Election Notes: The Beginning of the End

After Mitt Romney’s 12-point win in Illinois, it’s difficult to see how anyone else could win the Republican nomination. His lead in the delegate count over Rick Santorum has expanded to 300 (although the Santorum campaign argues hopefully that his count will be a little higher than most think). Newt Gingrich—who came in fourth in Illinois, with just 8% of the vote—is almost 430 delegates behind and millions of dollars in debt. As Nate Silver says, Romney has won 56% of the available delegates of far, and needs to win just 46% the rest of the way to ensure himself of a majority before the convention. With the victory came a key endorsement by former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a sign that the Republican establishment is beginning to come together behind Romney.


Romney will win the nomination, but the race will go on. As Ronald Brownstein says, the fundamental dynamic remains the same. Conservative and evangelical Republicans clearly prefer Santorum or Gingrich, which is why Santorum will probably win the Louisiana primary handily this weekend. It doesn’t help that Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom seemed to tell CNN that Romney would “hit a reset button” on the conservative positions he has taken when the fall campaign started, comparing the campaign "an Etch A Sketch.” Romney denied that his adviser was talking about his political positions, even though that’s clearly what the interviewer was asking about. The Santorum campaign immediately issued a press release saying Romney is not “a man of principle.”

Political Futures Markets

Chance President Obama will win reelection: 59.6% (Intrade)

Chance Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination: 92.1% (Intrade)

Chance that Republicans will win control of the Senate: 58.7% (Intrade)

Chance that Republicans will maintain control of the House: 69.8% (Intrade)

Polls

President Obama’s approval rating: 47.5% (Pollster)

Mitt Romney’s favorable rating: 33.6% (Pollster)

Republican advantage on a generic congressional ballot: 0.2% (Real Clear Politics)

Comment

“The knock on Romney since Day One has been that he’s a shallow, unprincipled politician, willing to say anything to anyone to win. “Etch A Sketch” is so perfect a metaphor, it’s extraordinary that it came from the campaign’s own communication director.”—Steve Benen

UP NEXT: the Louisiana primary on Saturday, March 24

Mitt Romney image from Gage Skidmore

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
popular

In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less