Monday, March 16, 2015

ACA Support "All Time High" with Changes Wanted

Views of the ACA Now Reps Dems Inds
Working well, keep as is 6% 1% 14% 5%
Good things, but changes needed 60% 41% 73% 61%
Needs to be repealed entirely 32% 56% 13% 32%
In the five years since it's passage, polling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still remarkably consistent. The above table of a CBS poll of 1,006 Americans taken in February says that only 6% of the US public like the ACA as it is, including 1% of Republicans. While in the same poll 44% overall support the ACA while 52% say they are against. It would be helpful to cross tabulate the approval question with the one above to see how those who want changes approve vs how many who want changes disapprove. Another poll from Reuter's/Ipsos of 2,348 Americans on the ACA asks them about their opinions of its various provisions. Overall, each provision is popular with at least a 70% approval except for the individual mandate at 44%. The pattern is similar for Republicans and Independents with at least 60% approval for each provision except the individual mandate at 26% for Republicans and 40% for Independents. The table below from the Reuters/Ipsos poll does not mention single payer but it does ask respondents about which approach would to healthcare reform that they would favor.
When you think about healthcare reform in the United States, which of the following solutions comes closest to your opinion?
Total Dem Rep Ind
The Government should be the sole provider of healthcare insurance
12% 19% 6% 12%
The Government should have a major role in providing healthcare insurance
21% 35% 9% 14%
The Government should have a limited role in providing healthcare insurance
28% 20% 42% 32%
Only private companies should provide healthcare insurance 14% 6% 27% 15%
Unsure 25% 20% 15% 27%
Looking at the above table it may seem that only 33% of the US public believe that the US Government should be the sole provider or have a major role in providing health insurance. The problem here is the wording of the question. The words major, limited, and sole provider have ambiguous meanings which can be interpreted differently by different people. What is a major role for some US may be considered a limited role for many in Canada, Great Britain, and the many other countries with universal countries and vice versa for other groups. If one combines those who support sole government providership with those who support a major and a limited role for government, 61% of the public supports such an approach. Broken down by political party, 57% of Republicans, (6% for sole provider + 9% major + 42% minor), 58% of Independents, and 74% of Democrats support such an approach. This formulation is more consistent with an AP/Yahoo poll question which is more concisely worded seen below: Which comes closest to your view? 34% - The United States should continue the current health insurance system in which most people get their health insurance from private employers, but some people have no insurance 65% - The United States should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers 2% - Refused / Not Answered The challenge for the single payer movement is to show a skeptical public how it can make the necessary changes for healthcare in the face of propaganda determined to stifle sensible reform.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dissecting "Lies and The Lying Liars Who Tell Them" (From the American Family Association)

Listening to all the debate on whether Fox anchor Bill O'Reilly lied about his claims of being in a war zone in Argentina and the Falklands reminded me of how Al Franken (then a comedian now a US Senator from Minnesota) in 2003 wrote a book Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell them: A Fair and Balanced Look at The Right.  In that book he used statistics and fact checking to debunk a lot of the claims of the right as in the clip above.  If Fox News really cared about the truth they would've canned O'Reilly years ago.

Last year, I used this method to investigate claims about the above map from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that California was a hotbed of hate groups by adjusting the number of groups in each state with the population in each state and a different pattern emerged.  One of the groups named in the above map is the Anti Gay Evangelical American Family Association (AFA) who has responded by creating the below anti Christian "Bigotry Map" of groups that are against their agenda (including SPLC).

At first glance, the two maps may look similar.  A much greater concentration of groups is seen in the east rather than the west with some increased clustering on the west coast and it is interactive.  The most glaring difference is that the SPLC map has numbers listed of the types of groups exist nationwide and their website provides the counts of groups in each state which allows for someone like me to double check.  The AFA map by comparison does not provide numbers.  When one goes to the interactive version we see that many of these groups are atheist, secular, LGBT, and hate group monitors like the SPLC.  I don't have the time to go through each state and count the number of groups to find out which state has the highest concentration of "bigots."  

Looking at my home state, Pennsylvania, I counted a grand total of four groups of "bigots" as opposed to 41 hate groups there.  These four groups are the Freedom From Religion Foundation in State College (an Anti Christian Group), the Pennsylvania Nonbelievers in York, PA (Atheist Group), GLSEN Pittsburgh (an LGBT group), and Americans United in Yardley, PA.  Dividing by the population of PA (12.7 million) that gives a rate of 0.31 groups of "bigots" per million and a rate of 3.21 hate groups per million.  The size of the icons on the map makes them seem a lot more numerous than they really are.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Post Inspiration from Facebook, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert.

Inspiration for a post can come from anyplace for me: a discussion, a news story, or anything else that seems worth investigating.  I posted the above photo on a more conservative Facebook friend's page. A lively debate on exactly what percentage of climate scientists believe in the evidence supporting climate change.  

Another place I often draw on for inspiration is Comedy Central's The Daily Show and the now defunct Colbert Report (it's replacement, Larry Wilmore has potential and may be a future source).  Stewart had originally studied science when he was an undergrad at William and Mary.  He was able to employ the critical thinking skills gained from science in his method of hosting the show and in choosing a wide variety of guests not seen on commercial television. 

Out of 230 posts on this blog, a keyword search turned up 31 post for The Daily Show.  A simple search for Colbert turned up an additional 32 posts.  Granted there is some overlap in the posts between the two shows.  There are nine posts where both Colbert and Stewart appear.  Subtracting that nine that leaves 54 posts where either Stewart or Colbert appear (31 for Stewart plus 32 for Colbert minus 9 for posts where both appear).  Dividing the 53 posts by the total of 230 on this page, that means either of that these two shows appear in 23% of the posts on this page.

It may be time for these two shows to move on but it's important to acknowledge the contributions that these man have made to this blog.  They have provided valuable insights which greatly supported this blog.  This is our moment of Zen.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Deflating Super Bowl Dynasties

Much has been made of "Deflategate." Will Bill Belichick get his comeuppance?  Will Gisele Bundchen leave Tom Brady over deflated footballs?  Will Aaron Hernandez spill the beans to make a deal to save himself from a life sentence (Massachusetts has no death penalty)?  Did Bill Belichick put LeGarrette Blount up to walking off the field when he was with the Steelers so he could be picked up at a bargain basement price.

Seattle may be the sentimental favorite now but their coach Pete Carroll did, after leading USC to a national championship, abandon them for Seattle right before the program was put on probation by the NCAA for recruiting violations.  If Seattle wins there will be talk of a dynasty and the possibility of a three peat.  They have the 7th youngest team in the league in average age at 25.65 years while the Patriots have the 11th youngest at 25.76 years (the Raiders have the oldest at 27 years while the Rams have the youngest at 25.09).  The Patriots may be a waning dynasty with six Super Bowl appearances in the last 13 years and winning 3 in four years from 2001-2004.  The Patriots missed their bid for a three peat with a loss to the Broncos in the divisional playoffs in 2005 which is the last team to have a three peat chance.  There have been other teams that have come close to a three peat in the Super Bowl but none have made it.

Green Bay The last team to win three straight championships ('65, '66 Super Bowl I, and '67 Super Bowl II) but the Super Bowl did not exist in 1965 as it did in '66 and '67, bummer.  Lombardi quit in 1967 and they would not get back to the Super Bowl until 1996 (Super Bowl XXXI).








Miami Dolphins They were the first team to appear in the Super Bowl three years in a row (Super Bowls VI, VII, and VIII) winning the last two.  They missed their bid for a third straight title losing in the 1974 divisional playoffs to the Oakland Raiders.  That game was called Super Bowl VIII & 1/2 but the Raiders lost the AFC championship game to the next team on this list.




Pittsburgh Steelers After beating Oakland in the AFC championship game in '74 and '75 (in '75 the Raiders accused the Steelers of turning the field in Three Rivers Stadium into an ice field) they went on to win Super Bowls XI and X.  The '76 season was one of the Steel Curtain defenses best (and the best of all time) recording five shutouts and allowing an average of 9.86 points per game.  The Raiders finally had their revenge however in the AFC championship defeating them 24-7 (partially to the use of stick em on their hands and Franco Harris being hurt).  After winning their fourth super bowl in 1979 they went 9-7 in 1980 and missed the playoffs.  It would be ten years before another team would get a chance to three peat and that is...



San Francisco 49ers After winning the a thrilling Super Bowl XXIII against the Cincinnati Bengals and a boring Super Bowl XXIV against the Denver Broncos, the 49ers went 14-2 under Joe Montana and Jerry Rice but lost in the NFC championship to the New York Giants on a last second field goal.  The Giants would go on to defeat the Buffalo Bills in a thrilling Super Bowl XXV.  The 49ers would soon replace Montana with Steve Young as the quarterback.  They would lose to the next team on this list in the NFC championship in the next two years.



Dallas Cowboys After trouncing the Bills in two straight super bowls by a combined score of 82-30, coach Jimmy Johnson left after a blow up with owner Jerry Jones.  He would be replaced by former Oklahoma Sooners coach Barry Switzer who led them to the NFC title game against Steve Young and the 49ers.  The 49ers built a 31-14 halftime lead.  The Cowbows rallied in the second half but came up short 38-28.  They would become the first team to win 3 in four years the next year against the Steelers.

Denver would become the next team to win the super bowl two years (ending a 13 year drought by the AFC) in a row but John Elway would retire after the second and the Broncos did not make the playoffs.  The difficulty in three peating may be a reflection of the parity in the NFL.  Over the same period (1966-2015) two teams have won the Stanley Cup four years in a row (Montreal and the New York Islanders), the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers have won the NBA title three years in a row on two occasions and one respectively all under coach Phil Jackson, and the Oakland A's and New York Yankees have won the World Series three years in a row over this period.  This suggests less parity in these leagues than the NFL.  Does more parity lead to a greater desire to cheat to get ahead of the competition?

**Update**

Bill Nye the science guy has his funny take on deflategate, global warming, and who he would like to see win.



The Patriots won on a thrilling last second interception so the Seahawks hopes of a dynasty are deflated, for now at least.  Cheer up Bill Nye you still have science. 


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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Houston, TX: A Hotbed of Conservative Facebook Activity?

If one clicks on the number of likes for a Facebook page one will see statistics for that page: the number talking about the page, the total number of likes, and the number of new page likes.  Below are statistics obtained from the desktop version of Sarah Palin's page (the one where she started the death panels hysteria in 2009 and where she recently received flak from PETA for posting a picture of her son standing on his service dog).  


251,215 People Talking About This
4,494,947 Total Page Likes up 0.3% from last week
12,422 New Page Likes down 20% from last week
The light blue line is last week and the dark blue is this week



If one clicks on the number of likes on the mobile version of Facebook, different statistics appear: the number of likes, the most popular city, and the most popular age group for that page.  I looked at the statistics on her mobile Facebook page and saw 4.4 million likes, Houston, TX as the most popular city, and 45-54 as the most popular age group.  I then looked at the page of NRA board member and singer Ted Nugent (who has called President Obama a subhuman mongrel) and the most popular city was again Houston, TX.  Houston, TX was again the most popular city for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.  

To see if there was a clear pattern in the most popular cities for the  I surveyed the Facebook pages of 17 liberal pundits and 17 conservative pundits on the online Facebook pages.  They were included in the analysis if they have a verified page, either have a show or are a regular guest on political talk shows, and regularly give their opinions.  The full list can be seen at the bottom.  Please feel free to comment if I missed any important pundits.

For the conservatives 10 out of the 17 have Houston as their most popular city while 11 out of the 17 liberals have New York City as the most popular.  There were two conservatives who had New York as the most popular, Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage.  All ten who had Houston as most popular were conservative.  This contrast was significant with p less than 0.001 by Fisher's exact test.


Houston or NY Most Popular City? * Conservative Crosstabulation
Count 

Conservative
Total
No
Yes
Houston or NY Most Popular City?
Neither
6
5
11
Houston, TX
0
10
10
New York, NY
11
2
13
Total
17
17
34
  

New York preferring liberal pundits makes sense because it is heavily democratic, many of them broadcast from there, and it it the most populous city in the US with 8 million inhabitants.  Houston is the most populous city in Texas with 2 million inhabitants and a democratic mayor.  Ron Paul represented the Houston area in Congress but his most popular city is Los Angeles.  The only Houston conservative with ties to the area is Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (he grew up there).


The pundits who listed either New York or Houston as the most popular city had significantly more followers than the other pundits according to the ANOVA.  There was no significant difference between New York and Houston due to high variability.   There was no significant difference in the median age group between conservative and city.  

The predominance of Houston among conservative pundits may be explained by the use of trolling bots to inflate the web statistics.  Newt Gingrich used when he ran for President in 2012 used bots to inflate his twitter followers.  Six of the ten Houston pundits have the age group 45-54.  Five of the thirteen New York pundits have 25-34 as the most popular age group while another five of the 13 have 55-64 as the most popular age group.  New York Pundits Michael Savage has 45-54 as the most popular age while Bill O'Reilly has 55-64.





pundit
Houston or NY Most Popular City?
Followers
Most Popular Age Group
Most Popular City
Conservative
No
1
Bill Maher
New York, NY
2700000
25-34 yrs
NY, NY
2
Bill Moyers
New York, NY
543000
45-54 yrs
NY, NY
3
Ronan Farrow
New York, NY
14544
55-64 yrs
NY, NY
4
Noam Chomsky
Neither
1000000
25-34 yrs
London, UK
5
Michael Moore
Neither
1200000
25-34 yrs
LA, CA
6
New York, NY
4700000
25-34 yrs
NY, NY
7
Rachel Maddow
New York, NY
1400000
25-34 yrs
NY, NY
8
New York, NY
3600000
25-34 yrs
NY, NY
9
Chris Hayes
New York, NY
45317
55-64 yrs
NY, NY
10
John Fugelsang
Neither
74202
45-54 yrs
LA, CA
11
Bill Press
Neither
26790
55-64 yrs
Chicago, IL
12
Ralph Nader
New York, NY
53048
25-34 yrs
NY, NY
13
Jennifer Granholm
Neither
44568
25-34 yrs
Detroit, MI
14
Lawrence O'Donnell
Neither
275000
55-64 yrs
LA, CA
15
Chris Matthews
New York, NY
286000
55-64 yrs
NY, NY
16
Ed Schultz
New York, NY
244000
55-64 yrs
NY, NY
17
Al Sharpton
New York, NY
423000
35-44 yrs
NY, NY
Total
N
17
17
17
17
17
Yes
1
Houston, TX
2300000
45-54 yrs
Houston, TX
2
New York, NY
100000
45-54 yrs
NY, NY
3
Houston, TX
4494947
45-54 yrs
Houston, TX
4
Houston, TX
1800000
45-54 yrs
Houston, TX
5
Houston, TX
1900000
45-54 yrs
Houston, TX
6
Bill O'Reilly
New York, NY
1400000
55-64 yrs
NY, NY
7
Megyn Kelly
Houston, TX
666000
45-54 yrs
Houston, TX
8
Glenn Beck
Houston, TX
3200000
45-54 yrs
Houston, TX
9
Houston, TX
1100000
65+ yrs
Houston, TX
10
Mike Huckabee
Houston, TX
1600000
65+ yrs
Houston, TX
11
Rick Santorum
Neither
263000
45-54 yrs
Indianapolis IN
12
Ben Carson
Houston, TX
1100000
25-34 yrs
Houston, TX
13
Ron Paul
Neither
1300000
25-34 yrs
LA, CA
14
Rand Paul
Houston, TX
1800000
65+ yrs
Houston, TX
15
Newt Gingrich
Neither
418000
65+ yrs
Atlanta, GA
16
John McCain
Neither
926000
19-24 yrs
Kylv, Ukraine
17
Lindsey Graham
Neither
94451
65+ yrs
Columbia, SC
Total
N
17
17
17
17
17
Total
N
34
34
34
34
34


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