Monday, September 16, 2013

Election news from campuses on the campaign trail

I'm waiting for the results of two recounts, Detroit's and New York City's, to be announced.  Detroit's recount will not change the candidates on the general election ballot; it's another stunt by Tom Barrow, hopefully his last as a politician.  On the other hand, New York City's will have real consequences.  If Bill DeBlasio gets above 40% in the recount, he goes on to the general election.  If not, he faces a run-off.  The outcome should be announced this week and I promise to get back to you all with it.

In the meantime, I present two items of election news from campuses on the campaign trail from the past two weeks of Overnight News Digests.  First, Rutgers University has the latest in the contest for Governor of New Jersey in Christie Maintains High Ratings, but Voters Still Disapprove of his Performance on Top Problems.
More than half of voters continue to express no opinion on Buono

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – A year after his response to Hurricane Sandy sent Gov. Chris Christie’s ratings into record territory, a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds New Jersey registered voters continue to embrace him, if not quite as strongly. Christie’s 66 percent positive job rating remains the envy of most politicians, even though it has dropped four points since June. During the same period, disapproval of Christie has increased six points to 31 percent, still well below its pre-Sandy highs.

“It was inevitable that the governor’s ratings would drop from their high point during the run-up to an election, but Christie continues to bask in broad support,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University.

Even as voters continue to report strong general approval of Christie’s performance, they also pan his specific efforts on the economy and taxes, seen as the two most important issues facing the state. Only 42 percent approve of Christie’s handling of the economy and jobs, unchanged since June, but the 34 percent approval of his performance on taxes is a seven-point decline over that period. Regardless, disapproval of specific issues is not significantly affecting overall voter support for Christie.
I personally don't care much for Christie--I think he's a bully--but he's a very skilled politician and about as close to the center as any major elected official in his party.  As much as I'd like for him to lose the election in two months, I just don't see it happening.

Next, the University of Virginia featured the two other stars of election forecasting last year, besides Nate Silver, in U.Va.’s Sabato and Princeton’s Wang Discuss the Statistics Behind Election Forecasting.
U.Va. politics professor Larry Sabato and Princeton University neuroscientist Sam Wang discussed their different yet incredibly accurate methods of  prediction and analysis of political elections in a panel discussion held Thursday evening. “The Art(s) and Science(s) of Election Forecasting” celebrated U.Va.’s newest interdisciplinary minor, statistical analysis of social behavior, offered in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Sabato is the director of the U.Va. Center for Politics. His website, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, has accurately predicted 98 percent of Senate, House and gubernatorial races in the past four election cycles. He uses statistical models, information from select polls and expert analysis to predict election outcomes.

Wang, an associate professor of molecular biology at Princeton, used his expertise in probability and statistical analysis to found the Princeton Election Consortium in 2004. The site compiles aggregate data from all available state polls to provide “snapshots” of the current public opinion and predict elections. Wang also provides commentary on the results.
Wang actually beat Silver in his Senate predictions.  Silver thought that the poll results wouldn't hold based on the partisan lean in North Dakota, while Wang went with the polls and predicted a Heidi Heitkamp win.  She did.  With Nate going to ESPN, Wang and Sabato may be the leaders in forecasting the next election cycle.