Daily Archives: November 6, 2012

Live Blogging Election 2012

I’ll be jotting notes here. Feel free to jot notes in the comments.

Bernie Sanders re-elected

6:22 PM Central: Virginia reporting good numbers for Obama. Larger turnouts than 2008 in VA.

6:54 PM Central: Senate: 30 DEM seats called, 37 GOP seats.

Leaving the polling place today, there was a couple behind me. She said, “Well, that didn’t take long.” He said “And it was easy. I have a system.” “What’s the system.” “If the person is an incumbent, I don’t vote for them.”

Then, me, in my head “… idiot …”

More money spent this year in Minnesota’s 8th district than in all races in that district ever to date, combined, including mayorial, county, and EVERYTHING and we are only slightly exaggerating. That’s up on the Iron Range.

West Va called for Romney

Republicans lose about 1.7% of the vote every presidential election year because they are the white party and that’s the loss rate of whiteosity in the US.

Current Electoral Vote: Romney 153, Obama 123

Called Races:
Vermont CALLED Obama
Illinous CALLED Obama
Maine CALLED Obama
Maryland CALLED Obama
Massachusetts CALLED Obama
Connecticut CALLED Obama
Delaware CALLED Obama
Rhode Island CALLED Obama
New Jersey CALLED Obama
New York CALLED Obama
Michigan CALLED Obama

Georgia CALLED Romney
Indiana CALLED Romney
Kentucky CALLED Romney
South Carolina CALLED Romney
West Virginia CALLED Romney
Oklahoma CALLED Romney
Alabama CALLED Romney
Mississippi CALLED Romney
Tennessee CALLED Romney
Arkansas CALLED Romney
Texas CALLED Romney
Lousiana CALLED Romney
Kansas CALLED Romney
Nebraska CALLED Romney
North Dakota CALLED Romney
South Dakota CALLED Romney
Wyoming CALLED Romney

Florida: Leaning Obama
New Hampshire: Leaning Obama
North Carolina Obama
Ohio, less than one percent, Romney doing STRONG
Virginia, Romney ahead

I actually don’t like states being called at 1 percent or less of the vote counted, even if those states are almost certainly going to go a certain way. Makes a mockery of the system. I suppose not doing it would make a mockery of statistics.

Which reminds me of an argument I had today with a young man who does not understand data or statistics or inference or anything. Imagine the following situation: My neighbor goes out into his yard every now and then and mows his lawn. I make the assertion to you that I believe that he does so when he thinks his grass is too long and needs to be cut. Now, here’s the question: What is the chance that it is true that he really does believe his grass is too long and this is what motivates him to cut it? Now, alternatively, I tell you that I went over to him while he was mowing the lawn and asked him why he was doing that. I report to you that he said “The grass got long, that’s why I’m cutting it.”

Now, here’s the question: Do you think he belived the grass was too long in either of these cases? How mush stock would you put in my guess regarding his motivations, vs my reporting to you what he said his motivation was.

The young man insisted that my guess as to my neighbor’s motivation was totally unusable as data, there were thousands of alternative reasons he might be mowing his lawn, and my assumption that he is cutting his lawn becauase he believes it to be too long is “confirmation bias.” Meanwhile, he claimed that reporting the man’s answer to the question about his motivation was solid unquestioned data about his motivations. What do you think?

OK, back to Election 2012!

7:00 PM Central PBS coverage is starting.

15 states are closed. I’ll put the new results above

PBS says they have a very nifty “multichannel” live stream thingie. But, everhone on the planet just tried to access it and it appears to be dead.

BIGGEST current news, Virginia extended poll hours, turnout HUGE, reporting delayed.
OTHER BIGGEST CURRENT NEWS Ohio early voting will be reported at 8:30 local

2 out of 5 Romney supporters, generally, in the polling over recent months supported Romney mainly to beat Obama (the black guy) not to support Romney.

7:20 PM CENTRAL Bill Nelson won in Florida for Senate, the Republicans were hoping to take that but didn’t. But overall the Senate race data isn’t interesting yet. The guy running against Nelson did not do well because he did not run well. (Nelson had replaced Katherine Harris, if you want to beak out in a cold sweat)

7:40 Chris Murphey, Dem, beats McMahon in Connecticut for Senate. That was a competitive race. That was earlier Lieberman’s seat, so this is sort of a Dem pickup.

Exit polls in Ohio: People favor auto bailout.

Virginia: Voter turnout is AMAZING … some people waited five hours to vote. The board of election had delayed release of results. People are still in line nearly two hours after polls closed. Maybe.

8:00 North Carolina, too close to call, could go either way. Romney always claimed a lock, maybe not.

8:10 PM Central … Missouri Senate … Remember Senator Legitimate Rape Guy Aitkin? Hmmm. thought there was going to be some reporting on that but I’m only seeing wild speculation. This might force me to tell you my one Missouri story….. but prob. not.

Competitive Penn Dem Senate race, Republicans had hopes for, goes Dem.

CBS News projects that the Republicans will maintain control of the house.

Obama gets Pennsylvania!!!

8:25 PM

Senate races: Pennsylvania, Bob Casey returns
Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, Dem incumbant
Amy Klobuchar wins by a huge landside
Kirsten Gillibrand wins, incumbant Dem.
Ted Teapartier Kruz Republican, new senator, replacing a Democratic woman, I think.

Sherrod Brown wins in Ohio.

8:40PM Central
Romney must get some combination of Florida, Ohio and Virginia. I like maybe all three. Not looking good. He’s still winning, though.

Elizabeth Warren wins in Massachusetts. FUCK YAH TEDDY!!!!

Joe Kennedy III to the HOuse from Mass

Romney lost in MA, where he was gov. He lost in Mich, where he is from and his dad was gov.Now, he lost NH, home of his vacation home

And now, for some state and local results… maybe …

Oh never mind. No results.

9:55 We’ve got about 13 percent of the votes counted in Minnesota with a lot of conservative counties not represented yet, but the two constitutional amendments … gay marriage and voter ID … are not doing well. They are both showing a less than 50% result (needed to be passed) and are actually being voted down by a majority that is voting “No”

Also, North Carolina just called for Romney

Obama wins California, Hawaii,

10:14: Obama has been called as winner by CNN. On PBS, however, they won’t interrupt an interview with R.E. to celebrate. Strange.

Coon Rapids Church Part II

Earlier today I posted pictures of the politically motivated signboard at the church that is just down the street from my house. Click here to review. Later in the day, after picking Julia up at the local Minnesotans United for All Families, where she’s been volunteering many hours a week, and dropping her off to be an Election Judge, on my way to Vote No Twice, I saw this:

Coon Rapids, Minnesota

This wonderful woman was standing out in the rain across from the largest Megachurch in the area and in front of my local Baptist church, right next to their sign board, on public property, with this home made sign. For context, here’s a shot from farther back:

This woman is a hero!

This all happened fairly quickly and we have local issues with train tracks and one way streets, so I zipped by her and went and voted, then rushed back to the scene, always staying under the speed limit and driving safely, and pulled into the church parking lot. I went over to her, asked permission to get the picture, thanked her for her service, and asked if I could get her a cup of coffee at the nearby Caribou. She declined the coffee … she lives very nearby and has some support. So, I took off.

(Dear neighbor with sign, if you read this, that offer for a cup of coffee is permanent, any time. I live in the grayish townhouses you can see from 113th, the one with the “vote no” sign. Sadly, the only one.)

And as I was taking off, I was accosted by a guy in a big-ass red pickup truck. He did not identify himself but I was left to assume he had something to do with the church. He pulled his truck over between me and my car and stared hard at me. So I went over to him.

“Can I help you?” I said.

“Did you know this is private property?”

“I pulled into empty church parking lot so I didn’t have to pull over on the side of the road in the rain,” was my lame excuse.

“Well, what really concerns me was the speed at which you pulled into the parking lot. There are children here and you …”

“Are you done?” I interrupted. I was not going fast.

“Ah, well, yes,” he replied.

“Have a nice day.”

Then I started snapping pictures of him and his truck as he drove away.

Bye-bye, real-life concern troll. Have a nice day!

Have you voted yet?

Wonderful Life with the Elements

Have ever really thought about the elements? Have you ever really asked questions about them? If you are some kind of scientist or science geek, you probably know a lot about them, and that could even be a disadvantage for you, in a sense. For instance, if you learned early on that elements were formed at certain points in time and in certain places (the big bang or later in stars, for most atoms) then the following question may not have occurred to you: “What happens when a bunch of Carbon atoms get old. Do they fall apart?” Also, a sense of purity may be something you understand but others with less knowledge may not fully grasp. Breathing in “balloon gas” (which has some helium in it) can make your voice sound funny. Totally emptying out your lungs of all air and then filling them full with pure helium could cause you to be dead. Purity matters.

Every now and then you come across a book that takes the Periodic Table and transforms it into a learning experience about chemistry and stuff that can be really interesting. Wonderful Life with the Elements: The Periodic Table Personified is the latest effort I’m aware of to do that. This smallish, square book (read: Stocking Stuffer for your nerdy spouse or child) by Japanese artist Bunpei Yorifuji seems to follow a recent trend in books to be very quirky, perhaps to compete with on-line methods of accessing information. One method of getting chemistry across to people is to redo the iconography or the spatial metaphors of the Periodic Table. In this case, the elements are depicted as drawings of people who have various characteristics. You can look at a drawing and using what you know (using rather complex keys) infer stuff about the elements from the individual’s body, face, and clothing. A person standing there in their underwear may indicate an element useful in human nutrition. A person who appears to be dressed up in a robot suit is a human-made element, one that generally does not exist in nature, and so on.

Hair or hat styles relate to elemental families, and faces vary on the bases of the element’s subatomic characteristics. The elements are standing on things that suggest stuff about their uses. So, for instance, you might have this:


Gold has a big long beard indicating that it was discovered in ancient times. The figure representing gold and gold itself are a bit hefty of mass. Gold sports the hair style of a transition metal, and appears to be wearing Carharts, suggesting a multiplicity of purposes. There is quite a bit more information than this in this one figure.

The book comes with a nifty, full size fold out periodic table that I’m tempted to razor out and hang on my wall.

Coon Rapids Baptist Church: Are they violating IRS law or not?

I have no idea if the Coon Rapids Baptist Church, is a real church with tax exempt status, but let’s assume for the moment that they are. The question then would be, is this church jeopradizing their tax exempt status by taking and explicit stand on a certain issue and telling people how they should vote on it? Here are two photographs I snapped this morning:

Sign in front of the Coon Rapids Baptist Church and Christian School, North Bound on Hanson Blvd, Coon Rapids, MN, on election day, 2012.
Sign in front of Coon Rapids Baptist Church and Christian School, South Bound on Hanson Blvd, Coon Rapids, MN, on Election Day, 2012.

Clearly the church is saying that people should vote a certain way and clearly this is being done at a time rather close to the election. But, is this a violation of church-state separation?

Here is a document from the IRS (PDF file) that lays out the rules. Most of this is about candidates, not issues. Churches can take a stand on issues, but not if that stand links to candidates. So, for instance, a church taking an explicit anti-Obamacare position in the present election is probably violating IRS regulations. In Minnesota, the “Yes/No” vote being referred to here is an amendment to limit marriage to opposite sex couples, to be added the constitution. Almost every candidate has taken a stand on the issue, and DFLers (those are Minnesota Democrats) say “vote No” and Republicans say “vote Yes” pretty much down the line.

Personally, I think they are probably not violating IRS rules, but I also think the IRS rules could be revised. I think churches should not take positions that tell people how to vote at all, on candidates, and on issues. What do you think?

The chunky numbers that underlie electoral statistics

I just wanted to show you this histogram. I love this histogram because it demonstrates the underlying chunkiness of the electoral college. This is not at all an uncommon phenomenon in nature and culture, even though we tend to conceptualize and model things as nice curvy well behaved lines.

This also shows the underlying pattern from which people like Nate Silver get these percentages of who is likely to win. Each little chunkette (one electoral vote = one chunkette) of data on this histogram is a possible coin flip with a coin with two heads or two tails. You put all the biased coins in a bag, randomly pick one, and ask “does this coin have two heads or two tails?”

The source of this histogram is here. Hat tip to commenter mdb.