Saturday, September 6, 2008

Prediction is hard, especially about the future.

It stands to reason that somebody said this famous line first, but as it is with such aphorisms, attribution is tricky. It's either Mark Twain or Neils Bohr being clever while redundant, or Yogi Berra, the great American repository of quotes he didn't actually say, not realizing the redundancy.

So Matty Boy, admittedly a better 'splainer than predictor, looks boldly into the future, at least up through the end of summer, only a few weeks away, and explains why I think Sarah Palin is a bad choice that is going to get worse, despite some fawning currently going on in some segments of the press.

The overall numbers. Over at, there have been thirteen national tracking polls taken since the Palin nomination. One of them, Zogby last weekend, has McCain ahead by two percentage points. CBS from midweek, has the race even, 42% to 42% with a big 16% undecided or other. The other eleven have Obama ahead. The median is Obama by five. The two most recent are Obama by four and Obama by six.

Of course, we elect the president by the electoral college, and tomorrow I will introduce my weekly updates on the state by state races, using my Confidence of Victory method to give an expected value of votes you won't find on any other blog, because I invented the method. (Not tooting my horn that loud. The concept isn't that difficult, at least not for a mathematician, and I don't see why others haven't used it in the past.)

Splitting the bigot vote. Whether the Dems put forward Obama or Hillary, they were effectively handing the bigot vote to the Republicans this year, but with the selection of Sarah Palin, many bigots are back in play, or may just sit this one out or vote for a third party candidate instead of for McCain-Palin.

Lemme 'splain.

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family was definitely against McCain, but he is now all sweetness and light since Sarah Palin was added to the ticket. He is parroting the Republican talking point that her double wide trailer trash family story is a private matter, and that Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven, and that everything will work out fine. The problem with that is Dr. Dobson has a paper trail, and in that paper trail he shows absolute contempt for working mothers. He considers them a plague slightly worse that the rain of frogs, but not as bad as the swarm of locusts. Just one of the many places you can find him making this point is chapter 7 of his best-selling book The New Dare to Discipline, where he blames the supposed crumbling of "moral values" and "anarchy that is now rumbling through the midsection of democracy" on working mothers and "permissiveness."

Sound like anyone we know?

Media is a plural. Sarah Palin will not be available to the press for a while. She's lawyered up, expecting the results of the Troopergate investigation to hit before the election. Likewise, her husband is lawyered up. Not giving the jackals of the press access tends to make them mad, and as they get mad, expect less of the "boy are we dazzled" stories and more of the "we hate this cow" pieces.

As I said, media is a plural. The main negative the mainstream press is currently focused on is the officially investigated scandal of just who in the Palin family is responsible for the firing of the guy who wouldn't fire her ex-brother-in-law state trooper. But other firings and attempted firings from her time as governor and mayor are coming to light, such as the Boston Herald running the Anchorage paper story of the attempted firing of a librarian for not removing books from the shelves.

The librarian story is from 1996, but another part of the media has opened up a new front of fresher potential scandal. The L.A. Progressive, a little mom and pop left wing website, has a story whose most compelling tidbit is a waitress willing to go on the record overhearing the governor saying "So Sambo beat the bitch!", describing Obama's victory over Clinton.

And this doesn't even count the supermarket tabloids, especially The National Enquirer. Palin has many extended family members that flat out dislike her. Besides the ex-brother-in-law, her mother-in-law ran for mayor of Wasilla after Sarah left office, and Sarah did not endorse her.

Thanksgiving dinners must be a riot for these people.

And then there's the lies in the official story of plucky populism. The governor's luxury jet, for example. McCain now lies that she sold it on eBay and made a profit. The truth is she put it on eBay, it didn't sell after several months, then she found an aviation broker. It finally did sell, with losing the state about $600,000 compared to the original list price and the $31,000 broker's fee.

This essentially unvetted choice shows McCain's lack of judgment. The repeated line at the Republican Convention was that John McCain is the same straight talking guy 24/7. But the truth is he has a very nasty temper, and you never know what he will say next. Now, whether he keeps her on the ticket or not, the Republicans are going to be playing defense for at least weeks and possibly for the entire two months. On the unseemly stuff, the Dems can sit back and let the tabloids do what they do best. On the real policy problems and legal scandals, they can hit hard and actually tell the truth, unlike the Swift Boaters back in 2004 against Kerry.

Some people have called her a game changer. They forget that a hero is a game changer, but so is a goat.

Somebody scrounge up some old tin cans. Sarah is looking a little hungry.


karenzipdrive said...

Very fine piece, Matty.
Loved the tiny pic of Caribou Barfie.
You're right about the media. It's one thing to duck them, but to announce that you're ducking them...KABOOM!
The phrase "so and so was not available for comment" allows reporters to publish just the one side of the story.
And that's when the fun comes in.

Anonymous said...

An excellent piece. I'll be referring back to is, I'm sure!

Anonymous said...

Okay - I couldn't let this go without comment - my word verification on my comment above was WFOLK.

W folk, that's who we're trying to beat.

Matty Boy said...

Thanks, y'all, for stopping by.

DCup, the good news is the W folk are already beat. They are just 25% of the population. We get the turnout, we win big against them. We need to make sure the people who are still deciding aren't going Republican. It's early, but the Republicans are well behind right now with lots of fires to put out.

namastenancy said...

He’s not as entertaining as you ( or handsome, well read, funny, etc....) but is another tracking website with a twist: it's run by a baseball statistician (who is one of the Big Names in sports statistics) who has come up with a brilliant weighting, trend-tracking, and regression algorithm that takes into account everything from length of time to the election, general reliability of the pollster, age of the poll, historical data, demographics, trendline, etc. He then uses that algorithm to run both snapshot (what the likely results of the election would be if held today) and projection (what the model's best guess of what the election will look like in November). The projection is run over 10,000 iterations to generate a probabilistic assessment of the likely outcomes. You will probably understand the math; I fear that it makes my eyes glaze over.

His methodology is clearly laid out and well-explained, and he's been getting feedback from other statisticians and adjusting his methodology accordingly. In looking at his methodology, I believe it's one of the strongest sites out there for projections, and I believe he's made as much effort as possible to minimize any potential bias.

Obviously, there's a margin of error inherent in any poll, especially this far out from the election but he was spot on with the primaries.)

Matty Boy said...

Thanks, NamasteNancy, I'll put it on my reading list.

Padre Mickey said...

I just read that Michelle Obama's first cousin once removed, Rabbi Capers Funnye, is the rabbi of a predominantly black synagogue on Chicago's South Side. Now they gots another reason to hates 'em!

Distributorcap said...

i loath loath loath and loathe
james dobson

he is a douchebag beyond douchebags

trinket999 said...

ARGH! A spoiler alert would have been nice. :(

Matty Boy said...

Sorry, trinket, what spoiler are you talking about? The carcass the jackals are gnawing on?