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The weathervane vote

Friday, October 28th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — not a weatherman myself, though I do appreciate Bob Dylan ]
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Is what I suggest here ridiculous, or important but largely overlooked, or well known and in general background awareness? What say you? I just want to air the topic..

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There’s a lot of talk about swing voters, right? A Brookings Institution chapter, What Exactly Is a Swing Voter? Definition and Measurement runs to 31 pages and 27 footnotes explaining the concept, but I think there’s one swing vote they may be missing.

I came to this conclusion after pondering the whole question of margins of error in polls. It’s generally accepted that polls have margins of error, often in the mid-single digits. Margins of error call forth interesting analytics, too — see this graphic and accompanying comment from Pew, 5 key things to know about the margin of error in election polls:

horseracepolls

For example, in the accompanying graphic, a hypothetical Poll A shows the Republican candidate with 48% support. A plus or minus 3 percentage point margin of error would mean that 48% Republican support is within the range of what we would expect if the true level of support in the full population lies somewhere 3 points in either direction – i.e., between 45% and 51%.

Even a relatively small margins of error can be enough to encourage misreading an upcoming election result, but the margin of error I’m thinking of is in the range of 35% of undecideds. Let’s call it the weathervane vote.

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Consider this quote from Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President, 1960:

The weather was clear all across Massachusetts and New England, perfect for voting as far as the crest of the Alleghenies. But from Michigan through Illinois and the Northern Plains states it was cloudy: rain in Detroit and Chicago, light snow falling in some states on the approaches of the Rockies. The South was enjoying magnificently balmy weather which ran north as far as the Ohio River; so, too, was the entire Pacific Coast. The weather and the year’s efforts were to call out the greatest free vote in the history of this or any other country.

That’s also the epigraph to another piece of learned disquisition — and yes, I love (envy, mock) academics — The Republicans Should Pray for Rain: Weather, Turnout, and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections. That’s from The Journal of Politics, Vol. 69, No. 3, August 2007, pp. 649–663.

Parasols or umbrellas?

**

But my figure of 35%?

First, let me admit i’m not exactly clear on the distinctions or overlaps between swing voters and undecideds, so I may be adding my own margin of error by conflating the two — but my 35% comes from a 2012 piece titled Bad Weather on Election Day? Many Won’t Vote. I think my favorite bullet point therein was this:

  • In bad weather, Mitt Romney supporters are more likely to vote.
  • Their lead paragraph gives me my 35% figure:

    Among those who plan to vote this year, 35 percent of undecided voters say that inclement weather conditions would have a “moderate to significant” impact on whether they make it to the polls on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

    Don’t ask the the margin of error on that particular poll, though, the good folks at Weather.com failed to say.

    **

    My favorite weathervane to date:

    garden-installation-rabbit-weathervane-drawing-p

    Bottom line: If 35% of the swing vote hinges on which way the wind blows, I’m prone to thinking the weather may well have the deciding vote in this here election.

    Hat-tip for pointing me to the 35% piece: rockin’ andee baker.

    On targeting as a mood this electoral season, 1

    Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — the only virtue I can see in this darkness is that the light contrasts with it ]
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    I find this frankly horrifying:

    This, at a supposedly Christian university?

    Feh.

    **

    Mark you, I think targeting an individual — any individual –in this way is very different from targeting contested seats in an election. I can understand both Democrats and Republicans using the imagery of targets or cross-hairs to suggest where they’d like their supporters to get active, get out the vote and win seats..

    acceptable-or-not

    I said as much in On sneers, smears, and mutual sniping:

    Neither “targetting” political adversaries nor “having them in your crosshairs” equates to killing or there would have been a whole lot more attempted assassinations — just the one was bad enough.

    Have some proportion, people.

    **

    However, as an inveterate DoubleTweeter I have to say that pinning targets or cross-hairs on individual leaders in highly charged political disputes speaks a wholly different language, and presents a far higher threat level, than targeting districts on an electoral map:

    **

    For the record, I find this no less offensive:

    trump-target

    Hinnary, or: Google Image Search, meet Hillary Clinton

    Thursday, October 20th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — artificial intelligence at the intersection of religion and politics ]
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    Our own J Scott Shipman posted what I term a DoubleQuote on Facebook this morning, offering a juxtaposition of politician Hillary Clinton and preacher Benny Hinn:

    scotts-dq

    I’ve enlarged it and cropped it lengthwise to give you a proper appreciation of the comparison.

    hinnary-clinton

    **

    Okay, I thought, Scott’s doing an informal DoubleQuote, let me see if I can find the two images and rework them into one of my regular DoubleQuote formats. Only it wasn’t that easy. The only versions of the Hinn photo I could find were too small for my format, and the Hillary image wasn’t a photo but a screencap from a video — I could find a similar screencap from another TV channel, but not the exact one Scott had found.

    As you’ve seen above, I finally settled for cropping and enlarging the image Scott had provided — but along the way I ran across another instance of the intelligence of artifice — in this case, Google Image Search’s recognition technology:

    google-image-search-meet-hillary-clinton

    Ah — but spokesperson for what or whom?

    **

    I’m relieved to say that while Google is in general a brilliant, cutting-edge, genius of a search engine, it’s clearly not following the current Presidential race with any enthusiasm.

    You see that lady? She’s one of the candidates, and she was on several TV channels and online streaming sites just last night.

    There’s another candidate, who probably looks pretty much the same to you:

    similar

    I don’t think my telling you all this will make you more artificially intelligent — but it might make you a little better informed about current affairs.

    At the intersection of Religion and Politics

    Sunday, October 16th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — Metaxas (Christian) and Hindus (Bollywood included) ]
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    Eric Metaxas for Trump:

    Hindus for Trump:

    **

    Eric Metaxas is the author of the widely praised biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

    Electoral religion 2016

    Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — remembering the Ted Cruz Christ / Antichrist (and Obama ditto) rhetoric from an earlier post ]
    .

    Dismal, both of them:

    tablet-dq-electoral-religion

    Sources:

  • NBC News, Trump Calls Clinton ‘The Devil’
  • NYT Magazine, I’m the Last Thing Standing Between You and the Apocalypse
  • **

    I could be wrong, but I somehow doubt that either Trump or Clinton is using the terms “devil” or “apocalypse” (respectively) in their literal religious meanings here.

    For that I’m thankful.

    But then..

    In contrast to the two posts I’ve linked to above, these two below appear to me to be making overtly and deliberately religious appeals with respect to the current election.

  • Alex Jones, InfoWars, Hillary Clinton: Demonic Warmonger
  • Andy Crouch, Christianity Today, Speak Truth to Trump
  • I’ve included the InfoWars video clip because it makes it very clear that Alex Jones, at least, claims he is being “Biblical” — his own word — when he calls Hillary Clinton demonic — and the Christianity Today piece because it represents a distinguished Evangelical response to the general tendency of Evangelical Christians to support Donald Trump‘s candidacy.

    In somewhat related news, I am saddened to report that Christianity Today‘s literary magazine Books & Culture will close at the end of the year. John Wilson, the editor, is a long time and valued friend from Pasadena bookstore days — see his kind words about the late Bill Tunilla, the bookman who introduced us, in this Letter from the Editor.


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