Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Comment thread #4 – liveblogging

November 7th, 2012, 12:09am by Sam Wang


7:24am: Whew. Thank you all! Various wrapup in the coming days.

1:40am: In comments, a mixed reaction. Some of you heard unfriendliness. But a few of you thought he was more relieved than anything else. It had to be an extremely hard moment for him. Here is the full text.

1:09am: Caught the end of Romney’s concession speech, in which he said he’d “pray for President Obama.” Wow, that did not feel friendly. What else was said? Enlighten me in comments please.

Heitkamp (D) appears headed to winning ND-Senate. 50.8-49.2%, with 4% of the vote left to be counted. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is in too. Next to be counted: MT and NV.

12:24am: Bill Foster is in. A particle physicist, and also a co-founder of a company that sells most of the theater lighting in the US. Quite the dude. Congratulations, Congressman-elect Foster!

12:21am: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not losing time in calling on GOP to stop obstruction strategy. This is really important – if you have a D/I Senator, write to him/her about the supermajority rules. In our broken government, majority rule is important for both sides.

12:02am: OK, some remaining questions. Will Obama win the popular vote? Looks like yes, but the jury’s still out.

In ND-Senate, Rick Berg (R) leads Heidi Heitkamp (D) 50.1-49.9%, with 91% of the vote counted. Right down to the wire. We’re still waiting on NV, MT, and WI.

Tags: 2012 Election

321 Comments so far ↓

  • wheelers cat

    Props for the quants and the modelers.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/2012-poll-accuracy-obama-models-survey_n_2087117.html?utm_hp_ref=@pollster

    “While the election’s biggest winner was President Barack Obama, the other victory on Tuesday night went to the careful application of reason, data and, yes, to the science of modern survey research.
    The losers were the amateur poll mavens who sought to “unskew” the polls and the pundits who saw what they wanted to see.

    “Romney will win by a very large margin, a landslide if you will,” former pollster and Clinton adviser turned conservative pundit Dick Morris told Fox News on Monday. Why? Morris was somehow certain that most polls had sampled too many Democrats and that the undecided vote, “which always goes against the incumbent,” would break to Romney. Needless to say, it didn’t.

    On the other side were the quants and the modelers, like our own Simon Jackman and others like Drew Linzer, Sam Wang and, yes, Nate Silver, who set aside hunch and folklore, gathered the hard data from a wide variety of public opinion polls and combined their findings into remarkably consistent predictions of the election outcome.”

    But I think Mark Blumenthal is wrong.
    The real winners are the American people. The voters who stood in line for six or seven hours in Florida to vote, the campaign workers that micro-targetted right up to the last minute, the college students that rushed to vote in a fury against voter suppression tactics, the New Yorkers and Jerseyites that took time to vote in the midst of trying to survive Sandy’s aftermath without heat or power.
    The quants and the modelers, the “Poll Jedi” as Colbert calls them, are the heroes that carved out enough space in the information war so liberals could believe in the power of their vote.
    And of course the premier knight– Dr. Wang.
    toujours le preux chevalier.

    • Olav Grinde

      @Wheeler’s Cat: Your very best post yet, of the many excellent ones you’ve made. I loved sharing this journey with your well-reasoned wit. :)

    • wheelers cat

      bien merci Olav. your link to Michael McDonald was brilliant. i loved his tic-tac-toe game, and it really enhanced my election understanding on turnout. Do you think Rove and Romney were trying for the Nightmare Strategy and that is why they didn’t concede right away?

      we are so literary today i think we need some Milton too. To Mirth!

      “Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
      In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold
      With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
      Rain influence, and judge the prize
      Of wit or arms, while both contend
      To win her grace whom all commend.”

      im going to miss all of you so much…i feel like Dorothy returning to Kansas.
      There was so much wit and clever analysis here…such a profusion of brilliantly shaded and nuanced thought all supported by the beautiful bones of the Math.

  • Rex

    Sam,

    Thank you for all your hard work. For weeks I have been converting my friends who followed 538-”This one is run by Princeton!”- to your site. Thanks for the regular updates and the good natured humor. See you in 4 years!

  • Kristen

    Thank you, Sam, for providing this fantastically accurate and sane analysis! The Geek’s Guide was invaluable last night.

  • Elizabeth Duvert

    Hi, Sam, Been with you since 2008; had to go to bed early last night(old age and a virus). Have looked at no other site yet. Came to yours first just to see result & to thank you & Andrew. Oh, how you pulled me (and everyone I recommended your site to) through such a difficult time. I have degrees in the humanities but I have always loved math and science. Maybe more of the nation will hear President Obama’s call for more math & science now that you& your colleagues have so aptly demonstrated its value. Love your work, thank you again. E.

  • Anne Baasch

    Yay, Sam… you did it again! Thanks for your hard work and predictions!

  • K8D

    Thank you so much for this site! It kept me confident in the final days and during the evening. I used the interactive map to change white to red to blue to white several times to test scenarios. In the end math and science win!!! Now can you do something about those who deny the science of climate change and evolution?

  • wheelers cat

    Well if Nate Silver is a witch then Dr. Wang is wizard.
    http://isnatesilverawitch.com
    As the fog of battle recedes and we can unpick the fabric of the 2012 election, I want to give gratitude and praise to Dr. Wang and the rest of the Poll Jedi that fought back the tides of ignorance and disinformation to reveal the True Shape of the Data.
    And also grey-eyed Athena of course.
    ;)

  • Ottovbvs

    Congratulations Sam, a tour de force. Right where you said we’d be months ago.

  • Mark Lindamood

    Romney looked shaken to his core and barely got his hastily written concession out. There is a degree of arrogance in having not prepared one. Either that, or Romney really did believe that a Mormon God somewhere had chosen him to lead the earth.

    America dodged a bullet by not electing this man, and ESPECIALLY by not putting young, inexperienced, “Johnny-One-Note budget wonk” Paul Ryan a heartbeat away from being Commander-in-Chief.

    Paul Ryan is Romney’s second best decision he ever made???? That’s consummately bad decision-making if you care about judicious management of America military force.

    Republicans have not just two failed candidates in a row, but two horribly inappropriate choices for Vice President. They can get off Biden’s back now, as well as the President’s.

  • Steve

    Big congrats to you Dr. Wang! Aging statistician here who has been doing this kind of thing for a long time. Job well done!

  • RandyH

    We love Sam Wang and Obama!

    So Sam lets get you on the Stewart show soon..:)

  • Howie Weiner

    Great morning today! Back at work about a half mile from the President’s Chicago residence. Good morning Mr. President.
    Looks like Florida will go for the President. PV about 2%. It will be interesting to look back and analyze the polls to see who was on and who wasn’t. Dr. Wang was spot on, the power of math and science. This site has been an amazing experience. I predicted 303 and said Florida could easily make it 332. My friends said how did you know? I just smiled. Thanks everyone.

    • Rose

      I think Florida is in the bag. According to the local news here in Miami (yeah I know, maybe not too reliable), Miami-Dade is the only one left to finish counting ballots. The election supervisor said that there are about 20,000 or so ballots left to count. Obama is already leading by about 40,0000! in FL. People were still voting at around 1:30 am in one of the polling places.

      Again, I am so glad I found this site about a week or so before elections. Thank you PEC!

  • FMJohnson

    I thought Romney’s offer to pray for the president was very gracious and seemed to me to be heart-felt. When Christians say that, we usually mean it, and I assume that’s true for Mormons as well.

  • DaveM

    Popular vote margin now edging above 2%…

  • Reason

    Everyone is praising Silver this morning. But where is the love for Wang?!

    • DPB

      Have you seen the comments on 538? Perhaps we want PEC to be a hidden gem of sorts.

      I should take back my comment about FL being too optimistic when the first prediction was made.

    • xian

      well, to be fair, Sam flipped his Florida coin and it came out red, whereas Nate’s “model” turned Florida blue in the last day or so.

    • BrianTH

      Sam’s reward is that he is going to be a very big deal next time, assuming he wants to keep it up. In fact, I am pretty sure if he wanted a media career, some outlet would hire him on the same terms as Silver (given Silver’s success at driving traffic to the NYT).

  • Mark Lindamood

    Senator Mitch McConnell, would you like some humble pie for dessert after that lovely plate of crow? Our two-term President is in the restaurant and has graciously offered to pick up your tab.

    • Reason

      Reid needs to knock it off and let Senator Turtle know that the filibuster is not going to be acceptable anymore with the nation on the edge. Reid won more seats now. Watch him steamroll over Mitch. He is one tough old bird.

  • Amitabh Lath

    What’s the matter with Nevada?

    • Reason

      Amitabh, nothing. Except the R candidate won the state for Senate.

    • Froggy

      I don’t know who the alternatives were, but Shelley Berkley wasn’t a great choice. Being investigated by the House Ethics Committee is never a good thing. Being investigated while you’re running for a Senate seat is especially bad.

  • Reason

    Florida will be called for O. The 2 Senate races will also probably go D. Nevada will go R. All in all, not a bad night for the D’s. All in all, a good night. But the R’s are back in congress and they will act like they have a mandate when they lost a few seats. I wonder how the president will handle them.

  • DPB

    Quick sum from looking at the Google election data has the Obama-Romney split in Florida at 0.055% with 100% reporting. If nothing changes then we may avoid a tedious recount.

    I wonder how all the “gut” pundits are feeling when they wake up in the morning? Trust in data!

    • J.A. Bailey

      @ DPB your math on Googles numbers agrees with mine on NYTs, which I find reassuring, given the lack of sleep factor. I put the difference at .557% of the total vote cast; the absolute number of votes separating this from a recount is 4620– do we know much about the number of provisional and absentee votes in FLA, and how they are likely to break?

    • xian

      I would assume they have tummy aches this morning.

  • joe

    So your map was spot on and it looks like your PV estimate was also spot on. Amazing sir! I am glad I found this website.

  • A New Jersey Farmer

    Looks like most everything the right wing said about what this election was about, and why they would win, and how they would take the Senate and how math doesn’t matter and the unskewed polls, turned out to be wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

    I was mildly surprised at the ease in which the media called this race. The swing states fell like dominoes and Obama will win the popular vote too. Florida can wallow in its mess without affecting the race and NJ voters can continue to vote until Friday without it changing the results. All in all, a very nice night.

    • Denis

      As I suspected, the MSM knew all along who was ahead. Their horse race narrative was pure contrition.

  • Stephen Coltrane

    Sam, what a brilliant site you have created, and thank you for keeping me calm with your precise analysis and your dry wit. You really are the man (and so is Nate; and so is Drew Linzer!).

  • Stephen Coltrane

    A belated happy birthday, Ms Sheckley, and what a great birthday present to have! Love the cake, too…

  • Vermont David

    I am looking forward to the rule change in the Senate! A majority should mean a majority why do we need to get to 60 senators? No good reason. Just the threat of the rule change should do it.

    Sam you are terrific and you have done this with grace and humor! Congratulations on another success.

  • Ms. Jay Sheckley

    November 6th was my birthday, and my wishes came true. Such as this probable first: a PEC BIRTHDAY CAKE. In my slapdash lettering it says “PRINCETON VICTORY BIRTHDAY 2012, above my funky sketch of Sam & Andrew’s Median EV Estimator, edibly printed on a wafer thin layer atop chocolate buttercream-iced chocolate cake. The cake’s side bears a sketch of November 5th’s EV Histogram of all outcomes; the tall bars are with and without Florida. [We may never know] .

    Lookie!

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4923222363008&set=a.1154730673071.23076.1371822976&type=1&theater

    PecHeads involved: Photo by inestimable new citizen, first time voter, UC Berkeley professor _and_ PEC enthusiast Ian Holmes. Transport by PEC devotee John Michael Sawyer. PEC chart cake grant via multi-election PEC follower & missionary Jack Rems/Dark Carnival Bookstore.

  • Muhahahahaz

    Also, gay marriage now legal in Maine, Maryland, and Washington!

  • Marvin8

    Sam, I bow down before the awesomeness of your prognosticatory skills. You ARE the man! Oh, and so is Nate. :)

  • Muhahahahaz

    Indeed. Congrats Puerto Rico! :D

  • Matt

    One of the more interesting votes, completely overlooked, is that Puerto Rico just voted to become a state.

    • Sophie Amrain

      And that will presumably mean that the Dems will get two more senators!

  • Muhahahahaz

    Obama at PV +1.35% and climbing! :D

  • whirlaway

    Well, hopefully the Republicans have learned that they should pay attention to what the psephologists are saying…. in the same way they should be paying attention to what the anthropologists, paleontologists, geologists, climatologists and ecologists are saying.

  • Matt McIrvin

    Biggest surprise of the night: Puerto Rico statehood referendum apparently passes.

    • Muhahahahaz

      Nice! Welcome to the union Puerto Rico! :D

    • Muhahahahaz

      Wikipedia: “If a majority of voters choose statehood, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting Resident Commissioner can be expected to introduce legislation admitting Puerto Rico to the Union. As with other bills, it would have to pass both the House and the Senate, and be signed by the President of the United States, or, if vetoed, veto overridden by 2/3 of each of the House and Senate to become law.”

      Okay, so maybe not quite yet… I can only hope that congress will agree to this one.

    • David

      I think it would be great to add Puerto Rico as a state, but I don’t see the Republican Party wanting to add a state they won’t be able to carry into the union.

    • BrianTH

      It is actually quite the political dilemma for the Republicans–if any one strategic imperative is clear for them after last night, it is that they MUST start doing a better job appealing to Hispanics if they want to remain viable in national elections. It isn’t hard to imagine that standing opposed to admitting Peurto Rico to the Union would be highly counterproductive, and for an indefinite period.

    • BrianTH

      And apologies for the spelling–I was up late last night for some reason.

  • Subu Vdaygiri

    I think the biggest loser is Gallup. Don’t these organizations have any credibility to protect ?

    • SamR

      Gallup post-Sandy put out a much closer poll, but yeah, they were horrific.

    • Froggy

      I put the biggest loser as Rasmussen. Their final state polls had Romney winning in Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, and Florida, and tied in Wisconsin and Ohio. That’s bad.

  • Chance

    Romney knows how to give concession speeches. He has lost a lot of elections.

  • Subu Vdaygiri

    Votamatic did really great. They had 332-206 for quite a few days. When I saw O having 332, I used to think maybe Votamatic was an outlier and maybe even a left-leaning site. So congrats to Nate, Wang and Votamatic.

    • David

      I think Votamatic predicted 332 ages ago and their model showed it coming up.

    • BrianTH

      Yep, I’d say Linzer is looking like a strong contender for the overall winner, assuming it ends up at 332. He even ended up with Florida being a 60% Obama call, which one could say is reflected in the close contest, and obviously he gets bonus points for the long-term consistency of his answer.

      That said, I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to say that something like Sam’s model was doing a good job capturing the counterfactual implications of the available polling along the way (classically formulated as, “If the election was held today . . .”). You just have to be careful to note that is in fact a counterfactual question, and maybe think a bit about what else might inform a prediction for the ultimate outcome.

  • Buho61

    Thanks, thanks, thanks!!!!!!!!!! you guys did a great job helping us all staying real.

  • Mary Jones

    It sounded to me like he took a lot of words from President Obama’s speeches. Couldn’t help hearing it as smarmy, but I’m not objective. :) Thanks for all your work; I discovered you late in the game, but will now be a Constant Reader.

    • Mark Lindamood

      Romney looked shaken to his core and barely got his hastily written concession out. There is a degree of arrogance in having not prepared one. Either that, or Romney really did believe that a Mormon God somewhere had chosen him to lead the earth. America dodged a bullet by not electing this man.

  • Zip

    Praying for another is generally a friendly, or at least charitable, gesture. Praying for elected officials in particular is very common in churches. Now, had he said, “Say your prayers, Obama”–that would be unfriendly. On the whole, I found Romney’s remarks to be surprisingly gracious. I found myself wondering how he might have fared had his entire campaign taken this tone, but I suppose he would have never made it past the primaries.

  • xian

    thanks, gang, for helping keep me sane this time around. along with the folks at balloon-juice.com and the suddenly well moderated politicalwire.com comment threads, you folks helped me keep in touch with reality throughout the silly season.

  • Paul

    Thinking in Republicanspeak as I listened to Romeny’s remarks on prayer, I think they were a genuine attempt at holding out the olive branch. His whole speech read as a rejection of bitterness and the scorched earth politics the GOP has practiced for the past four years.

    • Kenny Johnson

      That’s how I took it as well. I’m a Christian so “prayer” speak doesn’t offend me. I believe it was a respectful comment.

    • Elizabeth II

      Yes, I think the “real” Romney under it all is genuine about his faith and I think his comments about praying for the president were heartfelt and an attempt to be charitable.

  • Joel

    So, Kenneth Bickers’ model didn’t work out so hot, did it?

    • Craig

      The standard refrain of the econometric models is that they’re only wrong when the campaign is “insufficiently informative.”

      In other words they cannot fail; they can only be failed.

  • jharp

    Many thanks to you Sam Wang.

  • Craig

    Obama’s closing in on 50%.

  • Jon V

    Sam, great job! Thank your for all your hard work. I just found your site a few months ago, but I will follow you from now on. You had FL blue a couple of days ago, should have stuck with it, and you would have been perfect. But Obama won and that’s the most important

  • Muhahahahaz

    I guess I’ll just keep watching. His numbers keep trending up, so the price is bound to keep rising like I see it doing right now.

  • Muhahahahaz

    Hey… so do you guys think Obama will still take PV +2.0%? I’ve got like 12 shares of that on InTrade.

    It’s only like 5% of my total Election Portfolio, so no big deal either way. But the price is currently a little bit higher than what I bought it at (bought for $4.10 each), so I’m wondering if I should sell.

  • 1blueinnola

    From Fox to NBC I can’t believe what I am hearing about conciliation and moderation as a path to saving the Republican Party!!!! I won’t hold my breath for that to happen.

    And, what a great day for you, Sam, and for the many commenters and supporters of this wonderful site which I have been fortunate enough to be a part of for a long while. It is a safe port in a storm-tossed sea of disinformation. Thanks so much.

    • Olav Grinde

      Uhm, it seems to me that Fox News could make an enormously positive contribution by stopping their lies and vitriolic editorializing.

      More than anybody, Fox basically created and fomented the Tea Party. If they are looking for reasons for the Republican Party’s loss and demise, they need look no further than themselves.

  • BrianTH

    Bottomline, Romney isn’t an elected official and isn’t really the leader of his party, and he did what the health of our democracy required: admitted he had lost.

    • Emory Mayne

      A Tale of Two Speech’s

      One, petulant, priggish, and given with an odor of averice. The other was the speech of an American President.

      Romney showed us his 47% belief (looks like he was in “his” margin of error) if not in its content (again none) but in its curtness.

      President Obama seems to channel Presidents past. To many he may remain, sadly, a pigment, but to history, and to those who listen for understanding, he will remain a great American.

    • Olav Grinde

      Emory, that is a great description, which highlights the difference in calibre — between a true statesman, and a would-be president who will soon be forgotten by history.

  • Billy

    If Florida goes to Obama, then Linzer is a genius!