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Electoral Math
Posted Nov 7, 2012 - 8:59:23

Step 1So yesterday's election was, honestly, everything I had hoped for. As a supporter of Barack Obama, I am obviously happy that he got re-elected. As a resident of Indiana, I'm elated that we beat Richard Mourdock (although I'm saddened Gregg lost the Governor's race). As a former resident of Wisconsin, I'm also happy that Tammy Baldwin will be their next Senator.

We didn't take back anything, but we didn't lose anything either - so while I'm not dancing in the street, it's still a pretty good Wednesday morning.

What amuses me more than anything is Barack Obama's decisive Electoral College victory - while he only won the popular vote by a narrow margin. This is, of course, exactly what some of us were expecting. Frankly, anyone who understands the electoral college hasn't been concerned about a Romney presidency for a while now... if ever. The math was, honestly, always on Obama's side.

You probably didn't really hear anything about that unless you stuck to the numerically inclined parts of the web though. First off, no one campaigning would ever mention they were confident they'd win - that's the easiest way to get your supporters to be lazy. And lazy supporters stay home, don't vote, and then you end up losing via complacency. The depressing thing though is that the news media downright ignored this data, and only covered national polls.

Why? Simple: Ratings.

National polls are exciting. As I mentioned before, Obama only won the popular vote by numbers which would be in the margin of error on any statistical poll. And when you focus on those numbers, the race looked close and exciting. But that same closeness was downright meaningless. It doesn't matter how many pickles you consume in a burger eating contest. There's a correlation, but a meaningless one.

...not my best metaphor, but you get the picture.

Ironically, it may have hurt Romney to focus on the popular vote. It could have led to overconfidence in swing states for Romney, and prevented overconfidence for Obama supporters. I'd love to see the data for 2012 to see how things break down. Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe things would have been hopeless for Romney even if the news had been reporting on the right race.

My point is though that we'll never know. But hey, my guy won -- so I guess I shouldn't complain too much...
- Traegorn

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I like the metaphor, because if you think about the third parties, it means there's people going to the burger eating contest with no intention of eating a burger, they just hope to get 5% of the pickles.




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