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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-21-05 04:29 PM
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a "game" about the 2004 election
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Officially, Al Gore received 51.004 million votes in the 2000 presidential election; George W. Bush received 50.460 million; and other candidates received 3.953 million votes (per David Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections).

In the run-up to the 2004 election, it was widely expected that new voters would favor John Kerry, an expectation that seems to be borne out in the exit poll results for 2000 non-voters. (The 2000 non-voters would include both literal new voters -- people who have never voted before -- and people who have voted before but did not in 2000.) Thus, for Bush to defeat Kerry in the 2004 popular vote -- never mind to defeat him by a bit over 3 million votes, as in the official returns -- he would have to overcome Kerry's presumptive lead among returning voters plus any additional Kerry edge from the 2000 non-voters.

This is a problem because the exit polls seem to say that Kerry captured about the same proportion of Bush2K votes as Bush did Gore2K votes, or even higher -- and that Kerry won the DidNotVote2Ks by a solid margin (and the Other2Ks by a huge margin). The weighted exit poll results render Bush the winner only by stipulating that Bush2K voters outnumbered Gore2K voters in the 2004 electorate by a proportion of 43%/37%. As far as I know, we all agree that this did not happen. We disagree about whether massive fraud is the only plausible or the most likely explanation of these and other data. Anaxarchos has proposed a "game" to explore alternative scenarios, of which more below.

some assumptions

TIA reasonably proposes as an analytical starting point the maximum numbers of 2000 voters who possibly could have voted in 2004. He offers a mortality estimate of 0.87%/year, or 3.48% over four years. Absent strong evidence of differential mortality (older respondents tend to skew Democratic, but Anax has some counterpoint that I have forgotten but am sure is reasonable), we apply this attrition rate to the three groups of 2000 voters. (We also discount felon or "felon" purges and the like.) Thus we have approximately

49.228 million Gore2K voters
48.704 million Bush2K voters
3.815 million Other2K voters

The official 2004 returns show 122.293 million total voters (62.040 million for Bush, 59.028 million for Kerry, 1.225 million for others).

Note that if _all_ surviving voters from 2000 turned out, we would need 20.545 million new voters to account for the total official 2004 turnout. It is ridiculous to suppose that 100% of surviving voters turned out, and I am willing to entertain a lower figure. I think we have agreed to assume that Gore2K and Bush2K voters turned out at the same percentage in 2004, whatever that percentage may be.

Please advise of any errors in or even caveats about these assumptions. (It is acceptable to explore alternative assumptions as we go, although we all agree to reject the assumption that Gore2K voters are immortal and/or undead.)

the proposed rules

1) The game is a game of "Best Fit" but the boundaries are subjective. Someone (maybe Descartes?) once said that "mathematics has a soul but it has no heart" (i.e. "conscience"), meaning any value is acceptable in calculation but not necessarily in life. We use a standard of "plausible", stretch our self-discipline to the max, and see where we end up.

2) The game gets played right here and anyone can play. Despite the "crazy" tone we sometimes adopt, there are close to 65000 experts here on what is "plausible" in politics. A few are truly nuts so we identify them early and make them the board of directors.

3) We keep it really simple.

4) This game is only indirectly about Exit Polls and Polling in general. We are actually trying to reconstruct the election of GW Bush, in a "plausible" way.

5) This game is deadly serious for anax and other players, but turning it into a game avoids what is "conceivable" for some, what is "proof", what is "acceptable", and all the rest... the only standards for this game are "reason" and "virtue".

6) First one who says "the real vote count has to be right because it is the real vote count", loses.

Note: anax proposed to "get rid of rule #7," but I'm not sure I got rid of the right one. The original rule 7 was, "I (anax) further agree not to comment on your (OTOH's) serve until we get to the 'double-dare-you' stage." Since I'm not even sure what that means, it wouldn't bind me, and I could not enforce it, I unilaterally waive it. But if the point was to eschew trash talk at least until further notice, then I endorse that.
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