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Todd Gurley Is In The Right System At The Right Time | FiveThirtyEight
Todd Gurley is off to one of the hottest starts in NFL history. After rushing for a league-leading 623 yards and nine touchdowns — plus 247 receiving yards and two more TDs through the air — Gurley has accumulated the fifth-most adjusted yards1 from scrimmage through six games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, joining former Rams greats Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson near the top of the list. The Rams are 6-0 on the young season, and Gurley’s breakneck performance is often cited as a catalyst for the team’s success. He has even been in the early discussion for league MVP.
But is that really warranted? Does the Rams offense truly run through Gurley, or should we be giving head coach Sean McVay more of the credit?
football  rams  gurley  538 
2 days ago by rgl7194
How Kavanaugh Will Change The Supreme Court | FiveThirtyEight
Since July, when President Trump announced his most recent nomination to the Supreme Court, FiveThirtyEight has been analyzing the effects of a potential Justice Kavanaugh — a potential that is now reality. Kavanaugh was confirmed on Saturday by a 50-48 vote in the Senate. Based on what we know about measuring the ideology of justices and judges, the Supreme Court will soon take a hard and quick turn to the right. It’s a new path that is likely to last for years.
Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, will almost certainly become the new median justice, defining the court’s new ideological center. As measured by Judicial Common Space scores — which use the popular Martin-Quinn method for justices, based solely on their actual votes — the center of the court will be about as conservative as it was when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a Ronald Reagan appointee, was the median justice in the 1990s and early 2000s. According to these scores, the court’s center will now cross from mildly liberal to solidly conservative.
SCOTUS  gov2.0  politics  trump  538  conservative 
15 days ago by rgl7194
The CDC Is Publishing Unreliable Data On Gun Injuries. People Are Using It Anyway. | FiveThirtyEight
For journalists, researchers and the general public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention serves as an authoritative source of information about Americans’ health, including estimates of how many people are killed or injured by guns. The agency’s most recent figures include a worrying uptick: Between 2015 and 2016, the number of Americans nonfatally injured by a firearm jumped by 37 percent, rising from about 85,000 to more than 116,000. It was the largest single-year increase recorded in more than 15 years.
But the gun injury estimate is one of several categories of CDC data flagged with an asterisk indicating that, according to the agency’s own standards, it should be treated as “unstable and potentially unreliable.” In fact, the agency’s 2016 estimate of gun injuries is more uncertain than nearly every other type of injury it tracks. Even its estimates of BB gun injuries are more reliable than its calculations for the number of Americans wounded by actual guns.
gov2.0  report  guns  data  politics  538 
15 days ago by rgl7194
Why Humans Are Bad At Spotting Lies | FiveThirtyEight
“Exactly how you’d expect a guilty person to act.” “Moving and credible.” “So coached and so rehearsed.” “Simply tremendous.”
These are all reactions to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony on Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a set of responses that put on full display just how differently people can interpret the same set of behaviors, statements and emotions. And that reality lines up well with what experts who study lying and lie detection would expect: Humans aren’t very good at being able to tell — just from watching someone and listening to them talk — whether they are being told truth or fiction.
Instead, research suggests, our interpretations of testimony like Kavanaugh’s, or Christine Blasey Ford’s earlier on Thursday, will be shaped by what we already believe. The Kavanaugh confirmation fight and Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her are taking place in a political context, tapping into partisan identities. But even without those particular biases, humans just aren’t very good at reading people. And that’s why testimony is “no substitute for a good, solid, thorough investigation and finding of the facts,” said Brian Fitch, a psychologist and retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s lieutenant.
truth  psychology  politics  538 
21 days ago by rgl7194
What’s Still On Mueller’s To-Do List? | FiveThirtyEight
As the summer drew to a close, Labor Day attained almost mythic status for followers of the Mueller investigation. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani repeatedly claimed that the Mueller probe, which is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election, was poised to wrap up by the beginning of September. Others breathlessly predicted that indictments of Roger Stone and even Donald Trump Jr. were imminent.
Instead, none of that happened. And now Mueller-watchers may have to wait even longer to learn what the special counsel investigation has in store. With the midterm elections less than 60 days away, some observers have predicted that Mueller will refrain from taking steps that could affect the outcome — although as former FBI director James Comey can attest, there’s no ironclad rule forbidding Department of Justice officials from taking action, even on the eve of an election.
As we enter this possible quiet period, however, it’s a good time to take stock of what Mueller has accomplished so far, and what questions are left unanswered.
538  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
5 weeks ago by rgl7194
The Rams And Bears Spent Big On Non-Quarterbacks. Will They Regret It? | FiveThirtyEight
A few years back, my colleague Ben Morris wrote a piece for FiveThirtyEight called “Ndamukong Suh Is Cursed.” The basic premise was that huge contracts for non-quarterbacks in the NFL are usually doomed to failure, because of a couple factors: First, the team that “wins” the bid for a player is often the one who overpaid the most; beyond that, tying up a huge percentage of the team’s salary cap in one player can hamstring a roster even if the individual contract ends up providing fair value. Ben’s example of Suh, whose highly paid tenure with the Dolphins ended in March, wound up being a perfect case study — not only was the defensive tackle much less productive after the deal, but Miami also played worse after signing Suh.
football  rams  AD99  business  538  money 
6 weeks ago by rgl7194
FiveThirtyEight gives Rams 39 percent chance to make playoffs
Last season, for the first time in more than a decade, the Los Angeles Rams made the playoffs. They did so by winning 11 games and taking home the NFC West title, supplanting the Seahawks atop the division.
It was a campaign that caught everyone off guard, one that almost no one predicted for the Rams. Yet, as good as they were in 2017, the Rams should be even better this season after adding Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Brandin Cooks.
football  rams  preview  analytics  538 
6 weeks ago by rgl7194
Why Democrats Were Willing To Break The Rules On Kavanaugh Day 3 | FiveThirtyEight
There is an ideological light burning inside Brett Kavanaugh, but the last few days of congressional testimony hasn’t told us much about what it looks like — let alone how bright it will burn if he reaches the Supreme Court. Instead, it has been obscured by two distinct, opaque screens. The first screen is made of paper. Hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s career as a government lawyer have either been withheld from the committee, declared “committee confidential” or delivered too late for any meaningful vetting. The second screen is made of silence. Kavanaugh has relied on an unwritten rule that he says compels a nominee to refuse discussing hypotheticals, potential future cases and — especially today — current events. To do so, he says, would corrupt his “judicial independence.”
For the first hour of Thursday’s hearings, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, along with the press, tried to poke holes in that first screen to let the light in.
congress  SCOTUS  gov2.0  politics  racism  538  email 
6 weeks ago by rgl7194
Is Trump’s Legitimacy At Risk? | FiveThirtyEight
Last Tuesday was not a good day for President Trump. Within minutes his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to charges including a campaign finance violation, and his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was found guilty on eight counts, including fraud charges. So, not a banner day for his presidency. But was it a day that fundamentally changed it?
I don’t mean to ask whether it changed the trajectory of his presidency. On that, time will tell, etc. etc. Instead, I’m interested in something more core to Trump’s presidency as it currently exists. Has the guilt of Trump’s aides affected his ability to govern?
trump  gov2.0  politics  538 
7 weeks ago by rgl7194
Republicans Are Talking About Impeachment Way More Than Democrats | FiveThirtyEight
“Legal blows fuel impeachment fears” declared Politico in a headline on Tuesday, after news broke that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen had entered a guilty plea and a jury had convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight counts of various financial crimes. The story featured three Republicans (and no Democrats) speculating about the possibility of Democrats impeaching President Trump if they win control of the House in November. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested that impeachment is, “the only message they seem to have going into the midterms,” referring to congressional Democrats. Even Trump himself appears to have impeachment on the mind.
Here’s the thing: If the Democrats are planning to impeach Trump if they win control of the House, they are doing a really great job of hiding it. Congressional Democrats aren’t talking about impeachment.
politics  gov2.0  trump  538  impeach 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
How FiveThirtyEight’s House Model Works | FiveThirtyEight
We’ve been publishing election models for more than 10 years now, and FiveThirtyEight’s 2018 House model is probably the most work we’ve ever put into one of them. That’s mostly because it just uses a lot of data. We collected data for all 435 congressional districts in every House race since 1998, and we’ve left few stones unturned, researching everything from how changes in district boundary lines could affect incumbents in Pennsylvania to how ranked-choice voting could change outcomes in Maine.
Not all of that detail is apparent upon launch. You can see the topline national numbers, as well as a forecast of the outcome in each district. But we’ll be adding a lot more features within the next few weeks, including detailed pages for each district. You may want to clip and save this methodology guide for then. In the meantime, here’s a fairly detailed glimpse at how the model works.
gov2.0  politics  congress  statistics  538  election 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
The 5 Big Takeaways From Our House Forecast | FiveThirtyEight
Democrats are favored to gain control of the House of Representatives in this year’s midterm elections, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast model. But — a very FiveThirtyEight-ish sentence follows — the range of possible outcomes is wide and Democrats’ prospects are far from certain. Relatively small shifts could allow Republicans to keep control of the House, or could turn a blue wave into a tsunami.
What’s behind all of this? Our methodology post goes into a lot more detail about how our forecasts are calculated. But that explanation is rather abstract, so in this article, I’m going to focus on how these factors are playing out given what we know about the political environment this year.
gov2.0  election  congress  politics  Dems  538 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
What We Know About Voter ID Laws | FiveThirtyEight
At a rally last month, President Trump endorsed voter ID laws, saying this to the audience: “Only American citizens should vote in American elections. Which is why the time has come for voter ID, like everything else. You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card.”
Many jumped on the head-scratching line about groceries, but the more significant piece of the president’s speech may have been his unfounded implication that many noncitizens are voting. Trump’s comment is likely to add fuel to the long-running debate among citizens, elected officials, courts and researchers about the motivations behind and impact of voter ID laws. With some credible new evidence on these questions from political science — and the midterms fast approaching — it’s a good time to take stock of what we do and don’t know.
election  gov2.0  politics  ID  538  research 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
John McCain Was A Maverick — And A Politician | FiveThirtyEight
John McCain, the senator from Arizona, passed away from brain cancer on Saturday at the age of 81. He weathered the sharp attacks from opponents and voters that all politicians do, but his burnish of authenticity, increasingly rare in public figures, spoke to our American ideal of independence, and his early sacrifice as a prisoner of war pulled at our patriotism. McCain was who we wanted our politicians to be, even if he didn’t always live up to our own idea of who he was.
The “maverick” label he will likely be best-remembered for was a mixture of personality, PR and the truth.
congress  gov2.0  politics  RIP  538  mccain  cancer 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Hacking The Electric Grid Is Damned Hard | FiveThirtyEight
The nightmare is easy enough to imagine. Nefarious baddies sit in a dark room, illuminated by the green glow of a computer screen. Meanwhile, technicians watch in horror from somewhere in the Midwest as they lose control of their electrical systems. And, suddenly, hundreds of thousands, even millions of Americans are plunged into darkness.
That scene was evoked in recent weeks as federal security experts at the Department of Homeland Security warned that state-sponsored hackers have targeted more than American elections — they’re after the electric grid, too. They’ve gotten “to the point where they could have thrown switches,” a DHS official told The Wall Street Journal. Both DHS and the FBI have linked these attacks to Russia — which was already pinned as the culprit in two attacks that shut down power to hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine two Decembers in a row, in 2015 and 2016. It’s all very urgent — a high-risk crisis that must be solved immediately.
security  hack  electric  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
Is Chris Collins Toast? | FiveThirtyEight
How much scandals hurt candidates running for re-election
In the era of President Trump, it’s become fashionable to presume that politicians can do whatever they like and get away with it. But if recent elections to Congress are any guide, scandals do have large and measurable effects. So when U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, the Republican from New York’s 27th Congressional District, was arrested on insider trading charges on Wednesday morning, it took a seat that had looked to be fairly safe for Republicans and put it into the competitive category.
I’m going to be fairly circumspect in this article because I’m knee-deep in finalizing our House model, and I don’t want to scoop our own forecast. But one of the things we evaluated in designing that model is the electoral effects of scandals, based on the data set of scandals put together by my colleague Nathaniel Rakich.1
politics  crime  new_york  congress  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
What You Found In 3 Million Russian Troll Tweets | FiveThirtyEight
Last week, FiveThirtyEight published nearly 3 million tweets sent by handles affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll factory.” That group was a defendant in one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments, which accused the IRA of interfering with American electoral and political processes.
We shared the data with the public in concert with the researchers who first assembled it: Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren, both of Clemson University. Their hope, and ours, was that other researchers, as well as our broader readership, would explore the tweet data, share their findings and improve the data set, all with a goal of understanding Russian interference in American politics.
“So far it’s only had two brains looking at it,” Linvill said of the data last week. “More brains might find God-knows-what.”
538  election  gov2.0  politics  russia  troll  trump  twitter 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
The Abortion Debate Isn’t As Partisan As Politicians Make It Seem | FiveThirtyEight
The debate over Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, is likely to be dominated by discussion about abortion as the court, if Kavanaugh is confirmed, would have five solidly conservative justices, which may mean it’s willing to strike down Roe v. Wade. And that discussion will likely be split by party: Almost all the Democrats you see on cable news and on the floor of the Senate will strongly defend abortion rights, while anti-abortion activists will be among Kavanaugh’s most prominent advocates, even if they don’t outright say they think he will vote to strike down Roe.
But the way the abortion debate plays out in national politics, particularly around judicial nominations, does not reflect how the broader public views this issue. The issue is not a 50/50 Democrat/Republican split, as the plurality of Americans consistently take the “pro-choice” position over the “pro-life” one. And the public, unlike political elites, is not completely divided along party lines on this issue. There is a large bloc of Republicans who support abortion rights. There is a smaller, but still sizable, group of Democrats who oppose abortion rights.
politics  abortion  debate  538  gov2.0 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
We’re Divided On Patriotism Too | FiveThirtyEight
We at FiveThirtyEight hope you had a very patriotic Fourth of July — whatever that means to you. A YouGov poll, released this week, checked in on Americans’ feelings on patriotism and revealed some stark differences along — what else? — partisan lines.
Overall, the survey found that 76 percent of Americans consider themselves “very” or “somewhat” patriotic. But between Republicans and Democrats, there were pretty big differences: A whopping 97 percent of Republicans placed themselves in the “very” or “somewhat” categories, compared with 71 percent of Democrats. That’s a gap of 26 percentage points. Even more starkly, 72 percent of Republicans consider themselves to be “very” patriotic (the highest level of patriotism), compared with 29 percent of Democrats — a 43-point gap.
gov2.0  politics  survey  538  patriots 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Americans Know Where They Stand On The Mueller Investigation | FiveThirtyEight
Friday’s news that the Justice Department had indicted 12 Russian agents in connection with interference in the 2016 U.S. elections was a major development in the fast-moving Robert Mueller investigation. But that doesn’t mean it will change anyone’s mind in the long run.
Since Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017, his investigation has brought charges against 35 people or businesses, including former Trump confidants Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn in late 2017. But while American opinion about Russian involvement in the 2016 election has shifted over that time, the shift hasn’t always been lasting.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
What Climate Change Looks Like In 2018 | FiveThirtyEight
It’s only July, but it has already been a long, hot spring and summer. The contiguous U.S. endured the warmest May ever recorded, and in June, the average temperature was 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.0 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average. Iowa, New Mexico and Texas set record highs for their minimum temperatures in June, and as of July 3, nearly 30 percent of the Lower 48 was experiencing drought conditions. And it’s not just the U.S. During the first five months of 2018, nearly every continent experienced record warm temperatures, and May 2018 marked the 401st consecutive month in which temperatures exceeded the 20th century average.
climate_change  politics  economics  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
How The Putin-Trump Press Conference Rates On Our Trump Opposition Scale | FiveThirtyEight
When President Trump backtracked (slightly) from controversial remarks he made on Monday in which he questioned the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, I wasn’t surprised. It was another demonstration that what usually forces Trump to back down from a confrontation or concede defeat is not just the intensity of opposition (particularly if it’s coming only from congressional Democrats), but the breadth of that opposition: Trump usually feels compelled to respond in some way when powerful blocs in American politics combine to resist him.
In the 24 hours after Trump’s comments in Helsinki, Democrats on Capitol Hill were of course furious about them. But so were some Republicans, including those who typically criticize Trump and even a few Trump allies. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, issued a statement affirming his confidence in the intelligence community’s findings that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election; issuing the statement was an aggressive step, since Coats is a Trump political appointee. And the media was unusually unrestrained in attacking Trump, a tenor perhaps best illustrated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper declaring on air that Trump’s behavior was “disgraceful,” and Fox News’ Abby Huntsman writing on Twitter that “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.”
politics  trump  gov2.0  congress  news  legal  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
GOP Criticism Of Trump Is All Talk — But It Still Matters | FiveThirtyEight
Critics of President Trump want Republicans to do more. The argument goes something like this: Some Republicans like Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona have cast Trump as historically dangerous, leading a “daily disassembling of our democratic institutions,” in Flake’s words. Trump critics argue that, if this is their view, this moment in history compels them to do everything possible to limit Trump — to oppose Trump more than just rhetorically. With McCain suffering from brain cancer and not on Capitol Hill, the Senate is basically divided between 50 members who vote with the GOP and 49 who vote with the Democrats. Flake or any other Republican senator, their critics argue, could single-handedly grind Trump’s entire agenda to a halt. They could prevent a vote on Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, or force a vote on legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller.
Instead, the few Republicans in the Senate willing to criticize Trump1 have mostly done only that, spurring some eye-rolling exasperation from people who want action, not just words. But we think this vein of criticism of Trump-skeptical Republicans is, well, kind of wrong. It ignores the power of words to serve as a reminder that Trump isn’t an entirely normal Republican, and that he doesn’t have complete Republican support — at least, not all the time. It’s true that Flake and other Trump-skeptical Republicans could do much, much more. But that doesn’t mean what they’re doing now is meaningless.
gov2.0  politics  congress  trump  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
What The Rise Of Kamala Harris Tells Us About The Democratic Party | FiveThirtyEight
In the days after Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the two people who seemed like the Democratic Party’s most obvious 2020 candidates, then-Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, hinted that Clinton had gone too far in talking about issues of identity. “It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman; vote for me,’” Sanders said. Other liberals lamented that the party had lost white voters in such states as Ohio and Iowa who had supported Barack Obama, and they said Democrats needed to dial back the identity talk to win them back.
But that view never took hold among party activists. Liberal-leaning women were emboldened to talk about gender more, not less, after the 2016 election. We’ve had women’s marches and women running for office in greater numbers than ever — all while emphasizing their gender. President Trump’s moves kept identity issues at the forefront, too, and gave Democrats an opportunity both to defend groups they view as disadvantaged and to attack the policies of a president they hate.
politics  gov2.0  Dems  congress  immigration  538  women 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
How Catholic Bishops Are Shaping Health Care In Rural America | FiveThirtyEight
lmost as soon as President Trump took office, he began rolling back health care rules that had angered religious groups for much of the last decade. First, Trump signed an executive order declaring that his administration would protect religious freedom. Then, his administration ruled that health insurance plans offered by large employers don’t have to cover contraception for employees, an about-face from a contentious Obama policy. The Department of Health and Human Services created a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, signaling a new focus for the agency. A proposed rule could require all 5,500 hospitals in the U.S. to post notices informing individuals and entities that they are protected from religious discrimination.
The changes are all designed to ensure that employers, health care institutions and providers don’t have to participate in health care practices they object to for ethical or moral reasons. But even decades before the Trump administration moved to roll back Obamacare policies, some religious hospitals — in particular, Catholic hospitals — already had the green light from the government to deny certain treatment options to their patients. These hospitals’ right to refuse care is generally unquestioned, creating a dilemma for the people who walk in the door: What happens when you need or want a standard medical service, but the hospital won’t provide it?
538  church  health  insurance  medical  religion 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Russians Are Targeting Private Election Companies, Too — And States Aren’t Doing Much About It | FiveThirtyEight
The American election system is a textbook example of federalism at work. States administer elections, and the federal government doesn’t have much say in how they do it. While this decentralized system has its benefits, it also means that there’s no across-the-board standard for election system cybersecurity practices. This lack of standardization has become all the more apparent over the past two years: Hackers probed 21 state systems during the lead-up to the 2016 election and gained access to one. But the federal government and states don’t appear to have made great strides to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. To do so, they’d need to deal with not only their own cybersecurity deficits but also those of the private companies that help states administer elections.
Voting machine manufacturers and the makers of election software and electronic poll books (which are lists of eligible voters) are crucially intertwined with state election systems. All states, to some extent or another, rely on these private companies for election products. But despite the central role these companies play, state regulations of them are relatively lax. That’s a problem, especially at a time when these companies are, along with state governments, targets of foreign agents of chaos.
election  gov2.0  politics  state  hack  russia  security  privacy  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Why We’re Sharing 3 Million Russian Troll Tweets | FiveThirtyEight
When historians try to appraise Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, which historical artifacts will they use? Then-candidate Donald Trump’s speech imploring Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails, perhaps. The soccer ball Vladimir Putin gave President Trump at their summit in Helsinki probably merits inclusion. And then there are the tweets — millions of them.
Earlier this year, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Justice Department charged 13 Russian nationals with interfering in American electoral and political processes. The defendants worked for a well-funded “troll factory” called the Internet Research Agency, which had 400 employees, according to one Russian news report. From a bland office building in St. Petersburg, the agency ran a sophisticated and coordinated campaign to sow disinformation and discord into American politics via social media. This often involved Trump’s favorite medium: Twitter.
politics  russia  twitter  troll  gov2.0  trump  election  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Damn, We Wish We’d Done These 4 Stories Last Month | FiveThirtyEight
“Nike Says Its $250 Running Shoes Will Make You Run Much Faster. What if That’s Actually True?”
By Kevin Quealy and Josh Katz, The Upshot
Nike claims that runners who wear the company’s pricey Zoom Vaporfly 4% running shoes can see efficiency gains of up to 4 percent. That’s a lot in a sport with slim margins between winning and losing. But are those numbers correct? Lab studies are limited by their small sample sizes, but The Upshot was not. Kevin Quealy and Josh Katz used tens of thousands of real-life performance records from the Strava app to look beyond the Nike-sponsored lab studies and find out how the shoes performed in real events. That’s really cool, and what I really admired about the piece was the detailed yet accessible way that Quealy and Katz described their methodology and explained the strengths and weaknesses of the numerous analytic approaches they tried. No matter how they sliced the data, it pointed to a similar conclusion: Runners really did seem to perform better when wearing the Nike shoes.
— Christie Aschwanden, lead science writer
538  analytics  footwear  performance  sports 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Insurers Can Send Patients To Religious Hospitals That Restrict Reproductive Care | FiveThirtyEight
Last fall, about a month before her Medicaid coverage was scheduled to expire, Darolyn Lee realized that she needed to get her contraceptive implant replaced. Lee, a 37-year-old in Chicago, called the managed care organization in charge of her plan to find out where she should go to get the new implant. She was told that the closest in-network provider was Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, a Catholic hospital about 30 minutes away by bus.
When she got to the hospital for her appointment, the doctor said she couldn’t replace Lee’s birth control, but wouldn’t say why. Instead, she gave Lee a referral card for the hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology department. Lee, assuming that hospital bureaucracy was to blame, made another appointment and returned to the hospital a few weeks later. But when the second doctor walked into the room, she explained that she, too, could not replace the implant. She offered Lee a pap smear instead.
538  church  health  medical  religion  insurance 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Why Religious Health Care Restrictions Often Take Patients By Surprise | FiveThirtyEight
When Angela Valavanis was deciding where she wanted to give birth, she didn’t give the matter much thought. Her obstetrician was affiliated with Presence St. Francis, a well-regarded hospital just north of Chicago, and that was where she had delivered her previous child almost four years earlier. She saw no reason not to return for her second and — she hoped — final delivery. She was planning for a natural delivery, but she wrote in her birth plan that if she had to have an emergency C-section, she wanted the doctors to perform a tubal ligation (commonly called “getting your tubes tied”) during her surgery so she wouldn’t get pregnant again in the future.
It wasn’t a secret that St. Francis was a Catholic hospital. If the name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, the crosses on the walls made the religious connection hard to ignore. But the implications of Angela’s decision to have her baby at this particular hospital didn’t become clear to her until she was being wheeled into the operating room for a C-section after three exhausting days of labor. It was the middle of the night, and she and her husband, Stel Valavanis, were foggy and frightened. But as she was being prepared for surgery, Angela reminded the doctor she wanted a tubal ligation.
There was a pause. And then the doctor said, “We can’t do that.”
religion  health  medical  538  church  insurance 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Can Science Save Politics? Or Will Politics Ruin Science? | FiveThirtyEight
Science has never truly been separate from the political system that funds it and uses the tools it creates. But scientists have not traditionally pushed so hard to make that relationship explicit, or to be the ones in charge of it. In the past, said Shaughnessy Naughton, the former chemist who founded 314 Action, scientists have sort of believed that they could just put the facts out there and the evidence would speak for itself. Before this, it had been rare for scientists to get involved in politics. “But it’s clear now that politicians are unashamed to meddle in science. And the way to push back is getting scientists elected. We have to have a place at the table,” she said.
When Gupta tries to win the Aug. 7 Democratic primary in the Michigan 11th, he won’t be just a lone guy with a science background running for Congress — a single data point, if you will. Instead, he’s part of a much larger sample — dozens of people trying to grant science some political power. It’s not clear that a commitment to STEM will help him win, though, nor is it clear what happens if Gupta and other science candidates do make it into office. That could mean more evidence-based policy — or more well-intentioned newbie politicians absorbed into the same old political machine. It could mean newfound respect (and research dollars) for science. Or it could turn “science” into a dog-whistle word for “liberal.”
Nobody knows what the result will be. There’s a word for what Gupta is running in this election, and it’s not “campaign.” It’s “experiment.”
gov2.0  science  politics  election  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Why LeBron Can Say Whatever He Wants About Politics | FiveThirtyEight
LeBron James attended a Cleveland campaign rally for Hillary Clinton in 2016 even though she was likely to lose his home state of Ohio. After Donald Trump’s election, James repeatedly blasted the president. When Laura Ingraham said James should “shut up and dribble,” he rebutted the Fox News host by saying he had never heard of her before her remark. And now this: On Monday, James wouldn’t rule out running for president in 2020.
James began to get involved in political issues during the Obama years — publicly backing the first African-American president and the Black Lives Matter movement, for example — but he’s been ramping it up lately. We often think of athletes as doing something risky when they interject themselves into politics. But I don’t think James really has to worry about any backlash. The wall between the worlds of sports and politics has increasingly broken down, and James’s place in those worlds gives him extra protection.
basketball  lakers  lebron  politics  trump  POTUS  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
The Good, The Bad And The WTF Of NBA Free Agency | FiveThirtyEight
Somewhere in between
Los Angeles Lakers
No one is knocking the LeBron signing itself. (How could you?) But add me to the list of people who have struggled to understand the free-agent signings around him.
Regardless of whether you plan to have James control the ball a ton or you prefer that he operates more from the post, he would benefit most by having a stable of capable jump-shooters to give him the time and space he needs to create scoring chances.
For the better part of eight years, James’s rosters have generally featured several shooting specialists who afford him ample room to drive and kick. A number of players — James Jones, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Matthew Dellavedova, JR Smith, Kyle Korver, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, just to name a few — have logged seasons in which they shot 40 percent or better3 from deep when playing alongside James. By contrast, no one on this Lakers roster — outside of James — has ever logged even one season of 40 percent or better.4
This might be an arbitrary threshold. Aside from the fact that many players on this club are in the early stages of their career, Brandon Ingram shot 39.0 percent from there last year, and Josh Hart was at 39.6 percent. And it seems a given that the team’s best young players stand to take massive steps forward by playing with a great setup man who demands so much of the opponent’s attention.
The bigger question, in light of comments he made during the NBA Finals, is whether this team will possess the sort of collective basketball IQ that James feels he needs around him. We know Rajon Rondo, however combustible he might be, is set in that regard. But the additions of Stephenson and JaVale McGee were tougher to square from that standpoint.
At their best, with the right surroundings, Stephenson and McGee can lead the NBA in triple-doubles and wreak havoc in pick-and-roll scenarios, respectively. At their worst, they create blooper reels. We have no idea which versions will emerge. But rest assured: LeBron and the youthful Lakers will be anything but boring as we tune in to find out.
basketball  lakers  lebron  538 
12 weeks ago by rgl7194
Is Manny Machado Enough To Bring A Title To L.A.? | FiveThirtyEight
The shortstop is one of the best rentals in MLB history, but big-ticket pickups seldom seal a World Series win.
After months of speculation (and an entire day of “a deal in place” with an unnamed team), Baltimore is finally pulling the trigger on a trade of star shortstop Manny Machado. In the midst of Tuesday’s All-Star Game festivities, the Orioles reportedly agreed to send him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a collection of prospects.
For the Dodgers, the move bolsters an infield that was diminished when shortstop Corey Seager went down with a season-ending elbow injury in April. Chris Taylor has done an admirable job filling in at short, with a .786 on-base plus slugging this season, and Max Muncy has been a revelation (1.013 OPS) in the infield as well, but Machado’s presence will free those two up to move around the diamond as necessary. It will be a juggling act for manager Dave Roberts to sort out everyone’s playing time, but that’s a good problem to have — as we’ve written about the trade deadline before, there are no diminishing returns to acquiring more talent in baseball because the postseason is such a crapshoot.
baseball  dodgers  machado  trade  538 
july 2018 by rgl7194
The Mueller Investigation Keeps Growing Fast | FiveThirtyEight
At a surprise news conference on Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the Justice Department would be charging 12 Russian intelligence officers with a wide range of offenses, including conspiracies to hack the Democratic National Committee, state election systems and other targets. This brings the total number of the people charged in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to 32.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
july 2018 by rgl7194
LeBron May Already Be The Greatest Laker Of All-Time | FiveThirtyEight
LeBron James in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform used to be the stuff of fan photoshops and NBA 2K’s franchise mode.1 But now it has become reality, after the announcement Sunday night that James is signing a four-year, $153 million free-agent contract with L.A. It might be jarring at first to see James in Lakers gear this fall — but he’ll fit right in with a franchise whose destiny has always been determined by Hall of Fame talent. In fact, even among the Lakers’ many, many historical stars, James could be the best player who ever suited up for the team the first second that he steps onto a court wearing Forum blue and gold.
basketball  lakers  lebron  538  statistics 
july 2018 by rgl7194
How Good Will The Lakers Be With LeBron? | FiveThirtyEight
It’s probably going to take Kawhi for them to become serious contenders, but Los Angeles just sped up the process.
Love them or hate them, the Los Angeles Lakers long represented the closest thing the NBA had to a proverbial land of milk and honey. For the better part of three decades, the club often had a surplus of star players, a robust record, and the occasional championship trophy.
Then they were hit with what equates to a biblical drought for their fans: a five-season stretch without a playoff berth.
But on Sunday night, the sky opened up and watered the thirsting Laker franchise, as LeBron James, the world’s best basketball player, chose to join the Los Angeles club as a free agent, agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal, according to Klutch Sports, the sports management agency that represents James.
basketball  lakers  lebron  538 
july 2018 by rgl7194
Democrats Are Wrong About Republicans. Republicans Are Wrong About Democrats. | FiveThirtyEight
Welcome to Secret Identity, our regular column on identity and its role in politics and policy.
The defining divide in American politics is probably between Republicans and Democrats. It encapsulates all our other divides — by race, education, religion and more — and it’s growing.
This partisan divide is such a big part of people’s political identities, in fact, that it’s reinforced simply by “negative partisanship,” or loyalty to a party because you don’t like the other party. A Pew Research Center poll from last year found that about 40 percent of both Democrats and Republicans belong to their party because they oppose the other party’s values, rather than because they are particularly aligned with their own party.
politics  Dems  GOP  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
Science Wants Your Data | FiveThirtyEight
Eric Dishman wants your data. As the director of the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us research program, he’s trying to convince 1 million Americans to donate reams of sensitive personal information to science. Electronic medical records? Gimme. Genetic data? He’ll take it. Residence history? His inbox waits with open arms.
Dishman’s goal is to build a database that can help all kinds of scientists make connections between how people are affected by a disease and what biographical differences they might share, which in turn could lead to new, more-personalized treatments. He’s not alone in his search for data donors. Experts who study the way science uses data say that both health and social sciences are increasingly reliant on collecting huge amounts of potentially sensitive information about human research subjects. And while participating in research has always carried risks, this new approach means that the amount of data collected is so large and the types of data are so interconnected that the risks have grown large and connected, too.
science  ethics  data  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
Will Kennedy’s Retirement Help Republicans At The Midterms? | FiveThirtyEight
The most important effects stemming from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement will be on how the Supreme Court rules on landmark cases on issues ranging from abortion to gerrymandering. But there are fewer than 20 weeks between now and the midterm elections, and Kennedy’s announcement also has the potential to affect the composition of the next Congress.
Betting markets see the news as a wash as far as the midterms go.1 But betting markets are sometimes pretty dumb, so let’s work our way through a pair of decent arguments I’ve seen for why Kennedy’s retirement is more likely to help Republicans than Democrats politically2...
corruption  gov2.0  politics  retirement  SCOTUS  trump  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
Kennedy’s Retirement Puts Moderate Democrats In A Bind | FiveThirtyEight
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement just made the midterm elections even more contentious than they already were.
His replacement will have to be approved by the Senate, and the confirmation process will likely take place in the weeks leading up to the November elections. (Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already promised the vote will take place “this fall.”) That means a number of senate Democrats holding endangered seats in Trump-voting states will have to make a difficult decision: support their party leadership and vote against President Trump’s eventual nominee, risking the wrath of voters at home, or vote for the president’s nominee and endanger whatever slim chance the Democrats might have of blocking Trump’s nominee. It’s a particularly perilous decision for moderate Democrats, who are already something of an endangered species in 2018.
corruption  gov2.0  politics  retirement  SCOTUS  trump  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
Why The Republican Party Elects So Few Women | FiveThirtyEight
There has been a lot of buzz recently about the wave of women running for office in 2018. It’s record-breaking. But that’s not quite right. At least, it’s too broad.
There are a lot of Democratic women signing up as candidates and winning primaries, particularly for the U.S. House. So far this cycle, according to the Center for Women and American Politics at Rutgers University, 350 Democratic women have filed to run for the House, compared with 118 Republican women. Democratic women have won 105 House primaries, compared with just 25 by Republican women.
That pattern isn’t new. The overall male skew of Congress gets a lot of attention, and rightly so, but that skew looks very different in each party. There are almost three times as many Democratic women as Republican women serving in Congress — and November’s elections might exacerbate the disparity. A Democratic wave could both send many more Democratic women to Congress and also end the careers of several Republican female incumbents.
Dems  GOP  politics  election  women  gender  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
The LeBron James Decision-Making Machine | FiveThirtyEight
What all 30 teams can offer The King in championships and legacy.
Every four years, the basketball world holds its collective breath and waits for LeBron James to decide which team he’ll carry to the NBA Finals on an annual basis next. We’ve been through all this before: In 2010, James took his talents from Cleveland to South Beach (where he won two championships). In 2014, he went back home to the Cavs (and won yet another ring). So … what’s in store for LeBron as a free agent now? We can’t shed any light on what team he will pick this summer, but we can offer a little advice about which team he should pick.
Using our CARMELO player projections and a little modeling of each team’s salary-cap situation, we created 30 hypothetical LeBron James free-agency scenarios, one for each NBA franchise. Not every team can afford to outright sign LeBron, of course, so we had to make some trades1 and shuffle around some salaries to squeeze him onto each roster — sometimes at the cost of many other promising players. (On the other hand, a few teams even managed to snag another big-time free agent — such as Paul George — to accompany LeBron, although that arrangement was rare.) Based on each team’s projected talent level and average age2 after adding LeBron, we then estimated its odds of winning at least one NBA championship over the next four years — which, based on LeBron’s history, is presumably how long he’d sign on to a new city.
basketball  lebron  lakers  538  statistics 
june 2018 by rgl7194
How the Trump administration is defending its indefensible child separation policy.
The Trump administration is playing a game of choose your own facts, but every single version of this story ends with screaming children in cages.
You can call it a “policy” (Jeff Sessions) or you can call it a not-policy (Kirstjen Nielsen) or you can call it a “law” (Sarah Huckabee Sanders). You can say that yes it’s a policy but nobody likes it (Kellyanne Conway) or you can say it’s a “zero-tolerance” enforcement of a Democratic law (Donald Trump) or a zero-tolerance enforcement of an amalgam of various congressional laws (Nielsen) or a zero-tolerance enforcement of the Department of Justice’s own preferences with respect to enforcing prior laws (Sessions).
You can say the purpose of the Justice Department’s family separation policy is deterrence (Stephen Miller, John Kelly) or you can claim that asking if the purpose of the policy is deterrence is “offensive” (Nielsen). You can claim in your legal pleadings that the family separation policy is wholly “discretionary” and thus unreviewable by any court, meaning that only the president can change it (Justice Department in Ms. L v. ICE). Or you can claim that only Congress can “fix loopholes” (Nielsen) or you can say that Congress as a whole can’t fix anything because congressional Democrats are entirely to blame (Trump, Mike Huckabee).
538  children  gov2.0  immigration  politics  psychology  religion  trump 
june 2018 by rgl7194
Why Rank-And-File Evangelicals Aren’t Likely To Turn On Trump Over Family Separation | FiveThirtyEight
Over the past few weeks, religious leaders have emerged as some of the strongest critics of President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that has resulted in the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.’s southern border. More than 600 members of the United Methodist Church brought a formal complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is a Methodist, saying that the policy violates church rules and may constitute child abuse. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also spoke out harshly, calling family separation immoral.
trump  religion  immigration  politics  psychology  children  gov2.0  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
Driving? Your Phone Is A Distraction Even If You Aren’t Looking At It | FiveThirtyEight
I was in the car with a friend recently when she pulled up to a stoplight, picked up her phone and replied to a text. I gave her the side eye. What? she glared back. “I only use my phone when we’re stopped.”
“OK, fine,” I said. But, I wondered, is it?
We all know that it’s dangerous to text while driving, but our phones have become overlords that demand our constant attention. In the car, I limit my phone use to things I can do hands-free — talking and listening to preloaded playlists — and assumed this made me safer. But I may be fooling myself. Research has found that when it comes to distracted driving, what your eyes and hands are doing is only part of the issue — what your mind is doing is at least as crucial. Before you can reduce the risks of cellphone use while driving, you need to understand the nature of distraction itself.
cars  driving  cellphones  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
Injuries And Underperformance Couldn’t Keep The Dodgers Down | FiveThirtyEight
In retrospect, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 6-5 loss to the Miami Marlins on May 16 was probably the low point of their 2018 season. It was the Dodgers’ sixth consecutive defeat and their ninth in 10; it dropped their overall record to 16-26, then only the fourth-best in their division; and it brought their playoff odds to a season low of 22 percent.
For a team that had won 473 regular-season games over the previous five seasons (the most in baseball during that period), came within a game of winning the World Series last year and was expected to waltz to a sixth consecutive division crown this year, the season’s ugly start was hard to understand or explain. After that loss to the Marlins, L.A. manager Dave Roberts could only reach for Winston Churchill. “When you’re going through hell,” he told the L.A. Times, “keep going.”
dodgers  baseball  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
What Is Really Behind Trump’s Controversial Immigration Policies? | FiveThirtyEight
Welcome to Secret Identity, our regular column on identity and its role in politics and policy.
The Trump administration’s policy that has resulted in separating children from their parents as part of its border-enforcement strategy is generating widespread opposition, even from people who have traditionally been allies of the president. It has forced the administration to defend an approach that polls terribly1 and results in images of children in cages and accounts of breastfeeding kids being taken away from their mothers.
It seems like bad politics.
gov2.0  politics  trump  immigration  children  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
Doug Jones Thinks He’s Supposed To Be Here | FiveThirtyEight
ou probably know Alabama’s new senator, Doug Jones, because he narrowly won a special election last year against a man accused of molesting underage girls. But there are probably quite a few things you don’t know about him. His first name is actually Gordon, and he is left-handed,1 hitches his head a bit when he’s making a point and is what experts on emotions might call an “active listener.”
That last point dawned on me while I was sitting in the back of an SUV as he praised the virtues of the peanut butter factory we’d just been to — “the technology!” — and we jostled along a central Alabama road on a late May afternoon. Throughout a sweaty, hair-netted tour, he had nodded and peered into things and patiently asked questions. (I, meanwhile, had strained to hear over the nut-rumbling din and contemplated a literal death by peanut butter underneath some sort of hot, belching still that smelled unnervingly like cookies.) The visit was a reminder of just how much the life of a politician is filled with interactions that are mundane for him but momentous for the other person; the conscientious officeholder knows that a bit of attentive listening can go a long way. That’s perhaps doubly the case for Jones, an Alabama Democrat wading through his state’s overwhelmingly Republican politics. Sometimes, he might not agree with what people have to say to him, but, by God, Jones will smile, nod and hear them out.
gov2.0  politics  Dems  538  racism 
june 2018 by rgl7194
What Do Men Think It Means To Be A Man? | FiveThirtyEight
We asked more than 1,600 men whether #MeToo changed their thinking on masculinity.
Headlines this year have been rife with allegations of sexual harassment against many high-profile men. At the same time, an ongoing national reckoning over gender disparities in the workplace, the patriarchal social system and the role of masculinity in society are calling into question long-standing gender norms.
Along with WNYC Studios’ “Death Sex & Money” podcast, we wanted to know: What does it all mean for how men feel about being men?
FiveThirtyEight and WNYC partnered with SurveyMonkey for a nationwide survey of 1,615 adults who identify as men.1 We asked respondents to reflect on their ideas of masculinity, workplace culture and intimacy, among other things. The results: A majority of men in the workplace say they haven’t rethought their on-the-job behavior in the wake of #MeToo; a little more than half of men feel it’s at least somewhat important that others see them as masculine; and nearly half of all men say they sometimes or often feel lonely or isolated.
society  men  survey  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
You’ve Been Arrested. Will You Get Bail? Can You Pay It? It May All Depend On Your Judge. | FiveThirtyEight
hen Dawud Moore heard he’d been assigned bail, he felt relieved. It was January 2015, and Moore, a black man who was a 38-year-old Brooklyn resident at the time, was in an arraignment hearing on forgery charges — he had cashed a paycheck that his employer claimed was fraudulent. He maintained then and now that the company accidentally paid him twice, once in person and once by mail. The company claimed he’d forged a duplicate check.
All things considered, the $10,000 bond1 felt manageable. Moore had been arrested before, including for a drug-related conspiracy charge that put him in federal prison for nearly a decade. This time he was a little more than a year out of prison and had several months of steady work as a mason under his belt. He had a little bit of cash in his bank account, enough to pay the bondsman and make bail. Posting it would allow him to be released from jail while he awaited trial, and Moore was familiar enough with the system to know that he was much more likely to beat the case if he wasn’t locked up. “It’s funny because this is the first time in my adult life where I got a bail,” he said recently. “I was thinking, ‘I’m working, I’m out of trouble, I can pay this.’ And I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Moore said.
legal  money  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
The Russia Investigation Isn’t Less Popular — It’s Just More Polarizing | FiveThirtyEight
And that was inevitable.
Are Americans growing tired of the Russia investigation? On Wednesday, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 36 percent of registered voters have a negative view of special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed last year to probe whether members of President Trump’s 2016 campaign worked with the Russian government in an effort to influence the election. It’s a significant increase from last summer, when only 23 percent of voters had a negative view of Mueller.
The poll got a lot of attention.
At first blush, Morning Consult’s survey appears to show that President Trump’s narrative about the Russia investigation — that it is a “witch hunt” run by politically motivated law-enforcement agents bent on undermining Trump’s victory — is taking hold, giving the president and his allies more ammunition to argue that Mueller should wrap it up.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538  survey 
june 2018 by rgl7194
The Next Phase Of NBA Superteam Technology: Creating One From Scratch | FiveThirtyEight
A Big Three of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would be the first of its kind.
When healthy, San Antonio Spurs swingman Kawhi Leonard is a card-carrying MVP candidate and one of the game’s premier all-around talents. But here’s the thing: Leonard hasn’t really been healthy since the 2017 playoffs, when he landed awkwardly on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Between that season-ending ankle sprain and a mysterious quad injury that sidelined Leonard for all but nine games of the 2017-18 season — fueling rumors of a growing rift with the Spurs organization — most of the recent headlines about Leonard have been over rehab schedules and locker-room turmoil, not his on-court brilliance.
basketball  lakers  lebron  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
The 500-Page Inspector General’s Report In 900 Words | FiveThirtyEight
The long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general examining the department’s conduct in the Hillary Clinton email investigation came out on Thursday, and, if nothing else, it’s exhaustive. At more than 500 pages, it carefully and meticulously unpacks how organizations and individuals acquitted themselves before and after the 2016 election. Of course, very quickly, much of the nuance was stripped out; interested parties — President Trump, his supporters, former FBI Director James Comey — all found in the report plenty of ammunition to load the gun they were already holding. Cherrypicking aside, however, the report did come to some conclusions.
So let’s look at the legal, policy and political implications of the report but also try to keep the nuance while losing some of the complexity (and adding some brevity). Here are four key takeaways from those 500+ pages in about 900 words. (Note: The report is overwhelmingly about the Justice Department’s and the FBI’s conduct in the Clinton email probe, not the investigations surrounding Trump or his campaign’s alleged connections to Russia. Inspector General Michael Horowitz is now looking into elements of the Trump investigation.)
gov2.0  politics  election  hillary  FBI  trump  report  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
What Would Happen If Trump Fired Rosenstein? | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump has never had a particularly friendly attitude toward the Department of Justice. But his attacks on the nation’s chief law enforcement agency have escalated in recent months, culminating in a demand — by tweet — for an investigation into whether the FBI engaged in politically motivated surveillance of his 2016 presidential campaign. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein quickly assented (sort of), to the dismay of critics who say that Trump is trying to weaken the department’s historic independence in an attempt to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Some even speculated that the order could strengthen the obstruction of justice case against Trump — especially if he uses it as a pretext to fire Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller’s probe and has been the subject of veiled threats from the president for months.
What would happen if Trump were to give Rosenstein the boot? Dismissing him would be a more obvious attempt to control the outcome of Mueller’s investigation than insisting on a separate probe of the FBI. But even in the case of a hypothetical Rosenstein firing, there isn’t a clear line between the president’s legitimate authority over law enforcement agencies and criminal interference in an ongoing investigation. Dismissing the deputy attorney general would be a political bombshell, but the extent of the legal fallout would depend largely on what the president did next.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
A Half-Day Of Diversity Training Won’t Change Much For Starbucks | FiveThirtyEight
Diversity training in general doesn’t change much for any corporation.
Every Starbucks in America will be closed Tuesday afternoon so the company’s nearly 175,000 employees can attend a mandatory training session aimed at reducing racial bias and discrimination. Starbucks decided to take the sweeping action after a high-profile incident in April involving a white employee who called police on two black men waiting in a Philadelphia Starbucks to meet with a business partner. But research suggests that just one half-day of training is unlikely to turn things around.
The Starbucks training isn’t typical of most diversity training, which usually attempts to improve internal relations between employees of different races and cultures. Instead, Starbucks is focusing on improving the way employees interact with customers. But the company is hardly alone in relying on training sessions to reduce bias and discrimination. Diversity training is a hugely profitable industry. A one-day class for 50 people is estimated to cost as much as $6,000, and large corporations budget hundreds of millions of dollars for diversity initiatives annually.
business  coffee  racism  training  bias  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
Forget Norms. Our Democracy Depends On Values. | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump this week tweeted his intention to order the Department of Justice to investigate whether the FBI had “infiltrated” the Trump campaign for political purposes. He then met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to push the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The episode, like many before it, set off alarms among legal and political commentators. Throughout the 2016 campaign, the outsider candidate demonstrated that he would not be bound by the usual unwritten rules of the game. Political scientists, in particular, have emphasized the decline of “norms” in their efforts to explain the danger posed by the Trump administration and the president’s possible role in the decline of liberal democracy in the U.S.
But as with any word that has picked up heavy traction in political discussions, “norms” has gotten a bit imprecise. What do we actually mean when we talk about norms? Why do such informal rules exist? And what norm violations should we really care about?
politics  gov2.0  trump  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
The Supreme Court Is Stubbornly Analog — By Design | FiveThirtyEight
The Supreme Court is an openly — even proudly — technophobic institution. Cameras are forbidden, which means there are no images or videos from high-profile cases, and briefs and other legal filings only recently became available at the court’s website. Chief Justice John Roberts argued in 2014 that these Luddite tendencies are just part of the legal system: “The courts will always be prudent whenever it comes to embracing the ‘next big thing.’” The justices — who communicate mostly on paper, rather than via email — can sometimes seem as analog as the institution they serve. There was the moment when in a 2014 case about cell phone privacy, Justice Samuel Alito asked what would happen if a suspect were carrying personal information on a “compact disc.” That same year, Justice Stephen Breyer was ribbed for spinning out an extended hypothetical about a “phonograph record store.”
There are systemic reasons for the court’s reluctant approach to technology — American law is a backward-looking enterprise even outside the highest court. But regardless of why it’s happening, legal scholars say the consequences are clear: When Supreme Court justices lack an understanding of what technology means for the lives of the people affected by their decisions, they will struggle to respond effectively to technological change.
gov2.0  SCOTUS  technology  538  legal 
june 2018 by rgl7194
How Harmful — Or Helpful — Are E-Cigarettes, Anyway? | FiveThirtyEight
Wanna vape?
E-cigarettes are gaining popularity, and they’re prompting all sorts of public health questions. A lot of the concern revolves around kids and teens, especially since nicotine may have long-term consequences for their still-developing brains and most people who become smokers start as adolescents. Some health officials worry that e-cigarettes are being marketed to young people, and the FDA recently issued warning letters to several companies that were selling the liquids used in e-cigarettes with packaging that seemed to be aimed at kids — the containers resembled juice boxes or featured cartoony drawings. One high school in Annapolis, Maryland, even went so far as to remove the doors from some bathrooms to discourage students from “vaping,” as e-cigarette use is called.
So, how harmful are e-cigarettes and vaping? It depends on the role you think they play.
health  smoking  538 
june 2018 by rgl7194
The Supreme Court Made It Easier For More People To Place Bad Sports Bets | FiveThirtyEight
With the Supreme Court’s landmark gambling decision this week, many more Americans might soon be able to place a legal wager on their favorite sport. So what kind of money are we talking about?
The U.S. casino industry says Americans illegally bet at least $150 billion on sports every year. But it’s hard to measure exactly how much of that money might flow into legal establishments as a result of this decision; underground bookies don’t readily publish their balance sheets. But the casinos in Nevada do, and a closer look into the action taken by sportsbooks over the past few decades gives us a window into how Americans bet on sports — and how well they’re doing.
sports  politics  gambling  SCOTUS  538 
may 2018 by rgl7194
Humans Are Dumb At Figuring Out How Smart Animals Are | FiveThirtyEight
And that has major implications for what rights we think they’re owed.
If an animal is smart enough, should we treat it like a human? An abstract question, but one that found its way into a courtroom recently. A case bidding for consideration by the New York State Court of Appeals sought to extend the legal concept of habeas corpus — which allows a person to petition a court for freedom from unlawful imprisonment — to cover two privately-owned chimpanzees. The case for giving the chimps a human right like freedom from unlawful incarceration is based on their similarity to humans — they can think, feel and plan, argue the people bringing the case on behalf of the chimpanzees, so shouldn’t they have some guarantees of liberty? The court declined to hear the case, but one judge did say that some highly intelligent animals probably should be treated more like people and less like property.
animals  intelligence  538 
may 2018 by rgl7194
Very Few Voters Actually Read Trump’s Tweets | FiveThirtyEight
Poll of the week
President Trump’s tweets often dominate news coverage, particularly on cable news. But let’s be honest: We here at FiveThirtyEight have occasionally written about them too. What is more, well, newsworthy than the words of the chief executive of one of the world’s most powerful nations? And since politicians are known for boring, repetitive, long-winded speeches, what could be a better political platform than one that literally forbids using more than 280 characters at a time? Twitter seems good for Trump, too: As his allies often say, it gives the president a way to speak directly to the American electorate, getting around the media’s filter. Trump’s Twitter account is followed by 52 million people, not that far off from the nearly 63 million who voted for him in 2016.
trump  twitter  gov2.0  politics  538  survey 
may 2018 by rgl7194
How Mueller’s First Year Compares To Watergate, Iran-Contra And Whitewater | FiveThirtyEight
And what those past investigations tell us about where the Russia investigation might go next.
It’s a big day for Robert Mueller and his team: One year ago today, Mueller was appointed to lead the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian officials. It’s a miracle, in some ways, that Mueller has lasted this long. President Trump’s relationship with the investigation has grown increasingly adversarial, and at many moments over the course of the past 12 months, it seemed like Mueller’s job was in jeopardy.
So this hasn’t been an easy year for Mueller, but it’s certainly been productive. Since the first indictments came down in the investigation last fall, the special counsel has racked up five guilty pleas and 14 indictments of individuals.1 He also reportedly gave a referral to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York that led to a raid on the office, home and hotel room of presidential lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, which has turned into its own separate investigation.
We’ve taken a look at how Mueller’s first year measures up against the initial 12 months of other special counsel and independent counsel investigations. In terms of the number of charges he’s been able to file, Mueller is moving quickly. At one year after the formal appointment of a special or independent counsel, only the Watergate special prosecution force had obtained more indictments and guilty pleas.
538  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  special_counsel  trump  comparo 
may 2018 by rgl7194
You Can’t Opt Out Of Sharing Your Data, Even If You Didn’t Opt In | FiveThirtyEight
The Golden State Killer, who terrorized Californians from Sacramento to Orange County over the course of a decade, committed his last known murder in 1986, the same year that DNA profiling was used in a criminal investigation for the first time. In that early case, officers convinced thousands of men to voluntarily turn over blood samples, building a genetic dragnet to search for a killer in their midst. The murderer was eventually identified by his attempts to avoid giving up his DNA. In contrast, suspected Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo, who was apprehended just last week, was found through other people’s DNA — samples taken from the crime scenes were matched to the profiles his distant relatives had uploaded to a publicly accessible genealogy website.
You can see the rise of a modern privacy conundrum in the 32 years between the first DNA case and DeAngelo’s arrest. Digital privacy experts say that the way DeAngelo was found has implications reaching far beyond genetics, and the risks of exposure apply to everyone — not just alleged serial killers. We’re used to thinking about privacy breaches as what happens when we give data about ourselves to a third party, and that data is then stolen from or abused by that third party. It’s bad, sure. But we could have prevented it if we’d only made better choices.
data  sharing  privacy  security  gov2.0  police  538 
may 2018 by rgl7194
Democrats’ Horrible 2018 Senate Map Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time | FiveThirtyEight
You hear it all the time: The 2018 Senate map is bad, even “brutal,” for Democrats. Of the 35 seats on the ballot this cycle, 26 are held by senators who caucus with the Democrats, and just nine are held by Republicans. Democrats must flip two of those nine — without losing any seats of their own — in order to take a Senate majority. That’s not going to be easy given that only one of those Republican-held seats is from a state carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. At the same time, 10 Democratic incumbents are running for re-election in states won by President Trump, including deep red ones like North Dakota and West Virginia.
But while the 2018 map is the party’s steepest uphill climb in a long time, defending red-state Senate seats isn’t a new challenge for Democrats. In fact, they’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. They haven’t had a choice: It gets less ink than the gerrymandered districts in the U.S. House, but the Senate — which reserves the same number of seats for a sparsely populated state as for a crowded one — has an inherent Republican bias as well. Within the past 25 years, Democratic majorities in the Senate — up through 1995, briefly from 2001 to 2002 and then finally from 2007 to 2015 — were possible because more Democrats represented red states than Republicans represented blue states. To wield a majority in 2019 and beyond, Democrats will simply (OK, not so simply) have to pull off the same trick.
gov2.0  politics  election  congress  Dems  GOP  538 
may 2018 by rgl7194
The Five Types Of Nicolas Cage Movies | FiveThirtyEight
Our Hollywood Taxonomy series, which just turned 3 years old, is all about the pursuit of clarity through categorization — using box office data and critical reviews to sort through long, complicated filmographies. I’ve analyzed the careers of enormous figures in the entertainment industry, iconoclastic storytellers, revered actors, compelling comedians, bona fide phenomenons and also Adam Sandler. But, today, a series dedicated to understanding creative people and their careers faces its greatest challenge: the ineffable Nicolas Cage.
I could claim that this article is timed to the release of Cage’s latest movie, “Mandy,” which recently premiered at Sundance, but that would be a lie. Pick any random weekend in the year and there’s a pretty good chance that a Cage film has been recently released or will soon be released. He puts out like four a year. I just thought it would be interesting to look at Cage’s work.
movies  actor  538  review 
april 2018 by rgl7194
The Way Everybody Measures NFL Schedule Strength? It’s Wrong. | FiveThirtyEight
After Thursday night’s two-hour special on the NFL Network, we now know exactly what every NFL team’s schedule looks like for the upcoming season. But what we don’t know is how hard any of those schedules will be.
Every year when the schedules are released, NFL analysts ritually compare the strength of the 32 teams’ slates. And every year, they do it the one way we know doesn’t work.
football  analytics  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
Everyone Tries To Dodge The Tax Man, And It Keeps Getting Easier | FiveThirtyEight
Al Capone was busted for tax evasion. Leona Helmsley was, too. But gangsters and entitled millionaires aren’t the only ones who hold something back from the tax man. Each year, Americans of all stripes underpay the IRS by hundreds of billions, aided by the fact that the agency lacks the resources to catch all the cheaters.
Recently, tax dodging has found a new champion: liberal state governments fighting back against the Republicans’ far-reaching tax reforms, which seem to hit a number of blue states particularly hard. New Jersey and California want to reclassify certain state and local taxes as tax-exempt charitable donations, while New York might swap the state’s income tax for a deductible payroll tax, among other ideas under consideration. There’s little doubt about the underlying goal of these potential changes, nicely summarized by Connecticut’s state revenue commissioner when he called his state’s plan a “bit of payback for what I think was the utter disregard of the Congress for the impact of this on states like Connecticut.”
538  gov2.0  politics  taxes 
april 2018 by rgl7194
Americans Are Partisan About Everything — Even Sex Scandals | FiveThirtyEight
...Perhaps because Daniels is in the news, along with other alleged affairs by Trump, just 26 percent of Democrats (vs. 67 percent of Republicans) agreed that “an elected official who has committed an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.”
I’m recording this as exhibit No. 3,519,099 in our “partisanship is a helluva a drug” file. The two parties both seem to be reversing the views they had two decades ago — when a president of the other party was in the White House and faced accusations of affairs and misconduct...
sex  gov2.0  politics  trump  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
A Million Children Didn’t Show Up In The 2010 Census. How Many Will Be Missing In 2020? | FiveThirtyEight
In today’s Washington, even the Census Bureau is a source of drama. The department has no director. Due to funding constraints, it has abandoned pre-census research in West Virginia and Washington state that was meant to check the integrity of parts of its survey process. It is weighing whether to add a question about citizenship to the decennial census; community groups around the country have spent months imploring Congress and the Census Bureau not to do so. They’re afraid that adding the question would lower response rates and make the survey less reliable.
At stake: nearly $700 billion in federal money and how we decide to apportion congressional representation.
gov2.0  research  survey  census  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
We Need A Better Way To Talk About ‘Sexual Misconduct’ | FiveThirtyEight
Vague, umbrella terms make an already difficult conversation even harder.
Matt Lauer was fired last year from his job co-hosting NBC’s “Today” show in response to allegations of “sexual harassment.” Or was it “inappropriate sexual behavior”? Maybe “sexual misconduct.” These are all headlines about the same reports — just using different language to describe them. As the media scrambles to cover wave after wave of accusations, the variation in language is making an already difficult national conversation about what crosses the line even more so.
sex  sexism  language  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
Chief Justice Roberts Is Reshaping The First Amendment | FiveThirtyEight
It’s been a big year for free speech at the Supreme Court. Two of the most high-profile cases argued before the court so far have revolved around free speech rights, four other cases on the docket this term involve free speech questions, and yet another case where the issue is paramount greets the court on Tuesday.
The court today is hearing arguments on whether the state of California is trampling on the free speech rights of crisis pregnancy centers — nonprofit organizations that do not perform abortions and encourage women to seek alternatives to the procedure — by requiring them to post notices explaining patients’ ability to access abortion and other medical services. In December, attorneys for a baker at Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado argued that a state anti-discrimination law violates his free speech rights as a self-described cake artist by requiring him to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Last month, the justices heard oral arguments in a case about whether state laws allowing unions to require nonmembers to pay fees violate those employees’ right to free speech.
gov2.0  politics  SCOTUS  legal  free  speech  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
These Researchers Have Been Trying To Stop School Shootings For 20 Years | FiveThirtyEight
Mary Ellen O’Toole calls the teenagers who murdered 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999 by their first names — Dylan and Eric. O’Toole did not personally know Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, but she’s thought about them for decades. At the time of the Colorado shootings, O’Toole was a profiler for the FBI and had been tapped to write the bureau’s report on how to prevent mass shootings in schools. What began as a research project has become a life’s work — and a deep source of frustration.
O’Toole is part of a small group of academics, law-enforcement professionals and psychologists who published some of the first research on mass shootings in schools. She and other members of this group began paying attention to the phenomenon in the late 1990s. Two decades later, some of them say not much has changed. The risk factors they identified back then still apply. The recommendations they made are still valid. And, as we saw last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students are still dying. “On the news, people are saying we should be concerned about this and that,” O’Toole said, “and I thought, ‘We identified that 20 years ago. Did you not read this stuff 20 years ago?’ … It’s fatiguing. I just feel a sense of fatigue.”
guns  high_school  crime  538  research 
april 2018 by rgl7194
The Census’s New Citizenship Question Could Hurt Communities That Are Already Undercounted | FiveThirtyEight
After a long career as a banker and investor, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is no doubt familiar with cost-benefit analyses. That seems to have carried over to his political work. In a memo declaring that the 2020 census would ask U.S. inhabitants whether they are U.S. citizens,1 he wrote, “I find that the need for accurate citizenship data and the limited burden that the reinstatement of the citizenship question would impose outweigh fears about a potentially lower response rate.” The inclusion of the question was a request of the Justice Department, which says that it needs the information to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
But Ross isn’t the only one weighing costs against benefits when it comes to the census — respondents do it as well. Demographers and civil rights groups are concerned that under a president who has called for a ban on Muslims and immigrants from certain countries, dramatically reduced the number of refugees allowed into the country and cracked down on undocumented immigrants without criminal records, a citizenship question will push more people to decide that the risks of responding accurately to the questionnaire, or responding at all, outweigh the benefits. And the groups that seem most likely to be put off from responding — immigrants, members of households with immigrants, people living in poverty, among others — are the same ones that are already at highest risk of being uncounted.
gov2.0  politics  statistics  immigration  538  survey  census 
april 2018 by rgl7194
Even After 22 Trillion Digits, We’re Still No Closer To The End Of Pi | FiveThirtyEight
Depending on your philosophical views on time and calendars and so on, today is something like the 4.5 billionth Pi Day that Earth has witnessed. But that long history is nothing compared to the infinity of pi itself.
A refresher for those of you who have forgotten your seventh-grade math lessons1: Pi, or the Greek letter π, is a mathematical constant equal to the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter — C/d. It lurks in every circle, and equals approximately 3.14. (Hence Pi Day, which takes place on March 14, aka 3/14.)
math  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
Gun Policy Is Already Changing In The Wake Of Parkland | FiveThirtyEight
After a shooter killed 17 people in a school in Parkland, Florida, last month, the political question dominating public discussion was whether the event would result in any policy changes that were backed by gun control advocates. In the past, outrage spurred by mass shootings has often been met by inaction in Congress and state legislatures.
But this time has been different — and not just in terms of how much pro-gun control activism it has sparked, including last week’s March for Our Lives. Since the Parkland shooting, a slew of gun control measures have been adopted at the local, state and federal level, while the private sector has moved to make guns less available, and some proposals to expand gun rights have been stalled. Although most of these changes are fairly limited in scope and fall far short of gun control advocates’ goals, they represent a shift in momentum from expanding gun rights to constricting them.
Here are the biggest developments.
guns  activism  protest  high_school  teenager  politics  gov2.0  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
What We Know And Don’t Know About Election Hacking | FiveThirtyEight
Also, what we don’t know we don’t know.
When talk of Russian interference in U.S. elections comes up, much of the focus has been on state-sponsored trolls on Facebook and Twitter — special counsel Robert Mueller recently indicted a number of these actors, and Congress has taken Silicon Valley to task for allowing such accounts to flourish. But there’s another side of Russian meddling in American democracy: attacks on our election systems themselves.
We know that Russian hackers in 2016 worked to compromise state voting systems and the companies that provide voting software and machines to states. That could blossom into more concrete attacks this year. As I wrote earlier this week, the worst-case scenario is that on Election Day 2018, votes are altered or fabricated and Americans are disenfranchised.
election  gov2.0  russia  hack  privacy  security  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
There’s Still No Such Thing As Sound Science | FiveThirtyEight
Scott Pruitt wants to base EPA decisions on a kind of science that doesn’t exist.
Last week saw a major development in how the Environmental Protection Agency plans to engage with scientific evidence. On Friday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt gave The Daily Caller an exclusive interview and said he would soon end the agency’s use of what he called “secret science” — research whose underlying, raw data sets are not released publicly. That sounds simple enough, but it would preclude the agency from relying on a great deal of scientific knowledge.
According to the Daily Caller story, Pruitt’s upcoming policy is inspired by the Honest Act, a congressional bill championed by Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. If that’s the case — the EPA has not responded to a request for comment — it would drastically limit the kind of evidence the agency uses for its decision-making. For example, it appears as though the policy would preclude the use of public health research that included confidential personal information about study subjects.
science  gov2.0  politics  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
Congress Needs To Understand Facebook Before Dealing With It | FiveThirtyEight
I joined Facebook in the spring of 2005 with the first email address I ever had. I still remember the photo I chose: me in a silver cocktail dress I spent too much of my summer lifeguarding money on. Facebook was a constant throughout college: There was the thrill of the new friend request, the agony of an unflattering tagged photo, the titillation of new-crush “Facebook stalking.” The site was a phone directory, a photo album and a way to invite people to parties. It was social ephemera — important, don’t get me wrong, but we all knew its place and form in our world.
Thirteen years later, I now know Facebook to be a shape-shifter. It appears to me one moment as a temptress, with ads for expensive dresses I’ve clicked on elsewhere (lifelong habit, I guess). The next it’s a sober scholar, lecturing me on the news. It remains a photo album, digitally pasted with old friends, dead relatives and past lives, but it’s shed that earnest, embryonic form of itself. My data, memories and digital habits fuel its everyday metamorphosis — there’s something unsettling in that. Maybe Facebook was never earnest, even in its most nascent form.
gov2.0  politics  538  congress  facebook  privacy  data  CxO 
april 2018 by rgl7194
Your Guide To The 2018 National League | FiveThirtyEight
NL West
Team to beat: Los Angeles Dodgers. At times last season, L.A. looked like it might belong among the greatest teams of all time. But it also looked like trash during one September stretch — then turned around and very nearly won the World Series. We can’t guarantee this season will hold as many ups and downs for the Dodgers, but they should be quite good once again. Start with the NL’s best projected pitcher (Clayton Kershaw), add in its top reliever (Kenley Jansen), and mix in four hitters projected for at least 3.3 WAR (Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig), and you’ve got a recipe for the top team in the National League. This division is pretty stacked in general, though, so you might see both wild-card slots go to NL West teams again.
baseball  dodgers  preview  538 
april 2018 by rgl7194
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