It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Elections are Close

I've been saying exactly this for years. I wonder if anybody noticed, or if Colbert worked it out independently.

COLBERT: That means it's not an Obama/McCain campaign. It's a Guys Who Work for Bush/Guys Who Work for Kerry campaign. Both sides have people who are just smart enough to know ''We need to tweak this dial right here,'' so of course voters are divided 50/50 between the parties. When the 2000 election was down to 14 voters in Boca deciding the whole thing, I thought, ''Wow, that's great! It really is a political science! They've found a way to put electrodes in people's hands, and a probe up their butt, show them images, and say 'See how they respond!'''

STEWART: That's why you think to yourself, ''Hey, couldn't you guys tie for $10 million, instead of a trillion? Does it really cost that much money to tie?''


Update: Not only have I sunk to getting material from a fluffy entertainment magazine, but Atmoz has followed suit.

1 comment:

Hank Roberts said...

http://alterslash.org/#How_Close_Were_US_Presidential_Elections

Mike Sheppard writes “I’m a graduate student in Statistics at Michigan State University and spent some time analyzing past US presidential elections to determine how close they truly were. The mathematical procedures of Linear Programming and 0-1 Integer Programming were used to find the optimal solution to the question: ‘What is the smallest number of total votes that need to be switched from one candidate to another, and from which states, to affect the outcome of the election?’ Because of the way the popular and electoral votes interact, the outcome of the analysis had some surprising and intriguing results. For example, in 2004, 57,787 votes would have given us President Kerry; and in 2000, 269 votes would have given us President Gore. In all there have been 12 US Presidential elections that were decided by less than a 1% margin; meaning if less than 1% of the voters in certain states had changed their mind to the other candidate the outcome of the election would have been different.”

Of course, if you assume the real contest is between those stealing votes, then both sides in that contest are interested in keeping the balance as even as possible right up to the last moment.

Think about it.