kkleiner writes "For the last few months, the political pundit class has been at war with NYT/FiveThirtyEight blogger Nate Silver. Joe Scarborough of MSNBC called him a "joke," while an op-ed in the LA Times accused him of running a "numbers racket." But last night, Silver triumphed: every one of his state-level presidential predictions proved true. "
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
concealment sends in a story at Time that goes behind the scenes with the team of data crunchers that powered many of the Obama campaign's decisions in the lead-up to the election. From the article: "For all the praise Obama's team won in 2008 for its high-tech wizardry, its success masked a huge weakness: too many databases. Back then, volunteers making phone calls through the Obama website were working off lists that differed from the lists used by callers in the campaign office. Get-out-the-vote lists were never reconciled with fundraising lists. It was like the FBI and the CIA before 9/11: the two camps never shared data. ... So over the first 18 months, the campaign started over, creating a single massive system that could merge the information collected from pollsters, fundraisers, field workers and consumer databases as well as social-media and mobile contacts with the main Democratic voter files in the swing states. The new megafile didn't just tell the campaign how to find voters and get their attention; it also allowed the number crunchers to run tests predicting which types of people would be persuaded by certain kinds of appeals. Call lists in field offices, for instance, didn't just list names and numbers; they also ranked names in order of their persuadability, with the campaign's most important priorities first. About 75% of the determining factors were basics like age, sex, race, neighborhood and voting record. Consumer data about voters helped round out the picture. 'We could [predict] people who were going to give online. We could model people who were going to give through mail. We could model volunteers,' said one of the senior advisers about the predictive profiles built by the data. 'In the end, modeling became something way bigger for us in '12 than in '08 because it made our time more efficient.'"
Teancum writes "Colleen Lachowicz, candidate for the State Senate District 25 of Maine, won the election yesterday against her opponent Thomas Martin. This race was notable in part because her World of Warcraft character that was mentioned earlier on Slashdot, where the Maine Republican Party turned her game playing into a significant issue. It is also notable that she was able to raise a total of $6,300 in campaign contributions from gamers who came to her defense in her successful campaign. The Maine GOP even tried to block these contributions where Lachowicz was cleared of any wrong doing and the investigation was dropped."
Fox News, NBC, and CNN have called the U.S. election for incumbent Barack Obama. Of the so-called 'battleground states,' Obama carried Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire, which, along with all of the solidly Democrat-leaning states, was enough to push him beyond the 270 required for victory. You can check this chart to see the full list of states that have currently been called, and by which news networks. The NY Times has an excellent interactive map showing all election results updated in real time, as does CNN. It's currently projected that the Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives, and the Democrats will retain control of the Senate.
Several readers have submitted news of the inevitable problems involved with trying to securely collect information from tens of millions of people on the same day. A video is making the rounds of a touchscreen voting machine registering a vote for Mitt Romney when Barack Obama was selected. A North Carolina newspaper is reporting that votes for Romney are being switched to Obama. Voters are being encouraged to check and double-check that their votes are recorded accurately. In Ohio, some recently-installed election software got a pass from a District Court Judge. In Galveston County, Texas, poll workers didn't start their computer systems early enough to be ready for the opening of the polls, which led to a court order requiring the stations to be open for an extra two hours at night. Yesterday we discussed how people in New Jersey who were displaced by the storm would be allowed to vote via email; not only are some of the emails bouncing, but voters are being directed to request ballots from a county clerk's personal Hotmail account. If only vote machines were as secure as slot machines. Of course, there's still the good, old fashioned analog problems; workers tampering with ballots, voters being told they can vote tomorrow, and people leaving after excessively long wait times.
Today is Election Day in the U.S., and polls are open even in Hawaii now. The current Slashdot poll gives a snapshot of how many readers have voted or plan to vote; more rigorous and wide-based polls are easy to find. If you're taking part in today's election, what have you found? Did you or will you vote electronically, or on paper? How long did you wait to vote? Did you vote weeks ago by mail? How much time did you put into making your choices? It would be helpful if in comments you start the subject of your post with your 2-letter state abbreviation, like this: "TX - About to go get in line to push some buttons."
An anonymous reader writes "Proud voters are already posting their ballots on Instagram but ProPublica's Lois Beckett reports that you may want to check your state laws first since showing your marked ballot to other people is actually illegal in many states."
First time accepted submitter yincrash writes "Today I've been looking up information on local elections and have found it virtually impossible to determine information on judicial elections, both with regards to information on the candidate, and what makes a good judge. Is there a good way to find information on these candidates? chooseyourjudges.org seems to agree that this is basically an impossible task. What do slashdotters do in an information vacuum? Just abstain from voting? Write-in something in protest?"
Separate from the debate moderated by Ralph Nader last night, Free and Equal is hosting a final third party debate tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST (pre-debate coverage began at 8:00 p.m. EST). As a follow up to the October 23rd debate, only Jill Stein (Green) and Gary Johnson (Libertarian) will be facing each other for ninety minutes of questions primarily focusing on foreign policy. It appears that this one isn't being picked up by C-SPAN, but it is being broadcast on RT America on a few cable networks as well as on YouTube (which should work if you have an HTML5 browser, or via the XBMC YouTube plugin). Discuss.
An anonymous reader writes "The state-by-state election outcome probabilities today on Nate Silver's 538 imply a 97.7% probability for Obama to win 270 or more electoral college votes this coming Tuesday. A site that allows anyone but U.S. citizens vote seems to indicate that the rest of the world hopes these numbers are accurate. "
Late Tuesday, both the 2012 U.S. election (the popular vote at least) and the 2012 campaign season should be over. Tonight, though, whatever your ability or plans to vote are (see the current poll for a peek at what other readers claim about their intentions), you've got the chance to see one more presidential debate, to be moderated by Ralph Nader, and featuring third-party presidential contenders Gary Johnson (Libertarian), Jill Stein (Green), Virgil Goode (Constitution) and Rock Anderson (Justice). Yes, the same ones featured in another debate a few weeks back. (We promise, this is the last debate of this go-round.) If you're voting (or would, if you could) for other than the Democratic or Republican parties' candidates this year, what drives that decision?
First time accepted submitter danbuter writes "In probably the most poorly thought-out reaction to allowing people displaced by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey [to take part in the 2012 presidential election], residents will be allowed to vote by email. Of course, this will be completely secure and work perfectly!" Writes user Beryllium Sphere: "There's no mention of any protocol that might possibly make this acceptable. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen would be if it appears to work OK and gains acceptance." I know someone they should consult first.
New submitter Shotgun writes "I heard on the radio that there were some issues with voting machines in Greensboro, NC (my hometown), and the story said the machines just needed "recalibration". Which made me ask, "WTF? Why does a machine for choosing between one of a few choices need 'calibration'?" This story seems to explain the issue."
eldavojohn writes "On September 14th a report titled 'Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945' (PDF) penned by the Library of Congress' nonpartisan Congressional Research Service was released to little fanfare. However, the following conclusion of the report has since roiled the GOP enough to have the report removed from the Library of Congress: 'The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.' From the New York Times article: 'The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical.' It appears to no longer be found on the Library of Congress' website."
Hugh Pickens writes "Lewis M. Cohen reports that this Election Day, Massachusetts is poised to approve the Death With Dignity Act, a modernized, sanitized, politically palatable term that replaces the now-antiquated expression 'physician-assisted suicide.' Oregon's Death With Dignity Act has been in effect for the past 14 years, and the state of Washington followed suit with a similar law in 2008. But the Massachusetts ballot question has the potential to turn death with dignity from a legislative experiment into the new national norm, because the state is the home of America's leading medical publication (the New England Journal of Medicine), hospital (Massachusetts General), and four medical schools (Harvard, Boston University, University of Massachusetts, and Tufts). If the act passes in Massachusetts, other states that have previously had unsuccessful campaigns will certainly be emboldened to revisit this subject. The initiative would allow terminally ill patients with six months or less to live to request from their doctor a prescription for a lethal dose of a drug. Doctors do not have to offer the option at all, and patients must make three requests, two verbal and one written. They must self-administer the drug, which would be ingested. The patients must be deemed capable of making an informed decision. 'It's all about choice,' says George Eighmey, a key player in instituting the Oregon law, defending it against repeal and shepherding it into reality. 'You decide. No one else can decide for you. No can can force you into it, coerce you into it or even suggest it to you unless you make a statement: "I don't want to live like this any more" or "I'm interested in that law out there, doctor, can you give me something to alleviate this pain and suffering."'"