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Friday, November 7, 2008

Sunday Night Football Flex Scheduling Watch: Week 9

NBC's Sunday Night Football package gives it flexible scheduling. For the last seven weeks of the season, the games are determined on 12-day notice, 6-day notice for Week 17.

The first year, no game was listed in the Sunday Night slot, only a notation that one game could move there. Now, NBC lists the game it "tentatively" schedules for each night. However, the NFL is in charge of moving games to prime time.

Here are the rules from the NFL web site (note that this was written with last season in mind):
  • Begins Sunday of Week 11
  • In effect during Weeks 11-17
  • Only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window.
  • The game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night during flex weeks will be listed at 8:15 p.m. ET. (Note: Last year, NBC listed a tentative game for Week 17; they are not doing so this year.)
  • The majority of games on Sundays will be listed at 1:00 p.m. ET during flex weeks except for games played in Pacific or Mountain Time zones which will be listed at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • No impact on Thursday, Saturday or Monday night games.
  • The NFL will decide (after consultation with CBS, FOX, NBC) and announce as early as possible the game being played at 8:15 p.m. ET. The announcement will come no later than 12 days prior to the game. The NFL may also announce games moving to 4:05 p.m. ET and 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • Week 17 start time changes could be decided on 6 days notice to ensure a game with playoff implications.
  • The NBC Sunday night time slot in "flex" weeks will list the game that has been tentatively scheduled for Sunday night. (Note: Again, excluding Week 17.)
  • Fans and ticket holders must be aware that NFL games in flex weeks are subject to change 12 days in advance (6 days in Week 17) and should plan accordingly.
  • NFL schedules all games.
  • Teams will be informed as soon as they are no longer under consideration or eligible for a move to Sunday night.
  • Rules NOT listed on NFL web site but pertinent to flex schedule selection: CBS and Fox each protect games in five out of six weeks, and could not protect any games Week 17 last year. Unless I find out otherwise, I'm assuming that's still the case this year, especially with no tentative game listed Week 17, and that protections were scheduled after Week 4.
  • Three teams can appear a maximum of six games in primetime on NBC, ESPN or NFL Network (everyone else gets five) and no team may appear more than four times on NBC. A list of all teams' number of appearances is in my Week 4 post.
Here are the current tentatively-scheduled games and my predictions:

Week 11 (November 16):
  • Selected game: Dallas @ Washington.
Week 12 (November 23):
  • Tentative game: Indianapolis @ San Diego
  • Prospects: A .500 team against a 3-5 team on a losing streak. NBC probably didn't anticipate the decision to flex this game out looking this obvious.
  • Likely protections: Eagles-Ravens (Fox) and Jets-Titans (CBS).
  • Other possible games: Panthers-Falcons is certainly looking better than Colts-Chargers, and the Falcons have shot up to 9th in's Power Rankings. Giants-Cardinals, however, may be stronger overall. Patriots-Dolphins still could be considered in it, but it basically needs the above four teams to all lose.
  • Prediction: A Cardinals win on Monday night would really help their chances, but the late date of that game means the other games are more important. The Giants beating the Eagles on Sunday night might actualy give NBC and the league pause as the Cardinals game could start looking slightly lopsided. However, the game's in-division importance for the Cardinals should offset that. That means the Panthers and the Falcons need to win as well. Basically, if the Giants win Giants-Cardinals is probably in, and the Panthers and Falcons would both need to win to force NBC and the NFL to at least consider waiting for Monday Night. If the Giants lose, and the Panthers and Falcons both win, the Panthers and Falcons take it for sure, and if all three lose it's Giants-Cardinals, but if the Giants lose and the other two split the pick could depend on a number of factors. If the split is the Falcons winning and the Panthers losing, though, I like Panthers-Falcons' chances.
Week 13 (November 30):
  • Tentative game: Chicago @ Minnesota
  • Prospects: 5-3 v. 4-4, Chicago is in the top 10 in's latest power rankings, and a big game with big NFC North implications. Could start looking like a possibility to keep its spot, but if the Bears look like they will lose Kyle Orton for a while and look flat against the Titans and Packers it becomes a flex-out risk again.
  • Likely protections: Giants-Redskins (Fox) and either Steelers-Patriots or Broncos-Jets (CBS).
  • Other possible games: It's Thanksgiving Weekend, so more teams like the Cowboys and Titans aren't available. Panthers-Packers might be in trouble. On the off chance Steelers-Patriots isn't protected it certainly looks good, but could be vulnerable. If it is, Broncos-Jets is no longer much of a draw. Falcons-Chargers is probably out. Saints-Bucs has probably passed it.
Week 14 (December 7):
  • Tentative game: New England @ Seattle
  • Prospects: The Seahawks are just too terrible for this game to keep its spot.
  • Likely protections: Cowboys-Steelers (FOX) and if anything, Jags-Bears (CBS).
  • Other possible games: Redskins-Ravens has a chance to still be alive, so the Eagles and Giants shouldn't change those tickets yet. Jags-Bears is a very dark horse if it's unprotected, but Falcons-Saints is probably stronger.
Week 15 (December 14):
  • Tentative game: NY Giants @ Dallas
  • Prospects: This is why I had Fox protect Bears-Packers Week 11: so they could leave this week protection-free and maximize their chances of getting a marquee NFC East matchup back. And this game might be alive again. A lot depends on what the Cowboys do with Tony Romo back.
  • Likely protections: Steelers-Ravens, Broncos-Panthers, Bills-Jets, or nothing (CBS).
  • Other possible games: Packers-Jaguars might be out, but Bucs-Falcons is improving. Steelers-Ravens is the best of the potentially protected games, while Broncos-Panthers may have dodged a huge bullet Thursday night. If things break right, Vikings-Cardinals is a dark horse.
Week 16 (December 21):
  • Tentative game: San Diego @ Tampa Bay
  • Prospects: It's 3-5 @ 6-3, and the Chargers are fading fast. Way too lopsided.
  • Likely protections: Panthers-Giants or Eagles-Redskins (FOX) and Steelers-Titans (CBS).
  • Other possible games: Cardinals-Patriots is still strong, but Falcons-Vikings and Bills-Broncos are both fading (although nothing bad happened to the former this week), so the only thing stopping Cardinals-Pats could be the game Fox didn't protect. And if the unprotected game is Eagles-Redskins, Cardinals-Pats is still very much alive.
Week 17 (December 28):
  • Playoff positioning watch begins next week, like last year, because of all my playing catch-up. But NEXT year, I swear, I will make good on my original promises! :D

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 11/8-9

I think I need to take another break from the Watcher in a few weeks. All times PST.

9-12:30 PM: College football, #20 Georgia Tech @ #16 North Carolina (Raycom Sports). Wait, why didn't ABC pick this up for their ACC package? Clemson-Florida State? The Bowden Bowl is less than pointless this year!

12:30-4 PM: College football, #2 Penn State @ #19 Iowa (ABC/ESPN). There are no fewer than six games between two teams ranked in my Top 25 this week!

4-7:30 PM: College football, Kansas State @ #7 Missouri (FSN). The item below bumps out the latest Big 12 Battle of the Century.

7:30-9:30 PM: MLS Soccer, Real Salt Lake @ Chivas USA (Fox Soccer Channel). Didn't we just do this last week? Who cares about a team with a name like Real Salt Lake?

10-12:30 PM: NBA Basketball, Raptors @ Bobcats (CBC). Wait, the Raptors are on a national network that penetrates into parts of the United States???

12-4 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil (ABC). Judging by the ads, the Chase is actually getting interesting???

Honorable Mention: 1-3 PM: PBR Rodeo, Built Ford Tough World Finals (NBC). Thank God for NASCAR bumping this bleep off the Watcher.

5-8:30 PM: NFL Football, Giants @ Eagles (NBC). Flex Scheduling Watch is probably coming later tonight, folks.

College Football Schedule: Week 11

Includes final scores from games already completed. All times Eastern.
Top 25 Games
#1 *Florida@#23 Vanderbilt8 PMESPN2
#2 Penn State@#19 Iowa3:30ABC/ESPN
Baylor@#3 TexasNoonFSN
#4 Oklahoma@Texas A&M3:30ABC
California@#5 USC8 PMABC
#10 Oklahoma State@#6 *Texas Tech8 PMABC
#7 *Alabama@LSU3:30CBS
Utah State@#8 Boise State2 PMKTVB/KJZZ/ ESPN360
#9 TCU10-13#12 *UtahFinal THCBS CS
Kansas State@#11 Missouri7 PMFSN
Northern Illinois14-45#13 Ball StateFinal WEESPN2
#15 Ohio State@#24 NorthwesternNoonESPN2
#20 Georgia Tech@#16 North CarolinaNoonRaycom
#17 Georgia@Kentucky12:30Raycom
San Diego State@#18 BYU2 PMmtn.
Michigan@#21 MinnesotaNoonESPN
Cincinnati@#22 West Virginia7 PMESPNU
#25 Kansas@Nebraska2:30PPV
Watchlist and Other Positive B Point Teams
Clemson@Florida State3:30ABC/ESPN
Arizona@Washington State5 PM
Colorado State@Air Force6 PMmtn.
Nevada@Fresno State9 PM FRESPN
Oregon State@UCLA6 PMFSN/FCS
This Week's Other HD Games
Miami (OH)17-37BuffaloFinal TUESPN2
Maryland13-23Virginia TechFinal THESPN
Purdue@Michigan StateNoonBTN
Virginia@Wake Forest3:30ESPNU
Notre Dame@Boston College8 PMESPN
Wyoming@Tennessee1 PMGameplan
Arkansas@South Carolina1 PMGameplan
Big 12
Iowa State@Colorado1:30VS.
NC State@Duke3:30ESPN360
Big East
Louisville@PittsburghNoonBEN (ESPN+)
Toledo30-47AkronFinal WEESPNU
Bowling Green@Ohio2 PMCSD.TV
New Mexico@UNLV7 PTmtn.
Marshall@East Carolina3:30CBS CS
Southern Miss@Central Florida3:30CBSCS XXL
Tulane@Houston8 PMCBS CS
Arizona State@Washington7 PMFSN/FCS
Hawaii@New Mexico State4 PMGameplan
Louisiana Tech@San Jose State8 PMCSD.TV
Sun Belt
Western Kentucky@Troy3:30CSS
Louisiana-Monroe@Middle Tenn. St.3:30
North Texas@Florida Atlantic4 PM
Arkansas State@Florida International7 PM
Bowl Subdivision
Illinoisv.Western MichiganNoonESPN+
UTEP@Louisiana-Lafayette7 PMESPN+

Thursday, November 6, 2008

College Football Rankings after Week 10, plus musings on Barack Obama that's not related to his win

Okay, I tried to write this as though we hadn't already gone through two days and change of games already this week. Ball State has already played, which sucks as I had to carefully word its entry so as not to seem like an idiot while still plausibly coming from before its game. It didn't help that I forgot my laptop's power cord and had to waste two hours to go back home and get it. It would have saved me more than an hour and a half and I could have had the rankings up much earlier, and would be less under the gun for the schedule. Sadly, the SNF Flex Scheduling Watch not only may have to wait until Friday, but take into account Thursday night results as well.

Did you hear? Barack Obama supports a college football playoff! He wants to "get...the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide on a national champion." Obviously this rolls right into my wheelhouse, and it gives me a chance to survey the landscape for my college football playoff proposal.

(How about McCain and his call to root out steroids? When you think about it, a playoff is a bit frivolous for Obama to be advocating; McCain talked about a more serious issue that can be life or death. It's something that actually would be plausible for him to do as president, rather than get ridiculed by everyone outside sports, if Obama even had the power to do it at all. I read one comment that said "McCain wants make [sic] things back to the way they used to be. Obama is looking fix [sic] a broken system by making change." Um... are you saying you think the proliferation of steroids is just "the way things are" now?)

Barack. I love ya. I voted for ya. I completely agree on the need for a playoff. But you're not ambitious enough, man!

This happens every year at this time: wannabe playoff pushers ruin the good name of the playoff idea by proposing playoff schemes that's whatever would be the ideal scheme for that particular year with a minimum of teams (to Protect the Sanctity of the Regular Season(tm)). Last year the big proposal was an eight-team playoff with automatic bids for the BCS conference champions. At least one place proposed also including an automatic bid for the best non-BCS conference team, leaving only one at-large. That would have worked last year, when there were only one or two non-conference champions with a claim at the BCS (Kansas and Georgia) and an undefeated non-BCS conference team (Hawaii).

It would be an unmitigated disaster this year. The Big 12 South is a clusterbleep, and leaving an odd team out between Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State would be rather inherently unfair, especially if everyone in that division has at least two losses. That would get amplified if you threw in the SEC Title Game loser or kept the non-BCS automatic qualifier. And if you junked the latter, what happens to what could still be as many as three undefeated non-BCS conference teams? And what about USC, which would get screwed if Oregon State wins out? And all this to keep the conference champions of the crummy ACC and Big East (highest-ranked teams in the BCS #19 and #25 respectively, and not much higher in my rankings)?

So now the big proposal is throwing in just the top eight teams regardless of conference affiliations, which might be unfair to leagues with a lot of parity, not to mention non-BCS schools that never really get that high. As Jay Mariotti said recently on Around the Horn (paraphrased), "this would be a good year for a playoff because we have eight championship-caliber teams". Am I the only one who thinks that would make an eight-team playoff a bad idea? If the top eight teams are bunched up at the top, they have basically zero motivation to play for seeding, only to get into the tournament! It's the same no matter where they're seeded or who they play, so why bother?

As it turns out, at least this year, more really is more.

The 16-team system that has been gaining a lot of traction - all 11 conference champions, plus 5 at larges - is one system that would have worked last year and this year. Five at-larges was more than enough for everybody; Kansas and Georgia were both rewarded for their strong seasons with at-large berths in my simulated playoffs. (Five may in fact have been too many, as Florida and Boston College both got in, but as both were seeded ahead of teams that were seriously considered for the real-life title game it may have been deserved.) Missouri and West Virginia, after last-day upsets, were forced to go on the road in the first round against real-life championship contenders (but at least Missouri got in after their two losses both came to Oklahoma). 3-loss Virginia Tech was my 1 seed on the basis of their schedule; Arizona State, Cincinnati, and Texas had 3 losses but didn't get in at all. (And remember, only two teams - Kansas and Hawaii - had one loss or fewer.)

This year? I'd like to point any doubters to my case for a playoff - my system specifically - from the leadup to last year's simulation.
Why, the 8-team proponents say, should I award spots in the tournament to every mid-major conference champion? No way are they better than potential at-large teams that would make for a true top 16. But this is actually a strength. Sure, the MAC, C-USA, and Sun Belt champions might not be real threats to win the national championship. But you can't tell me it's not incredibly valuable to pick up a top 3 seed and, basically, a free pass to the second round. The four seed, on the other hand, might be at risk of an upset against one of the better mid-major champions, or if it's a really strong year for mid-majors, an at-large. The five and six seeds get stuck with either the lower-rated at-larges or the "BCS Buster" du jour.
There's still a lot for the eight top teams to play for:
  • "The MAC, C-USA, and Sun Belt champions might not be real threats to win the national championship"? Not anymore! Before last week the Sun Belt was the only non-BCS conference without an undefeated team! Even now facing any conference champion from any conference that's not the Sun Belt brings the very real possibility of an upset of Appalachian State-esque proportions! Suddenly there's a huge incentive for one of the top teams to strive for a 1 seed; anything less would be risking an upset, but with a 1 seed you can rest your starters and coast. (If Conference USA is not a factor anymore, we can extend that privlege to the 2 seed, releasing some pressure to be #1, but that's the same as the BCS we have now anyway.) If we went by the BCS standings a BCS conference champion could be seeded as low as 14, meaning even a 3 seed might have to contend with a BCS team!
  • After getting someone to pound on in the first round, the 1 seed will be tanned, rested and ready for the next round. You want to avoid the 8 seed so you're not risking having to face a far more rested team in the second round! If we extend the above privlege to the 2 seed, the 7 seed becomes off-limits as well!
  • Not to mention, if the BCS standings are any indication, if you sink too close to the 8 you risk the Mountain West champion (maybe even Boise State) bumping you down a spot - possibly all the way to 9 and a first-round road game! If we went by the BCS standings the top 11 teams would all get in right now (assuming Oregon State loses), meaning a seed as high as 6 puts you up against a legit national championship contender!
  • Depending on how we set up the details, we haven't even mentioned the importance of getting a seed of 4 or higher for a second-round home game!
The Big 12's Big 4 would all be jockeying for position, knowing they could get a Troy in the first round and a second-round home game, or they could get a Ball State or North Carolina or West Virginia or even an Ohio State or Oregon State, with a second-round road game against the first type of team looming. Oklahoma State doesn't want people saying they could get a 9 seed; they want to knock off Texas Tech this weekend and get a game in front of their home fans, while Texas Tech doesn't want to give the pollsters or committee an excuse to dump them from the top few seeds to the middle or even bottom few seeds, taking them from a relatively easy first round opponent to a team that could win it all if you don't handle them now.

There's a possibility that an Alabama-Florida SEC title game would be a coastfest for both teams under a playoff, but with the winner almost guaranteed a top three seed and the loser probably condemned to a 5 or worse (6 or worse for Florida), there's still quite a bit to play for. Penn State doesn't want to lose another game, because they're probably getting a top three seed right now. Sure, it might be cold comfort to have a small number next to your name if you're playing Tulsa or West Virginia, but look on the bright side: they wouldn't be sinking so low as to be staring at Ohio State, Ball State, or even Boise State, not to mention the possible second-round home game.

It's not perfect. Maybe I could reduce the field a little. But it provides meaningful incentives to increase your standing within the playoff, which is more than can be said for most smaller systems. I guess this is one place where I ever-so-slightly disagree with the new President-Elect of the United States. (Well, aside from some places in my platform examination.)

To learn more about my system and the criteria for my simulation of it later, click here.

My ideas are triumphant!

They probably didn't get the idea from me, but RealClearSports is using essentially my SuperPower Rankings concept!

But I'd like to make two suggestions for additions: the Sporting News Power Poll and the Fanhouse power rankings. I know you don't want an even number of power rankings because that facilitates ties, and I would think a prime number would be even better.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Quick notes

I guarantee the rankings and college football schedule will be up later tonight! Probably around the time of the new strip. In the meantime, the lineal titles are updated to tide you over.

Random Internet Discovery of the Week

More weird, wild, wacky optical illusions than you can shake a stick at! You might need to see your opthamologist after this one!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Final Election Update at 10 PM PT

Obama AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win Pennsylvania and Rhode Island
McCain AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win South Carolina and South Dakota
McCain CONFIRMED to win Tennessee
McCain AUTO PROJECTED to win Utah
Obama CONFIRMED to win Vermont
Obama AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win Virginia and Florida

And to put Obama over the top...

Obama projected to win California

...which takes him from just shy of 270 to over 300. (Politico has the race at 338-141. For some reason they're still not willing to call the race in Georgia.)

Read this and I think I only now realize what this means to some people. You could well be telling your kids and grandkids about tonight.

Focusing on local and transit races the rest of the night. Good night, everybody!

Election Live Blog: 9:30 Semi-Last Tally of the Night

Obama AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win Massachusetts
Obama projected to win Minnesota
McCain AUTOPROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win Mississippi
McCain projected to win Nebraska
Obama AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win New Jersey
Obama projected to win New Mexico and Nevada
Obama CONFIRMED to win New York
Obama projected to win Oregon

It is entirely possible that Obama wins in Montana, which would be a shock. We won't know who wins North Carolina tonight either.

According to, Democrats will retain the House and Senate, but the Republicans already have the 40 senators needed to need just one Democratic defector (Joe Lieberman?) to defeat cloture. Obama is winning the popular vote in Bush 2004-esque fashion.

I'll take a time out to look at my local races and might return to round out the counts.

UPDATE: The above tally now reflects Washington going for Obama.

Election Live Blog: 8 PM PT Hour


8:06: Politico has Obama at 324 electoral votes after locking up WA, OR, and CA! They're also calling FL and NM for Obama. People near the place I'm working at are hooting and hollering, probably over the new threshhold. 350 or even 400 is not out of the question.

8:08: Oregon very tempting to call early. Rhode Island to Obama, completing the Northeastern Sweep. DE and DC the only states I've yet to call for Obama N of Potomac and E of PA/OH border.

8:12: SD to McCain. Again, this is jumping both Politico and NYT.

8:14: McCain AUTO PROJECTED to win Tennessee. You can see the auto-projection and confirmation numbers at the top now.

8:16: Obama widening his lead in Virginia, but still too close to call with 92% of the vote in. Politico has the Senate balance of power at 55-39. Dems basically need to sweep the board to have a filibuster-proof majority.

8:19: Obama AUTO PROJECTED to win Vermont. NYT projecting Obama to win but McCain has a slight lead in Washington. Obviously early. King County, where much of Obama's WA support is, has antiquated systems and will take a long time to count its vote.

8:22: Wisconsin to Obama. McCain lost a percentage point from '04 Bush in WV but Obama didn't get it back. Presumably Ralph Nader got it.

8:24: McCain AUTO PROJECTED to win in Wyoming. This obviously means he also gets the regular projection.

8:28: McCain's concession speech is on right now if you're interested, although you're probably already watching. According to Politico, McCain can't even reach 200.

8:31: McCain AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win in Alabama. Obama's attempt to steal Arizona has failed. McCain winning 54.2-44.6, two-thirds of the precincts reporting.

8:40: Obama winning DC. McCain never had a chance there. Race surprisingly close in Delaware with 35% reporting. McCain still within margin of error in Florida.

8:43: McCain AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win in Georgia. Starting to shift my attention to; I want to hear Obama's claim-victory speech.

8:49: Iowa to Obama. Idaho to McCain. I'll keep following the presidential races until my projection has Obama topping 270, or coming close enough that WA, OR, and CA would put him over the top (=197).

8:53: Obama AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win in Illinois. GOP has 40 Senate seats so Democrats will need to sweep the board AND keep Joe Lieberman happy to have a filibuster-proof majority. I don't think we'll know who wins Indiana tonight.

8:59: McCain AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win in Louisiana. Enjoy Obama's speech; new thread after the speech.

Election Live Blog: 7 PM PT Hour

Projected EVs: Obama 165, McCain 118

McCain leads auto-projected and confirmed states 8-0.

7:02: New York to Obama. That is the largest prize I've awarded so far tonight. A reminder that Politico says the Democrats hang on to the Senate. Obama now has a full-on four-point lead in North Carolina with 41% of precincts reporting.

7:05: People are projecting Ohio for Obama. So am I. Politico has him over 200 electoral votes. It may be over before the West Coast closes. Certainly if that's the case it's hard for Obama to lose with the West Coast in his pocket.

7:07: Calling Oklahoma for McCain. But also calling Pennsylvania for Obama, a far bigger prize, and Obama's over the halfway mark.

7:10: NYT has Obama up 155-17! NYT has called all of two states for McCain! What's up with Rhode Island being so slow with its count?

7:11: South Carolina for McCain. South Dakota, incredibly, is a dead heat with 11% in.

7:13: A major reason I'm calling SC: Few counties are going Obama's way and those are counties with most of the vote counted. Richland and Charleston Counties may be Obama's best hope but the counties with Greenville and Rock Hill in them are going for McCain. Calling Tennessee for McCain as well; Memphis may be Obama's best chance to bounce back.

7:17: Texas to McCain. Even Politico hasn't called this yet, so my electoral vote count for McCain is higher than Politico's. Add Texas to the Politico count and McCain has 114 electoral votes.

7:21: Not quite ready to call Wisconsin, but getting close.

7:23: Obama might be able to come back in Clay county, but calling West Virginia for McCain.

7:27: Alabama for McCain. Arkansas for McCain. Obama's attempt to steal Arizona is failing early. NYT has Obama leading 169-58, so maybe some more Obama projections in the offing.

7:29: Obama up in Colorado, but there are rural areas that could go for McCain. BTW Al Franken leads Norm Coleman in Minnesota but with 44% of the vote.

7:32: Obama hanging on to a 3-point lead in Florida with 72% of precincts reporting. Most of the counties that haven't reported are on the Atlantic coast. Neither NYT nor Politico is calling Georgia yet. What do they know that I don't?

7:36: Obama leading in Iowa! Indiana may be giving Virginia a run for its money as the new Florida/Ohio. 90% reporting and the margin is .6... and neither side has won enough electoral votes for victory, by any measure. That could change at the top of the hour when polls close on the West Coast. That's 73 electoral votes for Obama right there between CA, OR, and WA. By Politico's reckoning, that puts him over the top. Kansas to McCain.

7:41: Still not calling Louisiana just yet but very tempted to.

7:43: Michigan for Obama. The Minnesota Senate race has really tightened; Franken leads 42.7% to 41%. Rural parts of Minnesota prevent me from calling the Presidential race there. Add Missouri to the list of potential Florida/Ohio states. Has anyone noticed that, for all the red states becoming swing states, most of the traditional swing states were still swing states this year? Is the real story of this election Republicans being so turned off by McCain (and Palin) they decided to vote Obama instead?

7:46: Mississippi for McCain. Not sure what others are seeing I'm not. Obama leads early in Montana! Add NC to the list of states crawling to a dead heat. McCain leads in Nebraska but pro-Obama counties are early in their count.

7:51: Obama leading in NM, but he might not have last time I looked.

7:54: Obama AUTO PROJECTED to win New York. Obama takes the 31-8 autoprojection lead. This is not confirmed yet. McCain is taking a lead in NC.

7:57: McCain to win North Dakota.

7:58: McCain AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win Oklahoma. Up 15-0 in the confirmations, down 31-15 in the auto projections. See you in a new thread.

Election Live Blog: 5 PM and 6 PM PT Hour

Projected EVs: Obama 76, McCain 23

I had intended to run a live blog of the election starting at 4 PM PT, but I was late getting back to school from voting and wasted a lot of time looking for a source for election results that I liked. I tracked the primary results coming directly from the AP, complete with exact number of precincts reporting, but that service appears to be gone. CBS News does that but only for the two major candidates; NPR does it but only in "county" view and only for the top five candidates. I did find one site, Politico, that did precincts reporting to a tenth of a percentage point but didn't do raw vote numbers. Can't just one major media source throw it all together? I'm using New York Times because it uses everyone's raw vote numbers.

I've called Kentucky for McCain already, but no call yet for Obama in Vermont, though I'm not ready for a state that late in the alphabet yet... expect my results to delay real time for most of the night.

5:44 PM: All states ready! Now I can actually look at results. Calling Connecticut for Obama.

5:47: Wow, Florida is too close to call again! Obama does have a 3-point lead with over 40% of precincts reporting though.

5:48: Georgia is tempting to call for McCain right now, but I imagine most of the African-American districts haven't voted yet.

5:50: Indiana is too close to call with half the precincts reporting. McCain has a three point lead but NW Indiana has yet to report.

5:53: After much consideration, calling Massachusetts for Obama despite low percentage of precincts reporting.

5:56: New Hampshire to Obama.

5:58: New Jersey very tempting, but not worth a call yet.

5:59: Bob Barr could end up making the difference in North Carolina.

6:00: More polls closing. It's very tempting to call Oklahoma for McCain right now.

6:02: It's hard not to be affected by whether NYT itself has called! Presumably urban areas of SC haven't yet reported.

6:04: Urban areas of Tennessee haven't reported either.

6:06: McCain has a sizable lead in Virginia, but not quite enough to call. Go ahead and put Vermont in Obama's column.

6:11: Obama hanging on to that four-point lead in Florida. BBC predicts Obama has won 175 electoral votes already. Fulton County has only reported about 14%, so don't count out Georgia for him.

6:16: Belatedly calling Illinois for Obama.

6:17: Indiana has nearly a third of its precincts in, but Lake is still slow to start and Obama has a three-point deficit anyway. I'm actually tempted to call it for Obama because wide swaths of the rest of the state are done already.

6:23: After much consideration, calling New Jersey for Obama.

6:25: Obama has a four-point lead in North Carolina with more than 40% of the precincts reporting, and results are starting to come in from the urban areas. It may be a bit closer than four points, though.

6:28: Obama is looking good early in Ohio but may be getting urban results too soon.

6:32: Wow, all that talk of Pennsylvania possibly being in play for McCain was grossly overstated. Many sources have called it already and Obama's winning big. Not ready to call yet though.

6:33: South Carolina still not ready to call. Ditto Tennessee; McCain has tempting leads in both though.

6:35: Is Virginia the new Florida/Ohio? 2/3 of the precincts reporting and the margin is 50-49 McCain.

6:42: Speaking of which, Obama holds a 3-point lead in Florida with 57% reporting. Still too much room for error.

6:46: Bad news for Obama's hopes of taking Georgia: Fulton County (Atlanta) already has 40% of the vote in. I'm calling it for McCain even though others haven't.

6:48: Lake County, Indiana is as far into the count as Fulton County, but Obama has a more managable lead in Indiana.

6:50: McCain AUTO PROJECTED and CONFIRMED to win Kentucky. Current count for both: McCain 15, Obama 0. BBC has this weird thing where they have colored doughnut pieces represent both each side's votes and the % of precincts reporting when you mouse over their map.

6:53: Politico has Louisiana to McCain, NYT does not. It looks like no results from New Orleans yet.

6:54: Calling Maryland for Obama.

6:55: Politico is saying the Dems have enough seats to retain control of the Senate. Calling Maine for Obama.

6:57: It's starting to look tempting to slide Mississippi into the McCain column.

7:00: See you in a new thread!

A Notice to People Without a Horse in This Race

If you're a third party, who do you root for to win today?

Obviously you want your own candidates to win. But chances are your candidates don't really have a chance to win, and the President, I can guarantee with 99.9% certainty, will either be John McCain or Barack Obama. Which one would you prefer to see become President of the United States?

If your party is just an extreme version of the Democrats or Republicans, you probably back the candidate that will do the most to advance your views. But what if you're a party that genuinely sees no difference between Democrats and Republicans - that legitimately thinks it can draw some support from both political parties, that sees Obama and McCain as equally objectionable? Equally intolerable, even?

What do you root for then, in a race between Satan and Satan? Which one might exceed your expectations, which one might turn out to be a half-decent president?

I'll tell you who you root for.

You root for Obama to win... and subsequently turn out to be a Bush third term.

Because nothing else would underscore the lack of a difference between Democrats and Republicans better. With an abusive Democratic president and the abuses of Bush still fresh in the minds of the electorate, the field in 2012 would be ripe for a third party or independent to come along and propose real change. The Democrats have done nothing for two years to stop Bush's power grab for the executive branch. There is very little to suggest that Barack Obama won't say, "Hey Bush, thanks for leaving me all this power! Why would I ever get rid of it?"

Rooting for Obama is a crap shoot. If the Democrats, given a mandate by a resounding Obama victory, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and a massive majority in the House, successfully roll back the abuses of Bush, pull us out of Iraq, and helm four years of increasing peace and (relative) prosperity, they have a blank check for a generation. That would utterly destroy the Republican party, and it also would sour the mood against the sorts of thoughts on which third party and independent campaigns most flourish - like "neither party has my interests in mind anyway".

To be sure, having a Democratic blank check could create a field in which a multitude of third parties attempt to fill the vacuum left by the decline of the Republicans, trying to focus in on various parts of the Republican coalition, or trying to position themselves to the left of the Democrats. And it can certainly seem pyrrhic to hope that Obama becomes Stalin to Bush's Lenin, for pure partisan political purposes, while also hoping he doesn't abolish the election system entirely. But if it does happen, if Obama makes Bush look like Lincoln, a third party candidate could well have the opportunity to win right away - and win seats in Congress.

That's not the reason I'm likely voting for Obama today - from what I can tell (and with a shockingly low level of actual, firm policy positions linked to on either the candidate's or the party's site, that's not much), the third party candidate closest to my views on the environment (that's not outwardly socialist) seems to almost brush off the Bush abuses of power, with no reference to Guantanamo Bay in the version of the party's platform I encountered, and the Patriot Act reduced to a sentence in a section on "criminal justice". But it is why I intend to keep a VERY close eye out on what the Democrats actually do once they have power. This election may be historic, but the days and months following it could well be equally historic.

To say this has not been a good year for me is an understatement...

If I were offered the chance to relive the past month over again, with the knowledge that the platform examinations I would work on would take up eight 5,000-word parts per party, and it would take me a day to complete a 5,000-word part after sacrificing most other priorities and with a nagging feeling I could complete two, three, or even more without the distractions and by giving up even more priorities, but I never would... I think I'd take the offer.

Even going back three weeks, when my first attempt at writing Part I of the Democratic examination hit a snag in the form of the belated discovery that Blogger's post editor "in draft" can still lock up after several successive successful uses of the clipboard, if I had then the foresight not to let the frustration of that stop me from starting over somewhat immediately, or even had the foresight to follow my own motto of "never assume" and had taken the simple step of composing the examination in Notepad in the first place, that would remain a very tempting target to go back to and revive the plans I had in mind all along.

(Or maybe I could have worked on most of my plans in advance like I always thought about in the back of my mind.)

Honestly, the platform examinations were only supposed to be the beginning. Against the backdrop of the ongoing series in Sandsday, I would start out largely as I did start out - proclaiming the urgent importance of global warming and the role of mass transit as being the solution - but would continue into an examination of several large cities' mass transit plans, any expansion plans, and anything on the ballot today. I would cut into the platform examinations but would spin from that into a deconstruction of every level, big and small, of our political system, including an investigation into what sort of plan we really need to get away from the Bush years and a deconstruction of the positions of those who place themselves outside the two-party political system. Hopefully I could clarify some of my own political positions in the process. (No, my almost-constant agreeing with the Democrats does not mean my positions were fully clarified. That was nothing new.)

If you still need to read up on the platforms before voting (assuming you haven't voted already), you can read the last two parts of each platform from here and here. I've considered pressing on with my platform examinations and trying to salvage something out of my original plans, but it's kind of pointless after the election, and it might result in a situation where some of you are telling me "Oh, now you tell me about some of these positions!" On the other hand, some of the things I had in mind might still be extant after the election, but it might be considered a bit jarring to launch into them without the structure provided by the platform examinations. (By which I mean the examinations being completed in full.)

So I'm starting a new Da Blog Poll. If you still find the platform examinations useful and want me to complete them, even after you've already voted, let me know and I might launch back into them, and try and salvage the rest of my plans as well. If you don't find them useful anymore, we'll... move on, I guess.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Someone linked to me on the forums and I got over a hundred hits yesterday. And I missed it. Oops.

(From Ctrl+Alt+Del. Click for full-sized commitment. And click here for what I mention in the title. Oh, and this post contains spoilers. Oops.)

You notice I'm not even bothering with the Angst-O-Meter for this one.

My first reaction to this was: WHAT???

I couldn't help but think of Lucas and anyone else who might have been invited to the originally planned wedding. This might actually raise the Angst-O-Meter depending on what happens from here. How might these people feel about being told the wedding was postponed, then finding out the bride and groom effectively eloped without them?

(In retrospect, the fact that Ethan and Lilah were going to use their respective tickets to go on a vacation might have been a bit of a tip-off that they weren't just going to go on gondola rides...)

I'm going to keep reading for a few more strips to find out what, substantively and regarding characters other than Ethan and Lilah, will actually happen as a result of everything in this arc. There are a few ways Buckley can keep me on board for the long haul (this and Zeke's destruction being a symbolic "growing up" for Ethan, for one) and there are many ways, very tempting ways, Buckley can turn me off for good (the entire arc turning out to be a shaggy dog story, various plot threads getting dropped like nothing happened, or really just rubbing me the wrong way at all).

Last-Minute Remarks on SNF Week 11 picks

Week 11 (November 16):
  • Tentative game: Dallas @ Washington
  • Prospects: The Cowboys (5-4) lost to the Giants, making the game less appealing, but will get Tony Romo back for Sunday night after a Week 10 bye, so NBC would get his return. A 5-4 team should greatly concern NBC, but it's the Cowboys, "America's Team". The Redskins are 6-2 and also entering the bye.
  • Likely protections: Ravens (5-3)-Giants (7-1), Titans (8-0)-Jaguars (3-5), or nothing (CBS) and Bears-Packers (FOX)
  • Other possible games mentioned on Wednesday's Watch and their records: Chargers (3-5)-Steelers (5-2), Broncos (4-4)-Falcons (5-3)
  • Impact of Monday Night Football: Immense. A Washington win might appear to help Cowboys-Redskins keep its spot, and a Steelers win might help Chargers-Steelers, but in fact both games might be more positively affected by losses, to keep from getting lopsided.
  • Analysis: Cowboys-Redskins can never be counted out entirely, and the only game that appears to have much of a chance to challenge at the moment is Ravens-Giants. It almost looks like a no-brainer, especially if the Redskins lose tonight: both teams have one more loss than their equivalents in Ravens-Giants. But you have to consider the marquee name value of the Cowboys and especially the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry, and also factor in the return of Tony Romo. If Ravens-Giants is protected, Broncos-Falcons becomes the best alternative (especially if the Steelers lose but even if they win), which is a closer contest, but pretty much averages out the same. It probably needs the Redskins to lose to even have a shot. Then the 6-3 Redskins compare about the same with the 5-3 Falcons, and the 5-4 Cowboys compare about the same as the 4-4 Broncos, and Broncos-Falcons probably still loses, partly because of the name value of the game and partly because it has the advantage of already being the tentative game. If Ravens-Giants is protected, there's no way Cowboys-Redskins is losing its spot - and even if it isn't, it would be far from surprising to see it on Sunday night anyway. Ravens-Giants is the only other game I wouldn't be surprised by. Analysis of the pick itself on Wednesday.
  • Final prediction: Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (no change).