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RI Democrat

Deluxe Midterm Edition

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I came up with a crazy idea a while ago and, unlike most of my crazy ideas, I actually followed through on this one. Namely, the House and Senate scenarios sometimes feel a bit empty to me because, IRL, a midterm election involves coverage of both the House and Senate contests at once as well as whichever gubernatorial seats are up for election, with the prevailing political winds and events influencing the outcome on all three fronts. Even playing the House and Senate scenarios simultaneously doesn't quite replicate it because sometimes you'll have a big scandal or event in one of them but not the other.

So I got to thinking, what if I wrote Excel formulas that would take the outcomes of a House scenario, then calculate Senate and Governor results based on the popular vote for the House in each state? I ended up setting up a spreadsheet that would incorporate two variables to apply to the state-level House popular vote: (1) an adjustment that's the same every time you play to reflect the relative strength or weakness of the Senate candidates, meaning that, for example, Jon Tester in Montana will win a higher percentage of the vote than the Democratic candidate for Montana's single at-large House district; (2) a randomized variable that's different each time, to add some variety and so that it's not quite as simple as, for example, "Jon Tester's total is 5 points higher than the Democratic House candidate's, so he wins as long as the Democratic House candidate gets 45.1% or higher."

I also set up a tab in the Excel file that allows you to "poll" the Senate and Governor races based on these built-in formulas and the House polls to give you an idea how you're doing. Finally, I did my best to give the individual House districts their own issue centers rather than have them uniform across a state (except for a few states where keeping them uniform actually makes sense).

However, I've run into several roadblocks:

  1. Winning means running ads and investing resources in House districts that aren't themselves competitive, e.g. safe seats within swing states where running up or reducing the winning party's margin affects the state popular vote. But obviously the computer player thinks it's just running a House election. I'm assuming that it doesn't care about the fact that, for example, the Republicans are on track to "only" win the North Dakota at-large seat by 15 points instead of 20 due to me running ads there to boost Heidi Heitkamp's Senate chances. So as long as you're strategic and careful with your money, it may be a little too easy to win the competitive statewide races, and I can't think of a way to tweak the Excel formulae to make it automatically more challenging for the human player regardless of which party (s)he chooses.
     
  2. The game does not take account of which seats are uncontested when reporting statewide House polls, instead reporting the percentages that each party *would* get if they contested every seat. The actual popular vote for the House in Mississippi, for example, is consistently closer than the final polling figure because there are only four districts and one is held by an uncontested Democratic incumbent. There is probably a way to tweak the formulas to generate more accurate statewide polls and results for states where this is an issue, but I haven't figured it out yet.
     
  3. You do have to be somewhat adept with Excel to do this. Nothing too sophisticated, but if you don't know, for example, the difference between copy-pasting formulas and copy-pasting values, or you accidentally delete formulas from cells that appear blank, the spreadsheet may not work for you.

So I guess what I'm wondering is: does anybody else want to try playing this with the spreadsheets and see if you find it interesting and/or not too confusing, albeit in a less-than-perfect state? Otherwise, I'm thinking about ditching the spreadsheet idea and instead just posting it as a House scenario with individualized district issue profiles (something that the official scenario does not have, as far as I can tell).

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5 minutes ago, RI Democrat said:

Does the lack of response mean basically nobody cares either way?

It does sound like an interesting idea, but you are right in your own self-analysis, that the logistics have a lot of problems, and I have no good answers at this point. My lack of response, until you asked, has moreso out of lack of anything new or useful to contribute at this, without considering it for a bit except saying the idea sounded interesting. I can't speak for anyone else, of course.

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1 minute ago, Patine said:

It does sound like an interesting idea, but you are right in your own self-analysis, that the logistics have a lot of problems, and I have no good answers at this point. My lack of response, until you asked, has moreso out of lack of anything new or useful to contribute at this, without considering it for a bit except saying the idea sounded interesting. I can't speak for anyone else, of course.

Same here.

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NYrepublican and Patine, fair enough, and thanks. Maybe I'll post it in two versions - one as a straight House election with the localized issue centers, and one with the Excel file included in case anyone wants to give it a try.

 

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Actually, I've got it in a form that I'm comfortable sharing as is - it's attached below. If you want to use the spreadsheets to simulate the Senate and Governor races, open up the Excel file titled "2018 Midterms Deluxe Edition," and start with the tab that says "Start Here."

https://www.mediafire.com/file/m1c72tus414iy42/2018_-_Deluxe_Midterm_Edition_-_Based_on_538_Forecasts.zip/file

2018 - Deluxe Midterm Edition - Based on 538 Forecasts.zip

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This is a terrific tool! Thank you so much for sharing it. One possibility in regards to the uncontested seats would possibly be setting the opposing party to "on ballot" and setting the starting percentages to whatever the PVI of the district is. Not sure how much impact that would have be it might help to normalize things a little at least.

 

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On ‎10‎/‎17‎/‎2018 at 5:48 PM, RI Democrat said:

Actually, I've got it in a form that I'm comfortable sharing as is - it's attached below. If you want to use the spreadsheets to simulate the Senate and Governor races, open up the Excel file titled "2018 Midterms Deluxe Edition," and start with the tab that says "Start Here."

https://www.mediafire.com/file/m1c72tus414iy42/2018_-_Deluxe_Midterm_Edition_-_Based_on_538_Forecasts.zip/file

2018 - Deluxe Midterm Edition - Based on 538 Forecasts.zip

Okay, after an initial look at the first turn, a number of things.

First, for the love of all that is good, quit using Mediafire! They're added "features" for the their donor advertisers are very intrusive and annoying.

No Third Party or Independent candidates, not even Gary Johnson, Bernie Sanders, or Angus King? A bit disappointing.

North Korea hasn't been a real issue for months.

"Trump Administration" is hard to divide into total caucus support blocs by party, especially among Republicans.

Those come to mind right off the bat.

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