The question of tipping the political scales in Arizona, like anyplace, is “purely mathematical,” Bruce Merrill said. More people voting for the other side matters only if enough of them vote to overcome the power of a loyal base of voters. Dr. Merrill, a senior research fellow at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, has made a successful living dissecting and analyzing voting patterns and trends in the state and beyond. Along the way, he has helped more than 100 candidates, almost all of them Republican, use numbers to tailor their messages and assess the viability of their campaigns. He is used to addressing large forums; last month, he spoke before the Arizona Medical Association. On Tuesday, he opened the doors to his home here, a spectacular 14,000-square-foot house on the edge of a golf course, to talk to about 60 people about the Nov. 6 elections.
The audience members listened attentively, as they do whenever they attend one of the salons that Thomas Houlon has organized here for 29 years, on subjects as varied as food, architecture, legal issues, quantum physics, medicine and the Chinese economy. Patty Barnes, a New Yorker whom he married four weeks after they met 21 years ago, helps select the topics — sometimes culled from the books she voraciously reads, on paper and in a black Kindle she seems to carry wherever she goes, and largely inspired by personal interests and obsessions, like the intersection of the arts and neuroscience.
The group is open to members only, a collection of (mostly) well-off intellectuals and intellectually curious people of various political persuasions. Its name is Spirit of the Senses; Mr. Houlon created it as a student at Arizona State University in 1983, when he promoted the first salons as part of class work in a major he designed: intuition and creativity.
Full Article: Arizona Still Awaiting Some Election Results – NYTimes.com.