Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dueling Kansas Gov Polls: who to Believe

There are now two recent polls with very contrasting results out on the Kansas Governors race. A poll from Survey USA showed the Democratic team of Paul Davis and Jill Docking with a 48-40 lead over incumbent Republican Governor Sam Brownback and Lt. Governor Jeff Coyler. Then, on Sunday a poll done by British YouGov polling firm for the New York Times and CBS News showed Brownback with 47 to 37 lead, and including leaners at 52 to 40 lead.

Naturally, this has prompted some questions. How can such divergent results, around a 20 percent swing, be explained? Which poll is most reliable?

The first thing I noticed is that the YouGov poll didn't include Libertarian candidate Keen Umbehr who draws about 5 percent of the vote in the Survey USA poll.

The NYT/CBS/YouGov poll is part of massive national poll of every Gubernatorial and Senate race in every state, with over 100,000 taking part.

Taniel at DailyKos notes

In 2012, the margin of YouGov's final polls favored Republicans by an average 5 points, including large errors in competitive races in Nevada, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Virginia—all in the GOP's favor.
YouGov doesn't use the same random-digit dialing use by Survey USA and traditional pollsters. Instead they use a panel of respondents, who aren't random selected. In a scientifically valid poll every voter should have an equal chance of being randomly selected, making the sample representative.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times observes:
 YouGov attempts to build a large, diverse panel and then match its panelists to demographically similar respondents from the American Community Survey, an extremely rigorous probability survey conducted by the Census Bureau. This step is intended to mimic probability sampling. But it can require significant assumptions about the composition of the electorate, including partisanship. These assumptions are contestable and based on varying amounts of evidence.
Some groups tend to be underrepresented in web panels: the less educated, the less affluent, Hispanics and those over age 65. You Gov then blows up the under represented groups. So those in the subgroups in the panel, if they have unrepresentative views can skew the entire poll.

Comparing Internals/Crosstabs

Let's peer underneath the topline to understand the differences and see if there are signs that one or another poll is implausible.

 Black voters. One of the more implausible results in the YouGov poll is its claim that black voters prefer Davis by only a 53-46 margin.  There is no "race" breakdown in the latest Survey USA poll, but a November 2013 had Davis up by 65-21 margin.  I think the YouGov result  is implausible and quite likely that Davis-Docking will carry the black vote by a bigger margin.

If blacks are five percent of the electorate, the difference between a 50-50 split and a 90-10 split would be about 4 percent, about one-third of YouGov's Brownback edge.

By the way, YouGov interviewed only 31 black out of 1274, or 2.4% of the panel. In contrast blacks are estimated to have been 5 percent of the 2012 electorate.

YouGov also interviewed only 25 Hispanics.  

Women voters. Incredibly, the YouGov poll has Brownback leading Davis 50-41, while Survey USA has Davis up 51 to 35.

A news report on an exit poll for the Kansas 2012 said that among women Obama was almost equal, while 69 percent of men favored Romney. That is a gender gap of about 20 points in 2012, compared to a YouGov gender gap of 6 and a Survey USA of 13 points.

Republicans.  YouGov, in contrast to Survey USA has Brownback doing exceptionally well with Republican voters grabbing 82 percent to only 9 for Davis. In contrast, Survey USA has Davis getting an impressive 29 percent of Republican voters, compared to only 60 percent for Brownback. It may just be a coincidence, but the Survey USA poll shows "some dudete" symbolic candidate Jennifer Winn drawing 30 percent in the Republican primary.

Independents.  YouGov shows this segment, breaking narrowly for Brownback 46 to 43, while Survey USA has Davis leading 48 to 27. (Independents are 36% of the YG panel and 24% of Survey USA.)

Senior Voters.  YouGov has Brownback leading 57-39, Survey USA has Davis on top 56-36. (65+ voters are  projected to be about 29% of voters.)

Summing up: YouGov has a historical +5 GOP bias, excluding the Libertarian candidate likely gives another +5 bias for Brownback.  Adding in the very suspicious cross tabs for blacks (and Hispanics) and women, not to mention the other categories, makes a strong case that the Survey USA poll is closer to the truth and that the Davis-Docking team is very well positioned to win in November.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Country Club 48: a little too late

Tanya Tucker had here first country hit in 1972 at the age of 13 with her recording of "Delta Dawn." Since then, she has had a string of hits, including 1993 s "It's a Little Too Late," which reached number 2 on the country charts.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Country Club 47: the country side of Charlie Haden

Charlie Haden, the great jazz bassist died on July 11.  He is most famous for being part of the revolutionary Ornette Coleman Quartet.  I was fortunate enough to discover Coleman before I graduated from high school. 

In 2009, a wrote a post on George Strait and Haden and commented  about Haden's then new CD, Rambling Boy

a country CD. Not country-twinged jazz or some hybrid. But straight out country. Rambling Boy is not even contemporary country, the music harks back to an older time, circa 1930s-1940s. Haden grew up in a family that was sort of a Midwest Carter family, making a radio debut at age two.
Here's a trailer for a video documentary of Haden. The whole documentary can be seen here.

Here is a performance of the group on the David Letterman show.

Tom Jurek reviewed it on very perceptively (though it is one of those infuriating reviews where you read the review, look at the star rating --3 1/2--and think I thought he was gong to rate it higher.  I would have given it at least 4 stars.)

This 19-song set features all the members of his immediate family -- daughters Petra, Rachel, and Tanya, as well as son Josh. The players and vocalists are numerous but they include guitarist Pat Metheny, Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, Bruce Hornsby, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas, the Whites, Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs, Elvis Costello, and Russ Barenberg, among others. Despite the wide range of players here, this album can only be called Americana in the strictest sense of the term as its selections are new readings of mostly traditional folk and country songs.
On his 1997 CD with Pat Metheny, Beyond the Missouri Sky, Haden included "The Precious Jewell" a country classic by Roy Acuff.

And, here is the original

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Country Club 46 Hank Jr.'s Two Liberal Songs

Hank Williams, Jr. has the kind of reactionary, red-wing politics that uninformed pundits like Richard Cohen think that Merle Haggard has. Haggard dud right some jingoists songs back in the 1960s and 1970s, but Haggard has mellowed and evolved. Looks for my "Left Side of Merle" playlist here later in 2014.

The same can't be said about Hank, Jr. He's far more a musical spokesman for the Tea Party than Merle Haggard who Richard Cohen cited in an infamous column, in which he misreads the Hag's "Are the Good Times Over for Good" as the national anthem of the tea party, neglecting to mention that the Hag lent support to Hillary (with a song, no less) and Obama.

In that same column,  Cohen wrote that "People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex" when thinking of inter-racial marriage.  Yet, Haggard recorded a pro-interracial romance song "Irma Jackson" in 1969. Strangely, even progressive bloggers who know country music didn't call Cohen on this.

That's enough of a digression for now.  Sometime I'll do a post on Hank Jr. reactionary songs, but this Saturday, I'll highlight his two liberal songs. (If I've missed any let me know in the comments.

"I'm for Love" was written and recorded by Hank, Jr. in 1985 and was his seventh number one hit. There's a nice touch in the first verse where what you think is going to be anti-union ("The unions against the workers...") turns out not to be in the next phrase. ("... working against their will")

Hank Jr. recorded,  but did not write, "Red, White, and Pink Slip Blues" on his 2009 album, 207 Rose Avenue.  The album also included a song "Sounds Like Justice" which is a paean to vigilante justice.

I'm for Love lyrics

Mothers against drunk drivers, the Pope is against the pill
The unions against the workers working against their will
The Presidents against the Congress, the Senate is against the House
People are against politicians and Im against cats in the house
But Im for love and Im for happiness
And Im for 'If you dont like it, cant you just let it pass?'
And Im for turning off the music, turning down the lights
Cause Im for nothing else but me and you tonight
The cities against the counties, the counties against the state
The state is against the government and the highways still aint paved
The bankers against the farmer, the farmers against the wall
Doctor's against me smoking and the devil is against us all
But Im for love and Im for happiness
And Im for 'If you dont like it, cant you just let it pass?'
And Im for turning off the tube and turning down the lights
Cause Im for nothing else but me and you tonight
The cops are against the robbers, the laws are against the cops
Justice is against the system and some people are blowing their tops
The horse is against the automobile, the bus is against the train
The train is against the jumbo jet and Im against fishing in the rain
But Im for love, Im all for happiness
And Im for 'If you dont like it, cant you just let it pass?'
And Im for turning off the tube and turning down the lights
And Im for nothing else but me and you tonight
Hey, Im for love, Im all for happiness
And Im for 'Not looking for something to make us mad'
Im all for turning off the music and turning down the lights
And Im for nothing else but me and you t

Red, White and Pink Slip Blues lyrics

I used to love this town and this neighborhood
The streets were safe, the schools were good
The mill was hummin' twenty-four seven
I was formin' on the line, three to eleven
But eighteen months, two days ago
The Mill closed down and moved to Mexico

I payed my bills, I payed my dues
I payed my share of taxes too
Now I cant buy my baby shoes
Ive got the red, white, pink-slip blues

I hide the pickup truck in Ricky Browns garage
Over on the next block, cause there's Repo's to dodge
I slip out the back door Lord, I never thought Id live to see this day
Where gonna need that truck when they come to take the house away

You know I love my country and I'm not one to complain
But there's a lot of us that feel like we've been left out here
Out in the rain

I payed my bills, I payed my dues
I payed my share of taxes too
Now I cant buy my little baby shoes

Sunday, July 06, 2014

New York Photos

From the 9/11 Memorial

More photos here.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Country Club 45: pedal steel master Buddy Emmons

Steel guitar is the quintessential country instrument, with dues respect to banjos, mandolins, and fiddles.  Buddy Emmons is arguably the foremost steel guitarist ever. He has played on hundreds, if not thousands, of country sides, but is stylistically cathollic, having recording in jazz, country-rock, folk, and other idioms. Here's a short display of Emmons' virtuosity.

There are a number of videos of Emmons performing at Steel Guitar conventions and the like on Youtube.  If you like clip above, check them out. has a discography of albums issued under Emmons' name.  Some are worth noting.   In 1963, Emmons recorded a highly regarded album for Verve Records, Steel Guitar Jazz, with sidemen such as saxophonist Jerome Richardson. In the 1970s, he recorded with Lenny Breau (Minors Aloud) and Danny Gatton (Red Neck Jazz Explosion) and, still later, did performed and recorded several fine albums with Ray Pennington as the Swing Shift Band, a grouping of Nashville area musicians who did swing and western swing on the side.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts Re-ignites Residency Controversy

With the Kansas primary only a month away, it  looks like Senator Pat Roberts has "Lugared" himself with what the right-wing media outlet Breitbart,com  called a "Freudian slip" in an interview on radio station KCMO and reported on July 3 in the DC insider newspaper The Hill saying he returns home to Kansas “every time I get an opponent”  and proclaiming that he doesn't measure his voting record by "how many times I sleep wherever it is."

Back in February Roberts got caught in a controversy with an interview in the New York Times

In an interview, the three-term senator acknowledged that he did not have a home of his own in Kansas. The house on a country club golf course that he lists as his voting address belongs to two longtime supporters and donors — C. Duane and Phyllis Ross — and he says he stays with them when he is in the area. He established his voting address there the day before his challenger, Milton Wolf, announced his candidacy last fall, arguing that Mr. Roberts was out of touch with his High Plains roots.

“I have full access to the recliner,” the senator joked. Turning serious, he added, “Nobody knows the state better than I do.”
"We’re not going to get Lugar’d," Roberts adviser David Kensinger told the Times, in a reference to long-time Indiana Senator Richard Lugar who lost a 2012 primary to a Tea Party challenger, who in turn lost to a Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election.

Roberts fits the Lugar profile, so Kensinger concern was understandable. Roberts is getting up in years; he's 77. And he's been a Congressman and Senator since 1980 and before that, starting in 1967, a D.C. staffer for Kansas Senator Frank Carlson and Congressman Keith Sebelius.   

Roberts made some astute moves to avoid Lugar's fate.  He lined up almost every conceivable challenger, virtually every state Senator and Representatives for an endorsement.  He shifted his voting record from conservative to very, very conservative.

Despite this, Roberts got a primary challenger:  Milton Wolf, a distant cousin of President Obama and radiologist.  Wolf is being backed by many of the same Tea Party organizations and media that backed Dave Brat's upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Mississippi Senate challenger Chris McDaniel.  In fact, Wolf has gone on national right-wing shows like that of Mark Levin to back McDaniel and attack not only Roberts, but the state's other Senator Jerry Moran, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign.

There have been signs that Roberts is vulnerable. A 2013 poll, for example, found that just 42% of Republicans say they would vote to re-nominate Roberts, while 34% say they would prefer someone "more conservative."  And, a February  2014 PPP poll show that Kansans disapproving of Roberts by a 38 to 29 margin.

But Wolf hasn't caught on.  The February PPP poll found Roberts leading Milton Wolf 49 percent to 23 percent among GOP primary voters. A June Survey USA poll showed Roberts ahead of Wolf, 56-23 percent.

One reason is that Wolf, though he is sometimes an effective sound biter, has some big problems of his own,which are highlighted on "The Real Milton Wolf" tumblr created by the Roberts campaign.  The tumblr doesn't mince words promising to document.
character flaws, missteps, and flat-out lies. We assure you that the incredible array of evidence below will leave no doubt in your mind, Milton Wolf is not only unvetted, untested, and unelectable, but a completely discredited candidate.
Personally, I hope that Roberts and Wolf have a full out slugfest in the nice month and that votes come to see the former as an out-of-touch, D.C. insider, carpetbagger and the latter as an unethical, right wing nut job.

Then, perhaps Kansas can elect its first non-Republican Senator since  George McGill was re-elected in 1932.  The Democrats have a potentially strong candidate in Chad Taylor.

In a future post, I'll take a look at vanity austerity millionaire independent candidate Greg Orman threatens to split the anti-Roberts (or anti-Wolf) vote.