Sorry about the abrupt end to the liveblogging last night; Firefox crashed, and CoverItLive wouldn’t let me log back in as the moderator.
Anyway, it’s a good day to be a liberal. As you all know by now, it was Obama in an absolute landslide. He won by a huge margin in the electoral vote, and by a good margin in the popular vote.
The Democrats also kicked Elizabeth Dole and John Sununu out of the senate, which is wonderful. But they didn’t take enough seats to get
past a filibuster in the Senate. This means that we can expect to see a really dramatic level of obstructionism from the remaining Republicans in the senate. And based on various comments that he made, I think we can count on Holy Joe Lieberman to join in with the right-wingers in blocking the Senate from getting anything done.
There are a few interesting things that I wanted to comment on.
First, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight did an
amazing job. Nate’s analysis were really dead-on. If you want
to see someone doing a really nice job of careful, thorough statistical
analysis, just go over to Nate’s site, and take a look at how he build
he models. I’d been expecting his predictions to be very good, based on
the great job that he did with the math, and now that we’ve got the
results, you can see how that paid off. Comparing his predicted
electoral map to the actual electoral map, he got every state
right. I’ve never seen such a dead-on prediction.
Second, the Bradley effect appears to be dead. If you’ve been hiding in a cave for the last month, the Bradley effect refers to a supposed tendency for people to deny their racism by telling pollsters that they’d vote for a black candidate when in the real privacy of the voting booth, they wouldn’t. All of the results from yesterday seem to point to the fact that there was no Bradley effect in this election: the results match the pre-election polls extremely closely, with no shift of white voters to McCain. That’s a very good thing. Contrary to the claims of some Conservative bloggers I’ve seen trying to find something positive in this election outcome, that doesn’t mean that there’s no more racism in America; but it does mean that racism isn’t
nearly as dominant as it once was. Not too long ago, it would have been
impossible for a black man to be elected President. Even a dozen years ago, it would have been shocking to see a state like Virginia vote for a black president – especially one with an Arabic first name!
Third, there’s a lot of talk about the turnout in the election. I don’t recall which channel I was watching, but as results were coming in from Ohio, one reporter was saying “Black turnout in Cleveland was only around 18%, which is only up 2% from four years ago”. That’s a rather classic bad-math error. A two percent increase over 16% is 16.32% – which is a trivial change. A change from 16% to 18% is actually a 12.5% increase – which is very significant. I heard similar things quoted with respect to youth voting. The easiest way to demonstrate
the meaning of that error is to ask “What would you say if the voting rate increased from 20% to 40%?” Most people would respond “The turnout doubled”, not “The turnout increased by 20%.” But as is all too typical, the people reporting the election results are mathematical illiterates. (In fact, some of them are pround mathematical illiterates; many reporters basically brag about how bad they are at math. The worst example of that that I recall is here, where Richard Cohen not only proudly brags about how he doesn’t know algebra, but also admits that he – a political reporter who covers elections – doesn’t understand percentages.)