Saturday Reads: Polls, Ro-mentum, and Forced MatingPosted: October 27, 2012
I should be at my mom’s house by now, but I had to stop for another night because I drove right into one of the three monster storms that are expected to crash into each other somewhere along the east coast. At least I got out of the Boston area, where I might have ended up without power for days. But I’m kind of wondering if I’ll still have a home to go back to. Anyway, I drove into a downpour in Ohio. At times it was raining so hard I could barely see, and it was also very foggy. I finally gave up and stopped for the night in Sandusky, Ohio. How weird is that? I hope tomorrow’s weather will be better.
I’ve got some links to get you started today–please forgive me if some of them are old news to you.
I’m going to start out with the latest on the polls. Even though the corporate media is still pushing the story that Romney’s winning, the real statistic nerds are saying that Romney basically got about a 4-5 point bump after the Denver debate, but that has dissipated and now the polls are favoring Obama again. Truthfully Obama never really lost his leads in the swing states he needs to win, but either lots of the media types are rooting for Romney (e.g., Joe Scarborough, Dancin’ Dave Gregory, Jim Vandehei) or they just want to make things seem close for career purposes.
Here’s the latest from Nate Silver: The State of the States
Thursday was a busy day for the polls, with some bright spots for each candidate. But it made clear that Barack Obama maintains a narrow lead in the polling averages in states that would get him to 270 electoral votes. Mr. Obama also remains roughly tied in the polls in two other states, Colorado and Virginia, that could serve as second lines of defense for him if he were to lose a state like Ohio.
On the national level, of course, the race is still basically tied; but Obama has a baseline of 237 electoral votes. He only needs to pick up a couple of swing states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, or Nevada to get to 270. Silver says it doesn’t look like Obama actually got a bump from the third debate–it’s more likely that the numbers are just regressing to the mean. Whatever the cause, Obama is leading in electoral votes
Last night, Silver’s model predicted that Obama will win 295 electoral votes and has a 74 percent chance of winning the election.
Lately I’ve been finding Sam Wang’s blog even more fun to read than Silver’s. On Tuesday Wang had a post on “Ro-mentum,” meaning the mainstream media’s latest narrative that Romney has the big mo and is probably going to win the election. Wang summed up that post as follows:
What is apparent is that the large plunge after Debate #1 came to a stop last week, right around the time of the VP debate. After that and Debate #2, Obama made some recovery. Now we are at a plateau, in which Obama is slightly – but decisively – ahead….
Today, the race is quite close. However, note this. In terms of the Electoral College, President Obama has been ahead on every single day of the campaign, without exception.
I would then give the following verdict: Indeed the race is close, but it seems stable. For the last week, there is no evidence that conditions have been moving toward Romney. There is always the chance that I may have to eat my words – but that will require movement that is not yet apparent in polls.
The popular vote is a different story. I estimate an approximately 25% chance that the popular vote and the electoral vote will go in opposite directions – a “Bush v. Gore scenario”. I regard this as a serious risk, since it would engender prolonged bitterness.
In summary: Ro-mentum!
Yesterday, Wang wrote a follow-up post in which he hilariously mocked David Brooks’ attempts to make sense of all the polls and falling for Ro-mentum.
It was fun to learn of David Brooks’s addiction to polling data. He spends countless hours on them, looking at aggregators, examining individual polls, and sniffing poll internals. From all of this, what has he learned?
1. Today, President Obama would be a bit more likely to win.
2. There seems to be a whiff of momentum toward Mitt Romney.
I am having a sad. All of that effort, and his two conclusions still have two major errors. Evidently he does not read the Princeton Election Consortium. Let us dissect this.
You should go read the whole thing, but basically, on point one if the election were held today Obama would have at least a 90% chance of winning; and on point two Brooks has fallen for the media narrative of Ro-mentum.
Today Wang found another Ro-mentum victim. Ro-mentum watch: John Dickerson, CBS/Slate. John Dickerson (son of Nancy Dickerson) is the quintessential Villager, and I can’t stand him–so I really enjoyed this one.
This is like shooting fish in a barrel. The latest, from John Dickerson at Slate:
It’s a fool’s game to guess whose momentum is greater. But Romney is peaking at just the right moment.
Ah, yes. The Great Election of October 13, 2012. I remember it well.
Wait a minute.
The subject of “political momentum” is a favorite among political pundits. I will guess that John Dickerson and David Brooks (“David Brooks – now with Ro-mentum!“, October 25) might not have found high school calculus to be their favorite subject. I wonder how they did in it.
And John Dickerson responded, completely missing the point.
The funniest thing about Dickerson’s Slate article is that it was a description of a speech Romney made in Defiance, Ohio on Thursday night in which Romney said something absolutely shocking that Dickerson didn’t even pick up on.
During the speech Romney set off a panic in Northwestern Ohio by announcing–based on some internet rumor that he read on a right wing blog–that Chrysler was planning to close the local Jeep plant and outsource all the jobs to China. From the Detroit News:
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney told a rally in northern Ohio on Thursday night that Chrysler was considering moving production of its Jeep vehicles to China, apparently reacting to incorrect reports circulating online.
“I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state Jeep — now owned by the Italians — is thinking of moving all production to China,” Romney said at a rally in Defiance, Ohio, home to a General Motors powertrain plant. “I will fight for every good job in America. I’m going to fight to make sure trade is fair, and if it’s fair America will win.”
Romney was apparently responding to reports Thursday on right-leaning blogs that misinterpreted a recent Bloomberg News story earlier this week that said Chrysler, owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, is thinking of building Jeeps in China for sale in the Chinese market
People in Defiance and nearby Toledo and other surrounding cities and towns were so freaked out that they started calling Chrysler and the company had to rush out and correct Mr. Mittmentum.
“Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It’s simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world’s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation.”
How irresponsible can you get? Can you imagine if Romney were president? We’d have a major crisis once a week or so.
TPM has an interesting piece up on polls: Live Polls Show Obama With Bigger Leads In Ohio.
Surveys of the Buckeye State have been all over the board in recent weeks as the election draws near. While most show President Obama with the lead, the size of it depends on whether the pollster was using human beings or robots to do the interviewing.
TPM compared the two methods and found that polls conducted by a live interviewer, the method widely considered to be the gold standard, have shown the President with larger leads than polls conducted by automated calls, which are prohibited from contacting people through cell phones. Since early September, live polls have shown Obama with an average lead of 4.5 percentage points in Ohio while his average lead in robo-polls has been less than 2.
Ohio has been the most polled state of the presidential campaign since the national conventions, edging both Florida and Virginia for that distinction. The 44 polls conducted there since the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6 include 22 done by automated calling, 16 performed by live phone interviews, five conducted online and one based on mail-in responses.
Check out the chart at the link.
Just a couple more recommended reads for you.
Alternet has a must read piece on the horrors the government covered up during the BP oil gusher. Coverup No More: Shocking Photos and Emails of Dead Wildlife from Gulf of Mexico Spill Emerge
Some two and a half years after the BP oil spill, Greenpeace has obtained emails and photos from a U.S. government agency that reveal the extent to which the government tried to shield the public from the wildlife casualties of the spill.
Alternet links to their source article at the Guardian: US downplayed effect of Deepwater oil spill on whales, emails reveal.
Read only if you have a strong stomach.
Garance Franke-Ruta of The Atlantic has a piece on the Republican rape and abortion obsession that provides a historical take that fits with terrific post Dakinikat wrote on the subject yesterday. It’s titled Richard Mourdock, Mitt Romney and the GOP Defense of Coerced Mating.
Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have enthusiastically endorsed Mourdock, and have stood by him even after he claimed that if a women becomes pregnant through rape, “god” must have willed that zygote to be conceived and therefore a the raped girl or woman must carry and bear the child, no matter how that affects her life. Franke-Ruta writes about the history of forced marriage and makes the argument that other feminists have made–that sexual violence is a means for keeping women under control.
Coerced and not entirely voluntary mating have occurred throughout human history. I had a friend many years ago whose mother was a prize of war in a national conflict; it made for complicated family dynamics. But one sees rape, forced marriage and war go hand in hand throughout the ages, including our own; it is another form of conquest to create the next generation in your image from the bodies of the conquered. Violating women is a way of subjugating a population — sowing fear among the women, blocking the men from access to the future, and rupturing and weakening all the social bonds that made up the society that fought and lost. But for this to work there must also be children of rape. “If one group wants to control another they often do it by impregnating women of the other community because they see it as a way of destroying the opposing community,” former head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International Gita Sahgal has explained. Women must learn to love the image of their conquerors written in the faces of the children they suckle, and to despise themselves, and their weakness. If captives come to identify with those who hold them, it is only a tale as old as our ability to survive by orienting our beings around whoever has power over us.
This is one reason Missouri Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin’s mid-August comments that “if it’s a legitimate rape the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” set off such a firestorm — his beliefs showed deep biological and historical ignorance about the way rape-created pregnancies have been used to transform and dominate whole populations. But in his denial of the possibility of rape-created pregnancy he was acknowledging the truth that would erupt again into public view with Mourdock’s remarks: Post-rape pregnancies are where blanket anti-abortion views become de facto support for coercive mating and the legally sanctioned denial of agency to women not only on the question of whether to have a child, but who the child’s father should be.
Outside of the context of war, rape historically has been something more akin to a property crime than a crime against women per se — the injured party was the husband or father to whom the woman belonged, and recompense for the crime was made to him for the injury to his standing and damage to the marital or social value of the woman. It was also an honor crime, and in large parts of the world rape continues to be seen as one for which women bear primary responsibility. As such being raped is viewed as a female sexual transgression that creates a justification or even obligation for male relatives and community members to shun the assaulted, or, rarely, even avenge familial honor by killing victims.
I hope you’ll read the whole post–it’s very powerful.