Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Last political post, probably

At noon today I made a small wager. I bet the princely sum of £3.72 on the Democrats to win the US presidential election, if he does I stand to make a profit of £5.06. So the odds at the time were favouring a Republican victory, now six hours later the odds are favouring a Democrat victory. In fact as I type this at 17:51 you can get 2.5 pounds for each pound you wager on a Bush victory. I find this rather encouraging, although twenty minutes ago the odds of a Bush victory were even longer, so who knows.

In case you're interested the betting site I'm referring to is Betfair, although all the major UK bookmakers are favouring a Kerry win at the moment. It's kind of hard to tell what to make of it as the odds are just determined by what people are willing to gamble on. But they probably represent a pretty good guess of what's going to happen, after all there's been close to 8 million pounds traded on this market so far.


Anonymous said...

This one's going to be hard to call. Kerry will take PA easily. Bush will take FL, Kerry IA, NJ and MN. That leaves NM, WI, MI and your own Ohio in play. If my figures are right, Kerry needs to win OH and MI, and can afford to lose one of NM and WI. I'd give Kerry good odds of winning MI and WI, so we don't care about NM, and it's all down to Ohio.

At 5:2, I'd put $200 or so on Bush, but mostly because the money would be a consolation for being stuck with the bugger for another 4 years.

Anonymous said...

Well, the networks have just called PA for Kerry. I seem to have forgotten to mention that Kerry will take New Hampshire, and I think there's some chance he'll lose WI, and so need NM after all. It's still coming down to a bunch of students in Columbus, though.

Anonymous said...

More predictions: Kerry to win popular vote by 50% to 49%. Plus Nevada might be in play. That's an extra couple of percentage points in Kerry's favour, but it's still down to Ohio. I think there's as outside chance left if Kerry loses Ohio - he then needs Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada and Hawai'i. That puts the candidates on 269 votes each, so it's down to the Senate, which will be Republican.

I think at this point, though, I'll give Ohio and the election to Senator Kerry.

Ryan said...


I should definitely have put a bet on Bush when the odds slipped out to 3/1 or 4/1. But I didn't.

I guess this inflation of odds was the result of all those leaked exit polls, that I didn't see, that the networks are talking about. It seems that somebody, somewhere got it horribly wrong. I don't feel confident for my £3.62. Lose, lose.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking "arse", but we'll go with the general underpant region.

It certainly looks like the writing is on the wall, although this whole "we can't actually count all the votes for another fortnight" thing is a bit odd.

So why were the exit polls wrong? I think fear of terrorism certainly drove some people into Bush's camp, but suspect those people are unlikely to lie to exit pollsters about it. I'm going to go with closet homophobia among Ohio democrats. They're afraid that only Bush will protect marriage, whatever that means, and that a Kerry win would mean compulsory trips to Amsterdam wearing tight shirts and leather trousers.

Vote Bush! Save your anus!

Anonymous said...

So I've just been told that one precinct in Ohio had 2 voting machines for 1300 people, and that the voting machines can handle 20 people per hour. Now, it doesn't take much thought to figure out that it would take a little more than two and a half solid days and nights for all the voters in that precinct to vote. Now, you won't get 100% turnout, and some people will vote absentee, but planning on only a fifth of your electorate turning out on election day (and even then assuming that they arrive to vote uniformly in time) seems a little bit stupid.

What kind of a fucked-up country makes it so difficult for its citizens to vote? It's rather like running a supermarket: if your customers have to wait in line for more than 10 minutes, you don't have enough lines open.

Ryan said...

Everyone I know who voted in the election had to wait a minimum of an hour and half. I know quite a few people who didn't vote because the lines were so long. I've met some people who had to wait over seven hours to vote.

Whenever I've voted back home in Angleterre (and I've only ver voted two or maybe three times), I've never had to wait more than a couple of minutes. I think the main problem here is that they just have too many things to vote on. There are something like 40 different candidates/issues that are on the ballot. Everything from President to county coroner to should we give the schools and zoo more money (yay for the zoo, nay for the school... because who can vote against cuddly animals). If you had to read each of the issues you were voting on it would take for bloody ever. How can you be expected to have an opinion on 40 different things at the same time?

Anonymous said...

I think the main problem here is that they just have too many things to vote on. There are something like 40 different candidates/issues that are on the ballot.That's certainly the reason why it takes longer for an individual person to vote than just making an x, or even ranking the candidates for one job in order.

That's no excuse for hour-long waits though. The supermarket doesn't say "Sorry, you all seem to be buying a week's groceries, so there'll be a three hour line. It would be faster of you only bought milk and cookies." It hires more staff and buys more cash registers.

If it costs too much to pay stupid money to Diebold for a fancy-shmancy box, you need a better system.

Ryan said...

That's no excuse for hour-long waits though.That wasn't what I was trying to suggest. Obviously if you implement a (hypothetical) system where it takes 30 mins for each person to actually cast their ballot, then you need to have enough voting machines that people don't have multi hour-long waits. Any time when you have people waiting that long you are seriously under-prepared, at best, or intentionally negligent, at worst.

My point was that if you're asking people to vote on 40+ different things, there is no way the average guy can have an informed opinion on all of them. Which to my mind is the single largest failure of the American voting system. If you can't have an informed opinion on an issue, why are you asked to vote on it? Isn't that what politicians are for, to make decisions in my stay, so I don't have to worry about how exactly we pay for the sewer system?

I also agree there are plenty of serious flaws in the implementation of the current system. Those areas which used voting systems that didn't leave a paper record, and I believe that Franklin county was one of them, have seriously got to consider whether or not that is a sensible idea (clue: it isn't). And there are several other implementation questions, which need to be addressed.

But my main complaint is that the system is currently too complicated. If they simplified it then it would be much easier to have a fully accountable system, and the voters would stand a better chance of being able to cast votes that accurately reflected their opinions. I mean having seen photos of the voting contraptions, I would be intimidated when I walked into the voting booth, and I like to consider myself a fairly intelligent man.

Anonymous said...

My point was that if you're asking people to vote on 40+ different things, there is no way the average guy can have an informed opinion on all of them.

That's not really what you're doing, though. OK, you have a lot of choices to make, but it's not really 40. A lot of the votes are partisan ones, so you just vote for your choice of party unless you have a positive reason to prefer another candidate. That works out the same as just casting one vote for your party, and having the elected representative make the appointments, except that the people have the opportunity to kick out a specific person that's done something bad even if they like his party.

You might get a few of your "Shall we have a new tax for a while to buy a new sewer system" type choices, but it's really not too difficult to learn a little about the issue and come up with a retional decision. Oh, and everyone has an opinion on the gay marriage thing.

I would agree that you can go too far down the have-a-vote-for-every-decision route, and that if you're going to elect civic leaders then you really ought to trust them with actually making some decisions, but in general I think the US level of detail is about right. It allows you to say "You're mostly along the right lines, but that specific idea is really stupid" in a vote, which seems to be to be a good thing.

Ryan said...

Most of the partisan votes are the ones I don't object. You elect you're President (or at least his electors), Senators, Housefolk, and a few state politicians. But then it just wonders off into never-neverland. There were, apparently, something like 10 judges people got to vote on, a sherriff, a coroner, a county recorder, a county engineer and a few other assorted random people.

Who am I (assuming for the moment that I was an American voter) to say who's going to make a good sherriff or coroner? And why do these people, and the judges, have a party affliation (although in some cases their affliations, aren't listed on the ballot). I really don't care where the coroner's political sympathies lie, it has nothing to do with how well he does his job. Doesn't it take another judge, or lawyer, to be able to tell if a judge is doing his job correctly? It's going to take something pretty catastrophic for your average man to have even heard about a judge. Whilst I don't even know what the county recorder and engineer do, never mind if they're any good at the jobs. I'd like to think that all these people will do a good job regardless of their political affliation.

Then you get amendments like the gay marriage ban, which are just fluff thrown up to increase voter turn-out as far as I can tell.

(Oh I should really apologise for my excessive use of he, it's just so much easier to type than he/she. I've tried using they, but I always lapse back in to my old habits.)