Sunday, November 29, 2015

Post #18: The last week of November

I think what I am about to do is taught in Marketing 101 as Big Mistake #1, but I'm about to slam my product this week. There were only three polls released, largely because of the holiday, and because the data set is so small, we see some big swings that I can't recognize as real just yet. There may be more polls released on Monday and Tuesday that change the numbers, but if that's the case, we won't see them until next Sunday.

The GOP chart has the three huge changes, with Trump going up 6.3 points to his highest level ever, while Ben Carson drops 7.3 points into a tie for third and fourth place with Ted Cruz. (I think more polls will come in and Dr. Carson drop won't be as severe, but I do think the general downward trend will continue.) We also have a 3.3 point drop in None of the Above, the one result I can clearly explain.

I never name individual polling companies unless I plan to speak ill of their product, and that is the case this week with Gravis Marketing, a name I remember from 2011-12 with no fondness. While some companies are lazy about the undecided, Gravis is either dogged in their persistence or they make numbers up. I find the second explanation more likely. In any case, their poll results added up this week to show that -2% of the the GOP electorate is undecided at this juncture. It could be rounding error and it could be a bullshit poll. I think I have already said which I think is the more likely scenario.
Non-politicians vs politicians: Given that Carson dropped more than Trump rose, and add to that a small loss by Carly Fiorina, The gap between the totals for the politicians and non-politicians showed a rise for the politicians for the second consecutive week. Yet again, I don't trust these numbers completely.
The Dems: The explanation for the drop in None of the Above is the same as above, crazy low levels of N.O.T.A./Undecided from Gravis Marketing. It also shows big gains for Hillary and O'Malley and a small tick down for Sanders. I would not be surprised to see a course correction next week for all those numbers.

And as I just said, more numbers next week.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Post #17: The third week of November

 The Dems: This week, we will go from the easiest things to explain to the most difficult.

The graph is obvious. Hillary has a commanding lead, Sanders is clearly in second and O'Malley is gaining ground slowly. None of the Above is slowly descending from the peak value when the pollsters stopped asking about Biden and the actual candidates Chaffee and Webb dropped out.

O'Malley is actually on a Sunday talk show this week (ABC's This Week), so he might get a boost. His average percentage in the polls this week is an anemic 3.1%, but that is more than Christie, Kasich, Paul, Huckabee, Gilmore (snicker), Santorum, Jindal, Graham or Pataki. The first three guys on that list of losers are also on the Sunday shows, as are Ben Carson and Marco Rubio.

More of the obvious liberal bias of the media.

Non-politicians vs. Politicians: Here's the next simplest thing to explain. This was a bad week for non-politicians and a relatively good week for several people who have held elected office. As we will see in the next graph, None of the Above took a fairly big hit, though not big enough for Jeb:( to rise above it.
The GOP: Front runner Donald Trump had a small slip last week, but it could very likely just be a statistical wobble. His nearest contender Ben Carson is on a three week slide that seems real. From pyramid grain storage to belt buckles to a crazy re-alignment of all of New England in a map his campaign is using, Carson just keeps stepping in it. These aren't the results of gotcha questions, this is just reporting the stuff that comes out of his mouth and from his official campaign. I wish I could say he's clearly toast, but saying demonstrably wrong things is not enough to sink a campaign in 2015.

At least so far.

I do not count as the media, but I will admit bias. I have always thought that as Carson and/or Trump started slipping, the angriest politician would pick up the slack, and I predicted it would be Ted "The Snake" Cruz. I have given his graph a bright orange color, a dotted line and big triangular markings in honor of my nickname for him. This week, it looks like a dead heat for third between him and Marco Rubio, but in reality, Rubio leads 11.3% to 11.1%. The trends aren't crystal clear and a lot of crazy shit can happen in this race, but I expect Cruz will be no lower than second by the end of December.

There were some gains among the also-rans this week, as should be expected when Trump, Carson and None of the Above all decline. Christie had a bad week the week before this and slipped to 1.6%, but bounced back to 2.9% over the most recent seven day average. This keeps the New Jersey governor in the race for sixth place, hoping to pass Carly Fiorina, still at about half the support of Jeb:(, which is about half the level of Cruz and Rubio.

Have I said there are too many people in this race? Did I mention Jindal dropped out?

Okay, I said it and I mentioned it. There's nothing interesting to say about either of those facts, so let me repeat my modest predictions for the coming weeks.

1. Ben Carson will likely continue to slip.
2. Ted Cruz is most likely to gain as Carson and/or Trump lose ground.
3. I don't see any particular trend for Trump or Rubio at the moment.

I wish I could say Trump's closing of the mosques idea and his desire for a Muslim database will finally be the crazy shit wake-up call to his sleepwalking followers that his presidency would be a truly awful idea, but I honestly have no idea what will get people off the crazy train.

More next week.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Post #16: The second week of November

The GOP: This week, Festivus comes early and I will begin with The Airing of Grievances, foregoing for the time being The Feats of Strength.

I write this blog because I dislike the way numbers are treated by the vast majority of the press. I will readily admit that Nate Silver's website has been a step in the right direction, but it's more like a stutter step, sometimes pushing the numbers harder than they should be pushed, and all too often concerned with nonsense and what looks like product placement. Still, compared to most media, they look good.

That's enough ragging with caveats on Nate Silver for the time being, let's get to the main press.

I have read WAY too many articles calling Ben Carson the front runner. If you look at the big picture, he's been in second place since late August and never in first when you take the averages of polls instead of being dazzled by bright, shiny outliers.

If we look at this week's results, Carson's numbers took their second consecutive week of beatings, which might be explained by his odd statements and his time spent on the defensive, but I have my doubts. This week had only three GOP polls, one of them from the extremely suspicious polling company Rasmussen. On the Republican side, we often have six or more polls, so the data this week is suspect for me both for the quantity and quality of polling.

Rasmussen has stunk the joint out in the general election, always in the bag for the right wing, but in this poll they are suspicious for how little work they were willing to do. Instead of giving numbers for the whole field, they only marked the responses for Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz, Bush and Fiorina. While I they are currently the top six, I'm not convinced all the rest of the candidates can be buried quietly yet, especially Mike Huckabee, who I think can speak to the mean yokel Christians in a language even Ted 'The Snake' Cruz hasn't quite mastered.

Politicians vs Non-Politicians: It looks like a good week for non-politicians as their numbers tick upwards, but it's really a good week for None of the Above.  If the supposed trend we are seeing for Ben Carson is true, expect the Non-Politician trend to suffer as well as we head towards Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice.

(Is there a holiday I'm forgetting in that time period? I forget.)
The Democrats: One thing I will say for the Democrats, their poll numbers are easy to read in graph format. It's still Hillary first, Bernie second and then O'Malley WAY behind. In the two weeks since the polling companies stopped asking about Biden, Chafee and Webb, Sanders has seen the biggest point increase as the None of the Above vote has waned. Bernie can last a very long time with cash he has, but the proof of the pudding will be if he can win New Hampshire, which is not a sure bet.

More info next week, assuming the polling companies get off their duffs and give us some numbers.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Post #15: First week of November

The GOP: Well, it finally happened. The press has been harping on the misfortunes of Jeb:( for some time now, while his numbers had been hovering in fourth place, neither gaining or retreating much. The polls this week really beat him up and he slid well below None of the Above and off the chart of this blog for the time being.

It's my view the media just got its teeth into a narrative about Jeb:( in disarray and never let go. I'll admit he sucks at running, but this field is chock full of guys (and gal) who suck at campaigning. The media might pick on him in particular because he has so much money, but what good does the money do right now? There are a few ads running aimed at New Hampshire and Iowa, but it's chump change compared to what December and January will look like.

Overtaking both him and the None of the Above threshold is Ted 'The Snake' Cruz. Cruz's progress is the dotted orange line with the black boxes. I will likely experiment with this to make it even more serpent-like in the next few weeks, Think coral snake or diamondback.

Non-politicians vs. politicians: A bad week for Carson and Trump was mirrored by good weeks for Rubio and Cruz, so the upward trend for the newbies has finally been halted for now. I have no idea if the self-inflicted wounds of Ben Carson will really hurt him with his base or not, but most happened after the last polls of the week, so the results of the next few weeks will be instructive. It's my view that evangelicals have decided in the majority Trump is not one of them, so I think votes Carson loses will go to a politician. Ted Cruz makes the right noises for the right-wing Christians, but I wouldn't be surprised if it also helps the fortunes of Mike Huckabee, who needs all the help he can get.

The Dems: One nice thing about the Democratic chart is that it is easy to read. Sanders made a slight gain, but I can't say that it's necessarily anything but the random wobble we see from week to week. It will be clearer if and when None of the Above gets down to about 10% again.

More news next week.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Post # 14:
Week of Oct. 24 to 30

GOP: Welcome to November! We are thirteen weeks and one day away for actual votes being cast, which is to say the start of this blog is as far away in the past as electoral reality is away in the future.

Once again... my bad.

Not much changed this week. Ben Carson showed the most improvement while the other lines on the graph - Trump in a commanding first place, Marco Rubio is third and Jeb:( all show very modest improvement. Just below the radar, we are seeing signs of Peak Ted Cruz in fifth place, but my view is that it's still way too early.

This clearly isn't 2011. Is it 2007? It always helps to have a baseline comparison, and folks who look at polls are giving up on the idea that 2015-16 looks anything like 2011-12. That year, Romney was the mainstream choice of party leaders and the voters didn't warm up to him at first, if they ever truly did. We had Michele Bachmann winning the Iowa Straw Poll - effectively and mercifully killing this little piece of early bullshit - and after that glitch, the rise and fall of Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as the erstwhile Not Romneys.

Obviously, we don't have this kind of turnover this year, so folks who look at charts for fun are now wondering if this is more like 2007, when both parties had to get new candidates. Twelve months away from the general, the heirs apparent were Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, neither of whom made it to the finish line. Maybe that's our baseline model.

If we are looking at a 2007 type race, who should stick around?  The eventual winners were the second place guy on both sides, Barack Obama and John McCain. The Lamestream Media (the best turn of phrase from the right wing this century) were hoping for a horse race and claimed there were a lot of Hillary voters that were deeply pissed and Obama was in trouble, but that was bullshit. It was McCain who wasn't on top of the Crazy Wing, even after he put Crazy Winger Sarah Palin on the ticket.

If we use that model, only Hillary, Sanders, Trump and Carson have a ghost of a chance.

That would say the GOP will nominate someone from The Very Crazy Wing.

When you use the phrase "Crazy Wing", doesn't this show your inherent bias, Professor? No, it does not, you imaginary sea lion.

Many folks to the left of any Republican senator think they are listening to what right wingers hear if they pick a talk show radio host or two and skim through Fox News.

These people are mean well, but they are wrong.

The information the most loyal Republican primary voters are getting is batshit crazy. If it's like 2007, everyone below second place should quit, which means either Trump or Carson will get the nod. My guess at this point is that Carson will not have the stomach for months of scorn and tough questions and Trump will get even worse when he is in second place.

Oddly enough, the guy whose "outsider" bona fides are best is Ted Cruz. His claim to outsider status is that while he is in fact in Washington DC, but everybody hates him. Given the temperature we are getting from the GOP base right now, I think he should definitely stay in.

Other people below his numbers think they must stay in to make sure there particular vision for the party will come to pass.

All of them should walk away. I give the group of Huckabee, Paul, Fiorina, Christie, Gilmore, Graham, Jindal, Santorum, Kasich and Pataki a total sum of 0.0% chance to get the nomination. I think Rubio, Bush and Cruz might climb from the depths. I have no such view for the rest.

Now, let me say I am a liberal, which means I try to deal with reality. In the words of Science Guy Bill Nye, I can be swayed by evidence.

Currently, there is no evidence for the bottom ten GOP candidates. They are all equally dead meat. 

 Non-politicians vs. politicians: Yet again, the non-politicians made gains among the currently decided at the expense of the people who have actually held elected office. Governors have positioned themselves as "Washington outsiders" forever, but they aren't nearly as outside as Trump, Carson or Fiorina. A lot of think pieces are wondering if presidential politics will now be Insider vs. Outsider races instead of Dem vs. GOP.

(A plus point for my side of the aisle. Lawrence Lessig makes some very good points, is an outsider and has exactly fuck all of a chance to win. The left is not as in love with the circus as the right is.)

But simply put, we've handed out the fun-sized Snickers bars to the future socialist kiddies and teh Crazy Wing in the GOP is still with us and still metastasizing.

Maybe the GOP insiders will suck it up, hire someone smarter than they are to make their best candidate palatable and face Hillary or Bernie in the general election.

Maybe. It's possible. I just wouldn't put any money on it unless I was getting a fantastic payoff, at least 5 to 1.

For people who like it in clean numbers, I think it's at least an 83% chance right how that Trump, Carson or Cruz will get the nod, and about 17% for anybody else.
The Dems. My original intent was only to track candidates that could stay about None of the Above, but the Democratic race is so quiet, I can easily track Martin O'Malley without having it resemble the messy scramble of the GOP. I made one prediction last week after the multiple dropouts, and that was None of the Above making the big gain. That was so obvious I deserve little credit, but I also said the NotA would slide back down by Thanksgiving, which obviously remains to be seen.

More next week.