This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



This Year’s First Costume

This was actually LAST year’s costume. Last year Alex absolutely refused to wear it. He made ME wear it. So we went around trick or treating with Daddy in the Thomas the Tank Engine costume, and Alex mostly in arms. This year, Brandy spent hours showing Alex costumes online, with him systematically rejecting every one. Until he saw one of Clifford the Big Red Dog. He was excited about that one. He wanted that one. It was ordered. It arrived. He spent the last week talking about his Clifford costume and trying it on a few times.

This morning though, when told that kids were wearing costumes to school today, he decided he did not want to be Clifford. He wanted his costume from last year. He wanted Thomas. So he went to school as Thomas. He did agree however that he still wanted to be Clifford for Trick or Treating tonight.

At school when I dropped him off almost all the kids were in costume. One little girl came over and told me her costume was Minnie Mouse. I then asked her what she thought Alex was. She said Alex was a choo choo train, and Alex just beamed and smiled. Since Alex was the new arrival a few seconds later we were surrounded by a half dozen three year olds all checking out Alex’s costume. Alex showed it off and looked very proud. :-)

We’ll see if when it is actually time for trick or treating in an hour or two if he still wants to switch to the Clifford costume.

Electoral College: Florida flips again, Obama continues to build lead in tipping point states

One state changes categories today. It is Florida.

As I’ve cautioned before with Florida (and a couple other states), the state is close, the five poll average has bounced back and forth across the line repeatedly. The average today moves slightly to the Obama side of the line. But it could easily go back to the Romney side of the line tomorrow. There have been no moves that indicate Florida is moving definitively toward one candidate or the other. Absent such a move in the next few days, we’ll basically just need to wait for the actual vote count.

So, new map and summary:

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 321 217
Current Status 206 332
Obama Best Case 190 348

Hello old friend, it is nice to see you again! Once again we have a 332-206 Obama victory, which is where the “Current Status” line has been more often than anywhere else all year long. There have been moves above this, and moves below this, but so far, things have always come back here. I guess we’ll see if that holds through election day.

Once again though, lets dig deeper. Winning is possible for Romney here. But just how far away is he? Lets look again at the “Tipping Point Margin” chart I debuted yesterday:

What looked like a slight trend in Obama’s direction looks more significant today. With today’s update Obama’s lead in Ohio increased to 3.3%. This actually moved Ohio past Nevada, where Obama’s margin is now 3.2%. This makes Nevada the new “tipping point state”. Romney’s easiest path to victory is now holding on to all the areas he is ahead in, then erasing Obama’s advantage and taking the lead in Virginia (13 ev, 0.9% Obama lead), Florida (27 ev, 1.0% Obama lead), Iowa (6 ev, 1.2% Obama lead), Colorado (9 ev, 2.0% Obama lead), New Hampshire (4 ev, 2.2% Obama lead) and then Nevada (6 ev, 3.2% Obama lead).

Ohio may well return to the tipping point position tomorrow, but for now that is where we are.

The tipping point margin is a metric that looks pretty noisy over the past few weeks, so I would urge caution reading much into individual daily ups and downs. A lot of that is just going to be statistical noise. However, this represents the best margin in the tipping point state Obama has seen since October 7th in the midst of his downward plunge after the first debate. The upward trend in this measure of the state of the race is now looking more clear.

Tick tock. The time left for Romney to make a move in the polls is diminishing quickly. Will something gain traction? If not, then Romney’s main remaining hope is that all the polls, not just those from Democratic leaning pollsters, but all of them, are actually wrong and are systematically tilting toward Obama. This is not impossible, and along with the possibility of a last minute event that changes things, is likely a big part of why sites like 538 give Romney a 20%+ chance of winning. Views of this using just the raw polling data, like that done by Darryl at give a much lower chance of a Romney victory.

But then there is Sandy. Michael, A commenter on yesterday’s update, brought up the possibility of reduced voter turnout in areas of Pennsylvania affected by Hurricane Sandy making the state winnable for Romney. Unlike potential effects on popular opinion of Obama due to how he responds to the hurricane, turnout effects due to the storm may simply not be measurable by the polls. First of all, the degree to which any remaining issues from the storm may impact voting on Tuesday may not be clear until almost Tuesday. Second, because people in effected areas are busy dealing with the storm impact itself, they may be more reluctant to participate in polls, and some pollsters may not even bother trying.

Now, most people seem to think that the effects of the storm on actual voting next Tuesday will be minimal, as most services will have been restored by then, etc. But for argument’s sake, lets imagine that turnout in the Philadelphia area is significantly reduced, giving Pennsylvania to Romney despite Obama’s 4.6% lead in current polling. Let’s also give Virginia to Romney on the same basis… reduced turnout in Northern Virginia breaking what is essentially a tie in Virginia at the moment, and giving the state to Romney.

With those two states as well as the states he is already ahead in, we have Romney with 239 electoral votes. That is still 30 electoral votes short. If we start adding states in again based on how close Romney is… Florida… which is essentially tied right now… brings Romney to 268 electoral votes. Just one electoral vote short of a tie. Iowa would then be the tipping point state. With it’s 6 electoral votes, Romney would win 274 to 264. Romney is currently behind in Iowa by only 1.2% in my five poll average. (Only 2 of those 5 polls were concluded after the last presidential debate, and those last polls look better for Obama, but lets call it 1.2% for now.)

If Hurricane Sandy was indeed able to deliver Pennsylvania and Virginia for Romney, Obama would STILL be ahead… but it would be a LOT closer!

For the moment though, as long as that scenario does not develop, Obama’s position seems to be better now than it has been in weeks. He is increasing his lead in Ohio and other swing states. Even if you grant some movement toward Romney in Pennsylvania and Virginia that isn’t visible in the polls, it seems like Romney still needs something else to move things in his direction.

Before the hurricane, Romney’s camp seemed to be trying (but failing, at least in the critical states) to gain traction based on the Obama administration’s handling of the attacks in Benghazi on September 11th. Maybe a renewed push on that issue in the remaining days will do the trick? The Romney campaign has also been pushing hard in Ohio with an attack implying Obama’s policies are resulting in Jeep moving jobs from Ohio to China. Fact checkers have called these claims misleading at best, but that doesn’t necessarily stop the attack from being effective. Maybe that will start reversing the polling trend in Ohio? Or will there be some new event that moves things dramatically toward Romney?

Watch this space in the next few days. We’ll find out… :-)

(And of course, Romney’s apparent lead in national polls continues… so if the polling is correct and nothing changes before election day, the possibility of Romney winning the popular vote while losing the electoral college remains very strong.)

Note: I actually finished my daily sweep of the polls about 10-11 hours prior to making this blog post. I usually try to keep that gap shorter, but it is what it is. There have of course been new polls released in that time. Those will be included in tomorrow’s update.

Note: Chart and map from the 2012 Electoral College Prediction page. Both assume Obama vs Romney with no strong third party candidate and show polling as it currently exists. Things will change before election day. On the map red is Romney, blue is Obama, gold states are too close to call. Lines on the chart represent how many more electoral votes a candidate would have than is needed to tie under several different scenarios. Up is good for Obama, Down is good for Romney.

@abulsme tweets from 2012-10-30 (UTC)

Electoral College: More Movement on the Edges (Plus New Chart!)

Minor change on the edges as New Mexico once again drops below a 10% Obama lead:

A few days ago Obama’s lead in the five poll average in New Mexico moved slightly above 10%, today a new poll pulls it back down to just below 10%. Either way, Obama will win New Mexico. So lets quickly move on so we can get to the good new stuff. First of all, new map and summary:

Romney Obama
Romney Best Case 321 217
Current Status 235 303
Obama Best Case 190 348

While New Mexico is colored lighter blue on the map, the summary is unchanged from yesterday, since New Mexico wasn’t moving in or out of “swing state” status.

Since we still have a contest where Romney could win if he swept all the swing states, lets again look internally at how the polls stack up within the swing states, but rather than me listing the current margins in each of the swing states as I have done before, we’ll cut to the chase, and look at the “spiffy graph” I promised on Saturday. Graph first, then explaination:

OK, in my recent posts I’ve listed the swing states, listed their margins, and then mentioned which states Romney would need to win if he took them “in order” by how well he is doing in the state. When you do this, one state would put Romney over the top. I then looked at the margin in that “Tipping Point” state. In other words, if Romney improved his margin by the same percentage across the board in all states (or at least all the swing states) how much better would he need to be doing in order to actually win enough of those states to win the electoral college?

I base these margins off my five poll average rather than something more sophisticated, but the general concept of this is similar to Sam Wang’s “meta-margin” at the Princeton Election Consortium. It shows another way of looking at the race, and one which gives a closer look at who is ahead and by how much than simply looking at the three model lines I usually present. With the three lines I normally present you can tell who is ahead and that it is relatively close, but it is hard to get a sense of exactly how FAR ahead the candidate in the lead is when it is “close”.

So anyway, what does this show? Well, basically the same trends we see in Romney’s Best case line and the current line. Namely, the first part of October Obama was in free fall, but that stopped around the time of the VP debate, and since then there has been a pretty noisy signal, but with a slight trend toward Obama. If you are generous to Romney, you can say that the trend has been flat since the VP debate, but any argument that there has been continuing Romney momentum is clearly false.

The “tipping point state” has almost always been Ohio, with a few days here and there when polling moved states slightly out of their normal order. But be it Ohio, or occasionally Florida, Virginia or Nevada, Obama’s lead in the tipping point state has been staying in a fairly consistent band between 1% and 3% for the past three weeks.

Obama is no longer in the comfortable territory he was in before the 1st debate, where Romney would have to move the tipping point states by more than 5% to win… a state I described before as Romney’s best case being to lose. But he has a buffer there, and, so far at least, the key tipping point states are not showing the moment Romney would need in order to win.

Now, if something were to happen to induce a move as large as the decline Obama had at the beginning of October, then yes, that would potentially still be enough to flip the race. As I type these words though, there are 7 days and 55 minutes until the first polls close on election day. There is very little time left for a last minute change large enough to flip this to Romney.

It could happen, it is just becoming a bigger and bigger stretch with every day that goes by that does not move things dramatically in Romney’s direction.

Meanwhile of course, even while NO electoral college model that I’ve seen has put Romney ahead at ANY time in the past year, all the aggregators of national polls have shown Romney ahead for almost all of the last three weeks, and that lead continues today. If nothing happens to shake things up in the next seven days, the prospect of an electoral college / popular vote split seems to get more likely by the day.

Note: Chart and map from the 2012 Electoral College Prediction page. Both assume Obama vs Romney with no strong third party candidate and show polling as it currently exists. Things will change before election day. On the map red is Romney, blue is Obama, gold states are too close to call. Lines on the chart represent how many more electoral votes a candidate would have than is needed to tie under several different scenarios. Up is good for Obama, Down is good for Romney.

Edit 2012 Oct 30 22:43 UTC to fix some wording issues.

Edit 2012 Oct 30 23:19 UTC to fix typo.

Wind Map

@abulsme tweets from 2012-10-29 (UTC)

Stay Safe East Coast!

(Projection for Tuesday morning from The Weather Channel.)


Curmudgeon’s Corner: Gladiatorial Combat

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner Sam, Ivan and Bruce talk about:

  • Mortgage Refinancing / Election Update / EV-PV Split?
  • More on Polls / Hurricane Sandy
  • Sandy Election Effects / Ballots / Worst Case Scenarios
  • Surface / BYODevice / Windows 8 / iPad Mini

Recorded on 28 Oct 2012

Length this week – 1:28:25

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Amy as a Concert Starts


@abulsme tweets from 2012-10-28 (UTC)