01 November 2008

Goin' out on a limb

I'm normally a rational, unsentimental sort. I'm not prone to religiosity, exuberance or idealism. I'm a materialist. Not in the economic sense, but the philosphical one. I accept mystery as mystery, and I don't seek supernatural or metaphysical solutions to the conundrums of existence. I like cold, hard facts. Many have called me a cynic. (Partridge says the Latin form of this word means "the snarlers.") I prefer skeptic. (Origins says this Greek word means "to look carefully at.")

Tuesday is Election Day. No mattter what happens, we will get a new president, one who will take office on January 20, 2009. A former Senator will be inaugurated for the first time since John F. Kennedy in 1961. I'm going to write about the election because I know that I cannot curse the outcome. I can't "spoil it." I'm a blip in the cosmic scheme. Even though I cannot predict the future, I am going out on a limb.

Barack Hussein Obama will be the winner on Tuesday. A year ago, I would have laughed at this notion. In the spring, I'd have scoffed. This summer, I was doubtful. In the last few weeks, I'm convinced of it.

I'm superstitious at a baseball game. I have a fan's irrational, emotional relationship to the game and my team. I'm careful what I say and what I wish for because I'm convinced the baseball gods have cursed me in the past for blasphemy and will curse me again for sins both real and imagined. But that's baseball, not real life.

Then Nate Silver came along. Among the ranks of stat-geeks, sabermetricians and money-ballers who've brought new-fangled analysis to the previously inscrutable world of baseball, Mr. Silver became known to bloggers and fans via his work at Baseball Prospectus. While this stat stuff goes back a ways (to Bill James and Pete Palmer, for example, even back to Branch Rickey), it has only become mainstream in the last few years. In the last few months, Mr. Silver has tried his hand at politics. More precisely, political forecasting.

His blog, 538, says that BHO has a 97% chance of winning the election. (More properly, he wins the projection scenarios 97% of the time.) Senator Obama is projected to get 52% of the popular vote and over 340 electoral votes. The methodology at 538 is deeper than this post. Check it out for yourself. It convinced me. And I'm a skeptic. Particularly when it comes to Democrats winning national elections.

So there it is. I made the call. History will prove me a fool or not. At this point, with 538's help, I think it's a safe bet. Regardless, I'm staying up late on Tuesday, all night if necessary. No more disastrous early-morning "oh-gee-we-got-Florida-wrong" nonsense for this boy.

1 comment:

nancyo said...

Thanks for the poiner to 538. I go with Obama, too, though he wasn't my first choice. Perhaps like you, I carry the 'Democrats' Dread Disease': the 'Oh-Look-We-Might-Actually-Win-Something-Let's-Go-Shoot-Ourselves-In-The-Foot-To-Celebrate!' Virus. I have had years when I just couldn't listen to the results; and then, of course, there was The Year 2000. I will be up until the last vote is COUNTED (said she, hopefully).