Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Watching World

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  • Robert Fox,

    Fran O'Sullivan contended this was solely because of the positive gloss offered by the his chance to respond to the Sandy storm

    This is obviously the meme that Fox news and every other wingnut commentator will be pushing if Obama wins handsomely.

    Since Nov 2006 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Silver is making it harder to just make shit up and be believed. It's the buzz-killing demise of visceral punditry -- at the hands of geeks.

    It will be a very slow death. Far, far too much advertising money is tied up in TV shows where said pundits endlessly rehash talking points for actual probability theory or facts to get in the way of it. They don't bother engaging with Silver, for the most part - they just ignore him.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2092 posts Report Reply

  • Wilbur Townsend,

    Also dissapointed to see Paddy Gower labelling the race a 'tossup'. Probably the horse-race mentality behind that.

    Wellington, Aotearoa • Since Jan 2011 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    The question of the ability of surveys to capture information, especially information which is as immeasurable as a secret ballot, is a fascinating one. A recent comment from a pollster on the Dim-Post put it into context locally. Having worked a few years ago as a telephone interviewer and now spending a great deal of my working time designing, implementing and analyzing surveys, it sounds quite right.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2119 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    At least twice during the campaign, Morning Report has invited comment from the discredited Republican pollster Fritz Wenzel, who has, unsurprisingly, been nothing like an honest broker. Radio New Zealand has done its listeners a grave disservice by not even attempting to place Wenzel's claims in context. He is a partisan hack, basically.

    As Nicky Hager noted in his recent Bruce Jesson lecture, several NZ media outlets have shamelessly hosted a regular column by a guy who personally briefs the leader of our current governing political party on the political polls he continuously conducts for them.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Also dissapointed to see Paddy Gower labelling the race a 'tossup'. Probably the horse-race mentality behind that.

    I'm not disappointed. The New Zealand mass-media fairly consistently present politics through a horse race frame, rather than as a war in which individual battles, supply lines, troop morale, and many other factors make up an overall victory. Given that this is a contest in which criticisms of 'presidentialization' of politics are actually invalid, it's entirely unsurprising that they'd seek to maximize the dramatic potential of the contest, even if that comes at the expense of accuracy.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2119 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Also of interest: The Victory Lab. While this isn't quite as insightful as I'd hoped it would be (and the author's book is apparently good but not great), it's worth a read for a look into how the most polished and well resourced and researched campaigns in the world are trying to advance their politics.

    Any other links of similar import about campaigning, particularly the science/'science' now applied, are gladly received.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2119 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    In a poorly-argued Herald column, Fran O’Sullivan contended this was solely because of the positive gloss offered by the his chance to respond to the Sandy storm.

    I've commented before on the binary quality of FranO's columns. Her fan-wank to Mitt Romney is definitely on the wrong side of the coin.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4059 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Much of the pundit ranting kicked off a couple of weeks back, when Nate Silver was rating Obama at 75% likely, as nothing dramatic has happened to change the race (and even Bloomberg revealing the details of Romney's tax returns was not dramatic enough to have any affect) that percentage has climbed. the critical period seems to have been about a seek after the first debate, when the polls began to diverge from the pundits. I would also note that Nate Silver is among the most conservative of poll analysts, most others have been giving Romney an even smaller chance of victory.
    That said, back when the probability was back at 72%, the Auckland Univeristy Department of Statistics' Stats Chat blog noted that the All Blacks have beaten Australia in 70% of their matches, as a way of putting it in context. At 85% (at the moment) we can make the analogy of the All Blacks winning pecentage in the 2000-2009 period (which was 82%)- Reliable favorites, but could still have a bad game or some bad refereeing decisions (voter suppression) go against them.
    I was reading the other evening about the way sports commentary (and Nate Silver comes out of a sports analysis background) has learned to come to grips with statistics. Take home point, once you get all the coaches involved paying attention to the metrics and accepting them, you have a bit of a generational lag to the punditry. Article I was reading.
    With New Zealand media, I am actually going to positively name check Jim Mora's The Panel, where it was clear (on those days I caught it and it was a topic for discussion) that people were aware of what sites like 538 were reporting and how it differed from the pundits.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 841 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Wilbur Townsend,

    Also dissapointed to see Paddy Gower labelling the race a ‘tossup’. Probably the horse-race mentality behind that.

    To be fair to Patrick, based on current polling (insert usual heavy duty caveats here) he’d be more right than wrong if the popular vote actually determined the outcome of American presidential elections. But it doesn’t, so there you go and here we are. It seems a little unfair to land on Gower with both feet for sharing the same Civics101 Fail as a non-trivial proportion of the locals.

    ETA: I'd note that in 1984, Reagan carried 49 states (translated into 525 out of 538 Electoral College votes) but only 58.8 percent of the popular vote. Now, you can argue the Electoral College is an anachronism well past it's use-by date, anti-democratic or complete nonsense no sane person should try and grasp while sober. Many do. But until further notice, it's what the United States has to work with, so journalists - foreign and domestic -- really have to nut up and make the effort.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to George Darroch,

    Having worked a few years ago as a telephone interviewer and now spending a great deal of my working time designing, implementing and analyzing surveys, it sounds quite right.

    The Rand approach in this U.S. election is being described as an interesting variant approach in surveying which is showing the same pattern as everyone else

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 841 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    To be fair to Patrick, based on current polling (insert usual heavy duty caveats here) he’d be more right than wrong if the popular vote actually determined the outcome of American presidential elections.

    At the moment 538 lists the popular vote projection as 50.5% vs 48.5%. If this is the final result, it is not particularly close, being in the region of the margin Carter bet Ford by (in contrast Kennedy bet Nixon by 0.17% and Bush bet Kerry by 2.46%). In large populations a few percentage points is much more significant than in smaller populations.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 841 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Radio New Zealand has done its listeners a grave disservice by not even attempting to place Wenzel’s claims in context.

    I think where RNZ and Fran O'Sullivan (and yes, her Romney mash-note was fucking awful) was more fundamental. Perhaps I've missed it, but has there been ANY serious analysis of what the respective candidates' foreign policies (such as they are) would mean to New Zealand in particular, or the neighborhood in general?

    Granted, it's tricky when the one televised debate ostensibly about foreign policy ended up being about who'd nuke Iran with more enthusiasm then moved on to more fertile domestic ground with indecent haste. And you need to have a Spock-like talent for playing five dimension chess to figure out which Romney you should be parsing at any given moment... But O'Sullivan and RNZ aren't even trying, and this really does matter.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to David Hood,

    At the moment 538 lists the popular vote projection as 50.5% vs 48.5%. If this is the final result, it is not particularly close

    I take your point, David, as far as it goes but I think my fundamental one still stands. In 1960, JFK only carried the popular vote by 0.17% -- and squeaked out incredibly narrow wins -- but it's hard to credit GOP mythology that the election was "stolen" in Illinois and Texas. Kennedy ended up with a more decisive majority in the Electoral College where, like it or not, such things are decided.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    There's actually been very few close votes in the electoral college in the past 60+ years. 2000 was incredibly close, 2004 was moderately close. 1960 and 1976 were... not landslides.

    Most of the rest of elections after 1948 were ass kickings, and even 1948 which Truman was expected to lose by many wasn't close. You would have had to flip half a dozen states for Clinton to have lost, Reagan and Nixon both spanked the opposition, LBJ cleaned up, Bush senior won convincingly.

    Exciting American Presidential elections where it's not clear what's going to happen come election day is a recent phenomena.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6147 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    It seems a little unfair to land on Gower with both feet for sharing the same Civics101 Fail as a non-trivial proportion of the locals.

    We're still getting lots of first-past-post 'horse race' political analysis from NZ media as well.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Jarno van der Linden,

    Fran O'Sullivan contended this was solely because of the positive gloss offered by the his chance to respond to the Sandy storm.

    Because choosing a president based on their demonstrated crisis management skills just wouldn't be right.

    Nelson • Since Oct 2007 • 67 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    The electoral college system is intended to produce emphatic results

    The electoral college system is designed to limit democracy. This was done deliberately by the framers, who were much keener on democracy as a noble concept that on actually letting the common people influence anything (even at a time where many who would normally be in the proletariat were slaves or female, and not counted at all).

    Ironically, it continues to serve over 200 years later, by turning the election into that horse-race exercise where votes by non-Ohians are treated as interesting input into charts and graphics, but in effect disregarded.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4359 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Morning Report has invited comment from the discredited Republican pollster

    Similarly, when a British or European story reaches their attention, they interview some public school piece of toryscum, often failing to set their credentials in context and pretending they're some kind of objective journalist.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4359 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    And you need to have a Spock-like talent for playing five dimension chess to figure out which Romney you should be parsing at any given moment… But O’Sullivan and RNZ aren’t even trying, and this really does matter.

    Mitt Romney the free trader, or Mitt Romney the trade warrior? 2+2=5 and division by zero is possible.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4059 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    My gut feeling (in the absence of data) is that if Obama wins by a comfortable margin, pundits are more likely to say "Hurricane Sandy changed everything" than "I was wrong all along"

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 841 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Kim Hill had an interview last Saturday morning with a woman who said the electronic voting process is so corrupt that the Democrats had to be at least 6 points ahead to ensure a victory, and that exit polls are banned in many states as they show up the discrepancy.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2005 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The wildly wingnut site The Blaze has collected a (short) list of pundits predicting a Romney landslide .

    The excerpt from the Dick Morris editorial is amazing. He's basically just creating his own reality ("Only in the union-anchored state of Nevada does Obama still cling to a lead.") And the comments ... good grief.

    The amazing thing is that Morris is regarded as a relatively mainstream voice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    I try not to be amazed at Fran O'Sullivan's weirdness - she seems to have actually toned down a bit in recent years. However, the weekend one was quite astounding for someone who appears to have some intelligence and be somewhat perceptive. To overlook all the idiocy, lies, glossing over and complete lack of detail in the Romney campaign is quite something. I think Bambam has been pretty damn disappointing in his presidency thus far but he is still soooooooooooooo much better than Romney would be. To quote "The Castle" - Get your hand off it Fran.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    woman who said the electronic voting process is so corrupt

    Certainly the way the Work and Income Kiosks have been handled is a paragon of virtue to the problems and security issues of the American electronic voting machines. Ohio is itself known for returning statistical highly anomalous (pro Republican ) results in actual voting compared to exit polling in past elections.
    If there are ever plans mooted to bring in electronic voting to New Zealand, people should oppose it utterly.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 841 posts Report Reply

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