Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Does Facebook's "Jesse 2016" Video Tell Us?

It's almost a new year, and you know what that means -- Facebook is attempting to summarize it all for me. Here's their video of my "highlights" for the year:


 It wasn't a great year, but Facebook's algorithms were smart enough to leave out most of the bad stuff -- and so was I.  It picked events from June on -- which makes sense since the first half of the year really sucked ("The Year of Suck" as my wife would say.) 2016's about over -- "Another Trip Around the Sun," Facebook says, and good riddance, we say.

What Facebook thought was "important" were these items (in reality these are probably picked based on popularity & engagement):

- June 14th -- I give a tour of AccuWeather HQ to my brother-in-law and his wife
- June 24th -- I finally meet Reed Timmer in person at AccuWeather hQ
- July 30th -- I get a cat (I think the cat got short shrift, as this was a major milestone)*
August 5th -- I spill Mountain Dew into my laptop (hilarity ensues, except in our IT department)
- August 27th -- I pose with a skeleton at Home Goods
- September 25th -- I go to Kristi's family reunion
- November 8th -- I vote in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election (you know, the one where love lost?)

It does allow you to also edit these events, so I stuck in a second picture of the cat. Then I realized I had forgotten to create a "life event" that would probably have triggered additional shrift for said cat in the Facebook algorithms. Well, consider that problem fixed.

Facebook also sends me these additional statistics: 

I became friends with 294 people this year, most notable of which are (I think) Jesus and Santa, indicated by the red arrows. A couple of buildings and a storm made it in there too!

Some of the people in this graphic, however, I have been friends with for even longer so it's possible this is also based on some sort of engagement algorithm. Facebook also summarized where I visited on this map. I checked into 144 places this year. 

This map is very telling. Because of the hospitalization of our daughter, 100% of my travel in 2016 was related to her care -- I never left the state except for when she was in New Jersey.  This was the first year I hadn't taken a Summer vacation since probably 2006, when I had just purchased a new house and dog and couldn't afford the trip or the time off. 

And finally, Facebook Reactions -- the new emoticon buttons that launched this Spring. I clicked the "Like" button over 4,000 times, and 95% of my reactions were "Like" alone. No offense intended, it's just the easiest button to hit. I was most likely to be sad, and least likely to be angry. 

I can tell you that most of those sads were for my friends pet's passing. Because I've been through that sort of thing too many times before (most recently in 2012), I make it a point to always "Sad" peoples posts when they've lost their pets, and post "Sorry to hear" in the comments, because it was important to me to hear those things when Star passed away. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dewey Defeats Truman

At 3:01 AM on November 9, 2016, in Alabama, newspaper printing machines at two locations grinded to a halt. The unexpected had happened: Donald Trump had won the presidency. Per normal procedure when a front page is printed and the headline changes overnight, hundreds of printed front pages were destroyed and the "alternate" front page was loaded in, and printing started again. Few, if any, paper copies made it out into the world and were promptly retrieved. 

Unbeknownst to the technician who saved the day, 60 seconds earlier a computer had automatically and electronically transmitted their "first print" papers over the Internet to, just like 900 other newspapers do every day, and have been doing for years.

The Birmingham News in Alabama proudly displayed their headline "Madam President" but listed the electoral count for both candidates as "XXX" -- awaiting a final count from their editors. A truly "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment.

The Huntsville TImes hadn't loaded the winner's picture in yet, but carried the same headline, with the entire lead text in nonsense Latin placeholder text. 

Preparing two different newspaper editions is not unusual, of course, because historically print media has had to be created far in advance of its release date. The double edition of Newsweek Magazine caused a stir when the Trump-only version was leaked. "The election was rigged!" was the chant, because everyone, including Trump's supporters, didn't expect him to win. is currently not responding, and when it comes back up, it will probably not have these copies anymore. I have the PDFs saved if anyone is interested. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Where To See (Real) Election Results Tomorrow

By this time tomorrow night, we just might know which of these Newsweek magazines will be published:

Here's how to watch the election results: 

1. Watch Cable TV (stick with the big guys, CNN or FOX probably) or use their apps. They will probably make a final call around 10pm-12am, depending on results.

2. Type in "Election Results" on Google.

3. Don't believe ANYTHING you read on Facebook or Twitter unless it's from a reliable source.

Here's one more possibility: The VoteCastR app (or visit their website). Here's what it's all about:

Today we're making HISTORY... not just with the election but with Votecastr REAL-TIME voting data & predictions, without the pundits. Who knows how accurate this will be, as this technology is untested, but it will be interesting.

"This will break a decades long journalistic tradition whereby media outlets obey a self-imposed embargo on voting information. For the first time, you’ll have access to the same kind of data that campaigns use to monitor voting activity." --Slate

Whether or not you use this is up to you. If you're on the fence, I certainly wouldn't look at this before you vote.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Final Thoughts on Polls Before Presidential Election 2016

I don't think many people took me seriously when I predicted that Trump and Clinton would be close in the polls close to Election Day. And yet, here we are. In fact, the sine wave has already reversed and by Election Day, Clinton could be significantly ahead again. A few final thoughts before the election:

First and foremost, I've said for a while, this is a really Presidential weird election year, and I think the least likely to match outcomes between polls and results.

Last week, Trump saw the biggest rise in the last 30 days of any election of any candidate since 2004; Obama's rise in 2008 was about 2.2 heading into the election, and no other years featured any rises in the last month. Despite that rise, the outcome of an election has never changed in the last 5 days.

People ask me why I follow the RealClearPolitics polls and no others. It's because, statistically, their average should be more accurate than any one poll, especially ahead of the election. Here are their results for the last three Presidential elections, with final Popular Vote at the top and the one-day-before-election RCP poll average below.

They correctly called all three one day before the election. In 2004 & 2012, the winner took even more than they predicted; in 2008 it was about the same. As such, the RCP average on Monday should determine the winner (this is all about Popular Vote; Electoral is a different thing).

This year though, I'm worried about their accuracy for the first time. For some reason (that didn't happen in previous elections), the LA Times Poll is way off from any other poll. It's so far off that in statistics, we would call this an "outlier" (and in many cases, ignore it). But RCP takes every legitimate poll, so they include it. Here's what it has looked like for the last four months:

Compare that to the RCP average:


While the average has predicted that Clinton would win for all but a few days during that time, the LA Times poll is opposite -- insisting that Trump would win on most days. This could give Trump voters false hope -- but more importantly could skew the entire poll average enough to make the race look less close than it is, for all voters.

If this poll proves to be way off from final results, I believe that RCP should remove it from its list of legitimate polls. There's obviously something wrong with their methodology if they are that far off (and incorrect in the end). If it's correct, then it's a brilliant poll which we should all watch closely next time. LA Time also polls people on who they *think* will become president (regardless of who they are voting for). This, interestingly, looks much like the RCP polls, which I think makes the LA Times voting poll even more suspect.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

1 Week Left to Election 2016; 7 Shoo-In Predictors!

Well, ladies & gentlemen... the bewitching hour is close at hand. No, wait, that was last night. Tonight, we're 1 WEEK from the most contentious Presidential Election in U.S. history. over 22,000,000 people have already voted (about 15% of the last turnout) and that number may hit 50 million before election day. One week from tonight, history will be made (one way or another), and we may know the results earlier than ever.

The race is as close as it's been this season -- and we may be headed for an Electoral/Popular vote split!

Here are tonight's predictions from people who have been right before! 

Real Clear Politics

PROS: I have trusted this website's Poll Average since they jumped on the scene in 2004.
CONS: Polls aren't always right (see bottom)

PROS: Nothing's more accurate than people putting a bet on something
CONS: Or is it?

-  Nate Silver's 538:

PROS: Correctly predicted presidential election outcome of 2008 & 2012 in 49 & 50 of 50 states.
CONS: Statistician failed to predict Trump's primary victory

- Artificial Intelligence: (Oct. 28th)

PROS: Correctly predicted presidential election outcomes in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
CONS: Doesn't take sentiment into account (LOL)

- Some Random College Professor (Oct. 28th)

PROS: Correctly predicted the last 8 presidential election outcomes
CONS: Criteria, hair style, and dress were defined in 1984 and haven't changed since.

- Halloween Masks (Aug. 25th)

PROS: Correctly predicted the last 5 presidential election outcomes
CONS: Have to wear mask from one of these jokers

- New York Times Upshot (Polls)

PROS: Uses actual data
CONS: Popular, Not Electoral, and Polls aren't always right (see below)

Infographic: How Accurate Are Final US Election Polls? | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Election Update: Trump Running out of Time, or is it Math?

Despite the proverbial "October Surprises" on both sides (especially Trump's), the polls for both candidates for President 2016 have continued to follow the same waxing and waning that I talked about a month ago -- the same mathematical sine wave pattern, if you will. I believe this proves again that the polls follow the same ups and downs despite the "unique" candidates we have this year.

This has been similar to 2012's presidential election with one exception -- the last month of 2012 was a dead heat -- a problem we don't seem to have this year. If we assume the sine wave pattern will continue through election day (Nov. 8), Donald Trump is running out of time. Looking at the RealClearPolitics polls for both 2016 and 2012, or even 2008, we see a consistent sine wave.

The distance between close race numbers (wavelength) was about 30-40 days for 2012, and a decreasing wavelength in 2016 from 90 to 54 days. Extrapolating the 2016 trend indicates that we'll be back to a close race within 30-52 days -- which is exactly how much time we have left before the election. I think it's possible we may end up with close polls on election day, just like we did in 2012 (but not in 2008), even though the current trends and news don't support that. You can even see the sine wav in the Predict it gambling website, though the data doesn't go far enough back to find a wavelength.

As I stated last time, I do believe this could be a year that the polls don't match the voting -- but I can't tell whether that will favor Clinton or Trump camps -- both may come out in high numbers to "vote against the other candidate." Add that to who stays home because they hate both candidates, and this could get interesting.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Election Update: Polls Still "Normal" Before Biggest Debate in History

Before the first Presidential Debate tonight (which could be the biggest in history),* I wanted to point out something about the polls. As I've blogged before, I prefer to use polls, because they are always more accurate than any of the individual polls (something that is true in meteorology as well -- the average forecast beats the best forecaster, over time).

Despite evidence that this election is the most bizarre yet (the first failing of the WIU prediction, for example), we can take solace in the numbers. The polls are not doing anything that they didn't do during the last presidential election. Look at the last 3 months of this election, compared to the 2012 election:

During that time, both experienced a primary Democrat lead, with the Republican taking lead, or getting close, three times. In 2016, it's happened further apart, but it's still happening. The 2012 RCP poll correctly predicted Obama would win by 0.7%, when in reality it ended up to be 3.9% (the reading on September 30th, which indicates that "October Surprises" may be a thing of the past. However, I think there is the likelihood that the final results could further apart than the RCP final numbers (because the voting public may end up different than the "likely voters" due to polarization of politics) -- probably enough for me to not have the confidence in the poll that I did last election.

*The numbers to beat are 80 million, the biggest debate to-date (1980's Reagan vs. Carter), and 114 million, the biggest television airing to date (Superbowl 2015). The tricky thing is that some potential TV viewers are going to move over to the Internet side of things, as this debate will be broadcast on many websites and Social Media apps, and we'll have to decide how to count that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Republican Primary Graph 1/8 Update

Here's a quick analysis of the Republican Primary graphs through Jan. 8 2012 versus 2016, from Yes, this is not a scientifically sound way of predicting the future, and politics truely randomly controls these players' fates, but I thought it would be neat to see where we stand this year vs. four years ago.

(I have added the fat opaque lines)

- Trump (light blue) looks a lot like Romney 2012 (light purple), as far as the steady but sure upward trend. The one difference is that Romney 2012 at was surpassed three times by Perry, Cain, and Gingrich, while Trump has remained undefeated.

- The trail-off of Carson 2016 looks a lot like Cain 2012 (both pink).

- The rise of Cruz 2016 is interesting and did not have a parallel in 2012.

- The nomination certainly looks much more decided for 2016, at least as far as the graphs are concerned. By this point in 2012, we were very undecided.

NOTE: I started this blog on the 8th but am only posting it today, on the 24th. Fortunately, literally nothing has changed -- all players have leveled out:

What happened after January 8, 2012? Gingrich beat Romney a second time around Groundhog Day (ironic) and Santorum beat Romney in late February. After that, the fate was sealed.