Hot Election Results Here, and Here, and Here

Political junkies are drumming their fingers mid-day this Tuesday.  They’ve likely already voted, but have no access to exit-poll results until early evening.  Mashup maps of results from sites like Twitter, essentially self-selected and self-reported exit polls like this one at SetFive, or this one mapping general Twitter election buzz, are fun but wildly inaccurate as election tracks.

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My latest Twitter fishwrap…

Last 24 hours of my Twitter posts syndicated to ShepherdsPi by LoudTwitter

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17:42 Uh oh – my latest blogpost just got linked again on MSR homepage… last time that happened global hits were huge tinyurl.com/j4wcv #

17:47 Kicking people out of my office so I can go home myself, debate pizza party! #

22:52 The scrolling WisdomOfCrowd at election.twitter.com was the way to go tonight, funny/piquant/profane/profound … very American #

08:40 taking Photosynth pictures at home, later at Stratford Hall, will eventually post at tinyurl.com/6ebzu7 #

09:01 Still haven’t made it over to Library of Congress to play with their use of Surface. TJ “edited” by Adams? Absurd! tinyurl.com/4gmxdz #

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If you’re bored, you can follow me in real time at http://twitter.com/lewisshepherd.

San Francisco’s Wild and Wacky World of Technology

Fact: San Francisco’s municipal IT continues to self-destruct, according to new reports this weekend.  According to an IDG story (San Francisco hunts for mystery device on city network), “With costs related to a rogue network administrator’s hijacking of the city’s network now estimated at $1 million, city officials say they are searching for a mysterious networking device hidden somewhere on the network. The device, referred to as a terminal server in court documents, appears to be a router that was installed to provide remote access to the city’s Fiber WAN network, which connects municipal computer and telecommunication systems throughout the city. City officials haven’t been able to log in to the device, however, because they do not have the username and password. In fact, the city’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) isn’t even certain where the device is located, court filings state.”

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Test for Prediction Markets: They Say Obama, but Polls Say It’s Tied

Fact: According to the latest Rasmussen poll released Saturday July 12, and promptly headlined by the Drudge Report, “The race for the White House is tied. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows Barack Obama and John McCain each attract 43% of the vote.” Newsweek is reporting a similar result in its own poll, with Obama moving down and McCain up (“Obama, McCain in Statistical Dead Heat“), and other polls increasingly show a similarly close race.

Analysis: I’ve been tracking the growing divide between two quite different methods purporting to offer statistical predictive analysis for the November presidential election. Polls are saying one thing, but Prediction Markets are saying another. 

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Prediction Markets: Research and Limits

Fact: A story in Science Daily this week, “Election Forecasters Preparing For Historic Election,” relates the publication this month of the “assembled insights of prominent election forecasters in a special issue of the International Journal of Forecasting.” 

Analysis:  The journal articles are available here for download.  One of them, “Prediction Market Accuracy in the Long Run” (by Joyce E. Berg, Forrest D. Nelson, and Thomas A. Reitz from the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business), compares the presidential election forecasts produced from the granddaddy of them all, the Iowa Electronic Market (IEM), to “forecasts from an exhaustive body of opinion polls.”  Science Daily says they find that the IEM is “usually more accurate than the polls.”

If we extrapolate out, these election markets are special cases of prediction markets, and I’m always interested in those.

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Do Voters Love the Candidates… or their Fonts?

FACT:  John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama have chosen distinctively different typeface fonts for their campaign posters, bumper stickers, and TV-ad logos. 

font-gotham-obama.jpgObama uses sans serif Gotham.  McCain uses sans serif Optima. Only Clinton uses a serif, New Baskerville.  According to the Los Angeles Times yesterday, many typographers are following the usage choices closely, and now some political analysts are finding message in the medium; Obama’s choice is “the hot font of 2008,” Clinton’s font flourishes “conjure trustworthiness,” while McCain’s communicates an “old-fashioned yet quirky vibe.”

ANALYSIS:  Anyone who remembers their first experience with a personal computer’s word-processing program recalls that initial thrill when the realization hit: I can choose any font? I can choose any font!!!

Billions of funky emails, resumes, and yard-sale posters later, we’re all perhaps jaded by the profusion of font styles, and tend to have built up biases and defenses regarding certain looks.

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