Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Numbers vs Doom and Gloomers

A few years ago the non-profit where I work decided to finally buy a building to house our operations after over 30 years of renting office space. It was a HUGE decision because it involved raising $1.4 million - not a terribly big amount for some, but for a small operation like us, it gave me nightmares.

As I struggled with the decision, I found myself constantly playing with numbers. I'd run all kinds of different scenarios based on "what if?" in order to see the outcome. My Board President - who often heard the results of this constant number-crunching - started to tease me about it. That's when I realized that part of how I deal with tension is to calm myself with numerical projections. If I can make the numbers work - I can calm down.

I say all that to explain why, when I read political pundits talking about how bad things look for President Obama, I turn to the numbers to see how incredibly hard they're trying to spin us emotionally rather than report what's actually happening.

Here's my take on that today.

I went to Nate Silver's place to check out his projections for each state (scroll down the page looking at the right-hand column). If you add up all the states he's projected that President Obama has a 60% or better chance of winning, you come up with 276 electoral votes - enough to win. I'd say that 60%+ odds are pretty damn good.

Now, if you add the states where he projects President Obama's chance of success at 50% or better - you get to 303 electoral votes. And if you throw in Florida - which is basically tied right now - you get 332 - approaching a real mandate.

I don't know about you, but for me, beating the Republicans is not enough. I want to see a strong message that the American people aren't buying their extremism and lies. So I'm hoping for 332 or better!

I'll throw in my usual caveat about that being where the race stands today. A lot can/will happen in the next 4 1/2 months. But it does tell us that those doom and gloomers have the story completely wrong. Its Mitt Romney and the Republicans who are in the hole and have to find a way to climb out.

So there...I feel better now. I don't know if numbers do that for other folks, but they're the sure antidote for me to our chattering class.

P.S. In case you're wondering, we successfully raised the $1.4 million - increasing our assets to about $2 million AND reducing our annual operating budget by about $25,000. I LOVE numbers like that!

1 comment:

  1. One of the cherished myths as far as I can tell among the right-wing elite is that they can, through propagandizing, produce the results they want. I'm not the first to observe this, of course. I would say that it's not generally a question of the "big lie"--that certainly applied to WMD in Iraq, though--but rather consistent little ones. If enough people think the President is done for because of one month's job report, they will stay home in November. So, report that he's done for.

    The far right seems--you could do long-distance psychology on their electorate--to have a genuinely elitist view of how things work: that it is only the people on the top that matter, and the rest are an inert mass to be acted upon. This belief of course is their greatest weakness, if we who oppose them do our work well.