in France and Sicily-Rome, countless tombstones tell the stories of those who gave their lives in battle during both world wars.
This was a teaser for an LA Times article on European cemeteries for US war dead. They didn't use that sentence elsewhere on the web site as far as I could see.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
This passing will have negative public health implications. Allowing male homosexuals to marry could (should?) spread monogamy into the gay community and could therefore substantially reduce HIV transmission among men who have sex with men. Married & monogamous homosexuals in turn can act as role models for younger homosexuals.
In California, the primary mode of transmission of HIV is gay sex. In Africa, it is heterosexual sex, and in Russia, as I understand it, it is needle sharing in the intravenous drug community. HIV has several ways of spreading, it is not just a homosexual disease.
Removing stigma against homosexuality will allow older homosexuals to find a path to happiness and health (lots of sex with lots of different partners is not a path to health, and I would guess it is not a path to happiness either). In turn, having older homosexuals as positive role models for younger homosexuals will allow positive health behaviors to take root in the homosexual community.
Friday, November 7, 2008
The Washington Post published a small interview with Ayers. Some selections:Asked Tuesday if he wishes he had set more bombs, Ayers answered, "Never." He also said he had regrets.
"I wish I'd been wiser," he said. "I wish I'd been more effective. I wish I'd been more unifying. I wish I'd been more principled."
History has shown of the Vietnam War that "those who opposed it were on the right side," Ayers said. But he said some of his early rhetoric was "juvenile."
This certainly contradicts the NY Times quote.
Ayers blames the "liberal media" for failing to dismiss the Republican assaults. He called the media's performance "kind of shameful" and likened the situation to the 2004 episode when Swift Boat Veterans for Truth created a narrative that helped doom the candidacy of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).
"The dishonest narrative," Ayers said, "is that guilt by association has some validity."
This calls out the media and all those claiming that the media has a liberal bias (O'Reilly? Drudge? Coulter? Limbaugh?). A fair and unbiased media that had some spine might have fact-checked the Ayers meme a little more accurately. Most of what I saw, on supposedly liberal media replayed Republican ads with little in the way of discussion.
William Ayers, the former Weather Underground leader who became an issue in the 2008 campaign, said Tuesday that he is not close to Sen. Barack Obama and that Obama's opponents had turned him into "a cartoon character."
Worse things than being a cartoon character...
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
In all four races, the Republican is ahead. Chambliss, without major interference, is likely to win the run-off election, as the Libertarian candidate votes will likely go to him. In Alaska, incumbent and current convict Ted Stevens is beating Begich. In Minnesota, currently Norm Coleman is ahead of comedian Al Franken, while in Oregon, Smith is edging out Merkley.
That's a total of 690+6187+3353+6250 = 16480 votes. This is somewhat of a reprise but in the Republican direction of the 2006 senate elections. There, 10078 votes was the total winning margin for the Democrats in the Montana and Virginia senate elections.
A lot of close elections: it's important to vote, you never know when your vote is needed.
Update. I thought CNN was reporting 99% or 100% in those races when I took the data. Several people I talked to did try to correct my reading of the data. Oh well. Currently I hear there are possibly 50-100 thousand additional votes in Alaska. Also, margins have changed. Minnesota: 477, Oregon:3932, Alaska unchanged at 3353 and Georgia is also unchanged needing 6250 votes. A total now of 14012 vote differential.
Update 2. Even as I wrote that, CNN updated data for Oregon and the democrat is now ahead by 6129 votes! Quite a reverse from being down 3932. That's based on 78% precincts reporting. I give. up. No more updates. Point still holds, but illustration would keep changing.
Subject: How this happenedI appreciate the thought and the email. Even if it did go out to me and 3 million of Barack's closest personal friends. This is like the old FOB (friends of Bill) from the Clinton presidency, but on steroids.
I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.
We just made history.
And I don't want you to forget how we did it.
You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.
I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.
We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.
But I want to be very clear about one thing...
All of this happened because of you.
The "I'll be in touch soon about what comes next" is disturbing, unsettled and vaguely ominous.
Interesting note 1: A DONATE button at the bottom of the email. Count on requests for money for the next 4 years.
Interesting note 2: I can't quite interpret all the header information regarding the dates, but there are four time stamps (I edited out most all other info) on the email:
From Barack Obama Wed Nov 5 04:34:13 2008I don't know where that Wed date came from, because I got the email Tuesday evening. But these guys are fast.
Received: from with SMTP; Tue, 04 Nov 2008 20:36:57 -0800
Received: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 23:34:13 -0500 (EST)
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 23:34:13 -0500
Good advice for an academic statistician.Your courage will reap rewards for you.
Sensible direction for an academic statistician.You display the wonderful traits of charm and courtesy.
Useful prodding for an academic statistician.Your lucky number for this week is the number three.
How did they know that I would get that fortune cookie?
And get it yesterday in particular?
And what is it about this week that it is lucky?
Does the week begin yesterday when I got the fortune, or on Sunday as is tradition, or is this referring to the work week, starting Monday and ending Friday?
And just how shall I make use of this information?
Betting on craps?
Friday, October 31, 2008
My first try:
Argumentative?Amusing, articulate and absolutely androgenous. (Couldn't think of another A-word)
Admirable, amiable, artistic, artificial, agitated, angry, ambitious, ambidextrous, and now I'm starting to recycle so I think I'm done for now. Antipodean?
Her alliterative and aerobic Antipodean adspired me to accomplish
articulate, antagonistic, agonist (ic), Aegean, altimetric, ambassadorean, actual, abricadaverous, adornable, alit-able, alight-able, agit-properian, axe-to-grind-ian.Alternatives admixing a-readers?
Saturday, October 18, 2008
She made more than I do both years. In fact, in 2006 she made more than I will likely make in my lifetime.
Not adjusted for inflation, natch.
Her marginal tax rates were 27.1% and 28.8% in 2007 and 2006 respectively.
Her marginal tax rates are lower than her husband's, which according to his press release were 32.6% and 33.8% respectively. Here's the direct quote about his taxes:
For 2006, Senator McCain paid $72,771 in federal income, alternative minimum, and self-employment taxes (LINES 57 and 58) on taxable income of $215,304 (LINE 43), which is a 33.8% tax rate.
For 2007, Senator McCain paid $84,460 in federal income, alternative minimum, and self-employment taxes (LINES 57 and 58) on taxable income of $258,800 (LINE 43), which is a 32.6% tax rate.
It's kind of crazy that John pays taxes at a higher rate than his wife.
What do you suppose will happen to Cindy's taxes under John McCain's tax plan? She'll pay even less taxes than she's paying now. John might pay more or less taxes under Obama's plan, depending on the year.
I couldn't find the exact figures for McCain's tax plan, but I did find this link suggesting that Cindy will get a 4.4% decrease in taxes under John's plan, while she will see a 11.5% increase under Obama's.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Now, a comparison site is pollster.com, which uses all polls.
There is a problem with any of these models:
How do we know if the average pollster is unbiased?
A key parameter in 538's (or anyone's) election modeling has to be the grand mean across all polls.
Speaking in rough terms, the grand mean is estimated as the average across all pollsters, and the grand mean is our best estimate of who is winning. But we don't have that large a universe of pollsters. It's entirely possible the actual sample of pollsters is biased on average. How would we know if they were or were not?
For example, Daily Kos (DK) (Research 2000) recently started a tracking poll. DK appears to have the strongest pro-Obama lean of all tracking polls at the moment. They may be right, they may be wrong, I can't tell. BUT, suppose that prior to DK starting up, we actually had an unbiased set of currently active pollsters. Then, when DK starts up, suddenly the average pollster will lean towards Obama.
One thought: 538 does have some background data on pollster quality from the primaries. Under the assumption that pollster quality carries over to the general election, then it could be possible to estimate the average bias of a set of pollsters. However, the incentives, (really, the utilities) of the many various pollsters are different in the primaries and the general election. Whether you have a democratic or republican bias, you really don't have much preference between primary candidates, (unless you are employed by a particular candidate). In contrast, in the general election, you will have a preference between the two candidates and thus may be inclined to tilt your polling.
If Sean's/Nate's discussions of the Obama ground game are correct, DK could come closest to estimating the final result correctly. And if public predictions in other areas of policy (oil prices for example) are symptomatic, its entirely possible that all pollsters could end up on the same side of the actual result. This usually doesn't happen in the political sphere, but do remember New Hampshire.
I posted a version of this over at fivethirtyeight.com as well.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
But this is not enough to cover all important foods humans eat. I propose several additional food groups, the Florescent foods group, Cold food and the Flat foods. Examples of florescent food include Trix and the multiple-flavored Twizzlers I met yesterday (Blueberry! Strawberry ummm!). Flat food includes pizza and fruit by the foot.
The original op-art movement was really about food diversity. Similarly, the Flat Earth Society was originally an advocacy organization comprised of manufacturers of flat foods like nan, pita bread, flat noodles and sole before getting distracted with the more pressing mission (pun intended) of developing educational materials about geology and the Earth.
The flat food group contains some unusual members. Consider ice cream, which could have belonged to the cholesterol or fat or sugar groups, but instead belongs to the cold food group. But what happens when ice cream melts? If it is in a bowl, not much. But, if you leave the ice cream on a plate or lying out on the counter, then after the ice cream melts, it is no longer cold. Further, it is flat! Melted ice cream belongs to the flat food group!
There are other food groups, you are encouraged to add them to the comments along with examples of those foods.
Acknowledgements: to my colleague Mas for alerting me to the florescent food group.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Here are who is ahead in each of the 128-electoral-vote-totaling toss-up states:
MT - 3
IN - 11
WV - 5
VA - 13
NH - 4
CO - 9
MN - 10
WI - 10
MI - 17
PA - 21
Total: 67 Barack Obama, 61 John McCain
Added to 202 BO and 208 JM
gives us a 269-269 tie.
Update: Was still tied yesterday using the same mechanism, though the strong and leaning Obama and McCain states had shifted quite a bit. And I did a little editing above.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The low information content of TV also drives me crazy. Then there are the commercials. The breathlessness of the anchors, as if, should we turn away from the TV, we'll miss the horrible news about Ike or John or Barack.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
- Why grocery stores have change machines at the end of the checkout stand.
- Because we're speeding too fast into the twentieth century.
- Unlike God or the tooth fairy.
- At least on Earth
- At the moment
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
When people complain that they don't know what Obama stands for, I think they really mean, lay out what Bush stands for and why you are different. Not just who you are for, but what you are for, what you will do and most importantly how that is different from who Bush is for, what Bush has done and what Bush wants for the country.
TalkingPointsMemo has an excellent further discussion that they need to really explain that McCain is worse than Bush. Not the same as, but much much worse. As a marketing gimmick, 'the same as' is bland and boring. The Democrats need to explain what Bush is for, what McCain is for and why that will be even worse for the country than Bush. Not just as bad as, but much much worse.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
As in my earlier posts, a country's medal score is 3 for each gold medal, 2 for each silver and 1 for each bronze. Divide by the population size (nearest million, or, if under 11 million, then to rounded 2 digits accuracy) as given by Wikipedia's list of countries by population size (dated Aug 24 2008). Rather than saying "medal points per capita" over and over, lets abbreviate that MPC.
Interestingly, three Caribbean island nations top our list followed by Iceland. Perhaps not so surprising, Netherlands Antilles, Iceland and Bahamas are the three smallest countries on our population list.
In total, 88 countries won a total of 302 gold medals, 304 silver medals and a whopping 353 bronze medals for a total of 959 medals and 1867 possible points in a set of countries with 5.4 billion population, which represents about 81% of the world's population. The average result was .343 medal points per million people. If your favorite country is above .343, they are above average.
Australia (pop 89 mill) was the best scoring 'large' country, defined as a country with close to 100 million or more people, ranked 7th with a score of 4.24 MCP. Britain (pop 98 mill) at 1.61 MPC is ranked 23. The US (pop 305 mill), the overall medal count leader (110 medals) comes in above average at .72 MPC and ranked 45th. China, the overall medal points leader (223 medal points, 100 medals) and the overall gold medal leader with a whopping 51 gold medals ranks only 66th with a below average .17 MPC. Last place falls to India with .004 MPC, 3 medals, 1 gold and 2 bronze, but over a billion people.
In a ranking like this, there is something for nearly everyone. One can rank highly on medals, medal counts, population, wealth, as well as lack of wealth and lack of population. Getting any medals is quite an accomplishment for a small country.
Here with is the full table of all 88 countries with medals. Hope it's readable. Tried saving it as jpeg from pdf. Sigh. At the very bottom is a paste directly from excel which is more readable. Apologies all around.
Notes: Medal counts come from Yahoo, after the closing ceremonies. If gymnastics medals are redistributed following the investigation of various underage gymnasts, or any drug investigations, those medal changes are not included here.
Sorry for the small font. Directly pasting from Excel wasn't wonderful, but I'll do it below, it may be easier to read. And I have no idea what "Click Here" is doing in this table. I deleted it 4 or 5 times, but it insists on reappearing.
- ► 2012 (67)
- ► 2011 (176)
- ► 2010 (77)
- Beating a path for Obama
- Grading 2008 election prognostications on a curve
- 2008 State by State Electoral Predictions Compared...
- Today's sub-Headline
- California Prop 8 and Public Health
- Ayers the Education Professor on the Election
- 4 Senate seats and 10000 votes
- Barack Obama sent me an email!
- Fortune Cookie Fortunes
- Bill Kristol and the underendowed
- Yes He Did
- ► October (3)
- ► September (6)
- ► August (7)
- ▼ November (11)