Charles Murray mischaracterizes the quality of the evidence on the effectiveness of early childhood programs. In doing so he suggests that my evidence is highly selective. The effects reported for the programs I discuss survive batteries of rigorous testing procedures. They are conducted by independent analysts who did not perform or design the original experiments. The fact that samples are small works against finding any effects for the programs, much less the statistically significant and substantial effects that have been found.
Murray questions whether any early childhood interventions can be effective because while some have worked, others have failed. His methodological stance is peculiar. In evaluating drugs to control blood pressure, we do not dwell on the failures except to learn from them. We should implement the successes. That is common sense and sound science. Perry and Abecedarian are rigorously evaluated, subjected to long-term follow-up scrutiny, and have shown high economic rates of return. Neal McCluskey’s claim that Perry is costly and has few benefits does not hold up. Perry’s high rate of return takes account of the program’s costs.
Murray misrepresents the evidence from the Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP) in an attempt to bolster his argument. IHDP was not a replication of Abecedarian, but rather an application of the Abecedarian model to a low–birth weight population—not the target population of Abecedarian. The designers of IHDP recognized in advance of collecting the data that severely low-weight children had medical needs not likely to be addressed by the Abecedarian curriculum. IHDP had substantial benefits for high–birth weight babies at ages of eight and eighteen. It was particularly effective for children from low-income families, and it promoted maternal employment.
The right interventions empower people to be what they want to be without forcing them to adopt one way of life over another.
In addition, the evaluations of IHDP (discussed by Murray) and Head Start (discussed by Almagor and McCluskey), do not account for David Deming’s point that many members of the control groups of those (and other) studies were enrolled in other early childhood programs, biasing downward simple treatment-control comparisons. (This is called “substitution bias” in the literature.) For these and other programs, there is the additional problem that treatment intensity varies among subjects. Adjusting for these biases boosts estimated program treatment effects. Also, Head Start is a very heterogeneous program and has not had any long-term follow-up, so evaluations of it are not comparable to those of Abecedarian and Perry...
In his first interview since losing the election, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wouldn’t admit that voters rejected his economic vision and instead chalked up President Obama’s victory to a large turnout of the “urban vote.” “I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare, we clearly didn’t lose it on those issues,” Ryan to local station WISC-TV. “I think the surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race.”
But Ryan’s post-election analysis contrasts sharply with his view of the race before Election Day. Throughout the campaign, Ryan — who was selected for the ticket because of his budget plan — insisted that the race presented voters with a “choice” between two different economic paths for the nation and repeatedly tried to sell the merits of his proposal on the stump. Republican lawmakers bragged that should the GOP ticket win, “they can justly claim a mandate” to push through Ryan’s initiatives...
So now it is unfair and unexpected for "urban" voters--that is, African- and Hispanic-Americans--to have turnout levels that are even within shouting distance of white Republican turnout levels?
Everybody who worked for, raised money for, or voted for this clown should be really ashamed of themselves.
War on Nate Silver Heeresgruppe B commander Josh Jordan has been under radio silence since Tuesday afternoon 3:23 PM EST. Pehaps Sam Wang's T-34s have conducted a deep-battle penetration raid and smashed the transmitters?...
The debate came... overnight Romney seemingly rid himself of the weaknesses that had been tacked on to him by over $100 million dollars in negative advertising... a dead heat... nationwide... worry built up among Democrats.... They began attaching their hopes to what BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith called “the bulwark against all-out Dem panic” — Nate Silver. Silver gained fame by correctly predicting 49 of 50 states in the 2008 election.... 2008 was a wave election... easy to foresee.... Silver’s access to the Obama administration’s internal polling gave him information that most other analysts never saw... increase[d] his accuracy.... Nate Silver is openly rooting for Obama... it shows in the way he forecasts....
On September 30, leading into the debates, Silver gave Obama an 85 percent chance.... Silver still gives Obama a 67 percent chance... has [not] observed the same movement to Romney... as everyone else.... Given the fact that an incumbent president is stuck at 47 percent nationwide, the odds might not be in Obama’s favor, and they certainly aren’t in his favor by a 67–33 margin.
In 1992 we Democrats on the eve of the election did not know what the frack was going on and knew we did not know. In 1996 we knew we were ahead in the week before the election. In 2000 and 2004 we knew we were behind and needed to get lucky. In 2008 we knew we were way ahead, and in 2012 we knew we were ahead.
But apparently all the Republicans had bought and drunk their own snake oil. The defining moment, perhaps, was Karl Rove's end-of-Trading-Places "turn the machines back on" moment as he lectured Fox News on how they could not call Ohio for Obama. It was followed by Megyn Kelly, Pat Caddell, Michael Barone, and company speculating about how Romney might well win the popular vote because he was still ahead by 100K before the Left Coast had come in.
A few hours earlier, across the street at the Convention Center, the campaign’s supporters and volunteers fully expected Romney to be the nation’s next president. Indeed, what was striking after Fox News called the race for Obama, at about 11:15 p.m., was how stunned so many of Romney’s supporters were. Many said they were influenced by the prominent conservatives who predicted a big Romney win, and they fully expected Tuesday night to be a victory celebration.
“I am shocked, I am blown away,” said Joe Sweeney, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I thought I had a pretty good pulse on this stuff. I thought there was a trend that was going on underground.” “We were so convinced that the people of this country had more common sense than that,” said Nan Strauch, of Hilton Head, South Carolina. “It was just a very big surprise. We felt so confident.” “It makes me wonder who my fellow citizens are,” said Marianne Doherty of Boston. “I’ve got to be honest, I feel like I’ve lost touch with what the identity of America is right now. I really do.”
Some Romney aides were surprised too, especially since they had put an enormous amount of effort into tracking the hour-by-hour whims of the electorate. In recent weeks the campaign came up with a super-secret, super-duper vote monitoring system that was dubbed Project Orca. The name “Orca,” after the whale, was apparently chosen to suggest that the project was bigger than anything any other campaign, including Barack Obama’s in 2008, had ever imagined. For the project, Romney aides gathered about 34,000 volunteers spread across the swing states to send in information about what was happening at the polls. “The project operates via a web-based app volunteers use to relay the most up-to-date poll information to a ‘national dashboard’ at the Boston headquarters,” said a campaign email on election eve. “From there, data will be interpreted and utilized to plan voter turnout tactics on Election Day.”
Orca, which was headquartered in a giant war room spread across the floor of the Boston Garden, turned out to be problematic at best. Early in the evening, one aide said that, as of 4 p.m., Orca still projected a Romney victory of somewhere between 290 and 300 electoral votes. Obviously that didn’t happen. Later, another aide said Orca had pretty much crashed in the heat of the action. “Somebody said Orca is lying on the beach with a harpoon in it,” said the aide.
The idea is supposed to be that people take and look at polls to see whether their ideas about fundamentals are correct, and to see if they understand the demographics and mechanics. Barone doesn't seem to have looked at any polls--save for Rasmussen.
Buce observes from Palookaville: Barone Admits He Was Wrong in his Prediction But Doesn't Have Any Idea Why:
Say this for Michael Barone: he is the only one (that I have noticed) of the "Obama will nail it" forces who has actually issued anything like a mea culpa. Here is is in the Washington Examiner:
I was wrong because the outcome of the election was not determined, as I thought it would be, by fundamentals. Some fundamentals, I thought, favored Obama. Americans like to think well of their presidents (and Obama’s approval ratings rose, slightly, over the fall) and many, perhaps most, Americans believe it would be a bad thing for Americans to be seen as rejecting the first black president.
On the other hand, most voters opposed Obama’s major policies and found unsatisfactory the sluggish economic recovery that seems to them to be the result—negative factors that seem to have been confirmed by responses to exit poll questions as they were by responses to poll questions for many months now. .... This is not, I think, a grand triumph for his ideas or ideology. It is a triumph for his campaign strategists.
What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics.
This is syntactically coherent, but once you give it a moment's thought, it's incoherent. Absent any empirical justification, one could just as well say, "I was right about the mechanics, but wrong about the fundamentals." Or more baldly: "gee, it looks like the voters' 'fundamentals' are not the same as my 'fundamentals,' and I didn't know that before."
Amidst these competing possibilities, how could we choose? To answer that question, we'd need some evidence, and I don't see Barone providing any. I suppose we could fall back on the fact that Barone is Mr. Ear-to-the-Ground, having spent his entire professional career as the accumulator and expositor of voting behavior data: Barone knows fundamentals,don't ask. But if this is true (i.e., so he must be "right on the fundamentals")--if this is true, why didn't he also know what was going on with the mechanics? Is there some kind of jurisdictional no-raiding pact that keeps a "fundamentals" guy from learning about "mechanics."
And you could go a step further. If Barone knew nothing about mechanics on Monday, how does he know so much about mechanics on Wednesday? Was there some great whoosh of empirical input that overwhelmed him on election day, like an untimely tropical storm?
Or further still. When Barone talks about "mechanics" he seems to mean stuff that most people describe as ""ground game"--discipline, organization, getting out the vote. Faithful observers (although apparently not Barone) have been reading/seeing/hearing for weeks that Democrats appeared to be pretty good at their ground game. But they have also been hearing that Republicans were working hard to gin up an onslaught of voter suppression. If logical consistency is the goal here, couldn't Barone just as well have said "gee, I guess Republicans were just not at good as I expected at voter suppression"? Actually, he might have been right on that one, but again--it would have required an inference that he just isn't as good a data man as would have us believe.
That throwaway about "demographics" I do not get at all. Best way I can read it, he's saying "I didn't know there were so many (young voters) (old voters) (Latino voters) (one-armed nuns with sailing-vessel tattoos)." But this "demographics stuff" is precisely what is supposed to be his stock in trade.
Scott Rasmussen tries to explain why his polls were terrible. I’m reading this over and over again but I keep missing the sentence that reads “My polls suck because I’m a partisan hack who values creating a narrative that favors Republicans over accuracy.”
Indeed. Scott Rasmussen says a +3% pro-Romney house effect relative to the pollster average--a house effect that has no foundation in the data--is no biggie:
In general, the projections were pretty good. The two differences I noted were share of white vote falling to 72 percent. That’s what the Obama campaign, to their credit, said all along. We showed it just over 73 percent. Also, youth turnout higher and senior turnout lower than expected. That’s a pretty big deal given the size of the generation gap. I think it showed clearly that the Obama team had a great game plan for identifying their vote and getting it to the polls....
The reality is that there were eight toss-up states. Some people projected Romney would do a couple of points better than the polls and sweep those states. Instead, it was Obama who did a bit better and swept them. I look at the campaign as about fundamentals. Obama job approval on Election Day was 50 percent. That meant there was a good chance he would get 50 percent of the vote. Also, 36 percent said their finances were in good shape. Up from 35 percent the day Obama took office. In other words, the fundamentals were just good enough for the president to keep his job.