1 day ago – Listen Jack, Mitt Romney Ain’t Here To Talk About No Mormonism, See? by Rebecca ….. Fun to do a few times, but I’ll pass on doing it again…
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New York ain’t never had no hurricanes. This has got … Sure, none of this makes any sense at all, but it’s Tracy Morgan — and it’s funny. Enjoy…
Oct 11, 2012 – 2 min – Uploaded by BroadcastingMyIdeas
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The Strip | By Brian McFadden
Hundreds of them wrote to me in e-mails, in Twitter messages and in comments on the blog to say that they vehemently disagreed with my criticism of Mr. Silver’s offer of a wager to a talk show host on the outcome of the presidential election.
Some questioned my intelligence, sanity or sense of fun. Some said that by criticizing the wager offer, I encouraged the unfair critics of his overall methods.
Others questioned the logic of my specific complaint. I’ll address the latter here, then turn over the floor to David Leonhardt, The Times’s Washington bureau chief.
First off, I want to state clearly that I see nothing in Mr. Silver’s writing that suggests his work has partisan motivations. I also will repeat that those who choose to equate probability and a close political race are wildly missing the point. To use everyone’s favorite new word, they are innumerate.
But here is the problem: Mr. Silver’s offering a wager could be interpreted, by critics who already paint him as partisan, as evidence that he has a rooting interest in a particular outcome. Yes, even though the winnings would go to charity and even though he was betting to make a point about his model. There may not be a true conflict of interest, but there is an appearance of one. And appearance matters — it affects credibility, which is at the heart of good journalism. (There is a school of thought that rejects this idea and many people articulated that well on Friday.)
Put more broadly: Journalists shouldn’t bet on the outcome of news events they cover because betting raises the reasonable idea that they have a stake in how those news events turn out — or that they even might try to make the events take a particular course. That’s why business reporters are not allowed to trade stock on companies they cover.
The Wall Street Journal, for example, has a strict anti-betting policy.
One of the most thoughtful respondents to my post was Mr. Leonhardt. While not defending the wager offer, he pointed out that Mr. Silver has a public record of taking a nonpartisan approach to polling analysis. He wrote:
When liberals were claiming momentum in the final days of the recall campaign against Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Nate threw cold water on the argument and said Walker remained a heavy favorite. Walker won, of course. Nate’s model also suggested that the G.O.P. House takeover in 2010 and Scott Brown’s win in 2010 were likely to happen.
None of this means Obama will win. A 20 percent chance is a serious chance. The system would be flawed if 80 percent favorites won 100 percent of the time. To put it another way, a pair of dice isn’t broken if it rolls a seven.
The larger point is that Nate’s work has long earned the benefit of the doubt about its goal: to produce the best polling analysis possible, given the inherent noise in polls and the inherent uncertainty of life.
Later, after conferring with Mr. Silver, he also offered examples of cases in which underdogs in his model have gone on to win, noting that these also reflect no partisan pattern. (As Mr. Leonhardt notes, underdogs “should” win sometimes, “just as baseball batters sometime get hits.” ) The examples follow:
In 2008, Mr. Silver had John McCain, Republican, favored in Indiana, and Barack Obama won.
In 2009, he had gay marriage favored to pass in Maine, and it did not.
In 2010, he had Sharron Angle, Republican, favored in Nevada, and Harry Reid won.
In 2010, he had Ken Buck, Republican, favored in Colorado, and Michael Bennet won.
In 2010, he had the Tea Party Republican, Joe Miller, favored in the Alaska Senate race, and the moderate Republican, Lisa Murkowski, won.
In 2010, he had Bill Brady, Republican, favored in the Illinois governor’s race, and Pat Quinn won.
In 2010, he had Republicans projected to win 55 House seats, and they won 63.
There were three cases in which Mr. Silver had Mitt Romney favored in the primaries, but Rick Santorum won.
Mr. Leonhardt adds this praise to his commentary on Mr. Silver:
Nate has done a public service through his work. He didn’t cause people to start paying attention to polls. He instead helped people who were already paying attention to polls understand that individual polls can be so noisy as to be directionally misleading — and yet even flawed individual polls often have both noise and information. There is no pollster, no political scientist and no other writer who has a better recent public record of analyzing elections data than Nate. It’s not perfect, as he himself tries to convey with his emphasis on uncertainty and humility. But it’s serious, impressive and nonpartisan, and the same is not true of many of his critics’ claims.
It’s well said and I find much to agree with there. I haven’t changed my mind about the wisdom of publicly offering a wager to a television talk show host, but I’ll admit that it’s a quibble in the overall picture.
And, on a personal note, I want to acknowledge Mr. Silver’s generous response to me on Twitter on Friday morning. Clearly, this is someone who understands what it feels like to be under siege.
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About The Public Editor
A native of Lackawanna, N.Y., Ms. Sullivan is a graduate of Georgetown University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she is a member of its Hall of Achievement.
The conversation has continued about Nate Silver, the statistics wizard, and his political predictions.
The statistical wizard’s offer to wager on the outcome of the presidential race is a bad choice.
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The Times did exactly what one would hope and expect in handling this situation involving the Chinese government.
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Regardless of the choice, newspaper endorsements in political campaigns help make sense of the muddle.
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Editorial | The Struggle to Cast a Vote
Upholding Democracy, Ballot by Ballot
Published: November 3, 2012 3 Comments
This year, voting is more than just the core responsibility of citizenship; it is an act of defiance against malicious political forces determined to reduce access to democracy. Millions of ballots on Tuesday — along with those already turned in — will be cast despite the best efforts of Republican officials around the country to prevent them from playing a role in the 2012 election.
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Even now, many Republicans are assembling teams to intimidate voters at polling places, to demand photo ID where none is required, and to cast doubt on voting machines or counting systems whose results do not go their way. The good news is that the assault on voting will not affect the election nearly as much as some had hoped. Courts have either rejected or postponed many of the worst laws. Predictions that up to five million people might be disenfranchised turned out to be unfounded.
But a great deal of damage has already been done, and the clearest example is that on Sunday in Florida, people will not be allowed to vote early. Four years ago, on the Sunday before Election Day, tens of thousands of Floridians cast their ballots, many of them black churchgoers who traveled directly from services to their polling places. Because most of them voted for Barack Obama, helping him win the state, Republicans eliminated early voting on that day. No legitimate reason was given; the action was entirely partisan in nature.
The author of that law, as The Palm Beach Post revealed last week, was Emmett Mitchell IV, the general counsel for the state Republican Party. Under his guidance, party officials in Florida got thousands of perfectly eligible black voters purged from the rolls in 2000, and got a law passed last year that limited registration drives and early voting days. A federal judge struck down the registration limits, but not before they drove down the numbers of new registrants.
The law cutting back nearly half the number of early-voting days in Florida remains in place, a reaction to the Obama campaign’s successful use of the system. Early voting is wildly popular, freeing people from having to cast a ballot within a few hours on a workday, and all but 15 states allow it in some form. (When will New York get the message?) But even after long lines formed last week at early-voting stations in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend the period an extra day. In Ohio, a judge had to restore early-voting days that Republicans had tried to cut.
One of the biggest attempts to reduce the turnout of minority voters, poor people and others likely to vote Democratic has been the imposition of photo ID requirements, under the guise of preventing nonexistent voter fraud. In Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, courts have blocked these laws or postponed them until after the election, but the issue is by no means dead, and Republicans can be expected to continue to press their self-serving case.
In Iowa and Wisconsin, the Romney campaign has given its poll watchers misleading or incorrect information — for instance, that voters should show an ID in Iowa, where none is required — which could create disputes and long lines, most likely in Democratic precincts.
One of the saddest signs of the politicization of the voting process and the counting of ballots has been the armies of lawyers assembled by both parties in the swing states where the vote is likely to be the closest. Much of this would be unnecessary if not for the requirements that Republicans have tried to put in place, which force Democrats to make sure that provisional ballots are not thrown out or mishandled. (In Nevada, Republicans are already preparing their challenge by claiming, with absolutely no evidence, that some machines are malfunctioning in Mr. Obama’s favor.)
Public outcry, with support from the courts, may eventually remove these threats to democracy. For now, those who contribute to a heavy turnout on Tuesday will send a message that Americans reject any underhanded effort to place political gain above a franchise for which people have given their lives.
A version of this editorial appeared in print on November 4, 2012, on page SR12 of the New York edition with the headline: Upholding Democracy, Ballot By Ballot.