How the Democrats Keep Losing. 2017, Part 2. Kansas special, 4th District, April 11 (and Georgia 6th, April 18)

The next 2017 special election is taking place–as I write this–in Kansas.* Democratic candidate and Army vet James Thompson and Republican Ron Estes are running for the seat vacated when Rep. Mike Pompeo left to become CIA director.

James Thompson, Ron Estes

James Thompson, Ron Estes

Kansas House District 4 is traditionally Republican–like most of Kansas, dating from back when the state refused to enter the Union as a hotbed of proponents for enslaving fellow human beings. (See the repudiated ‘Lecompton Constitution’ for the history. It plays one part in Chapter 6 of my book, Firearms Regulation in the Bill of Rights, the chapter on the nineteenth century.) The GOP began as an anti-slavery movement.

The most recent history in Kansas’ 4th mainly displays the differences between how the Democratic Party and the GOP support their candidates–or don’t. Not to the advantage of the former. Thompson, a civil rights attorney who has experienced something like poverty, has not been supported by the state Democratic Party.

Nor has he been supported by the national party.

Meanwhile, the Repubs aren’t making the same mistake. Politico reported last week that “The NRCC spent $25,000 on digital advertising in the upcoming KS-04 special election – a dark-red district left open by CIA Director Mike Pompeo and not expected to be competitive.” At this point several news outlets are reporting efforts on behalf of Estes by the national GOP, as for example here and below.

Texas Sen. Cruz returns to Kansas to help GOP keep congressional seat

Meanwhile again, all hands are on deck–as I wrote last week–to help out candidate Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th, running against a field that includes four other Democrats. Guess you have to be running against other Democrats to draw the needed attention. And draw it he did; boosted by Daily Kos and ActBlue along with other organizations, Ossoff pulled in a breathtaking $8.3 million in contributions, a record. (Kos has belatedly weighed in on behalf of Thompson in Kansas–very belatedly. Since my last post, in fact. Within the past week.)

If the Dems wanted to help a House candidate, why didn’t they help this guy? –His intra-party opponents were already eliminated. He had been  nominated in a democratic in-state process. No getting hands dirty. No hurting anyone’s feelings. Fewer suggestions of favoritism, arbitrariness, back-room deals or artificial pre-selection.

What is some Democrats’ problem with looking democratic?

Trick question.

Here is my hypothesis, and I have no problem with corrections, emendations or refutation. Feel free to refine, by all means. But here it is: in my view it is a problem when national and state Democrats neglect their own good candidates running against Republicans and instead pour resources into trying to pick a nominee against other Dems. It looks undemocratic, for one thing. For another, in Georgia 6th (picking a random example here), with four other Democratic candidates, outside support for Ossoff runs a substantial risk of alienating supporters of the other four. Also, that kind of big money pouring in–overwhelmingly from outside the state and largely because of large entities like MoveOn and Kos–can turn off voters. Voters cease to think their vote will make a difference. (This was one of the key factors behind non-voting in 2016, according to a Pew research survey).

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes, an influx of massive outside money can contribute to negative perceptions of the candidate. Not that any candidate wouldn’t be happy to get millions of dollars in contributions, from virtually anywhere. But the national party’s focus on one candidate running against fellow Democrats does not redeem its neglect of strong candidates facing opponents across party lines. This is the way to rebuild the Democratic brand after Clinton?

Predictions are vain. Thompson may win Kansas’ 4th despite the lack of intelligent, principled support from the state and national party. Ossoff may win more than 50 percent in Georgia’s 6th despite the massive unintelligent, unprincipled support from same–and from Daily Kos, which pre-selected him way ahead of time, and from MoveOn and the other out-of-state groups.

Right now, however, the available forecasting and results raise questions. They do not provide answers, as anyone who remembers 2016 would do well to remember. The money gap in Georgia cannot be disputed. The leading Democratic candidate, Ossoff, has received a nonpareil amount of money in one quarter for a House race–and more than all the Republican candidates combined. I am not denying the deep feeling of out-of-state ActBlue donors. But isn’t there a possibility that some potential GOP donors are waiting until after the primary to donate?

The early voting results also cannot be disputed. There is an extra-large turnout by Democrats in early voting. As the New York Times’ Nate Cohn tweeted a few days ago, early voting as of Saturday was 49 percent Democratic, 29 percent Republican. So does that mean the percentages will be the same on April 18?

More to the point, is all that Democratic turnout really going to one candidate?

That’s the line taken by the careerist-type Dems in the big media outlets. HuffPost headline: “Democrats Continue to Turn Out in Second Week of Voting for Jon Ossoff”. Brought to you by Andrea Mitchell at MSNBC, via HuffPost (and probably by others at MSNBC).

Okay, I’ll bite. How do they know the Dem turnout is for Ossoff? Is anyone doing exit polling? Are any exit polls available? Are any other Democrats receiving votes?


*This post was initially planned to go up on April 11.

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How the Democrats Keep Losing. 2017, Part 1. Georgia special, 6th District, April 18.

Right now the 2017 race getting most attention is the Georgia 6th Congressional District special election, coming up on April 18. Georgia went red in 2016, as did Georgia’s 6th Congressional District; see below. But a ‘competitive’ special election in the 6th is being ballyhooed by commentators as well as by the national Democratic Party and by some outside groups.

The best over-all coverage so far comes from Ballotpedia:

“This race is one Ballotpedia is watching closely. Although it is normally a safe Republican district, polling and spending in the district indicates a competitive race. The election will replace Tom Price (R), who was confirmed as U.S. secretary of health and human services. Prior to his cabinet appointment, Price represented the 6th District from 2004 to 2017. Two interesting angles have emerged in recent weeks: 1) which Republican candidate might emerge from the crop of 11 to advance to the runoff; 2) Will there even be a runoff, if Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is able to coalesce enough support to break 50 percent in the primary?”

Actually the April 18th special is not a primary, as Ballotpedia points out elsewhere. Rather, it is a general election with declared candidates from four parties. If no candidate breaks 50 percent, the two top candidates advance to the June 20 runoff.

Dan Moody, GOP candidate in Georgia's 6th

Dan Moody, GOP candidate in Georgia’s 6th

Some breathless coverage has evolved, if that’s the word, from the arithmetic of the field: the GOP has eleven declared candidates, while the Democrats have a mere five–frontrunner Jon Ossoff, physician Rebecca Quigg, Navy veteran and college professor Richard Keatley, former state senator Ron Slotin, and sales manager Ragin Edwards, the one woman of color in the race. The smart money is backing Ossoff to take a runoff spot.

That in itself looks like a plausible projection at this point. Let’s say that Ossoff gets into the two-person runoff. Then what?

Here’s where the coverage and the political attention get interesting, or twisted.

National Democrats have invested heavily in Ossoff:

PICKING A HORSE – “House Democrats invest in Georgia, wait on Montana,” by Campaign Pro’s Elena Schneider: “Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock weathered Trump’s 20-point wave in Montana. Republican Greg Gianforte, who lost to Bullock in 2016, is the front-runner for the open House seat, after infuriating some in his own party for failing to appeal beyond his conservative base . But national Democrats can’t stop talking about Georgia. The DCCC is sending money to hire nine on-the-ground staffers to help Democrats in Georgia’s 6th District. Jon Ossoff, the 30-year-old front-runner to carry Democratic hopes into a special election runoff, has already raised a whopping $1.85 million to replace Republican Rep. Tom Price in the traditionally red seat. The DNC is following suit, with interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile saying Thursday that the committee will make investments there.”

So have Georgia’s state Democrats. So have some outside groups such as the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and End Citizens United, which as of March 30, Politico reports, had raised half a million for Ossoff. Enthusiastic emails ask for donations to the Ossoff campaign round the clock, at every moment that can be called a juncture or a “deadline”. (Alan Grayson’s emails, far and away the best-written, give some good commentary on the asks.)

And all of this is based on–what? On Donald Trump’s relatively slim win over Hillary Clinton in Georgia’s 6th. According to Daily Kos, the presidential vote in the 6th was 46.8 percent for Clinton, 48.3 percent for Trump. The narrowness of the win in a district in a state Trump carried by five points has gotten a lot of attention.

Here’s where the yes-but comes in. Georgia also cast votes for Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2016. The Kos breakdown of congressional districts did not tally non-major parties. The 2016 Libertarian vote is typically not factored in. It goes unmentioned in the special-Georgia-6th emails drumming up support and contributions for Ossoff. It also goes unmentioned in most commentary.

However, as pro-Libertarians have noted, in the Sixth District, it amounted to five percent:

“The Gary Johnson-William Weld Libertarian ticket’s solid 5 percent tally in Georgia’s 6th District over-performed its statewide and national percentage, stretching past 7 percent in some precincts.”

So, adding up, Georgia’s 6th gave 53.3 percent of its presidential vote to Republican or right-leaning candidates in 2016. Write-in votes in the entire state came to one half of one percent; thus awarding every write-in vote in the 6th to a Democrat or left-leaning candidate, hypothetically and impossibly, still leaves the margin of victory at 53.3 percent to 46.8 percent. Not by any definition was this a close race, or ‘competitive’, let alone a squeaker.

It could also be suggested that some votes went Libertarian not only in reaction against Trump–as ceaselessly touted in  media coverage and wishful partisan discussion–but in a confidence that Trump would win anyway. If so, the confidence turned out to be justified. In short, Hillary Clinton lost the 6th by 6.5 percent.

Meanwhile, GOP House Representative Tom Price was cruising to reelection in the 6th, with more than 61 percent of the vote to Democrat Tom Stooksbury’s 38-plus percent.

The special election on the 18th, be it noted, is for U.S. House.

This run-down has not been clarified in any of the numerous emails that urge Sanders voters and others to donate to Ossoff.

So, where are the Democrats at in Georgia’s 6th?

Let’s start with gender, this being the year we hear that more women than ever are activated, marching, energized–the buzzy term–and running for office. In Georgia’s 6th, the eighteen or nineteen declared candidates include four women–Quigg and Edwards for the Democrats, Karen Handel and Amy Kremer for the GOP. So far, Ossoff has dominated in coverage on the Democratic side, gender be damned; Handel leads in polls on the Republican side. Handel, Judson Hill and Bob Gray are reportedly the robust GOP contenders for money and endorsements. Looks like gender is a non-starter, at least for the Democrats. So much for women.

Ditto in the coverage, at least as regards Georgia 6. Politico, for example, has been boosting Ossoff since the beginning of the year. Its most recent article on the special election (yesterday) has him the only one in the picture. Actors Alyssa Milano and Christopher Gorham’s stumping for Ossoff has gotten warm mention. Of the four other Democratic candidates, three have not been named on Politico‘s large web site. (Try the search.) The name of Rebecca Quigg, who came out strongly for the Affordable Care Act as a physician, is not findable on at this writing. Anywhere. Nor is Edwards’.

Not that this is all gender, you understand. Keatley’s name is also not found on Politico, and Ron Slotin has gotten one mention there this year.

Mistakes 2.0. Democrats still cruisin for a bruisin

There are a few troublesome elements here.

Going beyond the scope of this article, I continue to observe that cable coverage is often the face of ‘the media’ to the general public; that cable coverage tends to dovetail into political insider-ism; and that both too often meld in public perception with ‘the Democrats’–especially when the Democratic Party aggressively plays along with all of the above. Nothing could be more discouraging.

Look what’s going on in Georgia. You have 1) a race where Democrats are in the minority, past and present, but where the Democratic Party is focusing attention and resources; 2) in which, still, the Democrats are trying to coalesce around one candidate, boosted by party insiders and the party apparatus; 3) a large part of the effort is to make the one candidate seem inevitable and unstoppable; 4) with eager cooperation from media outlets starving out other Democratic contenders rather than reporting on them; 5) all trying to motivate voters largely by Trump-bashing the opposition; 6) all while over-optimistically estimating probabilities of a win; and 7) neglecting or ignoring more viable districts and under-served populations in the West and on the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, tireless and round-the-clock pleas for money are pumped out with party support. On top of everything else, the special takes place just after April the 15th, except that there is an extension for Income Tax Day this year–meaning it coincides with the Georgia 6th special election.

For the moment, the math isn’t there. Did Dems learn anything from 2016?

Perhaps there will be some benefit to having a Democratic candidate in the Georgia 6 run-off, assuming that happens. But not unless the Democrats change for the better once the runoff spot is in the bag, if it is. That means positives on health care, education, and infrastructure. Going TrumpTrumpTrump as Clinton did will only corroborate a suspicion that the party has nothing to offer.

Remember, if the lost GOP voters had viewed Trump half as hysterically as some commentators do, they would have held their noses and voted for Clinton.


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“What went wrong” in 2016? Are they kidding?

Going where the denial is thickest–in the news media

As a rape survivor myself*, I believe Juanita Broaddrick. I listened to Ms. Broaddrick when she was interviewed on Dateline NBC back in 1999. I listened carefully to everything she said, and–as a lifelong registered Democrat myself–I believe her with all my heart. Her accusation was that Bill Clinton assaulted her, in Arkansas, years earlier, when he was State Attorney General and widely believed to be a rising political star and a local political wunderkind. This was a rape allegation–different in degree from the several sexual harassment allegations also leveled against Clinton, and in 2016 against Donald Trump, and very different from Clinton’s compulsive philandering. Broaddrick accused Clinton of forcible rape, on national television–network, not cable–credibly, with detail, not concealing or denying her own errors or her anger at Clinton. Yet after the Clintons left the White House, Broaddrick’s name was scarcely mentioned in what are often called the ‘elite’ media. As the highly respected late columnist William Blackberry commented, it was mystifying that a credible accusation of such magnitude could be passed over. This while The Washington Post deemed that President Clinton’s affair with an intern warranted a special pull-out section titled “Presidency in Crisis”( temporarily), and Republicans in the House were voting to impeach Clinton.

It is an unanswered question, now, how many people even know who Juanita Broaddrick is. Many younger people who voted in 2016 would not have recognized her name in 2015. The fact that she became part of the public discourse largely through some rightwing outlets and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is a source of regret for me personally.

The Democrats who should have acknowledged her story dropped the ball. So did the GOP, of course. Neither major party moved constructively to address the issue of rape, in the 1990s or under the George W. Bush administration. President Obama and Vice President Biden did more than any previous White House, addressing sexual assault on college campuses and problems such as the backlog of unprocessed rape kits in the criminal justice system. But much remains to be done.

Our top media outlets did far too little. Millions of words have been written about the 2016 election, with more to come; hundreds of opinion polls were taken, countless models predicted the outcome–wrongly–but so far as I know, no major media outlet polled the public on awareness of Juanita Broaddrick’s accusation against Clinton, or even on her name recognition.

A couple of points here. First, rape is a difficult topic, grim and painful, and difficult things by definition are harder to deal with than easy things. Fewer people will deal well with something difficult than with something easy, including people in the news media. Second,  as mentioned above, few people in large media outlets tried to deal with the Broaddrick story well. This gap is not consistent with a belief in Clinton’s innocence, which would have emphasized accuracy. It sweeps an issue under the rug instead of addressing it.

Third, a media focus on horse-race politics shed too little light on rape as an issue. Thus if Broaddrick’s name was mentioned at all, it was usually through the prism of possible effect on the campaign of Hillary Clinton for president. Those media personalities are now consumed with the question of ‘what went wrong’ with the 2016 election, and what went wrong with their predictions.

Conceding defeat in 2016

Conceding defeat in 2016

Democrats are also addressing the question of ‘what went wrong’, especially since the Clinton campaign is not telling.

And the Clintons are of course being faulted for not telling. On this narrow point, I can help them. This is a question they will not answer fully, because they cannot.

‘What went wrong’ is that the wife of a rapist ran for the White House.

Unthinkable? One would think so. But it wasn’t. There was no one to advise the Clintons, effectively, that Clinton should not run.  A deadly simple timeline resulted. The Clinton team decided to try the run and accumulated all the money not going to the GOP. Meanwhile, Republicans salivating at the prospect of running against ‘Hillary’ lined up, and money or no money, the GOP field was self-destructively large. Trump was the cue ball. Wham. He broke the rack on the table wide apart. And while Trump was breaking things open on the Republican side, the Clintons and their media allies were shutting out every better candidate on the Democratic side–Vice President Biden first, before the primary season even began; then Senator Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

So on one side Trump benefited from the arithmetic of the field, and on the other Clinton, with no essential constituency or platform except narrow self-interest, shut out the field.

Net result: 1) A small cadre of Democratic insiders decided to paste in a nominee before any votes were cast, and 2) they picked the worst possible candidate. The Clintons with their greed problem, their old-time insider status, their treatment-of-women problem, their ties to Wall Street, etc., etc., etc., were the worst possible choice to run against Donald Trump. Not that they knew enough to take Trump seriously, any more than they knew enough to take Sanders seriously. (So much for ‘electable’.) So much for the high-paid expertise with which they theoretically surrounded themselves.

I believe that even the quiet Lincoln Chafee would have done better than Clinton. Joe Biden would have crushed Trump. Bernie Sanders would have crushed Trump. But every political and/or media insider was convinced that Clinton was a shoo-in. And not content with being convinced themselves, they exerted pressures huge to tiny, broad and narrow, to exclude any contrary voice or dissenting opinion.

On a small scale, I saw a little of the action even near my own neighborhood. (A realistic pre-election poll might have taken into account how many millions of Americans witnessed unbecoming behavior by individuals who thought they were going to have the upper hand come Election Day.)

By the weekend before the election, I for one was wondering about the much-touted ‘landslide’. I was not very surprised at the outcome but was disappointed that Russ Feingold lost the Wisconsin senate race. Knowing the Clintons, Feingold’s appeal is probably one of the reasons they neglected Wisconsin. Much of their joint public career for forty years has consisted of playing keep-away, and much of their appeal has been to media insiders who play keep-away themselves. (A realistic post-election investigation might try to examine how the Clintons went about rewarding or enticing favorable media coverage.) No wonder they were so surprised: they shut out the very people they should have been listening to.

These issues connected to the Clintons and to the Democratic Party establishment extend to the news media which confidently predicted a big-time Clinton victory. For now, space and time constraints preclude my going into the media issues. Suffice it to say that we are now hearing self-serving commentators mutually affirming their moral superiority to the unwashed masses. Largely these are the people who went along with Bush’s invasion of Iraq. As with sexual assault, it saddens me to see Iraq swept under the rug. On top of the loss of blood and treasure, in all that (temporary) emphasis on sexual assault during the campaign, no one mentioned that rape follows war.

One last point: owing to the experience I suffered, I felt pummeled throughout the 2016 election cycle–beginning with the smug, complacent assertions of Clinton’s being the inevitable nominee, in 2015 and before. The reaction is difficult to write about, even now. Several media theories about election 2016 have addressed the wrongness of the opinion polls–silent Trump voters, distrust of pollsters, faulty polling methods. I have another theory to add: that I am not the only one in my position. Few Americans would have wanted to share an intensely private perspective on Bill Clinton with pollsters. Even fewer would have wanted to volunteer their private opinion–for example, believing Juanita Broaddrick–with pollsters, without being asked to do so.

And no pollsters asked.

*This was a childhood incident. I was in elementary school at the time, an undersized fifth-grader walking alone through a big park in Houston, to a Brownies meeting. The perpetrator was not someone I knew, and the police never caught him. But at least there was none of that nonsense about not believing me. Everyone knew I could not have made it up, and anyway I was taken to the ER of the local charity hospital–Ben Taub–for an exam.



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New book: Firearms Regulation in the Bill of Rights

Now out. Book available through CreateSpace. Linked here.

Firearms Regulation In the Bill of Rights

List Price: $25.00 Add to Cart

About the author:
Margie Burns. PhD, English literature, Rice University. Freelance journalist writing on government, law, and politics. Washington, D.C., region. Many published articles in general-interest and scholarly publications but most writing time for three years has gone into this book, begun late 2012. National issues pursued in depth include Iraq War, election integrity, First Amendment issues, and gun violence.
Articles reprinted, archived, and anthologized. Cited in First Amendment Calendar (Freedom Forum, Washington, D.C.) Article on As You Like It incorporated into Gale Course Reader, Shakespeare (publisher, Gale, Cengage Learning). Article on Taming of the Shrew anthologized by Garland Press on TS. “Oedipus and Apollonius” awarded Fritz Schmidl Memorial Prize for Research in Applied Psychoanalysis by Seattle Psychoanalytic Society, later article published by Oxford University Press.
(Some articles and condensed profile accessible at Titles in World Shakespeare Bibliography, citations in Google Scholar, Google Books, MicroSoft Academic, Academic Search Complete (EBSCO), elsewhere.)

Firearms Regulation In the Bill of Rights:

Eighteenth-Century English Language and the U.S. Constitution

Authored by Margie Burns

Nonfiction book emphasizes the English language at the time the first ten amendments were composed, and compares the first ten amendments to the language of later amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The English words in the Bill of Rights have been misconstrued in recent years, even in some federal courts. Firearms Regulation in the Bill of Rights argues that the lexicon of the Bill of Rights itself supports regulation of firearms–gun control and gun safety. Authors consulted by Supreme Court justices include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, and Dr. Samuel Johnson, revisited in this book to examine an issue that periodically reaches the high court. Hundreds of sources include English and American public documents, before 1789 and after; early American newspapers; and English dictionaries from the eighth century through the eighteenth.
No other book in the marketplace covers the same ground.

(Yes, I know; that’s what they all say. But the claim is accurate here.)

This book does not merely retrace recent arguments by attorneys specializing in the second amendment. Discussion touches on U.S. history, British history, and political philosophy, an interdisciplinary approach that looks at the eighteenth-century language of the Bill of Rights in context, and at the ways our understanding of the language has changed since the eighteenth century.
Publication Date:

Jan 16 2017
153723885X / 9781537238852
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6″ x 9″
Black and White
Related Categories:
History / United States / General
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“Russia”? Really?

Democrats and Republicans

Is the national Democratic Party trying to burn into extinction any hope that it is the party of the people? A couple of weeks ago, the word “recount” was on the lips of every mouthpiece. A week or so ago (and before and since), proposals to abolish the Electoral College were bruited. Now the drive is on to investigate Russia.

Margie Burns artwork

Modern Russian art — is a stage set really  nonobjective?

A ‘bipartisan’ alliance of the most comprehensively bought-and-sold members of Congress–led by Mitch “Big Tobacco” McConnell for the Repubs, Chuck “Big Banks” Schumer for Dems–has as of this writing signed on to allegations that Russia backed Julian Assange. Not surprisingly, entrenched Republican Senate hacks have joined ditto Dems in what is being hailed in some media outlets as an instance of bipartisan cooperation. (What these insiders chiefly have in common is that they were up-ended by Trump’s victory. This point is not being emphasized in the news media.)

Basically the claim seems to be that a) Russia hacked into U.S. Democrats’ emails, and that b) it did so to throw the election to Donald Trump. This is not a Q.E.D. It is preposterous. For one thing, the emails came from leaks, not from ‘hacking’. (Most in the McConnell-Schumer cohort would not likely know the difference.)


(The photograph is just for fun. Merry Christmas.)

So why would any Democratic office holder, let alone one of any prominence, sign on to this Cold-War-redux saturnalia? Well, a simple motive is that in fact some Dems in office really are threatened by populism, and by elections. Some, not all. But some are genuinely threatened by any possibility of base-broadening. They live in safe congressional districts, or states (Schumer), themselves. Why would they open up access, just because not doing so is a losing proposition? After all, the smaller the pie, the larger their own piece in proportion.

Another motive is the obvious denial. Blaming ‘Russia’ is another way to delay the reckoning about their hand-picked candidate, Secretary Clinton.* That it makes them look like lying imbeciles is a small price to pay. The previous efforts at denial didn’t work–yes, Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; no, abolishing the Electoral College and throwing a whole campaign into California wouldn’t help. But there’s always another effort, and another. (Looming behind this one is the next, exhorting faithless Electors to throw away American history and just vote for someone other than President-elect Trump.)


Meanwhile, someone knocked on the right office door in halls of CIA, and found–predictably–the right leaks for their kind of investigation.

From those wonderful people who brought you the Iraq War

These are national party leaders? They don’t notice that they are leaving it to Trump to point out a fundamental fact? — “These are the same people that said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.”

Fortunately, some CIA analysts still retain a more sensible perspective.

The news media

There is no point in listing all the media outlets now boosting the ‘Russia’ meme. Most of them also boosted the recounts. Almost all also tout Clinton’s popular vote lead without mentioning the massive vote total in California, thereby creating a vague impression that the national popular vote lead was across-the-board. The impression is false.

Clinton’s vote lead is IN CALIFORNIA

For the record, below is a sprinkling of the countless recent articles that refer to Clinton’s popular vote lead without mentioning that the numbers come disproportionately from California. This very quick list does not include television programs or online news aggregates, which would run the total into thousands. We may have a new conventional wisdom here, hardening like concrete before our very eyes. Or putting it a different way, we may have a spectacular example of a narrative fueled largely by reification, denial, and cross-cultural stereotyping taking on a life of its own inside national media outlets. (See ‘Russia’, above. Even the estimable Eugene Robinson seems to be getting on the bandwagon.)

Insert the words “IN CALIFORNIA” where needed:

New York Times, December 13: “Hillary Clinton’s growing lead over Donald J. Trump is now over 1 million votes, making this the second time a president has been elected without a popular majority since 2000.”

Chicago Tribune, December 12: “With almost all ballots finally counted, Hillary Clinton won the “popular” vote — that is, the total number of votes cast — by more than 2.8 million, about a 2.1 percent edge over Trump’s tally. This is a larger gap than the one in the 2000 election, when Al Gore won about a half-million votes more than George W. Bush did.”

Washington Post, December 12: “In the end, Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.7 million votes, or 2 percent of all ballots cast.” (A bunch of WaPo writers have done the same; too many to list.)

International Business Times, December 12: “The latest popular vote totals Monday, as reported by nonpartisan election analysis group The Cook Report, show Clinton garnering 65,746,544 votes compared to Trump’s 62,904,682, a difference of more than 2.8 million votes. In percentages, Clinton’s locked down a plurality of 48.2 percent of the vote and Trump 46.2 percent.”

Mother Jones, December 7: “I figure it’s still worth periodically posting a reminder that far more people wanted Hillary Clinton as their president than Donald Trump.”, December 1: “Hillary Clinton’s lead in total votes over President-elect Donald Trump has reached 2,526,184 as ballots continue to be tallied.”

What is the issue here, you ask? One issue is the credibility of major periodicals. When a big-city daily newspaper refers to Clinton’s popular vote lead without mentioning the massive four-thousand-vote lead in California, big newspapers lose even more credibility. Every thinking person who followed the election at all sees that item, or that headline about Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead, and thinks, That’s mainly from California. But the self-styled analysts or pundits do not mention the obvious and valid point. The line from omission to distortion is short.

*I will deal more fully with the Clinton candidacy after the holidays, speaking of denial. It isn’t a very Christmas-like topic.

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San Andreas Fault: Those three little words that mean so much

Would abolishing the Electoral College really be grass-roots progressivism?

The 2016 popular vote and the Electoral College

One result of the 2016 elections is the new call to abolish the Electoral College. This move is  supported by some progressives, but it is a sad divagation for progressivism. To throw away a huge swath of the polity, to cut large areas of thin population density out of the polity–this is grass roots?

Principle aside, supporters of eliminating the Electoral College should beware unintended consequences. In other words, try to figure out what abolishing it would actually accomplish. Predictions are dicey, but so far as can be predicted now, one effect of abolishing the Electors would be to magnify the importance of cities or metropolitan areas beyond even their current importance in elections.

U.S. population growth: cities

U.S. population growth: cities

Full disclosure: As someone who grew up in Houston and lives in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, I myself love cities. In America’s tiny towns there would be few jobs for me–or for the host of our many-times-wrong cable commentators. (Hence the ‘flyover’ perspective often seen in media.) But throwing away our ‘country’ in elections is waste on a grand scale. On principle, I support maximizing nationwide participation at the grass roots. Therefore I am against the converse, whether it is represented as rejecting Howard Dean’s ’50-states’ strategy (why was that rejected?), repudiating the Deep South, or in Barry Goldwater’s words, cutting off the Eastern Seaboard and letting it float out to sea. (At least back in Goldwater’s time, nobody called it commentary, let alone political science.) Also, I would have liked to see Texas metro areas get more attention from national Democrats. I got my start in political volunteering in high school, licking envelopes for Sissy Farenthold and Frankie Randolph. If direct election by voters would help, I’m all for it.

But that it would help is not a given. Looking at the last two years and focusing a bit more on people than on ‘demographics’, Texas cities would seem to have held rich potential for Democrats. The dozen largest U.S. cities-metro areas in 2015 included Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, combined population more than 13.6 million. Add Austin for another two million-plus and the San Antonio region for another 2.3 million-plus. Furthermore, these Texas cities are growing, a trend projected to continue; they will be even more vote-rich targets in 2020 than now. But would Texas cities–still harping on my hometown–actually receive the attention from national campaigns that their population would seem to justify? If so, why don’t they receive it now? According to the U.S. census, the population of Texas is about 27.4 million. The metropolitan areas named add up to more than 18 million, more than half the state total, conveniently findable in areas where people live close to each other. Not that whole Houston neighborhoods would likely be driving across each other’s front yards to hear a candidate, like people getting their cars out of the way of a hurricane, but still–you’d think they would be reachable. Other Texas metro regions are also growing fast, as reported in this article from the estimable Texas Tribune.

Added to the above data is the fact that Democratic candidates ousted Republicans in Houston-Harris County in November 2016. In fact, Democrats defeated all the GOP judges in Harris county, along with a new sheriff whose first moves in office had included demoting all non-white, non-males in his command staff. A gay woman also defeated the female District Attorney. According to an old friend, this was probably because “the sitting DA jailed a rape victim for 30 days because the victim fell apart on the stand at the rapist’s trial and the DA was concerned that the victim, who had mental illness issues, would not return when the trial continued. The victim was held in the county jail, not a mental health facility, for 30 days.”

Such are the times when genuine grass-roots progressivism is needed–and it happened in Harris County, ‘Red State’ or no. So if votes are desired, and direct participation is encouraged, why don’t the Democrats and others upset about the Electoral College spend more time and attention in Texas now? After all, in the Electoral College, Texas has 38 votes.

Electoral College 2016

Electoral College 2016

You see where I’m going with this. If a national Democratic Party doesn’t campaign in Texas now, with the combined prizes of popular vote and 38 Electors, what is the guarantee that it would campaign in Texas for the popular vote alone?

Yes, Austin is a long way from Madison, Wisconsin. But the same question arises in regard to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. As written in the previous post, one problem with the abolish-the-Electoral-College picture is that it is hard to envision these three ‘Rust Belt’ states getting more attention without the prize of Electoral votes than they got in 2016 with a combined 46 Electoral votes, or 17 percent of the total needed to win the White House. Adding Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Illinois constitutes 41 percent. But as written, this entire block of Electoral votes outside Illinois was written off by the Clinton campaign with its ‘electable’ candidate. The ‘Rust Belt’ perspective in the media seems to have been matched in the campaign.

For further perspective, let’s go to another state, even more vote-rich than Texas, with large populations concentrated in metro areas–California. It is essential to note that California is the source of Secretary Clinton’s popular vote lead. This spreadsheet from Cook Political Report puts Clinton’s lead over Trump nationally at more than 2.6 million. Subtract California from the votes for each candidate, however, and Trump leads Clinton by 1.6 million votes nationally. The Clinton lead comes from the yawning gulf of 4.2 votes in California, the state which singly produced more than 13 percent of Clinton’s votes–more than twice as many as New York State, more than the total of all the smaller ‘blue states’ combined, and more than Florida and Texas combined.

(As of this writing: 62,808,243 – 4,463,932 = 58,344,311 Trump. 65,462,476 – 8,719,198 = 56,743,278 Clinton.)

Thus if the Electoral College were abolished, any national Democratic campaign would have to devote time and resources to California for the sake of its popular votes alone. Mentioning Clinton’s popular vote lead is the short argument for abolishing the Electoral College (though without mentioning that most of the lead comes from California). Indeed, one could guess that national Democrats would focus on California more than on any other single part of the country.

So what might the reckoning be? For a start, nothing in this picture screams that voters in smaller states would necessarily get more attention, even on the coasts.

But in terms of campaigning, there is a rawer point. In this picture, if what appeals to California voters also appeals to the nation at large, all is well. But suppose there were some divide? Suppose what pleased California did not equally please the nation at large, and vice versa, or did not equally please Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania? Again, wasn’t that the situation this time?

Moving from past to future, let’s get really creative, or fiendish. Those three little words that mean so much . . .

San Andreas Fault map

San Andreas Fault map

San Andreas Fault


Suppose someone were to remind the nation, as the late Molly Ivins did back in the 1990s, that the U.S. economy underwrites real estate development on the San Andreas Fault. Saturn-like real estate prices in California rest economically on factors including population, climate, and high-profile industries. They rest politically on ignoring the risk. They rest geologically on the meeting of two tectonic plates. Suppose someone were to present a rational proposal addressing this geological fact? (Far-fetched, I know, but use your imagination.) What would that do to a national campaign concentrating a third of its resources on California?

Going a little deeper, what would it do to the polity, to ask the rest of the nation to bail out California real estate and developers building full-steam-ahead in California? To ask the rest of the nation to bail out insurers in California?

If the entire nation actually got a vote, how would that vote turn out?


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Recount may add Trump votes

Update December 6: Clinton supporters in Florida are petitioning for a recount there. Let’s take another look at the numbers in Florida, from the New York Times and that spreadsheet by Cook Political Report. As with Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (the piece below), there are no anomalies that suggest hidden votes for Clinton lurking uncounted in Florida.

Trump leads Clinton in Florida by 112,911 votes, as of now–a narrow win, in a big state. But the vote for “Others” is 297,178–more than twice Trump’s margin, for a total of more than 409,000 people who didn’t vote for Clinton, well outside a margin where a recount might reasonably be called for.

More importantly, those “others’ broke heavily for right-leaning candidates rather than for Jill Stein. As of now, the numbers in the NYTimes page are 207,043 for Gary Johnson; 16,475 for the Constitution candidate; 9,108 for Rocky de la Fuente; and 74,684 for Independent–a total of 307,310. Stein got 64,399.

In other words, any hope for a changed outcome for Hillary Clinton in Florida has to upset or reverse not only the margin between the major party candidates, but also a roughly five-to-one margin in favor of conservative-leaning ‘third party’ candidates. The hope is a null set. It is preposterous, and our news media who ignore the third-party tallies are failing in their duty to the public which has to determine when, and whether, a recount is called for.

[previous post below]

For the record, I support recounts. The right to vote is paramount, it should be an equal right, and tabulating votes accurately is more important than tabulating them fast. The public should be able to observe. Vote in private, count in public.

However, a recount will not only not change the 2016 outcome in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin, as the Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton campaigns themselves acknowledge. It is unlikely even that Clinton will net additional votes.

Take a quick look at the numbers for candidates other than Trump or Clinton. Reality check for commentators eager to blame ‘third parties’ for Clinton’s losses: in Michigan, Stein pulled 51,463 votes. But Libertarian Gary Johnson pulled 172,136. That’s a margin of more than three to one for the right-leaning ‘third party’ candidate over the left-leaning ‘third party’ candidate. Yes, the number of votes going to Stein in Michigan is more than the number by which Trump beat Clinton (10,704)–almost five times more. But the number going to Johnson is more than sixteen times greater than the winning margin.

Dr. Jill Stein

Dr. Jill Stein

In Pennsylvania, Stein pulled 49,278 votes. But Johnson pulled 144,536–almost three times as many, and more than twice the margin by which Trump beat Clinton in Pennsylvania (70,779). Trump’s margin as seen exceeded Stein’s votes. Conservative Party candidate Darrell Castle pulled another 21,242.

Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate

Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate

In Wisconsin, Stein got 30,980 votes–greater than Trump’s net over Clinton of 27,257. But Johnson got 106,422 votes, and the conservative Constitution Party candidate got 12,179. Adding these votes to those for the major party candidates yields a left-ish total of 1,413,190 and a right-ish total of 1,528,068. That’s a margin of more than 100,000 votes (114,868 to be precise, using the unofficial results given so far)–not the eyelash-thin margin screamed by the headlines.

Quick points: First, nothing in this picture suggests that hidden hordes wanted to vote for Clinton and were thwarted. Second, it’s funny how the name ‘third party’ applies no matter how many parties are listed. This dismissing everyone not locked into a major party should be rethought–especially in Wisconsin with its proud populist tradition. Third, even if the Democrats had won by a razor-thin margin in Michigan or the other two states, the thin margin would be shameful. From a small-d perspective, the Clinton candidacy was an embarrassment.

Fourth, blaming Clinton’s loss on a ‘third party’ is exactly what might be expected of the Clintons and their media allies (Rachel Maddow, for example)–but it is hardly progressive. Nor is it accurate. The fact remains that Jill Stein’s vote was substantially smaller in all three states than the votes for the Libertarian, Constitution, and other right-leaning candidates.

Meanwhile, this from Politico:

PROPUBLICA KNOCKS DOWN VOTER FRAUD CLAIMS — “We had 1,100 people monitoring the vote on Election Day. We saw no evidence the election was ‘rigged’ no matter what Stein or Trump say,” the investigative non-profit outlet said in a series of tweets last night. “Electionland had huge amounts of data. 600 ppl monitored social media. We had @LawyersComm call logs. We had 120,000 people texting us. We had 400 partner reporters across the country, including three of the largest news organizations in the U.S. We had voting experts in the room with us and election sources all over the country. We saw plenty of problems: Long lines, broken voting machines, incorrect poll books, confusion abt voter ID laws. But we saw no reason to doubt the results.” [Here, please imagine ‘handclap’ emojis where the ellipses are.] There … was … no … widespread … voter … fraud.”

It remains unclear why Dr. Stein is pursuing the recount. She did raise almost $7 million for the effort, which is the way to get Hillary Clinton’s attention. Ironically, Clinton has now joined the recount campaign, although Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin did not receive much love from the Clinton campaign in the form of campaign stops or more importantly policy addresses.

Clinton’s participation seems mainly to reflect her personal problems. As long as she can fan the dying ember of a hope that she is adored, apparently, she will keep the ‘election’ going. Again, no one projects that a recount will change the outcome. However, a delay hypothetically could take two states out of Trump’s win column on December 13 or December 19, whichever is treated as the Electoral College deadline.

Abolish the Electoral College? Why?

One problem with the abolish-the-Electoral-College picture is that it is hard to envision these three ‘Rust Belt’ states getting more attention without the prize of Electoral votes than they got in 2016 with a combined 46 Electoral votes, or 17 percent of the total needed to win the White House. As we already know, these areas are not booming.

Recent U.S. population growth

Recent U.S. population growth

Add Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Illinois to Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and you get 41 percent of the Electoral votes needed to win. First, nothing makes neglecting these states anything but stupid, except for whatever makes it arrogant, self-important, or self-deluded to the point of delirium. Second, to my confreres in the media–if you want to avoid being perceived as elitist, quit using the phrase ‘Rust Belt’. Try losing your job and see how you like it, or watch your entire occupation go under. Wait–that’s already happening . . .

Progressives above all should repudiate this attitude. People who have a hard time finding decent jobs in small towns, open areas, or small cities should not be ridiculed. Nor should they be dismissed from the electorate, which might be the effect of abolishing the Electoral College. Look how well it worked this time.

I despise ridicule directed against any sector of the U.S. (like David Brooks’ comment about ‘gene pools’, for example). A superficial dismissal may rest–superficially–on a careless assumption of moral superiority (racial disparities in the Southeast, Latino poverty in the Southwest, random bigotry in the ‘Rust Belt’; take your pick). So what do the election analysts say about a small city like Binghamton, New York? This was a town where, if you recall, the big employer was IBM. Then IBM left–and now one of the town’s biggest employers is SUNY Binghamton, a nice place but not exactly hiring on the scale of General Motors or U.S. Steel back when. There is much to be said for the locale, from what I hear. You can get a very nice house for $40,000. But where do you find the job to pay for it?

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I Told You So

Election 2016 is over, and I for one am not surprised that Trump won.

Much to say. The only question is where to start.

Not to toot my own horn excessively, but I warned the well-established Democrats about what they were doing in boosting Secretary Clinton, or at least I tried to warn them. As I wrote–about the election–in March, the Clintons and Clinton allies are counting on voters who know they can’t count on them.

She was never a shoo-in. She was never even plausible.

Trying to seem above it all

Trying to seem above it all

Not that this is just a matter of politics or of political victories. From the first, the effort behind the scenes to install Clinton as the inevitable candidate showed a comfortable lack of concern over ethical collapses like the invasion of Iraq and the subprime mortgage debacle.

That  misplaced complacency continued well into last night. I myself could not watch MSNBC for more than a few minutes, at any point, because it was so clear that the self-congratulatory on-air personalities were 1) so in the tank for Hillary Clinton and 2) so out of touch with the public good. Right now, commentators with no expertise or depth are undoubtedly chewing over ‘what went wrong’ in the election.

Chew no more, my fellow writers; here’s what went wrong. (Yes, the statements below are quite possibly future article titles.) (Sorry about the caps. As with trying to warn insider types not to invade Iraq, this whole process has been frustrating.)


SECRETARY CLINTON SHOULD NOT HAVE RUN. That’s where it all went wrong–that Clinton, with all the reasons she should not be a candidate for the highest office, was financed and media-tized into a campaign that like the universe seemed to have no (known) beginning and no end.

CHOOSING A WINNER BEFORE VOTES HAVE BEEN CAST IS NOT A WINNING STRATEGY. Some insider Democrats made a huge mistake–not only in choosing Clinton, but in shutting out everyone else, as best they could. The attitude is exemplified in this wikileaks email, subject line “Democrats See a Field of One Heading to 2016.” Response from one of Clinton’s hacks: “Praise Jesus.” So the New York Times was hailing a Democratic “Field of One” in March 2015, implying a race all but over at that time, to grateful joy in the vicinity of John Podesta. These are the political experts? –These people do not seem to understand that a pre-selected candidate lacks popular appeal, for being pre-selected. –How could political professionals not know this? The process itself was vitiated. The democratic process was undermined from the start, by a cadre of over-promoted and under-qualified individuals who not only picked a poor candidate but put together a strategy designed mainly to prevent input, or even awareness, from the public.

GETTING AN OUT-OF-TOUCH MEDIA ESTABLISHMENT IS NOT THE SAME AS GETTING VOTES. The list of well-placed individuals in the news media who should resign/retire is long, and growing.

Wolf Blitzer, David Brooks, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews . . .

Memo to Dems: Next Time You Want to Shove a Pre-Selected Candidate down the Public’s Throat, Don’t Choose the Wife of an Accused Rapist

To be continued . . .

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Live-blogging election night

[11:10 p.m.] Finally. CNN calls North Carolina for Trump. Deborah Ross also lost to Richard Burr.

[11:01 p.m.] Ridiculous. CNN’s Blitzer still has not called Georgia (Georgia) and North Carolina for Trump. But the second the polls close on the West Coast, he calls California for Clinton and trumpets that she has taken a lead in the Electoral College. Beyond ridiculous. Meanwhile, she is still behind in Michigan and Wisconsin. A more rational tally linked here. Trump ahead in the Electoral College and in the popular vote.

[10:43 p.m.] CNN is not bothering much about senate races. So far, in states going for Trump, the Democratic nominees for senate are also behind. Trump now leads in both Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Iowa and Ohio. It is incredible to me that supposedly adept pundits have not been discussing the foreseeable loss of Iowa and Ohio for Dems. But then, the pundits have been minimizing Clinton’s problems; more, they have manufactured multiple ‘paths to 270’ for her.

[10:27 p.m.] Ohio called for Donald Trump. Ohio, the state that Republicans have to win, to win the White House. MSNBC is calling Virginia for Hillary Clinton. Virginia votes not all in yet.

[10:15 p.m.] New Mexico called for Clinton, Missouri for Trump. More of those 50-50 non- surprises the cable networks lean on. Possibly only a little while more before Florida and North Carolina are called, though it looks as though the networks will wait until the vote count is close to 100%. Trump is solidly ahead in both.

[10:02 p.m.] Clinton gets the lead in Virginia. Trump still ahead in North Carolina and in Florida, with 95% of the vote in there. Trump gets Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma.

[9:41 p.m.] Connecticut called for Clinton. Louisiana called for Trump. Not surprises. Trump still ahead in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Surprises to some people. Virginia probably a surprise to almost everyone.

[9:13 p.m.] Arkansas, Texas called for Trump, who for now has a solid Electoral College lead. Virginia still looking pretty good for Trump, despite the prognostications.

[9:01 p.m.] More polls close. New York called for Clinton. Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota called for Trump. Trump still ahead for now in Florida, Virginia. CNN coyly calls Texas “too early to call.”

[8:31 p.m.] Alabama, South Carolina called for Trump. Not a surprise, except perhaps to delusionaries who categorized Alabama as a battleground. Equally predictably, Duckworth (D) wins senate in Illinois; Rubio in Florida. Trump ahead of Clinton by eyelash in Florida at the moment, after lead swings back and forth.

[8:02 p.m.] Blue Wall states of Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island called for Clinton. Also DC. Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee called for Trump. Florida, North Carolina “too early” to call. Marco Rubio solidly ahead in Florida. Florida panhandle results not in. Wolf Blitzer on CNN banging the drum for Clinton in Florida; he did the same when she ran against Senator Obama in 2008.

[7:32 p.m.] More polls closed. Trump, Clinton in virtual tie in Florida, with very low   percentage of votes in. CNN calls West Virginia for Trump. [7:34 p.m.] In Florida senate race, Rubio ahead of Patrick Murphy 51% to 45%, with just two percent of the vote in.

[7:04 p.m.] The hour of scant surprise. Indiana, Kentucky called for Trump, who is ahead approximately 70-30. Vermont called for Clinton. Too soon to tell how much has Trump has passed Mitt Romney’s benchmark, if that’s what it’s called. Too soon to tell much about the Indiana senate race, either, although at the moment Todd Young is ahead of Birch Bayh about 4 to 3. Unofficial results for Vermont state races not up yet.

[6:35 p.m.] Polls closed in part of Indiana and Kentucky; Trump ahead of Clinton by a  tsunami, with less than one percent of the vote in. CNN panel discussing a court order to keep polls open in part of North Carolina. 1) I agree; the polls should stay open. 2) Any fantasy that North Carolina is in play for Clinton is just that; a fantasy. I’m not saying that Democrats could not at some point appeal in North Carolina again. But it will have to be with some candidate transformative, inspiring, rather than myopic and greedy. Not Secretary Clinton.

[4:32 p.m.] Sideways related topic, this from my spam folder Wikileaks. Why did CNBC moderator John Harwood turn to John Podesta to find out what to ask Jeb Bush in interview?

John Podesta

John Podesta

[4:08 p.m.] CNN website having some problems. Clicking on links for provocatively titled election pieces leads to “Uh-oh!” and “There’s no page here.” [4:11 p.m.] CNN on air saying bigtime Latino turnout in Nevada. Contradicts WaPo report linked in this morning’s blog. CNN saying that Trump has an “insurmountable deficit” in Nevada and is filing a “frivolous” lawsuit. Quite the story, if true. Guess we should just all go to bed and never mind about having an election. Does sound appealing, from some perspectives.

Here outlined below is how top races frame up according to prominent if not reliable sources. Some interesting questions in green bold-face font. Will fill in the gaps later, up top.

First exit polls: more voters say they want a ‘strong leader’. First early return: from Dixville Notch, a win for Clinton but a 4-4 tie (2 votes for Trump, 1 for Libertarian, 1 write-in for Mitt Romney).

Barry Ritholtz: income versus exit polling

Barry Ritholtz: income versus exit polling as predictor

Exit polls? from Politico:

The list of state-level exit polls this year includes the 11 states POLITICO identified as Electoral College battlegrounds — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — plus 16 other larger or borderline-competitive states.

While the list hasn’t been officially announced, ABC News, a pool member, has posted exit-poll links for those states on its website.

Timeline, polls close:

  1. 6:00 p.m, parts Indiana and Kentucky.
  2. 7:00 p.m., Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia; parts of Alabama, Florida, New Hampshire; rest of Indiana, Kentucky. [Virginia R (House) Barbara Comstock’s district; does Comstock stay in? If so, does Clinton solidly win Virginia as polls indicate?] [any hope re Indiana senate race?–dubious] Outcome: Comstock wins. Clinton gets Virginia called for her. Not a shoo-in. Indiana goes the way Indiana always goes.
  3. 7:30 p.m., North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia. [North Carolina Trump/Clinton, i.e. how badly does Clinton lose? senate: R incumbent Richard Burr/D challenger Deborah Ross; can Ross pull it off in spite of Clinton?] [Ohio Trump/Clinton, i.e. how badly did Clinton lose Ohio for the Democrats?] Burr wins. Trump wins North Carolina, Ohio.
  4. 8:00 p.m., Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee; parts Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas; rest of Alabama, Florida, New Hampshire. [Pennsylvania Trump/Clinton; can Clinton win? senate race incumbent R Pat Toomey/D challenger Katie McGinty] [Florida Trump/Clinton, can Clinton squeak out a win? senate race Marco Rubio/D (of sorts) challenger Murphy; are the polls invariably showing Rubio ahead accurate?]
  5. 9:00, Arizona, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming; rest of Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas. [WI Trump/Clinton, senate Feingold/Johnson] [MI Trump/Clinton]
  6. 10:00 p.m., Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah; parts of Idaho, Oregon. [IOWA: Trump/Clinton, i.e. have the Democrats really lost Iowa?] [Nevada Trump/Clinton, i.e. same question. Senate race: D Catherine Cortez Masto, boosted by Bernie Sanders, R Joe Heck]

(Side question: why does Real Clear Politics call Minnesota and Missouri ‘battleground states’?)

Karl Rove on what to watch for early:

While votes are still being cast, the TV networks will comment on exit polls, though they won’t reveal what the surveys show about the head-to-head matchup. The exits can be spectacularly wrong—they predicted a John Kerry victory in 2004—but they do influence the coverage . . .

Two things to look for in the exits: First, how is Mr. Trump doing among white voters? His strategy requires grabbing a higher percentage of whites than Mitt Romney’s 59% and boosting their share of the turnout above 2012’s 72%. College-educated whites traditionally vote Republican, but Mr. Trump has struggled with them. Will he match Mr. Romney’s 51% among all college grads?

Second, how is Mrs. Clinton doing among minorities and millennials? Her strategy calls for replicating President Obama’s 2012 coalition. That year African-Americans were 13% of turnout, and 93% went for Mr. Obama; Hispanics were 10% of turnout, and 71% voted for him; and millennials were 19% of turnout, 60% of whom supported the president.

“Watch for how each party’s vote has shifted since 2012. Although Mr. Trump is likely to win Indiana and Kentucky, comparing his margin to Mr. Romney’s might indicate what’s happening nationally.”

[Turnout: larger or smaller than 2012? Re counties with high percentages of African-Americans, Latinos, millennials and educated whites, in the four swing states that report early?]

“Florida is this election’s most important battleground. Democrats have carried 18 states and the District of Columbia in all of the past six presidential contests. If Mrs. Clinton wins the 242 electoral votes from this “Blue Wall,” she needs only Florida’s 29 to take the White House. Mr. Trump must win Florida to keep open his path to the presidency. Results from early and absentee voting could be an important indicator. The Panhandle, which is very Republican, is in the Central Time Zone . . .

Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, is this year’s second-most important state. No Republican has ever won the White House without the Buckeye State. The split there is big cities versus suburban and rural counties. Mrs. Clinton needs to carry Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) by at least 160,000 votes and win big in Franklin County (Columbus) and Hamilton County (Cincinnati).

The next most important states are North Carolina and Virginia, with a combined 28 electoral votes. Mrs. Clinton can win the presidency by taking the Blue Wall plus these two, even if Mr. Trump wins Florida and every other tossup.

The early returns also include a few bellwether counties. Vigo County, Ind., has backed every presidential winner since 1956 and been wrong only twice since 1888. In Ohio, Ottawa and Wood counties, near Toledo, have voted for every victor since 1964 and 1976, respectively. Hillsborough County, Fla., which includes Tampa, has supported the winner in 19 of the last 20 elections (1992 being the exception).”

“At 10 p.m., EST, polls in Nevada and Utah close. The former is a battleground and the latter interesting because of Mormon antipathy for Mr. Trump. Hawaii votes until 11 p.m., EST, and Alaska until 1 a.m. Wednesday. But by then, Americans will probably know the outcome . . .”



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Not looking like a landslide yet

I just returned from a social visit to the polling place in my precinct. Having voted already, in Maryland’s early voting, I went to assess turnout and to chat with neighborhood friends. There was ample time: lines were slow, not because voter influx was huge but because the Maryland state Board of Elections allotted my polling place one scanner for all the (two-page) paper ballots cast. Turnout is in line with this deep-blue and racially diverse community, but no lines-around-the-block scene. Notwithstanding the extensive media coverage of 2016 early voting, I got that same non-landslide vibe at the early polling place, also. (Another local early voting location was busier.)

Forget the hype: so far, this is no shutout or landslide–Electoral College or other–in the making. Predictions are air, and it’s still morning on Election Day, but so far the outcome for Democrats in 2016 looks like 2012, only worse.

Electoral College map in 2012

Electoral College map in 2012

Some numbers could help ground the air.

This week the Washington Post published a useful graphic, “Where 41 million votes were cast,” comparing 2016 early voting numbers to 2012 early voting. Clicking on the link does not release a Blue Tide.

A few political simplicities here, regarding the Electoral College. To start with, we have the ‘Blue Wall’, the list of 18 states that have gone Democratic (along with DC) in the last six presidential elections.*

For the 18 ‘Blue Wall’ states, the WaPo tally indicates “Much less” turnout, down by at least 20% from 2012, in 8–California, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. There has been “Much more” turnout, up by at least 20% over 2012, in 3–Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (with DC). Maybe all three are landslide pockets for Clinton. On the other hand, it is worth noting that Massachusetts and Maryland have handed complacent Dems some nasty surprises in recent years. Two other states–Maine, Wisconsin–had early turnout higher by 10% to 20% over 2012, which could look good for Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Two others–Delaware, Illinois–had early turnout ‘similar’ to 2012. (This middling classification is surprisingly imprecise.)

Moving from the ‘Blue Wall’ to what RealClearPolitics has designated as battleground or swing states gives the same picture. For 2016, RCP characterizes eight states as ‘swing states’–Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Of these eight, two–New Hampshire and Ohio–fall into the “Much less” turnout category, down by at least 20% from 2012. Early turnout in Iowa has been 10% to 20% less this year than in 2012. Maine and Wisconsin as said have had higher turnout by the same (?) margin. On the other hand, Florida has had “much more” early turnout, by at least 20%. May be a good sign. Balancing that is that early turnout has also been higher in North Carolina, the past and present red state among these so-called battlegrounds. (See below.)

The “much less” category includes some interesting mix. States with early turnout down by at least 20% include the Democratic-friendly Colorado and New Mexico, as well as the hoped-for Ohio and New Hampshire. Early voting was also down by 20%+ in Alaska, Wyoming, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama–solidly red states, where lower turnout would not raise concern about the electoral map. The lower turnout does suggest that the much-hyped ‘minorities’ are not turning out for Clinton. (Remember how much we heard about Mississippi and Alabama during the primary? Has anyone heard about them recently?)

Turnout was down by 10%-to-20% in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas–again solidly red states, but again no game-changer for Clinton among minority Democratic voters.

Solid-red Georgia and Louisiana had “much more” turnout, up by at least 20%. Red states Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia had turnout up by 10% to 20%. Red states Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, South Carolina fell into the less-defined “similar” category, with turnout less than 10% off 2012, either up or down. Presumably they’re still red states, as might have been predicted except in a hallucinatory WaPo article previously written about on this site.

The fuzzy “Similar” category includes Nevada and Virginia. All the early-voting states with large Latino populations are either significantly down from 2012, or similar to 2012–except Florida.

Back to that RCP article, linked again here, which aligns somewhat with the above. The RCP swing state list as mentioned is Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. As of yesterday, it was not inconceivable that six of these eight states could go for Trump–if the recent opinion polls can be relied on, which is never a given.

As of Monday November 7, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were leaning Clinton. This morning, Florida is Trump by a tiny margin. All three are surprisingly shaky (compared to 2008 and 2012), especially factoring in the senate races.

In Florida, every poll shows Rubio ahead in the Florida senate race. Only one poll in months has put what’s-his-name ahead (by one point), and that was PPP, back in June.

In New Hampshire, the only poll in recent days showing Hassan significantly ahead has been WMUR/UNH. Outlier WMUR/UNH has been the one poll to show Hassan significantly ahead in the last three months. (RCP classes this senate race as a “tossup.”)

In Nevada–well, this one the Democrats might manage not to throw away. Alan Grayson has speculated that Dems might keep the Nevada senate seat. Several recent polls have put  Catherine Cortez Masto ahead of Joe Heck. In fact, recent polls put Cortez Masto ahead of Clinton in Nevada.

My emerging hypothesis is that having Secretary Clinton at the top of the ticket is an anchor. She is hurting down-ballot candidates. If this hypothesis is accurate, then the reverse-coattail effect should be more potent for candidates more associated with her. That is, it should be most damaging to blue-dog Democrats like Clinton. This pattern seems to be holding, going into Election Day: Feingold in Wisconsin and Cortez Masto in Nevada are doing better so far than the Democrats running for senate in Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Also, if the hypothesis is correct, then senate candidates should be out-performing Clinton at least part of the time. This one checks out, too. As mentioned, Cortez Masto is ahead of Clinton in Nevada. And Clinton is struggling in New Hampshire even more than Hassan.

Similarly, while Deborah Ross has been falling behind incumbent Richard Burr in North Carolina, she is still running a point or so better than Clinton.

Same broken record for Pennsylvania. While establishment-choice Katie McGinty is struggling to hold on to a maybe-so two points better than incumbent Pat Toomey, she is still running just slightly better than Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, although by less than a percentage point in the most recent polls.

Note that of the RCP top senate races, only Colorado (incumbent Michael Bennet), Illinois (Tammy Duckworth), and Wisconsin (Feingold) look strong for Democrats. Two of these are +Dem turnovers. (Nevada would be a +Repub turnover.) In Colorado, Bennet is running five points better than Clinton–a couple of points more than his spread over his GOP challenger. In ‘blue wall’ Illinois, Duckworth is running a couple of points better than Clinton.

Much media speculation on the down-ballot effect of Trump at the top of the ticket, for Repubs. What about the down-ballot effect of Clinton at the top of the ticket, for Dems?

*The “Blue Wall”: 18 states voting Dem in all six elections from 1992 on (plus D.C.): California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

[Update 11:50]

Chicago area is one region reporting big turnout and big increases, according to Politico:

— “Heavy turnout expected for election in city, Cook County,” by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Stefano Esposito: “Some 315,875 people had chosen to vote early, compared with 228,695 during the 2012 presidential election. Orr predicted another 30,000 to 40,000 early voters by day’s end. On the city side, 284,506 people had chosen to vote early as of Sunday, compared with 243,148 people in 2012, official said.”

— “Election officials: Illinois early voting breaks records,” by AP’s Sophia Tareen: “Nearly 1.3 million people cast in-person early ballots through Sunday, surpassing turnout in previous presidential contests, according to totals released Monday by the State Board of Elections. Roughly 1 million people cast early in-person ballots in 2008, or about 18 percent of all votes, and nearly 1.2 million people did so in 2012, or roughly 22 percent.”

— “Chicagoans Shatter Early Voting Records, Facing Hours-Long Lines,” by NBC Chicago’s Tom Schuba: “At the early voting ‘super site,’ located at 15 W. Washington in The Loop, some voters told NBC Chicago that they returned Monday after facing 3-hour lines the day before. According to several reports, lines were wrapped around the corner outside the site on Monday, the final day of early voting.”” 


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