Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Prognostication #4:
The Florida primary

Once again, all the debates and ads and opinion polls are over and it's time for some Republican voters to actually make their voice heard. There has been no shortage of polling and there is strong consensus on the order (Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul). That said, the distance between the numbers is all over the place.  Of the websites I use to gather polling information, RealClearPolitics puts the data in the nicest format. If you follow the link, you'll see two of the most recent polls say Romney will either will by 7 or by 20. Who should we trust?

My method is to take the recent polls and look at the ones that have the least None Of The Above.  Then I look at the median and average values for all the candidates with the None Of The Above removed and give a weighted average. With the huge number of polls taken, I have seven that I'm using, none older than this weekend.  I round my data to the nearest half a percent.  Here are my predictions, as well as the latest from Nate Silver, founder of the website fivethirtyeight.com and now the poll expert for The New York Times.  Silver's numbers are in parentheses.

Romney 44.5%(44.0%)
Gingrich 31.0%(29.3%)
Santorum 13.0%(13.9%)
Paul 11.5%(11.2%)
Other 0% (1.6%)

As the numbers happen to shake out, I'm bullish on Romney, Gingrich and Paul, while Silver is expecting big performances from Santorum and Other. Our big disagreement is on Newt and for me to do well, he has to pull in at least 30%.
I follow the news but I don't let that influence my reading of the data.  I can't be sure how much effect Santorum's decision to leave Florida because of his daughter's hospitalization this weekend will move his final numbers. I'm a little surprised Paul's numbers stayed as high as they are given that he did not campaign in Florida. Rick Perry ignored New Hampshire and New Hampshire returned the favor.  But if my experience online has any meaning, I can say that Rick Perry's followers are not at loyal as Ron Paul's.

More to the point, I can say that most breeds of dogs are not as loyal as Ron Paul's followers.

By tomorrow morning the numbers will be in and I'll post again, reporting how close we got to right.

By the way, I'm now on Twitter under the name ConfidenceOfVic, short for Confidence Of Victory, my name for the method I use to assign odds to candidates in races with two or three people running.  I could use my method in a race like this one with four people, but I'm not as confident the numbers have meaning when more variables are added. 
I kind of like the shortened name on Twitter.  I've known some men named Victor who were shy, but any guy who shortens his name to Vic, that's a confident guy.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

So, what's Maru been up to lately?

Oh, You know, the usual. 

Getting into small enclosures, playing with cat toys, creating silent comedy worthy of Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd. 

You know... stuff. Stuff I like.

I would write "As do all right thinking Americans", but anyone who has followed Maru's exploits know his fame is worldwide and not limited to any one country.

All hail Maru!  All your boxes belong to him!

Friday, January 27, 2012

What a difference millions of dollars can make.

Quinnipiac polls - this week and last week
Just after Newt Gingrich's huge win in South Carolina, the conventional wisdom was that Mitt Romney's many flaws were become more and more evident and there was nowhere to go but down.  It was agreed that Newt Gingrich's many flaws were also evident, but Republican voters had decided to ignore them and give him the nod.  The next state was Florida, also in the south, also adjacent to Georgia, Newt's alleged home state - in actuality, he's a Washington insider now and lives in Virginia - and Newt would smack around Romney once again, leaving his once seemingly inevitable nomination in grave doubt.

Then the cash rolled in.

A flip switched early this week, or should I say if flipped for the third time. In early December polling, Gingrich looked great in Florida, then he faded and Romney looked great, then it was Gingrich again, and the last flip was to Romney.  All the polls of the past few days have shown Romney around 40% and Gingrich around 30%. The race for who will finish a distant third between Ron Paul and Rick Santorum is not so clear, but noises are being made that Santorum is ready to pack it in.  Paul's impossible dream is a Quixotic quest, and those kinds of people don't give up so easily.

You know what I mean by "those kinds of people".  The bughouse crazy.

The column charts above show two polls from the folks at Quinnipiac University.  The poll on the right is one of the first to show Romney back in the lead after South Carolina, and the one on the left shows how much that lead has been expanded.  The pro-Romney super PACs have out-spent the pro-Gingrich super PACs about 4:1, and as people delicately put it, this can make a big difference to "low information voters".

You know what I mean by "low information voters". The rock fucking stupid.

To be fair, I don't consider it stupid to switch from Gingrich to Romney.  That said, I expect another big Newt surge when Santorum goes away. Most observers think Mitt is doing better at the debates, and as long as he doesn't do his punching bag impression at these bizarre circuses, he and his supporters - who cannot coordinate with him in any way, as Stephen Colbert explained to us in South Carolina - will spend enough money to force Gingrich to go back to writing books and getting money from companies who need lobbyists who don't call themselves lobbyists.

You know what that means. He's an escort, not a ho.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

¡Ay, dios mio!
¡La orgia de locura y horror en Florida!

The polls in Florida are going nuts. Gingrich had a comfortable lead just a couple of days ago, but several recent polls have Romney way ahead.  Let us recall that Florida is not South Carolina.  The northern half of the state, sometimes called the Redneck Riviera, will love the red meat thrown out by Gingrich, but the southern half is more metropolitan than Dixie-ish, and Mitt is favored down there.

And now throw this into the mix. Univision interviewed Newt, Mitt and Santorum, but not Ron Paul? (I smell a conspiracy.) One of the Univision interviewers "went there" and asked if Mitt could be counted - if elected - as the first Mexican-American president.

Lemme 'splain.

Mitt's granddaddy was in a little trouble concerning the polygamy laws in the good of U.S. of A., so he skedaddled down Mexico way.  Daddy George was born on Mexican soil. The heat warmed up south of the border for other reasons, so the Romneys cross the border back to the Land of the Free Gift With Purchase.  Mitt was born here, so he is officially an anchor baby.

His name is actually Willardo Miteo Romney Garcia-Lopez.  For gringos unfamiliar with the lingo, that is pronounced "WeeJARdo MeeTAYo R-R-R-R-R-R-ROMney GarCEEah LoPETH.  The z is pronounced with the Castilian lisp because... well, it's more fun.

P.S. Okay, I'll admit it.  I made up the last paragraph.  The one just before it is the gospel truth.

P.P.S.  The name La Orgia de Locura y Horror is the Spanish for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Its literal translation is "The Orgy of Craziness and Horror".  I saw it with subtitles in El Salvador.  I was asked to leave for talking back to the screen like a borracho gringo.  I wasn't actually drunk.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And then the Republicans lost their damn minds.

Gallup tracking poll for January 2012
Last month, the opinion polls showed a surge for Newt Gingrich after Herman Cain suspended his campaign.  Gingrich celebrated by doing what he does best, spouting half-baked ideas whose flaws are apparent to any sensible person inside of ten seconds or so.  The most egregious was his idea about arresting "radical" judges, completely oblivious to the obvious fact that Democrats might consider some conservative decisions like Citizens United "radical" and decide to arrest a few Supreme Court members.  Moreover, arresting the people at the top of the judicial system means their fate will be decided by people... in the judicial system.

Seriously, it takes about ten seconds to think of these things.

So, running his mouth, Gingrich fell back.  The people of Iowa fell in love with Rick Santorum and anointed him the Not Romney, but New Hampshire put the two Not Romneys at the back of the pack, well behind Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, who both trailed Romney by over 20 percentage points.

Then came South Carolina.  Much bigger than Iowa or New Hampshire, but a whole lot redder.  A super PAC favoring Gingrich nailed Romney's Bain Capital as a job killer and the Republican echo chamber went mad with cries of class warfare.  Gingrich had to walk back the attack, though technically it didn't come from him.  Still, it was enough to wound Romney big time and the bleeding hasn't stopped.

As of today, January 24, the polls now put Gingrich back as the front runner.  Republican voters are not interested in hearing about his many flaws, though the number of people on the right who hate Gingrich are legion.
Rasmussen asked voters across the spectrum about Obama vs. Romney and Obama vs. Gingrich.  Obama leads Romney 46% to 43%, while Obama creams Gingrich 49% to 40%. During January, there have been a couple polls where Romney was ahead of Obama and another where they tied.  Gingrich's best showing is losing by 7%.

Republican voters have lost their damn minds.  It's not all their fault.  Given such a weak field, the questions about electability become academic.  They want someone as angry as they are and in this field, Newt Gingrich is the closest they are going to get. They think Gingrich will win the debates against Obama the way he's been beating the Republicans at the debates.  Little do they know that when the audience isn't all "mouth breathing paste eaters" as my blog buddy Tengrain puts it, many of the big applause lines Newt has are going to be booed.

I honestly think that if the people of the United States get a steady diet of Newton Leroy Gingrich for a year, there is a significant chance he will lose in Georgia.

I'm sure if any right-winger stumbles upon this, he or she will think I'm just some Communist who's been drinking the Kool-Aid and dismiss my argument.

I can't stop them.  There's not much you can do to dissuade crazy people.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dick Tufeld 1926-2012

Dick Tufeld, best known as the voice of the Robot on Lost In Space has died at the age of 85.  Bill Mumy, the actor who played Will Robinson, posted the sad news on his Facebook page today.  Good on Bill Mumy for staying in touch all these years.

Tufeld did many other things to keep a roof over his head, but to have a place in the hearts of people my age, he never had to do anything else besides say "Danger, Will Robinson!" and give serious portions of crap to that creepy Dr. Smith.

Best wishes to the family and friends of Dick Tufeld, from a fan.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Results for Prognostication #3:
The South Carolina primary

A bad week for my way of predicting the future. The loss of Huntsman as a candidate didn't hurt much, but losing Perry so close to the election date made a lot of polls fairly useless. Nate Silver's numbers were closer to the truth of Gingrich's big win over Romney, but both of us had Ron Paul in third place when Rick Santorum was actually five percentage points better.  Here are the final numbers.

Gingrich 40.4%(Silver beats me by 1.7%)
Romney 27.8%(Silver beats by by 2.2%)
Santorum 17%(I gain 0.1%)
Paul 13%(I lose 0.4%)
Other 1.8%(I gain 0.4%)
Final score: Silver 90.4%, Matty Boy 86.6%.  This is the first time either of us has climbed over the 90% mark.

The next test is Florida, a week from Tuesday.  Current polls have Romney ahead by double digits, but that means nothing.  Romney had a comfortable lead in South Carolina a week ago before the debates and the Bain Capital attacks.
Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson gets credit for the line "A week is a very long time in politics", and these ten days will certainly be tumultuous.  The hatred the Republican establishment has for Newt Gingrich will once again rain down, but I can't tell if it will counterbalance Romney's negatives with the rank and file, who don't like his regal manner, religion or record in office. Bill Clinton's aphorism "Democratic voters fall in love, Republican voters fall in line" doesn't sound quite as clever as it did after New Hampshire. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Prognostication #3:
The South Carolina primary - UPDATED

When it comes to predicting percentages based on recent polls, South Carolina is one of the toughest challenges yet.  I base my numbers on five polls taken in the past three days, but only two of them took Rick Perry out of the equation. His numbers were on the rise in Gallup tracking polls nationally, but he was well under 5% in South Carolina polls and faced the unpleasant possibility of being compared to the "Herman Cain" (actually Stephen Colbert) comedy campaign.

So now we are down to four.  Almost all the recent polls agree on the order: Gingrich, Romney, Paul, Santorum. (Only PPP switches Santorum over Paul.)  Based on a weighting of the median and the average of those five surveys, here's my prediction for South Carolina, rounded to the nearest half a percent. Nate Silver's numbers are given in parentheses.

Gingrich 37%(38.7%)
Romney 31.5%(29.3%)
Paul 16%(15.6%)
Santorum 14%(13.9%)
Other 1.5%(2.5%)

This means Silver is bullish on Gingrich and Other, while I am hoping for strong showings Romney, Paul and Santorum.

Colbert is a wild card, being both a South Carolina favorite son and a TV star, but I am betting the vast majority of conservatives realize his conservative persona is making fun of them. Also, there is the weird public appearance mojo of Friday. Gingrich had to cancel an event for low attendance, while the joint appearance of Colbert and Cain drew about 3,000.  Let's assume most of the those at the Colbert rally are not likely primary voters.

Also helping the Other votes is Perry dropping out so late. There could be a fair number of mail-in ballots with his name on them. Still, I'm not going to repeat my late fascination with Buddy Roemer in New Hampshire based on very little hard data.
As dissatisfied as the polls show the likely voters are with this field - the median count in the five polls for NoneOfTheAbove was 8% - I still think when South Carolina voters step inside those booths today, they will cast their votes for one of the four guys who showed up at the last debate.  Polls have shown voters are paying close attention to the debates.  As a person who believes in democracy, I find that encouraging and discouraging at the same time.

These are my final numbers.  I updated Silver's numbers from his noon Eastern time prediction on Saturday.  I will report back when 100% of precincts report in, which will likely be Sunday morning.

Friday, January 20, 2012

You smiled... you smiled...
And then the spell was cast...

And here we are in heaven
'Cause you are mine at last.

Ladies and gentlemen, the one, the only, the incomparable...
Miss Etta James.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This doesn't make up for January 3, 1971...

but it will have to do for now.

January 3, 1971 won't mean much to most folks, but that was a chance for a young Bay Area football fan's dream to come true.  The Raiders traveled to Baltimore to face the Colts for the AFC Championship and the 49ers hosted the Cowboys at that old rat trap Kezar Stadium.  If everything went perfect, we'd have a Raiders-Niners Super Bowl.  Instead, everything went to crap, the Colts beat the Raiders and the Cowboys beat the Niners.

The winners went on to play Super Bowl V, one of the sloppiest championship games in any sport ever, a game whose only charm was that it was close, the Colts winning on a late field goal, 16-13.

(Photo by Paul Sakuma/AP)

Today wasn't championship week, but the 49ers hosted a playoff game in that old rat trap Candlestick Park.  The Niner defense is stunning and the Niner offense suspect, so to see them win a game 36-32 in regulation was not what anyone expected.  The lead changed three times in the last two minutes and was won on a fantastic Vernon Davis touchdown catch.

(Photo by Elise Amendola/AP)

The Raiders didn't make the playoffs this year, but the hated Denver Broncos did.  Tim Tebow, possibly the most over-rated flash in the pan in American professional sport since Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, had another one of his truly crap games against a strong defense and Tom Brady, a local boy made very good for the Pats, tied the playoff record with six touchdown passes.  New England won 45-10 and it really wasn't that close.

Maybe, just maybe, some of Tebow's fans will realize that God is not actually betting on the Broncos, but sadly, many Christian zealots can explain away anything.  Maybe, just maybe, Tebow will improve to becoming a middle of the pack quarterback with a lot of hard work, but he was the 31st best quarterback in terms of yardage, he threw as many interceptions as touchdowns and was the only starting NFL quarterback who did not complete half his passes.

Goodbye, Broncos.  You won more games than you deserved at 8-8 this year, and unless Tebow makes a commitment we have not seen yet, he will never be a premier passer in the NFL.  And just to be clear, "making a commitment" does not mean turning his life over to Jesus.  He's already done that and it's come up craps.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Has None Of The Above peaked?

So here's the first twelve days of January in the Gallup tracking polls.  Mitt Romney, Mr. 25%, is now about to become Mr. 35% for the first time, as the crooked line in green indicates.  Pundits assumed the undecided had ruled Romney out, but this graph doesn't bear that out.  A lot of his gain looks to be at the expense of None Of The Above, drawn in black.  There was also a fading away of the the two top challengers Gingrich and Santorum, while Paul, Perry and Huntsman are steady in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, if None Of The Above is removed.

When the month started, None Of The Above was slightly ahead of Romney, but the undecided fell to fourth and has now risen again to second.  The Republicans really are trying to figure out who can beat Obama, and while most of them are not the political junkies I am, even a passing observer can start having doubts about the rest of the field, especially Gingrich, mean as a snake, and Santorum, kind of a whiny nebbish.  In some ways, I think Huntsman still hasn't been given a fair hearing, but he took a job when Obama offered it, and so to the rabid anti-Obama crowd he's a traitor and cannot be redeemed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Results for prognostication #2:
New Hampshire primary

There are three things about this week's guess that should be noted.
  1. I got beat by Nate Silver's guess, 88.8% to 88.2%.
  2. I did much better than I did last week.
  3. I got Gingrich over Santorum and Nate Silver went the other way.
Here are the final numbers.

Mitt Romney: 39.3% (Silver beats me by 2.9%)
Ron Paul: 22.9% (I beat Silver by 2.7%)
Jon Huntsman: 16.9% (Silver was at 17.0%, I was at 16.7%, so he was 0.1% closer)
Newt Gingrich: 9.4% (We both overshot, I lose by 1.2%)
Rich Santorum: 9.4% (We both overshot, I win by 1.1%)
Rick Perry 0.7%: (Again, we both went high, I win by 0.1%)
Buddy Roemer: 0.4% (Silver was silent, I went high and lost 0.8%)

I learned several things this week, mainly about thinking like a mathematician instead of thinking like a statistician, which is my serious advantage over Silver in the long run.

  1. Don't chase a single data point.  I was impressed by Buddy Roemer's results in one poll and changed my prediction because of it.  I should not do that and won't do it again.
  2. There's no point in being precise when you don't know what you are talking about.  The data I collect is to the nearest percent.  I shouldn't work with numbers to the nearest tenth of a percent.  My predictions will be to the nearest percent.  It giveth and it taketh away, but for the most part, it will giveth to me.  I might decided to round to the nearest half a percent, but no closer.  The data doesn't deserve it.
  3. Keep track of the recent, ignore ancient history.  Silver tweeted that every winner broke the 40% barrier since 1972.  This is because he's a statistician.  Completely meaningless number and somebody who isn't fooled by useless hard work could see through it in a fraction of a second.
There is no primary Tuesday.  The next test is a week from Saturday in South Carolina.  I will wait until I've checked the most recent polls on the day of the election but will post by blog call and my tweet long before the polls close. This is what Silver does, so it puts us on an even footing.

With no false modesty, I'm better than Nate Silver and I really do believe I will beat him at this in the long run.  I could use an old cliche and say I've forgotten more mathematics than he will ever know,  but once again with no false modesty, I haven't forgotten it.

He's a statistician. I'm a mathematician. I outrank him.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Prognostication #2:
The New Hampshire Primary - UPDATE Tuesday morning for Nate Silver's final picks

 It's a Monday before a primary, so it's time for Matty Boy to polish off the crystal ball and make his prediction for the percentages for each of the candidates running for the Republican nomination in the New Hampshire primary. Michele Bachmann dropped out, so it becomes slightly easier, but it is still wild and wooly and no walk in the park.

In previous elections, I would check out the most recent polls and find the median, but that's tricky to do when six people are still in the race. I also have new fun toy, the tracking poll.  The main reason most prognostications in Iowa sucked so bad was that no poll showed Santorum way over 20%, but many did show his stock was rising.  The Suffolk tracking polls shows Huntsman's stock is rising steadily, while Romney has been losing nearly four percentage points a day. So what I did is average out the trends over the past three days and take that trend poll as one of my data sets and the most recent poll that wasn't a trend poll as the other data sets.  I scrubbed out the None of the Above - at least to an extent - and these are my numbers. I also look at the raw data and noted that Buddy Roemer is out-polling Rick Perry in the Granite State and too that into account.  Nate Silver's latest picks are in parentheses. Unless he mentions Roemer in a later tweet, I'm going to be a sport and put his None of the Above numbers on Roemer.

First: Mitt Romney 35.6% (38.5%)
Second: Ron Paul 21.3% (18.6%)
Third: Jon Huntsman 16.7% (17.0%)
Fourth: Newt Gingrich 12.8% (11.5%)
Fifth: Rick Santorum 11.2% (12.3%)
Sixth: Buddy Roemer 1.3% (0.9%)
Seventh: Rick Perry 1.1% (1.2%)

Nate numbers are final on Tuesday morning.  Currently, he's bullish on Mitt, Santorum, Huntsman and Perry. I expect over-achieving by Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and now Buddy Roemer. I readily admit I can't be sure about the Gingrich-Santorum struggle for fourth and fifth.  All my indicators favor Newt, but I'm just a blogger in my living room and Nate Silver works for the New York Times.

Still, if he gives me a call and wants to put money on this, I will take his bet.  Eagerly.

Wednesday morning I will give the results. I beat Silver by the narrowest margin in Iowa when rounding to the nearest tenth of a percent, 83.8% to 83.7%. I expect we will be closer to 90% if not over this time.

A crazy poll tracking the crazy Republicans.

CBS News national poll - mid September 2011 to early January 2012

All polls have to be taken with a grain of salt, but some of them need a whole salt lick. Here is the tracking of the remaining Republican candidates in the CBS News national polls. They have a survey roughly once a month and the numbers show some well documented trends. Rick Perry is in red (for embarrassment) and you can see his steep early slide. Gingrich is in grey (for the color of his hair and the age of his ideas) and you can see his rise in December and fall in January. Santorum is a muddy brown (I'll let you guess why) and we see his big bump in January. Paul in gold (for the gold standard) has gone from 5% to 10% and Huntsman in orange (no reason, it was just a color left over) stays firmly at the bottom of the pack.

And then we have black and blue, which stand for Someone Else and Undecided, respectively.  These colors were chosen because they are beating up the field. Undecided is fading as should be expected, but it is still well over 10%, dominating Ron Paul and the second tier candidates. Someone Else, on the other hand, continues to poll strongly.

Here's the thing.  The supporters of Cain and Bachmann in earlier polls would now be lumped together as Someone Else, which should inflate those numbers somewhat. (By the first survey in September, Trump and Pawlenty were already just footnotes.) From December to January, Someone Else has lost no strength at all and is tied with Mitt Romney in green (for lots of money) for the lead.

Non news flash: There is no Someone Else! Sorry, Republicans, the ghost of Reagan or the return of Jebus are not on the ballot and the paperwork to get them there is a serious bitch.

As I stated earlier, a grain of salt is not a bad idea in this case. Compared to Gallup's daily tracking, several numbers seem out of date or just plain whack. Even so, if the one-two punch of Someone Else and Undecided are still soaking up a third of Republican voters, that would put Obama's alleged enthusiasm gap to shame.

(p.s.  My New Hampshire prediction and the comparison to Nate Silver's numbers will be published later today.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

One last look at December.

Gallup national tracking polls for December
The month began with Gingrich the Grey proclaiming "I am the nominee" and ended with him making a pact to be Rick Santorum's wingman. Only Romney - shown in green to signify all the cash that's behind him - is currently polling better than None Of The Above.  You'd think that would make his nomination nearly inevitable,  but it shows a deep dissatisfaction in the Republican electorate that might still become a coalition. As we will see on Tuesday, Romney is inevitable in New Hampshire, but as the primaries move to the South, things could yet turn strange.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why the press hates New Hampshire.

The political press had a field day in Iowa because Iowa gave them the things they like.  They had something new (the Santorum surge), they had a close race and they had controversy. This GOP field almost guarantees controversy - the 11th Commandment of "Thou shalt attack no other Republican" is as dim a memory as most of the rest of the truth about Reagan has become - and Michele Bachmann quitting will be new for a day or two. But for a close race, New Hampshire ain't it.
Suffolk University is doing a daily tracking poll in the Granite State, the only new polls from anyone in over a week. The numbers are just lying there like some old dead animal. Romney is at 43% as predictably as clockwork and the closest thing to a surge is None Of The Above passing Ron Paul for second place.  This poll was taken before Bachmann quit and Perry tweeted something positive about "on to South Carolina", but that will make little difference to the Republicans of New Hampshire, who had been giving both of those candidates 2% each until Perry slipped on Tuesday to 1%.

Here's the thing.  Romney is currently supported by over 50% of the voters who have made up their mind, since 43/82 is about 52%.  50% of the vote in a six person race is a good old fashioned ass whuppin'. There's no way to spin "we finished second" into anything like good news. 
The strength of None Of The Above this close to the election is startling.  I think a lot of those people are going to stay home. Back when I was a lad, Doonesbury would have several weeks of New Hampshire campaigning strips in the December before a presidential election, but being a political junkie now means getting a steady stream of Iowa news before Christmas and barely a week of New Hampshire stories before their little election is over and done.  Given that old people vote in larger percentages than the young, None Of The Above looks like a symptom of the New Hampshire voters' depression over no longer being the prettiest girl at the dance.

Let me scrunch together all the enthusiasm I can muster over the race for second place.  Okay.  Now that I see it in a nice neat pile, that's not a lot of enthusiasm.

Let me state the obvious.  Romney will be in first and Perry will be in sixth. I expect the few Bachmann voters in New Hampshire will throw their puny weight to Santorum, as will some of None Of The Above. This was supposed to be the state where Huntsman was going to finally make a showing over 10%, and while that is a possibility, he is going to be hard pressed to beat Paul or Santorum now. That means Gingrich and Huntsman are scrapping for fourth place. Newt might go higher, but the trend line is definitely down for him everywhere, as it has been since early December. That would say the top three finishers in New Hampshire might well be the same as Iowa, but this time with Romney far and away in the lead and the fight between Paul and Santorum being close.
We will see if any of the polls in the next four days put an exciting spin on these numbers, but really, when the guy in first is outpolling the next five guys combined, "exciting" really isn't an option.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You know who I miss?
Ugg the Repug.

 Talking Points Memo, the left wing political news website, has shut down comments for the time being on all their stories.  The place was hit hard by Ron Paul supporters (known to conservative detractors as Paultards and to progressive detractors as Ronulans) and for a while in December, all Ron Paul threads were comment free.  Sadly, they have decided to shut down comments on all threads now, which means I will not get to hear from several clever commenters.

Easily one of my favorites is Ugg the Repug, a fellow who pretends to be a caveman pretending to be a Republican. Ugg has a limited understanding of English grammar but a finely tuned sense of humor.  He laughs at his own jokes from time to time (Har har har!), but his jokes are funny with or without the Internet laugh track.

One can only hope the website will bring comments back as soon as possible.  In my travels around the web, only the comment section on Princess Sparkle Pony is as much fun.

Results for the first prognostication:
Not so good.

I picked the order Paul, Romney, Santorum at the top of the Iowa Caucuses.  It actually came out Romney and Santorum in a near dead heat for first and Paul many percentage points behind. I got the order of the also rans right, but missed their percentages.  Let's go through the wreckage candidate by candidate.

1st place: Mitt Romney 24.6% 
My prediction of 22% was off by 2.6%.

2nd place: Rick Santorum 24.5% 
I predicted 19%, my big screw-up of the evening.  I lose 5.5%.

3rd place: Ron Paul 21.4% 
I was 1.6% too high with 23%. 

4th place: Newt Gingrich 13.3% 
Too high at 15%. I lose 1.7%

5th place: Rick Perry 10.3% 
Much closer.  Off by 0.3%

6th place: Michele Bachmann 5% 
Once again, two points too high at 7%. 

7th place: Jon Huntsman 0.6% 
I thought he'd get about 3%.  I overestimated the sanity of the Iowa caucus goer. I lose 2.4%

Others: 0.3% 
I said 1%.  Take the 3% I over-estimated Huntsman and the low end choices and give it to Romney.

What grade do I deserve?  If we accumulate the percentage mistakes I made, I get an 83.9%, which I would call a B.  I think that's a grade I can live with.
As for the places, There are eight positions, so if we say the basic adjustment is to switch two adjacent places, like second and third trading places, It would take sixteen such transpositions to go from completely backwards to correct.  To make my list right, I need to switch Paul with Romney for the top spot, then switch Paul from second to third with Santorum. 14 right out of 16 would be 87.5%, about on the cusp of B and B+.

Of the two grading systems, I think the accumulated percentage mistakes is the fairest.  As people drop out, getting the correct order of finish will get easier, though when it gets down to two candidates, then it becomes pass/fail.

So, unlike many other prognosticators, I will keep track of my grades.  Could we lose a couple candidates soon?  Signs point to yes. Perry slunk back off to Texas last evening, for example, and reality might even seep through Michele Bachmann's caked on make-up, touching the virgin territory of her brain.  Every person who leaves the race makes my job slightly easier.

And just to make myself feel a little better, I took the last seven polls taken in Iowa, adjusted the "None of the Above" down to zero, increased all the other percentages proportionally and took their grades on the caucuses. Here are the names of the companies, the date of the polls and their grades.

Rasmussen(12/28): 82%
NBC News/Marist (12/27-28): 81%
Des Moines Register (12/27-30): 81%
PPP (12/31-1/1): 80%
We Ask America (12/29): 74%
ARG (12/29-1/1): 68%
Insider Advantage (1/1): 62%

As you can see, polling as close to the actual date wasn't much help.  Insider Advantage flat out sucked asking people on New Year's Day, while Rasmussen did the best when they packed up their tent on December 28.  Everybody underestimated Santorum.

My next prediction will be next Monday before New Hampshire votes on Tuesday.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Prognostication #1 for 2012:
The Iowa caucus

Okay, Matty Boy has been crunching the numbers and is ready to predict the Iowa caucuses being held tomorrow. I will also come back on Wednesday to show how brilliantly I did or how badly I sucked.

1st place: Ron Paul 23%
2nd place: Mitt Romney 22%
3rd place: Rick Santorum 19%
4th place: Newt Gingrich 15%
5th place: Rick Perry 10%
6th place: Michele Bachmann 7%
7th place: Jon Huntsman 3%
Others: 1%

This will officially start the Santorum Surge. It will be another bubble. Gingrich's time in the sun is going to be hard to hold onto if he finishes fourth (or worse) here are gets pounded in New Hampshire, which are the likely outcomes.  I thought he peaked at the right time in December, but I did not anticipate just how strong the animus towards him would be from so many quarters and how much money they were willing to spend to neutralize him.

Overall, I think Romney is the nominee.  Some polls have shown people's second choice candidates, and Romney is doing better as a second choice than I thought he would. The one power player who still hates Romney is Rush Limbaugh, but he has been known to take 180° turns in the past. I can't predict there will be a third party candidate who can pick up 10% or more of the vote, but if there is, it favors Obama.

Of course, all that is long range crystal ball stuff.  Back on Wednesday to crow from the rooftops or to eat crow. If you want to follow me on Twitter, I'm @ConfidenceOfVic, short for Confidence of Victory, the name I gave my statistical method that can be used in races with two or three main candidates.