Browsing the archives for the Presidential Elections tag.

These two parts of the country count for equal shares of the vote

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

A propos of nothing in particular, an electoral map of sorts.

I selected all the states where McCain is currently leading, if even by the narrowest of margins, and painted them red (using the gadget at 270towin.com). To be generous and cautious, I actually used the pollster.com numbers from a week ago, when he was still leading in Missouri and North Dakota as well. And I selected the states that are absolutely foolproof safe for Obama and painted them blue.

These two selections count for almost exactly the same share of the Electoral College. These two selections represent roughly the same proportions of the US population.

A useful map, then, perhaps, to have at hand for two occasions:

a) Whenever someone harangues you about “the real America”, “heartland America” or “flyover country, where Joe Sixpack lives”.

Check: the Bos-Wash corridor with upstate NY and Vermont; Illinois; and the Pacific coast with Hawaii – together those states have as many Americans as all the even marginally red states together.

b) When you want to wonder at how unfavourable the underlying fundamentals of this race are for McCain.

Normally you start from a base level of reliable support, and then contest as many of the few remaining battleground states as you need to win. But this base level is just precariously low for McCain this year. Mostly because of a few givens: Bush’s unpopularity, the economic crisis and the loss of trust in the Republican brand on the economy, the unpopularity of the Iraq war. (And that’s not just “headwind”, as you’ll now find some conservatives describing it; it’s the result of Republican mismanagement.) But it’s also because of the Obama campaign’s willingness to reach far into red-state America and its access to the resources to do so, a testament of Democratic enthusiasm.

Either way, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado and Florida are not part of the base level of support that Republicans can build on like they were in 2004. Which means that the Republican base level is as low as 185 Electoral College votes, rather than 249. And just 185 EVs? That’s so little that it barely counterweighs even the safest of safest blue states.

Again, nothing particularly newsworthy about any of this, but I still found it a pretty telling map.

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Wordling last night’s debate: John McCain’s answers, and what does it all mean?

Debates, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Earlier today, I wrote “Can we Wordle? Yes, we can!” Wordle being a toy for generating “word clouds” from any given text. I created a Wordle of all of Obama’s answers during last night’s debate. (Again, the hat-tip for the idea goes to The Monkey Cage, which did a Wordle of the Vice-Presidential debate, both candidates in one).

Still using the of same transcript, here’s the Wordle for John McCain’s words:

Click to see large.

So how do the two compare? And what words stand out for prominence – or absence?

Process-wise, what struck me is that Obama spoke slightly more (some 6,720 words) than McCain (about 6,550), and that McCain made more short quips and interjections. The dynamic of frontrunner versus underdog? McCain needed to be on the attack after all, push for some kind of break to revive his chances, while Obama’s main goal must have been to keep ‘er steady and not disrupt his comfortable lead in the polls.

An easily recognizable word in the McCain Wordle is friends – as in, “my friends”, McCain’s catchphrase. Another marked feature of the McCain Wordle is that America, Americans and to a lesser extent American are among the most prominent words. United and States are big too. The American President America is waiting for! In the Obama Wordle, America, American and Americans are all present, but very small.

The prominence of Well, like and look in McCain’s Wordle makes him look curiously like a Valley girl. But he’s also got thank fairly large in there, and Tom (Brokaw). Obama had less time for such niceties and spoke more directly to the audience, over Tom’s head.

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Last night’s debate: Wordling Barack Obama’s answers

Debates, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Can we Wordle?

Yes, we can!

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

Well, here goes: this is the Wordle of all of Obama’s answers during last night’s debate, on the basis of this transcript.

Click to see large.

A hat-tip is in order: I got the idea when I saw the Wordle on The Monkey Cage of the Vice-Presidential debate. That Wordle was of everything both candidates said though, which seemed less revealing to me than what you’d get Wordling each candidate’s words separately.

I’ll do one for McCain later today..

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