In 1971, the United States ratified the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.
The idea, in those Vietnam War years, was that 18-year-olds, being old enough to be drafted, to marry and to serve on juries, deserved a vote. It seemed plausible at the time, and I myself have argued that we should set the drinking age at 18 for the same reasons.
But now I’m starting to reconsider. To be a voter, one must be able to participate in adult political discussions. It’s necessary to be able to listen to opposing arguments and even — as I’m doing right here in this column — to change your mind in response to new evidence.
This evidence suggests that, whatever one might say about the 18-year-olds of 1971, the 18-year-olds of today aren’t up to that task. And even the 21-year-olds aren’t looking so good.
– Glenn Reynolds
This is just too good not to share
When the aliens stop trifling with crop circles, bumpkin abduction, and indelicate probes and finally introduce themselves to the rest of humanity, will they turn out to be partisans of central planning, interventionism, or unhampered markets?
– B.K. Marcus
Here I am, sitting in Arkham, eating pungent octopus salad left overs and looking at the wife as she gets uglier and more fish-like by the day, pining for her home town of Innsmouth. Meanwhile, across the ocean, all my limey chums seem to be sharing a collective freak-out over dodging an Ed Miliband shaped bullet. It is all depressingly… serious.
So I was going to write something really interesting about Japan, just to change the subject…
… and when I remember what I was going to write, I will let you know.
A little over a year ago I asked the following question:
Has the day come when election polls are nearly always right?
Famously, in the last US presidential election, Nate Silver correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. His prediction for the election before that was correct for 49 out of 50 states.
Both times, I had hoped it would turn out otherwise. My hopes had been a little higher than they should have been because of the residual glow from the Shy Tory factor, first exhibited to a dramatic extent in the 1992 UK general election and still apparent, though in lesser degree, for several elections after that. I had known about that factor in my guts before that election, from listening to people on the tube, and had correctly guessed the final result would be more Conservative than the polls claimed. As the results came in I did not rejoice that the Government would be Conservative, but I did rejoice that the Chattering Classes had been confounded, their bubble burst, their conversational hegemony broken open and their flary-nostrilled noses put out of joint. Yeah.
Unfortunately not-yeah since then. I haven’t eaten a hearty post-election breakfast with schadenfreude sauce about the polls for many a year now. George Bush winning in 2004 was splendid fun, of course, but it was no great surprise to anyone who had been paying attention. The polls had given him a consistent small lead for months before the election.
Betteridge’s law of headlines strikes again. That day had not come. The polls in the General Election of 2015 were wrong, wrong, wrongety-wrong, wrongbert, wrongble and wrong.*
As was I, but least I had the nous to put in a question mark.
So, elections just got interesting again. Goody! But none of the articles I have yet seen adequately explain why the Shy Tory effect was successfully allowed for by the pollsters in the UK General Elections between 1992 and 2015, only to burst forth again now, nor why political polling in the US has generally managed to factor in Shy Republicans just fine. Except for the 2014 midterms.
The one place where the UK polling companies did fairly well this time round was Scotland, although they still underestimated the scale of the SNP’s triumph. Wishful thinking led me to suppose that the estimates being chucked around of 48 seats for the SNP were exaggerated; in the event they were too cautious. Going back to 2011, it is part of Scottish Nationalist mythology that the victory of the SNP in the Holyrood election of 2011 was completely unpredicted by the polls. However the very last polls were quite close to the actual result when it came to the constituency vote, but much less close when it came to the regional vote in the Scottish Parliament’s semi-proportional voting system. Probably the polls recorded a shift of opinion in the last few weeks of the campaign, which is all you can ask of them. When you think about it, polls cannot predict anything; the people who look at them do that. The final polls for the Scottish referendum were out by a not-bad 5% or so, in the usual direction of underestimating the small-c conservative side.
All in all, a British or American polling company attempting to sell its wares to interested political parties or news organizations on May 6th 2015 could have made a fair case that they were on top of the Shy Tory problem. So what happened on May 7th? What will happen on November 8th 2016, and will we have any idea beforehand?
*This is funny but nothing to do with this post. Americans and people under 50: don’t ask.
Trigger warnings, eh? Well now you know! You are welcome. This public service announcement was brought to you by samizdata.net
Either astronomical phenomena don’t apply to Essex, or the guys doing the sacrificing to Huitzilopochtli were really hard at work.
Ok, this had me re-reading it several times as I was not sure if I was misunderstanding something. Someone called Max Fisher was taking exception to this.
The replies are pretty amusing.
Barcelona, Catalonia. January 2014
Warsaw, Poland. January 2014
Senaki, Georgia. January 2014
Den Haag, Netherlands. February 2014
Moscow, Russia. March 2014
London, England. April 2014
Vilnius, Lithuania. May 2014
Brest, Belarus. May 2014
Kraków, Poland. May 2014
Jerusalem. May 2014
Kirzat Luza, Samaria. May 2014
Sebastia, Palestine. May 2014
Kdumin, Judea and Samaria. May 2013
Zihron Ya’akov, Israel. May 2013
Belgrade, Serbia. June 2013
Istočno Sarajevo, Republika Srpska. June 2014
Mostar, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. June 2014
Stari Grad, Hvar Island, Croatia. July 2014
Turda, Romania. July 2014
Chisinau, Moldova. July 2014
Odessa, Ukraine. August 2014
Fiumicino, Italy. September 2014
Carthage, Tunisia. September 2014
Savignano Sul Rubicone, Italy. October 2014
San Marino. October 2014
Peoples Trotskyist Republic of Brighton. November 2014
Valea Viilor, Transylvania. December 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out as homosexual!
Wonderful! Marvellous! Actually to be honest I truly do not give a damn.
It might be because it has nothing to do with his job. People can announce what they do with their genitalia all they want, just do not expect me act as if this is something I need celebrate. He can shag goats for all I care, just please, make iTunes better than the steaming pile of poop it became in version 12.
Should homosexuals be given grief? No. Now that we have settled that, please just STFU and run the company like a good little capitalist.
I wonder if all L’Oréal models are required to be vegetarians? Or are is the company actually ok with meat eating models just as long as someone else kill the animals for them? Just curious.
By the way, gazelles make for interesting biltong.
I have been watching with mild interest as a furore brews over a very pleasant looking US huntress called Kendall Jones, posing with a variety of African animals who have snuffed it. And so in this intolerant age in which we live, there are howls of outrage that she dares post pictures of her prey, with demands that facebook ban her.
One might be moved to speculate how many of the people complaining will then go a stuff their faces with factory farmed meat products produced in what are effectively concentration camps for animals, and yet see no irony in their indignant outrage.
No prizes for guessing where my sympathies lie…