7 years ago

Famed election forecaster Nate Silver: 2014 will be boring, 2016 will be epic

YH Bill Simmons and Nate Silver(Above: Nate Silver discusses his FiveThirtyEight blog with Bill Simmons on The BS Report)

Appearing yesterday on Bill Simmons’ weekly podcast, The BS Report, stats guru and famed election forecaster Nate Silver predicted that the 2014 election cycle will be a snoozer, but 2016 might be one for the ages.

The statistical model Silver developed correctly predicted 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election. He then nailed every single state in the 2012 presidential election, making his polling analysis one of the biggest story lines of the year. But things have slowed down considerably since the culmination of the 2012 election cycle last November.

Here’s Silver’s take on the current lack of compelling political stories compared to years gone by:

…this is not a super interesting year in politics right now. You go back to Monica, and then the 2000 election, and 9/11 and 2004 was a close election and 2008 was historic, right? 2012 was another close election — a really good run of political events that, again, we look at things and assume it’s kind of the new normal when it’s really an outlier, right? Politics were pretty boring during the mid-90s and so forth when Clinton blew out Dole and [there was] not much to write about, really…

You look at where the news cycle is going and I’m kind of aware that 2016, I think, will be fascinating. But I’ll be frank, I think 2014 midterm will be dull as compared to most other recent elections. There’s not much at stake where we know that GOP’s gonna control one branch of Congress — almost for sure — and we know Obama’s in the White House through 2016, so you don’t have really control of all of D.C. at stake and that makes it less compelling.

So what does a political prognosticator do when he thinks politics is going to be boring for the next couple of years?

Sports, of course.

Silver licensed his blog, FiveThirtyEight, to The New York Times in 2010. At one point he was responsible for an incredible 27% of the Times’ web traffic. That’s no small feet considering the Times’ site is one of the most visited in the United States. The month before the 2012 election nytimes.com garnered 573 million page views.

But Silver reportedly butted heads with some of the big wigs at the Times, so he made a bold move last month and announced he would be taking his talents — and his blog — to ESPN.

He will continue producing political content (ESPN says he will forecast elections in 2014 and 2016), but he will broaden his site to include sports and other categories. “I’ll probably be writing a little less about politics now — not so much the kind of daily grind or the play-by-play,” he said.

ESPN may seem like a strange move for a political commentator, but Silver has deep roots in the sports world. He was a baseball analyst for Baseball Prospectus from 2003-2008. During that time he developed a rating system for Major League Baseball players that accurately forecasted their production.

This also isn’t ESPN’s first foray into new media experimentation. ESPN actually has a history of signing one-man digital brands. They took a chance on Bill Simmons, whose BostonSportsGuy.com website caught their attention in 2001.

Simmons has since served as executive producer for ESPN’s wildly successful 30 for 30 documentary series, written two books and produced countless podcasts, and his new website, Grantland.com, has grown into one of the premier sports and pop culture destinations on the web.

ESPN allowed Grantland to have its on freestanding URL outside of ESPN.com, its own distinct design, and they’ve given Simmons wide latitude to create a distinct brand.

It has paid off in a major way.

Simmons has become one of the defining figures of this era of media.

Conversely, Silver seems to have been frustrated by The New York Times’ rigid old-media model. He even alluded to it briefly on Simmons’ podcast yesterday. He no doubt sees the upside in taking his brand to a place where he will be given the kind of freedom ESPN has given Simmons.

After an in-depth discussion about the future of the media, Simmons pivoted back to politics and commented to Silver that 2016 looks like it could be fascinating year.

“That’ll be epic,” Silver quipped.

And he says he’ll be paying especially close attention to Republicans.

“It used to be the Democrats had all these fights… I don’t know how you bridge the gap between the libertarians and the moderates and the religious right and the Tea Party and kind of the country club Mitt Romney establishment vote… It’s going to be incredibly interesting to see that play out.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Silver’s new venture plays out as well.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

14 hours ago

Website seeks to connect still-operating local restaurants with Alabama customers

The Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association (ARHA) has created a website to try and connect local restaurants with Alabama consumers.

The precautions being taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus have devastated the restaurant industry. A website that tracks the industry estimates that 3% of America’s restaurants have permanently gone out of business since the virus began spreading in the United States.

The website created by ARHA — carryoutal.com — is seeking to prevent that fate for restaurants in Alabama. Visitors are asked to select Carryout, Curbside or Delivery and the site then provides them with the options in their area.


The site currently has around 300 restaurants in its database.

There is an option for any locally-owned business to list their establishment for free.

“Most restaurants in Alabama remain open and they need your support more than ever,” says the website’s description.

The site assures any skeptical customers, “While recent governmental orders and recommendations to limit social gatherings have forced restaurants to change the way they operate, the commitment to food safety and sanitation has not changed.”

The ARHA has also created a fund to provide relief for hospitality workers across the state. As of 2:45 p.m on Tuesday, it has raised $1,810 of its $100,000 goal.

Contributions to the fund are tax-deductible.

The description of the fund reads, “On March 19, 2020, restaurants and bars across the state were ordered to close dining area service to the public in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The shutdowns have catastrophically impacted the restaurant and hotel industry.”

Those interested in donating can click here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

15 hours ago

Treasury Department issues guidance for small businesses seeking relief funds

The U.S. Treasury Department released new information on Tuesday afternoon for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The resources distributed by the agency provide guidance on how to tap into the $340 billion pool of relief funds set aside for the small business sector.

Under the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program, businesses with fewer than 500 employees are eligible to receive the lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times its payroll over the period of several months.

Banks will distribute the funds in the form of loans granted under criteria contained in the law. Loans may become available as soon as Friday, April 3.


Call your banker

That is the advice the Treasury Department is giving to small businesses.

The chairman of the Alabama Bankers Association has stated that banks in his state are ready, willing and able to immediately assist with the small business sector’s recovery.

“Banks in our state are already very familiar with helping customers access SBA funding,” said David Nast, president and CEO of Progress Bank and Trust. “Nearly 94% of banks headquartered in Alabama are SBA-approved lenders, and that number could easily grow higher over the next few weeks.”

RELATED: Alabama banks preparing to assist small businesses with recovery — ‘Call your banker’

Nast echoed the Treasury Department’s advice that interested small businesses should promptly contact their bank.

“Regardless of how banks are interacting with their customers, our advice for individuals and small businesses has been to put ‘Call Your Banker’ near the top of the to-do list,” Nast emphasized.

Info for small businesses

The Treasury Department is maintaining a comprehensive website for those seeking information about the economic stimulus programs it is administering.

Within the site are documents for small businesses to better understand the programs designed for them and how to apply for funds:

Overview of the Payroll Protection Program

Paycheck Protection Program Information for Borrowers

Application for Borrowers

Paycheck Protection Program Information for Lenders

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

Jeff Sessions has a clear message for China: The world knows your communist regime is culpable for the Wuhan coronavirus

Former Attorney General and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions seems to have a clear message for China: The United States will not take your Godless, communist regime’s lying and cheating anymore.

During an appearance on WVNN this week, Sessions said the United States and the world know that China covered up the origins and spread of the virus for months, and we know they are now engaging in a disinformation campaign to shed their culpability.

Sessions on Monday’s broadcast of “The Dale Jackson Show” took some strong punches at China, saying, “It’s a duty we have to explain to the American people, and to the world, really, the danger of this kind of government. It cannot be the dominant government in the world, it will not be if we stand up to it.”


Sessions acknowledged that we have allowed this to happen with weak trade and foreign policy. He noted the reaction of the world would be far different if America was responsible.

“Imagine an American company, or American government, had learned about this virus and sat on it for weeks and allowed the world to be infected,” he stated. “I mean, the world would be in an outrage.”

But what can be done?

If elected to his old Senate seat, what will he specifically work to do?

Sessions isn’t the first politician to point out that we can’t allow China to dominate the markets of critical supplies and infrastructure needs, such as medical supplies and high-speed internet.

Specifically, Sessions outlined, “This is one where we need to send a message to China. No. You’re not gonna supply our medicines. Especially when you say you might cut them off. You’re not gonna supply our 5G high tech communications system, high speed. We’re not gonna let you dominate that.”

My takeaway:

This is nothing new for Jeff Sessions.

He has long been a leading critic on China for most of his career. He was calling for us to get tough on China before anyone else even cared.

The world has been too soft on China, and the United States has an obligation to end that. This is our wakeup call. This isn’t about trade, it is about the lives of Americans, which Sessions correctly noted that China’s state-run press has threatened.

America has an obligation to make sure the world knows this coronavirus is the fault of China and punish them for unleashing this on the world.

The coronavirus pandemic proves Jeff Sessions has been correct on China for decades. They lie, cheat and steal to achieve world dominance. He is also right when he says we cannot allow this to continue and our allies around the globe can’t keep turning a blind eye to it or they will win.

China has a plan to continue to dominate globally, and we need people that understand it and know how to combat it at the forefront of this fight.


Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

15 hours ago

Friends launch Local Distancing to support Birmingham businesses

Three friends in Birmingham were wrestling with a major dilemma created by the coronavirus pandemic: How can you lend support to your favorite restaurants and local businesses while maintaining the proper social distancing practices?

Their solution — a pay-it-forward approach. Local Distancing, an online platform, allows customers to help these Birmingham area enterprises pay their staff, cover overhead and survive the crisis without having to leave the security of their home.

Through the Local Distancing web site, consumers can purchase gift certificates from a wide range of restaurants, breweries, retailers and other Birmingham businesses. The site also includes links to GoFundMe accounts for displaced workers.


The initiative appears to have struck a chord in the community, with more than 4,000 unique visitors in the first week eager to support more than 150 Birmingham businesses listed on the platform.

“Local businesses are the heartbeat of the Magic City, and they need our help during these challenging times,” said Vince Perez, a senior project manager at the Alabama Department of Commerce and one of the initiative’s founders. “This is a way that all of us can let local business owners and their employees know that we’re in their corner during this crisis.”

The way Local Distancing’s founders see it, buying online gift certificates represents the most practical way for loyal customers to support their favorite local businesses right now while remaining at their homes.

The web site does not charge businesses to participate and will not receive any portion of the gift card purchases. Moreover, it works with gift card processing companies like Square and Gift Up! that provide money immediately to businesses, instead of when the certificates are redeemed.

Instagift, a Birmingham-based firm that provides electronic gift card services to local businesses, is also supporting the effort by waiving monthly fees for new sign-ups and providing promotion on its social media.

Joining Perez in launching Local Distancing are Dylan Spencer, a web developer who built the site and founder of a marketing firm bearing his name, and Trey Oliver, an attorney at the Bradley Arant law firm. The three are childhood friends and all attended Auburn University.

“We all wish we weren’t in this situation, but here we are,“ Spencer said. “Thankfully, hard times have their way of bringing people together, and I believe this will somehow make Birmingham stronger. All we can do for now is stay home, stay healthy, and take care of our city – especially the businesses and restaurants that make it special.”

Local Distancing may just be the perfect substitute for an upcoming anniversary, birthday gift, and more, he said.

“Order food and buy gift certificates, even if to give away as a ‘thank you’ to grocery store workers, restaurant workers, delivery folks, medical workers, and the many others who are working so hard to keep us going,” Spencer urged.

You can also find Local Distancing on Twitter and Instagram under @localdistancing.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

17 hours ago

Video: Ride along with ULA’s Alabama-built rocket on U.S. Space Force’s first national security mission

Alabama’s United Launch Alliance (ULA) teamed up last week with the U.S. Space Force to complete the newly-formed agency’s first national security space mission.

A Decatur-built Atlas V rocket delivered the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) satellite. The AEHF-6 will enhance the communications capabilities for American warfighters around the world.

The mission became ULA’s 138th overall. With its completion, ULA maintained its 100% mission success rate.

Watch rocket preparation, launch and satellite delivery in space:


Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia