Thursday, January 10, 2013

State of the State Schedule 2013

Imagine my surprise this week when I hear that I've already missed a few State of the State addresses. Like the president's State of the Union, States of the State are important policy messages from most states' governors to a joint session of their legislatures—so I wanted to pay close attention to them this year. (It is true, after all, that most policy that affects people is made in state capitals—especially with the US Congress in the state it's in.) Ergo, although it's a little late for some of the addresses, I compiled the list below of all 2013 State of the State addresses, and I figured I'd make it public.

This list will be updated throughout the month as new dates are announced; also, once an address has been given, I'll link to the text of the remarks.

Alabama: February 5 at 6:30pm CT
Alaska: January 16 at 7pm AKT
Arizona: January 14 at 1:45pm MT
Arkansas: January 15 at 10:30am CT
California: January 24 at 9am PT
Colorado: January 10 at 11am MT
Connecticut: January 9 at noon ET
Delaware: January 17 at 7:30pm ET
Florida: March 5 at 11am ET
Georgia: January 17 at 11am ET
Hawaii: January 22 at 10am HAT
Idaho: January 7 at 1pm MT
Illinois: February 6 at noon CT
Indiana: January 22 at 7pm ET
Iowa: January 15 at 10am CT
Kansas: January 15 at 6:30pm CT
Kentucky: February 6 at 7pm ET
Louisiana: April 8 at 1pm CT
Maine: February 5 at 7pm ET
Maryland: January 30 at noon ET
Massachusetts: January 16 at 7:30pm ET
Michigan: January 16 at 7pm ET
Minnesota: February 6 at 7pm CT
Mississippi: January 22 at 5pm CT
Missouri: January 28 at 7pm CT
Montana: January 30 at 7pm MT
Nebraska: January 15 at 10am CT
Nevada: January 16 at 6pm PT
New Hampshire: February 14 at 10am ET
New Jersey: January 8 at 2pm ET
New Mexico: January 15 at 1pm MT
New York: January 9 at 1:30pm ET
North Carolina: February 18 at 7pm
North Dakota: January 8 at 1:30pm CT
Ohio: February 19 at 6:30pm ET
Oklahoma: February 4 at noon CT
Oregon: January 14 at 11am PT
Pennsylvania: February 5 at 11:30am ET
Rhode Island: January 16 at 7pm ET
South Carolina: January 16 at 7pm ET
South Dakota: January 8 at 1pm CT
Tennessee: January 28 at 6pm CT
Texas: January 29 at 11am CT
Utah: January 30 at 6:30pm MT
Vermont: January 10 at 2pm ET
Virginia: January 9 at 7pm ET
Washington: January 15 at 11:30am PT
West Virginia: February 13 at 7pm ET
Wisconsin: January 15 at 7pm CT
Wyoming: January 9 at 10am MT

National: February 12 at 9pm ET

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Will Craig Biggio Make the Hall of Fame After All?

When I last assessed the Hall of Fame vote four days ago, I concluded the piece by applying the average error of past Hall of Fame "exit polls" to the current exit polls to arrive at an estimate for their final vote totals tomorrow. This method yielded some good insights, such as the fact that Jack Morris and Lee Smith will almost certainly overperform their polls, while Tim Raines will almost certainly underperform them. But it also told us precious little about other players—namely, the ones for whom it is their first year on the ballot. This was a particularly frustrating shortcoming because the player who is currently on the cusp of induction according to exit polls—Craig Biggio, with 70% of the vote so far—is also on the ballot for the first time.

I felt that I couldn't apply an adjustment to Biggio's exit polls because we're not sure what type of voter is likely to vote for him. He could overperform his polls, in the event that he gets wide support from the old-school contingent that tends not to publish their ballot early (and thus that is most likely to be underrepresented in the exit polls). He could also underperform, as similar infielders like Barry Larkin and Roberto Alomar have done in the past couple years.

Then I read Nate Silver's column today with his own Hall of Fame vote analysis. In it, Nate looked at @leokitty's compilation of all published Hall of Fame ballots to see which players' support lined up with which other players' support. Nate specifically looked at the behavior of the pro–Barry Bonds bloc in an attempt to decipher the impact that the steroids scandal will have on this year's electorate, but his method can also be used to see who else Biggio voters are more or less likely to vote for.

As mentioned above, my previous research indicated that certain players consistently over- and underperform their exit polls. If we find, using Nate's method of analysis, that Biggio voters also tend to be Raines voters, or Morris voters, or Smith voters, then we can make an educated guess that Biggio will over- or underperform his exit polls by comparable margins.

As of this writing, 50 out of 65 pro-Morris voters were also voting for Biggio—that's 76.9%. The 46 anti-Morris voters gave 28 votes to Biggio: 60.9%. Thus, Biggio appeals more to the pro-Morris crowd than to Morris's detractors, by a 16-point margin.

Of 36 pro-Smith voters, 28 were also voting for Biggio (77.8%); meanwhile, 50 of the 75 non-Smith voters also voted for Biggio (66.7%). So Biggio is also more popular among Lee Smith fans, though the difference is smaller (11.1 points).

And 54 out of 70 pro-Raines voters were also voting for Biggio (77.1%). That leaves 41 anti-Raines voters, 24 of whom included Biggio on their ballot (58.5%). That's the biggest difference yet: 18.6 points.

As should be obvious from the above, if pro-Morris (76.9%), pro-Smith (77.8%), or pro-Raines (77.1%) voters were the only voters, Biggio would be in the Hall of Fame. It is their opponents who are also dragging Biggio down.

Thus, if the exit polls are undersampling Morris and Smith proponents (as they almost certainly are), then Biggio could be in for a boost. On the other hand, if exit polls are undersampling Raines opponents (as they almost certainly are), that could undo a lot of that boost.

In other words, Biggio is not conclusively a favorite of either the old-school crowd or the new sabermetrics- and statistics-oriented crowd. He seems to be a favorite of both—just not enough of a favorite to break that 75% threshold.

Friday, January 4, 2013

How Accurate are Exit Polls—of the Hall of Fame?

Are you a "big-Hall" person or a "small-Hall" person? How about a "zero-Hall" person? It sounds like that might be the consensus on Wednesday, when at 2pm the 2013 Hall of Fame class will be announced. Yes, the conventional wisdom is now that absolutely no one from an absolutely loaded ballot will lasso the 75% of votes necessary for induction.

This is borne out in Baseball Think Factory's extremely cool exit polling of the Hall of Fame vote. How can you do exit polling on a Hall of Fame election, you ask? Simple—you read the myriad ballot columns that are released at this time of year. As of my writing this post, BBTF had canvassed all 93 ballots that have been unveiled by their voters in a column, out of a likely 570 or so that will be cast (although that hardly seems predictive of this year's total, due to the ridiculously controversial ballot—it could stimulate interest and produce a record-high number of ballots, or so many people could be disgusted or bewildered by their choices that the number takes a substantial hit). According to BBTF's poll, no player has 75% of the vote; Craig Biggio, with 69.9%, comes the closest.

But exit polls, as John Kerry so famously learned, can be wrong. Can we determine how wrong they might be? Not for sure, but we can look at the historical performance of the same types of exit polls.

For the past five years, @leokitty has kept a spreadsheet tallying the percentage of votes each player got in the columns released that year. Here is how the figures compared last year, when the sample size was 114 out of an eventual 573 ballots cast (19.9%):

For the class of 2011, she unearthed 122 votes online out of an eventual 581 (21.0%):

And for the class of 2010, only 92 of an eventual 539 ballots (17.1%) were pre-countable:

Obviously any poll comes with a margin of error. However, there are some players whose vote totals are consistently over- or under-predicted by these surveys, just as political polls tend to undersample minorities and the young. Knowing this can tell us a lot about what we might be able to expect on Wednesday.

Specifically, the broad trend appears to be that the exit polls understate support for "old-school" candidates or candidates whose best case for inclusion is superficial. Such candidates include Lee Smith (with his eye-popping quantity of saves), Don Mattingly (the quintessential "professional hitter"), Larry Walker (looked great, but who doesn't at Coors Field?), and Jack Morris (everyone remembers him for that one dominant World Series start).

Another trend is that the exit polls overstate support for SABR-friendly candidates—or, more precisely, they just really overvalue poor Tim Raines. Interestingly, the polls do not seem biased toward or against any of the steroid-tainted characters.

This paints a picture of an polling sample (self-selected, remember; they are the ones who choose to write columns publishing their ballot for all to see) that is more pro-SABR and, if you'll excuse the editorialization, more forward-thinking than the electorate as a whole. This makes sense—a lot of the old-school voters (their minds calcified in an old way of thinking, like that wins and saves are important statistics) are no longer covering baseball, and thus don't have column space to devote to an explanation of their ballot. Similarly, some of the more closed-minded BBWAA members may not be interesting in sharing their ballot with the world, therefore exposing them to be ripped to shreds in comments sections and on Twitter.

So what does this mean for Wednesday's final vote tally, other than that Tim Raines is going to see yet another big dropoff? In the chart below, I've taken each player's current projected vote share as assessed by BBTF and added an adjustment factor, based on the player's average deviation from the exit-poll results in the past three years. For new candidates on the ballot, I've added no such adjustment factor (they are mostly steroid candidates anyway, and that issue has shown to have little effect on the accuracy of exit polls).

So it does indeed look grim. Even with the adjustments, Biggio remains closest. Can he make it? To be honest, looking at these numbers, I doubt it. He doesn't strike me as an old-school candidate; if anything, he's closer to the subtle greatness of Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin, who were both overvalued by polls before. (But he is also white, which neither Alomar nor Larkin nor Raines is—could this also be a creeping factor?) Meanwhile, the top candidate likely to benefit from the old-school swing, Jack Morris, simply has too much ground to make up. He's currently polling at 62.4%, and while he is almost certain to get more than that on Wednesday, a 12.6-point bump would be unprecedented. If the old-schoolers directed their love to another, closer candidate—Jeff Bagwell—we'd have a decent shot at an induction, but Bagwell has been on the ballot for two years now and has shown no tendency to deviate from the polls. So all that brings us to the real question:

What if they had a Hall of Fame induction but nobody came?