Saturday, October 31, 2020

Prediction 2020


It's finally here: the day we've all been waiting four years for, the chance to officially mark Donald Trump as the loser he is and kick his white supremacist ass back to civilian life.  Biden's still up a remarkable 9 points nationally but it's the Electoral College that counts; will it happen?  I wouldn't be writing about it if I didn't think so.  And quite comfortably too, I might add.  

45 might have behaved like a president with a huge mandate but remember he lost the popular vote by 2 million and scored his electoral college majority largely on the strength of low-education whites in the Rust Belt who never forgave the Clintons for NAFTA.  

Win back those three and it's over.  

The polls say it's not even close in Michigan or Wisconsin.  In the Mitten, the most recent polls (by Siena College/NY Times and ABC News/Washington Post, both A+ rated by fivethirtyeight) have Biden up 8 and 7 points respectively--while several other polls show Biden with a double-digit lead.  Wisconsin isn't much better for Franco Naranja, where most polls show him down somewhere been 5-10 points while a recent ABC/Wapo poll had him down 17.  Altogether fivethirtyeight shows Biden with a 93% chance of taking Wisconsin and a 96% chance at Michigan and between spiking Midwest coronavirus cases and 45 not seeming to much care about his base plotting to kidnap Michigan's governor, it's hard to see that changing much by Tuesday.  

In those states, by the way, voters have already turned in over 1.8 million ballots in Wisconsin and 2.5 million in Michigan--well over half the total number of votes cast in 2016 in Michigan and two-thirds Wisconsin's 2016 total.  So even if 45 were to announce (actually safe and effective) cures for Covid-19, ebola, screen addiction, and cancer on Monday morning, it'd be too late to swing all that many voters anyway.  

So what about Pennsylvania?  The issue there isn't so much the polls.  Biden's lead may not be verging on (or actually in) double-digits as in Michigan or Wisconsin but he's been consistently polling at a comfortable 5-8 point edge.  Silver gives Biden an 86% chance of carrying in the state, which might be twice as big a chance of losing as in Wisconsin, but still damn near prohibitive odds.  Rather, the issue in Pennsylvania is that it might just take too long to count the votes.  Under Pennsylvania state law, early ballots cannot be opened until 7 a.m. on election day and there are so many to count that nobody who's an expert on the situation consider it realistic that Pennsylvania's results will be known on election night.  We don't want to wait for days while Pennsylvania officials count ballots, Republicans file lawsuits and obtain partisan rulings messing with the count, etc.  This is all on top of whatever election day shenanigans the trumps might pull to disrupt voting in Black communities.  So Biden will probably win Pennsylvania eventually, we really need him to win without Pennsylvania--or, if you prefer, before Pennsylvania.

If we give Biden the HRC states plus Wisconsin and Michigan, that puts him up to 258 electoral votes and he just needs to find 12 more.  The easiest way to do that is just by grabbing another chunk of the Eastern Seaboard.  The polls have been close in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina--but Biden's been hanging on to narrow (< 1% - 4%) leads in each of those three for a minute and chances are good that he pulls at least one of them.  Obama(/Biden) won North Carolina in 2008 and Florida both in 2008 and 2012, so it's not as though we're in unprecedented territory here.  

Silver gives Biden a 68% chance in North Carolina, a 65% chance in Florida, and a 58% chance in Georgia.  Expressed differently, this means 45 has a 32% chance at NC a 35% chance at FL, and a 42% chance in Georgia.  He'd need an upset in each of the three, or Biden would reach 270.  The chances of such an underdog going 3-0 against those odds is about 4.7%.  Now, certainly the dynamics that might cause one of those states to go for Trump in the end could also be at play in the other two, so these state races are not completely independent events.  But that could be a good thing, too.

The Atlantic states aren't even the only way Biden gets to 270 without the Keystone.  Remember Michigan and Wisconsin put him within twelve; Arizona is worth 11 and while the polls there have been a little wavy, Biden has steadily pulled away since early September to the point that fiverthirtyeight now gives him a 69% percent chance.  Of course, 11 electoral votes doesn't get Biden all the way home, but that's when it helps to remember that Maine and Nebraska split up their electoral votes according to districts within the state and Biden has a good shot at pulling one of those EVs out of Nebraska (HRC got zilch) or sweeping the Maine allotment (HRC got 3/4).  Biden had also been running neck & neck with Trump in Iowa, though a brand new Ann Selzer poll (A+ rating) showing Cheetochet up 7 seems to have put the kibosh on that.  

Ohio is a virtual polling tie; the fact that Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all leaning Blue would seem to be one reason Biden might take it but remember the majority of Ohio's borders touch on Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia and the recent right turn in Iowa isn't very reassuring either.  Trunp has mostly led in Ohio all year and really, at the end of the day you're still asking Buckeyes to go blue.  They should, yes, but we know they don't. 

Texas is also competitive this year, though with Trump maintaining a slight but steady edge in the polling and the GOP's intensive voter suppression efforts it's difficult to count on the Lone Star State coming through for Biden.

So, what does this all mean?  I'm putting my money on the house.  Polls adjusted to match Trump's advantage with poorly-educated whites, and if anybody is undercounted in polls this time around it's going to be the Biden-backing Gen Zs and young Latinos.  When North Carolina lights up blue around 10:30 ET it's time to start the party.

EGD's predictions:
Electoral vote total: Biden 351, Cheetochet 187
Popular vote total: Biden 94 million, Cheetochet 80 million
Tipping point state: North Carolina

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

EGD's 2020 Election Night Scorecard

Made a little scorecard for watching the election returns.  You can download it HERE   Ahora disponible en español  tambien.  This is what it's going to look like:

Basically, the way it works is pretty simple.  You have your Biden safe states, your Orange safe states, and your Battleground states.  If Biden loses a safe state, you can stop watching and start the coping process early with whatever your drug of choice happens to be.  If 45 loses one of his safe states, then the landslide is on and you can start the celebration forthwith.  But chance are, Biden and Orange will each win all their safe states--then the race will come down to the battlegrounds. 

If the election does come down to the swing states, then as each such state is called you'll need to enter the number of electoral votes for that state in the corresponding box at the bottom.  Keep a running total of the EVs you enter into each box.  If the Biden/Harris total equals or exceeds 43, then give a shout of joy because Orange is done.  But if they never get to 43, and the Orange tallies up 145 while you're waiting, then it's the absolute worst again.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Guard your grill, Philly. And whatever the equivalent of that is in Phoenix.



If you’ve been reading my posts lately, or if you’ve been reading fivethirtyeight or WaPo or pretty much any other credible election analysis, you already know Biden/Harris have a major lead in the national polls and are on pace to win going away in the Electoral College as well.  But you also know the trumps are going to cheat like mad, and that you can’t have any confidence in the federal courts to correct any election shenanigans because even the 2000 SCOTUS failed to do so and things are much worse now.  

Electoral cheating seems to defy any kind of meaningful analysis.  How can we possibly analyze the impacts of trumpchief when we don’t know what kind of cheating they are going to engage in, how they are going do it, or where?  Well, I propose we work backwards: find the most realistic ways cheating could deliver the trumps an electoral victory, and then figure out what approaches the trumps might take to produce those kinds of outcomes.

The first step in devising an illegitimate campaign strategy for a presidential candidate seems to be figuring out how far you can get with a legitimate one.  For 45, that appears to top-out somewhere between about 125 - 247 electoral votes; 45 can count on AK, ID, MT, WY, UT, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, LA, AR, MO, MS, AL, TN, SC, KY, IN, WV, and then is in a dogfight for TX, IA, OH, NC, GA, and FL.  Thus, for cheating to stand a chance of helping you, it would need to deliver at least 23 electoral votes (i.e., enough, coupled with your 247 max from legitimate electioneering, to take the College).

If we assume 45 gets the legitimate maximum of 247 EVs, let’s see what states are left: HI, WA, CA, NV, AZ, CO, NM, MN, WI, MI, IL, VA, DC, MD, DE, PA, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH, VT, ME.  Lots of these are deep blue states where hardly any amount of electoral shenanigans could conceivable swing the result.  If we just arbitrarily use a 10% lead as our cutoff, then Biden can safely count on California (+28.8%), Maryland (+28.3%), Massachusetts (+37.5%), Colorado (+12%), Virginia (+13%), Washington (+22%), Connecticut (+30%), DC (+78%), Illinois (+18%), Oregon (+19.5%), Rhode Island (+37%), Vermont (+35%), Hawai’i (+33%), New Jersey (+17.5%), Maine (+10.5%), New Mexico (+14%), Delaware (+22.5%), and New York (+22.5%) no matter what happens.  New Hampshire and Wisconsin are pretty damn close at Biden +9.8% (NH) and Biden +9.4% (WI) respectively, but we said 10% so we’ll keep them in play—especially since Wisconsin seems to be one of the places where the cheating is most likely expected to occur.

Okay, so let’s see which states are left:

o   Arizona (Biden +1.4%, 11 EV)

o   Nevada (Biden +6.4%, 6 EV)

o   Michigan (Biden +7.7%, 16 EV)

o   Minnesota (Biden +8.8%, 10 EV)

o   Pennsylvania (Biden +3.6%, 20 EV)

o   Wisconsin (Biden +9.4%, 10 EV)

o   New Hampshire (Biden +9.8%, 4 EV)

Together, this set of states holds 77 electoral votes—or more than three times the number of EVs needed to flip the election (from a 247 EV starting point).  So, what kind of shenanigans would 45 need to pull off in order to actually make that happen?  

A few foundational points.  First, since we’re cheating the usual birds-of-a-feather reasoning (e.g, if candidate X wins a state then he is also more likely to win other culturally similar states) goes out the window.  That means, of course, that if the trumps steal Wisconsin, it says nothing about voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Ohio.  It might suggest maybe that voters in the sister states prefer Biden, or the trumps wouldn’t have needed to steal the cheese state in the first place.  But that really just brings us to our second point: the trumps will need to decide in advance where to do their cheating, since if they were going to win a close state anyway they wouldn’t necessary know ahead of time. 

Next, it’s noteworthy that nearly 70 million ballots have already been cast—a figure that represents more than 50% of the 130 million or so ballots cast overall in the 2016 election.  These early votes are believed to heavily favor Biden—by about a 3:1 ratio overall.  While there are some significant state-by-state fluctuations, by and large 45 is going to head into election day with a major deficit and will need people to be able to vote in large numbers.  The trumps already appear to be trying to reduce this advantage by preventing states from being able to actually count all those ballots.  But this still takes any kind of wholesale, “cancel the election” type of interventions—whether nationwide or in entire states—off the table.  Rather, the trumps will need to target their cheating on some specific places.  But which places would those be? 

Since the trumps need to suppress Biden voting on election day while enabling their own voters to come to the polls, they need some way of being able to tell which ones are which.  The following chart is a bit dated (from August 2020), but points to a few key demographic differences:   

According to the chart, women also appear to favor Biden by over 20 points.  But that doesn’t do the trumps’ cheating plan any good because how are you going to keep women from voting while still allowing men to do so? 

The chart also shows Biden with a large advantage among voters under age 45.  While this suggests the trumps could make some hay depressing voting on college campuses and other places heavily populated by younger persons, for the most part communities aren’t segregated enough by age to make a viable strategy out of this (especially since college students themselves often remain registered in their home towns, which may well be out-of-state).  On top of that, more recent evidence shows Biden is killing it with voters over 65—to the tune of a 27-point advantage.  Guess that’s what happens when you stop collecting the taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare.  So really, this means the sweet spot for the trumps are just the middle-aged voters (aged 46-64).  Good luck figuring out a way to cherry pick a group like that.

That leaves just one obvious approach from the chart above: race.  Nonwhite voters favor Biden 68-26, and among Black voters the margin is more like 84-10 and expected to wind up at least around 90% for Biden in the end.  So if the trumps can keep enough Black voters from rocking it on 11/3, then they might be able to steal the election.   Let’s have another look at the states where this strategy might be deployed.

o   Arizona (Biden +1.4%, 11 EV)

o   Nevada (Biden +6.4%, 6 EV)

o   Michigan (Biden +9.4%, 16 EV)

o   Minnesota (Biden +8.8%, 10 EV)

o   Pennsylvania (Biden +3.6%, 20 EV)

o   Wisconsin (Biden +9.4%, 10 EV)

o   New Hampshire (Biden +9.8%, 4 EV)

In order to steal the election by keeping Black voters from the polls, the first thing you need to have is for there to be enough black voters in your state to close the gap you’re facing.  A few of these states are lily white places where that isn’t going to be the case. 

For example, in 2016, New Hampshire’s voting age population was just under 1,060,000 persons—and just 1.4% Black.  So that’s about 15,000 potential Black voters in New Hampshire, a state Cheetchot trails 53%-43%--or about 107,000 voters.  So even if every single Black voter in New Hampshire favored Biden and the trumps successfully kept every single one of them from the polls, Biden still takes the state by roughly 92,000 votes.  Thus, cheating in New Hampshire isn’t likely to do the trumps any good—and with just 4 EV at stake, probably not worth he effort anyway. 

A more typical example might be Minnesota, which has about 470,000 Black residents, or about 8.3% of the state’s 5.6 million population (of which about 4.3 million are of voting age).  Biden leads Minnesota 51%-42%, or about 387,000 votes.  So while the trumps could theoretically swing Minnesota by suppressing Black voters, the task looks damn near impossible.  Even assuming 100% turnout among Black voters, about 10% of them would be voting for DT anyway, so they would need to suppress more than 91% of the remaining 423,000.  And even though the vast majority of Black Minnesotans are concentrated in and around the Twin Cities, that would still require suppressing votes across a five-county area (Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Washington, and Dakota Counties). 

For the trumps to steal the election by suppressing Black votes, then, they need to do it places where two things are true: (1) there are lots of Black voters, and (2) 45’s deficit is small enough that suppressing a large portion of the Black vote could realistically change the outcome.  There appear to be two possible candidates on the list above: Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Arizona doesn’t have a very large African-American population—just about 5.2% of the state.  But with roughly 7.3 million people overall, that translates to about 380,000 people.  Among the voting age population, Arizona has 5.5 million total, about 286,000 of whom are Black.  But Biden’s lead in Arizona is slim—at the time of this writing only about 47.8%-46.4%.  That’s a margin of only about 77,000 voters.  What’s more, Arizona’s Black population is concentrated in Maricopa County—so the trumps would only need to suppress Black voting in one county to potentially flip the state.  Granted, Maricopa County is over 9,200 square miles (about the same size as Vermont)—but still.  Suppress voting in Maricopa County, and the rest of Arizona can carry the state for Cheetochet.

Michigan and Pennsylvania each have Black populations of around 1.4 million, with multiple Black population centers scattered around each state.  But while polls show Biden leading Michigan by about 768,000 votes, his margin in Pennsylvania is only around 360,000.  The City of Philadelphia alone has almost 650,000 Black residents—so suppressing the Black vote there could potentially change the outcome of the Pennsylvania race.  By comparison, the largest Black population center in Michigan is Detroit, with over 522,000 Black residents—not enough, by themselves, to cost Biden the Mitten if blocked from the polls.

Together, Arizona and Pennsylvania account for 31 electoral votes.  Were Cheetochet to steal both those states through illegal suppression of Black voters, he would take the Electoral College and wouldn’t even need Iowa to do so.  But how can the trumps suppress voting in a City as large as Philadelphia, or a county so vast as Maricopa?

I don’t know.  But the two most obvious possibilities appear to be (a) some type of military action or martial law declaration, likely based on some kind of public safety or national security pretext (“anitifa is invading us from the sky!”) or (b) unofficial action by militias and white supremacists to disrupt voting at urban/heavily-Black polling places. 

Without any ability to rely on the courts, the most likely way to defeat these kinds of attacks would be through early and absentee-voting.  If the large majority of Black voters in Philadelphia and Phoenix have already cast their ballots by the time the Proud Boys or Trump's kidnap vans arrive, all that will be left to do is count up the votes. 

Unfortunately, all of this points to a possible other strategy: that rather than focusing on race specifically, the trumps could look to suppress urban voters more generally—as they are more likely to support Democratic candidates irrespective of race.  This perhaps opens up more potential polling sites for violent trumps to target on election day—but at the same time, the call for such a paramilitary (or military) assault on democracy is probably more likely to succeed if focused on two specific locations (e.g., Philadelphia and Maricopa County) than against ambiguously diffused “urban” voting places. 

That we must worry about any of this is, frankly, absurd and unacceptable.  But we do.  Vote early, Philly and Phoenix.  And protect the polls.



Sunday, October 25, 2020

If you choose not to decide you still can make a choice


Doesn't love Biden, still voting for him anyway

One of the key factors that enabled Cheetochet to overcome HRC at the end of the 2016 election was the large number of undecided voters that year: nearly 15 percent of the electorate, about three times the percentage in the 2012 presidential election.  The high number of undecided voters made predictions much less stable, and while nearly half of them (about 44%) ultimately either voted third-party or left the presidential line empty, the expected HRC victory did not materialize when those who did case a major-party ballot broke orange by more than a 2:1 margin nationally:

I've been thinking about what this dynamic might mean for 2020 lately, given Biden's solid leads in national and state polls and the sheer absurdity of being an undecided voter (especially this time around).  Obligatory.  But here's my basic postulates:

  • I will consider a state "safe" for a candidate polling at 50% for purposes of this analysis, since there is no risk of losing because undecided voters picked the other dude;
  • When the leading candidate polling under 50%, the percentage of undecided voters necessary to win that state is the percentage necessary to end up with 50% of the vote (really it's supposed to be 50% + 1 person but whatev).
Really this is just a more complicated way of saying that the more undecided voters in a state, the more likely the trailing candidate can come from behind on election day.  But it's worth sad pathetic fun making some effort to quantify this.  (And by "quantify," yes, I absolutely do mean "find a way to think about this that is not a depressing horror show").

So, using the polling averages at the time of this writing, we see that Biden is well into "safe" territory on the (meaningless) national popular vote with 52.0% (to Cheetochet's 42.9%) and is also over 50% in the District of Columbia and 22 safe states: California, Colorado, Minnesota, Virginia, Washington, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawai'i, New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, New Mexico, Delaware, New York, Wisconsin (!), Pennsylvania (!!), and even Florida (!!).  

Meanwhile, Cheetochet's base has a death lock on a bunch of traditional red states: South Dakota, Montana, Utah, West Virginia, Kansas, South Carolina, Alaska, Oklahoma (which is fake), Kentucky, Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wyoming, Louisiana, Missouri, and Alabama.  I don't know why we have any of these states.  Well, except Louisiana, they can stay.  But that's 18 altogether, good for 36 U.S. Senators (and corresponding EVs), even though their combined populations are about the same as California alone (2 Senators, one of whom SUUUCKS).  But Founding Fathers Fails are a post for another day.

The remaining states, in which the leading candidate is polling under 50%, are:

  • Georgia: 48-47 Trump
  • North Carolina: 49-47 Biden
  • Texas: 48-46 Trump
  • Arizona: 48-46 Biden
  • Michigan: 49-43 Biden
  • Iowa: 46-46 tie
  • Ohio: 47-47 tie
  • Nevada: 48-43 Biden
  • Indiana: 49-42 Trump
A couple of observations really jump out immediately from these polls.  Indiana is in play!  No.  But, let's look at what the electoral map looks like just based on the safe (i.e., leader polling at 50%+) alone:

Well, what do you know?  Just the safe states alone are enough to put Biden over the magical 270 threshold.  The polls could be wrong, of course--but if they're not, then the only way Cheetochet can win is either by flipping Biden voters (😵) or keeping them from actually voting (😠).  Obviously he is going for the latter strategy, but again that's another post.

Still, 286 is close enough to 270 that Cheetochet would really just need to claw back one big state (e.g., Florida or Pennsylvania) or maybe a couple smaller ones (e.g., Wisconsin and Minnesota) to get back into position if he can repeat his 2016 performance in dominating the dimwits undecideds.  Too much strikethrough, I know.  Anyway Cheetochet got 37% of them in the last presidential to HRC's 18%, with the rest going to nobody (or to third-parties, which is the same thing). 

To simplify the math, let's just assume that 50% of this year's undecideds vote for a major-party candidate.  What does the map look like if Trump takes 2/3 of them again?  Well, he'd win all the remaining states in which he is already ahead or that are tied, so we really just need to look at four states: Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, and North Carolina.
  • Nevada: Trump trails 43-48, with 2/3 of undecideds would lose 49-51
  • Arizona: Trump trails 46-48, with 2/3 of undecideds would tie 50-50
  • Michigan: Trump trails 43-49, with 2/3 of undecideds would lose 48.5-51.5
  • North Carolina: Trump trails 47-49, with 2/3 of undecideds would lose 50.25-49.75 
So that's still a clear victory scenario for Biden:

Conclusion: Trump cannot win in 2020 solely by taking the lion's share of undecided voters, and he probably can't even get close enough doing that to put victory within reach just by flipping one large state or a couple medium-sized states.  


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Vice-Admiral Lord Boogeypoll


Seriously WTF kind of branding...

Yeah, so, back in 2016 you might have heard some stories talking about how various GOP pollsters had given 45 a better shot than the stuff for public consumption—and maybe weren’t even surprised he pulled 270.   I guess they counted lawn signs or something, whatever.  Secret proprietary methods or some shit.  But I guess they were right, fortuitously or not, so what can I really say?

A couple polling firms in particular stand out in this regard.  One is a company called Rasmussen Reports, which was the only poll that correctly predicted Michigan would go red in 2016.  Nobody took them seriously, because Rasmussen started out as a George W. partisan shop and was known to have a strong GOP bias.  Rasmussen overestimated the support of Republican candidates in the 2010 midterm elections by nearly four points, and missed even bigger in 2012: Rasmussen had Romney leading Obama in the national popular vote and winning Iowa, Virginia, Colorado, and Florida—yet Obama carried each of those states won the popular vote by 4 freaking points (i.e., over 5 million votes).      

But Rasmussen got Michigan right in 2016.  And while that’s just one state out of fifty, Michigan was a harbinger of the overall Rust Belt doom.  Michigan doesn’t happen without Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin—and 45 doesn’t happen without all them.  So Rasmussen went around the twitters wagging its finger at the Nate Silvers that fall, and lingers as a source of doubt for 2020. 

But why?  How?  What enabled Rasmussen to be right on Michigan in 2016 when so many others missed?  Did they have a superior methodology?  Or did they just guess and get lucky?

The 2018 midterms suggested the latter.   Heading into the midterms that year, every firm doing a national poll predicted a Democratic lead between 5-13 points, with most of them clustered at 7-9 points.  Except Rasmussen, that is—who had the Republicans ahead by a penny.


Well, as the other pollsters had largely predicted, the Democrats won the overall national congressional vote that year by over 8 points—the largest margin in decades.  So yeah, whatever, Rasmussen.  Broken clocks and whatnot.  Ain’t no better than the C+ rating Silver gives you. 

Far more insufferable than even Rasmussen, however, is the polling firm Trafalgar Group, which is named after an early 19th-century sea battle but sounds like it should be the name of either a hedge fund or a collection agency or both.  Trafalgar’s head guy, Robert Cahaly, is an obnoxious rightward cheerleader who you can usually find on the likes of Fox News or worse banging his “social desirability” theory.  That’s basically the idea there’s all kinds of secret trumps out there who won’t admit it publicly but will scribble in his dot when they get to the voting booths.  Cahaly claims to adjust his polls to account for these incogcheetos and that’s how he gets numbers higher than the other polls.

What Cahaly is really doing, however, is padding his numbers to benefit 45, and using the shy trump concept as a convenient justification.  What actually happened in 2016 is that late-deciding voters broke heavily for 45, especially in key battleground states.  Actual social scientists have investigated the secret trump theory and found no evidence to support it.  If you've ever seen a trump, you know not many of them are inclined to be discreet about it.

If there’s no evidence, then whatever bump the Trafalgar polls are giving 45 because of it is purely arbitrary, of course.  But Cahaly don’t care; just the other day he was evidently on the Hawn Channity show or whatever they call it predicting four more years. 

Like Rasmussen, Trafalgar’s unsound methods were exposed with spectacular 2018 failures as well—most significantly, a predicted 12% romp for 45 fan boy Brian Kemp in his Georgia gubernatorial race ended in a functional tie—with Kemp winning largely due to electoral shenanigans.  Perhaps they overestimated the number of shy Kemp voters?  Well, most people outside Georgia don’t even know about that.

Enjoy your C- rating, biyatch.  If it’s even still that high:

* * * * *

Okay, so now we’ve established that Rasmussen Reports and Trafalgar Group are both partisan boogeyman polls that we really shouldn’t be worried about—right?  Right?

Oh, you’re still worried. 

Well, let’s just say, hypothetically, that Rasmussen and/or Trafalgar is actually worth a damn.  Then what are we looking at for November 3?

There are some other bizarre scenarios that might be possible but generally speaking, for 45 to win the election he must carry all of Arizona, Texas, oHIo, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, then either Pennsylvania or Wisconsin.  Or Michigan, but he’s not getting the Mitten without PA or Wisconsin so…okay okay we’ll include Michigan.  Go Blue.  Always Go Blue.

Here’s the current polling averages (which already includes the likes of Rasmussen and Trafalgar, BTW) for each of those states (per on Oct. 23):

Arizona: Biden +2.3%

Texas: Trump +2.2%    

Ohio: Trump + 0.8%

Georgia:  Biden +1.6%

Florida: Biden +3.0%

North Carolina: Biden +2.3%

Iowa: Even

Pennsylvania: Biden +7.3%

Wisconsin: Biden +6.2%

Michigan: Biden +6.8% 

If the election were decided according to these polling averages, Biden wins 350+ electoral votes even if you give Iowa to 45.  Okay, let’s see what Rasmussen’s and Trafalgar’s most recent polls have for these states.  We’ll start with Rasmussen:

Arizona: Biden +2%

Texas: N/A       

Ohio: Biden +2%

Georgia: N/A

Florida: Trump +3%

North Carolina:Trump +1%

Iowa:  N/A

Pennsylvania: Biden +5%

Wisconsin: Biden +8%

Michigan:Biden +8%

Using the Rasmussen numbers, 45 picks up Florida and North Carolina for sure.  Rasmussen didn’t poll Texas, Georgia, or Iowa—but even if we assume 45 wins those too, that’s still not enough.  Partisan though they may be, Rasmussen still has Biden up in Arizona and all across the Rust Belt—significantly in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and even holding a modest 2% advantage in Ohio.  This maybe isn’t the landslide we want and need, but still gets the job done with a solid, 300+ EV margin. 

One cautionary note on the Rasmussen numbers is that their most recent polls for Michigan and Wisconsin were all the way back on September 7—an eternity on the context of this race.  But an 8% lead is massive, and even if those states have tightened, they are unlikely to be much closer than Pennsylvania—where Rasmussen’s more recent polling still has Biden leading by 5%.

Okay, now let’s see what Mr. Cahaly has cooked up for us:   

Arizona:  Trump +4.0%

Texas: Trump +6.0%    

Ohio:  Trump +3.7%

Georgia: Trump +6.5%

Florida: Trump +2.3%

North Carolina: Trump +1.7%

Iowa: N/A

Pennsylvania: Biden +2.3%

Wisconsin: Biden + 1.3%

Michigan: Trump + 0.6%

Sadly, neither Rasmussen nor Trafalgar has any polls for us in Iowa.  But since Admiral Nelson has a veritable 45 landslide going on everywhere but the Rust Belt, and also since we’re trying to reassure ourselves by giving the devil the benefit of every doubt, we of course presume it goes red.  All those states less Michigan put 45 up around 258 electoral votes (plus or minus some random one-vote districts in Maine and Nebraska), with the Mitten and its 16 EVs set to decide the race.  Somehow, despite Biden still winning in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and 45 having gone on the Twitter warpath against Michigan’s governor despite some MAGAs having hatched a plot to kidnap her, Trafalgar has 45 crossing the Mackinac Bridge with a 0.6% margin. 

Careful now.  Red sky in morning.  Those high winds will blow your shit right off.

I guess literally all the other polls could be wrong and Trafalgar could be laughing at us again in November.  Even Silver still gives 45 about a 13% chance of winning—though even much of that 13% chance reflects the possibility of various lightning strikes in between today and election day.  But until then we’ll just have to sweat it out.  There’s no damn boogeyman, just jackass pollsters who like to scare us with made up numbers.  It’s just you, Cahaly.  You and your broke-ass clock.




Friday, October 2, 2020

Fools errands


I imagine there were some generally apolitical types around 2016 who didn't much care for Hillary Clinton and opted for the orange as essentially some kind of indifferent protest vote.  Maybe they didn't figure he could actually win.  Maybe they didn't believe how bad it could get.  Maybe, like Melania, they just didn't care.  

Frankly, anyone so checked-out and disinterested in current events that they either couldn't peg Trump for a raging white supremacist and con man heading into 2016, or so callous that they didn't care if such a thing became POTUS, or so devoid of judgment that they somehow figured HRC to be just as bad, has already got some work to do on not being a dipwad.  But maybe we can nonetheless give them the benefit of the doubt, provided they've crossed back into the Biden column for 2016 and maybe started a Lincoln Project or done at least some other atonement.  Probably still dipwads, though a bit less so.  

The folks still backing 45 at this point, however, are irredeemable bullshit people.  I avoid interacting with them in person and have long deleted all the trumps from my social media accounts.  I encourage everyone else to shun them as well because all trumps should be made to pay for their support of white supremacy and the subversion of representative democracy with a heavy price in exclusion and alienation.  Perhaps the loss of friendships and estrangement from relatives and even close family members will reach them in ways logic, morals, and common decency have failed to do.  If not, then to hell with them.  What are you going to do, go fishing with Uncle Nazi?  Exchange gifts with the KKKousins?  Pose for family photos with your cousin and his MAGA hat?  Somebody might see that, you know.  So don't do it.  #DeleteAllTrumps.

* * * *

Yeah yeah.  This post is for the people who won't.  Or, rather--this post is for when people won't just delete all trumps, because let's face it, that's all of us sometimes.  We all know attempting any kind of intelligent political conversation with a trump is generally a fools errand these days, but still--there's just those times, man.  And maybe you're not ready to give up on your dad, or your bro, or even your dipwad cousin.  So is there anything short of a miracle that has some chance of working?  

Probably not.  But here's some ideas anyway.  Might as well have a plan.  Probably you'll get punched in the face, but still.  Maybe one of these things will work.

1. Baseline.

So the first thing to understand is that the reason most of your arguments have no chance of working on a trump is just how fundamentally different their whole mental wiring is.  It's not really about "issues" for them.  You won't make much progress demonstrating how right-wing policies hurt them financially or conflict with particular values they claim to hold like "supporting our troops" or "freedom" or "not being a total jackass."  Facts don't matter.  Being consistent doesn't matter.  Logic doesn't matter.  They don't care if they've been lied to, misled, tricked, or betrayed.  Ideas simply do not matter.  

About the closest I can relate is to how I used to watch college football.  My team was the Michigan Wolverines.  And I certainly knew college football was, among other things, a cynical, exploitative endeavor in which the players earn millions for their institutions and walk away, often with a sports management degree (if they are lucky) and hopefully not CTE. I had no illusions that winning football games was actually important, or would materially affect my life in any measurable way.  In no way could I credibly deny the existence of so many more constructive uses for my time.  But somehow, man did it feel good when Michigan won a big football game.  But it felt good because the losses felt so bad.  

The relief, the avoidance of pain--ahh, probably some kind of dopamine release or some shit. But there was no explaining why.  It wasn't logical or rational or even articulable.  That was my team, yo.  Them winning wasn't like me winning.  I sure as hell didn't do anything to make it happen.  But them losing?  That was like a personal failure.  I knew this wasn't real--but deep down inside, I must have thought it was.  

Well, I did give up college football.  But it wasn't because anybody talked me out of it.  I can't really articulate the reasons.  It just...felt like it was time.

There's something about team MAGA that seems pretty similar to all that.  It might be impossible to put into words--but for a trump, there's something about their bullshit movement that awakens a feeling they just can't resist.  For a lot of them, 45 winning might actually be them personally winning.  They can at least say they did something, whether donating money, voting, or worse.  But even if they sat home and did nothing, 45 losing is always going to be them losing.  It's large numbers of people rejecting the very essence of what they identify with.  That hurts.  That feels bad.  And that's what you're up against.  Good luck.  

2. Techniques.

Thus, it's just not realistic you're going to present some kind of brilliant argument that a trump is going to honestly consider, find persuasive, and then apply to his or her own views.  Even for non-trumps that isn't often a very effective strategy.  People become defensive when they feel they are being attacked; trumps pretty much live with the wagons constantly circled.  And again, logical reasoning doesn't work on feelings.  So don't bother coming straight at it.

One thing to try instead is time.  Plant some seeds of doubt and walk away; maybe they sprout into something that bears some fruit later on.  But you need to be patient.  Really freaking patient.  You can't plant your seeds on Monday and harvest the crop by the end of the week.  Either way it's probably a poisoned apple.

So, patience is the first thing--the next thing to account for is that defensiveness.  Nobody likes to be humiliated.  The more thoroughly and convincingly you refute a trump's position, the more likely his cognitive dissonance will have that person clinging to some irrelevant picadillo or non-fact that supposedly casts doubt on your position.  Otherwise, that person will need to admit (at least to herself)  she was wrong, and that won't feel good.  Worse, the person might appear incorrect in front of others, or even have to concede his incorrectness to you, and that would be a loss.  Doubleplusungood.  The dissonance is a defense mechanism; counterintuitively, the worse you bury a trump on the facts and the logic, the less likely you are to get through to that person.  

Accordingly, don't come on too strong.  Make a couple points.  Plant those seeds and walk away.  Don't dare stand over the pot watering and singing gospel songs.  That might work for real plants.  It doesn't work for dipwads.  (Okay sorry.  Not really.).  Don't come on too strong--and then, this is important: give them a way to save face.  

They might march around with their body armor and AR-15s and claim to be all tough and whatnot.  But body armor doesn't make a person tough.  Carrying a gun doesn't make a person tough.  What makes a person tough is doing appropriate and responsible things even when it's not pleasant.  Even when it might feel bad.  And the trumps are all about protecting their feelings, even if it means doing and saying the most irresponsible and inappropriate, just plain dick things imaginable.  So they are not tough.  They are not capable of standing up and saying, "I was wrong, I defended and contributed to the degradation of my country and my culture and support white supremacy" and so forth.  They are too weak for any of that.  If you force them to confront their past missteps in order to correct their future course, it's not going to happen.  

Instead, you must give them a way to save face.  This means showing them a path to being right in the future that does require them to admit--expressly or impliedly--being wrong in the past.  There are many ways of doing this, we can get to those next.

3. Arguments

Alright, so we know (i) we need to work on the trump's feelings, and (ii) we need to do it in a way that enables them to avoid any kind of pride ding.  Now we can look at some possible arguments that might accomplish this. This might not even be an exhaustive list, though I am pretty confident the underlying methodology is about the only realistic approach.

  • Argument from shifting Trump.  So this argument can take a few different forms, but the basic gist of it is that Trump might have been worth voting for back in 2016, but he's changed and now the person should stop supporting him.  This is, of course, problematic because DT was still the same odious, lying, blustering, grifting, orange p.o.s. in 2016 that he is now.  But everyone knows power corrupts--so maybe he's become even more corrupt.  Maybe he lied some before, but now he's even more of a liar.  Here's a good one: DT said some weird shit before he became POTUS, and that was one thing--but then he kept on saying weird shit after becoming POTUS and that was really irresponsible (think about the Arizona couple who drank pool cleaning chemicals based on something DT said about hyrdroclorique pills or whatever it was called).  Basically, point out ways the DT we got was not (exactly) the DT we were promised--this way, the trump in question can be like "yeah, maybe it's time to move on from DT" and not have to admit he exercised shit judgment previously.
  • Argument from new issue/record unknown. Another approach is to find some issue that Trump is fucking up, but which either (i) did not exist previously, or (ii) may have existed previously but was not known to the target trump.  Perhaps the most obvious example is Covid-19.  DT is naturally botching the U.S. response so badly that we have suffered 20% of the world's Covid-19 deaths despite having only about 5% of the people eligible to participate in that statistic.  So that's a seriously fucked performance and just gets worse as the months go by and DT fails to do anything to fix it while the bodies pile up.  Yet nobody ever heard of a coronavirus in 2016 or really until 2019 when the first stories started trickling out of Wuhan.  So a trump can credibly convince itself that "hey, I thought DT was great because he was doing all those bad things to immigrants and stealing and stuff--but I never would have predicted he could screw up a pandemic response so badly.  I'm out!"  I mean, that's total bullshit, right?  But it also seems to be the objective here.
  • Argument from "the message has been sent."  Everybody hates mainstream politicians, and mainstream politicians are usually the only ones who get elected POTUS--and then they never do what we want and we remain upset.  So maybe your trump voted for DT as a protest against business as usual.  Your trump knew he would be a disaster, knew everything DT would touch would turn to horse manure--but a message needed to be sent.  Voting for DT will somehow persuade future politicians that they'd better git shit done or U.S. voters will jab shards of broken glass into their forearms again some time in the future.  But okay, they have learned their lesson.  Four years was enough.  The message has been sent, and received loud and clear.  "Uncle" has been declared.  Time to return to our normally scheduled voting.
  • Argument from crooked Hillary.  Maybe it's not all mainstream politicians the trump in question hates, it's just Hillary Rodham Clinton.  She did something so bad (take your pick: emails, voting for the Iraq invasion, having an unfaithful husband, whatever that Benghazi thing supposedly was) that she absolutely needed to be defeated in 2016.  [Note: the bad HRC thing can't actually be an actual bad HRC thing, like supporting NAFTA or "superpredators" or bankruptcy reform.].  So even if that meant having to support Cheetochet, that's what it meant.  But now she's gone, so and this Biden dude you can live with.  Right?  Hey.
  • Argument from Donald is an honorable man.  This is pretty similar to the argument from shifting Trump as described above, except a tad more sophisticated in that it paints DT as some kind of tragic, Brutus type character.  Yeah, scoff--you're the one trying to salvage a trump.  So you take probably his worst attribute: the white supremacy.  Another weird, looking glass thang about them trumps is how they all insist they're not racists while marching around with confederate flags and chanting "white power."  Well, maybe just 95%.  But somehow they have done the mental gymnastics and will insist neither they nor DT has a racist bone in their respective bodies.  They cannot deny, however, that actual, admitted white supremacist groups love DT and what he stands for.  So how do they reconcile this?  Easy: it's the idea that DT's policies just happen to coincide with what the white supremacists want.  It's not that DT is purposefully serving their racist agenda, he's just doing "race neutral" things that are "good for the country." The fact that white supremacists want those same things and applaud DT's actions is mere happenstance.  
So how do you convince them?  Because things changed in 2020, when DT began slipping behind on the polls, of course.  Only then did he begin actively courting white supremacists, and sending overtly racist tweets, and demolishing civil rights laws. (I mean, this is false but whatever). So in 2016, when your trump was all aboard the DT train, the Nazis in back were just along for the ride. It's only now that DT is trailing Biden in his reelection bid that the Nazis get seats in first class--and that just goes too far.  So it's the tragedy of DT: a good man, desperate to serve his country, reduced to aligning himself with white supremacists in a vain effort to extend his term.  Sad, really.  But he simply asks too much.  
  • The argument from mystery insider.  Last, if you don't think any of these have a prayer, is a sort of divide & conquer strategy that really exploits a trump's shoddy filter and vulnerability to half-ass intrigue and conspiracy theories.  It's a bit tricky.  You can't be a known or obvious anti, and you need to deliver the line to your trump more or less perfectly: 
"So many of these fucking people don't even get what Trump is really about, you know?"  

So then they're in.  At least they think they're in--because they obviously do know what DT truly stands for.  They don't dare say it out loud because, you know.  That is, you obviously know and you think they know, and they don't want you to know that they really don't know. 

You follow? Good.  That's also why they can't ask--because if they have to ask, then that can only means they don't already know, and that would make them just like all those other fucking people.  They might try to hint at asking, but you just give them the sharkface.  No, they weren't really probing for the secret of what DT is all about.  That would be weird.

So this fucks with them, and maybe gets them doubting or feeling superior to their fellow trumps, and really it's just worth fucking with them for fucking with them's sake. Does it plant seeds of doubt that might eventually change their minds?  Hell if I know.  But if not, hopefully it at least makes them feel bad.

Because fuck trumps. They're all dipwads.  Every last one.      

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