Quondam Dreams

Friday, April 25, 2008

News Flash: The Kids Like Obama

Being a numbers junkie with way too much time on my hands, I've been staring at enough exit polls to notice something that the professional pundits are largely ignoring -- and I think it's why they tend to be so off on their predictions.

Yes, you can look at the Democratic primary votes along race, class and gender axes, and that'll give you a pretty fair indication of how a given state might go. But if you really want to get it right, look at the ages of the voters.

It's possible that the pundits are taking age breakdowns into account, but they may be looking at the wrong ones. The most commonly-used categories (18-29, 30-44, 45-59, 60+) don't tell you as much. The more granular set (18-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-64, 65+) gives a clearer picture.

CNN.com has exit polls for 27 states. Shuffle the numbers around, and it's pretty clear: There's a generational divide, and it's somewhere around the mid-40s. People younger than that are likelier to vote for Obama; people older than that are likelier to vote for Clinton.

In the case of Pennsylvania, only 22% of the voters were under the age of 40. I'm still futzing with the numbers to try to find the national tipping point; what I'm coming up with so far is that in order to have a realistic shot of winning a state, the Obama campaign needs to get that number up to about 26%, and the Clinton campaign needs to fail to turn out enough 50-and-older voters to make up a majority of the electorate. (These aren't hard-and-fast numbers, just general trends. I'm still crunching.)

My methods aren't particularly scientific. I'm just plopping numbers into a spreadsheet and going crazy with the color-coding. But, for heaven's sake, professional pundits: If I, an untrained number-futzer, can come up with this incredible stroke of insight on my own, why can't those of you who are getting paid for it? And, more to the point, do you want to hire me? Because I'm still jobless, and the more time I have to sit around and play with numbers, the worse I'm going to make you look. I think there are some subtler age-related trends at play, too, and I've got plenty of time to draw them out.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Note To Pennsylvania Election Officials, Re: Ballots

Hi, gang.

Hardly a primary goes by that we don't hear about a shortage of Democratic ballots in some precincts. It seems that no matter how carefully state and local officials plan, sometimes there just aren't enough ballots to go around.

I know you're probably not used to people paying so much attention to the Pennsylvania primary. When was the last time things were up in the air as late as April? I'm sure you're all very good at your jobs -- but, frankly, I'm worried that if good-at-their-jobs people in states that are used to mattering couldn't figure out how many ballots to order, you might be a little out of your depth.

I believe in solving problems before they get out of hand. So, possibly-overwhelmed Pennsylvania election officials, I ask you:

Would you like me to make you some extra copies of your ballot?

Seriously, I've got a couple of days, and I'm sure I can get some copy store clerk to let me in on the script rate. If you let me know now, I can get a whole bunch done by Monday afternoon. I'll overnight them to you, and you should be good to go on Tuesday.

If you can use my help, please feel free to contact me through this blog. If you don't contact me, and find yourself short of ballots, I reserve the right to say "told you so".

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Note To Recruiters, Re: The Most Important Thing Of All

Hi, recruiters. Thanks, as always, for googling me upon stumbling on my resume. This little note from me to you is getting to be an annual tradition, because my springtime unemployment is getting to be an annual tradition. (Three years in a row now. Four out of the last five. I feel like I should get a ring or something.) I was keeping track of lots of little things that are driving me up the wall this time around, and I may yet get around to writing about them. However, something of paramount importance has come up.

Recruiters, I'm happy to come to your office to meet with you. But please, please inform me on the phone if you don't validate parking. If I need to come armed with tons o' cash, I'd rather know ahead of time.

Mind you, I can't see why you wouldn't validate, especially if your office is located in a place with minimal street parking (say, Westwood). Yeah, it's a small expense for you, but you plan to make more money than that off of me, right? If I have to pay, then that's sort of making me pay a fee to be represented by you, and that's just plain not cool.

Now, maybe you're calling me from a city with decent public transportation. Yeah, see, we don't have that here in West L.A. The people at your West L.A. office will confirm this.

Please don't tell me that too many people come through your office for you to absorb the expense of validating all those parking tickets. The great majority of agencies I've visited validate, and they don't give me tsouris about it. In fact, they smile and thank me for coming in. It's almost like they want to work with me or something.

I want to work with you. You want to work with me. Why stick me with a nasty surprise when you could avoid it in so many ways?

Thanks for your interest. You're a wonderful human being who does an outstanding job. I can say that with absolute certainly, even though we've never met. Yup.