Sunday, May 13, 2018

Improvements to our Privacy Policy and Privacy Controls

Updating Our Privacy Policy
This month, we're updating our Privacy Policy to make it easier for you to understand what information we collect and why we collect it. We've also taken steps to improve our Privacy Checkup and other controls we provide to safeguard your data and protect your privacy.
Nothing is changing about your current settings or how your information is processed. Rather, we've improved the way we describe our practices and how we explain the options you have to update, manage, export, and delete your data.
We're making these updates as new data protection regulations come into effect in the European Union, and we're taking the opportunity to make improvements for Google users around the world.
Making our Privacy Policy easier to understand
Simpler structure & clearer language
We've improved the navigation and organization of the policy to make it easier to find what you're looking for. We've also explained our practices in more detail and with clearer language.
New descriptive videos & illustrations
Often a visual description is easier to understand than text alone, so we've added short videos and illustrations throughout the policy.
Embedded privacy controls
We've made it easier to jump to key settings directly from the policy, helping you make choices about your privacy.
The revised policy is available here and will take effect on May 25, 2018.
Improving your privacy controls
Within the past year, we updated My Activity so that you can better access and manage the data in your Google Account. We also launched a redesigned Dashboard, which allows you to easily see an overview of products you're using and your data associated with them.
This month, we've updated our Privacy Checkup with new illustrations and examples to help you make more informed choices about your key privacy controls. And since we understand that your preferences may change over time, the new Privacy Checkup enables you to sign up for regular reminders to check your privacy settings.
To learn more about these and other controls to manage your privacy, visit your Google Account.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Changes to Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service

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Dear Google user,

We're getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that's a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.

We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service at These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.

One policy, one Google experience
Easy to work across Google Tailored for you Easy to share and collaborate
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Our new policy reflects a single product experience that does what you need, when you want it to. Whether you're reading an email that reminds you to schedule a family get-together or finding a favorite video that you want to share, we want to ensure you can move across Gmail, Calendar, Search, YouTube, or whatever your life calls for with ease.

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When you post or create a document online, you often want others to see and contribute. By remembering the contact information of the people you want to share with, we make it easy for you to share in any Google product or service with minimal clicks and errors.

Protecting your privacy hasn't changed

Our goal is to provide you with as much transparency and choice as possible, through products like Google Dashboard and Ads Preferences Manager, alongside other tools. Our privacy principles remain unchanged. And we'll never sell your personal information or share it without your permission (other than rare circumstances like valid legal requests).

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Visit our FAQ at to read more about the changes. (We figured our users might have a question or twenty-two.)

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Go Griz!

Up with Montana, boys, down with the foe,
Old Montana's out for a victory;
She'll shoot her backs around the foe-men's line;
A hot time is coming now, oh, brother mine.
Up with Montana, boys, down with the foe.
Good old Grizzly'll triumph today;
and the squeal of the pig will float on the air;
from the tummy of the Grizzly bear.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Why we won't lose.

as I watched people go throiugh the ticket barrier today, a young uy came up and his face was covered in a sort of mask. I said hello.

It turns out that he was one of the survivors who was in a train that got bombed on 7/7/05. in the same car as the bomb when it went off...

I asked where he was going, tried to make sure he got on the right train, and all that. He said he was not sure. just wanted to go down in the Tube. "Even if I only go one stop" he told me, "I just want to get on and do it. I can't let what happened just take over."

We'll win because freedom trumps hopelessness. Choice overcomes tyrany. Equality beats opression. We'll win because terrorism (the act) runs counter to basic human nature.

And we'll win because the leaders that history will remember have the guts to act on these facts in the face of popular dissent.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Truth in Jest

From The Onion

From Americans in 2004

I know it's a joke, but a lot of truth is said in jest. Matt Singer gets it sometimes, although he's definitely to the left of most of the Midwest. His "contributing editors" are coastal liberal and move his site to the Massachusetts left. And San Francisco Swing State Bob doesn't have a clue.


Monday, April 11, 2005

MT04 Deconstructed - Part 8: House Divided

Each Senate district is comprised of two House districts. Most of the time, like-minded districts are married, yeilding an obvious political orientation for the Senate district. This is, for example, the case in Senate District 1 which voted Republican and is complrised of House District 1 and 2 which also voted Republican.

But sometimes, Senate districts are comprised of House districts that split between parties, one Republican and one Democrat. In 2004, 14 (or 28%) Senate districts are split. Superficial examination of these splits indicate that half elected Democrats to the Senate and half elected Republicans; a balanced scale.

The scale swings quickly toward a Democrat advantage though. In addition to seven split districts with Democrat Senators, there are two Senate districts (15, 25) that have Democrat Senators even though they are each comprised of two Republican House. These were seats that were redistricted to put Democrats in office in Republican locatoins, and then not subjected to an election until 2006. In other words, the Democrat controlled Redisctricting and Aportionment Commission did a bang-up job.

Here's what the breakdown looks like on the map. If you live in a yellow portion of the map, it means that the party your district elected in the House is not the same as the party your Senate district elected to the Senate. For example, Senate District 2 - which is comprised of House Districts 3 and 4 - elected a Democrat. House District 3 voted for a Republican, so HD-03 is colored yellow, while HD-04 is Blue since it got a Democrat in both the House and the Senate. I also divided the maps into Senate districts which were in cycle for 2004 and those that were not.

Uncontested Split Senate Districts
Split Senate Districts That Weren't In Cycle for 2004
5 Districts split (4 Republican, 1 Democrat)
Republican: 4 (7, 8); 20 (39, 40); 29 (57, 58); 39 (77, 78)
Democrat: 32 (63, 64)
2 Districts unsplit, but with inverted Senate representation
Democrats: 15 (29, 30); 25 (49, 50)
Contested Split Senate Districts
Split Senate Districts That Were In Cycle for 2004
9 Districts split (3 Republican, 6 Democrat)
Republicans: 6 (11, 12); 19 (37, 38); 27 (53, 54)
Democrats: 2 (3, 4); 7 (13, 14); 10 (19, 20); 22 (43, 44); 24 (47, 48); 50 (99, 100)

Some observations from the data.

Out of the 25 districts that had elections in 2004, almost two times more were split compared with the 25 districts that did not have election. Between 2002 and 2004, it appears that there were more tie games in the Montana political game.

Of the split district Senators elected in 2004, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a margin of two to one. The Democrats seemed to win more of the tie-breakers.

Surprisingly, six of the nine House districts that were outvoted in the Senate races had higher raw populations* than their counterpart House districts. On average, House districts that were outvoted had 71.7 more people. *Raw population does not indicate eligible voters.

In Senate District 22, the Democratic victory margin (490 votes) was lower than the population disparity (690 people). In other words, this vote could be attributed solely to the population difference between the districts.

Four of the five House districts that had unaligned Senate representation had smaller raw populations. On average, the districts where the House and Senate parties didn't match parties had 128.4 fewer people.

So that's a lot of fancy info. What's it mean? It reveals some really interesting trends in the state Senate which favor Democrats pretty soundly. But it does not - as of yet - yeild an explanation for these trends.

Even so, if we assume that the eligible voter rates in adjacent districts are equal, then we can ascertain that the Democrat's Senate majority was largely due to low turnout in just six House Districts with numerical advantages in their respective Senate districts.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

MT04 Deconstructed - Part 7: Senate Election Cycle

Each Senate district in Montana is made up of exactly two House districts. House terms last for 2 years, so each member has to be re-elected each cycle. Senate terms are staggered in 4 year terms, so every two years one half - or 25 - of the districts have elections.

Another way to look at that is to say that the entire state votes for the House every 2 years, but only half of the state votes for the Senate each 2 years. The question is are the halves that alternate in Senate elections equally distributed between Republicans and Democrats? The answer is no. In 2004, more Democrats got to choose a Senator than Republicans. The proof is in the data that came from Secretary of State's roster (PDF) for the MT 59th Congress which show the breakdown by district and party.

25 Senate districts were up for grabs in 2004. While those districts were electing 25 Senators, they were also electing 50 House representatives - two in each Senate district. Of those, 29 elected Democratic House members while only 21 elected House Republicans. Since the House is split 50/50, that means that 29 out of 50 districts that elected Democrats also got to cast a vote for a Senator, while only 21 out of 50 districts that elected Republicans got the same nod.

If you get that, you probably already understand that there were 25 uncontested Senate seats, and the 50 House districts that comprise those districts split with a Republican advantage 29-21.

Let's put that into plain English. Stick 100 people in a room. Half are Democrats, half Republicans (representing the 50/50 split in the House). Of those 100 people, only 50 get to vote for a Senator: 29 Democrats and 21 Republicans. Since it takes 2 people to elect one Senator, this margin of 8 people is an advantage of four Senators (it doesn't translate literally into 4 senators, since Senate districts can split between House parties, although soon I'll show such splits favored Democrats in 2004 as well). This advantage is completely arbitrary, in that it doesn't represent a political shift. If the other 50 Senate seats had been up for re-election instead, the Republicans would have enjoyed the advantage.

This advantage is completely different from where district lines are drawn. Instead, it exercises its power from determining which districts will be contested when.

It's the election schedule, stupid.

House Districts In Contested Senate Districts:
Democrats (29): 4, 12, 13, 20, 31, 32, 38, 41, 42, 43, 48, 51, 52, 54, 65, 66, 73, 74, 75, 76, 81, 82, 85, 86, 91, 92, 93, 94, 99
Republicans (21): 3, 5, 6, 11, 14, 17, 18, 19, 35, 36, 37, 44, 47, 53, 67, 68, 71, 72, 89, 90, 100

House Districts In Uncontested Senate Districts:
Democrats (21): 8, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 33, 34, 40, 58, 64, 78, 79, 80, 95, 96, 97, 98
Republicans (29): 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 27, 28, 29, 30, 39, 45, 46, 49, 50, 55, 56, 57, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 69, 70, 77, 83, 84, 87, 88

Sunday, April 03, 2005

MT04 Deconstructed - Part 6: Victory Margins

Imagine an apartment made up of 100 people, 60 boys and 40 girls. These tenants must vote on things like communal movies, what kind of beverages to serve in the vending machines, parking space allocation and the like. Assume, by quirk of nature, the vote becomes strictly boy versus girl. If everyone voted together, the boys would win every time.

But the girls are smart. There are 10 floors and they set it up so that each floor votes as a group with what the majority of that floor prefers. Since some of those girls know the land-lord very well, they get to assign floors. And they do it like this:
Floor 1: 4 boys, 6 girls
Floor 2: 4 boys, 6 girls
Floor 3: 4 boys, 6 girls
Floor 4: 4 boys, 6 girls
Floor 5: 4 boys, 6 girls
Floor 6: 4 boys, 6 girls
Floor 7: 9 boys, 1 girl
Floor 8: 9 boys, 1 girl
Floor 9: 9 boys, 1 girl
Floor 10: 9 boys, 1 girl
See what's happened? You've now got the same people divided into ten floors. The girls have a narrow majority on 6 - or a controlling portion - of the floors, while the boys have a large majority on the other 4. In this situation, you'd expect the girls to control the decisions-making because they have districted their apartment to maximize each of the girls' votes while minimizing the affect of the boys'.

That happens in state politics too. It's harder to point a finger and say "look, there it is!" but there are certainly strong clues that this is what happened. One such clue is revealed by margin of victory. In the above example, the girls will win 6 floors by a small margin, while the boys win 4 floors with a huge margin. In the 6 floors that the girls win, each girl's vote is crucial to the results of the election. In the 4 floors that the boys win, only 2 boys need to vote to win, and each boy's vote after that is irrelevant. So where this sort of district-drawing has happened, you expect the state minority party to win by small margins and the state majority to win by large margins. Did this happen in Montana 2004 General Election?

That's what I'm going to try to answer now. Using the Secretary of State's election data, I determined the margin between Republicans and Democrats. I did not account for independent votes, since none won in Montana, and my interest was to determine how much each victorious candidate won by in each district. The results are actually pretty interesting, especially for the Montana Senate, where the Democrats made their most significant gains.

Let's start though in the House, which split 50/50. The data I calculated was the margin of victory by percent of the total vote. In each race, I determined the vote percentage for Republicans, Democrats and everyone else. Then I subtracted the Democratic percent from the Republican to find the margin of victory/loss. The red lines are the margins in districts won by Republicans and the blue Democrats. The flat sections at the top-right represent uncontested races in which 100% of the non-independant votes cast went for one party or the other. A 0% would be a perfect tie (no margin of victory).
Montana House Margins by Percent
The data show a pretty close margin between Dem victories and GOP victories in House races. In the closer races it appears that Democrats won by slightly smaller margins than Republicans. Democrats also appear to have more high-margin victories, but these are races that were uncontested by Republicans but that had small showings from independents which eroded the Democratic unanimity.

Another approach that I used was to examine the margins by number of votes instead of percentage of total votes. The reason this is important is that voter turnout was the lowest in districts that Democrats won, so only examining a percentage could be misleading (50% of 1000, for example would be less than 30% of 2000). For this graph, I subtracted total Democrat votes from total Republican votes. I only counted races in which a Democrat and a Republican were running against each other, since voter margins of uncontested races would skew the results.
Montana House Margin of Victory by Votes
When you control for district voter turnout, it becomes very clear that Democrats won closer races than Republicans. In plain English, the above graph suggests that Democrats won their races by fewer votes. Therefore, in Democratic districts, each vote was more important. The differences in the House are small, but real. In the Senate, the contrast is much more profound.
Montana Senate Victory Margins by Percentage
These data clearly show that Republicans tended to win their races by a much larger margins than Democrats. Again, the flattened section on the top-right represents uncontested races, and the reason the Democrat's line is longer from left-to-right is that they won more races. This is supported by vote-margins:
Montana Senate Uncontested Race Margins by Number of Votes
Clearly evident by the steeper line slope is the fact that in Republican districts, the margin of victory was much greater than in Democratic districts.

This is one of the things you expect to see if district lines are drawn to favor a party which is otherwise in the minority. Montana is just such a state, with Republican candidates receiving more votes than Democrats. The data suggest that Democrats were placed where their fewer votes would have the most impact, while Republicans were grouped together where each marginal vote would be unnecessary.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

MT04 Deconstructed - Part 5: Vote Weight

Brad Johnson, the Montana Secretary of State puts voter turnout for the 2004 General Election at 71%. While this isn't the highest it's been since 1920 (86.4% in the watershed year 1968), it is very high. This number is derived by dividing the total number of ballots cast by the total number of registered voters.

But districts aren't drawn by populations of registered voters. They are drawn using total population - with no regard for intention to vote (say registering) or voter eligibility. Of course, those things matter, because the more people that vote in any given district, the less weight any one of those votes has.

I got voter results here (PDF) from which I calculated the total number of votes cast in each district. I got total district populations here (PDF). I then divided the total number of votes cast in each district by the total number of people living in that district to come up with a turnout figure of sorts.

These numbers are not turnout, since that would only count registered voters. What these numbers show is the percentage of the total population that voted in each district:
House Turnout by District
01 40.49%
02 48.25%
03 44.26%
04 54.32%
05 52.81%
06 53.45%
07 44.77%
08 46.84%
09 46.20%
10 58.17%
11 56.09%
12 48.05%
13 51.32%
14 46.35%
15 30.26%
16 28.70%
17 39.90%
18 54.62%
19 45.18%
20 37.29%
21 37.67%
22 33.51%
23 30.76%
24 21.85%
25 39.33%
26 33.62%
27 45.77%
28 48.49%
29 54.25%
30 46.89%
31 37.26%
32 36.46%
33 40.57%
34 40.04%
35 53.37%
36 40.74%
37 41.65%
38 51.02%
39 47.12%
40 38.92%
41 21.37%
42 27.04%
43 47.97%
44 46.49%
45 43.30%
46 55.89%
47 50.88%
48 43.19%
49 41.88%
50 49.53%
51 38.45%
52 46.32%
53 45.21%
54 36.83%
55 51.92%
56 58.77%
57 60.40%
58 47.55%
59 52.23%
60 52.72%
61 58.52%
62 50.57%
63 68.56%
64 55.50%
65 39.29%
66 50.83%
67 55.77%
68 59.58%
69 63.23%
70 64.28%
71 59.96%
72 38.50%
73 33.66%
74 53.37%
75 41.80%
76 33.93%
77 57.22%
78 43.51%
79 53.19%
80 48.94%
81 45.58%
82 54.35%
83 39.81%
84 50.11%
85 31.92%
86 39.23%
87 52.55%
88 47.39%
89 52.19%
90 50.71%
91 44.30%
92 56.18%
93 44.39%
94 49.83%
95 50.00%
96 43.22%
97 49.84%
98 47.82%
99 51.24%
100 43.72%

Senate Turnout by District
02 47.76%
03 54.12%
06 52.46%
07 51.45%
09 43.41%
10 41.45%
16 29.80%
18 54.04%
19 49.99%
21 24.41%
22 47.22%
24 46.58%
26 42.43%
27 38.47%
33 45.68%
34 46.22%
36 44.69%
37 38.61%
38 38.62%
41 49.64%
43 33.63%
45 51.64%
46 50.73%
47 44.78%
50 47.92%
Now it gets interesting. If you average these rates in districts that went Republican in 2004, you get 50.5% in the House and 48.1% in the Senate. If you do the same for Democrat districts you only come up with 42.3% in the House and 42.3% in the Senate.

We can thus extrapolate that, on average, individual votes cast in districts that Democrats carried weighed more than those cast in districts that Republicans won. Put another way, in those districts, smaller groups of people were needed to influence results. This helps explain the mechanism by which Democrats won the majority of seats while losing the statewide popular vote.

It's hard to pin down exactly why this occured in every case, but the final report filed by the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission gives at least one clue (page 10, paragraph 2).
"Census data counts all persons, regardless of age, for legislative redistricting. However, for purposes of ensuring that minority voters have the same opportunity to elect persons of their choice, it is important to acknowledge that minority population is on the average younger, and redistricting may require a greater percentage of minorities to achieve a majority of minority voters in a district. Montana's total percentage of the population 18 years of age and older is 75.9%, and the American Indian and Alaska Native population's percentage of population over18 years of age is 60.6%."
So when districts are drawn with roughly the same raw population, districts with large percentages of American Indian and Alaska Native populations naturally have smaller pools of voters who are old enough to vote. This depresses the per-capita turnout rate, and increased the weight of each of their votes and ultimately, a smaller than average group of voters gets their own representative.

MT04 Deconstructed - Part 4: Smells Like Gerrymandering

Some things that smell fishy aren't fish. And while there may be some suspicious circumstances, it is not my intention to say (yet) that the 2002 redistricting of Montana was gerrymandered to feed the Donkey. That said, there is a foul stench in the air.

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission (PDF) is a citizen-body with members appointed by the political parties. Four of its five members are appointed by legislative leadership - The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and the House Majority and Minority Leaders each get a single appointment. Those appointees must then agree on a presiding officer, which these particular commissioners could not. Here's where it get's interesting. Although the Republicans controlled both chambers of the legislature, the Supreme Court swings left, and the tie-breaking commissioner appointment was determined by the Court behind closed doors: Janine Pease Pretty On Top, a Democrat.

But does the commission have the legal means to tip their hat to a particular party? State law allows a plus or minus 5% deviation from the ideal population size of 9,022. That means that there can be a variation of as much as 10%, or around 902 people, between districts. That's the wiggle room that would make gerrymandering possible.

Now here's where the circumstantial evidence gets interesting. Previous redistricting - controlled by the Republicans - was adopted with bi-partisan support. The changes that were made in 2002, when the Democrats were on board were 3-2 by party lines. The deciding vote in all cases was Pease Pretty On Top, and Republican objections were disregarded by the left wing State Court.

What good is a majority if the Supreme Court nullifies your actions? Before the commission gave their plan final approval without the vote of a Republican, the Republican controlled Senate, House and Governorship passes legislation reducing the allowable deviation from 5% to 1%, plus or minus. The same court that put Pease Pretty On Top in the gunners' seat threw out (Missoulian) this law.
"The GOP had denounced the plan as a partisan effort by the Democratic majority on the commission to fashion districts giving Democrats an edge in future elections. Republicans said the proposal was unconstitutional because population differences among the districts were too great.

Democrats on the commission acknowledged the plan gives Democratic candidates a better chance in some districts, but insisted it was legal." (emphasis added)
So let's sum it up.
-Although Republicans controlled the House, Senate and Governorship, the Montana Supreme Court slipped the Democrats a majority on the districting council.
-This council utilized the loose 5% deviation allowance to re-draw districts to favor Democratic candidates (and they admit this)
-Republicans passed legislation to force a greater amount of fairness into the decision making process by ensuring that district sizes are more balanced.
-Democratic approaches were deemed legal, and Republican responses were thrown out, all by the same court that appointed the 3rd Democrat to the Commission.
-That 3rd Democrat was the tie-breaking vote in each major decision.
-Two years later, in 2004, the Democrats make huge gains in Montana, picking up a majority in the Senate and removing the majority in the House.

So what's the point?

The legislature results of 2004 may just as well be the consequence of creative district drawing as a blue-shift in the state of Montana. That is even more compelling considering that more votes were cast for GOP candidates (Senate/House/Governor/US House/President) than for Democratic candidates.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Burns Numbers Soft

Matt Singer is posting soft numbers for the Burns camp. What's getting picked up is the 36% re-elect number which measures those who will definitely or very likely vote for him. Of course, these numbers are going to make state and national Democrats drool, but I think it's a bit too early for them to sharpen their tofu knives.

Given that there is no challenger, it shouldn't be surprising that people are hesitant to lock their votes down this early. There's no way to measure opportunity cost. Numbers like this won't mean anything until there's a Democrat's face on the other side of the ballot. I mean Marc Racicot could change parties and run for the Senate as a Democrat. Okay, maybe not, but you get the point.

And then, that Democrat has to deal with name recognition, incumbancy and seniority. Don't put the nail in the coffin yet. Remember, no one thought Bush would get re-elected based on early numbers either.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

MT04 Deconstructed - Part 3: Size Matters

It was actually the numbers in this post (DBLB) that got me thinking. While I don't know if the numbers indicate a conspiracy, they do show some pretty interesting things.

Central are the numbers from the above article. Although the House is split 50-50, the state wide numbers were Republicans 50.4%, Democrats 47.0%, Independents 2.7%. One might expect, therefore a 50-47-3 split in the House, although this does not happen because none of those Independents pulled enough votes to win anywhere.

In the Senate, there's a 27-23 advantage for the Democrats, and although only 25 seats were in play, the Democrats picked up a net six of them. The seats in play went down with a Democrat advantage 15-10. The state wide numbers do show a slight Democrat advantage: Republican 48.0%, Democrats 50.9%, Independents 1.1%. However with those numbers one would not expect the Democrats to win 15 seats and the Republicans to win only 10.

So what happened?

If you haven't guessed, it has a lot to do with the districting. Generally, Republican districts tend to be more rural while Democrat districts are more urban. Consequently, Democratic districts are smaller and more dense with people.

In 2004, though these districts were not the same population. Districts that Republicans won tended to have larger populations than districts that Democrats won. In the Senate, the average size of a District that went D was 8,276 voters. Districts that went R were 8,558 voters. In the House, though, the difference is much more profound. Districts that the Democrats won averaged 3,838 voters while the Republicans won districts that averaged a whopping 4,608 voters.

What do those numbers mean? It means that in districts where Democrats won, they won in a smaller pond. It means that smaller schools of fish were able to influence larger results. It means that Republicans were grouped together in fewer, larger groups than Democrats.

It means that Montana isn't necessarily a red state on the brink of turning blue.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

MT04 Deconstructed - Part 2: Layout

I love the game Risk. My buddies and I will play this game for 12 hours straight - usually with quite a bit of beer. We take it seriously. There has been blood drawn over that game. But after all, it is world domination.

Now, why did I bring that up? Oh yeah, maps. So here's the layout in the state. Here's how it looks for the 59th State Legislature. Yeah, the state looks awefully red, but don't be fooled. The more highly populated places - where the districts cover less area - are blue. So here's the layout:

Montana 59th Senate
Montana 59th Senate
Republican 23, Democrat 27

Montana 59th House of Representatives Montana 59th House
Republicans 50, Democrats 50


Friday, March 25, 2005

MT04 Deconstructed - Part 1: Freebies

If you're like me you're probably wondering what in the heck happened in Montana in November 2004. The state overwhelmingly voted for President Bush (59.07% Bush, 38.57% Kerry), re-elected Republican Rehberg and then elected a Democrat governor (50.44%). But most shockingly, for the first time in a long time, Republicans lost their majority in the House of Representatives by losing two seats to Democrats creating a grueling 50/50 split. The Senate, in which only 25 of 50 seats were vulnerable, was even more shocking. Republicans lost 6 seats and the majority. On November 1, Republicans controlled the Senate 29-21. After November 2 that control switched to the Democrats 27/23.

In an attempt to understand this remarkable election this blog will feature a multi-part deconstruction of the election, examining the votes in the state from a number of different angles. Who knows, maybe we'll find an explanation, and a lesson to learn.

The first think we'll talk about then, is Freebies. Using data (PDF) provided by the Secretary of State Brad Johnson, I identified Republicans and Democrats who ran unopposed (I don't count third parties as opposition, not because they are unimportant but because with only one exception, they were effectively non-entities).

Uncontested MT House Districts
Montana House of Representatives
Uncontested Districts (Blue = Democrats, Red = Republicans)

In the House, Democrats ran unopposed in 15 districts (15, 16, 21, 23, 24, 25, 40, 41, 42, 66, 73, 75, 76, 86, 93) while Republicans were unopposed in only 10 districts (9, 17, 30, 36, 37, 39, 45, 69, 72, 83). Right off the bat, that's a difference - based on districting - of 5 seats. Republicans lost 6.

Uncontested MT Senate Districts
Montana State Senate
Uncontested Districts (Blue = Democrats, Red = Republicans)

Keep in mind that there were only 25 districts which had Senators on the ballot. That said, Democrats ran unopposed in 6 districts (16, 21, 37, 38, 43, 47) and Republicans ran freely in only 3 (9, 34, 36). Off the bat, that's a 3-seat advantage for Democrats.

So what does this mean? I'm not saying that if the opposition had been on the ballot in these districts that they would have won. Odds are, these districts were unopposed because they are the strongholds for their respective parties. To run a competitive race in such districts would likely drain the party war chests, potentially at the expense of victories in other districts.

However, what it does show is that Republicans were at a significant structural disadvantage in 2004. This may be an artifact of the cycle which just happened to call Democratic strongholds in the same year, or it may be an artifact of the urbanization of Montana. In the maps, it looks like uncontested Republican districts have at least as much, if not more land mass. That's because many of the uncontested Democrat districts are in cities like Butte, Missoula or Great Falls and therefore more compact. Conversely, where there is a lot of dirt between light bulbs out in Eastern Montana, the GOP does well.

Solutions? I don't know. Maybe the State GOP should start working to build inroads into the blue-district strongholds. And maybe the best place to start is on the Indian Reservations, which common wisdom has surrendered to the left, but which anecdotal evidence I've seen and heard lately indicates that maybe - just maybe - the Indian Nations can be won over to the right.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Rascal Fair 1.3

Rascal Fair

The limerick's a low form of art
To write them you needn't be smart
But that's just too bad
You should still be glad
'Cause this Rascal Fair's about to start

The Goat's love of art has been stirred
High culture and low have been blurred
In Montana, you see
Our scare crows are unique
Because they are providing the bird.

One wonders if Marx had it right
That religion and the market are tight
Adam Smith would be proud
Hope the thunder's not loud
'Cause the lightning's gonna be quite a sight.

Sometimes power can came from silence
That remains unfettered with reliance
Some authors don't take stock
After they get blogger's block
But others come back with defiance

Over nine thousand words in this piece
But surprisingly not the least bit obese
The blog is borrowed
It's the best that she wrote
Thousand words a picture can decrease

Vital that of breakfast you partake
But you won't always have time for a steak
If you're in a hurry
Want food in a flurry
How about a nice sausage-pancake?

It may have taken a subject this sweet
To accomplished this laudable feat
It looks like on CAFTA
They'll vote like on NAFTA
And protect the Montana sugar beat

I don't mean to offend when I say
This post's all hot air (in a good way)
A commercial impasse
'Bout a dryer using gas
And the state of customer service today

If bloggers can keep media honest
Then Electric City passed it's first test
Some bias befalls
The Tribune of Great Falls?
Let the partisan reporters not rest!

Some draw a correlations with tax
And positive economic impacts
A shotgun graph shows
That's not how it goes
'Cause some who pay less live in shacks

It's only natural that we should react
Whenever the Bill of Rights is attacked
History has shown
The threat may be home
So let's all scrap the PATRIOT Act

Three blogs from Montana have been found
From their authors the Fair's heard not a sound
But another kind soul
Has plugged them all
So check them out if you see them around

Consider the Unitarian Jihadist tao
And pretend that cats write just for now
The content is clear
The truth will appear
The authors most likely say "meow"

I hope you've enjoyed this week's Fair
I'm sorry if the limericks were square
Did the best I was able
My own Aesop's Fable
Now you host Rascal Fair if you dare...