Life’s getting too complicated



This FT story caught my eye:

There has also been a surge of early voting, with almost 53m Americans having already cast their ballot either by mail or in-person, according to the US Elections Project.

In Texas, almost 6.4m voters have cast their ballots, equivalent to more than 70 per cent of the total number of votes cast in 2016.

And there’s still 10 days until the election! So can we assume that 80% or 90% of Texans will have already voted before November 3rd? What does that mean?

I used to focus on the polls released the day before the election. Do we now need to take the integral of the poll gap for the entire month preceding an election?

Even that’s not enough, as the undecided voters might be more inclined to wait to the last minute. Or maybe not. The debates are all over; why not just decide now, and get it over with? I already voted.

And we need to figure out which party is helped by mail-in votes. It seems that more Dems vote by mail, but who does that help? Does it help the Dems because it boosts turnout? Or hurt them because a few percent of ballots are declared void due to some problem? (Such as not being signed.) I have no idea.

Usually, when people say, “Be realistic, it’s over”, they mean it figuratively but not literally. I.e., it’s not literally over, but we know who will win. In Texas you might say, “It’s over” and mean it literally but not figuratively. The votes have been cast, but we don’t know who has already won.

Maybe I’m getting old, but I have trouble wrapping my mind around this new reality. I can’t shake the notion that “Election day” on November 3rd is an important day, even though apparently it is not. It’s a day when we’ll discover something important that happened weeks ago.

PS. Two months ago, we knew with 100% certainty that the Trump people would release a sketchy Biden “scandal” a week or two before the election. When it actually happens, Bayesians will not update their view of Biden at all, as it’s not “new information.” It’s not that Bayesians ignore the information—they already knew about it.

Bayesians knew that if Trump supporters actually had something, they’d release it two months early and hammer Biden relentless over the two months before Election day. If it were a phony story, they’d release it two weeks early and hope there wasn’t enough time to discredit the story before Election day.