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  1. #11
    no clinkz 'til brooklyn Nocapszy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    I am on break from my Critical Thinking class right now, and I am amazed at the exchange I just had with her. We were discussing the Iowa Caucus, and she said (paraphrased) that "the Caucasus should be held in New York and California because they have the most people, and would provide a neutral environment for a Caucus. They properly represent America because of their population.." I said, "but those are liberal states.. they are always blue states.. you are forgetting the vast expanse of mid-western states which are nothing like the general population in California or New York, and therefore, California and New York do not represent America on the whole." She says, "But they have the greatest population." To which I reply, "but they are the most liberal states in America! You cannot seriously assert that New York and California represent the typical American." And she ended the conversation abruptly with something to the extent of "okay, anyway.."

    Who was right? I am at least half her age.. so I want to consider her experience as not only a person but a teacher of critical reasoning.
    Your argument was an empirical one, hers was a statistical one. I'm shocked that this woman is teaching a critical reasoning class. In fact, I'm shocked she's not teaching kindergartners. Having a larger sample does not make it inherently more representative.

    You can poll 30 people or 500 people, but if none of them say they're gay in either poll, that doesn't mean that the 500 sample was any better, because it still provided incorrect results. Perhaps we polled 500 extremely devout christians. They might all be homophobic. That would be like caucusing in a liberal state (or a conservative one).

    Your argument's only ambition was to destruct the argument your teacher made. It does so effectively. Your argument isn't one that can be right or wrong unless the pivotal information was false. Since your only blunder is in saying that New York and California were the MOST liberal, but weren't incorrect in saying that they're historically more liberal than conservative, it does in effect corrode your teachers argument. She's wrong, but you're not really right... You weren't offering an argument, just trying to quell a bad one.

    I guess you're more interested in finding out if your teachers reasoning was flawed. By my reckoning, I'd say you're correct there.
    we fukin won boys

  2. #12
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocapszy View Post
    You can poll 30 people or 500 people, but if none of them say they're gay in either poll, that doesn't mean that the 500 sample was any better, because it still provided incorrect results.
    Incorrect by what standards? In order to find the original polling statistics incorrect you need something to compare it to that is 'the answer'.

    The problem is for polling, there IS no 'answer' to compare the polling results to. That's why you poll in the first place.

    In terms of voter polling (you know, when they walk out of the voting booths and are asked who they voted for in an attempt to forecast the actual results) the proof is in the pudding, meaning the actual election results. But by the time the actual results come out, the voter polling results are moot.

    In other words in terms of elections, polling is used for forecasting purposes. It's a chicken and the egg scenario and that's why whoever goes first has power.

    As for your hypothetical situation, if somehow the fact that people sampled were all Christian Conservatives, thorough statistical results would reflect that. I.E. saying '0.1 % of Christian Conservatives polled in South Dakota admitted to being gay' And even by the standards of your hypothetical statistical universe, that is true.

    Whenever anybody takes a statistical sample in order for it to be 'valid' they have to define the universe. And larger universes do provide a more accurate universe and therefore more accurate results given that the sample chosen is also large and random. If someone only interviewed Christian Conservatives or war veterans or part-time hairstylists it's harder to apply those results to people outside of those demographics because the universe you sampled is so narrow.

    And barring going door to door in line to poll everyone in the universe, the most accurate demographic samples again are RANDOM and consistently chosen.

    By which definition, choosing ANY state to be a 'random sample' is inaccurate.

    Alright I partly made that all up. Where's PT??? PT where are youuuuu? Apparently he is occupied by this 'wedding' of his, I mean really, men.

    Any other statisticians here?

    But my point is that if your argument is that no state is truly representative of the entire nation in terms of voting and is statistically no better suited than another to 'go first' than I agree.

    So if statistical accuracy is not an issue, then let's focus on the real issue which is enfranchisement and equitable distribution/involvement in the electoral process.

    BTW, statistics are very easily tampered with, skewed, and manipulated to serve agendas and get closer to the results you want.

  3. #13
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    I am on break from my Critical Thinking class right now, and I am amazed at the exchange I just had with her. We were discussing the Iowa Caucus, and she said (paraphrased) that "the Caucasus should be held in New York and California because they have the most people, and would provide a neutral environment for a Caucus. They properly represent America because of their population.." I said, "but those are liberal states.. they are always blue states.. you are forgetting the vast expanse of mid-western states which are nothing like the general population in California or New York, and therefore, California and New York do not represent America on the whole." She says, "But they have the greatest population." To which I reply, "but they are the most liberal states in America! You cannot seriously assert that New York and California represent the typical American." And she ended the conversation abruptly with something to the extent of "okay, anyway.."

    Who was right? I am at least half her age.. so I want to consider her experience as not only a person but a teacher of critical reasoning.
    That's some weak ass critical reasoning on her part. Just because California has MORE people doesn't make it representative of the whole US. If California and New York made up the ENTIRE US population, then yes, it would be representative. It might be correct to say California should statistically represent MORE of the US population than a smaller state like Rhode Island, but because there's no guarantee you'll find that kind of variability because, as you suggested, you're not getting a representative sample in California. Different regions have different concerns, customs, norms, values, and political leanings.

  4. #14
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    Different regions have different concerns, customs, norms, values, and political leanings.
    Agreed. To which I add what I said above:

    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze being most logical and astute
    But my point is that if your argument is that no state is truly representative of the entire nation in terms of voting and is statistically no better suited than another to 'go first' than I agree.

    So if statistical accuracy is not an issue, then let's focus on the real issue which is enfranchisement and equitable distribution/involvement in the electoral process.

  5. #15
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze View Post
    It's just bureacratic and not very in the spirit of democracy.
    ...
    And don't get me started on the electoral college. I still don't get it.
    It's consistent for these primaries/caucuses to be not in the "spirit of democracy", because the U.S. is not a Democracy. On the federal level we are a Republic. Furthermore, the electoral system works on the same philosophy of having two legislative bodies, House and Senate. The idea is that the large states shouldn't have proportional power over the small states. It doesn't surprise me that a person from California doesn't like the electoral system. This is the same debate that has been going on since the Constitution was framed. If you don't like it, then you'll have to blame James Madison and the other contributors to the Constitution.
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  6. #16
    mrs disregard's Avatar
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    Thank you for all of your comments. I am so afraid of posting my thoughts about politics on forums.. but this was received quite nicely.

  7. #17
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    First of all, California is the first most populated state, Texas is the second, New York is the third, Florida is the fourth, and Illinois is the Fifth.
    I vaguely agree with her idea though.

    I suggest we actually do the results of all five of those states on one day, and that be the first vote.
    It does represent more than a third of America's population alone.
    It also has a very nice spread. We have a Pacific state, one in the center of the south, one to the south-east that borders on the Atlantic and the gulf, we have one in the mid-west, and we have one in the north-east.
    The only place left out is the north-west. The reason I suggest doing them all at once, is because it reduces the momentum problem.
    You win a lame place like Iowa, and that severely increases your odds of winning New Hampshire, and if you win that, it severely increase your odds of winning from there.
    But doing them at once, you couldn't do leap-frog with any of these five states. And showing in this primary might not even decide your fate for the rest of the election, because you could have very mixed results among the states. It's more fair in every way.
    If it does have an imbalance, at least it's one that favors the larger population over a diverse selection of the country's land.

    I frankly think that attempting to make the poll of voters represent a perfect balance is a really stupid idea. Maybe there are more liberals in the country? The fact is, our electoral system currently unfairly favors red voters, do to the college and the "winner take all" rule.
    In a Democracy, you shouldn't be trying to make sure that every side has an equal number of voters, you should be making sure that the most popular side has the most voters, because that is Democracy.
    Last edited by Magic Poriferan; 01-07-2008 at 09:37 PM. Reason: typo
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  8. #18
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze View Post
    Alright I partly made that all up. Where's PT??? PT where are youuuuu? Apparently he is occupied by this 'wedding' of his, I mean really, men.
    Can always shoot me a PM

    Any other statisticians here?
    I'm not a statistician by any stretch of the imagination, I just play one on TV

    But my point is that if your argument is that no state is truly representative of the entire nation in terms of voting and is statistically no better suited than another to 'go first' than I agree.
    It's a bit more complicated than that. The teacher's argument is wrong for some of the reasons you are saying, but mostly because increasing the number people people does not represent an improvement - that is, california could be the smallest state or the largest state and yet the only factor here that matters is it's pull within the electoral college. The reason why one state is better on the other is because of the degree of neutral-ness (swingy-ness) it has. It acts as a sensitive measure on which to apply a model to other states.

    There are only two arguments that matter - 1) That these two states are similarily representative as the rest of the nation (to some degree - they don't even have to be "neutral", although that means a lot - they have to be predictive within a model to measure other states) and 2) These two states have an extreme impact on the outcome of the election.

    In case 1), the argument "30 or 500" doesn't really matter since people aren't really being polled (there is no random sampling here). It's the degree of sensitivity of the voters that is being measured. The reality is that the voting patterns are easily planned for - the swaying few percent of votes can be predicted based upon a fairly neutral set because most states (including the three largest!) follow a relatively stable pattern of voting. That is to say, if you pick neutral swing states, you can model the outcome of other states with a surprisingly high level of accuracy. That's why NY and California are poor choices. The number of people don't even matter, but it isn't a statistical problem, or not purely one anyway.

    In 2nd case, it's the population argument but replaced with the college. Again though, given that california will vote blue (the outcome will be blue) with a high degree of certainty, it is the 10 or so states that fluctuate that matter. In this case, since the amount of voters doesn't really matter, there is no benefit to additional people being counted (the only argument that would make sense is that NY and Cal have more electoral seats, and this would be based upon them being predictive of the outcome of the election.)

    And for the record, it's California and Texas that have the most people, not New York... by a fair bit, actually. And the same goes for electoral votes. ( Annual Population Estimates 2000 to 2007 )

    So the teacher is completely wrong, but the purpose of holding it in these states isn't to represent - it's to predict the viability of candidates in overly-sensitive states, which also happen to be generally neutral (have a large amount of rational voters/ideologues, so to speak, who are not camped.)

    Discalimer - IMO, I'm a Canadian and only slightly interested in US politics.

  9. #19
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Discalimer - IMO, I'm a Canadian and only slightly interested in US politics.
    My American Government professor was Canadian. Yes, his specialty was American politics.

    And he agrees with me too.



    Because I'm right.

    Thank you.

  10. #20
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze View Post
    My American Government professor was Canadian. Yes, his specialty was American politics.

    And he agrees with me too.



    Because I'm right.

    Thank you.
    I just realised they are polling for this information... so obviously I don't know that much about this whole process

    In that case it could actually depend on the skew in each area and the influence that each exerts on the outcome.

    In any case, it doesn't change why those states are used - they are used to determine runners though modelling neutral states, not to see who will represent who. It's purely strategic... in the end, it doesn't matter if it represents the citizens or not.

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