A Tutorial for Spreadsheets and Basic Math

I just published a beginner tutorial over at Spreadsheets for the People! that covers how to do basic math like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, exponents, and more for users of Excel and similar spreadsheet software.

I hate to brag, but someone will probably learn something!



Tipping Point Analysis and Power Matrix Visualization of 11 Swing States in 2012 Presidential Election

Inspired by this 2012 article in the NY Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog, I used Nate Silver’s tipping point methodology to identify key swing states in the last presidential election.

The outcome of a presidential election depends on each of the states that together cast a combined total of 270 or more electoral votes for a candidate. But, only in some states is the race close enough to actually be considered competitive and not predetermined based on ingrained party loyalty. In addition, thanks to the electoral college, some states are given more weight than others.

The basic gist is that the “tipping point” state, the one that cast the 270th electoral college vote, is the king-maker president-maker.

Why is this relevant?

It seems to me that identifying this “tipping point” state and, let’s say, ten of its nearest neighbors (based on margin of victory and electoral votes) is a way to identify battleground states for the next election.

This attempt at playing political moneyball, of course, carries with it all sorts of assumptions. One of the biggest is using the past to predict the future. Another is looking at a single presidential election and making broad generalizations. We are assuming stable demographics. We are assuming more of the same, politically speaking, by disregarding the possibility of an inspiring candidate who can transcend partisan divisions or one who can grow the electorate.

Getting started

To get started, I gathered the following data:


New website: Spreadsheets for the People!

I am pleased to announce the release of a new website, “Spreadsheeting the Love“, no, “Spreadsheets Can Be Easy,” no, “Spreadsheets for the People!” at

This is the home of my past and future spreadsheet tutorials.

A new home for my spreadsheet tutorials.