Friday, March 25, 2005

041103 Posting--The Morning After

Probably like many of you, I am in a fog, trance, a mild form of shock. Part of it is the inevitable drop in energy now that things are largely out of our hands, part of it from the roller coaster yesterday from the strong exit poll figures to the weak actual numbers (primarily from Florida). Certainly the result is not certain, however I must admit that things aren’t looking very good for our guy.

Matt Kerbel (Political Science professor from Villanova) noted late last night that ‘We got the large turnout, but not in the way I expected. Young people turned out, but so did everyone else, so they did not compose a greater percentage of the electorate as we had hoped.

Interestingly, the exit polls looked great for Kerry and they were in a dire mood at the White House. Then as the returns came in they found that in some states the exit polls were undercounting Republicans for some reason. Kerry was up by 4 in the exit polls, but that's clearly not where the state is headed.

He needs a Red Sox finish now. I wish I had better news.’

I came upon two quotes this morning in Bull! A book about the boom in the stock market from 1982-1999 by Maggie Mahar. Nicholas Taleb, an options trader, said on page 283 “All we can learn from history is that the unpredictable will happen—and does—time and again. The most dangerous error that an investor can make is to mistake probability for certainty.” On the following page, she quotes Peter Bernstein who quotes essayis G.K. Chesterton: “The real trouble with this world of ours … is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.” I know that I sought to convince myself that Matt’s and electoral-vote’s best guesses would come to pass, and sought to build up the mathematical and theoretical support for the predictions as much as possible, to remove uncertainty—uncertainty that can not be eliminated.

Let’s see how we did. With our help we helped John Kerry get 48% of the vote in Nevada, up from Gore’s 46%. Importantly, this forced the Republicans to devote precious resources to Nevada that otherwise would have strengthened W elsewhere. We also helped Kerry take Pennsylvania, a state that waffled back and forth all season. Great job!

I’d like to spend a little time thanking folks. First, thanks to all who volunteered to help John Kerry in Nevada and Pennsylvania. We made a real difference, with hundreds and hundreds of cards to Nevada, knocked on over a thousand doors in Pennsylvania and called hundreds if not over a thousand homes in PA. The ‘Delaware Brigade’ was wonderful and did great work.

Thanks also to the folks who helped us work in battleground states—Heath who led the Nevada letter writing, the folks in Chester County, especially Mark, John, Dick and the other Kennett Area Democrats, Marianne and the Oxford area folks, and Debra and the Chester County HQ, and our friends in Delaware County (Tom at the Chichester phone bank and Michelle with the Media-area Election-Day activities). Without them, we would have had a very hard time to know where to direct our energies, and make a difference.

While we are disappointed with our national results, we shouldn’t discount the tremendous results from Delaware. In addition to voting our 3 EVs for John Kerry, we elected Democrats in something like 16 of 18 key races, including Governor, Lt. Gov, Insurance Commissioner, New Castle County Executive, and New Castle County Council President. Even more stunning was the fact that Delaware punished those (Republicans) who resorted to character assassination and other forms of negative ads. Now if only the country could take Delaware’s lead … On the topic of Delaware, I would like to thank Joe Rupert (or blame him), as it was during my first Kerry Meet Up that his energy infected me to pitch in. Joe has done a wonderful job this year of boosting grass-roots volunteering to Delaware.

While I am disappointed that his crystal ball was not crystal-clear, I greatly appreciated the assistance provided by Professor Matt Kerbel of Villanova. He greatly raised my understanding of the political processes and the interaction with the media. I especially appreciated his willingness to spend an evening with us in Newark, providing a cram course in the Media and Politics, with a lively extended Q&A session. I envy his students at Villanova.

Matt turned me onto, which we learned this week is the labor of love of Andrew Tanenbaum, a US citizen (and computer science professor) living in Amsterdam. He wrote the textbook on computer networks that I studied in the early 80s (prior life). Again, I would have preferred that his crystal ball had been clearer …

Thanks to all who periodically gave me a pat on the back; I found this extremely helpful. I hope that we achieved my goal of providing those of us frustrated with the current course of action with the opportunity to constructively participate in our country’s future, rather than be powerless from the curse of the Republican spin-witch-doctors.

Finally, thanks to my family, Pam and Mike, who have put up with my trips to PA, phone calls while watching movies at home, crowds of folks at our house for debate parties, and simply my preoccupation (obsession?) for the past three months.

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