Election Night Study

In the days following Tuesday, November 6, 2012, check out the blog to see the results of an activity I plan to undertake on election night. Let me explain.

With election season in full swing, one night recently I decided to relive the suspense of the 2000 election. I found a series of YouTube videos that amounted to over ten hours of election night broadcast, most of it from CBS.

I had been under a certain impression about the 2000 election, and some points of reference helped to confirm this impression.

  • With 54% of precincts reporting in Oregon, George W. Bush led Al Gore by approximately 22,000 votes. Gore ended up winning Oregon by 6,765 votes.
  • With 96% of precincts reporting in Wisconsin, Gore led Bush by 764 votes. Gore ended up with the win by 5,708 votes.
  • With 95% of precincts reporting Florida, Bush led Gore by about 38,000 votes. With 96% reporting, it was down to about 29,000 votes. With 99% voting, Bush’s lead was 11,029 votes. When 99% switched to 100% (presumably a rounding of 99.5%), Bush led by 10,806. By the end of the night, Bush’s lead was only 1,785. As nearly everyone knows, it ended up at 537.
Democratic-heavy precincts, it would appear, reported their votes later than Republican-heavy precincts in 2000.
On Election Night 2012, I’ll be looking into the results in 15 states, and recording the vote totals in those states throughout the night at various levels of precinct reporting. The states are the most contested in this election according to the Real Clear Politics map (toss-ups and leaners): Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
I am curious what trends, if any, will show up in the progress of the night’s returns.
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QB Rankings Week 8 (Slight Digression)

Some are beginning to argue that Andrew Luck is currently enjoying a better season than Robert Griffin III. For instance, this story, which was linked to later at ESPN. (Update: They’ve even got Rick Reilly into the act, here.)

That article uses ESPN’s QBR as the basis of its argument. So I wanted to take the opportunity to suggest that QBR highly overrates Andrew Luck.

The statistic rates Luck as the 6th best quarterback in the NFL this season to date. It is the only statistic that suggests Luck is that good. For instance, Hughes in the N. Y. Times piece does say Luck rates next-to-last in NFL passer rating before using QBR in his actual argument.

It’s not just passer rating. DVOA at Football Outsiders ranks Luck 15th, and DYAR 14th. Adjusted net yards per attempt at Pro Football Reference ranks Luck 24th in the NFL.

In terms of the Luck-Griffin argument, they are close in ESPN’s QBR, but Griffin is well ahead of Luck in every other measure.

We’ll see if things sort themselves out over the rest of the season, but as of now ESPN’s rating system is in all likelihood overrating Andrew Luck. Less likely that every other statistic is so wrong.

New York Times Endorsements

The New York Times will no doubt endorse the reelection of Barack Obama in 2012. Not since Eisenhower has the paper endorsed a Republican.

However, the strict blue-line partisanship that led to endorsements of candidates of the ilk of George McGovern and Walter Mondale hasn’t always been so. The paper made its first recommendation in 1860 in support of Abraham Lincoln. Not until the 1884 race that pitted Grover Cleveland vs. James Blaine did the Times support a Democrat. But in the 32 elections from 1884-2008, the newspaper has supported 25 Democrats, 6 Republicans, and one third-party candidate.

After endorsing Cleveland thrice, in 1896 the paper endorsed a third party candidate, and followed up with support for McKinley’s 1900 reelection bid.

The Times appears to have held a grudge against Theodore Roosevelt. In 1904, they endorsed his opponent Alton Parker, who went on to suffer a landslide. In 1908, the paper endorsed William Howard Taft (R), while taking a shot at Roosevelt, saying of Taft: “He is less impulsive than Mr. Roosevelt, not given to disturbing utterance, averse to…ill-judged display.” Then, in 1912, the paper endorsed Woodrow Wilson.

Since 1912, a period which covers 26 elections, the New York Times has endorsed 21 Democrats, soon to be 22. The only exceptions came in 1940, and from 1948-1956. From 1920-28, the paper endorsed three Democrats who each got clobbered: John Cox in 1920, John Davis in 1924, and Al Smith in 1928.

In 1940, rather than supporting an unprecedented third term for Franklin Roosevelt, the paper endorsed Wendell Willkie, a former Democrat. Among their reasons was Roosevelt’s “reckless” and irresponsible fiscal policy.

In 1944, the editors returned to FDR, but switched in 1948 to Thomas Dewey (who had also run vs. FDR in 1944). They followed this by twice shunning Adlai Stevenson in favor of Dwight Eisenhower.

The more recent stretch of hard-line Democratic support began with Kennedy, continuing with a somewhat-reluctant endorsement of Lyndon Johnson in 1964 (criticizing both campaigns as “inadequate” in discussing the issues of the day), followed by endorsements of Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern in 1968 and 1972. The Times continued with consecutive endorsements of Carter, followed by Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton twice, Gore, Kerry, and Obama. Overall, that’s 13 in a row going on 14, if you’re counting.

Finding itself at fierce odds with the presidential electorate from 1972-1988, the newspaper preferred candidates who received a total of 487 electoral votes in that time span. More than half those votes came from Carter’s 297 after the 1976 campaign. Meanwhile, candidates opposed by the Times ended up with 2,200 electoral votes over the course of the five elections. Excepting 1976, Times candidates got walloped by a combined 1,960 to 190. Of course, as presidential politics have trended more recently towards Democrats, and congressional politics toward Republicans, the track record of NYT-approved presidential candidates has improved from 1992 to the present.

Meanwhile, only twice has the New York Times endorsed a losing Republican. This occurred in 1940 and 1948. From 1860-1880, the paper only endorsed Republicans, but only Republicans won. From 1884-1936, they only endorsed two Republicans, both of whom won. Their second and last fit of Republicanism (four out of five from 1940-1956) produced the two losers noted above, and then Eisenhower’s winning candidacies.

Ever since, it’s been the Democrat, win or lose. But it hasn’t always.


Source: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/10/23/opinion/20081024-endorse.html

QB Rankings Week 7 – Rookies and Sophomores

Statistically, Robert Griffin III is dominating among quarterbacks from the past two draft classes. He now ranks first out of ten in each statistic tracked by these rankings: passer rating, Total QBR, ANY/A, and DVOA. See the initial post (from week 4) for details by clicking here.

This week’s rankings:

Robert Griffin III (1.00)
Christian Ponder (3.25)
Andy Dalton (3.50)
Jake Locker (3.75)
Ryan Tannehill (5.75)
Andrew Luck (6.00)
Cam Newton (6.25)
Russell Wilson (6.75)
Blaine Gabbert (9.25)
Brandon Weeden (9.50)

Weeden continues to pull up the rear for rookies and Gabbert the same for sophomores.

Luck is kind of an outlier. ESPN’s QBR loves him, giving him a 73.6 rating, with only Griffin better among the rookies and sophomores. However, his average ranking in the other three statistics is 7th. His NFL passer rating ranks ninth, ahead of only Brandon Weeden.

Locker’s injury makes his ranking a little dicey as well, especially as the rankings do not yet incorporate playing time.

Week 7 schedules for these quarterbacks:

Redskins (Griffin) are at the Giants
Vikings (Ponder) are home vs. the Cardinals
Bengals (Dalton) are home vs. the Steelers
Titans (Locker) are at the Bills; Locker is doubtful
Dolphins (Tannehill) are on bye
Colts (Luck) are at the Browns (Weeden)
Panthers (Newton) are home vs. the Cowboys
Seahawks (Wilson) are at the 49ers today, Thursday
Jaguars (Gabbert) are at the Raiders

QB Rankings Week 5 – Rookies and Sophomores

For week 5, DVOA has replaced DYAR as the Football Outsiders statistic, which makes the rankings more consistent, since the former is a rate stat like the other three statistics used in the rankings.

A ranking for total plays (pass attempts,  times sacked, and rushing attempts) may be added later so that the rankings also partially reflect how much a team uses their young quarterback, but is not yet included.

Again, the statistics are:
Passer rating (nfl.com)
QBR (espn.com)
ANY/A (pro-football-reference.com)
DVOA (footballoutsiders.com)

The components are ranked with all 10 rookies and sophomores together. The four numbers are then averaged. Lower is better.

Rookie Ranking
1. Robert Griffin III (2.00)
2. Andrew Luck (5.00)
3. Ryan Tannehill (8.00) +1
4. Russell Wilson (8.50) -1
5. Brandon Weeden (9.50)

Tannehill’s big game in a loss pushes him above Wilson, who struggled in week 4.

Sophomore Ranking
1. Andy Dalton (2.00)
2. Christian Ponder (3.25)
3. Cam Newton (4.50) +1
4. Jake Locker (4.75) -1
5. Blaine Gabbert (7.50)

Locker gets hurt and a solid effort by Newton in a loss gets him ahead.

Except for Blaine Gabbert, the sophomores continue to well outperform the rookies. However, even Gabbert ranks higher than Tannehill, Weeden, and Wilson.

The rookie class is turning out as expected, with Luck and Griffin well ahead of the rest of the class. (Luck actually holds the #1 ranking in QBR.)

Ponder’s success among sophomores continues to be a surprise. He didn’t do much against Detroit in week 4, though.

Overall, the sophomores are making progress, although Newton is regressing from his amazing rookie year, and Gabbert continues to struggle. The other three seem to have improved during the offseason.