Mathematical Wizardry

My name is Louise, and I have a problem.

I really, really, really love elections.

I love watching polls, in the lead up. I love reading about what’s going on in key places. I love stressing over whether my preferred candidate(s) are going to win.

And I really love the numbers.

It’s weird, because back in high school I had no time for maths. I dropped even the most basic maths option after year eleven because I hated it so much – I just couldn’t see the point in continuing with it. I came very close to first in the subject before doing so, and was strenuously advised against it, but I was adamant: I wanted nothing to do with it.

The older I get, though, the more value I see in practical applications. It’s the same with science: I didn’t even consider taking any of the science subjects after year ten, and would have said quite honestly that I found science boring. And now… not so much. Not at all.

Rohan showed me Moneyball a few months ago, and despite having no interest in baseball whatsoever, I found it fascinating: the idea that you could predict winners and losers based on the numbers. Algorithms and probability and statistics and… all of these things made sense for me.

And the same is true for elections. It’s all down to polling data: with the right statistical analysis, you can predict actual results. Accurately. Really accurately. Of course, a lot of people don’t like the idea – but today’s election results seem to be a pretty conclusive win for some people say.

Me? I’m delighted. I love polling data. And I love it even more when someone smarter than me can explain what those numbers really mean.

(And yes, I’m also delighted by today’s election results. So many women! Obama! Gay marriage! Marijuana decriminalisation! There are a lot of wins, right there. I may no longer live in the USA, but I find that (overly complicated, utterly inefficient) system fascinating; this certainly won’t be the last of their elections I obsess over.)

I may even be ready to cope with Australia’s next federal election, although I’m not quite sure about that.

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