Okay, someone explain this to me…

Now I freely admit that I am no statistician but when presented with some simple numbers I can usually understand what I am looking at. Now looking at the following I have to ask: what am I missing here?

Meanwhile, a week after President Bush’s State of the Union address, his approval rating has fallen to 50 percent from 54 percent in the last Newsweek Poll (1/8-9/04). Yet, a 52-percent majority of registered voters says it would not like to see him re-elected to a second term. Only 44 percent say they would like to see him re-elected, a four-point drop from the last Newsweek Poll. (Of that, 37% strongly want to see him re-elected, and 47% strongly do not). However, a large majority of voters (78%) says that it is very likely (40%) or somewhat likely (38%) that Bush will in fact be re- elected to a second term in office. Only 10 percent believe it is not too likely or not at all likely (10%).

The bolding is my own to point out to you what I am having a problem wrapping my head around. If 52% of the voters do NOT want another Bush term then how can 78% believe that he will be re-elected? More voting theft?

If all of the 52% get out to vote and manage to convince just ONE person who is still undecided to vote against Bush then short of another outright theft of the Presidency how can he win? I know that Democrats by nature have this self-defeating approach to politics but come on folks, if the Republicans have shown us anything it is that you can crush the opposition by putting on the blinders, marching in lock step to the polls, and voting for the party – not for the man. It may be repugnant to consider this mindless approach to politics but do you want four more years of Bush? Four more years of a Republican Congress?

If you want Bush and his cronies out of our Whitehouse then you may just have to play it like they do. Forget your doubt and vote them out!

27 thoughts on “Okay, someone explain this to me…

  1. The numbers simply mean that the “52%” don’t know that there are 52% of them.  How could they have known that during the poll? I don’t know if it is a doubt in themselves as much as a doubt that others share their viewpoint. If once they are aware of this number will the 78% go down? Of course what percentage of the 52% read polls?

    Its too early for people to know what everyone else thinks. I think that will change when there is a Democratic candidate and it gets closer to voting time. Then you’ll have more people at work and such talking about who their voting for, or against. Maybe then the 52% will feel like they aren’t alone and will feel strong enough to vote. People need to feel like they are part of the group and backing a winner. Sad but true.

  2. Aside from sometimes very significant differences you can get in poll results depending on the word or placement of the question (which then gets glossed over by a summary statement of the results), Pablo’s correct.  There’s not a lot of contradiction between people liking (or disliking) Candidate A, but also believing that A won’t (or will) win the election.  Indeed, the opposite (“I love A, and he’s going all the way in November!”) is usually chalked up to wishful and partisan thinking.

    If condition in the US and the World don’t substantially worsen over the next 10 months, I think it likely Bush will beat whomever the Dems put up. That has nothing to do with my opinion (favorable in some cases, less than favorable in others) of his performance, but a judgment of American politics and the advantages of the incumbancy.

    I never assume that my opinions on political matters are universally agreed with, no matter how blindingly self-evident they are to me.

  3. I think Dave it it on the head.

    When you add to that the fact that many believe the election was bought, whether or not it is true, that contributes to the pessimism of the left.  Just anecdotally, it seems like people don’t think the election will execute the will of the people.

    Not to mention the fact that the electoral college acts as a low pass filter on the popular vote, eliminating some votes in discrete units (states) from having any effect.  If you didn’t vote with the majority of other voters in your state, your vote is tossed into the garbage can.

    Maybe it is time we reworked the electoral college and went to ranking candidates with a popular vote?

  4. This is from an earlier post.

    . . . Just anecdotally, it seems like people don’t think the election will execute the will of the people.

    Not to mention the fact that the electoral college acts as a low pass filter on the popular vote, eliminating some votes in discrete units (states) from having any effect. If you didn’t vote with the majority of other voters in your state, your vote is tossed into the garbage can.

    Maybe it is time we reworked the electoral college and went to ranking candidates with a popular vote?

    Shortly after the last presidential election, a slightly distant cousin circulated the following email. His proposals show one way to address the issue raised by Dast. 

    A Constitutional Crisis!
    November, 2000

    There is an urgent need in These United States for a long overdue Constitutional Amendment, to insure that the current, totally unnecessary and unacceptable Presidential election deadlock shall never happen again!!  It must be assured that whoever runs The Nation is doing so with a mandate from a clear majority of all legitimate voters.  In the absence of a current war or depression, the top priority of whoever we end up with as President, and with all members of Congress, must be to initiate such a simply stated Amendment with the following provisions.

    1.The President and Vice President shall be elected by a simple majority of the popular vote.  The Electoral College is abolished.

    2.All absentee ballots shall be mailed as early as necessary, to be received and counted on or before Election Day.

    3.If no candidate receives a clear majority -  not merely a plurality - of all votes cast, there shall be an immediate run-off election between the two leading candidates. This shall apply to Congressional as well as Presidential elections.

    The following provisions are also strongly recommended.

    4.    There shall be a uniform national format for ballots and a simple mechanical means of counting them, to maximize reliability and uniformity of results. All voters shall receive an official receipt for having voted.

    5. To motivate the maximum number of eligible voters to vote, the Internal Revenue Service shall add a

  5. VernR,

    I’m not sure I like the poll tax bit.  It would serve only to motivate those who actually pay taxes.  That is, unless the $100 minimum applies to someone with 0 income, which seems unfair.

    Not to mention the fact that the more money you make, the more “motiviated” you would be by the IRS.  I’m not sure that is the message we want to send out.

    Maybe we should give out free beer at the polls?  Or maybe that would only motivate alcoholics.

    I think a good idea may be to make the days we vote national holidays.

  6. The poll tax idea is interesting.. but instead of making it 1% or $100.00 with whichever is larger… make it 1% or up to $100.00… the other way those damn rich conservative bastards will get even more of a tax break just for voting for their dumbass candidates

    Other than that.. yeah abolish the electoral college as the technology now exists to count absolutely every single vote. It is insane that the worlds foremost democracy elected a leader that didn’t win the popular vote.

  7. It is insane that the worlds foremost democracy elected a leader that didn’t win the popular vote.
    Not like it’s the first time.

    There is an urgent need in These United States for a long overdue Constitutional Amendment, to insure that the current, totally unnecessary and unacceptable Presidential election deadlock shall never happen again!!
    It didn’t happen in the late 1800’s, I doubt it’ll happen now.

    I agree with Dast that we should make Election Day a holiday.  Make it visible so people don’t forget(especially non-Nov elections).  I really like the early voting I usually get to do were I live, since I can do it at City Hall on a Saturday.  I think the biggest issue is making it easy for voters to get to the polls.  Second would be getting FACTS about what’s in the election visible to voters - Presidential is usually a gimme on that, but local stuff sometimes takes effort to find out.

  8. Why not make Election Day a holiday , add a box saying"none of the above” to the ballot and make voting compulsory. After all anybody should have a few minutes for their country once every 4 years.
    Not sure about it myself,just a thought!

  9. add a box saying"none of the above” to the ballot

    Maybe just do a write in for “None of the above”…

  10. Ragman -

    Yes it has unfortunately happened 4 times so far.

    Just because it didn’t happen in the 1800’s doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen now. Not saying that it will, but just because it didn’t happen in the past does not mean it won’t happen in the future.

  11. I think both reps and dems know that the next election is going to be corrupt; the reps appear to be reveling in it, while the dems appear to unhappily concede that it will happen.  The free-thinkers (all 23 of them) are having aneurysms.  I already checked the UN webpage, and there isn’t a handy “please oversee my country’s election to ensure fairness” form, so I think we’re probably fuct.

  12. I already checked the UN webpage, and there isn’t a handy “please oversee my country’s election to ensure fairness” form, so I think we’re probably fuct.

    OMFG that is the funniest thing I have read in a while…

  13. OK, time to clear up some misconceptions:

    1) Nobody knows who won the popular vote. Many states, including CA, only count absentee ballots until it is mathmatically impossible to change the outcome for their state’s vote in the EC. In a state with CA’s population, that could easily leave more votes than even get cast in a state like ND completely uncounted. What we do know is about the votes that were counted.

    2) Which leads to the problem of abolishing the EC. Why count the vote from puny little states like ND? Just count the vote on the coasts, and we can probably mathmatically eliminate the need to count the votes of “fly-over” country. Think of the money we’d save.  We might as well eliminate the Senate while we’re at it. After all, it’s based on the same principle of equalizing states rights. I mean, why not just toss those cry baby low population states out of the US? It’s this type of thinking that led to the civil war (bonus popular myth correction: no, the civil war really wasn’t about slavery, it was about states rights).

    Let’s face it, the ONLY reason you want to ditch the EC is because you lost. If the tables were turned you’d be singing it’s praises, telling the conservatives they just had sour grapes.

    3) We are not a democracy, we are a republic. Which is yet another reason why we don’t do things by popular vote. If you’re wondering why we shouldn’t I refer you to Plato’s “Republic”. And what he predicted is coming true: the more democratic this country has become, the more the people have voted themselves a legacy.

    Sheesh, next thing ya know, you’ll all be telling me that salt is bad for me…

  14. When I write states rights, it’s not their right to have slavery (or not) to which I refer. The causes were based in the agricultural states basically being ignored by the Federal government while the industrial states were getting pretty much getting whatever they wanted. These problems went back many years before slavery was even thought of as an issue. Just how shallow could a person be to go and fight and die for the right to own a slave? On the other hand, if a man felt that a government that taxed him did not represent his interests, in fact was contrary to them… well I think there’s been some wars of independence fought over such issues.

    Slavery was not an issue until AFTER the war started. Lincoln (a hick, snagletoothed, trailerparklivin’, rednecked, skinheaded, truckdrivin’, guntotin’, homophopbic, slashnburnin, evil Republican conservative, you know, like you think I am) freed the slaves in states that had already claimed their independence. Let’s think for a moment why he might have done that, yet left the slaves in the north (the factories and homes were full of them) enslaved. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

    Personally, I don’t want to have to trade with a forgien nation for food, so I’m willing to put up with things like the EC and the senate. When it comes to things like eating, I can become fairly practical.

  15. I find all of that a very compelling argument David.

    Not as compelling as any of the arguments provided by the site that I linked to, but if you’re really that invested in promoting this “the war wasn’t about slavery” idea, feel free to rebut their arguments in this forum. 

    I have no desire to recreate their arguments myself, just as I have no desire, at this point, to argue that teaching “creation science” in high schools might be a bad idea.

    If Slavery was not an issue until after the war started, then why did South Carolina emphasize it so heavily in its official statement of why it was seceding?  Again, I refer you to the link.  SC specifically stated that its primary reasons for secession were twofold.  The North had become increasingly hostile to the institution of slavery, and the North had turned a blind eye to SC’s legal demands to have their property (slaves) returned.  SC didn’t cite long standing grievances and tensions going “way back.”  They openly stated that, for them at least, slavery was a pretty damn important factor in their decision to secede.

    Do I assert that the civil war was, therefore, entirely about Slavery?  I do not.  Because it’s a simplistic answer and simplistic answers only result in “simple” people. 

    But don’t bother considering any points that I’ve raised here, or even attempting to mediate between the two possibilities, because any lack of rigidity in your position on an issue immediately reflects metaphorically on the rigidity of your penis, the wellspring of manliness and strength, and one must be STRONG at times!  We must not let them sap our vital essences!  Or flouridate the water!  Because debate is WAR—it’s not about approaching the truth, it’s about POUNDING THE OTHER GUY INTO THE DIRT!!! 

    And that’s what I teach all my students, because I love the sort of society that that kind of thought has created.

    You can assert that slavery was not an issue until AFTER the war started until you turn blue in the face, but I can dig up plenty of references indicating that slavery WAS an issue. 

    I’m not going to, because I just found out that I’ll be losing my job at the end of this semester, and as a grad student I’m not officially covered by unemployment insurance or anything else.  There is NO safety net for me, so I’ll be looking for work, rather than trying to get you to adopt a rational and measured approach to the issue.

    As for “buying food from a foreign nation” I think the cost of importing food from Brazil and South America may well be cheaper then using import taxes to protect local agriculture, and then subsidizing American agriculture to overproduce beef and milk.

    And if the agricultural states did secede, they’d still have to sell food in order to support their economy.  Industrial/coastal areas would simply have to buy food at fair market prices.  What’s so wrong with allowing that to happen?  And would it really be more expensive than subsidizing agriculture with tax dollars?

    Just how shallow could a person be to go and fight and die for the right to own a slave?

    How shallow would someone have to be to fight a war over oil?  Or because the US wants a military foothold in the middle east in order to prepare for possible future conflicts with China?  Or because George Jr. has a personal grudge?

    But that’s not the reason most soldiers actually WENT to war—they’re there because Saddam is an immanent threat, because he funded Al Qaeda, because he gassed his “own people” (the Kurds have NEVER been “Saddam’s people”), and to free the Iraqi people.  And some of them are there because their friends joined in High school, and they figured “what the hell, guess I’ll go too.”  In other words, soldiers frequently go to war over issues that have absolutely NOTHING to do with why that war is actually being fought.

    Since when has a war EVER been fought for the reasons that people claim it was fought?

    People still think that the American Revolution was a popular uprising to shake off the “tyranny” of the British.  The truth is (despite the impression created by Mel Gibson’s The Patriot) that most people weren’t much affected by British taxes, and didn’t much give a damn.  But this is a patriotic “truth” that the right often embraces as a “fact” in the same way that the left embraces the “fact” that the civil war was all about slavery.

    Whatever.  Pursue the truth.  And question the things that you believe are true.  I don’t reject your assertions out of hand, and I don’t think you’re some redneck homophobic scum, either.  I just think you’re buying someone else’s “line” in much the same way that you accuse others of buying into “liberal propaganda.”

    And you never answered my question.  Under what circumstances is the EC ever going to benefit the more urban, populous states?

  16. Back to Dave’s first post.

    1) Nobody knows who won the popular vote. Many states, including CA, only count absentee ballots until it is mathmatically impossible to change the outcome for their state

  17. Do I do all of my research on the web?

    Of course, that’s why I’m ABD.  And I’m not losing my job because I lack competence, I’m losing my job because WSU’s funding has been slashed.  But the personal attack served its intended purpose.  For a moment there I was filled with a sense of personal worthlessness, convinced that I had no critical consciousness, that my research skills were sorely lacking, and that my penis had shrunk.

    Then I got over it.

    I’m aware that the Civil War was not entirely about slavery, and for you to claim that that is my assertion is “straw man” fallacy.  My actual claim is that slavery was certainly PART of the issue, so for you to dismiss it as being irrelevant, or unrelated, (as you did) is sloppy thinking on your part.  But if you want to think sloppily, that’s your call.  You can always respond to my pointing out that sloppiness by simply asserting that my arguments have no validity—berating my “lack of understanding of contemporary warfare”—and saying that the general truth that I asserted [that most soldiers aren’t overly concerned with the reasons why they’re actually fighting], might be true in most cases, but the Civil War was some kind of special exception,

    You can assert all those things all you want, but that doesn’t make them true.

    I can provide you with five different secession statements from five different states, that all state that the North’s hostility to slavery is a large part of the issue.  Granted, it has occurred to me that those statements might be a convenient explanation, in much the same way that WMD was a convenient explanation, so those statements alone are not enough to establish that slavery was a prime cause.

    I can pull them off the web, or if it’ll make you feel better, I can dig them out of actual texts.  Either way, they read exactly the same.  But the little stab about how I probably have nothing to contribute to society, and educators like me are a waste of your precious tax dollars, was appreciated.  Considering that I’ve been working twelve hour days for the last three weeks, without getting a day off, and I make approximately 10k a year, I have to wonder exactly how much you expect for your tax dollar.  (There may be other reasons why slavery is a sensitive issue for me).

    If your contention is that the Civil war was not a moral conflict, but an economic one—I would agree with you.  But slavery was a large part of that economic conflict.  Heavy importation duties on foreign goods often compelled Southern states to buy American (and often inferior) goods.  Northern States benefitted from monopolizing the importation of slaves.  Southern states paid high taxes and received little return in terms of government spending.  I could be wrong, but that’s my understanding of what some of the core issues were.

    But the Southern plantation system was rooted in slavery, not industrial manufacture, and when the North became increasingly hostile to Slavery, unfair import duties and other issues that had been tolerated (begrudgingly) by the South, became intolerable, as the root of their economy was being attacked.  Slavery had been made illegal in England, and there was a great deal of social debate about the moral issues surrounding slavery.

    And you’re telling me that you can’t find any references to slavery being an issue before the Civil War?  Perhaps you should do some research on the web.

    IF your objection is to the idea that slavery was a moral issue that spurred Northern involvement in the war, I’m not contending that that is true.  It’s often represented that way by people who wish to portray the South as inherently bigoted and evil, and the North as great liberators.  On the other hand, the South has made a habit of claiming that slavery had nothing to do with the conflict, when it absolutely did.  The South was highly aware of the fact that their economic system was rooted in slavery, and slave owners were not insensible to the potential problems created by the abolition movement.

    Wait, I think I’m getting confused here, the abolition movement didn’t exist before the Civil War.  No, wait, I’m getting it wrong again.  It existed, but it wasn’t a real threat, and the South didn’t have use armed force in order to crush it on occassion, no wait, I’m sure I’ve got that wrong again. . .

    See how you’ve got me all flustered?!?!

    There is no simple answer

    I could have -sworn- that that was exactly what I said.

    States rights, is a fairly broad sweeping thing, but it is, I believe, what the civil war boiled down to.

    “boils down to” = reductive.  And by being reductive you effectively dismiss the idea that slavery had some role in the causes for the Civil War.  That’s an insupportable assertion.  The South may have been grumbling about secession for quite some time (as did some Northern states), but the developing hostility toward the roots of their prosperity was most certainly an issue.  And NO I’m not going to go dig up old pre-civil war speeches by Southern senators about the dangers of miscegenation, the Biblical support for the institution of slavery, the abhorrence they feel about the ideology of the “equality of man” etc., etc.  But just because I’m too lazy to actually go dig them up doesn’t mean that they aren’t out there. 

    As far as Lewis’ ideas about “progress,” I believe he is basically correct.  Primarily because my training has been as a medievalist.  Although I’ve never heard of this Chaucer fellow.  The Bible?  What’s that?  And Beowulf?  What does a howling wolf have to do with literature?

    Lastly, and I thought it was self-evident in my argument, the EC isn’t meant to benefit the large population centers (like where I’ve lived most of my life). It’s meant to benefit the low population states

    Then it doesn’t really make a lot of sense for you to berate the liberals for whining about the EC, because if the situation was reversed we’d be defending it.  You admit that the likelihood of the situation being reversed is minimal.  So we have every right to bitch, and it isn’t hypocritical, because we’re never going to have the opportunity to be hypocritical about it!

    (I reserve the right to BE hypocritical, however, if it ever DOES happen by some strange fluke.)

    I’d say more, but I have to go give a lecture on Celtic social structure and the Irish Celtic system of Brehon law, and how those issues contextualize the Tain bo Cuailnge, so I’ll have to sign off.

    But if you want to attack my usefulness to society again, David, just post here, and I’ll come by and read it for my daily dose of humility.

  18. Nowiser, dude, I count on you to cut through the muck and enlighten internet readers and I’m seldom disappointed. I only regret that you weren’t a teacher of mine, though what was that I just said about enlightening the internet readers…

    Take a day off - You deserve it.

  19. This guy doesn’t actually need enlightening, so much.  His command of the economic sources of the Civil War is probably pretty good.

    I’m more concerned with the fact that he is “boiling down” the Civil War to being rooted entirely in those economic causes, and ignoring the social stresses that were concurrent and contributory.

    As for the “you wish I had been one of your teachers,”  I can only say thank you.  The nature of the job is that, most of the time, students have no idea of what you may have done for them until years have passed.  A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.

    Particularly when the financial remuneration is so freakin’ meager.

    So thank you.

  20. At this point, you are making some sense. In fact, at points I thought you actually had it, and we were just bantering over wording.

    If your contention is that the Civil war was not a moral conflict, but an economic one

  21. I think it might be nearer the truth to say industrial manufacture was denied to the south. It

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