Inside straight

Late polls breaking for Obama.

Nate Silver: Late polls are breaking Obama’s way. Romney is now drawing to an inside straight.

Betfair odds are more like drawing to a flush: just under 5:1.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

18 thoughts on “Inside straight”

  1. O dear Cthluhu, may Obama’s coattails carry the House. We beseech thee for a miracle, O Tentacled One!

    Virginia closes early. If it goes for Obama, we can start celebrating early. It’s almost impossible for Seamus’ Bane to win without Virginia. He would have to run almost all the swing states. If Obama gets Virginia, he only needs two of three: NH, IA, NV. And that is spotting OH, CO, and FL, although admittedly not WI or PA.

    1. Virginia closes early but Northern Virginia ALWAYS reports late. In 2008, I think I knew the outcome in Florida before I did in Virginia. In 2006 I stayed up until 3:00 am to find out that Jim Webb won the Senate on the strength of Northern Virginia precincts. I have no idea why it takes so long, except that Fairfax is now probably the most populous county or city in the state, and it has many, many polling locations. For whatever reason, it probably won’t be reporting until between 11 and midnight tonight. It’s so annoying to watch the returns show Republicans up all night waiting to see what the turnout was in Northern Virginia (and it was high this morning, at my polling location at least — 45 minute wait from 7:00 am until at least when I left at around 8:15).

      1. Fairfax County has more than twice the population of Virginia Beach, the next-most-populous city/county in Virginia. (For those unfamiliar with Virginia’s political geography, cities are not part of counties in the Commonwealth, and are considered county equivalents for census and some other statistical purposes.)

  2. Isn’t it a little bit late to be talking polls? Sampling is in progress for the one poll that matters, with “n” in the tens of millions, not hundreds. We’ll get the results tonight.

      1. I don’t often read XKCD. When I do I usually consider it foolish nerd self-indulgence. That, however, was legitimately funny.

        1. What is wrong with foolish nerd self-indulgence?

          And yeah, yesterday’s was among the best.

    1. The reason to talk about polls is that they are the inputs for probability models. Having the election results then allows for a comparison between the different models, making it possible to identify the ones with the best fit to the actual data. This in turn tests the soundness of the methodologies of those models.
      Big problem is that the models that performed best this time may not perform best next time, when new variables will come into play.
      But if the final election results are closer to last month’s polling than to yesterday’s polling, that will give extremely important information about polling methods.
      In any case, Brett, think about the poor graduate students who will finally be able to write their dissertations on the comparisons between the election results and the various polls. No matter the outcome of the election, this will be a godsend to them.

      1. Bah. That’s all numbery mumbo-jumbo. Nobody I know likes that Kenyan food-stamp lazy un-American. Or the Enlightenment, for that matter.

    2. In a world where vote rigging, ballot stuffing, and ballot dumping exist,
      polls serve as a small check on the amount of cheating.

  3. I try not to read comment threads on newspaper websites. Nevertheless, I did just now at Nate’s blog. The first few are all you need to understand what is the state of the GOP at this moment. It would be nice to have a sane opposition party, wouldn’t it?

    1. Now, there’s a comment no Republican could disagree with. 😉 Every time I read somebody here saying Black Panthers in paramilitary uniforms spewing racial epithets isn’t intimidation, but a billboard calmly stating the law is, I think, “I don’t mind the disagreement so much, but couldn’t they at least be defending a position that wasn’t insane?”

          1. dude singular and he was saddled with an injunction forbidding him from displaying a weapon within 100 feet of a polling place for three years which runs out next year. if he does it again today he could be held for contempt of court for violating the injunction. meanwhile today we have a black man opening the door for folks as they go into the polling place. so just how threatening is a black man opening a door for people in a predominately black part of town? maybe all of this is just a case of po-tay-to/po-tah-to, or maybe it’s just a “how now brown cow” moment but i just find it very funny that you think a guy standing in front of a polling place with a stick in one precinct in one city is somehow equivalent to the relentless and concerted effort on the part of the republican party to make it more difficult and inconvenient for the young, the elderly, and minorities to vote. i know you’ve told me you weren’t being intentionally funny but this breathtaking example of false equivalence forces me to ask again, are you the funniest man at the rbc by design or is it a happy accident?

          2. [that is] all you need to understand what is the state of the GOP at this moment.

            Is Faux and Rush and Beck still ululating falsehoods to scare white people? Why is it, do you think, that they never issue corrections on air? Aren’t they concerned that their viewership (never readership) is going to spread incorrect information and be embarrassed when called on it?

            Booga booga!

  4. Professor Kleiman, please refrain from ever again using poker analogies to describe election outcomes. When I read the words “he is drawing to an inside straight” every single really bad beat I have ever experienced flashed before my eyes. Now I feel sick to my stomach. If we must use poker, I am going to choose to say to myself that Mittens is drawing dead.

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