Archive for the ‘Election – 2012’ Category

Reprise: How Beef-Loving Voters Can Get Tofu (aka Trump) for President

March 9, 2016

This is from the HomaFiles archives – one of my favs.

The original WSJ article was inspired by Clinton’s win over elder Bush (the Perot factor), younger Bush’s win over Gore (the Nader factor), and Jesse Ventura’s gov win in Minnesota.

trump rubio cruz kasich

The analysis has relevancy these days, given the way that the not-Trump vote is being carved thin among the array of GOP presidential contenders.

Let’s see how Iowa turns out tonight …

(more…)

Reprise: How Beef-Loving Voters Can Get Tofu (aka Trump) for President

February 1, 2016

This is from the HomaFiles archives – one of my favs.

The original WSJ article was inspired by Clinton’s win over elder Bush (the Perot factor), younger Bush’s win over Gore (the Nader factor), and Jesse Ventura’s gov win in Minnesota.

image.png

The analysis has relevancy these days, given the way that the not-Trump vote is being carved thin among many GOP presidential contenders.

Let’s see how Iowa turns out tonight …

(more…)

Reprise: How Beef-Loving Voters Can Get Tofu for President

August 10, 2015

This is from the HomaFiles archives – one of my favs.

The original article was inspired by Clinton’s win over elder Bush (the Perot factor), younger Bush’s win over Gore (the Nader factor), and Jesse Ventura’s gov win in Minnesota.

The analysis has relevancy these days, given the way that the not-Trump vote is being carved thin among many GOP presidential contenders.

* * * * *
Excerpted from WSJ: How Beef-Hungry Voters Can Get Tofu for President, March 14, 2003

Those odd ducks who scrutinize returns, calculate how each additional candidate affects the others’ chances and analyze strategic voting are hard at work. I refer, of course, to mathematicians.

Yes, there is a mathematics of elections.

Research has identified various voting systems world-wide in which, paradoxically, becoming more popular can make a candidate lose, abstaining gives your preferred candidate a better chance, and picking a winner means accepting someone a majority of voters don’t want.

This last paradox characterizes the U.S. system of plurality voting (vote for one; the top vote-getter wins). It works fine when there are two candidates, but with three or more, plurality voting can come up short.

For a democracy, the mathematicians’ most robust result is chilling. “It’s surprisingly difficult to identify a voting system that accurately captures the will of the people”.

* * * * *

The Election

So as not to inflame passions with current political examples I’ll illustrate his point with food.

You and two colleagues are planning an office party, and the caterer offers chicken, steak or tofu. You poll 17 invitees:

5 people prefer chicken to steak to tofu.

2 people prefer chicken to tofu to steak.

4 people prefer steak to tofu to chicken.

4 people prefer tofu to steak to chicken.

2 people prefer tofu to chicken to steak.

One organizer tallies the ballots by the plurality method, counting only first-place votes. Chicken wins (7 votes), while steak is last (4 votes).

A second organizer uses “approval voting,” in which voters mark all acceptable choices (everyone’s top two choices are acceptable). Now steak wins with 13, tofu gets 12 and chicken is last with 9.

The third organizer uses a point system that gives their first choices 2 points, second choices 1 and last picks 0. Now tofu wins with 18, steak gets 17, chicken 16.

The ‘winner’ changes with the choice of election procedureAn ‘election winner’ could reflect the choice of an election procedure” rather than the will of the people.

* * * * *

It gets better. Thanks to a mathematical property called non-monotonicity, in some voting systems, ranking a choice higher can defeat it.

In a plurality-with-runoff system, the two candidates with the most first-place votes face one another in round two.

This time, we invite other departments to our office party, and get this first-round result:

27 prefer chicken to steak to tofu.

42 prefer tofu to chicken to steak.

24 prefer steak to tofu to chicken.

Chicken (27 votes) and tofu (42) reach the runoff. Assuming steak fans maintain their preference and give their second-round votes to tofu, tofu wins the runoff.

That seems fair.

But what if four people in the group of 27 chicken lovers are last-minute converts to vegetarianism and, in round one, prefer tofu to chicken to steak, like the group of 42?

Now steak (24 first-place votes) and tofu (46) make the runoff, in which steak beats tofu 47 to 46. Tofu’s late surge turned its win into a loss.

* * * * *

Such paradoxes tend to occur under specific but far from unusual circumstances.

With plurality voting, the most common is when two centrists face an extremist. The majority splits its vote between the centrists, allowing the fringe candidate to squeak in. In Minnesota’s 1998 governor’s race, Hubert Humphrey got 28% of the vote, Norm Coleman 34% and Jesse Ventura won with 37%, even though most voters ranked him last.

* * * * *

Thanks to such outcomes, scientists say what’s most needed is “a way for voters to register their second and third choices … especially in primaries, where there tends to be a large field.” Both a ranking system (give candidates 4, 3, 2 or 1 point) and approval voting accomplish that.

The U.N. chooses a secretary-general by approval voting. “It is particularly appealing in elections with many candidates … If your favorite candidate is a long shot, you can vote for both him and a candidate with a better chance without wasting your vote on the long shot. Approval voting would do a lot to address the problem of presidential-primary victors not being the choice of most voters.” Approval voting could well make more people (especially supporters of long shots) feel their ballot matters.

Still, no system is perfect. As Nobel-winning economist Kenneth Arrow proved mathematically in 1951, no voting system is guaranteed to be free of paradoxes in a race with three or more candidates, except one — a dictatorship.

NY Times: “An aging rock star” … ouch!

May 10, 2012

The NY Times reported on President Obama’s campaign rallies over the weekend:

The atmosphere at both college  rallies was buoyant and the crowds were sizable, though in Columbus the turnout did not fill the Ohio State University’s 18,300 seat arena.

At times, the rallies had the feeling of a concert by an aging rock star.

A  few supporters were wearing faded “Hope” and Obama 2008 T-shirts, and cheers went up when the president told people to tell their friends that his campaign was “still about hope” and “still about change.”

image

OMG.

And, that’s from the NY Times …

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Newt’s brilliant plays … Mitt’s fumbles

January 22, 2012

First, the disclaimers ….

I had a Mitt ‘08 bumper sticker … he was my pick back then … he was my pick coming into 2012.

I think he’d make a good president … maybe even a very good president … not likely a great one.  Think Bush 41.

I think he’d get CEOs to start breaking ties in favor of hiring, I think he’d get domestic oil rolling, and I think that he’d bridge some of the divide between the left-right extremes (after all, he is a “Massachusetts moderate”).

Side note: When did “moderate” become a bad thing?

But, I gotta admit, I’m starting to have doubts.

First is the charisma deficit.

Even McCain could show some umph every now and then. Sure, be mature, be disciplined … act like the adult in the room … but, stop acting & looking  like a funeral director.  That blank stare during the debates is giving me the creeps.

Second are the bona fides.

I think Mitt’s smart, knows business and knows how to run organizations – public and private.

But, the storyline isn’t compelling to a vast majority who think that all business people are Gordon Gekkos … related to either “Chainsaw Al” Dunlop or Bernie Madoff … or both.

  • The Olympics turnaround was a clear success. 
  • But, the Mass governorship was equivocal – sold out some basic principles to get elected – signed some dreadful legislation – wasn’t likely to get re-elected – and shied away from the battle.
  • Solid exposure to business as a blue-chip consultant and investment firm honcho … but, didn’t run any businesses (except the capital firm) … and the job creation stats aren’t a “wow” … added 120,000 retail clerks at Staples and Sports Authority … big deal.

When was the last time you were in a Sports Authority? I thought they were out of business …

Third, are the elephants is the room.

  • RomneyCare … still hasn’t given a credible rationale for why he signed the bill and why he thinks the system is working … and, if it is, why he’d squash ObamaCare
  • Bain Capital … it should be easy to defend his Bain years and turn the experience into a positive … do it!
  • He’s in the evil 1% …  explain to people why that’s a good thing, not a bad thing … the debate point that he didn’t inherit his wealth was strong … but he didn’t go in for the kill
  • The tax returns … related to the 1% problem …  and compounded by Buffett’s “coddled” mantra and unseemly parking of dough in the Cayman Island … deal with it, man.  My advice: release your 2010 tax returns today … before the Tampa debates … and fight back like Newt would when pundits start picking lint off the returns.
  • The Mormon thing … it’s not a problem for me … I’ve worked with many Mormons and respect their basic value system – strong families, work ethic, community support, etc. … but, it’s an issue for many folks  … so deal with it head on … convince people that you only have one head and one wife … that chuch service is a good thing … that you don’t have to smoke & drink to be cool.

Fourth, is the overall strategy,

  • Raising money from the establishment, investing in a campaign structure, and then playing prevent defense just isn’t going to cut it. Gotta play some offense, man.
  • Going after Newt on historical nits is petty and won’t work … we know he was a philanderer; we know he was heavy-handed as speaker; we know that he took money from Freddie Mac.  Nobody cares, Mitt.
  • Show us that you really want to win this thing !

We’ll see in the next couple of days whether Mitt can regroup, turn it up an couple of notches and  play to win.

I’m still rooting for the guy, but my knees are getting wobbly.

* * * * *

Now, on to Newt.

I think he’d make the campaign against Obama very interesting … I think he’d lose (remember, half the country doesn’t pay income taxes and thinks gov’t dependency is a good thing, not a bad thing), and would make an awful president if elected … better than the incumbent, but too erratic for my tastes.

But, gotta tip the cap to the guy.

On balance, I think the Bain attacks were a mistake since they were largely unfounded and did present an anti-capitalist theme that Mitt should’ve pounced on stronger.

The debate ploy to attack the media on the open marriage question was a stroke of brilliance … took that issue off the table … elevated the media to bad guy status … and set a tone for the rest of the debate.

Well played.

Last night’s acceptance speech was also well done …  conciliatory to opponents … in Obama’s face … right tone and substance.

I was really struck by the new campaign themes that he rolled out: “Unleashing the power of the American people” and “Rebuilding the America we believe in”.

My opinion: Those are powerful battle cries.

And, by launching them last night, he pre-empted Obama’s state-of-the union which reportedly is going to be themed “Return to American values of fairness for all”

This could get interesting …

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About those top secret transcripts …

January 19, 2012

I’m hoping that Romney simultaneously releases his birth certificate, college transcripts and tax returns. …

Frankly, I don’t really care about Mitt’s tax returns.

Pretty predictable: a gazillion dollars of investment income – dividends, cap gains and tax shelter LPs … 15% effective tax rate … maybe lower since charitable deductions will be at least 10% of income – his required tithing to the Mormon church.

P.S. Don’t remember Obama donating 10% to charities …

P.P.S. Mitt wouldn’t be hiding income from the church, would he?

I’m still more interested in grabbing a peek at the President’s college transcripts … glad that they got brought up again in Carney’s presser yesterday: Carney Dodges Question About Obama’s College Transcripts

OK, call me petty, but I’d like to know:

  • Was Obama’s undergrad GPA higher than George Bush’s?  After all, Obama is proclaimed to be the smartest president ever … the other was, well, dumb old George Bush.  Wouldn’t it be a hoot if Bush outscored Obama?  Remember when Bush’s GPA was revealed to be higher than Kerry’s?  Oops.
  • Did Obama have grades and LSATs comparable to other Harvard Law admits? I’m betting under on the grades and a push on the LSATs.
  • What courses did Obama take as an undergrad? Taught by whom? Would expect lots of poli-sci and philosophy from radicals (think Cornell West types) … little math & science (oops) … zero business or economics.

C’mon …. be honest … wouldn’t you like a peek, too?

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Reprise: How Beef-Loving Voters Can Get Tofu for President

January 11, 2012

Ken’s Take: This is from the HomaFiles archives – one of my favs.

The original article was inspired by Clinton’s win over elder Bush (the Perot factor), younger Bush’s win over Gore (the Nader factor), and Jesse Ventura’s gov win in Minnesota.

The analysis has relevancy these days, given the way that the not-Romney vote is being carved thin among many conservative GOP presidential contenders.

* * * * *
Excerpted from WSJ: How Beef-Hungry Voters Can Get Tofu for President, March 14, 2003

Those odd ducks who scrutinize returns, calculate how each additional candidate affects the others’ chances and analyze strategic voting are hard at work. I refer, of course, to mathematicians.

Yes, there is a mathematics of elections.

Research has identified various voting systems world-wide in which, paradoxically, becoming more popular can make a candidate lose, abstaining gives your preferred candidate a better chance, and picking a winner means accepting someone a majority of voters don’t want.

This last paradox characterizes the U.S. system of plurality voting (vote for one; the top vote-getter wins). It works fine when there are two candidates, but with three or more, plurality voting can come up short.

For a democracy, the mathematicians’ most robust result is chilling. “It’s surprisingly difficult to identify a voting system that accurately captures the will of the people”.

* * * * *

The Election

So as not to inflame passions with current political examples I’ll illustrate his point with food.

You and two colleagues are planning an office party, and the caterer offers chicken, steak or tofu. You poll 17 invitees:

5 people prefer chicken to steak to tofu.

2 people prefer chicken to tofu to steak.

4 people prefer steak to tofu to chicken.

4 people prefer tofu to steak to chicken.

2 people prefer tofu to chicken to steak.

One organizer tallies the ballots by the plurality method, counting only first-place votes. Chicken wins (7 votes), while steak is last (4 votes).

A second organizer uses “approval voting,” in which voters mark all acceptable choices (everyone’s top two choices are acceptable). Now steak wins with 13, tofu gets 12 and chicken is last with 9.

The third organizer uses a point system that gives their first choices 2 points, second choices 1 and last picks 0. Now tofu wins with 18, steak gets 17, chicken 16.

The ‘winner’ changes with the choice of election procedureAn ‘election winner’ could reflect the choice of an election procedure” rather than the will of the people.

* * * * *

It gets better. Thanks to a mathematical property called non-monotonicity, in some voting systems, ranking a choice higher can defeat it.

In a plurality-with-runoff system, the two candidates with the most first-place votes face one another in round two.

This time, we invite other departments to our office party, and get this first-round result:

27 prefer chicken to steak to tofu.

42 prefer tofu to chicken to steak.

24 prefer steak to tofu to chicken.

Chicken (27 votes) and tofu (42) reach the runoff. Assuming steak fans maintain their preference and give their second-round votes to tofu, tofu wins the runoff.

That seems fair.

But what if four people in the group of 27 chicken lovers are last-minute converts to vegetarianism and, in round one, prefer tofu to chicken to steak, like the group of 42?

Now steak (24 first-place votes) and tofu (46) make the runoff, in which steak beats tofu 47 to 46. Tofu’s late surge turned its win into a loss.

* * * * *

Such paradoxes tend to occur under specific but far from unusual circumstances.

With plurality voting, the most common is when two centrists face an extremist. The majority splits its vote between the centrists, allowing the fringe candidate to squeak in. In Minnesota’s 1998 governor’s race, Hubert Humphrey got 28% of the vote, Norm Coleman 34% and Jesse Ventura won with 37%, even though most voters ranked him last.

* * * * *

Thanks to such outcomes, scientists say what’s most needed is “a way for voters to register their second and third choices … especially in primaries, where there tends to be a large field.” Both a ranking system (give candidates 4, 3, 2 or 1 point) and approval voting accomplish that.

The U.N. chooses a secretary-general by approval voting. “It is particularly appealing in elections with many candidates … If your favorite candidate is a long shot, you can vote for both him and a candidate with a better chance without wasting your vote on the long shot. Approval voting would do a lot to address the problem of presidential-primary victors not being the choice of most voters.” Approval voting could well make more people (especially supporters of long shots) feel their ballot matters.

Still, no system is perfect. As Nobel-winning economist Kenneth Arrow proved mathematically in 1951, no voting system is guaranteed to be free of paradoxes in a race with three or more candidates, except one — a dictatorship.

Relax: “zero-based” doesn’t mean “zero” … though, maybe it should.

November 17, 2011

Rick Perry kicked up some dust at last Saturday’s GOP Presidential Candidates’ Debate by saying that foreign aid should be “zero based.”

The remark has caused a massive wringing of hands … e.g.  “but what about Israel?”

Settle down folks.

Zero-based doesn’t necessarily mean zero.

It simply means stating each year with a clean sheet … starting each year’s budget at zero, and then justifying spending an item at time … rather than simply taking last year’s budget as a starting point and adjusting that total up or down (usually up).

Any funding that gets justified gets added; unjustified spending gets axed.

Sounds reasonable doesn’t it?

It’s the way well run businesses do it.

If your still uncomfortable, think of it as going through the budget line-by-line.

Remember, when Candidate Obama said he’d go through the budget line-by-lined, people cheered the new way of doing business

When Candidate Perry said essentially the same thing, people squirmed.

The difference?

Easy.

President Obama didn’t do it.  Doubt if he ever intended to …. but, it did resonate on the stump.

If Perry gets elected president, he just might do it.

Oh my, fiscal responsibility … time to squirm.

* * * * *
For the record, I’m not a big Rick Perry fan, but I do think he landed a nice punch with this one.

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Obama’s tailwind … no, that’s not a typo

August 17, 2011

Punch line: The President can count on 90% of the African-American vote in 2012.  Regardless …

Add to that 100% of union members and he has a 20 point tailwind going into the election.

GOP beware.

Excerpted from The Daily Beast

The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, hosted a discussion Monday on “The African American Vote in 2012 and Beyond.”

One of the questions before the panel was this: With persistently high unemployment and continuing economic woes within the black community, is there room for the right to make inroads?

The general consensus was  that Obama could be confident of the support of more than 90 percent of African Americans. 

African Americans won’t desert Obama

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