Asymmetrical Information - Megan McArdle

11.06.12

The Prattleground States

A surprisingly telling alphabetical exercise

I love Bill James so much.                 

First, the concept of "Battleground" states is, in essence, that there are a limited set of states which are the keys to victory in a Presidential contest.     Wouldn’t it be neat, I thought, if there were a set of "key" states which also happened to spell out "Battleground"?

There is no state that starts with the letter "B", so we’re off to a bad start already, but I substituted "P" for "B". . .what are called plosives.    Then, since the Battleground states are something about which the Talking Heads like to prattle. ..well, how about the Prattleground states?

There is no state that starts with an "E", either, but an "F" is just an "E" with a broken leg, so Florida will work.   There is only one state that starts with an "R", Rhode Island, so we’ll have to make a third substitution there.   OK, so it doesn’t spell "Prattleground" it actually spells "Prattlfgwound", but you get the point.  

It turns out that the Prattleground states have predicted every presidential election since 1888.

When the sound and the fury of this election dies down, everyone should go read his book, Popular Crime.  It's hundreds of pages of wonderful whimsy like the above, plus details of virtually every important murder case in American history.  

It's considerably more entertaining than a political column.