Will The Trump Tape Have A Bigger Effect On The Race Than Past Controversies? Oct. 8, 2016 Five Thirty Eight article

An Oct. 8, 2015 fivethirtyeight.com article is entitled: “Will The Trump Tape Have A Bigger Effect On The Race Than Past Controversies?”

Partisan activation

The article includes a reference to the concept – which I found most interesting to read about – of partisan activation. In the following excerpt (given time constraints) I have not included the links embedded in the text. You can readily access all of the links, in the event you wish to, by going to the article. An excerpt related to partisan activation reads:

Much of the literature on campaign effects in U.S. presidential elections points to two findings. First, the main role of campaigns is what political scientists call “partisan activation.” This means that media coverage, candidate speeches, debates and advertising help voters identify the candidate who matches their preferences on the issues — the campaign doesn’t persuade people to switch political sides so much as make clear which candidate is already on their side. The second contribution is about timing: Partisan activation happens over the course of the campaign, so by October, voters start to make up their minds, with less potential for major shifts in support.

[End of excerpt]

The value of evidence

Nate Silver’s Twitter account and the fivethirtyeight.com Twitter account are followed by huge numbers of people.

For good reason.

I find it most inspiring that a strongly evidence-based approach to following the news, on a wide range of fronts, appeals to so many people.

Such a focus on the value of evidence, succinctly and clearly stated, runs counter to a frequently repeated trope that claims, in so many words, that in much of life “perception  is reality.”

Or, to say it another way, such a commendable focus on evidence runs contrary to the claim that the conceptual framework (which can be as fanciful as anybody may be prompted to make it) of a news story, or any other kind of story, matters more – because of its strong emotional impact – than any close adherence to the facts or evidence related to the story.

Storytelling takes place in so many contexts, in our lives.

The includes the backstories and storytelling that serve as what I would describe as a social infrastructure around which news reports, political slogans, and much else that occurs in our determined and consistent attempts to make sense of things, occurs.


An Oct. 10, 2016 fivethirtyeight.com article is entitled: “The Second Debate Probably Didn’t Help Trump, And He Needed Help.”

The article notes (again, I have left out the links; to access the links go to the article):

These instant-reaction polls actually do have a correlation with post-debate horse-race polls: The candidate who wins the former usually gains in the latter. Perhaps Clinton’s win was modest enough that this will be an exception, especially given that the sentiments of pundits and television commentators (which sometimes matter as much as the debate itself) were all over the map.

[End of excerpt]

The article concludes: “Or was the whole business a sort of confidence trick, which was bound to implode once people began to lose faith in it?”

Scams and scamming

Click here for previous posts about scams and scamming >


3 replies
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Brands and public relations tell us stories that exist in their own socially constructed, social infrastructure – in their own self-contained, rhetorical universe.

    The stories may or may not have a relationship with facts and evidence.

    The following article underlines that while FiveThirtyEight.com points toward a greater respect for facts and evidence, in news reporting and the like, much of North American life revolves around worldviews adverse to facts, that can adversely affect the bottom line of, say, Big Food.

    An Oct. 9, 2016 New York Times Sunday Magazine article by Michael Pollan is entitled “Big Food Strikes Back: When Barack Obama took office, activists hoped his administration would fight for stronger regulation of corporate agriculture. Eight years layer, they’re still waiting.”

    I do not have a link to the article; I read the article in Oct. 7, 2016 print version of the New York Times, which now comes in at over $10 Canadian. A quote from the above-noted Michael Pollan article reads:

    Surely Big Food was overreacting to the threat posed by a handful of writers and filmmakers, yet the fact that they did suggests that, behind the industry’s wall of political power, there indeed lurks a vulnerability. That vulnerability is the conscience of the American eater, who in the past decade or so has taken a keen interest in the question of where our food comes from, how it is produced and the impact of our everyday food choices on the land, on the hands that feed us, on the animals we eat and, increasingly, on the climate. Though still a minority, the eaters who care about these questions have come to distrust Big Food and reject what it is selling. Looking for options better aligned with their values, they have created, purchase by purchase, a $50 billion alternative food economy, comprising organic food, local food and artisanal food. Call it Little Food. And while it is still tiny in comparison with Big Food, it is nevertheless the fastest-growing sector of the food economy.

    While Big Food can continue to forestall change in Washington, that strategy simply will not succeed in the marketplace. There, Big Food is struggling to adapt to a rapidly shifting landscape it cannot control. That’s why it’s gobbling up organic and artisanal brands, hoping to learn the secret of their success – which, of course, is simply that they understand and respect the values of the new food consumer better than Big Food does. Some large food companies are voluntarily changing their practices in response to the concerns of these consumers, whether about antibiotics, animal welfare or the welfare of farmworkers. One future of food politics may lie in grass-roots campaigns targeted not at politicians in Washington but directly at Big Food and its consumers, taking aim at its Achilles’ heel: those precious brands.

    [End of excerpt]

  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    An Oct. 10, 2016 FiveThirtyEight.com article is entitled: “What Trump’s Brag About Sexual Assault Reveals About This Election And Our Culture.”

    Quotes from the article:

    “10 percent of Republicans said the video gave them a positive feeling.”

    “The 10 percent figure speaks to the fact that sexism is not some feminist fantasy.”

    “Native American women are 2.5 times more likely than women as a whole to experience sexual violence.”

    “The ugly fact is that the burden to do something usually rests with the target of the harassment.”

  3. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    An Oct. 12, 2016 Five Thirty Eight article is entitled: “Where Do Clinton And Trump Have The Most Upside? Non-college-educated whites are moving toward Donald Trump. Non-whites and college-educated whites are swinging Hillary Clinton. We built a county-by-county model to show where shifts in these groups could make the biggest difference.”

    The article notes:

    Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidency, perhaps by a lot. Republicans are still favored to hold the House. In other words, after all the madness, the balance of power in Washington post-2016 could look surprisingly similar to that after 2012. Yet beneath the surface, the tectonic plates of the American electorate are shifting.

    By now, it’s clear where the fault lines lie: The 2016 election is poised to be among the most polarized elections ever, not only along gender and generational lines, but especially along lines of race and educational attainment.

    [End of excerpt]


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