May 13th, 2015, 9:08am by Sam Wang
Television “news” media, as is often the case, is good at blowing an event out of proportion. In the wake of the Amtrak train crash (and hey, I am totally against train crashes!), we have this:
In contrast with this statement, the bar graph above shows actual transportation fatality risk in the United States, from an article by Ian Savage at Northwestern University. His data end in 2009, but note that the overall tendency is for travel to get safer over time:
Take a look: death rates have gone down for all forms of travel: car, train, airplane, and boat. Despite this, such gore is a staple of news broadcasts. However, maybe some good can yet come of this: there is a major need for repairs and upgrades in U.S. infrastructure. Train travel is one place to invest the dollars.
It is a shame that we are intensely visual primates. Actual threats like climate change are too abstract to appreciate, while on TV we get panic about Malaysian jets and train crashes.
May 9th, 2015, 9:34am by Sam Wang
(reanalyzed data from Lord Ashcroft’s post-election poll)
Contrary to all pre-election polls, the Conservatives won an outright majority, with 329 out of 650 seats. The final popular vote was 37% for Conservatives, 31% for Labour, where a near-tie was predicted. But the Labour Party was not the only loser on Thursday. There were three others: [Read more →]
Tags: United Kingdom
May 7th, 2015, 12:22am by Sam Wang
Michael Mosettig explains it well. I cannot improve on what he says. Go read that. Then follow live returns here and projections here.
Current projections by electionforecast.co.uk indicate considerable losses by the two ruling parties, the Conservatives (281 seats) and the Liberal Democrats (27 seats). With a current forecast total of 308 seats, these two parties together seem likely to end up below the 323* seats necessary to get a majority in Parliament by themselves. But the uncertainties are rather considerable.
The projections have high uncertainty for two big reasons:
- The U.K. election is determined by 630 individual races, one per constituency (what we would call a district). That’s 1.5 times the size of the U.S. House, and the U.K.’s population is only one-fifth that of the U.S. In the U.S., constituency/district-level polling is a more accurate source. However, in the U.K. it is it’s sparse (go see Lord Ashcroft’s compendium of polls).
- The two-party system has fragmented, and sometimes two parties are near-tied in support. Since the seat goes to whoever gets the most votes in a constituency (“first past the post”), this leads to uncertainty. Multiparty races do not lend themselves as well to opinion polling as the U.S. two-party system.
The other total to watch is Labour + Scottish National Party (currently projected at 266 + 51 = 317). The remaining 20 or so seats would be split among the U.K. Independence Party, DUP, Plaid Cymru, and various others. These minor parties may end up being important after the election, if the likely Conservative+ and Labour+ coalitions can’t get to 323.
If all of the above is true, Labour seems to have a slight edge in forming a ruling coalition. However, the Conservatives could well find a way to remain on top, especially if they end up with the most seats as an individual party – at which point they may assert bragging rights to form a government.
*One minor party, Sinn Fein, may end up with about 5 M.P.’s, but their policy is one of abstention. Thus only 323 out of 630 votes appear to be necessary to form a government.
May 6th, 2015, 1:11pm by Sam Wang
My article on Presidential poll aggregation is now published, in the International Journal of Forecasting. You can read it here. It’s part of a special issue on Presidential forecasting; when I have the other articles I will link those as well. Read about the origins of a rather odd hobby!
Tags: 2004 Election · 2006 Elections · 2008 Election · 2012 Election · 2014 Election
April 19th, 2015, 1:30am by Sam Wang
So, Mark Halperin went to New Hampshire to watch the GOP presidential field. And then he evaluated them by handing out grades, which I guess is meant to be rigorous. I think these “grades” reveal at least as much about modern political journalism as they do about what happened in the Granite State. [Read more →]
Tags: 2016 Election · President
April 13th, 2015, 11:03pm by Sam Wang
In today’s dustup between FiveThirtyEight and Vox, the press is missing the point. This is often the case, since most reporters understand mud-throwing better than they understand data.
I am not interested in squabbles over whether it is kosher to show someone else’s graphic. That ship sailed ten years ago when blogging got big. See Ezra Klein today; it’s what aggregators and commentators do. The real story is that the original interpretation is quite possibly wrong. Go read what Matt Yglesias actually wrote!
The bottom line, in two sentences: 1) Hillary Clinton has Presidential-level name recognition, which nearly the entire GOP field would kill for. 2) Jeb Bush is starting off as damaged goods, but most other Republicans are not.
Follow me down to understand why. [Read more →]
Tags: 2016 Election · President
March 18th, 2015, 2:09am by Sam Wang
Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu, kingmaker
The votes are counted. Likud surged in the home stretch, making them the largest party in the new Knesset. The fifth-largest party, Kulanu, is likely to play an outsized role in determining who the next Prime Minister will be. This means that Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to office is not quite a done deal.
First, the results of Tuesday’s election: [Read more →]
March 17th, 2015, 3:19pm by Sam Wang
This is useful: a Times of Israel guide to reading exit polls, and how President Rivlin might weigh today’s results. And…official tallies in Hebrew and English.
What are you reading?
March 17th, 2015, 10:07am by Sam Wang
If pre-election polls hold up – and there is some question now, since Israeli law prohibited publication of polls over the weekend – Labor/Hatnuah (also known as the Zionist Camp) may well get the first chance to form a ruling coalition of a majority of the newly-elected 120 Knesset members. On the face of it, it would not seem that Likud-plus (Likud plus natural allies on the right) can get to 61 seats easily. However, Labor’s difficulties are quite substantial, a problem which has become quite apparent upon further analysis. For this reason, Netanyahu’s chances of retaining at least some power are probably better than I thought before.
The last few days of the Israeli campaign have been quite a spectacle… [Read more →]
March 14th, 2015, 6:03pm by Sam Wang
Note: updated to reflect final polls and some reader comments like this one.
Labor's Isaac Herzog: Israel's next Prime Minister?
Israeli elections are Tuesday, March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day! Israeli politics is rococo in its complexity, but let’s take a look at the data. Bottom line, there is a substantial chance of Netanyahu being ousted as Prime Minister. In the context of Israeli politics, his US speech looks like a Hail Mary pass. [Read more →]