James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

October 20, 2008

2004 Results

Filed under: Politics — James @ 4:45 pm

I spent a while this weekend trying to find a record of the order that states were called in on election night in the 2004. I finally found a table of NBCs predictions, but it really didn’t have a lot of impact as a big chunk of text. Since I’ve been looking for an excuse to practice Perl (and as a completely unintended consequence put off homework) I set out to make a movie. In hindsight, counting all the time I spent debugging my own code, it would have been faster to produce each frame by hand…

Note that Kerry conceded and Bush was declared the winner at around 11:30 the next morning when the video stops. At that time the winners in four states remained unknown. (Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and New Hampshire.) 

I figure this movie will be useful to give one a sense of how well Obama is doing relative to how Kerry was doing throughout election night. Because the news anchors are going to avoid telling their audiences that it’s in the bag for one candidate or the other. They’ve got two reasons to avoid stating the obvious, to keep viewers tuned in (bad), and to avoid depressing voter turnout in western states (good). 

I’m serious. Read this. So if you’re on the west coast and you see Virginia called for Obama, you’ll know to pop open the champagne (or drown your sorrows if you’re pulling for McCain), but either way you should still get out and vote.

My favorite quote from that story: “We can’t be in the business of pretending to be stupid.” – Paul Friedman, CBS News senior vice president.

Other things to note:


  • The first four states were called when their polls closed at 7 pm eastern time (that’s an hour later than polls were scheduled to close in Indiana and Kentucky, but they were delayed because people were still lining up to vote).
  • If Indiana isn’t called right when the polls close, it means Obama has kept close, or potentially even won, a state that Bush carried by 21% four years ago.
  • North Carolina was called at 8:20 for Bush and Virginia at 8:40. These will be the first states “red” states where Obama has a lead in current polling.
  • There were only two things that were really going to change the outcome of the 2004 election, if Kerry won either Ohio or Florida.
  • In 2004 NBC called Florida for Bush at 12:27 am EST and Ohio at 1 am. After that it was all over but the shouting.
  • Obama needs 18 more electoral votes than the states Kerry won, but right now he’s polling ahead in nine states Bush won with a total of 112 electoral votes. From East to West: Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada


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