Monday, October 29, 2012

A Bit of Presidential Election Trivia, and a Hint About This Year's Presidential Election

Since the founding of the Republic the United States of America has had 43 different men serve as President.

Obama is the 44th President because Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, making him the 22nd and 24th President. Cleveland remains the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms as President.

Of the 43 men to hold the office, only 38 have been elected to the office.

Eight men have succeeded to the Presidency when their predecessor died in office. Of those eight, four (TR, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and LBJ) subsequently ran for the Presidency and won the office.

One man (Gerald Ford) succeeded to the Presidency when his predecessor (Richard Nixon) resigned from office. Ford is also the only man to succeed to the Presidency without having been elected either President or Vice President. He was appointed after Nixon's Veep Spiro Agnew had to resign from office due to corruption. Thus Ford is the only appointed President in the history of the Republic.

Of the 42 men who have held the Presidency prior to Obama, 30 have run for re-election when their terms expired. (Well, Washington and Grant didn't run so much as they stood for re-election.) Of the twelve that didn't, four died before their first term was up (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, James Garfield and Warren Harding), four men succeeded to the Presidency via the death of the previous President and they didn't stand for re-election (John Tyler, Millard Fillmore (my favorite President), Andrew Johnson and Chester A. Arthur), and four served out their terms and quit while they were ahead (James Polk, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Rutherford B. Hayes).

Of the 30 men who have run for re-election prior to Obama, 20 have won their re-election bids. Sixteen of those men have won at least two Presidential elections. FDR won four, of course, and is the only man to do so. (US Grant actually flirted with running for a third term but ultimately wasn't willing to do the campaigning necessary to secure the Republican nomination in 1880.) 


And here's a bit of trivia that I haven't heard mentioned. Of the sixteen men who have won two or more Presidential elections, 15 of them have won more electoral votes the second time they ran.

There are some things to note about that last bit. First, the number of electoral votes has not been constant. As the nation added states it also added electoral votes. Since 1964 we have held steady at 538 electoral votes. But in many elections the number of electors has changed from four years previously.

The electoral system was changed after the 1800 election, so the first four elections featured a different system.

The 1864 election results were skewed by the Civil War.


Now I'm going to look at some individual successful re-election attempts. I'm only interested in men who won the office at least twice, not in men who won after being elevated after the death of the prior President. So no TR or LBJ below.

First in war, first in peace, first to get elected President and the first to get re-elected, George Washington stands alone as the most distinct President this nation has produced. But his re-election doesn't tell us much because of the differences in the electoral system then from now. But Washington ran largely unopposed, so the electoral votes don't really matter. Washington received the maximum number of electoral votes he could receive both times, and got more the second time because more states had joined the Union since the previous election.

Jefferson was the second man to win re-election. The electoral system was changed after the controversy that followed the 1800 election. Still, Jefferson got a larger share of available electoral votes for re-election.

James Madison (the Father of the Constitution) was the third man to win re-election. He got more electoral votes the second time around, but he actually got a smaller share of available electoral votes.

After that James Monroe and Andrew Jackson won more the second time (in terms of electoral votes available) they won the Presidency than they had the first time.

The next man to win re-election was Abraham Lincoln. The second election came in the year 1864 as the Civil War raged. Confederate States were not a part of the election. Still, Lincoln got more electoral votes absolutely and relatively. The 1864 election is the only election that had fewer electoral votes available than the previous elections.

The next President to win election for a second term was US Grant. He won easily the first time and won a bigger share the second time around.

The we get to the peculiar case of Grover Cleveland. As mentioned, he served two non-consecutive terms for the Presidency. He won in 1884, lost a re-election bid in 1888, and won again in 1892. When he won the Presidency the second time around, he did better than he did the first time.

William McKinley got re-elected before getting shot. Woodrow Wilson won re-election 16 years later. And he did MUCH worse than when he won the first time around. Wilson won 435 out of 531 electoral votes in 1912, but only won 277 out of 531 in 1916.

FDR won the Presidency in 1932 in landslide. When he ran in 1936 he won by an even bigger landslide. His third and fourth wins saw diminishing electoral totals, but all four wins were massive - these elections weren't close. Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and Goerge W. Bush each won more comfortably the second time around than the first. (It would have been difficult for W. to win less comfortably in 2004 than he did in 2000!)

But here's the upshot. Of the men who have won at least two Presidential elections, all but two of them have done better electorally the second time around than the first time around. The two exceptions were James Madison (the election took place a few months after the start of the War of 1812) and Woodrow Wilson, who benefited greatly in his first campaign from a split Republican vote.


The upshot: In the last election Barack Obama won 365 electoral votes. He has no chance of getting close to that total this time around. The exceptional circumstances that surrounded the elections and re-elections of James Madison and Woodrow Wilson do not exist this time. Is Obama going to buck history by winning fewer electoral votes the second time around? I don't think so.


NOTE: Popular vote totals are not as easy to get at as electoral totals. I am using electoral votes as a reasonable proxy. For one thing, voter eligibility changes have had large impacts on vote totals from one election to the next. For another, the population has generally grown from election to election. But voter participation also changes from election to election. Looking at those totals would take more time and analysis and likely won't tell me anything that the electoral totals don't tell us.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Early Voting Notes and Other Election Observations (UPDATED)

See the ADDED paragraph below for the update.

Early voting started here in Florida yesterday. The length of time for early voting has been shortened by several days and the number of locations for early voting has decreased. The closest to us is a local library branch in Ocoee. The voting is in the back of the building. The line (in the past) will go straight down the center of the building and then outside.

We drove by the nearest one yesterday around 10 AM. The line stretched out of the building, along the front, curved around the side and then outwards in a 'u' shaped pattern and then out into a field. A HUGE line. The elementary school parking lot and the aforementioned field were filled with cars.

The black churches locally are making a big push to get their people out to the polls. The line was probably about 50-60% black. (Being the closes to us means its also the closest to Pine Hills.) Drove by it this morning and the line didn't seem quite as long, though it was still out into the field. Given that I was there a little earlier today and that white and blacks on this town are more likely to be church going folk that does not surprise at all.

My wife had been hoping to vote this weekend but she wasn't about to stand in those lines. So she'll try again early tomorrow. I'm likely to go sometime in the middle of the day during the week - should be fewer people in line then.


Looking around voter intensity seems to be up on the Republican side from last time. (I'll come back to the black vote shortly.) The latest poll by the Tampa Bay Times has the I-4 corridor going for Romney 51-45%. The poll was conducted by the Mason-Dixon polling outfit. That pretty much means lights out for Obama in Florida. Obama can't win the state without at least tying in the I-4 corridor.


Blacks were definitely turning out to vote yesterday. (I didn't get as close to the line today so I don't know what it looked like today.) My wife told me that she's read about the big get-out-the-vote effort by the churches. However before the Dems get too excited they should remember a few things. First, not all blacks go to church. Second, there just aren't as many blacks in this area as there were four years ago. When I go up to vote later in the week I will definitely see more whites (as a percentage) than I did yesterday. There's no doubt that the Republicans are going to be serious about getting out and voting this time around.

ADDED: I forgot to mention that at least three other races might be driving the black vote this time around. Sheriff Jerry Demmings is running for re-election in Orange County. He's the county's first black sheriff. I have no idea how he will do in that election, and because of some local law enforcement issues he isn't guaranteed the black vote. His wife Val Demmings is running for Congress against Congressman Daniel Webster. This is Webster's first re-election effort, and Val was recently Orlando's Chief of Police (first black and first woman to hold that position). I think Val doesn't have a chance in that election. Also, Congresswoman Corrine Brown is up for re-election again. She's in a racially gerrymandered district that stretches from Pine Hills to Jacksonville. Most of the blacks in Pine Hills are in her district and not Webster's. Corrine is in a safe seat, and her (apparently whacky) challenger hasn't got a prayer. 


Bottom line: At this point I will be surprised if Obama wins Orange County. I haven't been out to the east and south ends of OC enough recently to have any idea what those areas will do, but R intensity is up over four years ago.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The last Presidential debate of the year

So the last debate happened Monday night. I actually had it on at the time. (Yech.) The best part was when I set a new record on my computer for Solitaire: I won eight hands in a row! Woohoo!

And this concludes my debate analysis.

Let the conspiracy mongering begin!

Stories came out yesterday about Republican voters in Florida being sent letters telling them they're ineligible to vote. I'm not going to bother to link to any (as they're everywhere and you search for them easily enough), but they looked like they were phishing attempts for identity theft as much as anything. Still, it remains curious that only Republicans have so far been targetted.

This morning I have seen a report from North Carolina that people voting for Romney have their votes show up as votes for Obama on the machines being used.

GREENSBORO, N.C. –The Presidential election is just around the corner and voting issues have already become a problem in Guilford County.
On Monday, several voters complained that their electronic ballot machine cast the wrong vote.  All the complaints were made by people who voted at the Bur-Mil Park polling location.
One of the voters, Sher Coromalis, says she cast her ballot for Governor Mitt Romney, but every time she entered her vote it defaulted to President Obama.
“I was so upset that this could happen,” said Coromalis.
Guilford County Board of Elections Director George Gilbert says the problem arises every election. It can be resolved after the machine is re-calibrated by poll workers.
“It’s not a conspiracy it’s just a machine that needs to be corrected,” Gilbert said.
After the third try, Coromalis says she was able to get her vote counted for Gov. Romney but was still annoyed.
“I should have just mailed it in,” Coromalis said.
Elections officials say the machines have been fixed as of Tuesday, and no problems have been reported since.
Early Voting ends November 3.

Great, it's a correctable issue. But even if this isn't an effort to steal votes for Obama (he is a crook from Chicago after all, not to mention the biggest scumbag we've elected President at least since Nixon), this is still troubling. How many votes got incorrectly recorded before people noticed? How many other locations have this problem?

Once again I will state that we should all be using paper ballots that are scanned electronically, just like the big standardized tests use. Optical scanning tech is very reliable and it's worth having a paper trail for verification.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Voter Enthusiasm

Saw a story linked by InstaPundit about ads driving voter enthusiasm in the Presidential race. The story from the Washington Examiner contains the following: 

"Romney and Obama ads increase the highest level of voter enthusiasm of '08 McCain voters by 13 points--a 42 percent surge in the number of McCain '08 voters who are extremely enthusiastic to vote this year," said Schaeffer. What's more, he said, Obama's ads did not boost Democratic enthusiasm for the president.

Which matches what I've expected: Obama is really polarizing to the opposition. However this study isn't all good news for Romney:

Evolving Strategies and Qualtrics teamed to study reactions of 2,384 voters to seven political ads. They found that Obama ads helped the president increase his vote by 15 percent and pushed down Romney's vote by 18 percent.

Romney's ads, meanwhile, did little to push the vote of Republicans or Democrats. "They are just plain ineffective," he said.

Well that's not so good for Romney! So Obama's ads are goosing enthusiasm for Republicans but not Democrats, but they're also boosting his votes 15% and suppressing Romney's by 18%. The difference must be coming from independents.Romney has generally been doing better among independents in the polls, so this result is kind of interesting.

That said, I still don't much trust poll numbers generally and these specifically. It seems normal to me that the incumbent's ads would boost enthusiasm amongst the opposition in tough times (probably does the opposite when times are good, as in 1984, 1996 or 2004), but I'm having trouble with the idea that Obama can't move his own faithful, but can move Republicans and independents massively. Especially when Romney keeps winning independents in most of the polls I've seen.

I suspect that this poll is just missing something important. 

ASIDE: Note that if the numbers above are true, then the cynic's worst fears about political campaigning, that it is solely about TV ads, is confirmed. Yuck.

Summary of Previous Post

In the previous post I gave an interminably long report on the state of yard signs in neighborhoods I have driven around in over the last week. As I mentioned four years ago I largely don't trust polls, save for recognizing trends. However I do like to try and surmise voter enthusiasm by the simple expedient of opening my eyes and observing what I see.

This method has some obvious problems. It depends on what the observer sees and what the observer cares to look at. For example you will find that when the choice presents itself I tend to drive around in nicer areas. This is because I am casing the joints, er, prefer to drive around in areas where I am less likely to get jacked, er, well let's be honest. I live in a crappy neighborhood (Pine Hills, though it's not as crappy as it used to be) and I prefer whenever possible to take my daughter to nicer areas in which to play. The nicer parks are generally in or near the nicer neighborhoods. And lately when I've been driving my daughter often falls asleep in her car seat. The car seat forces her to be still, and lately she hasn't been getting enough sleep because she is no longer sleeping in a crib but now sleeps in a toddler bed. So she doesn't go to sleep as easily, and when she does wake up she gets up and wanders instead of going back to sleep. (In fact I just had a visit at 1:10 AM as I was writing this post.)

So when my daughter goes to sleep during a trip someplace I just keep driving until she wakes up. A little on the expensive side except that I value my sanity very highly. This gives me opportunities to look around.

Therefore a definite selection bias is at work in the neighborhoods I observe. They tend to be white and middle class or better. We already know these areas will mostly favor Romney this time around.

However I have tried to find a couple of areas which I know from past experience or believe for other reasons will favor Obama.

The other big problem I have is that I don't have many areas where I can make comparisons to four years ago. And even there the only place I have a partial count is along Smith and Princeton in College Park.

That said I have observed some trends worth noting.

First, where I CAN compare to four years ago, exactly or not, support for Romney is above what it was for McCain. Even in Winter Garden, which favored McCain heavily four years ago, seems to have bigger turnout this time for Romney. Romney is doing almost as well as Dan Webster, who's a Congressman from Winter Garden running for re-election. There is no visible support for Obama this time around - it's a white wash.

Romney is definitely winning in College Park, which favored Obama slightly last time around.

Obama's support is finally becoming apparent here in Pine Hills, but lacks the intensity (so far) of four years ago. Even a black neighborhood in Winter Park isn't as intense for Obama as it was four years ago. (Winter Park seems to have more intensity for elections than most other areas around here.) They're still blackouts for Romney.

Four years ago by this time it definitely felt like Obama was going to win Florida, just as four years before that it was a certainty (to anyone that wasn't a pollster or some other kind of dumbass) that Kerry had NO SHOT in Florida. Four years before that I think you can recall for yourselves. Furthermore your recollections will be almost as pertinent as mine since I had been living in Maryland for over four months before that election.

Now? I believe it feels like Romney is going to win, though it lacks the certainty of 2004 or 2008. But Romney is clearly getting support above and beyond what McCain got, and the heat from Obama '08 has dissipated, at least in this area.


But let's look at some data. In 2004 Bush won Florida with 52.1% of the vote to Kerry's 47.1%, an easy five point victory. In 2008 Obama won with 50.9% of the vote vs. McCain's 48.1% of the vote, a smaller 2.8% point win. Turnout was 1.8% higher in 2008 than 2004, 59.8% vs. 58.1%.

I'm not sure what this tells us at the moment. McCain actually got more votes than W. had in 2004, which was a function of the state adding about 1,000,000 new voting age people(!) in the meantime. But the sense was that in 2008 Republicans were down in the mouth and in fact McCain had a lower percentage of the voting age population vote for him than W had received. Obama actually slightly outdid W in that regard and crushed Kerry.

The upshot is this. If Romney can make up half the ground McCain lost (as a percentage of voting age population - remember that less than 60% of those folks vote!) then he's got a shot. In that case if Obama loses even a third of the turnout advantage he had in 2008 over Kerry from 2004, he'll loose.  It is VERY easy to envisage Romney's support making up half the ground that McCain lost. It is equally believable that Obama is going to give back ground from what he had in 2008. The closer Romney gets to what Bush had in 2004 (I think he's got an outside shot) the closer it becomes a certainty that Obama doesn't just lose but gets crushed.

After looking at these numbers I really believe Romney is going to win the state.

I'd like to do some county by county analysis as well as look at demographic changes from 2004 to 2008 to 2012. But that will require time and energy that my daughter will surely not permit. So feel free to chew on this stuff, or completely ignore it. I hope to get back to it at some point soon and NOT in the middle of the night (surely my reasoning is somewhat clouded) but now I have to scratch one of my cats - I promised her I'd do so before I went to bed and it's already late enough.

Political Signage Report for the Last Week

NOTE: Crap, BLOGGER is eating my formatting!

SECOND NOTE: BLOGGER is completely eating every paragraph break I'm putting in the post.

Over the last week I have had occasions to drive around neighborhoods in Maitland, Winter Park, College Park, some neighborhoods in the center of Orlando, Pine Hills and some other places. While doing so I took the opportunity to count yard signs for the Presidential election, as I am wont to do.

Now for a few comments on my counting method. First, I only count signs that I see and can read. If I see a sign down a side street and think it is for Romney but can't make out the words, I do NOT count that. I do have one exception to this rule: the Obama campaign has a light blue sign with a relatively small font size which makes reading the "Obama @ Biden" difficult; but I have seen plenty of these now, no other local campaign has a sign that is close to that color or design, so I feel confident counting these even if I can't always read them.

Second, I will frequently mention the signs I saw and counted. That isn't actually what I mean, but I will keep that language because it sounds more natural. What is really meant is that I saw a business or a house with signs for one candidate or another. Some yards I saw today had as many as eight signs for their preferred candidate. I do not count that as eight signs, but as one house with signs.

Third, some houses will buy multiple signs and deploy them in their yard to make it look like houses on either side of them also have signs up for their candidate. That's cheating, and if you pay attention you can see when this is done. To the best of my abilities I try to spot that and eliminate multiple hits which should be single hits.

I first started doing this in 2008. I lived in Hunter's Creek which is in south Orlando. My mother lived in Pine Hills, which is northwest Orlando. I had a favorite route at the time that took me through College Park. I started keeping track of the sign wars to determine exactly how badly McCain was going to get pasted. I drove that route several times a week that election cycle and got a pretty good feel for how things developed and for shenanigans, i.e. people stealing each others yard signs and such.

With the exception of College Park, parts of Pine Hills and Winter Garden most of these territories were not explored by me four years ago, therefore I can't state exactly how much things have changed from four years ago in most areas. However I CAN state that Romney is getting much more visible support in College Park and Winter Garden than McCain did four years ago and Obama is doing worse in those areas. (The one exception is on the streets of Smith and Princeton in College Park - more on that shortly.)

Pine Hills is predominantly black, though not as black as four years ago. The bad economy has forced lots of Puerto Ricans and whites to move into Pine Hills since then, but blacks remain dominant. For that reason alone I didn't seen any McCain signs four years ago and haven't seen any Romney signs this time around. What was startling was that through last Wednesday support for Obama (in terms of yard signs) was MUCH lower than four years ago. By Friday Obama signs had sprung up all over the place, including in front of two businesses. On Wednesday I had only seen five signs for Obama in Pine Hills (in areas where I had seen MANY more signs four years ago), but since then the number has at least quadrupled. I actually have NOT kept a count here because I don't like to drive around neighborhoods just lolling around here in the 'hood. No doubt there are even more Obama signs in neighborhoods I haven't driven around in.

Now for a run-down of various areas.


Seen: Every day I leave the house.
Count: At least 20 Obama to none for Romney.
Thoughts: The total black out of Romney signs isn't exactly a surprise for reasons mentioned above. You'd be nuts to put up a Romney sign in this area. The intensity seems lower than it did four years ago, however, even with the recent surge. I'm just not seeing signs like I did four years ago, and the difference is I've gone looking for them this time and I didn't bother four years ago. Support seems to be down. Additionally, Obama simply cannot get the votes here he did four years ago. First, the neighborhood is not as black as it was four years ago, and he's not going to get the 19-1 or greater levels of support from any other group than he gets from blacks. Second, the area just isn't as populated as it was four years ago. There are so many empty houses around here right now, and those houses were NOT empty four years ago.


Seen: Twice in the last week, and fairly frequently.
Count on 10/16/2012: 21 Romney, 18 Obama.
Count on 10/17/2012: 7 Romney, 9 Obama. (Some of these were on the same route as the day before and some weren't, so you can't just add the two together.)
Thoughts: Romney is doing better than McCain did. Obama seems to be doing worse.

Four years ago the parts of College Park I saw most regularly were the houses next to Smith and Princeton streets. These streets are one way in that area and are the main east-west through streets in College Park. Last time around I saw lots of shenanigans on those streets, as people were rearranging and stealing signs almost daily. I'm seeing that this time around too. In 2008 along those streets the advantage usually ran about 10 to 6 in Obama's favor. Last Tuesday driving on those two streets I noticed that the Obama fans had FINALLY started showing their colors - in fact, Obama led McCain supporters 9 to 6! Just about the same as last time. It wasn't until I drove past the last house that something hit me: the last house that had an Obama sign was a foreclosed house that was sitting empty! Oops! I soubled back and drove the whole route again.

What I saw was funny: the of the houses supporting Obama were EMPTY! Not only that but I realized that at least on house supporting Romney several days earlier no longer had a yard sign. More shenanigan! The real count should have probably been 7 to 6 in Romney's favor.

But the next day I noticed something else. I only drove up Princeton that day. Obama signs outnumbered Romney signs on that street 3 to 8. But besides the abandoned house schtick I noticed something else. One of the houses had switched overnight from Obama to Romney. It's the biggest house on the street, with big iron fencing and gates, so it sticks out. And then I remembered that the house had a Romney sign in front of it the previous week. That house has gone from Romney to Obama to Romney.

If I had to guess Romney probably leads by a real count of 8 to 6 on Smith and Princeton, but that's only a guess. It's prime real estate for the campaigns because of all the through-traffic, and they're fighting hard for it. Support for Obama is slightly down from four years ago and support for Romney is slightly above what McCain got on those streets four years ago.

But the rest of College Park is solidly in Romney's camp: Over those two days Romney held a 19 to 10 advantage. Last time around Obama held a small plus over McCain in College Park. College Park runs from middle class to upper-middle class to very rich. Obama is not going to do as well there as last time, if only because the voter intensity will not favor him this time.


Seen: 10/16/2012
Count: 47 Romney, 6 Obama
Thoughts: SQUASH! These were neighborhoods west of SR 436 and south of Howell Branch Road. Lots of McMansions, mansions proper, and a few areas not yet caught up in the McMansion craze. These neighborhoods are mostly upper-end. THESE are voters you want, because they have money, connections and organizational skills. I didn't see this area four years ago so I don't know how it is compared to four years ago, but this neighborhood is very much in the Romney camp. Distressingly for Obama supporters, the "poorer" areas were completely in Romney's camp. Only rich people were supporting Obama.

WINTER PARK within SR 436, Howell Branch Rd, Lakemont/Lake Howell, Sumerfield

Seen: 10/16/2012
Count: 99 Romney, 35 Obama
Thoughts: This comprises a fairly large area. The neighborhoods are solidly middle-class to upper-middle-class. There was a lot of obvious passion in this area and clearly some people who don't much care for their neighbors' political beliefs!

I would expect this area to largely side with Republicans and they do. Early on in this area the balance was about 2 to 1 in favor of Romney. I stopped and asked a gentleman working in his yard about what it was like four years ago. He said it seemed about the same to him in terms of support for the Republican. (He had a Romney sign in his yard.) We also talked about how much we liked our Camrys.

But as I kept driving the ratio got closer and closer to 3 to 1 for Romney. One clump of houses stood out. Three for Romney, three for Obama. The three for Romney also had signs saying things like "Save America, Defeat Obama" and "Fire Obama". The Obama yards made up for that by having extra Obama signs. I'm guessing they don't have very many street parties there.

Another house stuck out for a different reason. Two Romney signs in the front yard and one Obama sign! I was startled so I turned around and went back. Sure enough, I saw it correctly. I don't know if that signifies two Romney supporters and one Obama supporter or what. Regardless, I only counted it once for Romney AND once for Obama, and thought about how much fun dinner time must be in that household.

Overall passion seemed high, which in that area will certainly favor Romney.

WINTER PARK between New York and Denning

Seen: 10/16/2012
Count: 0 Romney, 8 Obama
Thoughts: I started looking for areas that I believed would swing Obama's way. I remembered that the area around Kim's old workplace was heavily in favor of Obama four years ago. Yes, it is predominantly black. I had to drive around a little to find eight signs, though, when I would have seen that many just on the main route to Kim's office four years ago. Oddly I also saw that many of the Obama houses also favored the Republican in the race for Orange County Tax Collector. I have no idea what that's about. One sign was actually recycled from four years ago - someone had used what appeared to be WhiteOut (AHEM) to put a "'12" above the "'08" from last time. But that was Tuesday of last week, maybe support has surged there as it did here in Pine Hills. Still, it's running behind what it was last time.

WINTER PARK BUSINESSES along 17-92, Fairbanks and Clay

Seen: 10/16/2012
Count: 6 Romney, 0 Obama
Thoughts: The business community in Winter Park doesn't seem enthused about four more years.

THORNTON PARK (Downtown Orlando)

Seen: 10/17/2012
Count: 7 Romney, 12 Obama
Thoughts: That day I decided to look for areas I thought would favor Obama. Thornton Park is east of Lake Eola in the center of Orlando. I would expect it to favor Obama and it does. I have no idea what it means per se. I will speculate wildly after another couple of areas are mentioned.

LANGFORD PARK (a little farther east and south of Thornton Park

Seen: 10/17/2012
Count: 1 Romney, 5 Obama
Thoughts: See above and below.

LAKE COMO (still farther east and south of Thornton Park)

Seen: 10/17/2012
Count: 7 Romney, 3 Obama
Thoughts: I would have expected the first two areas to go in Obama's direction. I had no idea about the Lake Como area. But the mix of people that live in that area - from whatever the Hell they call Yuppies these days to the people the Yuppies of the 1980s have evolved into now to the somewhat poorer folks that can still rent in those areas (if they can) - seem like the types that would swing Obama's way.

The troubling thing for Obama supporters is that this area would be roughly comparable in size to the area I mentioned as being Maitland and N. Winter Park. The intensity is MUCH lower.

WINTER PARK to the immediate north of Howell Branch Road, west of 436

Seen: 10/19/2012
Count: 20 Romney, 4 Obama
Thoughts: Pretty brutal smack down off of Howell Branch Road. They just don't like Obama much.

MAITLAND north of Howell Branch Road

Seen: 10/19/2012
Count: 30 Romney, 14 Obama
Thoughts: Obama finally gets some love. These neighborhoods are relatively poorer than the others off of Howell Branch Road, meaning they're only middle class to a little upper middle class. (I'd love to live there.) But if Obama can't do any better there than that, he's in for a long hard night come the election would be my guess.


Seen: 10/19/2012
Count: 11 Romney, 3 Obama
Thoughts: I had no idea how these neighborhoods (directly to the west of Forrest City Road) would go. They're nicer than I thought they'd be. I saw several black families in the area but also many whites. It's a sold set of middle class neighborhoods. About the only thing to say here is that Obama doesn't get the straight middle class white vote.


In the next post. I just want to publish this monster. I'll probably come back and edit it over the next few days.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

An evil milestone!

That last post was my 666th post! Of course that includes posts from elsewhere that have since been moved here, and only 597 have been published, but still. Evil! And during Halloween season and election season! EEEEEEVVVVVVIIIIIILLLLLL!!!!!!

Poltical Signage for 10/12 and 10/13 and Some Vice Presidential Debate Commentary

This post is cribbed from my own comments to this post at Dave Schuler's blog "The Glittering Eye".


I recorded the debate and then tried to watch it last night. It was unwatchable, largely because of Biden’s clownishness. He frequently flashed a smile (I fast forwarded parts of it) that looked a lot like the Grinch smiling at little Cindy Lou Who. Bleech. It would have probably been boring as Hell without it, but I gotta say Dave that you win for not even bothering.

I had originally intended to skip all the debates this year, but Kim wanted to see the first Presidential Debate and then I wanted to see what would happen with Shut-the-Fuck-Up-Joey. Just hideous. The good news is that while the debate was going I finished off Yojimbo and then a documentary (9.79*) about the 1988 Men’s 100M finals from the Seoul Olympics. So that got a bunch of stuff cleared off the DVR at least.

On the sign front, I had occasion to drive around a few random parts of Winter Park and College Park today. Romney leads 14-9, and the small businesses in particular are coming out in his favor. This wasn’t the route I took the other day. I don’t remember McCain ever having a clear advantage in that area four years ago. The polls are also stating that Romney is surging in the Tampa Bay area. I don’t have the certainty about Florida that I did in 2004 (when it was a joke to suggest that Kerry EVER had a chance down here, despite what the media types kept saying), but it is starting to feel like Obama’s chances are drying up quick down here.

Incidentally, I have now seen four yard signs for Obama here in Pine Hills. I even saw one in the neighborhood today! Finally seeing some Obama support here in the ‘hood, but it still seems like a lot less than four years ago. (I’ll have to check my archives to see if I wrote anything about it back then to be certain.)

Aesthetically the Romney yard signs are generally better. R has one bland sign with a dark blue background. But the rest are at least fairly attractive. I’ve only seen one Obama yard sign that looked really good AND effective this time around. Mostly they’ve just been blah. And the worst of them is disappointing because it ought to be better. It’s a sign with a pleasant light blue background. It says “Obama @ Biden”, and only that. (I used the ‘@’ to signify their “Forward O” logo.) The problem is that the font size for the “Obama @ Biden” is very small, so you’ve got to really look hard or get close to know what it says. I’ve seen enough of them at this point to know what they are, but I still have to squint to be certain it isn’t some other candidate’s sign. It really ought to be their best yard sign and instead it’s their worst.

This concludes my Ann Althouse-like digression into how it looks!

Finally, on an only semi-related note, Firefox wins!
I have seen some of the ‘highlights’. I can’t believe that Biden accused State Department officials of perjury, but he did it. And in yet another effort to clean up their shit, the Admin today claimed that Biden meant something different than what he said, and in doing so shifted all blame from the President to some anonymous staffers. The buck stops somewhere else, anywhere else. Add to that the President claiming (through his flacks) that the only reason the assassination of a US Ambassador is news is because of his opponents making a big deal out of a few “bumps in the road” is simply disgusting. I can’t tell if they’re this disconnected from reality or just don’t care.

This Benghazi thing is getting so bad I may actually have to choke down the bile and vote for Romney. Even thinking about it is making me sick.
[ responding to another commenter at Schuler's blog ] jan, I don’t see any reason for a neuro-exam for Biden. Joey Plugs has been an idiot and the biggest horse’s ass in DC since way back when he was still just Joey Skins. Obama could note have found a worse person to put a heartbeat from the Presidency if he had chosen Charles Manson. (Manson would be better – if he were ever to become President no one would do a damned thing he said.)

But I think it is too early to know how that debate turned out. Republicans and conservatives hated Biden’s performance, but Dems and liberals loved it. We’ll have to wait and see how the people in the middle viewed it. (Early reactions were rather mixed, with both sides citing the results that suited their egos best.)

I have a feeling that it will be a few more days before we know how that debate is really being viewed. It may well be that the real reaction won’t matter, but a narrative will be crafted after the election. In that case the narrative will be crafted solely to meet the outcome of the election and damn any facts to the contrary.

Saw another Obama sign in Pine Hills today – in front of a church. Hmm. But I saw a Romney shirt at Sea World. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a Presidential candidate tee-shirt** at a theme park* before, but I may be suffering from a faulty memory. (I go to Sea World fairly frequently because we got an awesome deal for annual passes through my wife’s company. The Sea World annual pass is the best tourist deal in Orlando anyway, and we got a big mark-down under that. And the daughter is so young that she won’t need her own ticket until next summer. But in the meantime she has become very familiar with dolphins and seals and sea lions and polar bears. Yay for her!)

* I can’t even guess how much time I’ve spent at theme parks in Orlando. My dad helped build Disney World, my sister performed in opening weekend festivities (at one of which my mother shared a smoke with Walt’s son-in-law), I was at the Magic Kingdom on opening day, my mom worked there for twenty years before retiring and I worked there for several years before my ‘retirement’. I remember that during the summer of either 1981 or 1982 I went to the Magic Kingdom every other Saturday all summer long. Yowza! (Mom was working Tuesday to Saturday for Convention Entertainment, then located in the Contemporary Hotel – score!) I mean I’ve been to local theme parks a LOT.

** I am not counting the time Reagan had his 1984 Inaugural Parade at EPCOT. The Parade in DC was cancelled due to weather and Disney staged it at EPCOT later in the year. I was there that day (by then mom had transferred to EPCOT Entertainment) and while I don’t REMEMBER any such tee-shirts I imagine they HAD to be there. Come on, it was Morning in America and Reagan was right there! But the shirts technically wouldn’t have been for a candidate since he had already won re-election. But that’s weasel wording, I’m just not counting it because The Man was there. Surely that should be counted separately!

This story just can't be true.

I saw a story today that was so perfectly awful I can't believe it is true. It seemed like every sentence made it worse! let's start with the headline.

Dominatrix Sued For Pain And Theft By German Undertaker
Okay, right off the bad this sounds too funny to be true.
BERLIN (Reuters) -
Even the by-line makes the thing sound more unbelievable! Berlin? A story about an undertaker suing a domanatrix for the infliction of pain MUST take place in Germany! The fact that it actually is just seems too incredible. (There will be far too much use of the word 'too' in this post.)
A German court has ordered a dominatrix to pay 200 euros ($260) to a local charity as a penance after a client accused her of hurting and robbing him.
She had to pay penance to a charity for thrashing some undertaker?
Cologne district court spokesman Dirk Esser said the plaintiff had accused the woman he hired for sex last month of holding a kitchen knife to his throat before demanding his debit card and PIN number.
The guys name is Dirk, he's an undertaker, he hired a dominatrix and is upset that she held a knife to his throat and made him do things? You actually CAN make this stuff up! But I can't believe it really happened. Surely the guys name was Rolf, or he was an accountant, or he didn't know he was hiring a dominatrix, or something!
The plaintiff, a 49-year-old undertaker, also said the woman had detained him against his will for five hours.
Um, perhaps he didn't understand what a dominatrix is for?
The court decided that it was impossible to know for sure what really happened because both parties had consumed too much cocaine during their encounter.
AND it was coke-fueled?! This is just too freakin'* incredible!

* I use 'freakin'' because what else would be appropriate?
It dropped the charges but ordered the prostitute to pay the "penance money" to a charity that supports crime victims.
They can do that?! How strange! "Well, we don't know that you actually committed a crime, but what the Hell, go give some money to charity!" Couldn't she have just said some extra "Hail Marys" instead?
The 35-year-old mother of four has been in pre-trial custody for the past five weeks, but declined to be compensated for time spent in jail, Esser said.
Of course she's a mother. And of course she refused to be compensated for five weeks in jail. Right, this all makes perfect sense.
The dominatrix denied keeping the man against his will, adding that he had also asked if a transsexual colleague could join them.
Of COURSE a transsexual colleague would somehow be involved!

The only things this story missed are midgets and ponies. But other than that, it's too freakin' freaky to be true. Right? RIGHT?!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Political Signage Reporting

In Winter Garden over the weekend I saw two Romney stickers - actually one Romney and one "Mitt" sticker. I just started noticing the "Mitt"stickers this last week. They're generally smaller, and one of them is a ribbon style sticker. I may have been missing those. People may be using those because of the reports of cars getting keyed if they've got Romney stickers. Only one Obama sticker in WG over the weekend, and that was on a hot dog cart in the farmers market. (He'd almost certainly do better business without that and the Kerry 2004 stickers, but he apparently does get some business because he keeps coming back.)

Today in the Altamonte Mall parking lot it was 2 to 1 Romney over Obama. That's an absolute count. Like I've said, there still isn't that much enthusiasm compared to four years ago.

Today I finally drove through College Park. CP has two main one-way streets that cut through residential areas, Smith and Princeton. (Other street names include Harvard, Yale, etc. Picking up a theme?) Four years ago I drove those two streets almost daily through the election season as that was my favorite route from my house to my mother's house. Over time the numbers along the two main streets ended up being 10 to 6 on average, Obama over McCain.* Today on those streets it was 4 to 3 in absolute numbers, O over R. Driving around some of the other streets R had an overall lead of 7 to 5.

Support for Obama is definitely DOWN. Some of the signs were almost hidden up near the houses in foliage instead of down at the street. I didn't see any Romney signs like that. Also, several yards had signs up for local races. Those yards were almost exclusively supporting Democrats, and most of them did NOT have signs up for Obama. They may or may not still vote for him (probably will) but they are not feeling the love.

The strangest thing I saw was at least three signs for Alan Grayson, firebrand puke, carpetbagger, scumbag thief, and former Congressman from this area. He's trying to get back to Congress, this time from District 9. (He doesn't live in District 9, but that doesn't matter by Florida law. I'm not sure he could find anything in town other than a light pole, but that's another set of issues entirely.) District 9 does NOT include College Park. Grayson's support in that area is interesting, as is the fact that NONE of the houses that had a  Grayson sign had an Obama sign. The enthusiasm on the left**  is not that strong for Obama this time around, at least not in Orange County.

Obama's only hope in Orange County is for a low turnout. Given that we have a strong Tea Party presence down here I'm betting that at least the R's will be organized and ready to go.

* Like I've mentioned, I saw lots of evidence of sign stealing and other skullduggery in 2004. There's no way I'm going to bother driving through there enough this time to keep track of that.

** Grayson is to the left of Stalin, but without the charm, manners and good grace.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

They think this will help?

Wow. The DNC has put out a video that basically makes Obama look like an ineffectual vegan pussy. He just stands there while mean old Mitt picks on poor little Lehrer. Don't they have focus groups to test these things? How is Obama supposed to stand up for us if he can't even get in a word edgewise during a debate? How is he supposed to stand up to Putin?

What a horrible ad!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

More light, frothy content

Cross-posted at Ambiance.
Over at Althouse they're discussing Thursday's Presidential visit to the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus. They're shutting down the campus for at least part of the day so the President can have a nice photo-op post-debate. The Thursday timing is brilliant. Most students will have classes on Friday so they'll stick around. If the event were on a Friday many students (and probably some professors and staff) would just take off after class on Thursday and make a nice, unexpected three day weekend of it.

Over at Althouse they're discussing many aspects of this visit, including whether or not the students should be upset by this intrusion. After all, this is a denial of one day's paid education. Personally I think they should be upset, but who are we kidding - most of them won't be because they won't be thinking of the payments they're making (or will make) for their education.

One commenter speculated that the lost tuition was worth it for the chance to see the President in person on one's own campus. Maybe, but I'll hold to the idea (expressed by others) that we shouldn't worship our pols.

Nevertheless, this led me to reminisce about the times I've been in the presence of a sitting US President.

I've seen three Presidents in person. I saw Ronald Reagan at EPCOT for his 1984 Inaugural Parade. (The one in DC was cancelled due to weather, so a few months later they did it down here in Florida.) I got to see him from less than 30 feet away as he drove by in a Presidential limo.

I saw George H. W. Bush twice. Once in the White House from about 10 feet away (pure luck, the family was taking a tour and he unexpectedly showed up with some ambassador from some African nation) and once at Daytona International Speedway during the race in July. I may have even been within 1000 feet at that time!

(Funny/strange story from that one. Our tickets were for the stands right behind the pit road in the infield. Awesome seats! So as we approached the tunnel for the infield in a Ford Explorer we were questioned by the Secret Service. "Do you have any firearms in your vehicle?" "No, sir." "No bazookas or anything like that?" "No, sir!" "Carry on." That was it! Like we would have answered "Yes" if we were bringing in a bazooka! And who the Hell was talking about bazookas in 1992?! Very strange incident, but I guess the guy sized us up with a 14 and 10 year-old in the car as well as people up in their 60s and assessed us as "NOT terrorists".)

And I once saw George W. Bush at a campaign rally. I still can't believe I went to one of those things.

All in all it was kind of neat, but not awe inspiring. They are, after all, just men.

Now my sister, when she was little, once got to sit in JFK's chair behind his desk in the Oval Office. That happened through a series of happy accidents, and if anything like that were to happen today it would be a major security breech complete with drone strikes on the houses of everyone in the family.

Mom and Dad lived in DC back in the early 1950s. Dad was out taking a morning walk one morning and bumped into someone on the street. Dad said something along the lines of "Hey, watch it buddy!", took a few steps and stopped. He turned around and there stood President Truman (who was found of walks), hands on hips, just glaring at Dad! Dad muttered apologies and scrammed!

I've also wondered about the time Nixon wandered out of the White House one night to visit some protesters over at the Lincoln Memorial. How strange that must have been for the protesters!

With friends like these ....

Cross-posted at Ambiance.

Naked man kidnapped, robbed by friends, deputies say

Six Osceola County residents are behind bars after deputies say they kidnapped and robbed a friend then left him naked in Kissimmee early Saturday morning.

Osceola County Sheriff's deputies say the victim agreed to give friends, 18-year-old Lindsey Saucedo and 33-year-old Rosa DeJesus and their two friends 20-year-old Stephen Batista and 24-year-old Frederick Rodriguez, a ride around 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

Deputies did not say where they five were headed, but along the way, investigators say Batista and Rodriguez pulled out weapons and demanded the driver give them money.

Shortly after the demands, the victim ran out of gas, and the five abandoned the car and walked to meet up with two others — 35-year-old Crystal Gonzalez and 18-year-old Abraham Buil.

After all seven met, they drove to two local banks and forced the victim to withdraw money, deputies said. They also took his personal items, including his clothing.

They ditched the naked victim on McLaren Circle in Kissimmee, where he walked to a Wawa store on Orange Blossom Trail to report the crime.

Deputies caught up to the six suspects.

All six were booked into Osceola County Jail and face charges of armed robbery, conspiracy and kidnapping charges.
You can get a look at the perps here.

On the Sentinel website larryboy77 comments: "you can plan and plan and plan the perfect crime and something can still go wrong"

NOTE: I do have a couple of better posts I'm working on, but the last three days have not been conducive to writing. Nothing like not having a properly functioning toilet in the house to induce writer's block!