Obama 304
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Ties 9
Romney 225
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Dem 50
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Ties 2
GOP 48
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  • Strongly Dem (216)
  • Likely Dem (58)
  • Barely Dem (30)
  • Exactly tied (9)
  • Barely GOP (44)
  • Likely GOP (51)
  • Strongly GOP (130)
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News from the Votemaster

McConnell Lists Top Senate Races

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who will become the majority leader if the Republicans capture the Senate, has listed the Senate races he is most interested in. For him, the top races are the open seats in North Dakota and Virginia as well as the Missouri and Montana races, where Democrats Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester are defending seats they narrowly won in 2006. The next tier consists of Ohio, where Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is defending his seat as well as the open seats in Wisconsin, New Mexico and Hawaii. His third tier includes Florida, Maine, and Pennsylvania.

Globalization and Politics

I wasn't going to bore everyone with the backstory on the new design, but on second thought I think it offers some insight into politics, so here goes.

After nearly 8 years, the design I hacked together in a couple of hours in 2004 and modified only a bit since then was showing its age, so I decided to get a new one. Not being a graphical designer, I looked around the Web and discovered the site 99designs.com. It works like this. The customer (me) writes brief saying what he wants designed, such as a Website, logo, business card, letterhead paper, poster, or anything else and how much he is willing to pay for it. The job is then displayed to the site's hundreds of thousands of freelancers and anyone who wants to compete for the prize can post a design for the customer to inspect. The customer can interact with each designer and ask for changes as well as pass out praise or complaints. After a week, the customer selects a winner, who then gets paid. 99designs gets a small cut and the losers get nothing for their efforts. I had over a dozen entries and, after consulting with a number of other people, chose the current design. My designer lives in the Philippines, but I didn't know where anyone lived during the contest.

Four hours before the contest ended, a new designer submitted a design. I didn't like it and said it was a pity he was so late because there was no time left for me to work with him to improve it, as I had done with all the others. 99designs strongly encourages its customers to work with the designers to have everyone make the best possible design. They want happy customers, naturally.

The guy I rejected was furious, called me an idiot, and some other nasty things. I can take the heat but I was totally surprised. I wanted to get a new design and went to a site that offered the services of many graphical designers and played by their rules. Why was I an idiot? We exchanged messages for a while, but each one was meaner and more vitriolic than the one before. I genuinely didn't understand. Other losing candidates just dropped out or sometimes sent a message saying they hoped to work on one of my future projects.

Out of curiosity, I looked up what a middle-class person in the Philippines earns per month. What I found was that a teacher or police officer makes about $300/mo. It began to dawn on me slowly why this guy was so angry. For the designer in the Philippines, he could put in 2-3 days work and have a 10% chance of getting $1500, which was five months salary. If he entered 15 contests, he'd have about an 80% chance of winning five months' salary. And he could work from home and have no expenses. This probably made economic sense for him.

For the American designer who was so angry, 99designs was eating his lunch. This idea, dreamed up by a couple of Aussies who formed the company, suddenly forced him to compete with people in third-world countries with wages 1/10th of what he needed to survive. The Australian company had made it easy for a design customer to go global without even knowing it, much to the detriment of American designers who were used to much higher fees. That is why he called them rank amateurs and said I was stupid to use such low-grade talent. Maybe I am not a great judge of graphical design, but a number of the submissions looked fine to me.

Then it got worse. The designer is expected to produce a Photoshop file with hundreds of layers separating each graphical element in a separate layer so it can be linked to. So I asked my manager at 99designs for a couple of companies that could build the style sheet and HTML from the Photoshop file. She immediately gave me links to two companies she said did good work. I asked them for bids. Company A bid $216 and promised 48 hour delivery. Company B wanted $63/hour and thought it would take 25 hours, but gave no promises about how long it would really take or when it would be finished. I went with company A. It delivered everything as promised in 48 hours.

I now believe company A is in Russia and company B is in the U.S. Again, I had unknowingly outsourced work to a low-wage country. Had I known this, I might have at least tried to get company B to come down in price, but I didn't know.

Now think of the situation of workers whose jobs in manufacturing have been shipped to China or some maquiladora 20 miles south of San Diego. Or graphical designers who have to compete with people in Asia. Or programmers who have to compete with people in India or Eastern Europe. These changes have upended their lives and they are naturally very angry and probably don't know who to blame. Probably whoever is in power now is a likely target though. Thus many voters are sympathetic to Mitt Romney's claims that he can somehow create jobs, even though his work at Bain Capital destroyed more jobs than it created and when he was governor of Massachusetts, the state ranked 47th in the nation in job creation. But when people realize that the system is not working for them any more, they are open to anyone who offers a glimmer of hope. Not that Romney has any plans at all to reverse globalization, but people hurt by globalization are often desperate. Of course there are also "winners," like people working at companies whose products sell worldwide, from Coca Cola to Disney to Microsoft to Boeing, but that is of little help to the "losers."

Perhaps a bit long, but this whole procedure gave me some insight into why some people are very angry with the direction things are going and why they feel they have no control over their lives any more.

Cell-Phone-Only Voters are Very Different

Marist College, which is doing a lot of polling this cycle, has an interesting article out on the difference between polling on cell phones and polling on landlines. In Florida, for example, Romney is +3% on landline voters but Obama is +23% with cell phone voters. That's a 26% difference. Same story in Virginia and similar stories in other states. A lot of that has to do with demographics. Cell-phone-only voters are much younger than landline voters and younger voters skew heavily Democratic. Their bottom line is that pollsters absolutely have to call cell phones to get a representative sample.

Clear Your Cache!

Quite a few people said they were getting a strange layout with the new design. In 99% of the cases, this is due to the browser's cache having some current files and some outdated ones. If you get a weird layout, the first thing to do is clear your cache completely. Usually there is a menu item for this, but for many browsers CTRL + F5 forces a full reload of the page.

Correction on Natural-Born Citizens

Several people pointed out that the law on foreign births prior to 1986 was different from the current one. It was a bit complicated between 1795 and 1986, See this article for more on the subject. Sorry for the confusion.

Also several people thought that the rule of automatic citizenship by being born on U.S. soil is in the constitution proper. It is not. It was introduced in the 14th amendment to prevent Southern states from denying citizenship to the newly freed slaves born on U.S. soil. Here is an article about that amendment.

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

May30 Romney's the One
May30 Runoff Required in Texas Senatorial Primary
May30 Today's Polls
May30 Relaunch of This Site Yesterday
May29 App for iPhone and iPad Available
May29 New Design Launched Today
May29 Texas Primary Is Today
May23 Romney Wins Kentucky and Arkansas Primaries
May23 Obama Also Has Trouble Unifying His Party
May23 Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage Collapses
May23 Thanks to All the Beta Testers
May22 Arkansas and Kentucky Hold Primaries Today
May22 Obama and Cory Booker Continue to Squabble
May22 Hawaii Pushing Back on the Arizona Secretary of State's Request for Obama's Birth Certificate
May22 A Few Good Testers Needed for the New Website
May16 Fischer Upsets Bruning in Nebraska Senatorial Primary
May16 Romney, now unopposed, Wins Oregon and Nebraska Primaries
May16 Pollsters See Response Rates Tumble
May16 Redesign of this Site Progressing
May15 Ron Paul Suspends His Campaign
May15 Primaries Today in Nebraska and Oregon
May15 Obama Starts Getting Nasty
May10 Obama Supports Same-Sex Marriage
May09 Redesign of This Site to be Launched Soon
May09 Tea Party Candidate Crushes Lugar in Indiana Senate Primary
May09 Barrett Wins Democratic Gubernatorial Primary for Wisconsin Recall Election
May09 North Carolina Voters Ban Same-Sex Marriages Again
May09 Romney Wins in Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia
May08 Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia Vote Today
May08 Key Senate Primary Today in Indiana
May08 North Carolina Votes on Gay Marriage and Civil Unions Today
May08 Obama's Reelection Campaign Begins with 5 million ad buy in Swing States
May03 Gingrich Quits--Really
May03 Initial Analysis of the Presidential General Election
Apr28 Sarah Palin Endorses Richard Mourdock, for Senate in Indiana
Apr28 Sarah Palin Endorses Richard Mourdock for Senate in Indiana
Apr25 Romney Sweeps all Five Northeast Primaries
Apr25 Tom Smith Wins Pennsylvania GOP Senatorial Primary
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Apr25 Romney Sweeps all Five Northeast Primaries
Apr25 Tom Smith Wins Pennsylvania GOP Senatorial Primary
Apr25 Critz Defeats Altmire in Pennsylvania Democratic House Primary
Apr16 Three Republican Senate Seats Up for Grabs
Apr11 Santorum Quits Race
Apr10 Competitive Races for Democratic Senate Seats
Apr04 Romney Wins a Tripleheader
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