Archives: March 2008

Mon 31 Mar 2008

Bogus Gore Math

As a warning for those listening to this week's podcast in the section about Al Gore there were some numbers pulled out of our asses that had no relation to reality. Things about numbers of delegates that Al Gore would have to get to force a second ballot. I apologize, because I hadn't spent much time thinking about it before hand, but the way I was talking about it was of course complete BS. I was just making crap up. I did start to allude to the right answer in the podcast, but never actually articulated it. So I will do so here.

So, OK, here is the deal. And this should actually be obvious, and I was a dumbass when we were recording. It is all about denying whoever is ahead their majority. This could take many delegates, this could take just a few. And "how many are needed" all depends on how close it really is. What is the "Gap" between the candidates.

Assuming Obama is in the lead, to force a second ballot you need:

Clinton + Edwards + Gore > Obama

(and of course Clinton still not getting a majority herself)

Doing a little algebra:

Gore > Obama - Clinton - Edwards

The Obama/Clinton gap right now is 139 delegates. (So Obama-Clinton=139). Edwards has 18.

So if that gap did not change at all, and the Edwards delegates stay Edwards delegates, Gore would have to get more than 121 delegates to force a second ballot.

At this very moment there are 340 superdelgates who have not yet declared a preference. So Al Gore (or whoever) would need to get 36% of these remaining unpledged delegates to make this happen.

Of course, between the remaining primaries and superdelegates changing hands, that number *will* change.

The more Clinton manages to narrow the gap, the fewer people have to go for a third candidate to force a second ballot. If Obama manages to increase the gap, then it becomes harder, and more people would have to go for a third candidate.

It is directly linear with the delegate gap between the candidates. Basically, the number of delegates who vote for "someone else" has to be more than the delegate gap between the two leading candidates.

It is that simple.

The end.

(Given all this, I'll reduce the 15% chance of this happening that I mentioned in the podcast down to 2%. I really don't see this happening unless both Obama and Clinton completely self-destruct.)

Abulsme - Mon, 31 Mar 2008, 08:17:24 PDT
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Curmudgeon's Corner: House of Style

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Welcome Lufthansa (Abbreviated)
  • Tax Preparation (Take Two)
  • HUD Secretary
  • Hillary in Bosnia
  • Changes in News Media
  • Gorementum
  • Where is McCain?
  • General Election Talk
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Abulsme - Mon, 31 Mar 2008, 08:14:16 PDT
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Sun 30 Mar 2008

Welcome Lufthansa

A group from the Seattle Children's Chorus (including Amy) sang today at a ceremony welcoming the first ever Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Seattle. Woo!

I did some camera phone video of some of the songs too, but the audio quality on the cell phone video was horrible, so I won't post it.

Abulsme - Sun, 30 Mar 2008, 15:39:11 PDT
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Sat 29 Mar 2008

Electoral College: McCain strengthens in Virginia

New Poll in Virginia. It moves my "last 5 poll average" such that Virginia goes from "Leaning McCain" to "Weak McCain". This means we now only have 13 states and 154 electoral votes in the "up for grabs" leaning categories as Virginia is now more solidly in the McCain camp.

If everybody gets their leaning states, and Obama gets DC, then McCain would win 283 to 255.

But allowing for the full possible swing of the leaning votes... and generously thinking that DC could go either way since we have no polls (even though we all know DC will go Dem) this gives us:

McCain best case: McCain 330, Obama 208
Obama best case: Obama 362, McCain 176

Abulsme - Sat, 29 Mar 2008, 15:49:04 PDT
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Hillary Continues to Fall Further Behind

Obama and Clinton pick up one pledged delegate each from the finalization of delegate counts. (CNN's Delegate Page does not make it clear which states these 2 delegates are from.) In addition Obama picks up two more superdelegates. Net result, Obama further expands his lead by 2 delegates.

The day before Clinton's "big wins in Ohio and Texas" Obama was ahead by 102 delegates. Obama is now ahead by 139.


Right now Clinton needs 58.6% of the remaining 918 delegates to win. Obama only needs 43.5% of them.

She will close the delegate gap somewhat in Pennsylvania. But it is unclear if she will actually be able to win by a big enough margin to be on the 58.6% pace she needs to actually win. If she gets less than 58.6% of the delegates in PA, then after PA she'll actually have a harder road to the nomination than before, not an easier one.

When you are behind, running faster is not good enough. You have to run fast enough to catch up.

(Let alone running slower, which is of course what she has done so far.)

Abulsme - Sat, 29 Mar 2008, 14:16:57 PDT
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Cousin It Comes to Visit

Abulsme - Sat, 29 Mar 2008, 14:08:01 PDT
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Fri 28 Mar 2008

From 1995: Why the Internet Sucks

Great tidbit from the past:

The Internet? Bah!
(Clifford Stoll, Newsweek, 27 Feb 1995)

Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

Consider today's online world. The Usenet, a worldwide bulletin board, allows anyone to post messages across the nation. Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen. How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it's an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can't tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.


Then there's cyberbusiness. We're promised instant catalog shopping--just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet--which there isn't--the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.
(via Paleo-Future)

Abulsme - Fri, 28 Mar 2008, 16:14:55 PDT
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Sam's Ewok Challenge

A few months ago I discovered there is a nifty little connection between myself and Ewoks. Can any of my readers tell me what that connection might be?

And no, it does not involve furries. But it does involve a popular book.

Abulsme - Fri, 28 Mar 2008, 01:06:32 PDT
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Thu 27 Mar 2008

The Dash

I am very loyal to Garmin. I think by far they make the best GPS units. The main thing that makes them good is the interface. And I just generally like how it all comes together. And this new Dash is very deficient in many areas... and it looks like the interface sucks a bit. But some of the new features are absolutely killer features. Garmin needs to come out with their version of this ASAP, because this is the future of these things:

Dash Express GPS Full Drive Review: Total Traffic Terminator
(Wilson Rothman, Gizmodo)

• Live real-time traffic - It's the biggest and most powerful of the four keys, mainly because of how badly GPS traffic reporting has sucked in the past. Dash builds a teamwork system not unlike the original Napster—you got data I want, I got data you want, and that central server will make sure the sharing happens in a fast and orderly manner. As you drive, you not only help others out, but you add useful data to the historical record, so that the plan for your own commute or Friday getaway could grow smarter. As we've said before, once each metro area is seeded with a few hundred Dash units, the traffic reporting becomes exponentially better. The funny thing is, what we've already seen, with just a handful of units on the road, was already better than anything to date thanks to the historical data which runs in 15 minute increments, and therefore knows the difference between weekends and rush hour. If you're wondering who is working on the traffic modeling, it's a couple of eggheaded PhDs in Traffic.

• Live search - Most navis have search features, but they only query a POI database of an average of 5 million or so. Dash only has 1 Million built-in points of interest, but its better 99% of the time. That's because it uses its GPRS cellular connection to ping Yahoo Local search for stuff, delivering better information in the exact same amount of time. You can save search terms you like as favorites, alongside addresses and, yes, standard POI categories. Oh, Yahoo local searches are returned by relevance, not sorted by proximity, but most things can be resorted and gas can even be resorted by price.

• MyDash web interface including Send2Car, GeoRSS and other features - With a quick browser plug-in, you can highlight any address and right-click, selecting the option "Send To Car." You can even highlight name and address, but for now you need to leave off the phone number. Within a second or two, the address pops up on the Dash, which could be at your side, or miles away. Blam found that entering addresses on the web interface was actually more effective than typing them on the Express, since the server can do a better job of fuzzy-matching the data you type. There are plug-ins to allow you to send any text to the Dash unit by right clicking text and selecting "Send to Car."

In MyDash, you can browse "saved searches" for dynamically updating data—a POI-like request ("CVS" or "Sushi") gives you a Yahoo Local search criteria that you can send to the Express. But you can also copy GeoRSS and KML feed URLs from around the net at sites like and Chowhound, containing more exotic and time-dependent stuff—"Nationwide Airport Delays" and "California Surf Report." For the most part, everything we tried worked, save a Craigslist RSS of Seattle real estate. (But GeoRSS feeds are kind of tricky to find in the wild.)

• Over-the-air updates - The Express uses any open Wi-Fi network it can to pull chunks of update down as you drive around. You can teach it your SSIDs and passwords for best Wi-Fi, but it's not necessary. Dash will deliver a few different kinds of update that we'll cover below; the important thing is to think about the last time you updated your Garmin or TomTom. Your answer is most likely "never." If you have, you probably paid a lot to do it. Dash of courses charges $10 to $13 per month subscription, but promises a constantly evolving platform in return.
-Traffic data will be updated monthly, using historical data from Dash drivers. That means that the first one will be a good 'un, as the first crop of users starts putting on the mileage.
-Big map updates will come every six months or so, about the same time Tele Atlas will release to other vendors.
-The first major software updates with bug fixes and new features (see below) will come this summer, and then every three months or so.
-MyDash servers can be updated on a weekly basis, so new web features could be appearing all the time—not that they will.
I want a Garmin version, but this still excites me. And the traffic is NOT just on major highways, but on side roads too once the system starts getting enough users to have data on those roads. Very very cool.

Abulsme - Thu, 27 Mar 2008, 22:09:57 PDT
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Wed 26 Mar 2008

Hamsters from the Sky

Big huge snowflakes falling from the sky. Some of the biggest I've ever seen. Somebody needs to let somebody know that it is March 27th, and it is too late for this stuff. Time to stop. K?

It is just supposed to be raining, not snowing, but there ya go.

The picture is my hamster Snowball. I had Snowball when I was a kid. We got Snowball at the petstore. A few days later she had a bunch of babies.

Abulsme - Wed, 26 Mar 2008, 20:55:34 PDT
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Electoral College: Obama strengthens in Wisconsin added a few more states and as usual included a few polls I didn't have yet. The only resulting change was Wisconsin, which moved from leaning Obama, to weak Obama. So we're now down to only 14 states and 164 electoral votes in that annoying "could easily go either way" category.

OK, that is still a lot.

Abulsme - Wed, 26 Mar 2008, 01:43:41 PDT
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No Milk

Abulsme - Wed, 26 Mar 2008, 00:09:12 PDT
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Tue 25 Mar 2008

Electoral College: Obama weakens in Nevada

A new poll results in moving Nevada from "Weak Obama" to "Leans Obama" as Obama's lead there drops to less than 5%.

So at this point, assuming any of the "Leans" states could really go either way we could easily see any result between:

Obama best case: Obama 375 vs McCain 163
McCain best case: McCain 340 vs Obama 198

(Best case meaning that candidate wins ALL of the "leaning" states... and also wins DC where there are no polls yet... so the best cases are clearly unlikely cases, but they provide outer bounds.)

That is a huge range with all these less than 5% lead states in play. There are 15 states and 174 electoral votes in that category at the moment. That is a LOT.

I imagine that as we get closer to November some of those states will move solidly into one camp or the other. But there is certainly the possibility that we will get to November with a huge number of electoral votes in states that are essentially too close to call until the votes are actually counted.

And wouldn't that be fun.

Abulsme - Tue, 25 Mar 2008, 02:28:19 PDT
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Mon 24 Mar 2008

Curmudgeon's Corner: Everything Still Sucks

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Our Old Show
  • More on Vista Sucking
  • Sam's Local Democratic Meeting
  • Voting by Mail
  • Sam's Denver Chances
  • Economy Update
  • Obama and Wright
  • State Department Fun
  • Election Update
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Abulsme - Mon, 24 Mar 2008, 08:17:34 PDT
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Sun 23 Mar 2008

Obama Foreign Policy

Good article, worth reading the whole thing:

The Obama Doctrine
(Spencer Ackerman, The American Prospect)

Obama is offering the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we've heard from a serious presidential contender in decades. It cuts to the heart of traditional Democratic timidity. "It's time to reject the counsel that says the American people would rather have someone who is strong and wrong than someone who is weak and right," Obama said in a January speech. "It's time to say that we are the party that is going to be strong and right."

Abulsme - Sun, 23 Mar 2008, 22:36:27 PDT
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Sat 22 Mar 2008

Electoral College: Minnesota flips to Obama added some new states with full tracking graphs and such. Only one of these resulted in any category changes for me. Minnesota, including several new polls I didn't have... jumped from Leaning McCain to Weak Obama.

The "easily possible results" range (assuming that any state where the leader leads by less than 5% could really go either way) narrows somewhat with this change. We now have everywhere from McCain winning by 66 to Obama winning by 106 being very possible.

At the moment, if every state that is even leaning to one side or another actually went that way, McCain would win by 14 electoral votes.

Abulsme - Sat, 22 Mar 2008, 11:37:42 PDT
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Fri 21 Mar 2008

Finally Some Superdelegates for Clinton

For the first time in a bit, Hillary picks up some superdelegates. In today's update on CNN's delegate tracker, Clinton picks up six superdelegates, while Obama picks up one.

Basic stats at the moment: There are 922 delegates yet to be allocated (including both pledged and super). Obama needs 402 of them to win (that's 43.6%). Clinton needs 539 of them to win (that's 58.5%).

I've talked a bunch about the math over the past few weeks. How basically given the numbers this is impossible for Clinton absent a complete implosion of the Obama campaign. There have been a number of articles on this elsewhere too of course. The latest in this genre, which got a lot of attention in the blogosphere yesterday, is this one:

Story behind the story: The Clinton myth
(Jim VanDehei & Mike Allen, Politico)

One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.

Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency.

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.

As it happens, many people inside Clinton’s campaign live right here on Earth. One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.

In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe.
And it goes on from there. It is very worth reading the whole thing.

Abulsme - Fri, 21 Mar 2008, 23:28:41 PDT
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Thu 20 Mar 2008

The Other Obama

Right now I'm watching some C-Span coverage of a rally from last Thursday. Michelle Obama talking to a large crowd somewhere in Pennsylvania. It is probably the first time I've watched her in a really extended setting... a full length speech rather than just a few minutes here or there, usually when introducing her husband. I just have to say, she is pretty damn impressive in her own right.

So when does she start her run for Senate? If Barack becomes President, I understand there will be a vacancy in Illinois. :-)

Abulsme - Thu, 20 Mar 2008, 01:11:44 PDT
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Wed 19 Mar 2008

Delegates Trickle in for Obama

Obama converts 2 more Edwards delegates from Iowa and picks up one more superdelegate from Wisconsin. Obama's lead slowly but surely grows during this time between primaries. A number of people have noted that there have been *NO* new superdelegates added to the Clinton column since Super Tuesday, while Obama has added a bunch. Has she just been telling all of her supporters not to announce so she can have a big announcement one day with a whole bunch of super delegates? Or is she actually not convincing any more of them? Dunno.

Anyway... if Obama keeps getting delegates here and there in the time before Pennsylvania, it will raise the possibility that even when Clinton wins Pennsylvania, will she actually end up in a better position than she was right after Ohio and Texas? Or will Obama have gained enough ground by then that she closes the gap, but only to mid-March levels? It depends how many more superdelegates Obama is able to round up in the meantime, and if Clinton starts grabbing some of her own too.

Abulsme - Wed, 19 Mar 2008, 08:25:51 PDT
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Tue 18 Mar 2008

O's Big Speech

Just watched it over lunch. It was detailed. It was thoughtful. It was nuanced. He explained himself without apologizing. He condemned Wright's controversial statements while expressing respect for the man in other contexts. He explained how things were more complex than the caricatures you get through quick sound bites and video clips. He talked about the origins of the sort of feelings that Wright expressed and how they fit into a larger context which he understands, but does not agree with. Etc.

Bottom line, it will only convince the people who are already convinced. For example, it all made sense to me. But people will still have the impressions of Obama that they had yesterday. This will likely change very few people's minds. Perhaps there will be a few people who took the time to watch the whole thing who were concerned before who will be swayed by this. But it will be a small number. Once this is digested into clips and soundbites that will be repeated, people will only pay attention to the bits that reinforce what they thought anyway. And there is plenty here for both sides. Only if you watch all (or most) of it do you get the balance Obama is trying to achieve. And that is complicated, so it won't play well.

The one thing Obama could hope is that this satisfies the PRESS. That they will think that after this there is no more to say about the issue, and so therefore they will move on, and ignore those who try to keep the issue alive by saying "this was already addressed". If so, then Obama will leave this damaged, but not still bleeding. But it will not undo the (I think unjustified) damage of the last week.

Anyway, here is the YouTube of the speech for those who want to watch it. (Link originally via Irish Trojan.)

Abulsme - Tue, 18 Mar 2008, 13:06:04 PDT
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Sun 16 Mar 2008

Curmudgeon's Corner: Margaritas, Bullets and Bombs

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Spitzer's Happy Week
  • Office 2008, Vista and Apple
  • Tanking Economy Continued
  • iPhone Supply and SDK
  • Election Update
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Note: This week I have switched from m4a format to mp3. We have not used the extra "Enhanced Podcast" features for many months and even then we didn't do anything interesting with them. So it seemed that going with the more universal mp3 format would be a good change, as people will be able to listen to the podcast with a wider variety of software in a wider number of devices... if they so wish. So, for instance, I believe this means that those of you with modern Tivos can subscribe to this podcast on your Tivo if you want. Woo!

Abulsme - Sun, 16 Mar 2008, 22:15:08 PDT
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Iowa Returns

The Iowa caucuses that kicked off this whole Presidential race were of course actually the only the first stage of a multi-part caucus process. The results of the second stage are reflected for the first time today. Originally Iowa had split 19 delegates for Obama, 18 for Clinton and 14 for Edwards. This was the number of predicted national delegates to come out at the end of the whole process if each delegate at each stage voted the way they were supposed to.

For this second stage there was some effort among Edwards delegates to stick with Edwards and make sure Edwards retained influence in the next stage. They managed to keep some of their representation, but many Edwards supporters switched to Obama or Clinton. It also looks like at least some Clinton supporters flipped as well, which I find quite interesting.

In any case, the new split in Iowa is Obama 26, Clinton 17, Edwards 8. Which means Edwards loses 6 delegates, Clinton loses 1 delegate and Obama gains 7.

In the end, this means Obama's delegate lead over Clinton expands by 8 to 139 delegates.

Abulsme - Sun, 16 Mar 2008, 19:42:30 PDT
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DVD: Doctor Who: The Invasion: Disk 1

It was finally time for a another Doctor Who DVD. This time it was time for The Invasion. Well, actually the first half. This story is split into two disks. It is an eight part story, the first four parts of which were on this disk.

This had the typical slow pacing of a Second Doctor episode. Things progress VERY slowly and not all that much happens. As an example, the reveal of who the real bad guys in this story are happens at the very end of the 4th 25 minute long episode.

The most interesting thing about this disk is actually the fact that Episodes One and Four are actually among the "missing episodes" which were destroyed or lost from the BBC archives and which have never been found or recovered. However, some fans recorded the AUDIO of the episodes by putting tape recorders next to their televisions. And this audio did survive. So in 2006 when they were looking to do a DVD release, they produced ANIMATED versions of the two "missing" episodes using the audio which still existed.

So part of this was a cartoon. And that was kind of interesting.

Not GOOD mind you, just interesting.

These early Doctors definitely are an acquired taste that I haven't actually acquired yet. I watch them out of a sense of wanting to learn more about that era, and curiosity. But not so much for actually enjoying the episodes. Now, there are a few good moments. But for the most part, these are a bit tough to watch with modern eyes.

But there we go, another Who.

Abulsme - Sun, 16 Mar 2008, 01:23:42 PDT
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Sat 15 Mar 2008

Electoral College: Added Leaning

As I've been promising for awhile, I went ahead and adjusted how I am reporting results for the electoral college extrapolations. Previously, any lead by a candidate of less than 10% was simply classified "weak". But a lot was obscured by that. So I now classify leads of less than 5% as "leaning" states, with 5% to 10% now being termed "weak".

I have also added a "just the previous month" chart in addition to the chart showing the full year before the election. Changes can often be seen better at this scale.

In the end, what seems to be clear is just how up for grabs this election is. While if you include all the leaning states you end up with a McCain win (by about 293 to 245 at the moment), if you take into account the fact that any lead less than 5% is just barely outside the typical margin of error of polls, and is an amount that can clearly be erased overnight by changing events, what you actually see is that if the election was held today anything could happen between McCain winning by 76 electoral votes and Obama winning by 106 electoral votes. (On the chart this is represented by the area between the two "weak" lines.)

So anything could happen.

Not to mention of course that we are still seven and a half months from the election.

This will be a fun seven and a half months.

Abulsme - Sat, 15 Mar 2008, 22:22:17 PDT
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Electoral College: Ohio Flips back to McCain

New poll in Ohio. Ohio is one of those states that is right on the edge and may well just keep flipping back and forth for a bit. In my "last 5 polls" average for Ohio, the balance just switched from just barely favoring Obama to just barely favoring McCain. Of course, this is the electoral college, and it is winner takes all, so Ohio's 20 electoral votes move from one column to the other, for a net change of 40 in the gap between the candidates. McCain increases his lead.

My extrapolation of polls to the electoral college now has McCain 293, Obama 242, No Polls 3.

Abulsme - Sat, 15 Mar 2008, 15:23:38 PDT
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Fri 14 Mar 2008

Obama and the Dude

Forget what Obama is saying. It really doesn't matter. Click through and watch the dude behind him on the right. Hey dude! You're on YouTube!

(via Andrew Sullivan)

Abulsme - Fri, 14 Mar 2008, 19:58:10 PDT
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Thu 13 Mar 2008

Earlier Tonight

I'll probably be in bed by 9:30 UTC. Better than last night when it was about 11 UTC. But it is still a long way from the 7 UTC... or even 6 UTC... that I should be heading to bed. Bleh.

Two days ago I only had 2 hours of sleep. Yesterday I had a conference call at 16 UTC and had 3.5 hours of sleep. Today I have a meeting at 15:30 UTC. To make that I need to be up at 14 UTC. So I'm looking at 4.5 hours of sleep tonight.

That's better, right? The trend is going in the right direction at least... Woo!

But it is nowhere near enough. Something tells me I'm going to sleep all day Saturday.

Abulsme - Thu, 13 Mar 2008, 02:17:21 PDT
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Electoral College: PA Flips Again, McCain Retakes Lead

Something tells me this race is going to flip back and forth a lot. A few more polls were posted at for several states. This once again included adding some polls retroactively in a few places.

In any case, there were two states that changed status. Iowa moved from "Weak Obama" to "Strong Obama". But the one that mattered was that Pennsylvania moved from "Weak Obama" (where it hadn't been very long) back to "Weak McCain". Truth is Pennsylvania at the moment is pretty much tied, so it is easy for it to flip back and forth with a new poll.

Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes are enough to change the lead again. We're now at 273 electoral votes for McCain (just over the 270 needed to win), 262 electoral votes for Obama, and 3 electoral votes where there are still no polls.

In any case, with the polls where they are right now, the electoral college is just about as close to tied as you can get.

This is going to be a fun election.

Of course, all of this is still assuming a McCain vs Obama matchup. If this process wasn't so cumbersome, I'd keep track of Clinton vs McCain simultaneously. But as is, I'll keep up what I am doing. If it starts looking like Clinton has a realistic chance of catching Obama (something which is NOT the case right now) then I might start looking at those charts too (or instead).

But for now... it is looking like a very close McCain vs Obama race. I will do the extra lines on the chart I promised soon, but as a quick peek, the states where the candidate that is ahead is ahead by less than a 5% margin are:

  • Texas (34 ev)
  • Pennsylvania (21 ev)
  • Ohio (20 ev)
  • Michigan (17 ev)
  • New Jersey (15 ev)
  • Virginia (13 ev)
  • Minnesota (11 ev)
  • Missouri (11 ev)
  • Wisconsin (10 ev)
  • South Carolina (8 ev)
  • Nebraska (5 ev)
  • New Mexico (5 ev)
  • New Hampshire (4 ev)
  • North Dakota (3 ev)
  • South Dakota (3 ev)
The basic point of the above is WOW. That is a HUGE number of states and a lot of electoral votes where the polls are basically saying the state is completely up for grabs. And yes, it is still quite a long time until November, but still... this race is COMPLETELY wide open.

Abulsme - Thu, 13 Mar 2008, 01:22:47 PDT
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Up a few, Down a few (Delegates)

A few small changes today. Obama gets two more delegates from Mississippi. Clinton gets three more from Mississippi. Obama picks up one more superdelegate. Clinton loses one superdelegate... that would be Spitzer. Oops.

Net gain of three delegates for Obama and two for Clinton.

Abulsme - Thu, 13 Mar 2008, 00:14:16 PDT
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Wed 12 Mar 2008

Why... Can't... Sleep??

On a regular basis I should be getting to sleep by 7 UTC at the latest. And getting up at maybe 14 or 15 UTC.

For the last week I think the earliest I have gotten to bed was 9 UTC. Yesterday I didn't go to sleep until almost 13 UTC. Right now it is 10:30 UTC. I am not asleep.

I have a conference call with Europe for work at 16 UTC.

Last night I had less than 3 hours of sleep. Looks like if I'm lucky I'll get 4 tonight.

This can't last. I need to force myself back onto a regular sleep schedule again.


Going to try to head to sleep now.

Abulsme - Wed, 12 Mar 2008, 03:19:55 PDT
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Electoral College: PA, NJ Flip to Obama - Obama takes Lead

Same as last time there are not actually *new* polls per se, but rather added new pages for New Jersey and Pennsylvania which included some polls I hadn't seen before that would fit into my "last 5 polls" criteria (and also are more recent than one year before the 2008 election).

When I added those polls in to the mix, Pennsylvania and New Jersey both flipped from weak McCain to weak Obama. This was enough to change the overall lead. We're now at Obama 283, McCain 252 and 3 with no polls.

I think I've made a couple of additional decisions on how I'll do these.

First of all, I won't make any retroactive changes to previous days totals. So, for instance, I found out about new polls today that are in the "five most recent polls" I will let that change my average from today forward, but I won't go back into the chart and try to retroactively correct yesterday's numbers to be as if I had known about those polls earlier.

Second, I'll stick with the "last 5 polls" number even when Pollster has a trendline. It will be a slightly different method, with slightly different results, but I'm OK with that.

Oh, and yeah, I will eventually get to splitting the "weak" states up. Just probably not during the week.

Abulsme - Wed, 12 Mar 2008, 02:16:13 PDT
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Tue 11 Mar 2008

Some Delegates from Mississippi... and Texas

So as I write this, we finally have results (full results) from the Texas Caucuses and we have partial results (28 delegates out of 33) for yesterday's primary in Mississippi. Net result of these changes... Clinton picks up 40 more delegates, Obama picks up 55.

So, lets update our various stats, shall we?

Obama expands his lead from 115 delegates to 130.

There are 936 delegates left unaccounted for (including both super and pledged). To win Clinton needs to get 546 of them (58.3%). To win Obama needs 416 of them (44.4%).

In percentage terms Obama now has 51.7% of the delegates, which is a new all time high for him. Clinton is down to 47.5% of the delegates. This is almost exactly where she was on March 4th (actually 47.49% today compared to 47.47% on March 4th). That March 4th number was her all time low since this contest began.

The percentage gap between Obama and Clinton is now 4.2% and is the largest percentage lead Obama has had to date.

I'll be honest, I watched almost none of tonight's media coverage of the Mississippi results, so I'm not sure how things were played out in the spin zone today.

But what is the real story?

Obama completely obliterated the slight gains Clinton made last week. Clinton is now in the weakest position she has been since things kicked off in Iowa. In order to win she now has to keep a pace of winning 58.3% of the delegates. This is a higher percentage of the delegates than she has EVER had, even in the early days of the race where she maxed out at just about 56% because she had a ton of superdelegates when very few pledged delegates had been allocated yet.

If you normalize the Pennsylvania trend numbers today (so they add up to 100%) you get that her lead is currently 57% to 43%. So at the moment she is close to the ratio she needs in PA. Very close. Of course, Obama has been gaining on her. But who knows if he will be able to keep that up and close that gap. Clinton needs to actually INCREASE her current lead in PA to be on the pace she needs though.

And of course in North Carolina it is Clinton 45% to Obama 55%. And the various states left look like some will go one way and some the other.

For the sake of argument, lets just guestimate for a moment. Lets say Clinton and Obama split the rest of the pledged delegates 50/50. Of the 936 delegates left outstanding right now 585 are pledged and 351 are super. With the 50/50 split (leaving out one delegate to make it even) we'd end up with Clinton at 1770 and Obama at 1900. Clinton would then need 254 out of the 351 superdelegates... 72% of them... in order to take the win.

Of course this is with a 50/50 split of the remaining pledged delegates. If Clinton manages better than that because Obama gets no momentum out of Wyoming and Mississippi but she does get momentum out of Pennsylvania, then it won't be quite as difficult and that 72% will be a little smaller. (If Obama beats 50% then of course Clinton would have to get an even higher percentage.) It also assumes no more superdelegates declare a preference between now and the convention.

If Obama was ahead by that 1900 to 1770 sort of margin coming into the convention would 72% of the remaining superdelegates decide to vote for Clinton anyway?

Normally I'd say there is no way at all that could happen.

But I shall not be underestimating the Clintons again.

We'll just have to wait and see how this plays out.

Oh yeah, McCain picks up some more delegates, but nobody cares.

Abulsme - Tue, 11 Mar 2008, 23:55:04 PDT
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Nap Time

Abulsme - Tue, 11 Mar 2008, 23:45:48 PDT
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Bellevue School District No. 405, Proposition No 1

There is an election today on a local school funding proposition in Bellevue, Wa where I live. Basically to approve issuing a bunch of bonds to pay for school improvements and authorizing increases in property taxes to pay for it.

The Board of Directors of Bellevue School District No. 405 adopted Resolution No. 07-21 concerning this proposition to continue to make long-term improvements in schools and facilities. To construct, equip, and install capital improvements to the District’s educational facilities and make other necessary capital improvements as part of the Building for the Future Program, the Bellevue School District No. 405 shall issue $545,000,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within a maximum of 20 years, and levy excess property taxes annually to repay the bonds, as provided in Resolution No. 07-21. Should this proposition be: APPROVED or REJECTED
I am voting "Rejected" for several reasons:
  • I would be approving a tax that others would have to pay, but I would not (since at the moment I do not own property that would be taxed by this). This seems fundamentally wrong.
  • It is building up debt via bonds rather than just paying for what they want to do directly. I don't like debt. This debt would be in bonds with up to a 20 year maturity. So in addition to what I mentioned in my first bullet, I'd also be imposing a tax on future people for the next 20 years, people who didn't even get a chance to voice an opinion on this. That also seems wrong.
  • I would not directly benefit from the funds being spent... at least not at the moment since we send Amy to private school. We might benefit in the future, but do not today. At least not directly, although of course there is the general benefit of a better educated populace, but I think that is outweighed by the first two points.
And that be that. I spent a grand total of 30 seconds thinking about it. Maybe if I had spent longer or researched more I would have done something else. I felt bad about not having done more research as soon as I filled in the little bubble on the mail-in ballot. But I'd already filled in the bubble. So it is going in the mail now.

Abulsme - Tue, 11 Mar 2008, 10:47:54 PDT
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Electoral College: Ohio Flips to Obama didn't put any new Obama vs McCain matchup polls on their poll update page that I monitor. But they did put up new charts for Ohio and Florida and lo and behold, those pages listed a bunch of polls for each state that had not previously been called out on the update page. Well, at least I didn't see them when I went to look when I started this thing. I (so far) have not gone back and retroactively added the impact of these polls to my lines going back into the past. But I made sure I had the last five for each state and included those in my average for today. The result is that Ohio flips from weak McCain to weak Obama.

This puts us at 288 electoral votes for McCain, 247 electoral votes for Obama and 3 electoral votes with no polls.

Of course, that is throwing all the "weak" states to the candidate that is ahead, and some of those contests are VERY close.

I had mentioned with my last update that I had decided to split the "weak" into those races closer than 5% and those from 5% to 10%. I meant to do this over the weekend, but didn't get a chance. I'll try to make time for it this next coming weekend, because I think it will let you read a lot more out of this chart.

I may go back and add in those additional historical polls to change the "past" portion of the lines too. Maybe. I haven't decided on that one yet. :-)

For the moment, I'm also sticking with the "last 5 polls" method. I had mentioned earlier that when started publishing trend lines I might switch to that. I may still. But for now I'll stick with the 5 polls method.

Abulsme - Tue, 11 Mar 2008, 01:36:43 PDT
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Digging Abulsme

I was in one of those sorts of moods, so instead of doing what I should have been doing the last 30 minutes or so, I was messing around with my blog templates. I changed the format of the timestamp slightly... I played with more radical formats, but then went back to a semi-normal format, but a slightly different one that was there before.

And then I went and added Digg buttons, just to see how that worked. It was pretty damn simple of course. Just copy and paste some Javascript into the right part of the site templates. Now, do I anticipate a mad rush of diggs? Uh, no. Not at all. But it was fun adding them. I may well eventually take them back out again. But for the moment, they are there. So if you see a post you really like, do please feel quite fee to digg it. :-) I am of course expecting no such thing though.

And now, I should get back to other stuff I wanted to get done tonight... then get to sleep. I am very tired. Bleh.

Abulsme - Tue, 11 Mar 2008, 00:12:53 PDT
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Mon 10 Mar 2008

Bad Week for Obama... Not!

So, CNN dumped a bunch of delegate updates today. There were some new superdelegates who declared preferences recently and are now counted. But CNN also updated the delegate breakdowns in California, DC, Georgia, Maryland, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Vermont and Wyoming, presumably representing finalization of the results in those states. Between all of that, today Obama picked up 26 delegates and Clinton picked up 10.

So, one might ask, where does that put us for the results of the previous seven days? (That is, since right before Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont voted.)

One week ago Obama had a 109 delegate lead over Clinton.

Today Obama has a 115 delegate lead over Clinton.

One week ago Clinton would have needed to win 54.9% of all remaining delegates to win.

Today Clinton needs to win 56.8% of all remaining delegates to win.

In the last week, Clinton gained 169 delegates. Obama gained 175 delegates.

And, by the way, this still does not include the results of the Texas Caucuses, which are going to be a net gain for Obama.

OK, there is one place where Hillary came out ahead. In percentage terms one week ago the gap between the percent of delegates allocated was 4.1%. It is now 3.8%. So in percentage terms she narrowed the gap slightly.

But because the number of delegates left is less than it was a week ago, despite narrowing that gap somewhat, because she wasn't narrowing the gap at a pace that would be on track to actually take the lead and win, she now has a HARDER road to the nomination now than she did a week ago.

Now, I will admit, 56.8% of all remaining delegates is a big number, but it is not 70% or 80%. It is within the realm of political possibility, although it obviously represents doing MUCH better than she has so far (she has won 47.7% of all the delegates so far).

Now, these are percentages of ALL remaining delegates, both pledged and super. But I think it is still valid to look at it this way.

In any case, yes, it is "the math" and yes, nobody wants to hear about the math. It is just too damn complicated. Boo Hoo. People want to hear about wins and losses!!! But wins and losses of states DO NOT MATTER in this system. Delegates matter. And the math matters.

The way the coverage has gone this week is absolutely non-sensical. Clinton resurgence! Woo Woo! At the BEST part of this week, she had very slightly reduced Obama's lead and was still nowhere near catching him. And as the week progressed and more results came in... and then the Wyoming caucuses... she just gave up what she had gained. One week later, she is WORSE OFF than before she "won" Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. And never in that time was she in the lead. This race has not been going back and forth. Not since February 13th when Obama first took the lead has the leadership of this race changed hands.

What's the real story here? Clinton did better in the March 4th elections than she had in quite awhile. But it was still NOT GOOD ENOUGH to be on a pace to catch Obama and win. That spin would be what is really going on. But somehow the "story" in the mainstream media is very different than that. Not because it is in any way true or meaningful, but because a horse race and a battle all the way to the convention is the better story.

Even more so... look at the graph. Look at the whole history since the beginning of January. The Clinton trend, aside from a couple of bumps, has been a steady upward trend. The Obama trend, aside from a couple small bumps, has been a steady upward trend.

Yes, it looks like Hillary has decided to fight this out to the end. Up to the very end. Potentially even trying to change the minds of superdelegates who have already decided. Perhaps even trying to change the minds of pledged delegates.

There are ways for her to win this. But they all involve either changing the minds of delegates already in Obama's camp, or winning a MUCH higher percentage of delegates (both pledged and super) than she has managed so far.

Tomorrow is Mississippi. Expect Clinton to fall even further behind.

Then, unless Obama manages an upset, she'll close the gap a bit in Pennsylvania. But, unless the split is much more in her favor than current polls show, it WON'T BE ENOUGH.

But that won't matter, because the spin out of Pennsylvania will be that Wyoming and Mississippi were small and didn't matter, and SHE WINS PENNSYLVANIA!!! And nobody will even give a crap that after that she'll most likely be even further away from winning the nomination, even though she "won".

Very depressing.

Abulsme - Mon, 10 Mar 2008, 22:23:23 PDT
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Curmudgeon's Corner: We are so Screwed

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Daylight Saving Time
  • Recession
  • Housing Crisis
  • Puerto Rican Terrorists
  • What is a Terrorist?
  • Garageband Attacks Again
  • Primary Election Stuff
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Abulsme - Mon, 10 Mar 2008, 10:08:37 PDT
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Sun 09 Mar 2008

Insignificant Changes from Wyoming

I unfortunately don't have much time for commentary today.

The results from Wyoming are in. Well, 11 out of 12 delegates have been determined. Obama got 7, Clinton got 4. And I'm sure they will figure out that last delegate sometime or another.

Ultimately it makes only a very little difference in where things stand. Obama widens his lead slightly, but very slightly.

Results from the Texas Caucuses are actually still pending. And I've seen news reports that when the final results for California were certified, Obama got more delegates than had previously been estimated. I've seen neither change come through on CNN's totals that I use for these charts yet, but when they do, it will widen Obama's lead further.

Abulsme - Sun, 9 Mar 2008, 16:19:05 PDT
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Fri 07 Mar 2008

Electoral College: Polls for Every State! McCain Wins!

Yesterday SurveyUSA put out head to head poll results for Obama vs McCain in all 50 states. (They did the same for Clinton vs McCain, but I'll worry about that when/if she takes the delegate lead.) This means we now have polls for everything... except the District of Columbia, where SurveyUSA didn't bother. Now, I think we all know that DC is about the safest 3 electoral votes the Democrats have, but I'm going to leave it in the "no polls" category until there is actually a poll.

Anyway, my end results differ somewhat from SurveyUSA's because there are a number of states where I had previous poll results and I average the last few of those (up to five) into my results as well. In general this hurt Obama. SurveyUSA makes the race out with Obama winning 280 to 258 (they go ahead and give Obama DC's 3 electoral votes). This includes of course some VERY weak states well within the margin of error.

In any case, my chart comes out a bit different when some of the other polls on some of these states are taken into account. The states where I differ from SurveyUSA are Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia. In all four cases SurveyUSA gives them to Obama, but when the earlier poll results get factored in, they slip over to McCain. That is 48 electoral votes moving from one side to another and so of course makes a huge difference.

I won't itemize all the results in all the states here, those who are interested can look at the wiki page.

End result after tons of new states and updates to all the states where I already had polls...

McCain wins 308 to 227. (DC's 3 votes not included, but would not matter.)

The breakdown:

  • Strong McCain: 93 Electoral Votes
  • Weak McCain: 215 Electoral Votes
  • No Polls: 3 Electoral Votes
  • Weak Obama: 88 Electoral Votes
  • Strong Obama: 139 Electoral Votes
Note the HUGE number of electoral votes in the "weak" categories for both candidates. For these charts weak means their lead in the state is less than 10% based on my running average of polls. One thing this makes clear to me is the answer to the question I posed in my February 29th update. Namely it would be very helpful to break down this "weak" grouping into the less than 5% lead and the 5% to 10% group.

I still think that given what we've seen so far this year, even a 9% lead really is a pretty weak lead and can evaporate in less than a week if the right things happen. However, it will still be useful to map out what the "really weak" states are on both sides, which will probably become the real battlegrounds.

I guess I'll take a look at doing that breakdown this weekend.

Abulsme - Fri, 7 Mar 2008, 08:25:50 PST
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Thu 06 Mar 2008

Walking Dead

For a variety of reasons, I only got about two hours of sleep last night. I am dragging through the day, doing what I need to do, but it is painful. The comfy round chair my office-mate brought into our shared office a few months keeps beckoning, but I am resisting and trying to keep productive. Need to make it through the day, then I can get home and... well... I'll have passed the wall by then and probably still won't fall asleep until midnight, but I can still wish for an earlier sleep, can't I?

Just to add to my bleh, a few minutes ago I got lunch from the cafeteria. The entree today was cheese quesadillas. I was wary, but I didn't want to wait in line for a burger or what not. So I got them. It is aweful. I tried about three bites, but trying more is just not something I have in me today. So I'll probably be off to the vending machine soon to make up for the lack of real lunch. In the mean time, here is my short lunchtime post. :-)


Abulsme - Thu, 6 Mar 2008, 12:51:30 PST
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Tough Decisions Delayed

I mentioned briefly and without detail on the last podcast that we were in the process of making some tough choices relating to having Amy continue at her current school next year or trying somewhere or something else. There are a number of factors in play including some stuff the school is doing, some of how Amy is doing, and also of course the costs involved, which are not trivial. The official deadline for deciding on next year is tomorrow.

With the information we have today and the situation today, that would have been a very hard call for us to make today, and Brandy and I were leaning in different directions. This morning though, we had a 40 minute meeting with the Head of School to discuss some of our concerns. In the end we're going to do some stuff, they are going to do some stuff, and we now have until the end of June to make a final decision on next year. That helps a lot.

Hopefully by then we'll have a much stronger sense of where things stand and if it looks like things are starting to look more like they did in 6th grade (very positive) as opposed to how they looked the first half of 7th grade (not so much).

So... three more months... and in that time we... and Amy... and the school... have some work to do. We'll see how that all works out.

Abulsme - Thu, 6 Mar 2008, 10:56:20 PST
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Second Day of OH/RI/TX/VT Delegates

We now have 292 of 370 (79%) of the delegates counted for Tuesday's Democratic primaries and caucuses. As expected, with more of the results actually in, the advantage Clinton had yesterday has dwindled, but not disappeared. I should note that Obama also picked up five superdelegates in addition to delegates earned in the Tuesday states.

As of today, here is where we stand: Obama 51.2%, Clinton 47.9%, Edwards 0.9%. The gap between them, which had been 4.1% before Tuesday's results, which had shrunk to 3.0% yesterday, is now back to 3.2%. In raw delegate terms, the gap went from 109 delegates, to 86 delegates, back up to 96 delegates.

With what has been counted so far (including those 5 superdelegates), since Tuesday Clinton gained 155 delegates, Obama gained 142. A net difference of +13 for Clinton. Back in the terms I posted Tuesday this puts Clinton at 52.2% of the delegates awarded... she needed 55% to be on a winning pace. With just yesterday's results, she accomplished that. But add in today's count and she is no longer there. If Hillary and Obama split all remaining delegates at the same percentage as the results of the last two days, Obama would win the nomination.

At this point there are 1079 more delegates up for grabs assuming no delegates change their minds. This counts both pledged and superdelegates. To win Obama needs to get 505 of those. Clinton needs 601. In percentage terms, Clinton would need 55.7% of them. Obama only needs 46.8% of them.

On the other hand, momentum does unfortunately really matter. If someone starts to get seen as a loser, then that tends to feed on itself. 56% is a big number. A difficult number But it is not actually completely out of the realm of possibility. And of the states that are left at this point, a bunch do favor Clinton. And if Obama shoots himself in the foot again like he did with that Canada story in the couple days right before Tuesday, then that will make it even more possible.

She would need to have the superdelegates flip in enough numbers to reverse the pledged delegate count most likely. But if Obama loses a big string of these heading into the convention, like Hillary did in February... then those superdelegates may well flip.

What's left from Tuesday to count on the Democratic side are 11 more delegates from Ohio and all 67 delegates from the Texas Caucuses, which still have not release actual results in delegate terms. That should favor Obama some, so the gap between them may widen a bit more again. But not by too much.

Another election on Saturday. They just keep coming...

I won't go into a detailed analysis of all the delegate counts on the Republican side. We have 250 of 256 delegates accounted for at this time. And we all know McCain wrapped it up yesterday.

But the important news today? Over the last two days of counting Huckabee picked up 4 delegates in Rhode Island. And 16 in Texas. This brought him to 267 delegates. Which is 12 more than Romney's 255. So Huckabee wins second place!!

Woo Woo! Go Huckabee!

Abulsme - Thu, 6 Mar 2008, 02:26:36 PST
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Wed 05 Mar 2008

Another Arrival

Brandy's new laptop just got delivered by FedEx. She is dropping Amy off at school right now. It will be here when she returns in a few minutes.

Meanwhile, I still feel icky, but in a few minutes I'll drag myself in to work. There is one meeting later today I don't want to miss. And I don't think I am contagious.

Yea! on the first. Bleh! on the second.

Abulsme - Wed, 5 Mar 2008, 10:00:53 PST
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Initial TX/OH/RI/VT Delegate Results

OK, to start with, these delegate results come in SLOWLY. So todays update is by no means the final result from yesterday's voting. On the Republican side there were 256 delegates at stake yesterday... we have the results for only 183 of them... 71%. On the Democratic side the count is even slower. Of 370 delegates at stake, we have the results for 169. That's 46%. The results will presumably continue to be finalized over the next few days. In the mean time, despite what you may hear, we don't actually know yet what really happened yesterday.

OK, the charts as of now...

We've gone from Obama 51.5%, Clinton 47.5%, Edwards 1.0% to Obama 51.1%, Clinton 48.0%, Edwards 0.9%. Clinton narrows the gap in percentage terms from 4.1% to 3.0%. In terms of raw delegates yesterday she was behind by 109 delegates, today she is behind by 86... a net pick up of 23 delegates.

Obama needs 574 more delegates to win. Clinton needs 660.

Now, in a post yesterday I said to look at the percentage of delegates being earned by each candidate to see which candidate was "on pace" to win. Of the delegates from yesterday allocated so far, Clinton grabbed 56.8%. To be on a pace to win, she needed to be over 55%. Which means, if every delegate still available (including both pledged and super) breaks at the same percentage she got with the delegates in this update, then she'd get the magic number and win the nomination. I'll repeat again, given just the delegates allocated since yesterday, Clinton *IS* on a pace to win the nomination.

Of course, looking at which delegates are still "missing" from the counts, the expectation is that as those results come in, Obama will win more and reopen the delegate gap. Estimates I have heard seem to indicate that when everything is counted, rather than narrowing the gap by 23, the gap will be where it was yesterday, plus or minus five delegates or so. But we shall see. Nothing to do other than wait for the final results to keep coming in over the next few days. At that point we'll have a better picture of what is really going on. What you see right now is looking at partial results, with only 26 out of 193 of Texas delegates accounted for. And given how Texas allocates delegates, between the caucuses and the weighting of precincts, a popular vote win for Clinton does NOT necessarily mean a delegate win.

You'd think that in this day and age we could have instant results, but we don't. This will take a little while to settle.

And of course we have more voting this coming Saturday and Tuesday. Results from yesterday may or may not be final by then.

And the Republicans... John McCain did indeed go over the magic number. Absent death, disability, or a major scandal that causes him to step down, McCain is the nominee.

More importantly, Huckabee is now only 4 delegates away from catching Mitt Romney for second place. There are still a bunch of delegates to be allocated in Texas and Ohio... so he may well still do it!

Abulsme - Wed, 5 Mar 2008, 09:02:21 PST
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They are Home

Brandy and Amy are home again. It is a good thing.

Abulsme - Wed, 5 Mar 2008, 02:18:37 PST
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Tue 04 Mar 2008

Texas Primary for Clinton

CNN just called the Texas Primary for Clinton.

Delegates from the various primaries still being counted. Texas Caucus still being counted.

At this point it is also clear that the media is buying the whole "the math and delegates don't matter, she's a winner!" narrative.

I'll wait until morning to do delegate count updates, because at this point they are still very much in flux.

Abulsme - Tue, 4 Mar 2008, 21:50:42 PST
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Sam is a Swing Voter

Watched McCain's speech earlier. Am watching Clinton's speech now.

This has solidified one thing in my mind.

McCain is a reasonable moderate Republican and a honorable man. Clinton represents all the worst tendencies of American politics. McCain will do many things that I think are horrible. So would Clinton. (So would Obama for that matter.) I don't agree with any of them on policy matters. The difference for me is not about policy, it is about character.

My pick is Obama.

But if Clinton somehow manages to somehow stick this through until the convention and then somehow pulls out a win... something which I still think is highly unlikely... then she will have definitely converted my vote from a "D" to an "R".

Hillary Clinton will never, ever, get my vote.

I am one of those voters for which the Democratic choice of nominee will directly effect my general election vote. How many of us are there? Are there more who lean in my direction than the opposite direction (meaning an Obama win would convert them to Republican)? I don't know. But it is a real and important dynamic.

Abulsme - Tue, 4 Mar 2008, 20:28:54 PST
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Clinton Wins Ohio

CNN just called Ohio for Clinton. But there is absolutely no word yet on the delegate counts, which is of course what actually matters. Her margin (at the moment) looks pretty good. So she'll probably pick up a few delegates here. The question is how many.

Abulsme - Tue, 4 Mar 2008, 19:55:20 PST
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McCain Almost Official

CNN is projecting he will get enough delegates tonight to officially have more than 50% of the delegates to the Republican convention. Poor Huckabee.

Abulsme - Tue, 4 Mar 2008, 18:00:30 PST
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Home, But Less Fun

Well, I did get home in time for the first results (Obama won Vermont), but that is not the actual reason I am home early. It is that Brandy and Amy will be back in a few hours, and I need to get the house back in some semblance of order before I head to the airport. Not that many hours left. Their flight is currently over northwest Indiana. Looks like they may be just coming out of some nasty weather. I'm sure that was fun for them.

But... and this is where the less fun for me comes in... Plan was originally to come home one or two hours from now (and just catch the election returns on my phone until then) and then clean up and such while watching the returns come in. But in the last few hours I've started to feel unwell. I think I have a slight fever, although I can't get the thermometer I found to work, and my head is getting all swimmy, and I've got a few other random symptoms that just suddenly started making me unhappy a few hours ago and are getting worse by the hour. Bleh. Bleh. Bleh. So once I finished my last meeting, I just headed home.

I just took some Tylenol. Hopefully it will be enough to make me feel somewhat functional. Right now I just feel like lying down.


Abulsme - Tue, 4 Mar 2008, 16:02:00 PST
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A Little More Math

Including both pledged delegates and superdelegates, there are 1376 delegates left to be determined. (As per CNN's count.)

Clinton needs 756 of those in order to get the nomination. That is 54.9% of them.

Obama needs 647 of those in order to get the nomination. That is 47.0% of them.

Now, 55% still doesn't seem quite impossible. That could be a doable margin, right? Well, it still represents a pretty big margin... one that would seem unlikely given how things have been going so far... but it isn't like that number was 70% or anything.

So when you watch the results tonight... which actually will begin at 21 UTC... 4 PM Eastern... 1 PM Pacific... (Urgh, I'll still be at work and have meetings. :-( )... if you want to know what is really going on, ignore the spin, ignore the popular vote... watch the delegates... is Clinton picking up more than 55% of the delegates? If so, she's on a pace to win. If not, look at Obama. Is he picking up more than 47% of the delegates? If so HE is on a pace to win.

Those add up to more than 100% though... what is all that about... well, of course, that is the John Edwards effect. If the split is somewhere between Obama 45% Clinton 55% and Obama 47% Clinton 53%... then that means we are on pace to have the 26 delegates that belong to John Edwards being the deciding factor in this campaign.

And wouldn't that be fun.

(Of course, the math above does not include either seating the existing Florida and Michigan delegates, or doing "do overs" in those states. For the former, Hillary would need to already be ahead coming into the convention, or Obama would have to be so far ahead that those delegations would not matter... so in either case it would not matter. For the latter... well, that would give a bit more flexibility to the scenarios... if Clinton really wants to drag this out, she should be pushing hard for the do-over options.)

Abulsme - Tue, 4 Mar 2008, 09:48:02 PST
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Mon 03 Mar 2008

A Few More Delegates before Texas

(And before Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island too of course.)

Hillary picks up 2 superdelegates. Obama picks up 9 superdelegates. That gap between them is now 109 delegates.

In percentage terms... Obama 51.6%, Clinton 47.5%, Edwards 1.0%.

Obama needs 647 more delegates to win. Clinton needs 756.

We'll see how all those numbers change after we get results from today's voting.

McCain picks up 14 delegates from a variety of places. A few unpledged delegates. Then delegates trickling in from delegate allocation processes in Alabama, Illinois, Maryland, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

In Percentages... McCain 66.7%, Romney 16.2%, Huckabee 15.7%, Paul 1.3%.

McCain needs 144 more delegates to wrap it up.

Abulsme - Mon, 3 Mar 2008, 23:19:36 PST
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So... She Could Do It

So, a week ago things looked impossible for Hillary in both Texas and Ohio. Her lead in Texas had completely disappeared, and her lead in Ohio was shrinking rapidly. But in the last week Clinton has battled back. She has made some attacks which appear to have been effective. She has gotten some decent press. In Texas, where Obama had pulled ahead, by several points in the polls, she now has the margin back to 0.2%... a statistically completely insignificant number. It is a dead heat. In Ohio, she blunted Obama's momentum and has managed to retain her lead. Down to 5.8% for sure, but still a real lead. Some polls even have her lead growing once again. And of course she is way ahead in Rhode Island.

So she might... just might... pull out three wins out of four contests during the voting in the next 24 hours.

But... but... now is the part where spin vs reality thing comes in. Here is one good take on it:

Existential Realities Of The Democratic Race
(Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic)

Q. What does "win" mean?
A. The winner of the Democratic nomination is not the person who wins the most states, not the person who wins the most votes, is not the person who gives the best speeches... it's the person who wins 2024 (25? -- we're not sure yet) delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Q. Can Hillary Clinton win the nomination?
A. Maybe.

Q. Can you be more specific? Is it mathematically possible for her to win the nomination?
A. Yes.

Q. Is it likely that she will win the nomination?
A. Based on the math alone and a reasonable projection of external events, no.

Q. But you said it's possible.
A. Yes. But lots of things have to break her way. If, say, voting ends and the press discovers that Obama has a secret second family in Idaho and all his superdelegates abandon him; if, for some reason, she wins 75% of the popular vote in the states after Ohio and Texas and half the remaining superdelegates; if, by slow attrition, she closes the delegate gap to about 70 and picks off two thirds of the remaining superdelegates; if the pledged (Obama) delegates concur with the credentials committee and seat the (Clintonian) Florida and Michigan delegations) -- then, yes, it's possible.
Clinton's campaign has been signaling that if they "Win" tomorrow (in popular vote) then damn the delegate count, full speed ahead. They won't care that the actual gap between the two candidates in terms of delegates will at best only be slightly tightened. That Obama will still be significantly ahead. That in order to have a shot at winning she will have to do a lot of damage to her party. "Club the baby seal to death" as has been said. That even if she won, she would emerge as a damaged candidate. And more likely, even after all that she'd still not get it in the end. And the other candidate would emerge damaged. Is she really willing to go to murder/suicide route, giving McCain the best shot at the presidency he could possibly hope for?

More importantly, will anyone take her seriously and buy the spin? If she actually manages to win the popular vote in three states tomorrow, I think they might. Even if the delegate balance barely changes, or even if it goes against her. And then it is on to fight through at least until Pennsylvania... another state where she is ahead in the polls but Obama is closing fast... but that might change if she manages to paint herself as a comeback winner out of Ohio and Texas.

If she loses one of the two, I no longer have a feeling of confidence on what she will do. Will she try to keep going? Maybe. Will she decide enough is enough? Maybe. It will all be about how the spin plays out in the 48 hours or so after the election results come in.

If she loses both Texas and Ohio? At that point not dropping out would just be... well... then she really would be playing the Huckabee role. Could she force the decision all the way to the convention? Yes. She probably could. But in the end she would lose anyway.

On the February 24th Curmudgeon's Corner I first predicted that Hillary would drop out on March 5th. I think that is less likely than it was then. Not that it SHOULDN'T be what she should do at that point, but she might just be too damn stubborn to do it.

Which will of course mean more fun and excitement for political junkies like me, but you know, ad much fun as taking this to the convention would be, I'm guessing it is kind of obvious I'm quite ready to start obsessing over the general election.

Abulsme - Mon, 3 Mar 2008, 20:43:29 PST
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Lunch Puppy

So, as I was sitting down at my desk to eat my lunch, I looked up and I noticed that with absolutely no sound on entrance, there was now a very well behaved young dog sitting next to me, looking up at my hamburger. As I ate he lay down and settled in to wait patiently. He clearly wanted my last bite.

And he got it.

I am such a pushover.

Abulsme - Mon, 3 Mar 2008, 13:54:21 PST
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Sun 02 Mar 2008

Electoral College: First Poll for New Jersey

New Rasmussen McCain vs Obama poll for New Jersey. This is the first such poll for New Jersey and starts New Jersey out in the "Weak McCain" category (leading by 2%).

So now we have Obama 157, Clinton 151, and 230 electoral votes that still have no polls at all.

Abulsme - Sun, 2 Mar 2008, 20:23:39 PST
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Curmudgeon's Corner: A Word from the Dog

Sam talks about:

  • That Sleep Thing
  • Universal Time
  • Fun with School
  • Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont
  • What matters is Delegates
  • How Hillary could Win
  • Will Hillary Push On?
  • New Laptop
  • Roscoe Speaks
1-Click Subscribe in iTunes

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Last week I said I'd start including the direct play thing when I did these announcements, but it wrecked havoc with the way I keep stats, so I decided not to do it again after all. If anybody really did find it helpful and used it, please let me know and I might reconsider. In the mean time, if you want to listen, I recommend using one of the links above.

Abulsme - Sun, 2 Mar 2008, 15:20:27 PST
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Sat 01 Mar 2008

Diary of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr: Chapter 6

In the autumn before I was nine, I was sent to some lady tailoresses about one and a half miles to have a coat cut from cloth finished at my fathers and uncle's clothing works. These ladies names were Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake. After I had obtained an entrance with my package to their apartment, Miss Bryant asked me, "Whose boy are you?" I answered Hiram Hurlburt's boy. Then I was going to say something, but Miss Bryant pointing her finger at me, said "You will wait." Then she said, "Your mother was a Bullard, she came from Athol, Mass. Now what did you wish to say?" Then I held my tongue, Mother wished me to ask you, if I might dig some sweet flag root on your ground? Miss Bryant said yes. But bring me a piece, measuring on her hand five or six inches long. I dug the root, which was milder in taste than usually found, not so pungent. When I gave the long piece to Miss Bryant she remarked, "That I was the first boy that had ever asked permission to dig roots there, they come and dug as they had a mind to".

Miss Bryant was a short woman, her counter to cut on was quite high for her, but she had a foot stove to put charcoal in for comfort to her feet, and the article was double length so she could step off from over the coal division. The handles to her shears were wound with some dark material, which made me suppose, she used them a great deal. I was ordered there two or three times, and noticed Miss Bryant was ???e man, this I thought was perfectly proper, as Miss Bryant had all the advisory art of all business. Afterwards I heard it mentioned as if Miss Bryant and Miss Drake were married to each other. I always heard they got along pleasantly together. But after Miss Bryants death, Miss Drake went to live in her fathers house, near Beldens Falls, a brother-in-law carried on the place, and it was reported she made it very hard for that brother-in-law. "Fortes Shaw".

I now understand this Miss Charity Bryant was a liberal contributer to the Congregationalist Church, at the Silas Wright monument in Weybridge, and was Aunt to Wm Cullen Bryant the poet, who came twice to visit her.

Above the falls on Otter Creek in Quaker Village was a pond raised by two dams as there is a rocky island that divides the stream, causes the east section to fill up with the waste that comes down the creek. This winter I was nine years old. But first let me say that the spring before I had given me a fishing rig, and fished over the bank by a butternut tree for pickerel; and after much anxiety lost my hook and bait, of course, the bait were small fish I caught at the "Beave Brook" a mile away from home. Then a man "Otis Bean" that worked for my father gave me a stronger one with a chain attached. I was now sure of getting the fish, for father had said, the way I lost my hook was, that it got caught on a root or some flood wood lying on the bottom; But I was sure of having a bite. While patiently waiting the outcome of this new rigging the bite came, and I like to lost my pole, first one way, then the other the large fish capered around, but finally when I thought he would pull the pole from my hands the line parted near the chain, upon looking I was wholly ruined for fishing, I did not wish to say much about it, for I remembered fathers reason for looing my hook.

To continue a fish story; The dams in the falls was at the height so the water in the section that filled up with dirt in the freshets, would be about two to three feet in depth. It was the first of cold weather and the ice was about two inches thick, I was on skates that I made by taking a bit of three fourths of an inch birch board that would not split easily, sawing on one side a channel 3/8 of an inch deep, then taking an old barrel hoop of iron, and fitting by filing and grinding, then inserting in this groove, then by putting holes so to use strings, like wooden skates used, I could make considerable headway. As I was crossing the ice I looked through the clear body of water and saw as I supposed him, a round stick of wood, like flood wood, as there was more or less of these chunks lying on the bed of the pond. To make the boys come out to where I was; I hollered to come and see this big fish, and while they were coming I looked again when I saw the fins move. The I skated with all my strength to get an axe we had that morning to break the ice for the cow to drink, then struck on the ice just over the fish's head. Away he went, but was easily followed. The water was perhaps from 18 to 30 inches deep; and wherever the fish went in this three fourths of an acre, there was a streak of roil, to track him by. Finally, after several strokes over his head he turned head down and tail up to the ice. A few blows with the axe, and he was taken out gasping on the ice. As he lay there opening and closing his mouth, one youngster (Sam May mentioned din another chapter) stuck his boot into the fish's mouth. The fish seemed to think there was something to live for, and so closed his jaws upon the boot, the teeth going through the upper leather and stocking to the bare foot. We at once got his foot out leaving stocking and boot in the pickerel's mouth. The bare foot looked as if the cat has scratched the top of it. We discovered my fish hook and chain of the season before in the outer cartilage. This hooks and chain had kept along with him in his travels in the pond without any apperant detriment to good living, as he appeared in perfect health weighing on the home steely yards ten pounds and eleven ounces.

(The full diary will be located here when complete.)

Abulsme - Sat, 1 Mar 2008, 21:19:27 PST
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Time Machine Happy

So, as many of you may remember, I had tons of problems with Time Machine when OS X 10.5 first came out. Eventually I gave up on it, deciding to wait for 10.5.2. At the same time, I discovered a corrupt directory, which I got rid of and may have fixed the problem on its own. But I still waited for 10.5.2. And then after that I waited until I'd done a complete backup and moved it to a separate place so even when I started time machine if I had something go wrong I could still get back to it. So, about 11 days ago I finally started Time Machine under 10.5.2 for the first time.

For 10 days it worked PERFECTLY. And then the computer crashed. Now, in the past, my two modes of failure were that Time Machine was super slow (definitely not the case this time) and that after a crash it could not recover and resume backups. So this was the big test.

And it came out with flying colors. All is fine.

I can now officially state I am very happy with Time Machine. Woo.

Abulsme - Sat, 1 Mar 2008, 12:41:24 PST
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