Download Your 2018 Vote Goal Spreadsheet

It’s never too late to plan for 2018.

Download this Excel spreadsheet that calculates what you need to win per precinct based on 2014 performance. If you didn’t run for office, pick a candidate in a similar race and whose performance you except to match, e.g., if you’re running for County Commission, pick a candidate similar to yourself that ran for that same office.

You’ll need to update voter registration numbers up until 2018’s close-of-book  voter registration totals to get up-to-date numbers.

The spreadsheet automatically then automatically calculates the numbers you put in and gives you a running total per precinct on the far right.

Incredibly easy!


Babies Prefer Individuals Who Harm Those That Aren’t Like Them: Imagine the Political and Policy Implications

During recent debates I’ve been somewhat disturbed how some of my fellow conservatives sometimes focus on making sure everyone feels pain.

Particularly, when it comes to government worker benefits, social safety nets, etc, the mantra goes something like, “the private sector is hurting – everyone needs to hurt.” I recall making a comment once that, “apparently it’s good for everyone to be equally miserable as opposed to helping boost people.”

It then turns into the Tea Party and activists pushes to slash pay, benefits, and safety nets  and policies that amount to pain to middle and working class families and individuals.

Apparently I’m not the only one that has looked at this and been somewhat taken aback. Former RNC Chair and Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore feels there’s too much focus on cutting spending and not enough on growth. Even in Leon County pointed out that recently deceased former and very conservative Commissioner Ed Depuy supported a small tax to provide indigent health care, bringing on the ire of Leon conservatives.

I personally believe in paying people and treating them well so they can enjoy a middle class lifestyle. Comfortable employees are loyal and productive employees, though I certainly don’t agree with the excess that seems to occur too frequently. I also believe in reasonable social safety nets.

I frequently asked myself, “why do they think this way? Is it envy? Are they engaging in schadenfreude?”

Then I came across this interesting press release on and was somewhat mystified at the political and policy implications:

Infants as young as nine months old prefer individuals who are nice to people like them and mean to people who aren’t like them, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In our social lives, we tend to gravitate toward people who have things in common with us, whether it’s growing up in the same town, disliking the same foods, or even sharing the same birthday. And research suggests that babies evaluate people in much the same way, preferring people who like the same foods, clothes, and toys that they like.

This preference helps us to form social bonds, but it can also have a dark side. Disliking people who are different than us may lead us to mistreat them, and excuse — or even applaud — cases in which others mistreat people who are different than us.

Are the roots of such tendencies present in infancy?

To find out, psychological scientist Kiley Hamlin, now a professor at the University of British Columbia, conducted two studies as a graduate student at Yale University with her advisor Karen Wynn and colleagues.

The researchers had 9- and 14-month-old infants choose which food they preferred: graham crackers or green beans. The infants then watched a puppet show in which one puppet preferred graham crackers, while another preferred green beans. That is, one puppet demonstrated that its food preference was the same as the infant’s, while the other demonstrated that its food preference was different from the infant’s.

After the puppets chose their foods, infants then watched another puppet show, in which either the similar puppet or the dissimilar puppet dropped its ball and wanted it back. On alternating events, infants saw that one character always helped the ball-less puppet by returning the ball to him, while another character always harmed the ball-less puppet by stealing the ball away.

Finally, infants were given the chance to choose between the helper (giving) and harmer (stealing) puppets (seevideos of the procedure) .

Unsurprisingly, infants’ choices revealed that almost all the infants in both the 9- and 14-month-old groups preferred the character who helped the similar puppet over the character who harmed the similar puppet. Previous research has shown that infants like people who are nice to totally unknown individuals, so it makes sense that they would also like people who are nice to individuals who are similar to them.

Far more surprising was that almost all the infants at both ages preferred the character who harmed the dissimilar puppet over the character who helped him. Infants’ preference for those who harmed dissimilar others was just as strong as their preference for those who helped similar ones.

According to Hamlin, these findings suggest that “like adults, infants incorporate information about not only what people do (e.g., acting nicely or meanly) but also whom they do it to (e.g., a person who is liked or disliked) when they make social evaluations.”

The researchers confirmed these results in a second experiment, which included a neutral puppet that had demonstrated no food preference and no helpful or harmful behaviors.

This time, the 14-month-olds — but not the 9-month-olds — preferred the character that harmed the dissimilar puppet over the neutral puppet, and the neutral puppet over the helper of the dissimilar puppet. These results suggest that when a dissimilar individual is in need, 14-month-olds generate both positive feelings toward those who harm that individual and negative feelings toward those who help him. The researchers suggest that between 9 and 14 months, infants develop reasoning abilities that lead to these more nuanced social evaluations.

These results highlight the fundamental mechanisms that underlie our interactions with similar and dissimilar people.

“The fact that infants show these social biases before they can even speak suggests that the biases aren’t solely the result of experiencing a divided social world, but are based in part on basic aspects of human social evaluation,” says Hamlin.

But the exact reasons for infants’ biased evaluations are still unknown.

“Infants might experience something like schadenfreude at the suffering of an individual they dislike,” Hamlin notes. “Or perhaps they recognize the alliances that are implied by social interactions, identifying an ‘enemy of their enemy’ (i.e., the harmer of a dissimilar puppet) as their friend.”

Hamlin emphasizes that even if these kinds of social biases are “basic,” it doesn’t mean that more extreme outcomes, like xenophobia and intergroup conflict, are inevitable.

“Rather, this research points to the importance of socialization practices that recognize just how basic these social biases might be and confront them head-on,” she concludes.

Co-authors on this research include Neha Mahajan of Temple University, Zoe Liberman of the University of Chicago, and Karen Wynn of Yale University.

This research was supported by National Science Foundation Grant BCS-0921515 and National Institutes of Health Grant R01-MH-081877 to Karen Wynn.

Could Google Sway an Election?

This is why when working with clients I focus on content and search engine optimization. While Google can’t be gamed, at the risk of exclusion, it can go a long way in making sure what you want is at the top – which means meaningful content that is frequently updated, read, and shared across social networking:

Psychologist Robert Epstein has testing the impact of a fictitious search engine “that manipulated search rankings, giving an edge to a favored political candidate by pushing up flattering links and pushing down unflattering ones,” the Washington Post reports.

“There is no reason to believe that Google would manipulate politically sensitive search results… Yet Epstein’s core finding — that a dominant search engine could alter perceptions of candidates in close elections — has substantial support. Given the wealth of information available about Internet users, a search engine could even tailor results for ­­­certain groups, based on location, age, income level, past search history, Web browsing history or other factors.”

Via Political Wire.

Left, right: The brain science of politics

Politico: One key finding that “Predisposed” will highlight: conservatives and liberals respond differently when presented with extremely pleasant images—like people skiing, fruit baskets and sunsets—and disturbing pictures, like fires, vomit and rodents.

Study participants, after answering an extensive battery of questions about their political beliefs, were hooked up to sensors that test skin conductance—the measure of how quickly electricity moves through the body, which sometimes manifests itself in outward signs like sweaty palms. When conservatives viewed the negative images, researchers measured a greater increase in skin conductance when compared with liberals, indicating those on the right were responding more strongly.

“If you’re responding [strongly] to those things, you want to protect yourself, your family, your country,” Hibbing said of conservatives reacting intensely to the negative images.

Conservatives also spent more time focused on the unpleasant images than liberals did.

“If you focus on the negative, perhaps it makes more sense to you to believe in strong defense or be reluctant about immigration,” Hibbing said.

In another experiment, subjects looked at a computer screen featuring a cartoon face, with instructions to hit the space bar when they saw a black dot appear on the screen. When the cartoon’s eyes were looking away from the dot, liberals were much slower to hit the space bar than when the eyes were turned to the same side of the screen on which the dot was located. Conservatives weren’t affected the the cartoon’s gaze and tapped the space bar just as quickly, whether the cartoon was looking at the dot or away from it.

Hibbing says that’s because liberals were much more focused on the gaze of the cartoon character.

So what’s the political takeaway from the study? Hibbing says, “Liberals will say it’s a good thing, you should be influenced by eyes on a screen. Conservatives say we should be strong individuals, we shouldn’t be influenced by people around us. It’s whether you’re empathetic and in touch, or strong and independent.”

“The pattern is that conservatives are somewhat more attuned and responsive to negative features of the environment, negative situations, negative stimuli,” he said.

Pollster to GOP base: Republicans must aggressively reach out to Hispanics

A “duh” statement, if not because the demographics of our country are changing and we must be as inclusive as possible, while not selling our soul.

…Republican pollster Whit Ayres warned his party’s conservative base that it must push candidates and campaigns to “reach out aggressively” to Hispanic voters.

“Don’t you think that a group of incredibly hard working, family oriented, church-going, entrepreneurial, spirited people might be a good place to look for some more allies?” he asked those in attendance. “I think we should.”

“It’s the message, it’s the messenger and it’s the tone,” Ayres said of the GOP’s current woes. “Some people like to delude themselves into thinking the message is fine—we just need to communicate it better. If that’s the case, you don’t lose five of six popular votes in presidential elections. We got a problem with all three and we’re in the process of fixing it.”

Echo Chamber: We Hear Our Own Elites, but Not the Other Side’s

I’ve often felt that on the conservative side there is much deference to leaders, from whom the grassroots sometimes takes its cue when there is doubt on an issue.

The Frum Forum:

Two Rutgers professors “discover” the powerful influence of elites on party opinion:

[W]hile we find no evidence that the conservative advocacy frames alone influence Republican support at the mass level, attaching a Republican elite to the “golden rule” frame seems to make a notable difference. When we show that Mehlman supports same-sex marriage and does so for reasons consistent with his partisanship and ideology, it appears to give Republicans “permission” to be more inclined to do the same – or to at least considerably reduce their opposition in exchange for increased indecision. This result suggests that as more Republican elites “come out” in support for the issue, their personal endorsements of the “conservative case” for same-sex marriage may have the potential to change the game among Republicans, who are otherwise lagging greatly as overall attitudes rapidly move in a more supportive direction.

However, no one tested the liberal side of arguments:

And, as the side-note, I’m curious if the authors could apply a similar idea to Democrats and entitlement reform. Any time I so much as mention cutting payroll taxes, even within frames like helping the working poor, providing economic stimulus, and helping encourage economic growth to better the programs’ long-term outlook, I’m met with serious hostility. But if President Obama were to make similar arguments, I imagine he’d receive a very different reception.

That’s partisan politics 101. Can anyone fund a study on the subject?

U.S. tax code isn’t as progressive as you think

For all the talk of the US having a progressive tax code, I came across this at the Washington Post’s WonkBlog.

Essentially, each tax bracket’s share of tax is fairly equal to their share of income. And while we’re still progressive in terms of taxes, we’re not as regressive (thankfully) as European countries that rely on value added taxes that impact lower income individuals more so than higher income individuals.

Tax progressivity ctj

And while the richest Americans pay more than their share of income in taxes, the margins aren’t dramatic. The top one percent pays 24 percent of all taxes but makes 21.9 percent of the money. Particularly if you believe that money quickly loses its value the further you go up the income ladder, a conclusion which the happiness economics literature tends to support (that’s why papers like this tend to look at the log of income), that’s not that progressive a system.

Overall, the American system remains the most progressive tax system in the developed world, whereas most social democracies like France, Germany and Sweden have actively regressive systems heavily reliant on value-added taxes. Then again, U.S. pay-outs aren’t nearly as progressive, and so our government reduces inequality through taxes and transfers much less than peer countries.

Surviving a Sex Scandal

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It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but is actually very much on-point – on some points.

Looking at some of the biggest sex scandals of the last decade or so, we have tried to parse the factors that allow some pols to skate by and others to live out their days as little more than punchlines. Consider the following guidelines, then, a free, nonexpert, historically grounded What It Takes to keep your name out of the mud. A study, if you will, in what separates the Sanfords from the Weiners.

Rule #1: Don’t Be From New York (ed – I can only surmise that if you get caught in New York you don’t deserve to survive)

Rule # 2: Hetero Hanky-Panky Only

Rule # 3: Incidents in the Past Tend to Stay in the Past

Rule #4: Make Sure People Like You

Via The Daily Beast.

Maybe Congress really is a reflection of us?

Via the Cloakroom:

While a wide majority of Americans look at Congress with disdain, sometimes it’s important to look at the context. Our lawmakers were elected by voters after all, who according to a new Public Policy Polling survey released this week, don’t always see the world very clearly.

A sampling of the more alarming results:

  • 6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive.
  • 21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 and the federal government covered it up.
  • 28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order.
  • 28% of voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • 7% of voters think the Apollo moon landing was faked.
  • 13% of voters think President Obama is the anti-Christ.
  • 14% of voters say the CIA was instrumental in creating the crack cocaine epidemic in the inner cities in the 1980’s.
  • 9% of voters think the government adds fluoride to our water supply for sinister reasons.
  • 51% of voters say a larger conspiracy was at work in John F. Kennedy’s assassination, while just 25% say Lee Harvery Oswald acted alone.
  • 15% of voters say the government or the media adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals.
  • 5% believe exhaust seen in the sky behind airplanes is actually chemicals sprayed by the government for sinister reasons.
  • 15% of voters think the medical industry and the pharmaceutical industry “invent” new diseases to make money.
  • 11% of voters believe the US government allowed 9/11 to happen.

So the next time you scoff at something dumb said by a lawmaker on Capitol Hill, keep in mind how they got there.

Free Spreadsheet to Calculate Your 2014 Vote Goals

Download the 2014 Vote Goal Sphreadsheet by clicking the picture
Download the 2014 Vote Goal Spreadsheet by clicking the picture

Some candidates are intimidated by the prospect of calculating their vote goals for their race. It is a necessary task so that candidates are not blindly going into precincts that don’t contribute much to vote totals or aren’t that important. Or, worse, talking to all voters since we know not all registered voters actually vote.

To help you here’s a free Excel 2010 spreadsheet to download and calculate your 2012 vote goals. If you don’t have Excel 2010 you can download an Excel viewer allowing you to view and type your data.

You need only three pieces of data you should already have on-hand or can easily obtain from your local Supervisor of Elections’ office.

  1. 2010 number of registered voters broken down by precinct – enter into column “B”
  2. 2010 number of voters who actually voted (voter turnout) broken down by precinct – enter into column “C”
  3. 2014 number of registered voters broken down by precinct (this number will increase as time goes by, until the books close for the election) – enter into column “E”

Voila! Instant analysis that calculates your projected 2014 vote total by precinct!

To prevent risk of error I’ve protected all the fields except for where you need to enter. There’s enough room to calculate 20 precincts. Precinct 1 is completed as an example, so overwrite that data with your own.

If you need more fields please feel free to let me know and I’ll send you a modified spreadsheet.

To be sure, this doesn’t take into account partisan affiliation or go into a deep detailed analyses. This spreadsheet is geared to local races where party affiliation – though important – may not be as an important determining factor as the candidate him or herself or where the race is entirely non-partisan.

This spreadsheet will give you a good overall view of your district and provide you a hard-number goal to strive toward in your election. Use it to guide your strategy and plan.