Posts tagged ‘politics’

Election Weather

On Super Tuesday, February 5, 2008, 23 states held primaries or caucuses for one or both political parties. Also on that day, a massive storm system that stretched from the Ohio Valley to Alabama spawned 82 tornadoes, killed at least 59 people, and resulting in early closing for some polling locations. The hardest hit states, Tennessee and Alabama, were both having primaries that day. (read more in my article on BellaOnline,

    “Super Tuesday 2008 Tornado Outbreak


Did the severe weather have an effect on the primary outcomes? At the polling places that closed early, some individuals were not able to vote at all. Depending on demographic patterns, this could have resulted in loss of votes for one candidate or another. Could it have been enough to change the outcome? What about tomorrow’s primaries in Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island?

I can think of many factors determining the answer to those questions:

1. Demographic support of candidates — How do age, race, socioeconomic status, etc. affect support? Is there a clear division between older and younger voters? What about lower, middle, and upper class?

2. Differences in turnout due to weather — Does severe weather affect which demographic groups go to the polls? Are older voters less likely to get out in bad weather? What about lower class individuals who do not have cars?

3. What is the size of the effect, if any, that the weather has on the turnout demographics? Does it make a significant difference, percentage-wise, in the turnout of a given group during severe weather as compared to an election in good weather?

The answers to these questions will decide the final effect of the severe weather. Tomorrow Ohio voters face cold rain, with snow and ice in the northern areas. Hillary Clinton is expected to win Ohio, based on her 5% lead in CNN’s “Poll of Polls”.(10:02 PM CST)

However — Hillary’s support base is considered to be older voters. Not necessarily over 65, but some of them are old enough that driving in bad weather would be difficult. Will they decide to stay home if the elements are exceptionally vicious? If so, how many will stay home? Will it be enough to sway that 5% lead? Also, older voters frequently choose early voting, sometimes because they are unsure of the weather on election day (plus, they don’t relish the long lines). If lots of Hillary supporters have voted early then the weather may not have an effect at all.

The problem with issues of this type is there is no way to do a truly scientific study — you cannot have a control group. However, it can be useful in this case to compare CNN’s poll with the final outcome. Tomorrow night I will comment on exactly that.


March 3, 2008 at 10:15 pm Leave a comment

On Political Styles

I was having a discussion with a friend tonight about the merits of John McCain, and I started philosophizing about the three ways that politicians can conduct their business. Some are party loyalists — they make decisions based on the will of their party, and very rarely buck the system. The elite of the party controls the government when those politicians are in the majority. But who controls the party elite? The military-industrial complex, the top 1% of the wealthy, aliens preparing for colonization? Perhaps all of the above at one time or another. But I digress.

The second type of politician is the one who tries to do what is “right.” The problem is, who decides what is right? Why, the politician him/herself, of course! These individuals are usually sincere, true believers who genuinely want to make the world better. They are convinced that their judgments are correct. They may believe that they have special insight or contact with a deity, or simply that they are the only ones clever enough to understand the truth. This style of politician can be an angel or a demon, depending on his/her value system.

Finally, there is the elected politician who is responsible to his/her constituents and generally follows the will of the people is making decisions. In the spirit of actual democracy, he or she tries to find out what the electorate wants — even if it doesn’t seem “right” and it isn’t what the party and the elite want. While this seems admirable, do masses of people really know what is best for them?

The perennial question… who should be in charge? What political style is best? My friend likes McCain because he sticks to his values. He is the second type of politician. To be honest, that makes me nervous. Why? Because by definition, the politician who sticks to HIS values is not likely to be receptive to mine. Angel or demon — which will he be? Only time will tell.

March 2, 2008 at 9:37 pm Leave a comment

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