Kerry 317?

by Brian on November 2, 2004

Barring a Red Sox sized miracle comeback, Kerry will win this one. Red Sox sized miracles happen (just ask the Red Sox!) but it’ll be tough for Bush. Even if Kerry gets to 270 projected electoral votes (if he does), there’ll still be something to watch tonight though. I’m going to pay particular attention to whether he reaches two particular numbers – 297 and 317. The significance of 297 is that once he’s there, two state’s results will have to be overturned to make it a Bush victory. The significance of 317 is that once he’s there, *three* state’s results will have to be overturned to make it a Bush victory. At that point we can put away the lawyers, because there aren’t going to be three results overturned.

My credence that he’ll get to 317 is around 20%. He’d have to hold Ohio and Florida and pull off an upset somewhere – Colorado, North Carolina or Virginia seeming to be the main targets. It’s hard to make intuitive judgments about disjunctions like this one because obviously Kerry is behind the 8-ball in every one of those states. But I give some credence to the possibility he can pull off _one_ of them. If not, Court TV might be in for a ratings bonanza.

By the way, the Rep_L52 contract at Iowa is seriously underpriced. Nobody is exit polling Texas, and if Bush is running up the score there as much as Zogby is saying, he’s got way more than a 20% shot at the popular vote.

Voting in Columbus

by BillG on November 2, 2004

Bush people were everywhere on our street this morning. German Village has narrow, brick-lined streets, and traffic backed up for blocks as they came in. Leaders with walkie-talkies were marshalling them to their assignments. They respected my lawn sign and were contrite when I complained about the W04 placard that had been placed on my windshield. This is an amazing effort.

Voting itself was anti-climatic. I got in line at 6:30AM, voted at 8:00AM. No challengers or operatives in the poll itself. Very quiet and neighborly (as befits Ohio). Ohio law forbids even wearing buttons in the polling place.

Voting machines

by Henry Farrell on November 2, 2004

For those interested in breaking news on electronic voting machines and their associated tribulations, Princeton comp. sci. professor Ed Felten and friends are keeping track at “E-Voting Experts”:

More Market News

by Brian on November 2, 2004

This one might be rational. As of this instant (4.16 et) Tradesports has Kerry slightly ahead of Bush. I think he should be much further ahead – at this stage he only needs one of Ohio and Florida to win and he’s a slight favourite in both. But it’s another data point.

UPDATE: As Daniel says in comments, both Tradesports and IEM can’t handle the server load today. Post any updated numbers from either site in comments here – if you can get through to those sites.

Terrorism in America

by Brian on November 2, 2004

I’ve been thinking today about what the biggest surprises (other than the absence of even bigger surprises) about the campaign have been. I agree with “Big Media Matt”: that the it’s surprising the Republicans didn’t go after Kerry’s Senate vote against the first gulf war. I think it’s surprising that the Kerry campaign didn’t make more of his great successes as a Senator, e.g. BCCI, Iran-Contra, POW investigation etc, especially since every one of them tells against the narrative of Kerry as someone who takes the soft option.

Also on the list should be how much the anthrax attacks completely disappeared from the public consciousness. For a gratuitously extreme example, here’s “Cliff May”:

bq. It’s 3 PM on November 2, 2004. There has not been a terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11/01.

Were the anthrax attacks not terrorism, not on American soil, or not after September 11 2001? Either of the three options boggles the mind, but presumably May believes one of the disjuncts is true.

Media Balance

by Henry Farrell on November 2, 2004

As Brad DeLong and umpteen others have said, the “on the one hand, on the other hand” style of reporting is a crock. It’s a lazy man’s version of unbiased reporting, giving equal time to spin, crackpottery and facts. Now, some interesting evidence as to how this happens in the NYT. The Times has a “story”: today about how the current race is too close to call. However, for a few minutes this morning, they had the wrong version of the story up on their website – they’d posted the raw version, with all the editors’ comments included. A good friend spotted it in time, and sent it to me – I enclose it below the fold. The smoking gun (I’ve bolded the editor’s comments):

bq. Bush supporters were also out. The driver of a Greyhound bus stopped his vehicle on a Philadelphia street, got out and ripped down a campaign poster for John Kerry.we cant let this stand as emblematic of Bush supporters. either get some quotes from bush supporters or leave it out

Needless to say, this intriguing little incident was cut from the final version of the article.

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Third Parties

by Henry Farrell on November 2, 2004

“Mark Schmitt”: on the appeal of third parties:

bq. Finally, a less-predictable endorsement, for all of you in New York: Please vote for your candidates on the Working Families Party line, Row E. You don’t live in a battleground state, and your votes for Kerry and Schumer may not have much immediate impact on the outcome of those races. But you can make a difference by supporting the idea of an independent political organization that is aligned with the Democratic Party when its values are right, and not when they aren’t. For example, Working Families enabled an alternative to the Democratic nominee in the special election for City Council in Brooklyn last spring, who ultimately won, and Working Families offers alternatives to the corrupt system of judicial selection in Brooklyn. Further, when the labor and community activists of the Working Families Party can approach, for example, Senator Clinton and point out that the number of votes she received on their line was greater than her margin of victory, that’s a message that no ordinary constituency group can deliver. WFP is only five years old, and it’s still in many ways an experiment. If it works, perhaps we’ll see interest in other states in opening up to “fusion” parties — those that can endorse Democrats or Republicans sometimes, or their own candidates if they need to. This is a reform that will dramatically open up the electoral system and also create strong, modern organizations of the type that are winning this election for Kerry. Voting on the Working Families line sends a message to the New York political system, and also beyond.


by Kieran Healy on November 2, 2004

bq. The humblest individual who co-operates in the government of society acquires a certain degree of self-respect; and as he possesses authority, he can command the services of minds more enlightened than his own. He is canvassed by a multitude of applicants, and in seeking to deceive him in a thousand ways, they really enlighten him. He takes a part in political undertakings which he did not originate, but which give him a taste for undertakings of the kind. New improvements are daily pointed out to him in the common property, and this gives him the desire of improving that property which is his own. He is perhaps neither happier nor better than those who came before him, but he is better informed and more active.
— _Democracy in America_, Book I, Ch. 14.

Election Day

by Brian on November 2, 2004

It’s nice to see which bloggers think “the most important moment in the election campaign”: was centred around _them_. It reminds me of how I answer when someone asks me what the most important events in recent philosophy have been. (Well, there was this conference on the west coast I was at, and this long lunch with a few friends where we solved a bunch of problems and…)

More seriously, America’s Greatest Columnist turns in a blinder on “the joy of voting”:

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A day late and about a million dollars short

by Daniel on November 2, 2004

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the traders on the Iowa Electronic Markets, who, on the last day of the campaign, have bid Kerry up to 51% chance of winning. Thus ensuring that, whoever wins, I will have ample material to spend the next four years teasing James Surowiecki about the “Wisdom of Panicky Crowds”.

(the really interesting thing is that the single most probable IEM outcome is still Bush to win with less than 52% of the popular vote. The big move of the bids has been from Bush>52 to Kerry >52!)

Watching the Markets

by Brian on November 2, 2004

Currently “Tradesports”: has Bush at about a 56% chance to win the Presidency. But the “Iowa Electronic Markets”: shows a slight lean towards a Kerry victory.

To be sure, the IEM tracks overall votes and Tradesports electoral votes, so these leanings could be consistent. And if Kerry wins the popular vote and loses outright they will be. But that looks rather unlikely. Kerry’s national vote has trailed his battleground states vote in just about every poll that’s looked at this split. This is not particularly surprising since the Bush campaign and its surrogates have massively overspent the Kerry campaign (and its surrogates) on _national_ advertising with Kerry focusing almost exclusively on battleground state advertising.

The IEM numbers are fairly close, but if they hold I suspect one or other (or quite likely both) markets will end up on the wrong side of this election. On the other hand, if Kerry does repeat Al Gore’s efforts and win the popular vote without taking over the White House, I might have to revise my faith in the success of these markets. (Of course if that happens I’ll have much more to worry about than being wrong on a technical question like this one.)

Eight per cent swing to Kerry!

by John Q on November 2, 2004

The results for Dixville Notch are in !. Bush 19, Kerry 7. In 2000, Bush got 21 to Gore’s 5. There was a similar swing in Hart’s Location. Repeated nationwide, this swing would give Kerry a thumping victory[1].

fn1. As bases for spurious predictions go, I’d rank this one somewhere between the Washington Redskins home games and Ray Fair’s econometric model.


by Eszter Hargittai on November 2, 2004

The organization Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility is cosponsoring some important vote protection initiatives.

A U.S. toll-free telephone hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1 866-687-8683) and a great set of Web sites at and, help citizens to vote and have their votes counted as intended. Voting questions and problems can be reported, tracked, and responded to by thousands of specially trained operators, attorneys, and technologists, now and beyond November 2nd.

There is also a “do-it-yourself” 24/7 incident reporting form on the Web at, as an alternative recording method, without real-time follow-up.

The more people hear about and use the Web sites and hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1 866-687-8683), the better the world can trust U.S. elections to be.

Columbus 11/1/2004

by BillG on November 2, 2004

Drove back to Columbus today, listening to Bill Clinton’s My Life on CD. It’s only six CDs, an abridgement and – judging from the reviews – an improvement of the book. The reader is… Bill Clinton. He is, of course, a terrific storyteller (double entendre intended).

When I got home, I found a Republican encampment across the street from my house. Apparently the law firm that owns the building is giving them the parking lot, and perhaps office space. Lots of strangers milling around. There are over 30 cars with W stickers, and 6 white vans (there are probably more about, because one van is numbered ’10’).

Is this HQ for South Columbus? Or just for my precinct (we and they are about a block north of the church where we vote)?

I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with this. Just experiencing shock and awe at the resources they are deploying.

In my hometown

by Ted on November 2, 2004

It isn’t every day that I read a British newspaper story about the small Ohio town where I grew up, but these are interesting times.

But there are signs that Hudson’s longtime reputation as a Republican centre is changing. “The joke has always been that you could fit all Hudson’s Democrats into the phone booth at Saywell’s drugstore,” says Susan Terkel, a leader of the Kerry campaign in Hudson. “But now lots of Democrats have come out of the closet. The former mayor is campaigning for Kerry and lots of others. We had a gathering of 400 people which was exciting. But now some Republicans are boycotting the restaurant where we had the meeting. Isn’t that terrible?”

Well, yes, it is.

For a little local color, I remember checking my home zip code at during the 2000 election and being shocked; a non-systematic scan showed that more people had donated to Buchanan than Gore. This year, my dad says that there are roughly as many Kerry signs as Bush ones in the neighborhood. (I realize that these two facts are not directly comparable, but they still leave me optimistic.)