A Simple Guide to Understanding Election Craps

Mish

Nate Silver has Trump's chance of winning at 10%. If accurate, how likely is that?

Craps Do Happen in Dice and Elections

Assuming the odds are accurate, by definition the answer is precisely 10%. 

Nate Silver says I’m Here To Remind You That Trump Can Still Win

"A 10 percent chance isn’t zero. And there’s a chance of a recount, too," Silver accurately added.

Understanding Neither Elections Nor Math

Steve Ramsey - Silver Odds

Those comments (and thousands of similar ones by others) come from people who understand neither elections nor probabilities.

Math Lesson 101

  • 10% is Not 0%
  • 90% is not 100%

No one is backpedaling on anything. 

Craps Lesson

Craps are a 2, 12, or 3 total on two dice. That is 4 chances in 36 (1-1, 6-6, 1-2, 2-1) or 1 chance in 9.

The true odds are 8-1, but the payout is only 7-1 giving the house an 11.1% advantage. 

Silver has the odds of Trump winning as 1 time in 10, quite similar to placing a 1 time in 9 bet on "any craps".

People expect of Silver to be 100% accurate on a 90% bet. 

Reflections on Wasted Votes

A discussion of wasted votes came up in numerous Tweets.

I was accused of wasting my vote on Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen.  

There are hundreds more similar to these.

Reflections on Wasted Votes

Expect a Crappy Outcome

Too many people wasted their votes by voting for party over policy. 

A crappy outcome is guaranteed.

Trump Craps

Meanwhile, Trump's hopes are down to two things.

  1. A far bigger polling error than in 2016
  2. Stealing the election by not counting votes

The odds of those are about 1 time in 10, quite similar to a 1 time in 9 bet on "any craps".

Not 2016

This is not 2016 so don't expect a repeat. For discussion, please see Eight Reasons This is Not 2016

Moreover, pollsters may have overcorrected weightings and errors they made in 2016. 

Thus, any errors are just as likely to towards a Biden blowout not a Trump win.

Mish

Comments (49)
No. 1-21
Captain Ahab
Captain Ahab

James Howard Kunstler is not in the election prediction business. He is, however, a well-established social critic, and a liberal 'gloom and doomer' with a focus on the future. That said, regardless of politics, his essay (linked below) should be a clear message to all of us here.
Do not be put off by his vote for Trump. The issues he raises are what is important.

Dodge Demon
Dodge Demon

In 1960 Mayor Daley I turned the tide in Illinois for JFK by sending out his Democratic Party foot soldiers to get out the vote on Election Day in the precincts bounded by Ridgeland Avenue, Western Avenue, 111th and 115th Streets. The precinct where Resurrection Mary lives had names too hard to spell for the off-duty Streets and Sanitation guys.

Eddie_T
Eddie_T

I don't tell anybody how to spend his or her vote......it's a tough decision, if you love your country and have a conscience.

But my vote against Trump was more important to me than any particular policy vote. And I know what Biden stands for and I don't like it much. It's still a more effective anti-Trump vote than a 3rd party vote, imho.

I recognize that Trump could still win. The question is what do I do about it if it happens? That requires a lot of thought...and maybe the answer is "nothing"...at least right now.

But every step down the trail to authoritarianism is one more reason to consider voting with my feet. There aren't many things that could turn me into an ex-pat..I decided long ago that avenue was way overhyped....but there are some things that might.....and more attacks on our system.....like weaponizing the justice department against political opponents...just might do it.

Augustthegreat
Augustthegreat

This country is so divided that it may be better for everybody to just divide the country into 2 countries: The Divided States of Trump (DST) and United States of America (USA). All the states that Trump wins can form the DST.

Jeff Dog
Jeff Dog

10 percent is about twice as likely as missing an extra point in the NFL

nzyank
nzyank

The election is no longer about particular policies, it is about chosing between illiberalism and liberalism. Voting 3rd party in this context is missing the forest for the trees. The country has an opportunity for a rebirth. Engagement in this process equals success & disengagement undermines. In an open socienty, one can be engaged & supportive without agreeing on everything. Analogizing that voting Biden is cutting off a leg - really???

jfs
jfs

We can increase Trump's chances by voting for him. If you need another good reason to vote for him, he recently improved the H-1B visa by increasing the "prevailing wage" for the various levels:

Old wage levels (1, 2, 3, 4) percentiles = 17th, 34th, 50th, 67th
New wage levels (1, 2, 3, 4) percentiles = 45th, 62nd, 78th, 95th

Thus, employers who hire at level 2, now have to pay workers at the “prevailing wage” at the 62 percentile, instead of only the 34 percentile.

So, in other words, the new wage levels incentivize companies to hire American workers first, because foreign labor now costs more.

We really need to encourage and support such politicians, including those in Congress.

If we all did so, then the political winds would be moving in the right direction and in time, many politicians would flip.

The above data is from pages 15 (of 150) and 119 (of 150) in the DoL report.

EGW
EGW

People get bent out of shape over politics. One more day and then hopefully people can chill out.

Zardoz
Zardoz

Ratfuckery effectiveness is not an easily quantifiable parameter, and that's really what we need. Further, I'm generally suspicious of nice round numbers like 0.10.

Realist
Realist

I am looking forward to watching the results. Personally, I think that Biden will win, but that is merely my opinion.

Three are several reasons:

Polls, Turnout, Attitude

While individual polls can be off, the vast majority of many thousands of polls over the last year have been very consistent. They almost all show Biden winning. The small sample of polls that consistently show Trump doing well (such as Trafalgar and Rasmussen), also show that he is not doing as well as in 2016. Even Fox News Polls show Biden winning, while Fox News anchors spin a completely different storyline.

Turnout this year will set records. Since Trump won in 2016, based on great turnout compared to Clinton, the Democrats are inspired to increase their turnout this year, which is a plus for Biden. But the bigger story is the turnout of undecideds this year. What could possibly motivate so many typically apathetic voters to line up for hours to vote, many for the first time ever?

Attitude. Based on what I see in my own country, and what I seem to be seeing in the US as well; people are simply tired of the Truman (Trump) show. It is on every day 24/7. You can’t turn on the television, radio or internet without hearing Trump say something stupid, racist, insulting, divisive, narcissistic, or insane. He is in-your-face all the time, and people are just exhausted, and want it to end. Combine that nauseating feeling whenever you hear his voice with a pandemic he ignored and an economy he ran into the ditch, and you begin to get a feeling for what is motivating many people to line up to vote. They just want this failed experiment of choosing a reality show clown to be president to be over.

Biden will win. Then Trump will contest it and try to get the Supreme Court to shit on American democracy.

It is going to be fun to watch how it all turns out. Glad I don’t live in the US. Good luck America!

bradw2k
bradw2k

Seeing a lot of hysteria among all kinds of people lately

Jojo
Jojo

The reason polls are so sketchy these days is that a lot of people don't vote for the person or the package of ideas that person is offering but for one or two single ideas. Pollsters need to query what ideas a person thinks is most important and then connect that to a candidate.

TimeToTest
TimeToTest

It will all come down to Pennsylvania.

Trump will get Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Iowa.

Biden will get Wisconsin and Michigan.

What are chances Trump wins Pennsylvania? Biden’s gaffe during the last debate might cost him the election.

FactsonJoe
FactsonJoe

Since Biden is leading in the polls everyone who votes for 3rd party makes Joe Biden becoming president MORE LIKELY.

Jorgensen has exactly 0% chance so voting for Jorgensen is in my opinion moral posing to separate the voter of Jorgensen from both Joe Biden and Donald Trump intellectually.

The facts are that the president will either be Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

In other news Kamala Harris just demanded equality of outcomes which can never be achieved in capitalism so it is marxism/communism under whatever brand they invent next for everyone being equally poor and for party elites to control everything.

Joe Biden looks worse than ever and no longer is even able to read the teleprompter without speaking gibberish so it will be a Kamala Harris presidency if Joe Biden wins.

Bohm-Bawerk
Bohm-Bawerk

I think Biden or Trump will win, so I am getting myself mentally prepared for grave disappointment.

Mish
Mish

Editor

I had a denial of service attack and had to turn of comments

Aey
Aey

Betting odds are at 279-259 electoral colleges in favor of Biden. Pennsylvania is really close in the latest polls thought, I'd say anything can happen.

Jojo
Jojo

And from the pen of Nate Silver, who does a CYA and predicts it could be a landslide or a nail-biter. D'oh.

Nov. 3, 2020, at 1:08 AM
Biden’s Favored In Our Final Presidential Forecast, But It’s A Fine Line Between A Landslide And A Nail-Biter
By Nate Silver

AussiePete
AussiePete

Maybe the US should consider preferential voting - it works well in Australia. You vote by putting 1, 2, 3 etc next to the candidates names - if your preferred candidate comes last, your second preference is allocated. If that candidate is least popular of the remaining candidates, your vote goes to your third preference. Eventually you are left with two candidates with votes for all others allocated to these two. That way, you can vote for an obscure candidate like the libertarian, but your vote isn't wasted. A variation is "optional" preferential voting, where you can just vote "1" if you want.


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