Friday, October 12, 2012

Elsewhere: Unraveling, Old Ideas, Electoral College

Three things today. My column at Salon for the weekend is already up. I looked at Paul Ryan's assertion that Barack Obama's foreign policy is "unraveling" and noted that it's substance-free, concluding that it's yet another consequence of the closed information loop.

At PP, I said that I'm ignoring the electoral college. Which, really, I am. To the extent I pay attention to state polls, it's as signals to what's happening nationally, mostly as helpfully translated by the better aggregator sites.

And over at Greg's place, I riffed off of Joe Biden's line that "Their ideas are old, and their ideas are bad."

How about a non-existent link? I started writing a post about Martha Raddatz, but it wound up getting long and dull before getting to the point. Which is basically: excellent grade for moderating style, questions could have been a good deal better. So I'll just drop that in here and spike the longer post.


  1. I liked the way Biden repeatedly corrected Ryan's revisionist history. No, he said, Reagan gave specifics. We refused to privatize social security, Obama said when the surge would end. I wish he'd pushed back more on Republican obfuscation that was the opposite of bipartisan.

    Biden gave me a strong glimpse into his sweep of history -- he was there. He knew what happened, he understands how things work. "Their ideas are old, and their ideas are bad," rang true, from Biden's experience. He was there.

    Highlight of the debate for me, that sense of grounded history.

  2. Romney/Ryan believe that giving tax cuts to the "job creators" will prompt them to create jobs. However, they also state that their 20% tax cut will be revenue neutral. If the cuts will be revenue neutral, there are two issues I would like answered: Why go thru the exercise, (1) if the "job creators" don't get anything of it how will they have the funds to create jobs; and (2) if it is revenue neutral, why do it at all?

  3. "(2) if it is revenue neutral, why do it at all?"

    In theory, it results in lower rates and fewer loopholes. The reason for doing it is that the day after it is done, lobbyists will be pushing for new (and old) loopholes and will, over time, get them. The result will be a loophole filled tax code with lower rates.

    The short term profit horizon of American business is practically cliche, but the effort to cut taxes on the wealthy has been and continues to run on a long term horizon.

  4. I thought your "ignore the electoral college/state polls" post was wrong in April; I think it's demonstrably wrong now.

    Nate Silver estimates a 7.3% chance that the popular vote winner will lose the electoral college on Nov. 6. If the election were held today, make it 9.8%. That's not nothing.

    Besides, many have remarked about the variation between the national and state polls this year - Obama has consistently done better in the latter than the former. Silver found that, in the recent past when state polls have diverged from national polls (1996 and 2000), the state polls were more accurate. In any event, if you're not looking at state polls, you're missing a big piece of the story this year.

    1. Two things. First: I do think, as I said, that the state polls have information that's useful...about the national race. That "state polls more accurate" claim that Nate had was *not* about the EC; it was that the state polls were telling us more about the national race.

      Second...yes, Nate estimates a decent chance that there will be a popular vote/electoral vote split. But his model also has that possibly happening in either direction! And, yes, it's more likely as of now, according to the state/national poll split, that Obama has a slight EC edge (vs. the national vote), but it's really very shaky.

      Unless there's a real, stable EC bias, then looking at the EC doesn't tell you anything more than what looking at the national vote tells you.

    2. Well, right now, looking at the EC, and the state polls, one would predict a narrow Obama victory, because Mitt is still behind in WI, NV, OH, PA, MI... that adds up to 271 EVs for Obama.

      On the other hand, Mitt appears to have (as of yesterday) a small lead in the national polls.

      So looking at the EC doesn't necessarily tell you more than the national vote... but it tells you something slightly different. And in a very close race like this one, even a slight difference can be very important.


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