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Why I Love Politics [Applications Collection]

Now that I'm well-past completing my various applications, I thought I'd share some of the essays I wrote on this blog. I know they're shorter than my usual posts, but since they're actually, you know, proofread and edited, they're probably better reading. I'll be putting various essays and other application materials up in lieu of a blog post proper for the next few weeks. Enjoy this essay about my appreciation for politics.

The FiveThirtyEight 2018 election forecast, as of now.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018. As I carpool home from my debate class, I remove my phone from my backpack, open Safari, type into the browser, and open their election live blog. However, the mobile interface is a bit difficult to navigate, and very few states’ polls have closed at that point, so I can’t figure out all that much. When I arrive home, I find my laptop and rush to a comfortable chair. While devouring some chips and guacamole, I pull up FiveThirtyEight on my computer and scroll to the bottom, skimming the posts from before I started reading, scrambling to catch up with the current time. Eventually, someone turns on the TV as well. I watch as the chances of Democrats taking the House go down and then up again, culminating in their eventual victory. I watch as Amy McGrath loses in a tight race, as Claire McCaskill gets floundered by Josh Hawley, and as Martha McSally barely loses to Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona. Election Day is my Super Bowl.

My obsession with politics all started for me around the age of four, when I found an almanac which listed each president and some fun facts about them. I ended up memorizing pretty much all that it contained. (I still remember most of these presidential facts, since that stuff sticks with you when you learn it that young.)

Election Day is my Super Bowl.

This event heralded my nearly constant interest in politics. It started with arcane, relatively tame trivia — during the Woodrow Wilson presidency, sheep were grazing on the White House lawn — to information that should make us rethink how we consider our U.S. presidents — during the Woodrow Wilson presidency, many Reconstruction-era legislations granting freedom for African Americans were reversed, taking a step backwards in our quest for civil rights. As I’ve grown older, my interest shifted from trivia to important issues and ideas. My beliefs have shifted from simple, black-and-white facts to nuanced opinions with factual backup.

There is also a statistical side to politics: analyzing polls, history, demographics, and more. This ties together my interest in politics with my affinity for math. It’s also a reason I appreciate FiveThirtyEight so much as a source of coverage: they examine elections mathematically, and analyze elections from a mathematical point of view, with a focus on accuracy as opposed to brevity.

Whatever happens tonight will have a major impact on the country, and even the world, for years to come.

As I pepper my politics Google Hangout with news flashes, notice FiveThirtyEight’s models fluctuate, finish a large bowl of guacamole, and watch John King examine the map on CNN, I can’t help but feel the thrill of the moment. However, whatever happens tonight will have a major impact on the country, and even the world, for years to come.


Also: Why I Love Math, Why I Love Miscellaneous


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