Tag Archives: Nate Silver

Why is President-Elect Trump So Enamored of Russian leader Putin, What Can We Learn from Washington’s Farewell Address?

Bear with me … I will get around to education.

Tuesday night I walked over to a neighborhood sports bar that was taken over by a local Young Democrats group. I listened to President Obama’s Farewell Address in a room filled with twenty-somethings – a wonderful speech greeted with applause, cheers and occasional tears. I loved the references to Washington’s Farewell Address and to Atticus Finch (“To Kill a Mockingbird.” It was  classy speech that emphasized the foundations of our nation – the orderly transition from administration to administration with nary a jab at his successor.

Wednesday morning I listened to the Trump press conference, nasty, highly critical of our intelligence agencies. and, a comment sharply criticizing the pharmaceutical industries pricing policies, a policy that the Republican side of the aisle has supported. Odd.

In spite of mounting evidence of Russian interference in our presidential election  the President-elect has waffled, swinging from mild criticism to bashing our own intelligence services.

Clearly Trump sees Putin as a role model, a highly effective leader with an 80% approval rating by the Russian people, extremely wealthy (his net worth is estimated at $200 billion); a major player on the world stage, a leader who uses his power to attempt to return Russia to a preeminent position among the world powers. Putin has used a combination of threat, economic and military power clawing back Crimea from the Ukraine, eyeing the Baltic states and allying with the Assad in Syria.

Although elected as leader under the Russian constitution Putin has suppressed opposition: the press has been silenced, journalists mysteriously killed, the independent voices few; his tentacles reach around the world: from the Middle East (Russia borders Iran), to Europe (Russia is a major supplier of oil and gas to Europe), a nuclear power second only to the USA with a massive and nimble military.

Does Trump actually think he can become a Putin-like leader in the USA as well as on the world stage? I believe the answer is “yes.”

A little Russian history:

Russia is by far the largest nation in the world – it covers eleven time zones!! Our histories are both dramatically different and strangely similar.

Mongol and Tatar hordes enveloped Russia, our aboriginal ancestors crossed the Aleutian bridge, we may be distantly, very distantly related to Russians.

Medieval Russia was ruled by Boyars, essentially war lords who ruled limited geographic domains, once again similar to the European princes who ruled limited areas across Europe. In Europe lesser lords swore oaths of homage and fealty, and the masses were peasants tied to the land; while Russia ended slavery in the 18th century, serfdom, tying of peasants to the land did not end until Alexander I ended serfdom in 1861.

Massive Russian estates were in many ways similar to the plantations in our Southern colonies/states.

Tsar Peter the Great westernized Russia, Catherine the Great expanded Russian boundaries;  similarly through treaty, purchase and war we increased our boundaries.

2017 is the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

A hundred years that has seen many tens millions of Russians killed in the two World Wars as well as the purges of Stalin. Russia moved from a nation ruled by Tsars and an aristocracy to a totalitarian nation ruled by dictators and the Communist bureaucracy, to a flirtation with democracy under Gorbachev and the return to a classic Russian leader, a faux tsar and oligarchs, the billionaires riding the Putin wave.

Trump foresees a new alliance – the two most powerful leaders, Trump and Putin – American and Russia – leading an assault on radical Islam and the Chinese hordes.

To Trump Europe is weak and decaying: The Common Market, the Euro and integration of Europe has seen the weaker states dragging down the few stronger economies. Greece, Italy and Spain with very high unemployment rates, staggering deficits and chaotic banking systems. The right wing parties growing, the Brixit vote, and an uncertain future. The right-wing xenophobic political parties are challenging a century of progressive, socially conscious democratic governments.

Will Trump continue to lead NATO, defending Europe against an aggressive Russia, or, abandon NATO? Will Trump demand that Europe provide the primary support for NATO, and, tacitly accept that Europe is a Russian sphere of influence? The right wing insurgencies across Europe will look Trump as a model.

The Mongol and Tatar invasions from the East and Germans invasions from the West, tens of millions of Russians have died over the centuries due to foreign incursions. Under Putin Russia has taken a leap backwards, away from democratic values, Putin sees western democracy as an enemy not a partner.

The post World War 2 Cold War resulted in the creation of buffer states “protecting” Russia from incursions from the West. The crumbling of the Iron Curtain, for some was the beginning of Russia entering the democratized West, for others a disaster opening Russia to values that threatened Mother Russia.

We are living in an era of asymmetric warfare, modern armies versus insurgencies, i. e., Afghanistan and Iraq. Hopefully we have learned from Afghanistan and Iraq, while we can train and support the Afghans and the Iraqi we cannot fight their wars. I fear that the Trump bluster will create increasing radicalism in the Islamic world.  I fear that Putin will use his friendship with Trump to rebuild further barriers/buffers along its borders.

Have we learned from Vietnam?  A bitter enemy, 50,000 Americans died in the war, fears that communism will roll over Asia; now, decades later, an iteration of communism that has created a thriving economy and frequent American tourist destination.

Economic prosperity is the most effective enemy of radical Islam and other totalitarian regimes; and, economic prosperity means education.

The education level of voters had a stunning impact on the recent presidential election.

Nate Silver in the fivethirtyeight blog wrote,

I took a list of all 981 U.S. counties1 with 50,000 or more people2 and sorted it by the share of the population3 that had completed at least a four-year college degree. Hillary Clinton improved on President Obama’s 2012 performance in 48 of the country’s 50 most-well-educated counties. And on average, she improved on Obama’s margin of victory in these countries by almost 9 percentage points, even though Obama had done pretty well in them to begin with.

Now here’s the opposite list: The 50 counties (minimum population of 50,000) where the smallest share of the population has bachelor’s degrees:

These results are every bit as striking: Clinton lost ground relative to Obama in 47 of the 50 counties — she did an average of 11 percentage points worse, in fact. These are really the places that won Donald Trump the presidency,

The crowd in the bar, young, well-educated, engaged in local politics were enthusiastic and avid supporters of President Obama, the poorly educated are frequently “birthers,” refused to believe that the President was born in this country, believed he was a Muslim, and on and on.

The radical Islamic fighters are poor and uneducated with no future,  they succumb to  the propaganda that their leaders use to create armies willing to sacrifice their lives.

Armies will not defeat Islamic radicalism or North Korea, or rebut Chinese expansionism. Yes, we must maintain a nimble military able to respond to threats from asymmetric warfare.  “Winning” the war means responding to an ideology, means creating avenues to economic prosperity

My “plan” to winning the war in Vietnam was dropping Sears catalogs with $100 gift certificates.

I fear that the President-elect is ill-suited to lead the nation, I fear that Putin will use Trump to further entrench himself and expand his boundaries and I fear China will continue to encroach across Asia.

These are perilous times.

I find solace in the wisdom of our founding fathers, Washington’s Farewell Address  (1796) is amazingly prescient.

While the Obama Farewell Address was deeply personal Washington’s Farewell Address contained warnings that resonate today, warning us against “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men.”

… combinations or associations … may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Washington foresaw the bitter enmities of partisanship and fearing that a “spirit of revenge” will lead to a “frightful despotism.”

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Washington, cogently, warned against the “illusion of an imaginary common interest,” and especially “by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate.”

… a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As the confirmation hearings for the cabinet nominees continue the spirit of Washington is hovering over the Congress, reminding us ” … a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The Farewell Address was primarily written by Alexander Hamilton,  interred in the cemetery of Trinity Church;  hopefully Washington and Hamilton and Jefferson are still whispering into the minds of our current leaders.

Can the Polls Be Wrong? Hillary is up 8%, No; Trump is up 1%, What’s Going On? Why Are the Polls Varying So Much?

With a week to go in the race to the White House the polls seem to be bouncing all over the place. Nate Silver at the fivethirtyeight blog predicting a narrowing but substantial Hillary lead,  The RealClearPolitics blog predicts a closer race with 149 electoral votes up for grabs.

Pollsters haven’t been doing too well this year – pollsters predicted a “yes” vote in the Brixet vote, the no’s won, in the Columbia FARC plebiscite, once again, the pollster predict “yes, the vote came out “no.”

I owe the following discussion to Howard Wainer,  Distinguished Research Scientist, National Board of Medical Examiners:

Pollsters identify a pool, a subset that reflects the larger population to be polled. We used to call the subset a stratified, random sample, a microcosm of the total population to be polled. The issue is the nonresponse rate which is gigantic. In a world of cell phones, potential responders can easily choose whether or not to answer a call. The nonresponse rate erodes the accuracy of the poll.

A group of physicists at The City College have developed an alternative method of predicting elections using Twitter data.

[CCNY physicists} have developed analytic tools combining statistical physics of complex networks, percolation theory, natural language processing and machine learning classification to infer the opinion of Twitter users regarding the Presidential candidates this year.

“Forecasting opinion trends from real-time social media is the long-standing goal of modern-day big-data analytics,” said Makse, a Fellow of the American Physical Society. “Despite its importance, there has been no conclusive scientific evidence so far that social media activity can capture the opinion of the general population at large.”

However, by using a large-scale dataset of 73 million tweets collected from June 1 to September 1, 2016, Makse and his associates are able to investigate the temporal social networks formed by the interactions among Twitter users.

Read the article with links to the research here: https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/news/ccny-team-develops-analytics-predict-poll-trends

Pollsters are increasingly turning to what statisticians call covariates, Wainer writes,

 A more promising approach (using covariates but a different matching variable) uses Nielson ratings, which are not self-selected and are well documented to accurately depict viewing habits. And then tying viewing habits to voting choices in previous elections 2012, 2008, etc. After building the model from such data they use the current viewing habits to predict 2016. So the idea is that if the viewership is growing monstrous for Duck Dynasty, Hillary ought to watch out, whereas if there are big jumps for McNeil-Lehrer (or whatever it is called now) Trump should worry.

Wainer continues,

You get the idea — the point of polls is to use the outcome of polls to predict the outcome we care about. But if polls are unreliable we must find more reliable (but still efficacious) predictors. Perhaps tweets help, but there are other options. In the future, if people continue to not answer phones, these alternative approaches will become the norm.

Traditional polling is increasingly shaky, you glance at your phone, if you can’t identify the number you ignore it, if it is an 800 or an 888 number you ignore it. Pollsters are dependent on responses, who answers the phone?  Older voters with more time? Who doesn’t answer the phone? Have you programmed your phone to only accept specific numbers?  If non-responses are gigantic traditional telephone-based polling is both inaccurate, and, not the best way to predict outcomes.

Yes, Twitter or Nielson or Facebook may provide better ways of predicting outcomes.

Wainer concludes,

Although it is well known that being a statistician means never having to say you’re certain (nothing in life is ever better than 3 to 1), I feel safe in betting the farm on Hillary (regardless of the release of emails). And also a Democratic Senate.

What Should Be the First Educational Initiative of the HRC Administration?

Woke up this morning and checked out my phone: emails, tweets (a different world!), and, scanned the NY Times online. Every day the Times have a graphic, the percentages predicting the presidential election outcome. In July Hillary was in the mid-eighties and by mid-September had dipped to the mid-seventies. This morning Hillary hit 89% – the highest Times election prediction.

The Nate Silver fivethirtyeight blog  predicts Clinton 86.4% and 341 electoral votes (270 needed for victory), and, in the popular vote Clinton leads 49% to 42%.

The Third Presidential Debate will take on Wednesday, October 19th in Las Vegas; Chris Wallace of Fox will be the moderator. The tenor of the debates will not change.

Trump has “legitimatized” racism, misogamy and homophobia, voters may think and not use the “N” word, don’t worry, Trump is the surrogate. For the Trump camp the hope is in the lessons from the Brixit and the Columbia plebiscites, the polls predicted “yes” votes and the “no” prevailed in both cases. Are there Trump votes outside of the reach of the pollsters? Trump will be Trump, hoping that the lesson from Brixit prevails.

With pollsters predicting a big Hillary victory will Trump voters throw in the towel and not bother voting, and/or, will the Hillary voters, anticipating a big Hillary win will also not bother to vote?

Hopefully, I’ll feel relieved on November 9th

A couple of weeks after the election HRC, (G-d willing!!) will begin nominating cabinet members. Who will be the Secretary of Education?  I can give you a list of who will NOT be nominated; I have no idea of the nominee.

The first hundred days are crucial for incoming presidents: setting the tone for the presidency. Bill Clinton chose health care reform and stumbled badly. His presidency never achieved the accomplishments he anticipated.  While Hillary may regain the Senate it is unlikely the Democrats will also seize the House. The Republicans have been successful in thwarting Obama, with relatively little voter negativity.  Plus, history shows that midterm elections usually favor the “out” party. In 2010 and 2014 the Republicans thrashed the Democrats in the midterm elections. HRC will have a two year window to convince the nation that she was the “right” choice.

Reducing poverty and supporting the middle class is at the heart of the HRC agenda; however they are heavy lifts (See Brookings Institute paper here)

… graduating from high school, belonging to a family with at least one full-time worker, and having children while married and after age 21—correlated closely with economic success. We call this the “success sequence.” Individuals who follow it almost never live in poverty.

What can Hillary do in the field of education that does not require legislation or will be bipartisan?

For example: the college student debt crisis is acknowledged by both parties; however, the parties sharply disagree on the path.

How do we help students complete high school with the skills needed to pursue their goals? Raising graduation rates will require not just new kinds of high schools, but investment in children at all stages of life: home visiting, early childhood education, and new efforts in the primary grades.[ Home visiting programs improve parenting and connect families to adequate medical care. The effects continue well into adolescence. Similarly, research suggests that low cost interventions like providing parents with books and texting them reminders to read to their children, can have substantial effects on child literacy skills.

All of the interventions listed above cost dollars and a Republican Congress will not support the legislation. In addition, the policies are local, policies that have to be adopted at the state and local levels. The Obama/Duncan efforts alienated teachers and communities; once again, big, bad Washington telling us what to do and how to do it. The best decisions are usually made by teachers and school leaders supported by superintendents and the education hierarchy. Sadly Washington, or Albany or Tweed issue ukases, the troops salute, and very little changes. Race to the Top, 4.4 billion dollars, over $700 million to New York State: is there any evidence that the dollars changed outcomes?

I would suggest a major initiative: Career and Technical Education, former known as Vocational Education, a policy that can be supported by both parties; the new ESSA law devolves policy initiatives to the state level  Bipartisan federal legislation to encourage state and local educational authorities to create paths to employment would play a major role in reducing poverty.

I was speaking with a middle school principal in an extremely poor neighborhood – he asked his counselor to make every effort to guide his eighth graders to vocational high schools.

“My kids need jobs, their path out of poverty is a job and they need skills, high school has to mean something, they need a purpose to continue in school, spending four years learning academics and a skill, an internship, working as an apprentice will prepare my kids to lift themselves into the middle class.”

Packaged federal programs, like P-TECH, sound nice, receive a great deal of ink, and impact a miniscule number of kids; vocational, or, to use the current term Career and Technical Education (CTE) costs money to start and cost dollars to support. CTE programs must link with industries who are the potential employers as well as unions who will be the colleagues of the new workers.

There is no prep-packaged solution, HRC should not make the same fatal mistake that Obama-Duncan made, the paths, and there are many, must be created at the local level.

Schools have never been good at working beyond the boundaries of school buildings; a first meeting rarely results in a partnership. The most effective partnerships are created locally, by a school leader, Manhattan Day and Night Comprehensive High School works with Deutsche Bank, the fifteen International High Schools (all students have been in the country four years or less) work with the Internationals Network, a 401 that raises dollars to support the schools in the network,  public, not charter schools. Conversely Automotive High School has been on the verge of closing for years.

Manhattan Institute sees hope: two research briefs by Tamar Jacoby look to the future:

 Education 2.0: Employers Hold the Key to Better Career Training Vocational Education  and Keeping New York City on the Cutting Edge of Technical Education.

The European Union has well -established vocational education programs in schools as well as retraining programs for adults (Read a detailed report here)

There are at least a dozen high-profile education topics, from pre-kindergarten, the Common Core, charter schools, testing, teacher college preparation, all worthy of examination by the new administration; however; all are riddled with controversy and are best left to local decision-making. The belief that the best road out of poverty is a job is held across party lines and education and the private sector can partner and the nation will applaud.

The losers, the Republicans, will continue to do what has worked, obstructionism, and HRC needs winners, policies that are so popular that opposing them will alienate the citizenry: I believe Vocational Education, CTE is that issue.

Gwen Verdon, Méphistophélès and the Democratic Mayoral Primary: Will UFT Troops, or a Contract With Beelzebub Decide the Election?

Every few hours on my TV screen I see New Yorkers rag on Christine Quinn, an example of negative campaigning – welcome to the world of big time politics.

All the Democratic candidates are participating in the NYC Campaign Finance which provides matching funds for the primary and the general election. Outside organizations, “third parties,” can spend unlimited funds supporting or opposing candidates. The current nasty ads erode Quinn’s lead – such is the world of politics in the 21st century.

On September 10th voters who are registered in the Democratic Party, at least some of them, will go to the polls to cast their ballots for a mayoral candidate, a comptroller and public advocate, all of which require 40% to avoid a runoff, two, or maybe three weeks later. In addition most voters will choose a borough president and a city council candidate; there is no 40% rule requirement in non-citywide races.

The experts, the political consulting firms charge big dollars to run campaigns – and they’re very good at it

Check out Red Horse Strategies, Brown, Miller Groupand Bill Lynch Associates, among many others.

The Brown, Miller Group promises,

IT’S ABOUT THE DATA. Every direct contact plan needs to be built on a foundation of detailed analysis. Turnout trends, polling, tested messages, the things unique to every client, every campaign, and every neighborhood – these nuances and individualities are the basis of a successful mail program.

Data is available in an endless array, by geography, by race and ethnicity, by gender, by age, by frequency of voting, by type of dwelling, Prime NY will sell you the data disaggregated any way you choose.

For candidates a core question: who are the voters and who are your voters?

In November 2012 I stood in line for over two hours to vote – the line was overwhelmingly Obama voters, and, as I chatted with voters on the line many had not voted since 2008. Most experts expect a relatively light turnout in spite of six Democratic contenders (Quinn, Thompson, Liu, De Blasio, Weiner and Albanese). None of the candidates are magnetic, yes, Asian voters, if they are registered Democrats are Liu voters, the furthest left are De Blasio voters, Afro-American voters are probably Thompson voters, LGT voters are Quinn voters, none of the candidate constituencies have the passion of Obama voters.

The experts are predicting between 600 and 700,000 voters – in a city of 8 million plus residents. New York City has among the lowest level of voter turnout in the nation, and, the percentages are declining. New York is at the bottom of the nation in citizen participation in elections,

New York ranks among the lowest states with voter turnouts. In 2010, only 35 percent voted according to a George Mason University study.

“New York City had lower voter turnout in the presidential elections in 2008 than any other major city in the country,” said Amy Loprest, executive director of the Campaign Finance Board said. “While I don’t think any jurisdiction would say that they have great voter turnout, I think that New York has a particular problem.”

In 2001 785,000 Democrats voted in the mayoral primary and 790,000 in the runoff. In the 2005 and 2009 general elections the Democratic turnouts were meager, (Ferrer – 503,000 and Thompson – 534,000), and, yes, Democratic voters did “cross-over” and vote for Bloomberg.

The early media buys are examples of negative campaigning, effective in diminishing the votes of opponents, and generally turns off voters and decreases turnouts.

Candidates “mine” data: the key voters are “prime” (voted in three of the last four elections) and “double prime” voters (voted in four of the last four elections). Websites provide keys to collecting voter information.

See an excellent site here.

I am told by a knowledgeable consultant that the average age of a voter in the Democratic primary is sixty years of age, and more likely than a younger voter to have a land line. Polling organizations randomly call registered Democrats with land lines; the many potential voters with only cell phones are not polled.

Christine Quinn has been leading all the polls for months; however her early lead, which was approaching the 40% mark, has eroded significantly. Nate Silver in his NY Times Five Thirty Eight column does an analysis of Democratic primaries since 1989 and predicts Quinn will be the winner.

The latest poll, a Marist May 28th poll predicts a very close vote on September 10th,
• 24% Christine Quinn
• 19% Anthony Weiner
• 12% Bill de Blasio
• 11% Bill Thompson
• 8% John Liu
• 1% Sal Albanese
• 23% Undecided

The next polls, due in a few weeks will reflect whether Weiner has “staying power,” the impact of the negative ads aimed at Quinn and the impact of the recent union endorsements.

Paul Egan, the UFT Political Action Coordinator avers that 60,000 UFT members are registered Democrats residing in New York City and if you count UFT households about 100,000 voters – a significant chunk of the expected turnout.

No wonder the candidates are acolytes of Gwen Verdon in “Damn Yankees.” (Watch U-Tube of “Whatever Lola Wants”). The favorite play and opera among the candidates is Faust, and, a political consulting firm named Mephistopheles Strategies would probably be overwhelmed with clients.

Michael Mulgrew half-jokingly lamented, “I’m going to go from six really close ‘friends’ to one ‘friend.'” The UFT will be endorsing a candidate at the Delegate Meeting scheduled for the afternoon of June 19th.

The candidates will spend the summer attending every event they can find, from bar-b-ques to street fairs, from baseball games to cricket matches, trying to scrape together a vote here and a vote there – a percentage point may very well determine who makes the runoff.

This is a particularly difficult year – the Thursday and Friday before the September 10th primary is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and one of the holiest days of the year; a key time in which campaigning will be limited.

The acronym which will decide the winner(s) is GOTV.

GOTY = Get Out the Vote. You’ve spent months identifying your voters, getting out your message, now; you must take that last step and make sure they get to the polling place. TV and radio and social media allow you to frame your message – GOTV determines winners.

Both in 2008 and 2012 Obama had an army, millions of foot soldiers knocking on the right doors. Endorsements are helpful, phone banks important, the “decider” is the push in the last four days, the GOTV efforts. Can you knock on the tens of thousands of doors of voters who have indicated they are your voters – not random doors? Get Out The Vote means get out your vote.

Can the UFT get their 60,000 registered Democrat voters go door to door on the weekend of September 7-8 and ask, “Can I depend on you to go the poll on Tuesday and vote for _______?”

The vast percentage of potential voters are far more concerned with ups and downs of their favorite sports teams, the woes of the Yankees and the Mets and the upcoming football season – the Giants and the Jets. My neighbor is more interested in the latest episode of the Game of Thrones than the election, in fact, the citizenry is only vaguely aware that Bloomberg can’t run again. Voters will only focus on the election in mid-August, if at all.

Can a teacher who favors candidate “A” be convinced to switch his/her vote to the candidate that the UFT endorses? The election may hinge on this crucial question.

If Michael Mulgrew can get his troops into the field – he can make a mayor – if not, the specter of 2001 – the UFT endorsed three losers and an unknown who had never been involved in politics seized the office – once again, can a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic city be elected, or, can a Democrat hostile to unions grab the scepter and the orb?

Perhaps Winston Churchill said it best,

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” and “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

See NY Times article re power of labor unions in NYC mayoral election.