Monthly Archives: December 2007

bragging rights…

What he said on 12/30/07:

Quote from Barack Obama at a speech in Iowa. This is from his “closing arguments” speech in reference to Hillary Clinton:

“…let me tell you something: the real gamble is to have the same old folks do the same old things over and over again and somehow expect that we’ll get a different result…”

What I said on 12/18:

…He had the opportunity to portray himself as the Washington outsider (George Bush’s “winning” tactic in 2000) and by comparison label [Hillary] Clinton as an old-style attack politician. All he had to do was point out that the true mark of idiocy is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results…

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Primary Preview – looking at the trends (republicans)

As a brief note, the polling results for Republicans are even harder to understand than for the Democrats. five polls in Iowa show the following: 2 show a solid Huckabee lead, 1shows a small Huckabee lead, 1 shows a large Romney lead, and 1 shows a moderate Romney lead. What are we to make of polls that basically run the gamut of possible results?

On to examining the trends for Republicans as a way to help predict their finishes:

1. These polls are a total mess, as you can see here, courtesy of Real Clear Politics. On to some observations:

2. Ever since Thanksgiving, Romney and Huckabee have had their fortunes tied. Huckabee’s December surge was mirrored perfectly by a Romney collapse, so its no wonder that he’s been lashing out recently. Huckabee didn’t exactly explode onto the stage, the trends show a steady rise that appears to have been missed by the major media outlets.

3. Though he suffered during Huckabee’s surge, Romney has rocketed back to around 29%. You’ll notice that he went from 26% to almost 30% in three days. Huckabee’s peak was a low for every other candidate, but most have bounced back. The only one who didn’t bounce back was Giuliani (steady downward trend, now at 6%, same as Ron Paul)

4. Thompson lagged for the past few months, but had a small boost in the past week or so. He’s now up to 11%, but I could see him struggling to even reach that once the Caucus actually occurs.

5. McCain trended down from April to mid December, reaching a low of 6%, but got a huge boost from his endorsements and increased media attention, and is now at almost 12%. Based on these trends, he could very well outperform his current poll numbers, and I would not be surprised if he snagged up to 20% in Iowa.

6. Lastly, Ron Paul, who sprung up in the polls in October, reaching 5% by mid month. He’s only managed to move up to 6% since then, but with a ton of cash on hand, he could make a move in the closing days. If he breaks 10% he will be in a great position going in to New Hampshire, and because Giuliani has all but conceded Iowa, he has a shot at that goal.

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Primary Preview – looking at the trends (democrats)

In order to help predict how Iowa will turn out, we can examine each candidate’s trends. Democrats first, Republicans next.

Real Clear Politics has a chart here that I’ll be referring to…

It shows that Biden (now at 5%) is steadily trending upwards, having started at basically nothing. He is predicting a 15% finish, and would get decent media attention if he could somehow pull that off…

His bump may have come from Richardson (now at 5%), who has seen a drop off from his September high of 12%. Look for Richardson to remain at that 5% level, since it hard to fall any further than that.

Edwards (26%) is enjoying a resurgence since his November low of 19%. His voters will probably see that either Hillary or Obama will eventually win, and will inevitably do one of two things: they could decide to abandon him in favor of their next preference, or, since they are likely to be long-time Edwards supporters (he’s practically been campaigning there for 4 years) they could stick it out to the bitter end. I have no idea which is more likely.

As I warned earlier, Obama’s Oprah boost is beginning to fade. He had a month long high of 30% when she first started campaigning for him, but he may have peaked too soon, as he’s now fallen back to around 26%. Thats not a huge drop off in most cases, but this time around, it can mean the difference between 1st and 3rd place.

Lastly, Hillary has managed to return to her pre-Oprah numbers after a rough month in the polls. She has risen from a month-long low of 26% to her current 29%. This may lend some credence to my speculation that Obama peaked early and should have reserved his media star for later in the campaign.

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Primary Preview – a look at the polls

Real Clear Politics is my favorite place to go to look up how candidates are doing in the nation and in Iowa. They list a number of polling companies’ results and then provide their own average, but upon closer inspection, the polls that they present are not very straightforward. Take a look at their latest results in Iowa, for example:

Iowa Democratic Caucus

Thursday, January 3 | Delegates at Stake: 45

Poll Date Sample Clinton Edwards Obama Richardson Biden Spread
RCP Average 12/20 to 12/28 29.8 26.5 26.3 5.3 4.8 Clinton +3.3
American Res. Group 12/26 – 12/28 600 LV 31 24 24 5 5 Clinton +7.0
Strategic Vision (R) 12/26 – 12/27 600 LV 29 28 30 2 5 Obama +1.0
Quad City Times 12/26 – 12/27 500 LV 28 29 29 7 3 Tie
LA Times/Bloomberg 12/20 – 12/26 389 LV 31 25 22 7 6 Clinton +6.0

These results can be grouped into two pairs – one that shows a dead heat, and another that shows a significant lead for Clinton.

Also note that the spread of Clinton’s results is only 3% (28 is the lowest, 31 the highest). Edwards has a spread of 5%, and Obama has a spread of 8%, from 22 to 30. I can only guess that this would tell us that Clinton is most likely to finish where the polls predict, but that the other candidates’ results will be much harder to gauge.

Also, I’d agree that the RCP averages split the difference and reduce the risk of being totally wrong, but when 4 polling outfits return 2 types of results, you have to wonder at their methods and accuracy. I think its more likely that the truth lies at one of the two results than between them.

For more on polling and its statistical complications, including the effect of margins of error, the normal distribution, and sample size, check this primer.


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From Slate – The Bush administration’s dumbest legal arguments of 2007

“The Bush administration continues to limit our basic freedoms, conceal its own worst behavior, and insist that it does all this in order to make us more free. In that spirit, it seemed an opportune moment to commemorate the administration’s worst legal justifications and arguments of the year.”

read more | digg story

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Freaks and Geeks

                                         

While the writer’s strike is slowly dragging along I took the opportunity to catch up on some of televisions forgotten shows with my Netflix account.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I started Freaks and Geeks. My friend highly recommended it to me, but it was canceled by NBC before its first season was even complete. So how could it be good, right? After completing the series I’ve realized that either NBC and other major television studios have absolutely no clue what the fuck they are doing or the average tv viewer is half retarded. I have a feeling that both are the culprits here. I mean just think of the brilliant tv shows like Arrested Development and Undeclared that got cancelled in there prime and it will make you shudder to think about the decade of Everybody Loves Raymond debauchery.

The show starts off slow but as it progresses you will be amazed at how well developed each character becomes. The laughs come sporadically, but when they do you realize it was totally worth the wait. There’s no laugh track or awkward pauses to queue you to laugh either, the humor is largely situational. One of my favorite parts of the series is when Seth Rogen’s character, Ken, ponders if he is gay when he finds out his girlfriend is a hermaphrodite. Click continue reading to read the rest of my review!
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Brooklyn Soul, courtesy of Mick Boogie

Here’s a link to a fantastic remix album of Jay-Z new album, American Gangster. It was done entirely using Marvin Gaye samples, and I think its fantastic. “Hello Brooklyn” was a tight track, but they are all good listens, and I think it reinforces the remix ideas talked about here.

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