The 2010 election vote tally is finally over in Washington state. Yesterday was the deadline for counties to certify results. So there is a bit of unfinished blogging business.
Throughout the election season, I posted analyses of just about all the polls in the race between Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Washington’s highest profile real estate salesperson, Dino Rossi (R). There were some ups and downs in the poll, but mostly ups for Murray and downs for Rossi. Our would-be Senator from Wingnutopia only led in three of the fifteen polls taken after the first of October:
We saw countless examples of a breathless media describing a close finish based on flip-flopping polls, and apparently ignoring that Murray led in eleven of the last fifteen polls that included one tie. How close was it in the end?
Murray took 52.36% of the vote and Rossi took 47.64%. That is, Murray won by a sizable +4.72%. That’s nearly five percent.
I find good news and bad in this final result. After analyzing the last poll in the race, I wrote:
Make of it what you will. The polls say it is a tie or a very small Murray victory. So what do I think will really happen tomorrow? First, let me state that I obviously want Murray to win. Even so, in my professional life, I am a scientist, and evidence is exceedingly important to me, even if it goes against my desires or pet theories. So here goes….
As I outlined at the end of this post there is a discrepancy between live interview polls and robopolls in the Washington Senate race that has also been seen nationally. I offered an explanation (i.e. a theory) as to why the discrepancy exists. It all leads me to believe that robopolls are systematically underestimating Murray’s performance in this race. If the theory is correct, I expect Murray to come away with about a +5% advantage over Rossi after all the votes are counted. But I concede that tomorrow night, reality will confront theory.
Reality always wins.
The good news for me (I guess) is that I freakin’ nailed it! (Suck on that, Mr. Cynical!)
The bad new (and being a little more serious) is that polling cannot continue to be practiced as it has been done. While it may have been an enthusiasm gap problem that caused many robopolls to underestimate Murray’s performance earlier in the race, right near the end that pattern was a little less strong. Robopoll and some live interview polls underestimated Murray’s performance.
Interestingly, the Washington Poll was the most accurate of the late polls, predicting +4% for Murray. After that it was FOX News (+2), Marist (+1), SurveyUSA (tied), Rasmussen (-1) and Public Policy Polling (-2). (Elway and CNN/Time/OR did their last polls three weeks out and got +8 and +13, but we have no gold standard that far out—i.e. an election—as a three to eight point decline in three weeks cannot be ruled out.)
So what was it? The other possibility causing polls to lowball Murray’s lead was “the cell phone problem.” The problem has been discussed for years, but it didn’t really seem to materialize in 2008. It did in 2010 according to a new Pew study:
The number of Americans who rely solely or mostly on a cell phone has been growing for several years, posing an increasing likelihood that public opinion polls conducted only by landline telephone will be biased. A new analysis of Pew Research Center pre-election surveys conducted this year finds that support for Republican candidates was significantly higher in samples based only on landlines than in dual frame samples that combined landline and cell phone interviews. The difference in the margin among likely voters this year is about twice as large as in 2008.
Across three Pew Research polls conducted in fall 2010 […] the GOP held a lead that was on average 5.1 percentage points larger in the landline sample than in the combined landline and cell phone sample.
The bottom line: the cell phone problem can no longer be ignored.
(Cross posted at Hominid Views.)
It is freakin’ cold out there…even for this Midwest boy. So dig out your parka and grab your boots and mittens. It’s time for an evening of politics under the influence at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally. We meet at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. beginning at about 8:00 pm. Stop by earlier for dinner.
Not in Seattle? There is a good chance you live near one of the 243 other chapters of Drinking Liberally.
While Goldy enjoys a warmish day on the East Coast, it’s freezing here. I’ve heard some horror stories about the commute last night, but in general, this isn’t as bad as 2 years ago. Given how much of a surprise it was that it was as bad as it was, the response was pretty good overall.
I took my bike most of the way into work before my boss called and said not to come in. Most of the roads seemed well plowed this morning, and it was more slush than snow. Light rail is still going fine. If 2 years ago was snowpocalypse, then this year is more snowpoc-eh-lypse.
Hey King County Police Officers Guild… if you thought the law and order types on the Seattle Times editorial board would choose public safety over union bashing, well, think again:
With all due respect to the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect residents, union leaders behaved in a shortsighted manner. There is apparently a last hope that if deputies come forward in the next few weeks to forgo the 2011 pay raise, some positions could be saved.
Um, as I told Reagan Dunn… what the fuck did you expect?
Yeah sure, you may put your lives on the line for us and all that, you know… when you’re out on the streets. But once you’re sitting around the negotiating table, you’re just another dirty, public employee union in the eyes of the anti-tax crowd. And as anybody who has read the Seattle Times op/ed pages—and nothing else—knows, it’s the public employee unions who are the real cause of our current budget crisis. (Declining revenues and a tax base that’s steadily shrinking as a percentage of the economy apparently have nothing to do with it.)
The irony of course is that police unions are just about the only public employee unions to reliably endorse Republicans and their anti-tax agenda. I guess ye really do reap what ye sow.
While my daughter and I were spared the indignity of the choosing between the porno-scanners and a TSA groping yesterday morning, according to the comment threads on Slog, other Sea-Tac travellers were not so lucky. Which got me thinking: if safety is really the overriding concern, are the feds bothering to inspect the airplanes as closely as the crotches of passengers?
Well… apparently not, at least judging from my casual inspection of the ubiquitous “tamper seals” on the access panel behind the toilet in the airplane lavatory. It’s hard to see from the photos, but both tamper seals had be plied from the top panel, and were hanging a fraction of an inch in the air.
I’ve seen this before, and I’ve always wondered about the purpose. I don’t know if there’s a regulation, but since all airplane lavatories seem to have these tamper seals across the back panel, I assume there must be some concern about tampering, right? And yet, I routinely find these seals unsealed.
Of course, I’ve had other unpleasant experiences with airplane lavatories, like the the time I flew cross country with all of them leaking sweet-smelling, bluish effluent into the aisles. Which brings me to my main point: statistically, by far the largest danger to passengers comes not from crotch or shoe bombers, but from shoddy maintenance. And as I wrote at the time…
If this is the sort of stunning lack of pride the airlines now show in the most visible sections of their aircraft, how can we trust them to maintain the parts we can’t see?
And then of course there are the regional commuter airlines and their poorly-trained/underpaid/overworked pilots, like those responsible for the Continental Connection flight that crashed last year outside Buffalo NY, killing all 49 people onboard, and one on the ground.
But no, the only way to make us safer is to grab my thirteen-year-old daughter’s crotch. Or so the angry trolls keep telling me.
From now on the third Sunday of every month will be specific to Washington, so this week’s photo is a random location somewhere in this state, good luck!
My daughter and I just went through security at Sea-Tac airport, and are relieved to report that while the backscatter scanners have been installed at the A gate, they were not being used. No unwarranted violation of our Fourth Amendment rights, no drama.
So, sorry trolls… I’ve once again managed to make it on to a flight without being cavity searched or shipped off to Gitmo (which I suppose, must be a surprise to folks like the Orb, who think I’m such a danger). Maybe next time.
If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.
If the state Transportation Commission approves new tolls for the 520 floating bridge or any other roadway, in flagrant violation of I-1053’s supermajority requirement on raising taxes and fees, and initiative profiteer Tim Eyman doesn’t sue to uphold the letter and spirit of his recently passed measure… well, I will.
Because honestly, this might just be our best shot ever at forcing the state Supreme Court to finally rule on the constitutionality of this clearly unconstitutional provision.
It’s not like others haven’t attempted to challenge the constitutionality of previous two-thirds measures, but the popularly elected members of the Supreme Court have so far managed to avoid invalidating a popularly approved initiative by ruling that the issue simply wasn’t ripe, or that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to bring suit. And since the absence of a tax for fee increase at best raises a hypothetical harm, how does one sue over something lawmakers haven’t done? At least, that has been our Court’s cowardly approach thus far.
And since multiple legislatures and governors have never had the balls to affirmatively violate the two-thirds provision, we’ve never had the opportunity to put its constitutionality to the test.
But if the appointed members of the Transportation Commission were to simply ignore Eyman’s objections, and impose tolls on the 520 bridge and/or other structures without legislative approval, there’s your test case, for once I’m forced to pay this toll, well, I obviously enjoy standing as a “harmed” party, and the issue instantly becomes ripe.
Of course, the Supremes might still try to wiggle out of the underlying constitutional issue by somehow ruling that the Commission’s toll-setting authority falls outside the restrictions imposed by I-1053—get a bunch of clever lawyers in a room together, and anything can happen—but, well, you take the opportunities that come your way. And Eyman’s arrogant bluster over this issue is an opportunity his opponents would be stupid to ignore.
If there’s any lesson to learn from Washington state’s bucking of the Big Red Tide, it’s that a strong ground game may not be sexy, but it still can win, even in the face of overwhelming odds. And so while few journalists pay much attention to what goes on at the local party level, it’s a helluva lot more important than you might think.
That’s why next month’s election of a new King County Democratic Party chair is ultimately so important. And while I don’t generally like to get involved in intra-party politics, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least say a few words in support of one of the candidates, Steve Zemke.
I’ve long described myself as an “accidental activist” having stumbled onto the local political scene with my satirical initiative to proclaim Tim Eyman a horse’s ass, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I knew absolutely nothing about how local politics worked, and had absolutely no connections to the players involved. But Steve did, and so I was very fortunate to have him take me under his wing almost from the start, and serve as a kinda tutor, if not a mentor, during my first couple years of activism.
It was Steve who explained to me how initiatives worked (and how they didn’t), and who first took me down to Olympia to lobby and finagle and implore elected officials and their staff. It was with Steve who I somehow found myself in a conference room in the Fall of 2003, sitting across the table from Frank Chopp and Jim McIntyre… totally oblivious to how remarkable it was for him to have managed to secure us an hour to talk tax restructuring with the Speaker of the House and the Chair of the Finance Committee. And remember… this was before I started blogging… when I was just some crackpot with a joke initiative.
Steve simply knows how things work, knows how to get things done, and sometimes seems to know absolutely everybody in Washington state Democratic political circles. And on the local level, where the ground game is so damn important, I can’t help but feel that that’s the kind of chair we need leading the county party: somebody who will focus on building infrastructure.
Nothing against Steve’s opponent Karl de Jong; he’s a great guy with great values. But Steve, well, he’s kind of a savant when it comes to organizing and running campaigns. So if I were a Democratic PCO, he’d have my vote.
That said, I couldn’t end this post without saying a big thank you to current chair Suzie Sheary, who is retiring after holding the post, well, forever (“forever” being defined as, since I started paying attention to county politics). She was perhaps the first local Democratic official to recognize the role local bloggers like me could play in promoting a progressive message, and I’ve long counted her as a political ally and friend. You’ll be missed, Suzie.
My daughter and I are flying to Philadelphia on Sunday, and I can promise you that we’re most certainly not allowing ourselves to be herded through Sea-Tac’s new X-ray scanners along with the sheeple.
Or at least, I’m not. My daughter’s thirteen now, so I suppose it’s up to her to choose her own humiliation: the unconstitutional invasion of privacy and unknown health risks of the TSA’s porno-scanners, or the intentionally intrusive new crotch-grabbing indignity of allowing a glorified rent-a-cop to pat her down… or as my daughter aptly describes it, “feel her up.”
And just to be clear, I honestly do believe the TSA’s new pat down procedures to be intentionally intrusive, in that the motivation, at least in part, is clearly to discourage travelers from opting out of the scanners by making the alternative as unpalatable as possible. And if a growing wave of opt-outs do succeed in clogging up security lines throughout the nation, dollars to donuts the TSA will only attempt to up the humiliation ante. Or worse.
That’s why I believe that the only effective means of combatting this latest escalation of the TSA’s security theater of the absurd is to humiliate the TSA agents in return, by making pat downs as uncomfortable and embarrassing for them as they are for us. For while regulations require travelers to comply with lawful requests from TSA agents, there’s nothing that says we can’t have a little fun in the process.
For example, it’s certainly possible you might be extremely ticklish — who’s to say you’re not? — so imagine a TSA agent being forced to conduct an intrusive pat down while you’re writhing and giggling and shrieking with uncontrollable laughter. Or perhaps you bruise easily, or are just extremely sensitive; who’s to blame you for screaming in pain at the slightest white-gloved touch, while loudly pleading with the TSA agent to “for the love of Christ, stop hurting me!”…? Or maybe the attentions of a same-sex agent just, I dunno, turn you on, causing you to moan with pleasure at the pat down as you breathlessly encourage the agent to draw their hands further up your inner thighs, before exploding in a When-Harry-Met-Sally-like fake orgasm.
Or how about wearing an adult diaper through security? And filling it. No law against that.
And then imagine having a compatriot capture the entire scene on video, and posting it to YouTube. Think that might go viral?
I’ve discussed all of these options with my daughter, and while she thinks they’re damn funny, she’s forbade me from doing any of them in her presence, and I suppose as a good father, I’ll have to honor that. But the point is, if we really want to send a message to the TSA, it’s time to fight theater with theater.
Otherwise, if we continue to allow the indignity to remain one sided, we can only expect it to get worse.