Long live the king

Best of luck to Barack Obama as well. However, the truly momentous and inspirational aspect of yesterday’s result was my almost perfect prediction of it, as published in Crikey last Friday. Obama has carried the erstwhile red states of Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, Florida and Indiana, with two states coming down to the wire: Missouri, where McCain leads by 5868 votes (0.2 per cent), and North Carolina, where Obama leads by 14,053 (0.4 per cent). I tipped Obama to gain all of these states and no more. I gather late counting of declaration votes is unlikely to change any leads, so it appears those 0.2 per cent of voters in Missouri have stood between me and my moment of destiny. Better luck next time, I guess. To those who tipped McCain victories or record-breaking Obama blowouts and find themselves wondering what my secret is, one simple piece of advice: believe the polls (or Intrade if you prefer – it will usually tell much the same story). They may not be perfect, but they will outperform your own “informed conjecture” well over 50 per cent of the time, no matter how clever you think you are.

If the last two states play out as expected, the final result will be 364 electoral votes for Obama against 174 for McCain, pending one complication: Nebraska, which along with solidly Democratic Maine divides its college votes by congressional district. Two of the three districts have stayed Republican, but in a third Obama trails by just 569 votes, and thus stands a chance to make it 365-173. In any event, the joint winners of the informal Poll Bludger tipping contest (thanks to Juliem for conducting this) will be David Walsh and Ron, who I gather will win a tie-breaker ahead of fellow 364 Club members Grog and Peter Fuller.

Finally, our good friends at UMR Research have published qualitative polling on Australians’ attitudes to the President-elect. Those who harbour an unfashionable element of cynicism about the great man might want to keep a sick bag handy.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

780 comments on “Long live the king”

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  1. “However, the truly momentous and inspirational aspect of yesterday’s result was my almost perfect prediction of it, as published in Crikey last Friday.”

    Oh the modesty Mr Bowe.

  2. Continuing a theme jsut started at the end of the previous thread, I made the comment that the republicans didn’t just need to refocus themselves, but needed to stop pandering to their middle america base. Despite its history, this base is essentially the poorest and least progressive part of the USA, and the most needing to change. The problem is moral as well as economic: denial is not a virtue. The mid-west and south are America’s weakness, not its strength.

    It was therefore sobering to see the reaction at republican blogs like Red State. never mind social analysis of the causes, sure enough there was denial of the result itself. This piece was typical of the attitude:

    There is a need for profound change in the world if its current structures are to survive. These peopel do not seem capable of accepting that.

  3. William

    Before you get too pleased with yourself, remember that Ron was absolutely perfect (unless juliem wins because of the last Nebraska EV). We all have to defer to Ron from now on. πŸ˜€

  4. Note that I said the following:

    [In any event, the joint winners of the informal Poll Bludger tipping contest (thanks to Juliem for conducting this) will be David Walsh and Ron, who I gather will win a tie-breaker ahead of fellow 364 Club members Grog and Peter Fuller.]

    It sounds like I missed Julie tipping 365?

  5. Interesting to see that electoral-vote.com was absolutely right on the money as well… except for Montana, which he chose to label a tie instead of taking a stab at who would win.

    This is what happens to fence-sitters kids, you lose your bragging rights. I myself lost money on this election (I remember being quite pleased with the ‘good odds’ I got on McCain much earlier in the year at $2.80. Oops.) You live you learn and, like Mr Mumble, I was a happy goose.

    Election Projection has a roundup of the pundits’ accuracy here. Maybe you should make them aware of your prowess Master William?

  6. It has been an exhausting two years since Kevin Rudd took over the labr leadership and Barack Obama declared his candidacy. Top job Poll Bludger!

    Pew were pretty close to the money with their last prediction on the popular vote.

  7. Oops. juliem chose to add 1 EV to William’s total, not Ron’s. That means that Ron looks like winning.

    The living shall envy the dead. πŸ‘Ώ

    “The horror, the horror.”

  8. No William, I ended up saying 376, which was your and my pick originally (I picked it first several weeks ago) but at the 11th hour and 59th minute, I thought, ooopps, what about that one vote?

    But even if I get that one vote, Missouri isn’t coming back πŸ™ …….. so, I’m (like you, BH and Yo ho ho) over the mark ….. you said 375, BH and I 376 and Yo ho ho said 394. Did you pull those numbers, Yo ho ho, out of your backside? πŸ˜‰ …..

    Another bit of news today in the post election fallout but hardly surprising … the US Ambassador in Canberra (McCallum) is resigning. He didn’t indicate a date but said it would happen. Turns out McCallum is a political appointee and not a career foreign servant so he’s doing the “politically correct thing”.

  9. In terms of predicative abilities, i feel it should also (as it was on the previous post) be pointed out that our colleague Kirribilli Removals prediced not only an Obama victory but also the financial collapse…

  10. opps, #15 should read ‘376 “instead of 375, which was your and my pick originally” in the first paragraph, but I corrected it in the second πŸ˜‰ ….. ….

    news about McCallum is from today’s print edition of the Canberra Times … I picked up both Melbourne papers and the CT so have several to save for posterity …

  11. For the record and to clarify what I mis typed at least once above in case it isn’t clear to all this is what we had in the end ….

    **Grog O 364 Y MO FL
    David Walsh O 364 Y MO CA
    **Peter Fuller O 364 Y MO CO
    Ron O 364 Y MO CA
    ??William O 375 Y MO
    ??Julie O 376 Y MO CO
    ??BH O 376 Y MO FL
    **Yo ho ho O 394 Y MO FL

    ** are definetely out. As it stands at present Ron and David are in on the “money”. William is in if Missouri turns around, Ron and David out. If Missouri AND Omaha turn, BH and I are in, others out.

    Yo ho ho, you go have another glass of grog πŸ˜‰ …. (pardon the pun, Grog)

  12. so close…
    Posted Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 7:12 am | Permalink
    Grog, did you still want No on Missouri with 364? Just checking as the higher you go, the more likely it is]

    Posted Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    And Juliem – yep BO will take MO.]


  13. Thanks, Max, I expected as much but wasn’t quite sure ….. Seems that this convention doesn’t extend to other countries though as Vanstone is still in Rome as I recall …..

  14. I think the difference is that Rome, like most democracies, uses a parliamentarian system of government. This sort of governance is considered continuous and never-ending, even when different parties take control – hence in Australia Rudd didn’t overturn all appointees. The US is pretty unique in that they have an administration, it lasts for exactly four years and then they install a new administration (even if the President is re-elected it’s still considered new.)

    Interestingly, if a President wins a second term in office in the US, all members of the original Cabinet hand in letters of resignation at the conclusion of term one so that they can either be re-appointed or not. Saves everyone the political and personal embarrassment of the President firing a member of his own Cabinet if he wants fresh blood.

    I suspect the philosophy is the same here, saves Mr Obama from firing an ambassadors arse if he doesn’t like them which would create all kinds of international tension.

  15. [Yo ho ho, you go have another glass of grog πŸ˜‰ …. (pardon the pun, Grog)]

    I stand by my baseless optimism.

    I was 13 when Keating lost, 17 when Gore lost and 8 the last time the Hawks had won the flag. I’ve been used to losing.

    November 24 and a certain AFL game this year have sent me over the top with optimism. I’m very much of the belief that anything is possible now.

  16. I take it all four members of Club 364 got Missouri wrong, and thus arrived at 364 by tipping Indiana wrong as well? Can’t I (or Julie and BH depending on Nebraska) argue that I made one mistake rather than two, so I’m the king of the castle?

  17. I have heaps of enthusiasm now πŸ™‚ ….. I was so down and out between 2000 and 2007/08 as having my feet legally in both countries; I had to endure one setback after another between both countries …..

    K07 almost made up for Howard’s misadventures and Howard losing his seat was the icing on the cake. Australian half of my equation fixed up quick smart. Now, not only do we have Dems in Washington BUT they’ve broken down so many barriers by choosing this particular one. Now the US side of the equation is fixed up too :).

    Btw, my AFL affliliation is blue and white; we had our last dip in 1999, I could use another one, but it isn’t going to happen anytime soon I don’t think πŸ™

  18. All 4 got Missouri wrong, correct. However, Ron and Dave said California or some variation thereof (the West Coast swing) which is what put Obama over the top.

    Don’t know about the rest of you but my guess of 376 came about this way – the RCP notossupstates map + Missouri + Indiana + North Carolina + (at the very last minute, Omaha). I bloody forgot about Omaha until it was almost too late to change it.

  19. 26 correct with me William. My methodology was the intrade figure at the time plus either MO or IN… juliem asked me about MO, and, like a fool, I thought, yeah why not.

  20. William,

    If I recall, you were also pretty accurate at tipping the Oz election last year.

    So my rule for tipping the next election is: follow WB – he seems to get a lot closer than all of the other mugs (Mumble included!!!)

  21. P.S. If my previous post doesn’t make sense, I apologise – I am slightly drunk atm (carry over from last night in Chicago…) πŸ™‚

  22. Pretty much the entire upper ranks of the US public service resign with the change of a President. Ambassadors, along with secretaries, undersecretaries, etc, are almost entirely partisan appointments. Some from the opposing party get through, but they tend to achieve that in spite of their party due to a particular talent.

  23. Coleman has declared victory in MN with a lead of 460 votes out of 2.5 million. He’s trying to bluff Franken out of demanding a recount.
    There must have been something seriously wrong with Franken’s campaign not to win in a liberal state like MN, which Obama carried in a stroll.

  24. WB,

    That’s true. However, his confidence in Obama losing from several months out must count against him. You picked the Oz election to within 1 seat (84 as opposed to 83 in reality) and the US election to within 1 state.

    As for Franken, it’s Minnesota. If they can elect a former pro-wrestler as Governor, they can easily elect a comedian. Also, Coleman managed to beat a former vice-president in 2002 (Mondale) to win a seat from the Democrats in his first election.

  25. Mumble was dismal in his prognostications.

    [Having prepared psychologically for what I reckon is a slightly more likely than not Obama victory, I must again protest against the widespread expectation that he is a shoo-in.

    The current $1.08 to $7.50 payouts at Centrebet are crazy, in my humble opinion.]


    You could certainly make that argument, just as Sarah Palin can make the argument that Africa is a country rather than a continent. We make our own reality.

  26. juliem,

    It’s 74 F (or about 22 C) here in Chicago – so it’s not cold at all. Add to that the sheer number of people around Grant Park last night and it was actually quite warm. I ended up walking around in a light jacket and had a couple of vodkas as a night cap last night.

    I have to admit, though – it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be here. I didn’t realise the importance of this election to the American psyche. All of the analysis here in the US has been about how this is a page turned in American history and how African-Americans can now tell their children that they too can become President one day. There was a queue here earlier today for the Chicago Tribune – just to get the front page saying Obama is present. It’s nothing like Australia last year – think about Labor’s jubilation last year and multiply it by 10 to get some idea of the joy amongst Chicagoans today…

  27. Franken perhaps wasn’t the ideal candidate, but Coleman (former Mayor of St Paul) is quite popular in Minnesota. He used to be a Democrat.

    Even liberal states can elect Republican senators. Susan Collins was easily re-elected in Maine, which Obama also carried in a stroll. Her GOP stablemate Olympia Snowe, also from Maine, was re-elected 2 years ago in a landslide, despite the Republicans being seriously on the nose back then too. Both Maine senators are “moderates” (by Republican standards). Gordon Smith (GOP) looks like he might hang on in Oregon, which also went over to Obama in a big way. On the other side, some rusted-on Republican states that McCain won easily continue to re-elect Democratic senators, eg. Rockefeller (W.Virginia), Baucus (Montana), Johnson (S.Dakota). A lot of ticket-splitting goes on in US elections.

  28. 43, no worries, I knew exactly what you meant πŸ™‚ …. My brother in Michigan sent me an article with heaps of pictures in it of various newspapers front pages from both around the country and around the world. It was good to see. I can well imagine, having lived there in Michigan for 43 years.

    There was a map posted from a link on the thread just prior to this one that had the county by county breakdown of Rep. and Dem. votes. I loaded that and spent some time looking at it earlier. You want to talk about this being necessary to the psyche of the country? It was also necessary to the psyche of Ohio. That map shows Obama won only the various metro areas (Toledo, Columbus, etc.) around the state and the border counties with PA excepting the lower 2 or 3 where they border with WV. I’ve been in Ohio hundreds of times over the years. The black population in Ohio doesn’t live in the farms in the countryside. They live in the cities. It was the black population rising up and THEY delivered Ohio to Obama. No ifs ands or buts about it.

    And in another postscript to that county map nationwide for the results? Guess which county had the biggest winning margin in the country [not percentage, but raw numbers winning margin]? Cook county πŸ˜€ …..

    Wish I had half your luck mate πŸ˜€ {but I saw Clinton in 1992 so that isn’t a bad consolation prize}

  29. kakuru @ 45, I saw on HP about 30 minutes ago (don’t know when it was first posted so don’t know if its new news or old news) that Oregon has been declared for the Democrat. They aren’t done counting YET but the counties where there are still outstanding votes are heavily Democratic counties.

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