Power And Dollar

USA Election 2000 – Iranian Edition (And Your $$)

The Iranian election becomes another election mess.  The American (the first edition) version requires a Supreme Court to give a final answer.  Iranian one?  A Supreme Leader gives a final say. 

And the Supreme Leader says the incumbent wins.

In a situation like, just like the American original version, a decision made by that few individuals, the decision is ultimately political, whatever the cloak it is actually.  In the American original version, it is under the cloak of law.  In the Iranian version, it is under the religious leader’s cloak.  Note that the Supreme Court Justices are life time appointments just as well.

What ticked?  Not bribe.  As usual, what is the alternative of the decision?  Supreme Leader weighted between incumbent and challenger.  Who is a bigger threat to the Islamic Republic?  Or for that matter, to the power of clergy?

Challenger is always about “change”.  Incumbent is always about “you know what you get.  Don’t rock the boat.”  This applies to any institution (note, not necessarily a country), any selection process (note, not election), any candidate. 

The next question is: what about the protests?  Supreme Leader is confident he can manage the internal crisis.  If the protests get any worse, it will be between a Tiananmen Square (Iranian Edition) and End of Soviet Union (Iranian Edition).  Certainly, Supreme Leader thinks the worst scenario is Tiananmen Square.

Alright, so what does one care about this latest news episode?  Political instability drives up the prices of commodities, in particular, the commodities the geography produces.  So, in this case, oil.

Oil will become more expensive, if this goes on.  The only way oil does not increase further is traders believe the recession is so bad there is no demand for oil anyway, i.e. demand will decrease even if the quantity of supply is not being affected by the political instability of Iran. 

Oil exploration companies’ stocks go down (not up).  The core material of their product gets more expensive, so their profit margins get squeezed.  Consider the following company, BP:


The companies that get affected less so are the American oil exploration companies who have less exposure to Middle East (or think about the Canadian oil companies).  And if you happen to own renewable energy companies’ stock, you should see prices going up for your stocks.  Given today is Friday, one may be tempted to clear their stock inventory just in case the next episode of this Iranian Election comes up and affect the portfolio. 

The things that really distort the prices of stocks affected by Iranian election are: Obama’s announcement on health care and Obama’s announcement on the merger of OTS and OCC.


June 19, 2009 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Current Events, 石油, 美國, election, Electioneering, middle east, opinion, politics, wordpress-political-blogs | Leave a comment

Bradley Effect Or McCain Effect?

Is Bradley Effect still there?  How can we find out?  If we check the last polls before the election, Obama was having double digit leads.  However, his popular vote is 53% against 47%, 6% lead. 


Here is a list of polls I gathered:


Polling Company Start Date  End Date     Obama    McCain        Total           Diff
Reuters/Zogby 1-Nov 3-Nov 54 43 97 11
Gallup National Polls 31-Oct 2-Nov 55 44 99 11
Fox News National Polls 1-Nov 2-Nov 50 43 93 7
CNN National Polls 30-Oct 1-Nov 53 46 99 7
Ipsos National Polls 1-Nov 1-Nov 50 42 92 8
ABC News National Polls 30-Oct 30-Oct 54 41 95 13
CBS News National Polls 30-Oct 30-Oct 54 41 95 13
Average 52.86 42.86 96 10


CNN previously quoted polling experts  that the Bradley Effect is worth about 6%.  


Average of these last minute poll is about 10%.  The actual margin is now 6%.  Is the Bradley Effect 4%?


Bradley Effect is a voter claims to support an African American candidate and then votes differently.  Did voters really change their minds this way?


The average of the polls for Obama is 53%.  He gets 53% (52.86%).  For this, the voters are consistent.  However, the interesting part is this: the margin shrunk.  What happened?  All the “Other” category voters’ changed their minds.  The Undecided voted for McCain.  The Greens and Libertarians voted for McCain.  So, instead of claiming for Obama and voting against Obama, they claimed something else and voted for the strongest candidate against Obama.  


McCain gets 43% in the polls (average is the same as median and mode).  However, the popular vote is 47%.  So, if you are not an African America candidate and running against an African American candidate, you can count on getting extra votes on the election day, 4% of popular vote.  

In the case of McCain, it is for every 100 votes committed to a pollster, he gets 9 extra votes.  


For an African American candidate, he has to live by “You get what you see”.  He probably cannot expect a measurable vote coming out from the Undecided category in the last days.  This would be consistent with Obama’s strong push in the last few days of the campaign.  


Can we now replace the Bradley Effect with this statement now: “if you are running against an African American candidate and you are not an African America candidate, you can count on getting extra votes coming from other third party candidates or previously uncommitted voters on the election day”. 


If we can get more empirical results, then it is obvious that Democrats will have even more incentives to suffocate other third parties in the future.  This is not about Nader anymore. 


Instead of Bradley Effect, are we now moving into the era of McCain Effectt. 

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, 美國, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, mccain, obama, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | Leave a comment

What Makes President Obama Not A Sure Thing

Are these undecided voters the key to this election?

As of today (2008.11.03), Obama has 228 electoral votes where the state has >10% polling margin and 50 electoral votes where the state has >5% polling margin.  The difference less than 5% (either way) is 128 electoral votes.

Given the Bradley Effect, and the potential of undecided voters going for McCain, Obama may still get defeated.  What are in play for this result?

1) Bradley Effect – voters misinform pollsters

2) Undecided voters for McCain – not willing to misinform, nor to be McCain voter out right

3) Polling methodology – too many people are not using land lines – greater and greater difficulty in forming a good sample to represent the population

4) First time voters – first time voters have lower voting participation rates; less responsive to GOTV.  Given the huge ratio of first time voters this year, this factor is more important than before;

5) Voting machine – no more funny ballots.  And are the votes auditable?

6) Voter suppression – prevent voters who fit your opponent’s voter profile to vote.  Depriving sufficient resources or space to a few specific precinct or county maybe good enough, especially when coordinated with GOTV at other places.

7) Voting irregularities – fraudulent voter registrations, fraudulent voters.  This list is not short.

These are all technical, minute issues.  However, there are quite a few of factors for anyone to play with now, right?  Any one of these can deliver us a dramatic event (or even traumatic) fit for Hollywood. 

Typically, only the last 2 factors are in play.  This time, we got seven factors!! Five of them have never been seen before.  Too many unknowns.  And there is no time to have an academic debate to discover the truth.  So, there can only be offense for Obama since no number is completely good this time around.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, 美國, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, mccain, obama, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | 2 Comments

Obama, 1 Up Over Karl Rove

Voting lines are long.problems/index.html.  Not much news about voter intimidation.  But then this is early voting, not the big day.  Is America ready for the big news that is only 11 days away?  Some people are preparing for the transitions to the next administration.  Some people are already sensing potential presidential candidates for 2012: Hilary Clinton sensed the potential desire of Bloomberg for 2012.


Bloomberg got his way to run for the third term of NYC mayor.  Less than two weeks ago, Clinton said Bloomberg’s third term is “disturbing.  Really, it would not have been disturbing if Clinton won the Democrat primary.  It is disturbing because give the kind of difficulties the future administration will face, the next President may end up being a one term president.  For that reason, Bloomberg’s presidential big would be a problem for her.  


Given the turn out in the early voting, Democrats already see some success in their new and healthier operating model.  Expanding the base is ideal.  When it goes to the final stage, the operation is about turn out.  Candidates locked up their supporters.  How can they actually get them to the voting precinct? 


Obama is experimenting something new: get them early and get them young.  Voting is a habitual product, just like so many other products, such as carbonated drinks or auto insurance.  We already saw how Obama got the young voters.  We are now seeing how to get them early (early to the poll).  


This is labor intensive.  Given the labor cost in America is so high, this is an expensive operation.  Expensive enough that Republicans never resorted to it before.  Now, Obama does not only have a good certainty what votes they reached even though the ballots are not counted, but also what votes McCain got.  Obama got a piece of insurance on these votes.  These votes are of course the solid supporters.  He can now have more flexibility to do his offense to McCain.


This is the kind of operation that shows to aspiring candidates that non profit groups are important.  Or more to the point, candidates and non profit groups need each other.  This kind of operation is labor intensive only people who got a commitment to a cause would be able to help.  




Will he shift even more to the center?  Will he attack McCain more aggressively?  Or will he simply swamp him hardly in the battleground states, especially the ones that do not allow early voting?

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, mccain, obama, Palin, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | Leave a comment

Electioneering 102: A Lesson From Green Party of Canada

The federal election in Canada concluded on 2008.10.14.  The incumbent party won another mandate.  There are a lot of interesting content in this election to fill the media.  However, for the purpose of Electioneering, this story may not make the cut to the paper, let alone to the headline.  This case study lesson is experienced by the Leader of Green Party of Canada.  This biggest contribution of this race is: how to choose a spot to run.  The most applicable lesson of this is still city councilor.  


Green Party of Canada has been increasing its vote share ever since the turn of the millennium.  In 2006, they got 4.48% of the votes and no seats in the parliament.  After that election, the Leader of the party then did not run in the leadership race again.  It then became an open race and Elizabeth May won the leadership.  She was an Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada, with government bureaucrat experience, a law degree and a recipient of Order of Canada.  She ran a by-election earlier, against all parties and got the second largest votes in that race.  


Green Party has long held the position that they are unable to win a seat because they are excluded from the televised debates.  This election proves that a televised debate did not help.  


May was looking for an epic race.  This could have been the first sign of trouble.  An election is not about making a statement.  Election is about finding the most representative will of the people.  By being the leader and possibly the first elected officer of a party, May’s election is more important than any other candidate.  There is a lot of media attention, political resources, volunteer resources, and money involved in a leader’s race.  Therefore, it is only prudent to maximum the vote, not to dramatize an epic.  


If you are running in a city councilor race (or county board, school board, etc), you run to win.  Any other objective is mischievous, and misleading the voters.  It is true that people run elections for all kinds of reasons, some of them noble too.  However, it is only when you aim to win would you be serving your voters, be honest to your voters, donors, volunteers and other kinds of supporters.  Furthermore, if you do not run to win, your result tends to sink, even if you got some special interest groups’ backing because your true primary motives usually affect your plan, execution and result.  For instance, since your real motive is a geography A, you divert more resources to that area instead.  However, that area may be a contestable area.  if the votes are already secured, no need to get vote there.  However, you are doing it there to serve your personal interests.  So, your volunteer hours are lost, your lawn signs are wasted.  Alternatively, you may be interested at a specific donor group.  Similarly you wasted your campaign.


Liberal party delivered their promise not to contest against May in order to maximize her chances to a seat, wherever her choosing.  This promise is also unlikely to be offered in the next election since the leader of Liberal party is also in his trouble.  And no one should plan a race with the expectation that this offer will be made twice anyway.  


May placed this epic over at Central Nova, where the incumbent runs a dynasty there: 2 generations of incumbent, close to 10 elections.  This is where the second problem is.  One should contest in a place to win, not a place to dramatize.  By being the leader, she can choose any leader she wanted.  She should have picked a riding where


1)       The Liberal candidate is not the incumbent, however strong enough that the votes actually matter in her race;

2)       The Green votes are decent, say above the 2006’s record of 4.48% votes;

3)       Incumbent votes are actually weak; below 50% is minimum requirement.  The lower the better. 

4)       Since there are 3 major parties contesting in every riding in Canada, an ideal riding is where all three parties split their votes, i.e. around 30% each.  Of course this is unrealistic.


Election is a contest of organization, stamina of the salesman (candidate), branding (party), money (fundraising) and product (platform).  A leader got the luxury of choosing a riding, which most people cannot afford the infrastructure investment to do.  Building up a local political network to support is not easy.  However, this is fairly accomplishable if you were interested at a city race.  Changing a house from this corner of the town to that corner is not too difficult.  What is the ideal demographic for you?  Ethnic group? Income class? Age group? Occupation?  Family status? 


If she spent 30 minutes to look around the >300 ridings in Canada, she maybe able to see that there are multiple ridings where Liberal is the incumbent, however with >25% of votes; Green votes are above 5%, and the incumbent got votes around mid 30%.  


With 30 minutes of your time, you can see that Welland is one such riding where the incumbent is Conservative.  Vancouver Kingsway is another one, where the incumbent is NDP.  There are probably others.  These 2 may not deliver an ideal environment for victory.  However, the point is there are potential sites to choose from.


If May knew that it wasn’t going to be a victory, then dramatizing an epic is not a bad option.  However, in your case, don’t run.  An election is costly not only to you, but also to your supporters in forms other than money.  


If you plan to remove a low performing incumbent, then get all the prospective candidates together.  Gamble all resources in only one person.  So, all your prospective candidates may want to have a quasi primary to determine who will have the best shot.  

October 22, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, canada, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, environment, fundraising, nonprofits, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | Leave a comment

Powell, What Makes A Good Endorsement?

An endorsement is similar to an advertisement.  The endorser would want to make a difference.  What is the difference to an election? Win or lose.  You can win by 1 vote (W) or by a landside.  They all give you the presidency.  An endorsement that takes a black horse to the main field is a good endorsement.  An endorsement that pushes the last block of voters to tip the scale is a good endorsement.  Anything after it is tipped over is an accessory.  Measuring the impact of an endorsement is to measure the size of votes it affects.  For that reason, you and I probably can save the time, in terms of endorsements.  


Analysts give their opinions about what Powell’s endorsement means.  An endorsement can mean a lot of things.  “What is the meaning” is a fun question to ask by media.  It is an interesting content.  It is not an important question to ask.  The good question to ask is: is this endorsement consequential?  is this endorsement relevant?


Is Powell’s endorsement a good endorsement?  Did Powell push Obama to the main field to compete against Hilary Clinton?  Oprah did that.  If the race is already tipped over, then this endorsement is an accessory.  Therefore, the impact of Powell’s endorsement is very questionable.  Powell may end up merely making a public statement about his differences with Republicans rather than making an impact to the race, or grabbing a 3 second media attention for no self gratification (I do not believe Powell has that self gratification need), or showing his political misjudgement or miscalculation (not knowing that the race may already be over).  Powell’s endorsement may end up being no more powerful than John Edwards (Edwards endorsed after it was crystal clear that Hilary Clinton was going to lose).


Powell may not have had polling results to inform him the value (votes) of his endorsement.  Therefore, he is unable to draw a dividend out of this endorsement effectively.  


The only thing that can make such an endorsement into an incentive is to secure a political appointment in the back room.  However, Powell does not need that, even if Powell were to cleanse his past actions.  


Is Powell making this endorsement to reach a resolution for himself before the world (repentance is between Powell and God.  No one else can have that privilege to know)?  What is to gain by exposing Powell’s own differences with Republicans?  

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, Current Events, 美國, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, John McCain, mccain, obama, Palin, politics, Republican, Sarah Palin, wordpress-political-blogs | 2 Comments

Market Concurs Pollsters

It is now less than 3 weeks to the voting day.  Electoral vote spread is 128 (Obama vs McCain : 286 vs 158).  Even if McCain takes the rest of the toss up states, he is still 34 votes behind (94 toss up).  Short of Osama (not a typo) surprises, opposition dramatic tricks and voting irregularities, Obama’s path is fairly clear.  In fact, Obama has to tell his supporters not to be “cocky.  


Obama’s searches at google are already double of McCain’s.  Of course the news volumes of the two are about the same.  People are already expecting the result. 


The market seems to suggest the same.  Yesterday was the final debate.  Today would be a check to see if the market likes what the pollsters are saying.  Pollsters are saying Obama won.  Market finally went up for a bit.    


The next check is November 5’s market closing.  What industries go up on that day?  What industry do down on that day?  These would directly reflect the market sentiments regarding the new administration’s policies.  


However, given the state the economy is in, everything should go up, not only because of Obama, but some sense of certainty.  


A lot of commentators gave out long to do lists for the next administration.  This is only an example.  However, I have not seen one mentioned about America’s future creditors.  What future creditors, you ask.  Well, someone has to finance the $700B.  Half of the US bonds are bought by foreigners.  China takes 10%.  Gulf states take another 8, 9%.  With the saving rate close to 0% in America, these foreigner lenders will work like credit card companies.  How much flexibility will the next administration have? 

October 16, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, John McCain, market, mccain, obama, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | Leave a comment

Guns, $ and Lobbying/Advocating

What is the significance of this gun shooting in an election year? Having an opportunity to bump up into an election issue.  Who does not want gun control to be an election issue? Gun manufacturers. 


Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC) is down 2.66%, compared to yesterday’s closing.  SWHC is a $260M company. 


Although recent a supreme court ruling favors gun ownership , this price drop reflects the public opinion is not helping the gun manufacturers.  To mitigate political risk or regulation risk of the gun industry, lobbying alone will not do the job.  It requires image management.  Yes, it has something to do with public relations and reputation risk.  But slightly more.  A change of perception of guns is needed for a bigger audience. 


What about the gun control groups?


If gun control groups rely heavily on grass roots lobbying, gun control groups will have a chance to tighten control in the upcoming political cycle, from 2008 – 2012.  However, are gun control groups supported by enthusiastic volunteers alone?  Is this special interest institutionalized?  Are they prepared political, financially and organizationally, to in all 50 states and the federal government?  Who can sustain battles after battles for this interest? 


This question is simply equivalent to say: which industry shares the same interest as gun control groups?


Once gun control advocates can align their interest with the interest of such as industry, then they will have a chance of managing this gun control political process.  Otherwise, gun control groups will be a guerrilla warfare. 

August 21, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Barack Obama, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, obama, opinion, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | 4 Comments

Why This Obama News Is Less Important Than That Obama News

This is an article printed on A4 of WSJ today that is probably more important than any news we have today, like CNN’s news about Bill Clinton meeting Obama.  The WSJ says Obama is spending hours on voter registration.  This news is not on the front page because it is not about policy / platform.  However, this is probably more important than Obama’s policy / platform or gossip about the when and where Obama meeting Bill Clinton.  


America requires voter registration, unlike other democratic and developed countries where voter registration is more like an address change notification to the election office from the voter.  As a result, voter registration rules becomes a tool to suppress the votes of the less informed voters, not too different from what Zimbabwe’s Mugabe does.  This hurdle creates an opportunity for customer-facing politicians – those who register more voters are more likely to win.  


Each new voter registration is worth about one to two hours of labor.  It is labor intensive and expensive.  However, the reward is greater than what one election can deliver.  A voter who walks into a voting booth is voting for more than one race anyway.  So, one hour of labor rewards more than one candidate.  A newly registered voter tends to lower voting attrition rate.  Voters tend to continue to vote for a party that they voted for in their first voting experience.  Therefore, the party is likely to get a new voter for life.  


Over time, air war becomes more and more important in elections and emphasis on the ground war fades away.  There are numerous precincts without a captain from both of the political parties in America.  Voter registration drives become less and less frequent as we have less and less precinct captains.  


What has been happening over the years is elections are slowly determined by fewer and fewer voters.  Elections are getting more and more expensive due to air wars.  More seats are becoming uncompetitive to the degree that challenging candidates are no longer an effective way to check on the incumbents.  


Higher voting participation, similar to the statistics regarding attendance to religious institution, increases the participation to local charities, be it fundraising effort or volunteer hours.  A more involved citizenry is also more likely to press the government to address the causes of the local charities.  Voter reigistration can simply be done at the receptionist’s desk of any charity.  Voter registration is not partisan and has no direct or indirect impact on a non-profit’s tax status. 


Obama is pouring resources into voter registration for his own benefit.  Moreover, he is not just doing a favor for his party, he is doing a favor to the democracy of America.


June 30, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Barack Obama, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, obama, opinion, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | 2 Comments

Why Do I Care If Obama Opting Out Public Financing?

Obama changed his mind: he will not use public funding now.  Obama’s decision also reflects his comfort level of this campaign.  McCain says he will consider opting out as well.  The truth is McCain cannot afford not to.  McCain’s funding is so low that he can barely run a competitive campaign against Obama.  With Republican side running low on campaign personnels due to removals of lobbyists from the presidential campaign, low morale of loyalists and casualties’ from Bush years, McCain will have such a disadvantage that Obama may have a easy ride.  


For it not because Obama is a populist and a challenger with a very unpopular incumbent, his decision of using private donation would draw some fire.  America, because of Obama’s decision, now missed a great opportunity to debate what kind reform the US election laws should take, especially election financing.  


America champions itself as the model of democracy.  However, America has not spent much time formulating what kind of election financing system works best.  Obama’s decision actually buries this important question for at least another decade.  


No one likes politicians.  And using tax money to help politicians is unlikely popular.  


Why is this question important?  And isn’t his micro-donor system good enough?


Money is the mother’s mile of politics.  There are a few other big items we will not have a chance to reflect on the great intellectual capacities both McCain and Obama can provide us before the TV box:


1)       What shall we do with campaign surplus? 

2)       Who can lend money to a campaign?  And what to do when a candidate cannot pay off the debt?

3)       Who can be a donor?  Certainly only citizens.  What about companies?  Unions?  Non-profits? 

4)       Who can accept political donations?  Are political parties and candidates the only entities who can accept donations?

5)       What about third party campaigns during election times?  Say WWF or NRA running ads during election times without any references to candidates?

6)       What is the definition of a volunteer?  Some people may have very strong interests in being a volunteer full time.


These items may be mundane and uninteresting when compared to jobs, health care and foreign policy.  However, they decide who will have more face time with any aspiring candidates, running candidates and incumbents.  These items are no different than defining what an “eligible voter” is or what a valid ID is at the voting precinct.  



June 19, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Barack Obama, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, fundraising, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, obama, opinion, politics, Republican, Thoughts, wordpress-political-blogs | 1 Comment