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The future of polling: Prediction or Observation?

Yeah, the "unskewed poll" predictions.

Yeah, the “unskewed poll” predictions.

For years, public opinion polls were, essentially, conducted in the same way. When a polling firm conducted a survey, it was all within the time frame of that poll. This was always qualified with the statement “if the election for President (or whatever) was held today…”. It was known that a poll only provided a snapshot of the electorate at that specific period of time, and did not predict future trends or eventual election results.

However, in the last few election cycles, we see a change in the way public opinion polling is conducted. Whenever a poll from a legitimate polling firm is released, the political pundits on the losing side of that poll always make the same argument, which is “(insert party here) voters were over-sampled”. It is this “over-sampling” which leads to pundits saying that the poll is absolutely baloney. However, these polls weren’t taken to make predictions, but to take that snapshot of the electorate.

However, it seems as if the pundits are looking for predictions, not random sampling. This has resulted in a new method where a polling firm “predicts” turnout for an upcoming election, and uses the polling result as an answer to a future question, such as “who will win (insert race here)”. While tradition opinion polls say “if the election were held today”, this new way of polling says “using samples from today, we predict…”.
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Why I left The Florida Squeeze.

On May 22nd, I decided to leave The Florida Squeeze. I decided to leave the website not because of personal attacks or the lack of substantive discussion on the website (which, thankfully, has been reduced quite a bit). I instead left because of the censorship that was happening on the website.

The following article was actually written on May 22nd, but I decided not to publish because I did not think it was appropriate at the time. I figured that the tone of The Florida Squeeze would change. However, since my departure, my fears have become a reality. Instead of being a pure non-biased look at Florida politics, the website has become a Peter Schorsch-style “pay-to-play” platform without the pay, I assume. In the recent “Winners and Losers” articles, people who are close associates of those who operate the website were considered some of the “winners”. On the other hand, people like Allison Tant, who has been considered a “loser” by many in Florida Democratic Party politics, have been given a free pass.

When I created The Political Hurricane, the goal of the website was to give an honest assessment of Florida Democratic politics. Granted, I picked my sides on many issues, such as the FDP Chair race, but I did not try to hide my intentions. I pride myself in the fact that people knew where I was coming from and did not hold back any punches. Also, my association with people did not prevent me from telling, what I consider, was the true. For example, at the time that I wrote my series of articles about Christopher Findlater, I had a working relationship with Susannah Randolph. If I wanted to keep that relationship, it would have been best for me not to release that series of articles. Instead, I felt that the truth was more important than networking. I feel that this is the difference between The Political Hurricane in its heyday and The Florida Squeeze today.

To further explain my departure, here is what I wrote on May 22nd:

When I first started writing for The Florida Squeeze, I was told that my posts would be edited (as well as everyone else’s posts) for grammatical and spelling errors, as well as issues with style. I had no problem with that whatsoever. But this “editing” started to move away from just simple spelling errors to removing, as well as adding, content to posts that I had written.

The most recent of these was the article about “Where were the progressives” in regards to endorsing Nan Rich. The original article that I had written (under my byline) not only included Ruth’s List, but also included included the folks at Florida Watch Action, which included Susannah Randolph and Amy Ritter, as well as Scott Randolph. But any reference to these people was taken out. The reason that I was told of the exclusion was because the site didn’t want it to “look personal”. For some reason, mentioning Ruth’s List was alright, but mentioning the Randolphs was considered over-the-line. As a result, I asked for the piece to be written under an editorial byline and not my personal byline since a considerable amount of content was removed. 

The final straw came when I had a comment moderated regarding Susannah Randolph. Knowing Susannah’s writing style (as well as the buzz words that she uses which makes her posts extremely obvious), I responded to a post that was put in the comment section. This comment was eventually edited.

The reason why I decided to publish this article about The Florida Squeeze now is because I feel that the website has become personal (hence the irony regarding the edits on my article in May) and not a substantive debate of either issues or the state of the party. The focus of the blog over the last few months on Orange and Broward County politics shows this bias. When looking at a website, one must ask “what are the ends”. When The Political Hurricane was created, the “end” was to have a successful Florida Democratic Party that competes. Hence, when I started this blog four years ago, I advocated the removal of Karen Thurman as chair, as well as outlined ideas about rebuilding the Florida Democratic Party, without having biases. And yes, I currently live in Montreal, but this has benefited me in the fact that I can look at the results of what  happened in Florida in 2014 in an objective way, and not let personal relationships determine whether someone is a “winner” or “loser”.

This is an unfortunate turn for The Florida Squeeze, considering the credibility that it has built over the last few years. I hope that the editors over there come to realize that their work is more than just for them, but for a greater good which should promote a true two-party system in Florida. However, if The Florida Squeeze is being used to promote certain individuals, and win the favor of other individuals, then I feel full disclosure is warranted.

America is changing, and I don’t like it.

1506652_10152870014999188_1379944574742376970_nYesterday, I spent my morning at the Arlington National Cemetery. After parking my car, I walked through the gates and headed to a grave I have always wanted to see.Yes, it is my favorite actor, Lee Marvin. Marvin is buried near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As I was walking toward Marvin’s grave, I forked left while everyone else was walking to the right. Of course, they went to see the cemetery’s most popular gravesite, that of President John F. Kennedy. Also, people were taking pictures of graves, indiscriminately, so that they could get that “perfect shot” which exemplifies the loses America  suffered (or so they want you to believe).

As I walked up the hill toward Marvin’s grave, the crowds disappeared. By the time I finally found the gravesite of Major John Reisman (Marvin’s name in The Dirty Dozen, one of my favorite movies), there was no crowd at all. I then walked the few hundred yards to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. When I arrived there were about five people there, all with their cameras and conducting small talk. Tuning them out, I was amazed at how moving this hallowed ground was. I was filled with emotion in a way that I never had been before. It was at this time that I realized I could never truly feel Canadian, as I will always, proudly, be an American. Unlike the others that were there, I thought it would be somewhat classless to take a photo.
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Florida Democratic Party using diversionary tactics to take pressure off of Tant?

Over the last week, I have talked about the recent losses of the Florida Democratic Party, as well as the changes that need to take place in order for the party to move forward. However, it seems that Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant and her allies want you to forget all about those losses nine days ago and focus on the leadership race for the Democratic House Caucus between Dwayne Taylor and Mark Pafford. But is this really a true concern, or a diversion to keep the attention off of the failures of the Florida Democratic Party?

First, let’s look at this in a practical sense. To do that, we have to turn our attention to an article written about the subject yesterday from the News Service of Florida. In the article, they quote Representative Evan Jenne saying that Pafford has “more than he had the last time he ran”. So, if he had more votes than before, and he won quite easily before, why would there be any worry that Pafford would lose this time? Getting involved with the race doesn’t seem practical.
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Analysis of Hispanic voters in Florida coming soon.

th-flagsWith the election over, I will be looking over the results and seeking to understand certain voting patterns. One of those patters deals with the role of Hispanics in recent elections, particularly looking at Cuban voters in Miami-Dade County and Puerto Rican voters in Orange and Osceola Counties. The upcoming research seeks to find if there has been any change in voting habits between 2010 and 2014.

Of course, there are two possible pitfalls in the research. First, while conducting the research, I will be looking at precincts with high Hispanic populations. But the term “Hispanic” does not specify nationality. As a result, there is a probability that the term “Hispanic” will not be exclusive to Cubans in Miami or Puerto Ricans in the Orlando area. To mitigate this problem, the precincts being examined are in areas where US Census data indicates high levels of certain nationalities in these geographical locations. Second, since this is looking at aggregate-level election data and not attitudinal data, precincts are not going to be 100% Hispanic. There will, more than likely, be white, black and other voters in each. But precincts with a higher percentage of Hispanic voters will probably be a good indicator of voting intentions, as well as turnout, among this demographic.

I will be publishing the findings on Sunday (hopefully).

Allison Tant moving, slightly, in the right direction.

FDP_130109A few days ago, Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant finally admitted that her team lost. After an election night filled with congratulatory tweets, Tant said in a radio interview with WFSU in Tallahassee that she takes responsibility.

“Do I take responsibility for this outcome? Of course”, Tant told WFSU.

However, it is the rest of her interview that deserves a second look. Here is the rest of Tant’s statement, according the WFSU:

“Well, obviously we got beat. We got beat across the nation. We got beat in Florida. But, I’m proud of the race we ran. I mean, do I want a different outcome. Yes! Do I take a responsibility for this outcome? Of course! I mean, we built a really good machine. We built a really good race car and we’re going to keep it going. We’re going to deep dive into what happened and who didn’t show up to vote and take corrective measures.”
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Let’s be honest, Democrats have a “white people” problem in midterm elections.

surrey_whiterock_dentist6Over the last week, Democrats have been trying to figure out why they did so poorly in the midterm elections. You have Howard Dean talking about “what did Democrats stand for”. You have other outlets talking about messaging. The Florida Squeeze has just published an article about a certain number of those in the Florida Democratic Party who say moderation is the key to electoral success. Basically, the opinions are all over the chart.

But midterm after midterm, Democrats always have the same problem…they cannot win white voters. No matter how you look at it, this demographic is the largest voting block in the nation, as well as Florida. Yet, the Democratic Party (primarily nationally) campaigns on issues that have no impact on white voters. As someone who fits this demographic, specifically the middle-aged, straight, white male voter, I ask “what has the Democratic Party done to win my vote”? Yes, that is a hard one to answer.

First, we must look at politics in general. Politics is a big-box game, not a specialty game. The goal of a campaign is to get as many votes as possible, similar to Walmart’s business model of selling as much as possible. Politics is not, however, a niche market game, where picking a specific clientele can assure you electoral success. However, the Democratic business model of winning elections is based off of that niche market approach, which hurts during midterm elections.
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