My take on the Presidential Election (with my favorite sources and models)

Ok, at this time in 2008, Barack Obama had just taken a razor thin lead in the polls. I wasn’t worried though, as I was in the “Obama loop” and I knew what Obama’s ground game was up to and I knew that we were hitting our targets.

This year, I am out of the loop; I sent money to Hillary Clinton and probably will do so again. But I am not on conference calls or anything like that. So I am following the election as an “outsider”.

I am not paying attention to the “talking heads”. But I am paying attention to the following:

1. Models Each model weighs the poll data a bit differently, and some use economic data and other factors.

New York Times Upshot

This is the New York Times model. They have an interesting “pathways to victory” model for both candidates. They also link to the current forecasts of the other models.

Five Thirty Eight (Nate Silver)

This site offers three different models: “polls plus” (factors in other factors), “polls only” and “if the election were held today” forecasts. They do a decent job on being flexible to changing conditions while not being overresponsive to noise.

Princeton Election Consortium (Sam Wang)

This is another good model; this one is not as responsive to changing conditions but won’t overreact to noise either.

2. Betting Lines (odds)

US political odds (betting lines)

People with money to bet aren’t that sentimental. Now this might reflect “conventional wisdom”. But I use these as a hedge against my “wishful thinking”.

3. Poll Aggregators These just say “here are the polls in each state”. There is some crunching (don’t throw out a week old poll, but weigh the newer ones more heavily, etc.) And yes, they were pretty accurate since 2004.

Election Projection

This is run by a conservative but is competent.

Electoral Vote

This is run by a liberal but is also competent.

4. Poll Data

Real Clear Politics

This lists the various polls. Warning: state polls are included, so if several “blue state” polls come in, the “look” is too pro-Clinton; the reverse is true if many red states are polled. But you can see the polls for yourself here.

5. President Obama’s approval ratings (Gallup)

Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center

I like to compare President Obama’a approval ratings to President Reagan’s (The first Bush won) and to President George W. Bush’s (McCain lost). And remember that Al Gore won the popular vote (very narrowly) but “lost” (sort of) the Electoral College.

So what do these say?

1. President Obama’s approval ratings are above average for a 2 term incumbent and is tracking well with those of President Reagan.
2. Betting wise: Hillary Clinton is slightly less than a 2-1 favorite. This is down from 4-1 some time ago.
3. Polls: she retains a narrow lead both in the national polls (1-2 points on average) and in the Electoral College. It IS very close right now.
4. Models: the “robust against noise” models give her a 75-85 percent chance of winning; the “more responsive” models give her about a 60 percent (plus/minus 2-3 points) chance of winning.

This tells me: this race is NOT a toss up; Clinton has an edge but it is a narrow one, at least right now. Trump could very well win. But I wouldn’t want to trade places.
I am reminded of “Kerry vs. Bush” where Clinton is in the position that Bush was.

September 20, 2016 Posted by | political humor, political/social, politics, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Illinois overwhelmed by UNC 48-23

Yes, the stadium was sold out and there was a lot of energy there:




And the start couldn’t have been more promising. On the 3’rd play from scrimmage, the Illni broke a 65 yard touchdown run to lead 7-0.

North Carolina responded with a drive of their own to tie it at 7.

Then the UNC defense adjusted, but UNC fumbled a punt, which Illinois recovered at the 30; and they took it in. UNC got a drive to cut the lead to 14-10 and then Illinois lost a fumble (quarterback dropped the ball); UNC took it in and it was 17-14 at the first quarter.

UNC mostly dominated play in the second quarter getting another touchdown. But a great punt pinned UNC deep (2 yard line) and the star Illini defensive end tackled their running back in the send zone for a safety.


Illinois couldn’t convert the good field position after the free kick. UNC had one final drive which lead to the ball at the Illinois 2 with 2 seconds to go They passed up a field goal, but the pass was broken up! So it was 24-16 at the half.

Third quarter: UNC missed a field goal, but scored on a subsequent drive to take a 31-16 lead going into the 4’th. Illinois converted some 4’th downs in cutting the lead to 31-23…but, as they always did, UNC responded with a drive of their own.

A drive deep into the UNC red zone came up empty with another botched hand off (one of several) on 4’th down, and a long TD run put UNC up 45-23. A field goal ended the action.

UNC rolled up 462 yards of total offense getting 197 on the ground, while limiting Illinois to 309. A couple of unsportsmanlike penalties and botched exchanges (hand offs, snaps) hurt as well. But the bottom line is that UNC simply had quicker players.




I’ve watched a few Illinois State games (they are FCS), including last year’s playoff loss to Richmond. They went to Northwestern and won! The winner came with a field goal as time expired.

(note: Illinois State gets so little respect, the title is “Ball State”, which is a MAC (FBS) team).

Navy won a wild 28-24 game over Connecticut; in this game there were fumble returns for touchdowns. But the key came at the end with 17 seconds to go and UCONN with no time outs and at the Navy 2. They ran a running play, got stuffed but had no plan to get another play off.

Arkansas vs. TCU was a wild one. Arkansas lead 20-7 in the 4’th only to see TCU take a 28-20 lead. Arkansas rallied to make it 28-26 with just over a minute left and made the 2 point conversion to tie it.
The Frogs drove it and tried a 28 yard field goal at the end of the game: BLOCKED.

Arkansas won it in the second overtime.

September 11, 2016 Posted by | college football, football, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

I just don’t have it

Well, my daughter is here as is her bunny:


And during my run, I got a hug from “Mamma T”. So there is good going on…

But the “run”…OMG.


74 F isn’t that bad..but check out the humidity. 99 percent!!! Ugh…I was soaking wet by mile 8 or so…just drenched.


I added a spur in case the original course was short (it wasn’t).


3:16:33 was the time, 1:36:21/1:40:12 with the extra time on the return leg being due to the .2 mile spur plus…well, fatigue. I held up to it ok, though I felt as if I were running on “missing legs”; no leg strength at all. But that is what I could do today; I would have been in deep trouble had I 11 miles to go. Could I have done them in 2:40? Probably, but I would have had to do a LOT of walking.

Speaking of performance: I talked about having the ridiculous dream of being an athlete. Sadly, many parents push their kids in that direction…and the reality is that very few kids will even be Division 1 athletes, never mind professionals. If it isn’t in the genes, forget about it. But unsavory sports camp operators depend on parents having unrealistic aspirations.

Yes, I am a fan of youth sport and scholastic spots. Yes, I played them. But …your kid isn’t going to be a professional! Ever! (with probability .999). Play hard, have fun, and maybe, just maybe, your kid might find that they can find an activity that they love for life (me: running and weight lifting, which in turn lead to swimming, walking and hiking).

August 13, 2016 Posted by | family, Friends, running, Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Columbus adventure photos

These are just photos for my non-Facebook friends.

Baseball the night before
There was a small crowd (2-3 k?) to watch the Chiefs lose to the Timber Rattlers 6-5. But the game was entertaining and I caught a cool rainbow.




The drive over: featured a 3 hour delay because I-74 was shut down (ALL lanes) about 60 miles west of Indianapolis. We were kicked off onto a small 2 lane highway.


Yes, it was truck, truck, truck, truck. The trucks have taken all of the joy out of driving anywhere.

Columbus Day One
I was there for a math conference and I caught some sights while walking:



I walked about 10 km on my “self tour” which took me to the ball park and back to my car….and through the Ohio State campus:






The ball park was nice (Huntington Park); there were 10K people at the game, which was exciting.




August 5, 2016 Posted by | baseball, photos, travel, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

DNC wrap up…Democrats snatch “American Dream” paradigm from Republicans

Ok, the Democratic National Convention is over. I admit that I enjoyed it. The upshot: it appears that the Democrats have rallied around “Love of Country” and “The American Dream” whereas the Republicans have become something of a personality cult. Trump didn’t handle it well; he spoke of wanting to “hit” some DNC speakers. He has shown himself to be unsuitable to be President.

As far as the day itself: well, Chelsea’s introduction was, well, in my opinion, forgettable. Ivanka’s introduction of her father was much better. But Hillary Clinton’s speech, while not as good as Bill’s or either Obama speech, was good enough at, at least, watchable. She carried the day. Many were moved, especially many middle aged to old women.

For me, the most moving part was Khizr Khan’s speech concerning his son, who died in battle. He just nailed it; he called out Trump pointing out “you’ve sacrificed nothing” and invited him to read our Constitution (re: freedom or religion).

Will this change the course of the election? I don’t know; it appears that the betting lines have moved slightly in Hillary Clinton’s favor (most lines being lower than 1/2) but we’ll have to wait a week or so to see if there is any “bounce” in the polls.

On a lighter note, I loved Katy Perry’s tight dress…got to love frontal VPLs.

July 29, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Democrats: becoming the American Values party…


For the record, my favorite speeches have been:
Elizabeth Warren (fire up the troops, unity)
Corey Booker (values)
Bernie Sanders (unity)
Bill Clinton (Hillary’s unsung work and competence)
Joe Biden (HRC’s competence, DT’s lack thereof)
Michelle Obama (optimistic full campaign)
Michael Bloomberg (for HRC’s skeptics)
Barack Obama (HRC’s readiness, momentum, DT’s unAmerican values)

Now what happened last night
People laid out the case for Hillary Clinton in terms of her competence, her record and how her values are more in line with American values than Donald Trump’s. And yes, Donald Trump was attacked for his lack of knowledge (and interest) in the details, his deportment and for his un-American values.

Oh yes Tim Kaine gave his speech too…frankly I found it boring.

Tim Kaine

Barack Obama Notes that what we saw in Cleveland wasn’t especially Republican nor conservative. He painted Donald Trump as being opposed to traditional American values.

Joe Biden Talks about Hillary Clinton’s competence and how Donald Trump doesn’t know that much.

Michael Bloomberg Attacks Trump’s business record; points out that one doesn’t have to be a liberal to see that Hillary Clinton is the better choice.

Reminder This is the graph of poll average of Romney vs. Obama in 2012. Yes, Romney got a bounce and overtook Obama for a short while.


July 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

RNC convention thoughts, real Americans and all that…

I watched some of the Republican Convention last night. It was a circus. And I died of laughter watching Ted Cruz get booed.

No, the election odds haven’t changed much; Hillary Clinton is still between a 1/3 to 5/11 favorite in the betting lines.

What I found interesting was this statement by Michael Moore:

I don’t see much evidence of that in the polls:


Yes, Mr. Moore is right that what we are hearing in the RNC convention IS “music to the ears” of a certain type of American which some call a “real American”. But “real Americans” are an increasingly small percentage of those who vote; estimates this to be around 20 percent of the electorate. Trump is getting absolutely blistered in other demographic groups and is even trailing about white college educated voters (Romney won this group).

An interesting aside: I was a bit surprised to learn that about 70 percent of Americans over 25 do not have a bachelors degree. That surprised me. But that is MY being in a bubble; most of my “in real life” friends have advanced degrees or advanced professional credentials.

Aside about “political correctness”: when I hear political correctness, I think of “denying facts or data because they make you uncomfortable”; e. g., denying science because it conflicts with your religion, denying the health risks of obesity because of some concern about “fat-phobia”; denying that there are IQ differences (on the average) between demographic groups (e. g. Asians, on the average, score higher than those of Mexican decent).

I agree that PC-ness should be pushed back against. But that in no way justifies bombarding someone with racial slurs and the like, as happened here.

July 21, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Didn’t beat the downpour

I was thinking of cutting it short anyway and, when I saw the storm clouds roll in as I turned out of the Cemetery, I headed home. It was sprinkling but I figured I had time for…just one more mile (or 0.8 miles actually). Nope; I got drenched for about 6-7 minutes of my walk.


(This is Cassie’s photo of the rain rolling in)


5.3 in 1:21, or 15:17 mpm. It didn’t feel bad.

Last night: The Chiefs beat the Great Lakes Loons 4-3. And it was more “developmental league” stuff. The starter pitched well for the first 3 innings; “3 up, 3 down” and left with a 2-0 lead. The Loons didn’t get a hit until the 5’th and still the Peoria pitching kept them at bay. The next relief pitcher threw 4 more scoreless innings.

Then came the 8’th when the second relief pitcher comes in…all is well until the top of the 9’th. 2 outs, then a walk then a double where the Chiefs *almost* throw out the runner who scored from second.

One runner on base, 2 outs, still 4-1 and the Chiefs bring in another relief pitcher. I see who it is and say “oh no!” I remember that he didn’t do well the last time I saw him. (but his ERA is actually 3.38 and his last 10 outings weren’t bad at all….as a fan I only remember the time he didn’t do well).

Then, in succession: home run (4-3), two singles and a walk; now the bases are loaded and it is 4-3. But the pitcher strikes out the final batter.

Overall: large crowd; fun time.




July 17, 2016 Posted by | baseball, Uncategorized, walking | , | Leave a comment

29 June 2016: this and that..uneasiness

Workout notes: weights then a lovely 4 mile walk (Cornstalk classic)
weights: rotator cuff
squats: 6 sets of 6: 2 sets weightless, 2 sets 45, 2 sets 65. Yes, I am weak but for now, I am trying to work on getting down here. This is almost “assisted stretching” right now.

pull ups: 15-15-10-10
incline press: 10 x 135, 6 x 155, 10 x 145
military press: 8 x 50 dumbbell standing, 15 x 50 seated, supported, 7 x 95 standing (barbell)
rows: 2 sets of 10 x 60 each arm, 1 set of 10 x 110.

Personal stuff: errands; thought about a math idea. It is weird, but sometimes I don’t want to write the idea down because, well, I want to hold on to the (probable) illusion that I have a valid new idea. But whatever I have, whether it solves that big problem or not, can be a fun construction and it will give me something to play with.

I admit to being a bit antsy.

Election: Nate Silver has come out with his first analysis.


It looks a lot like my map, and looks a lot like the 2008 map, with Arizona swapped with Indiana. But it is so early. And yes, Dukakis was ahead by about this amount in 1988 (at about this time), though Bush (the first one) was the betting favorite. Right now, Clinton is the favorite in the markets as well.


Can you guess which presidential candidate these people support? (answer)

It wasn’t hard, was it? What got me to thinking about this: I was looking at some “Brexit” photos and I could more or less tell who was on what side, even though all of the photos that I saw were of white British people. In general, those who “looked like” Democrats were the “remain” and those who “looked like” Republicans were the “exit”. It is weird, isn’t it?

June 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, Uncategorized, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

College these days

I haven’t seen much of what is being deseribed here and here at my university. I do think that there is a fine line between being responsive to student needs and holding students accountable for their learning. Learning isn’t passive and it involves the students working AND changing. And, students don’t know what is best for them, though they often think that they do.

It is just so easy to fool yourself into thinking that you know something that you don’t really know. And, yes, becoming educated often involves entertaining ideas that one does not like.

June 22, 2016 Posted by | education, free speech, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment