Some Random Electoral Thoughts

I didn’t post anything in this space about the presidential election this time around, and restrained myself to only a few bursts on Twitter. Politics is one of those topics about which I could get very annoying very quickly and not something about I have a shred of credibility so I leave the commentary to someone else.

However, now that the voting is done (or almost done since I gather there are still a couple million uncounted ballots1), I have a few random thoughts to offer. Feel free to skip the rest of this rambling mess and move on to the next item in your feed.

First, a couple of items from an article in the Hollywood Reporter of all places2, titled Election Day: 18 Reasons Why It’s Good or Bad That We’re Almost Done With It. It’s pretty standard stuff (everyone, regardless of party is sick of political advertising!) but a couple of items are worth highlighting.

From the bad side

Donald Trump. Seriously, why is (your god here) punishing us with this man? What the hell did we do to deserve to look at his yammering mug as he dupes the media? Make him stop, oh Higher Power.

Brian Williams offered the best assessment of Trump while anchoring NBC’s election night coverage: he has “driven well past the last exit to relevance and has veered into something closer to irresponsible…”. The same could probably be said of a long list of pundits who continue to show up on so-called legitimate news programs.

And then from the good side,

The Daily Show. They are doing God’s work there.

The Colbert Report. See above, with special extra points for Stephen Colbert being so sick of Trump that he almost broke character when he took down the comb-over charlatan and his “October surprise.”

They can claim to do fake news but both shows continue to be the absolute cream of the crop for media and political analysis by not being afraid to call BS on anyone who deserves it, regardless of political affiliation, and making it very funny at the same time.

Next, there was election night. In past years, I joined tens of millions of other Americans in selecting a channel and watching as the personalities played with their electronic visualization toys while providing information in small bursts. The rest of the long evening was taken up with pundits filling time with speculation and trivial blather.

This time around I followed events on my Twitter feed and a couple of live political blogs on my iPad while doing more useful work. Better information, far better commentary, less stress, and much more entertaining.

Then there’s the obscene amount of money spent for political advertising. One billion dollars for just the presidential race is the number most often quoted and something like triple that when you include all the local candidates and issues.

What a waste. Or a media stimulus package, depending on how you look at it. Either way, based on reports I’ve read, a large percentage of the “independent” attack ads bought with that money was ineffective at best. According to the Sunlight Foundation, the biggest spenders did the worst. I suppose you could call that karma.

Finally, how great was it that the popular media was actually talking about math during the campaign coverage? Well, they were talking about the statistical models of Nate Silver which predicted the election outcomes far better than most of the other pundits who used “inside” courses and their guts.

Unfortunately, very few commentators made even the slightest attempt to understand the math and gave Silver very little time to explain it himself. But maybe, just maybe, all of the noise about his work might inspire viewers to learn more about the concepts of probability and statistics they run into everyday.

But, considering the people of Maryland voted last Tuesday to allow building a major casino right across the river, I rather doubt it.

Ok, enough about this election. Who’s leading the presidential polls for 2016?


1 The process of voting in this country is an issue someone needs to address so I don’t have to stand in a two hour line, which was short compared to the experience elsewhere, not to mention the voter suppression crap in some states.

2 What can I say? I have an odd mix of sources in Flipboard.

 

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