Monday, November 07, 2016

And the winner is... Harambe

Tomorow is the Election for Prez of the USA! This post is non-partisan but, in the interest of full disclosure, I state my politics: I will be voting for Hillary Clinton. I urge you to read the posts by Scott Aaronson: here and by Terry Tao here or John Oliver's segment here to see why. I would have thought that 99% of  their readers, and mine, are voting for Clinton, but looking at the comments on  Scott's an Terry's blog I realize that might not be true. (ADDED LATER- A nice article that summarizes the entire election, I put it here for you and for me: here)

However, I am not blogging about who you should vote for.

I had the teachers of Discrete Math and Algorithms (two diff courses)  give their students paper ballots with the four candidates on the Maryland ballot (Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Stein, write-in) and had them vote. But with a difference:

Discrete Math did the standard voting where you vote for ONE candidate

Algorithms did approval voting- where you mark all those you approve of.

Clinton: 305
Trump: 44
Abstain (or some variant like `f**k all of them')-7
Harambe. The Gorilla  who was shot (see here)-3
Hugh Mungus (word play - you figure it out. Also see here)-3
Ken Bone (he asked a good question at the Town Hall Debate. Then...)-2
Vermin Supreme (Policy: All Americans must brush their teeth. See here)-2
Joe Yecco (don't know who it is. Maybe a student in the class) -2

For the people who got 1 vote see here. There were 22 of these.

ALGORITHMS RESULTS. 251 students (won't add up since its approval voting)
Clyde Kruskal (who teaches the course)-13
Tom Reinhart (a CS lecturer at UMCP)-5
Larry Herman (a CS lecturer at UMCP)-3
John Kasich-3
Evan McMullen (Third Party Candidate who is doing well in Utah)-3 See here
Vernin Supreme (see above)-3
Harambe the Gorilla (really!) -2
Michelle Obama-2
Eric Sim (don't know who this is- Maybe a student in the class)-2

For people who got 1 vote see here

For more complete information see here

What to make of all of this?

College Students are largely Liberal so the pro-Clinton vote is not surprising. Also Maryland is a strongly democratic state, though I think being a college is more of a factor than being in Maryland. I suspect that students at UT Austin are also liberal even though the state isn't.

I've had large classes vote before, but not by approval voting. Both of the classes above had more  write-ins than usual- though that is less surprising for approval voting.

Approval voting shows that Trump is very few people's second choice. That is, those that don't like him REALLY don't like him. Again, this  is among the narrow demographic of college students taking Algorithms at UMCP CS.

Any odd candidate who gets ONE vote does not surprise me. If ONE person votes for Aliko Dangote, a real (see here) Nigerian Billionaire (he has NOT emailed you) that is not surprising.

If someone who is sort-of out there get TWO or more votes  (Vernin Supreme, Hugh Mungus) I am not surprised. Those two have websites and a following, though small.

The three votes for Harambe the Gorilla surprised me. I've looked on the web, and this is NOT a thing- there is no Harmabe for Prez websites, even as a joke (I assume if they existed they would be a joke). So I am surprised he got 3 votes in DM and 2 vote in Algorithms. One of those voted for Clinton, Johnson, Stein, and Harambe. I'm assuming that's a strong anti-trump vote.

Does this poll have any predictive value? The winner of the Discrete Math Poll ended up being the real winner in 1992, 1996 (though there were more Ross Perot Votes then I would have thought),
2008, and 2012. Note that in all these cases the democratic candidate won. Not a surprise.

Some  personal opinions:

1) If Trump loses what will the republicans learn from this. NOTHING since Trump was such an odd candidate. I wish it would have been Hillary (or someone like her) vs Cruz (or someone on the hard right) so that if they lose the reps can't say, as some have, we lost because we weren't conservative enough. And one can hope that Hillary vs Cruz would have more of a contest of ideas.

2) I'm not sure what would be better for the Rep Party- a Trump loss or a Trump win.

3) Predictwise says a Hillary win is around 85% likely. Nate (the only pollster known by his first name!) says 65%. If Hillary wins it won't be clear who was right? If Trump wins then Nate would have been more right, but not sure what that means. More generally:

If two people give different predictions, in the end you can see who was right

If two people give different probabilities of an event, then its harder to see who was right.


  1. GASARCH asks: "If Trump loses what will the Republicans learn from this?"
    --- --- --- --- ---
    Trump's grim lesson is that the same tribal demagoguery that was catastrophically effective in the 20th century has now been demonstrated — by the hysterical enthusiasm of Trump's internet-fueled political rallies — to be catastrophically effective in the 21st century.

    Alas, in US elections to come, there will be no shortage of would-be demagogues who will embrace and extend Trump's contagious rhetoric, to exploit this sad human reality.

  2. GASARCH postulates: "I'm assuming that [a Harambe write-in is] a strong anti-Trump vote."
    --- --- --- --- ---
    Ouch. The Harambe meme is an alt-right shibboleth. By publicly (yet deniably) demonstrating that their teachers are unwoke, the "Harambe"-writing students have suborned their class's voting exercise.

  3. Predictwise had Clinton at 89%. After the election they posted that they were still "comfortable" with that number. What does THAT teach us?