August 29, 2016

There are no "swing" states other than Ohio and Florida

One of the greatest sources of confusion about how the Electoral map may change in any given election is the misleading idea of "swing states". It makes it sound like they flip flop, and with the race so close otherwise, it all comes down to these few states to swing the election one way or the other.

In reality, the only states that show flip flopping are Ohio and Florida, and the only times that they've swung elections were due to shenanigans that gave one of them to the wrong party. So it's more accurate to say that, flip flopping or no flip flopping, a heavy-handed case of shenanigans can swing an otherwise close election.

The secondary usage of "swing state" is to refer to "close" states, where the margin of victory is under 5 or 10 points. But these are all reliably blue or red (mostly blue in our period). Here, "swing" is being used delusionally to suggest that if only we tried really, really hard, we could swing it from one color to another. But if all the blood has been squeezed out of the stone, that's it. It doesn't matter if the margin was under 5 points -- it ain't gonna budge any further.

Getting back to the primary usage of "up in the air," let's start with the states other than Ohio and Florida and explain why they're not swing states. We need to restrict our time period to one where most of the map was predictable, and so where only a handful of states could have changed from one year to the next. That means the culture wars period, from 1992 onward.

Nevada, Colorado, and Virginia began red and have steadily shifted blue over time. Although this does mean that some years are blue and others are red, it is not flip flopping, which suggests that any given year is up for grabs. They're only mixed colors because they started out one color and have steadily changed toward the other, a deterministic process.

Nevada and Colorado did narrowly go blue in '92 and '96, but only because of a high Perot vote, which split off more Republicans than Democrats. Their underlying nature, in the absence of a strong third party, was still red. Many other states went blue only due to Perot, despite being red states, such as Montana and Kentucky, which does not make them "swing" states.

The cause of this temporal shift toward blue is the migration of liberal transplants into the Las Vegas, Denver, and Northern Virginia (DC) metro areas. Unless and until this trend reverses itself back to the level of the mid-2000s, these states will remain blue.

Iowa has only gone red 1 out of 6 times, not flip flopped. New Hampshire went red once, too, but even that may have been due to Nader splitting off Democrats in 2000. It was still an underlying blue state. New Mexico went red once in '04, perhaps because Bush promised to keep their housing bubble inflating.

Indiana and North Carolina went blue in '08 as a one-time referendum against the neo-cons. North Carolina is not quite as red as it used to be, subject to the same liberal carpet-bagger process as Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada -- bringing them into Research Triangle.

A handful of Southern states went blue in '92 and '96 because of Clinton and Gore hailing from Arkansas and Tennessee, and being a supposed throwback to the Southern populism of an older Democrat party. Louisiana and Missouri joined these two. There was nothing "up for grabs" about them, though, and they have been solid red since 2000.

West Virginia started out blue in '92 and '96, but has steadily shifted red since, so nothing up-in-the-air about that one either. They weren't glomming onto Clinton and Gore as local heroes, since West Virginia is not Southern, and it had already voted blue when the entire rest of the country voted red earlier on -- for Dukakis in '88 and Carter in '80 (also in '76).

Aside from one-off flukes, or deterministic processes (long-term shifts in one direction or the other, local favorites, etc.), only Ohio and Florida show something like flip-flopping from one year to the next.

Ohio has officially gone blue 4 times out of 6, although in '04 the election was electronically stolen away from blue, making it blue 5 times. But in '92, it only went blue because of the size of the Perot vote, so that's still an underlying red state in 2 and blue in 4. And it wasn't a steady shift from one color to the other. In '04, its (rigged) outcome determined the entire election. So it's safe to call Ohio a swing state.

Florida has officially gone blue 3 times out of 6, although in '00 the recount would have shown it to have gone blue, so underlying blue for 4 out of 6. It's changes are not steady shifts in one direction -- it was red in '92 and '04, and was illegitimately red in '00. And its shenanigan-driven outcome in '00 determined the fate of the entire election. So it, too, is safe to call a swing state.

Notice, though, that the only times these swing states have swung an election was with the help of some kind of blocking of the popular vote. So it's electoral shenanigans that have swung elections, not a changing popular mood in up-for-grabs states.

Time periods tend to have a dominant party that represents the zeitgeist, and clearly it has been the Democrats during the culture wars period, given that more Americans are liberal than conservative. If only the popular vote mattered, they would have been in office the whole period, from Clinton to Gore to Obama.

In 2016, none of the deterministic processes has reversed (liberal transplants leaving former red states to make them red again), so not even the swing states can truly swing an election. If McCain and Romney had won Ohio and Florida, they still would've gotten whipped.

What will turn the White House over to a Republican again is a re-alignment of which kinds of people and which states vote for the newly evolving Republican party under Trump. Likely this will be through the Rust Belt. If Trump wins, it will probably be by winning at least one of the swing states and some but not all of the Rust Belt. Over time, more and more of the Rust Belt will turn red for the Trump-oriented GOP.

August 28, 2016

Structuring a bet about the changing Electoral map

In order to create a model of how a landslide election could happen, we can structure a bet to include separate conditions for the mundane outcomes, which bring the election close to even, and the extraordinary outcomes that would result in a lopsided victory.

Someone who is skeptical of Trump winning would expect him to get around as many Electoral votes as Romney did in 2012 -- 206 -- and probably in the exact same states.

They would still allow him a chance at winning, though presumably by a narrow margin and only by winning states that were close contests for the past however-many elections -- Florida, Ohio, Virginia, etc. If Trump won these three close states, plus another somewhat close state with favorable polling (Iowa or New Hampshire), then he would get just over 270 and win the election.

The further away from 206, the less likely in the eyes of the skeptic. But it's not totally out of the question either. So each Electoral vote above 206, the skeptic should be willing to pay more, though in a way that doesn't escalate too quickly. Say, a linear increase for every vote above 206.

At some point, though, the skeptic will agree that a Trump victory was no longer a narrow win among close races, which has already happened recently for both W. Bush wins, but represented a more fundamental shift in the laws of the Electoral universe. If Michigan and Pennsylvania go red for the first time since 1988, that reveals a fundamental change in the Electoral map.

Since the skeptic thinks that the same old laws are still at work, they should be willing to pay at an even steeper rate for these kinds of wins. In fact, they should be willing to pay at an accelerating rate, as they consider them exponentially less likely. If they're wrong, they should pay up exponentially more to the winner.

Unlike a simple linear increase for the wins of close races, wins above that should show something like a squared increase. At some small threshold above 270, the skeptic would admit that a Trump victory has gone beyond "winning close races, with no fundamental shift in the Electoral map" to "we're entering a fundamentally different Electoral environment".

Exhausting the close races, and even a few small not-so-close states, still maxes out around 280. So we'll take this as the threshold for a mundane victory vs. an extraordinary victory. You could induce some humility and cognitive dissonance in the skeptic by allowing him to increase this threshold to 290 or 300, and thereby concede that many more of the Obama states will be close rather than out of reach for Trump.

Whatever it is, the pay-off should be proportional to the square of Electoral votes above this threshold. If the skeptic truly considers this impossible, wishful thinking, delusion, etc., then they should feel no anxiety in allowing for the accelerating pay-off for fundamental shift wins.

So then the structure of the bet looks like this:

Pay-off = a1 * [votes above 206, until 280] + a2 * [votes above 280]^2

To simplify the example, let's make each of the a1 and a2 constants equal to 1.

If Trump won 330 votes, he will have gotten 74 votes above Romney's 206, each paying out a dollar, for $74, as well as 50 votes above the threshold of 280, which when squared pays out $2,500. Total pay-off is $2,574 -- most of that due to the wins signaling a fundamental shift.

Suppose Trump's success racked up 380 votes -- that's the same 74 above Romney's, but now 100 votes above the threshold that get squared, for a total pay-off of $10,074.

Leaving the a1 and a2 constants equal to 1 means the skeptic would be willing to pay a max of around $100 if Trump ekes out a narrow victory. Although that sounds more like a friendly bet, this person could have to pay out $10,000 if they're seriously wrong about there being no fundamental shift afoot. If they truly believe that is pure fantasy, what is the downside to taking this bet?

Should the Trump supporter allow a symmetric condition if Trump loses in a landslide? Sure, why not? Crooked Hillary taking Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Arizona, etc., is pure fantasy, so we would allow an accelerating pay-off if Trump got below a certain threshold -- say, McCain's pathetic showing, which today would yield 180 votes. Offer a linear increase for each vote below 206, until 180, then the square of the votes below 180.

This model clarifies thinking about the 2016 election itself, but you could structure a bet similarly to forecast the Electoral map staying basically the same vs. fundamentally re-drawn by 2020, 2024, etc. At the micro level, though, you'd probably want to make pay-off a function of the popular vote share in 2012, say for the Democrats. This models how difficult it would be to change a particular state's color, regardless of its population size and therefore Electoral vote count.

Red states becoming redder and blue states bluer would not pay off. But for each point in the reversing direction, there would be a linear increase for up to, say, 5 points. Beyond that, pay-off would be proportional to the square of points. California went 60% Democrat in 2012 -- if it only gets to 55%, the Trump supporter gets some multiple of $5, whereas if it returns to being red at 45% Democrat, the Trump supporter gets that multiple of $5, plus some multiple of $100.

And likewise for, say, Texas going back to blue, by a slim vs. a major margin.

Bets structured more along these lines tell us more about how the world works than do the simple "odds" estimates from prediction markets. Structured bets, with different pay-off functions for different scenarios, are more like the contracts for black-swan-prone industries like movies, pop music, and so on. All you have to do is look at the evolution of the Electoral map to see how volatile and black-swan-ish it has been over history.

August 26, 2016

Where could infrequent voters appear in droves for Trump?

Although there is no expectation that the Republican primary turnout will multiply by the same amount as before, to yield 70-90 million Trump voters in the general, it is still possible for the numbers to swell based on infrequent voters.

Normally these folks are sitting at home on Election Day, and may not even be registered. If any candidate in living memory could turn such people out for the first time in awhile, or ever, it's Trump. And with national turnout rates sitting at around 60%, that does leave a large chunk of the potential voters to become actual voters.

Now we have to ask where such people might come out of the woodwork. In other words, where are turnout rates the lowest? The map below shows turnout rates among the voting eligible population, with red being low and green being high, taken from this site:


First, the bad news. Most of the low turnout states are already safe red states, so even if Trump managed to send their abysmal rates soaring toward the maximum, it would not affect the state race or add to the Electoral vote count. Texas has a turnout rate of just below 50%, but it was already in the Republican's pocket before the race began.

The flipside is that most of the states with high turnout are blue states that we need to flip -- and if turnout is already fairly high, there isn't such a yuge pool of infrequent voters to tap into. Wisconsin's turnout rate is 73%, leaving far fewer infrequent voters to get out of the house, compared to Texas.

But the good news is that there are some exceptions, where a blue state has low turnout. These include the three central blue states of California, New York, and Illinois, with rates around the mid-50's. If the Trump campaign had enough time, money, and manpower, they could organize the unorganized in these states and make up even the sizable gap among the frequent voters.

However, these states have large populations, so it would probably be too much of a stretch to mobilize the legions of infrequent voters there -- we're talking millions of people in just two months. Some chunk will organize themselves by finding out how to register, where their polling station is, and show up on Election Day. But these self-organizers probably won't make up the large gap in these deep blue states.

More promising are those with smaller populations, or narrower gaps to be overcome in large states. Pennsylvania has 60% turnout, leaving a large number of infrequents available to close the 5-point gap from 2012. Connecticut has roughly 60% turnout, too, and the small population of the state will make it easier to sift through enough infrequents. Nevada has even lower turnout at 56%, the gap was only 6 points, and it's a small population concentrated mostly in the Las Vegas area.

Michigan, with 65% turnout, is only somewhat less favorable than those three, and much more favorable than the Lutheran Triangle states (MN, WI, IA).

The swing states also have only somewhat higher-than-average turnout, in the low-to-mid 60's, including Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. These states have smaller gaps to close, and don't need to rely on the infrequents like the more solid blue states do, but certainly a boost among infrequent voters here would make them comfortable wins rather than the typical squeezing blood from a stone for Republican candidates.

Finally, there are two blue states with very few infrequents to mobilize for the first time, but that still seem to be switching to Trump based on the frequent voters re-aligning -- Iowa and New Hampshire, both with turnout of 70%.

And of course the re-alignment of frequent voters in Rust Belt states could flip some of the other blue states, like Pennsylvania and Michigan. But that's a separate topic.

The following states ought to be ruled out, based on high turnout preventing a surge among infrequent voters, and the existing voters being mostly against the Trump movement, so that re-alignment among them is not likely -- Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, none of which Trump won even in the primary stage.

As we continue this series on a potential surge of usually hidden voters, we'll discuss what signs to look for between now and the election to see if there is in fact a whole bunch of infrequent voters coming out of the woodwork. For now, at least we know where to restrict our focus -- and where to ignore, even if there were solid evidence, like the red states that we've already got, with or without a surge in turnout.

August 25, 2016

Why Hillary's alt-right fear-mongering fails: Boogeyman is unfamiliar

In a desperate attempt to scare away suburban women from keeping an open mind about Trump, Team Hillary decided to set up a guilt by association between Trump voters and mean racist trolls on the internet, whom she calls the alt-right.

Every suburban woman's natural reaction is -- "The alt-who?"

So, her writers had to explain who they were, both the names of people and websites, along with the ideas they hold.

This fails as fear-mongering because it's supposed to elicit a gut reflex response of disgust, anxiety, shame, etc. But people cannot have a gut-level intuition about something that is entirely unfamiliar to them, and that needs to be explained and taught to the audience. Intuitions only form after extensive experience.

We all know who the televangelist type is, so the Democrats could fear-monger about that type against Ted Cruz. But the alt-right? It's too new, under-the-radar, and unfamiliar for normies to have any gut-level impression of -- positive, negative, or otherwise.

Trying to didactically explain who the alt-right boogeyman is, engages contradictory lobes of the brain -- the conscious, rational, and analytical (learning who this group is), and the unconscious, intuitive, and emotional (fear of boogeymen reflex).

Not to mention the fact that suburban women don't like learning new stuff in general, especially when it's unsolicited lecturing rather than something they're curiously exploring, and delivered in that scolding schoolmarm tone of voice that reminds them of every bitch of a teacher they've ever had.

I think the whole stunt was just the vindictive butthurt homos who staff Hillary's campaign looking for a public way to lash out at their online tormentors, and whether it affected her polling at all was more of an afterthought.

If this non-event is any guide, we won't have to be playing much defense for the remainder of the race.

Demographic reconquest of the blue states through local migration of Republicans

Whether or not Trump wins, we will need to restore balance to the blue states -- either to make his re-election all the more likely, or to secure victory in 2020.

We could try to convert Democrats in blue states, but that seems unlikely in such a partisan polarized climate. We could also try to organize the unorganized -- the up to 40% of the eligible population that doesn't turn out to vote. That is more promising, and needs to be done, but it requires a lot of time and effort.

An idea popped into my head about how to solve the problem, by having developed an anti-cuckservative intuition. Their response to the blue-ification of the states has been to get all depressed, view everyone else as irredeemable scum, and fantasize about retreating to a safe red state where they will no longer be polluted by the blues.

If these people have only continued to fail, then we ought to do the opposite. Move to the blue states ourselves, view the local liberals as annoying twerps but not subhuman scum, and be cheerful about our ability to swamp them in numbers and tilt the federal government in our direction. If they are allowed to turn Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina blue, then why aren't we allowed to colonize them? Two can play at the carpet-bagger game.

I'll assume the state of affairs after the 2012 election -- with the Trump re-alignment, we will narrow the gap even further in swing states and blue states. The 2012 numbers are the best we can work with right now.

First, identify the states with the narrowest gap in votes between Obama and Romney -- individuals, not percentage points. The goal is to at least tie the Democrats. This will require the least amount of migration, which people will understandably not all be open to considering.

Second, we rank them by how many Electoral votes we would get by taking them over. Express this as a return-on-investment ratio -- Electoral votes divided by popular vote gap. Since Electoral votes don't vary so widely, this mostly boils down to how narrow or wide the vote gap is, but still useful in the ROI form.

Finally, locate which states have large populations of Republican voters who could potentially move to the target blue states. Sheer numbers matter, not percent of the state's electorate. Individuals will be moving, not percentage points. These are the large-population states, which also happen to be mostly blue.

In fact, we only want to move Republicans from blue states -- if we moved them from red ones, we'd risk losing the red status of the source state. But if a state is already safely blue, we can lose every single Republican there and not affect the outcome of the source state. So, we are looking at safely blue, large-population states -- California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.

At the same time, we don't want to disrupt the regional and local cultures of the source or target state.

To turn Wisconsin red, we don't want to send brash New Yorkers to do the job -- better for Chicago metro residents to waltz over the border and set up in the Milwaukee metro, or the Minneapolis metro. Others outside Chicago can cross into Iowa. And others still into Michigan and Ohio (which could also be helped by handfuls of Republicans in Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia).

Californian Republicans will take care of the West -- northern-ish ones can take Oregon and Washington, as well as Colorado, while the southern-ish ones can take Nevada (Las Vegas) and perhaps New Mexico if we want it.

The South is largely safe, but we can have lowland Southerners move into the northern Florida region, which is culturally similar. With such safe red states, we can afford some of them to also move into Georgia, which is under carpet-bagger assault, and especially North Carolina -- which can also get reinforcements from Tennessee, on the Appalachian side.

Maryland will provide Republicans to settle Northern Virginia (same DC metro area culture), while also getting some help from Tennessee in the Appalachian part of Virginia.

Marylanders will also move into Pennsylvania, either central if they're looking to get away from so much chaos, or into the broad Philly metro if they want to remain in the ACELA corridor. The Philly metro will receive Republicans from New Jersey, particularly those who are already in the Philly metro but on the NJ side of the border. Northern New Jerseyans can also join Philly, or Scranton and other eastern PA cities if they're looking to get away from the NYC megalopolis.

New York state Republicans could move to solidify Pennsylvania -- Philly if ACELA seeking, central or western if they want a more Upstate environment. Those in the NYC area can move into Connecticut, and those far upstate into New Hampshire.

Massachusetts, too, will send its Republicans into Connecticut and New Hampshire.

That leaves the following states blue: CA, IL, MD, DE, NJ, NY, MA, RI, VT, ME, HI, and DC.

Winning over these swing and light-blue states, we will have about 370 Electoral votes, with a comfortable 100-vote buffer in case we lose some of them by chance.

Depending on the size of the gap in House and Senate races, this could spill over into securing even more seats in Congress. Not to mention electing Governors, state legislators, judges, and so on at the state level.

I'm not going to go through all the numbers, but it's all feasible numerically. The only difference is what percent of a source state's Republicans would have to migrate.

Let's just take Illinois, though, as a medium-level migration to convert Wisconsin and Minnesota. The gap to close both states requires 440K Republicans, and Illinois had 2.1 million of them. So about 20% of IL Republicans would be needed to settle WI and MN. Given how culturally similar they are, they might not mind it, or even enjoy getting out of Chiraq.

Each target state has 10 Electoral votes, for a total of 20 -- which is how many Illinois itself has. In other words, these 20% of IL Republicans who could never in a million years help to win their own state, could bring an equivalent number of Electoral votes by moving to neighboring states and swelling the numbers of Republican voters.

Would this be so awful upon them? I'll bet a lot of people currently residing in Illinois actually have family roots in Wisconsin or Minnesota, so this would be more of a return to their roots rather than being rootless transplants who would destabilize their adoptive state. Ditto for people living in the DC metro of Maryland, or the NYC metro, whose families actually came from Pennsylvania.

This reversal of the megalopolis magnet would restore more of a traditional balance to the states that have lost so many residents to the big big big cities. Nowadays, it's not enough to live in Milwaukee or Minneapolis -- you have to live in the biggest city possible nearby, and that's Chicago. Moving back to the second-tier cities and smaller towns that your ancestors came from is sorely needed in our deracinated Borg-city world.

The same percent of California Republicans -- 20% -- would have to move in order to restore balance to Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, for a haul of 39 Electoral votes. Not as much as winning California itself, but good enough.

The other examples are left as exercises for the reader.

Ideally, those who have the least to lose would move, while the 80% with the most to lose would stay put and hold down the fort so that CA, IL, etc. don't become 100% Democrat. Younger people, looking to start a family, lower cost of living, jaded about their college-years search for a hip city that turned out to be way too expensive to live in, and so on. Listless middle-aged people who don't have kids or whose kids are out of the house. Retirees looking to find a quieter and saner place to live out their years.

Moving is a daunting decision, but that's why it should be at the most local scale possible. It could be as simple as the Republicans of southern New Jersey moving 30 minutes away onto the Pennsylvania side, while remaining in the same metro area and able to stay in touch with friends and family, and suddenly PA is a toss-up state.

Those choosing to locally migrate in order to boost the concentration of Republicans in blue states to turn them red, would still be giving something up -- but it would be for the greater good of the nation, making it impossible for someone like Crooked Hillary Clinton to ever get elected.

This is why I don't worry so much about the Democrats countering our colonization -- they're too obsessed with living in or near the mega-cities, and aren't as willing to sacrifice for the greater team. Too individualistic and status-obsessed. In the same way that Virginia is no longer palatable for Republicans, a newly red state of Wisconsin would drive the local Democrats into the sanctuary of Chicago.

The best part is that these massive changes in who controlled the federal government would all take place despite the Republicans only winning a minority of the national popular vote, as Romney did. We simply deploy our soldiers away from where they are of no use, and toward where they would make a big difference.

And even this not-so-great level of migration would be lessened if we were also doing the necessary work to organize the unorganized in the target blue states. And more Democrats and Independents will be open to voting for the Party of Trump once the populist movement really starts to sink in.

This analysis is just to show how even a Romney candidate could have won if the Republican voters had resisted the call of mega-cities and stayed in second-tier blue states or swing states.

If the Democrats were fielding candidates like Bernie, it wouldn't be so urgent to contain the threat of blue state Dem voters. But with them threatening the nation with Crooked Hillary Clinton, we have to act to isolate their Electoral College power. Let them have their handful of deep blue states, the way that Republicans have had their handful of marginalized deep red states. We need to take back the Great Big Middle, and there's nothing like a little colonization to do the trick -- which in many cases will really be a restoration to the mover's family roots anyway.

August 24, 2016

Busted: Kasich rigged Ohio primary (more proof)

An earlier post showed that Trump only lost the Ohio primary because Kasich, using some mix of the carrot and the stick, managed to corral hundreds of thousands of Democrats to turn out for him.

Because the Democrat primary was fairly boring, these voters would likely have stayed home altogether, and yet not only do they go out to the polling stations, they voted in the other party's primary, and even then for Kasich rather than Trump, Rubio, etc. This makes no sense since the only Republican with crossover appeal has been Trump, and Kasich had no other successes like this one, as though the Democrats in every state were bound to turn out on his behalf just to stop Trump. Democrats were only prepared to stop Trump in the general, not by screwing around with the other party's primary so early on.

The basic finding of that post is that the counties that were deep blue for Obama vs. Romney, suddenly became majority Republican for the 2016 primary. Now, if the outcome were a Trump victory, that would make sense -- all the excitement has been for Trump, and none for Crooked Hillary. Higher Republican than Democrat turnout in the primary stage would simply mean that, as elsewhere, it was the Republican contest that motivated its voters to get involved at the early stage, while the more boring Democrat contest would have left most of its voters sitting at home early on.

But if the beneficiary of the massive turnout for the Republican primary was not Trump but Kasich, who had zero excitement or interest during the primaries anywhere, then it's proof of shenanigans. The chief executive of the state pressured Democrats to turn out to save his ass, since he could not win among Republicans and Independents. Indeed, when you remove the phony voters, Trump would have won Ohio by about 45% to 35% for Kasich.

Now I've uncovered an even more damning piece of evidence. In Summit County, home to Akron and part of the blue northeastern region of Ohio, the Republican primary turnout was greater by far than even the general election of 2012. Turnout in 2012 for Romney in the general was about 100,000 -- and for the Republican primary in 2016, over 150,000. No other county that I've looked at around the nation has shown a higher turnout for this year's primary than last year's general.

No primary is so exciting that it not only captures every single Republican voter from the previous general election, but a further 40-50% increase due to either crossover voters or infrequent voters (who rarely show up for primaries, even when they do come out of the shadows). And this gigantic percentage increase was also large in absolute numbers -- 40-50,000. That's nearly 10% of the entire voting eligible population, and therefore closer to 20% of the regular pool of voters.

Obviously these crossover voters did not show up of their own volition, but because they were pressured by Kasich and the state government, which has control over state employees, contractors, employees for contracting companies, welfare beneficiaries, and so on and so forth. "You're going to turn out to vote for me, or you're going to be out of luck with your job and benefits."

For historical perspective, since 1960 Summit County has only gone red for the re-elections of Nixon and Reagan -- not the original Reagan Democrats who helped him out in 1980, or the blue-collar Nixon voters of 1968. If they couldn't even get on board with those phenomena, they are certainly not going to turn uber-Republican today -- let alone for Kasich of all people! Maybe for Trump's general re-election, but not for Kasich in a measly primary.

I keep re-visiting this topic for two reasons. First, to remind everyone that, during the primary stage, Ohio was Trump country. Second, and more seriously, that Kasich has interfered with the statewide election to stop Trump before -- so what's to say he won't repeat this in the general? Especially considering his continued hostility toward Trump and the Trump movement, and his seemingly veiled threat that "I don't think Trump can win Ohio". What ever could make you so certain of that, AIDS-face? It better not be because you're planning on rigging the election.

All signs point to favorable conditions for Trump among the people of Ohio, but the campaign has to plan on winning other states to make up for a possible rigging of the Ohio election. I know Trump would challenge it, but you don't want it to all come down to a contested election. Best to work on building a greater buffer by camping out in Michigan, Pennsylvania, etc.

August 22, 2016

Primary turnout doesn't predict general turnout (a la the "monster vote" model)

Continuing the series on tempering expectations for what is going to be a close race, there's a major misconception we have to clear up about using the primary turnout to predict the turnout of the general election.

Shown below is the relationship between primary vs. general turnout for both parties back to 1976, when the 50-state primary system began. I've shown all years, not only those when both parties held primaries, in order to see how the general vote has changed each step along the way. Turnout is in millions, and the "multiplier" means how many times the general vote was compared to the primary vote. Blank entries mean no primary was held, and therefore no multiplier could be calculated either. Click to enlarge.


As I discussed here, primary and general elections are separate and independent from each other. The primary turnout reflects how motivated voters are to leave at an early stage, so whichever party has the more engaging primary contest will have higher primary turnout -- regardless of who will eventually have more on their side when it's the two parties vs. each other in the general. That's why knowing who had higher primary turnout tells you nothing about who won the general -- half the time it favored the primary winner, half the time it favored the primary loser.

Usually, Democrats have higher primary turnout, although in 2000 the Republicans did -- and still went on to lose the general turnout. In 2016, the Republicans have had a slightly higher primary turnout. Since there's only one other time when that happened (2000), there's no pattern there to guide us today.

Now, what if we looked to an earlier year and compared how a party's primary turnout compared to its ultimate general turnout, then applied that "multiplier" from the past to the current primary turnout? We'd have predictions for each one's general turnout, and hence a prediction of who would win and by how much.

This is the idea behind the "monster vote" model that was proposed at the Conservative Treehouse, first in a guest post and periodically discussed afterward, most recently here. I'm addressing this idea since a lot of folks have started to read TCT this election cycle, and may be relying on this model to predict what will happen.

Sadly, the model is fatally flawed. It only looks at 2008 and 2012 to calculate the "primary-to-general multipliers," even though there are data going back to 1976. Based on 2008 and 2012, the Republican primary turnout roughly tripled by the general stage. Assuming that same multiplier will hold this time, would predict a Republican general turnout of around 90 million -- 30 million more people than voted for McCain or Romney, an increase of 50%. The recent TCT post allows the multiplier to go down to just 2, predicting a general turnout of 62 million for Trump.

I don't see much of a problem with assuming the multiplier for the Republicans will be somewhere between 2 and 3, though probably closer to 2. If we look across all years, their multiplier ranges from 2.8 to 4.0.

However, we have to remember the relationship between primary excitement and general turnout. The more exciting and engaging the primary is, the more regular voters will be captured during this early stage -- and fewer additional ones left to turn out in the general. In short, the more engaging the primary, the lower the multiplier (so many have already turned out during the motivating primary), and the more pointless the primary feels, the greater the multiplier (everyone waits till Election Day itself, and only a few bother showing up during the primary).

Because the Republican primary this year was by all accounts the most motivating and engaging at least since 1976, their multiplier this year will be lower than any previous value. The lowest value before was 2.8, so this time around it will probably be from, say, 2 to 2.5.

The real problem with the "monster vote" model is how it treats Democrat turnout. It's only basing its D multiplier on 2008, which was the most engaging primary in all of American history. As such, so many of the eventual D general voters had already shown up during their primary, and the result was the low multiplier of 1.9.

Naively assuming that this same multiplier applied to the 2016 D primary turnout of 30.6, we'd predict a general turnout of merely 58 million for Clinton -- down 8 million from Obama's 2012 turnout, or down 12%. The only precedent for that would be the R decline of 10 million from 1988 to '92, although about half of that is due to Perot siphoning votes. Without a massive third-party splitting Hillary's turnout, there is simply no way the Democrats will lose close to 10 million votes from 2012.

The error comes from applying a low multiplier from the most highly engaging primary ever (2008) to a primary that was somewhat engaging, but also somewhat of a coronation. Especially during the first four or five weeks, when the minority-heavy states made it a cakewalk for Hillary, and when Bernie was not really taking the fight to her. When the primary is not so engaging, it means there are likely lots of eventual Democrat voters who are just staying home during primary season, and there will be a higher multiplier.

The lowest multipliers on the D side were 1.8 to 1.9, in 2008, 1988, and 1980. These were all unusually engaging primaries -- 2008 was the chance to nominate either the first black or the first woman, 1988 was an earlier chance to nominate the first black (Jesse Jackson), and 1980 saw the incumbent President Carter be challenged by party heavyweight Ted Kennedy. These races cleared the benches of D voters, leaving far fewer left to turn out in the general.

In 2016, there was no such bench-clearing primary for the Democrats -- some novelty in nominating a woman, although sex matters less than race in identity politics, and some excitement for an anti-Establishment candidate. But it was no Carter vs. Kennedy, Dukakis vs. Jackson, or Obama vs. Clinton.

On the other hand, it was not a total coronation like sitting VP Al Gore brushing aside Bill Bradley in 2000, meaning low primary turnout and therefore a higher multiplier for the general. And it was not like 2004 where Edwards didn't distinguish himself much from Kerry other than his personal history, and where Dean flamed out early for being uber-liberal. This dynamic also made for little excitement and a high multiplier for the general when reliable D voters would eventually come out.

The best we can say is that in 2016 the D multiplier will be between 2 and 3, probably closer to 2 since it was more engaging than coronation-like.

Now notice the problem for predicting the winner in the 2016 general: the primary turnout is essentially the same on both sides, with a slight edge for Republicans (31.1 vs. 30.6). Therefore what really matters is the multiplier -- but we've seen that it will be in the same ball park for both candidates, somewhere around 2 to 2.5. With similar starting values and similar multipliers, we cannot distinguish the fine-grained difference in general turnout.

To see how murky it is, we'll make slight adjustments in the multipliers that will lead to drastically different outcomes. Suppose the D multiplier is 2.2 and the R multiplier a bit higher at 2.3 -- then the general turnout is 67 to 72 million in favor of Trump, who will win 52% of the popular vote. But suppose it's the other way around, still only a slight difference in magnitude, though -- now it's 70 to 68 million favoring Clinton, who will win 51%.

We frankly have no way to decide at a fine-grained level who will have a marginally higher multiplier, so this model makes no meaningful prediction about the difference in general turnout. The best we can conclude based on the history of 1976 to 2012 is that this year's race will be close in the popular vote (similar primary turnout, similar multipliers), and neither will win the popular vote with 55% or more.

Remember, the "monster vote" model was not just presenting a long-shot best-case scenario, it was stating the expected outcome. There is no way that the expectation is for Hillary to lose nearly 10 million voters from Obama 2012. The relatively pathetic turnout during the D primary, and the lack of enthusiasm for Hillary overall, is more likely a sign that it will be like it was for Republicans in 2008 -- lots of bored, depressed, unenthusiastic voters who would nevertheless turn out on Election Day for their party.

As it turns out, I do have a model in mind where Trump could win by quite a large margin, but it would be in the "less likely, still possible" range of likelihood, and it does not rely on assuming that the "primary-to-general multipliers" from the past couple elections apply in the present. It also does not include any way for Hillary to win by a yuge margin.

It looks at the power to draw in irregular voters, which is a longer shot the greater the size of irregular voters we're talking about, and which is effectively absent on the Crooked Hillary side. But it does not have to do with using primary turnout to predict general turnout, since the irregular and apathetic voters are mostly sitting out the primary to begin with. It is more of a "black swan" model, not based on the behavior of past well-behaved elections.

As a final warning, when I asked about the limitations of the data in the recent post at TCT, I was dismissed, and a follow-up comment that I left with data going back to 2000 instead of just 2008, was deleted. Based on that response, I'm going to strongly caution people about anything being proposed there of a quantitative nature.

They have been excellent at revealing who the key players are inside the Establishment, who their pay-masters are, what their links and relationships are, and where the balance of power is shifting among their alliances. But they're putting solid faith in a model that has little basis in reality, and are not only resistant to honest polite feedback, but censoring objections to it.

I want to keep everybody clear about what is and is not being predicted by what data we have available. Otherwise, we will harden into a deluded echo chamber, the way conservatives did back in 2012 about Romney being not only a sure win, but in a landslide -- and thinking this just days before the election!

August 21, 2016

Girls are saying: Hot guys are only Trump or Bernie supporters

In an effort to normalize support for Trump, I've started wearing a Trump hat that my uncle got me when he was working security for one of his rallies. I thought in particular of making it look normal in the eyes of younger people, and young women, since they're more on-the-fence and sensitive to what paid shills on social media say about Trump. If "random hot guy" is wearing a Trump hat in public, maybe it's not part of the unacceptable fringe after all.

That got me thinking to check Twitter and see if there's a broader phenomenon of girls noticing guys wearing Trump gear. Sure enough, "hot guy Trump" and "cute guy Trump" brings up a long list of results, mostly teenage girls complaining that their super hot crush is also a Trump supporter.

You can tell they're still going to fool around with him, just that they're heartbroken that he cannot be long-term material for having such different political beliefs. Or that they're upset that he wouldn't consider them long-term for the same reasons -- sour grapes.



Most of them seem to be from the urban West Coast, from an ethnic background that makes them fear deportation (anchor babies?), plain to moderately attractive, emotionally unstable, and promiscuous.

There's also a minority of girls who are actually surprised and turned on by their crush being a Trump supporter, but these seem to be restricted to sorority girls in Sun Belt states like Arizona and Texas.

The one supporter who no girl expressed disappointment about was the Trump Tower climber -- they all said he was hot, and left it at that. Do something daring, be a performer, and they don't care what your politics are if you're hot.

I searched for tweets about "hot / cute guy Hillary" and "hot / cute guy Clinton" -- nada. I checked back through July, and there was absolutely nothing, whether positive (relieved) or negative (disappointed). There weren't even any hypotheticals, like "Why can't I just find a hot guy who likes Hillary?" (Barf) No demand.

What about "hot guy Bernie"? There were lots of these, too, and coming from young women, obviously much more relieved than they were about him being a Trump supporter. These tended to be less ethnic, since Bernie appealed mainly to white people, and they didn't seem quite as unstable and slutty as the ones complaining about that irresistible fling being a bad boy Trump supporter. They were describing more wholesome "love at first sight" kinds of scenes.



Which is not to say that there aren't plenty of girls who get turned off by Bernie bros. Like the ones turned on by the Trump team, they seem to be sorority-friendly Sun Belt types.


Of course, these Bernie-related tweets ended after the primaries were over. I thought there'd be some continuing to wear their Bernie shirts, and that girls would feel bittersweet but excited to see random hot guy still in Bernie mode. Like pretty much everything else about his campaign, these "young love" moments died abruptly when he sold out and did the bidding of Crooked Hillary Clinton.

Part of the reason why there are no comments about hot guys supporting Hillary is that nobody at all is displaying her shirts, hats, bumper stickers, yard signs, etc. Still, a girl would find out if she talked to him after awhile, and could express her relief that she finally found a hot guy who isn't a Trump supporter or a Bernie bro.

In reality, though, the beautiful people have only been interested in the exciting, outside-the-Establishment campaigns of either party.

That's true for girls, too -- the hardcore Hillary supporters are homely future / current cat ladies. There were trending hashtags about babes for Bernie and babes for Trump -- but not for Hillary, not in a million years.

This is a welcome sign of re-alignment -- away from political excitement drawing out the bloated cuck-faces on the Right, and the fat crazy-eyed dykes on the Left. With the winding down of the alienating culture wars, and the focus returning to the welfare of ordinary Americans, normal people are at long last excited about politics again.

So go out in public wearing your Trump or Bernie gear, and reclaim the space of political symbolic expression from the smug bumper-sticker crowd of either party. The invisible majority isn't going to stay so invisible anymore.

August 20, 2016

Primaries don't predict general election: State by state contests

With the general election quickly approaching, many in the Trump movement are looking for signs that predict victory. This is classic confirmation bias, which led in 2012 to mass delusion about Romney's certain landslide. In order to keep that from repeating itself, we now have to debunk all sorts of ideas about what predicts the general election outcome.

A common idea is to compare the turnout in the primaries for both parties within the same state. For example, will Trump win over the Rust Belt blue state of Michigan? Turnout for the Republican primary there was 1.3 million vs. 1.2 million turning out for the Democrat primary. By this simple comparison, it would seem that Trump is favored in the general -- especially since Trump won his side and Clinton lost her side in this state's primary.

But before we go any further, let's just ask whether this way of predicting the general election would have worked before. In 2008 and 2000, both parties held primary contests because neither party could continue to nominate the incumbent President. Green Papers has the results here and here. (A more thorough look should include earlier years with primaries in both parties.)

Below are maps showing which party had larger turnout for their primary races (gray means that at least one party didn't hold a popular vote, so no comparison could be made).



As you can see, the primary contests do not predict the general contests.

In 2000, several Southern states are blue, even though all were known to go red. Likewise most of the states in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and West Coast are red, despite everyone knowing that they would go blue in the general.

In 2008, the failure is even more glaring. A couple of known red states were red during the primary, but most of them were not, including the South and the Plains, where no Democrat stood any chance. Worse, Michigan and Florida are shown red, and neither would go red in the general.

The primary process is a totally separate and independent process from the general election. When the choice of primary candidates motivates voters to get off the couch during the early stage of the electoral season, they become highly engaged and primary turnout is high. When the selection of primary candidates is not very motivating, they tend to stay home in the early stage -- regardless of whether they'll turn out later in the general, which is more of a routine for voters.

The general election behavior is independent of the primary contests for the simple reason that it's a totally different battle among a different set of candidates -- those from opposing parties, with different platforms and appeals, rather than more similar candidates within a party's primary. You may find your own party's primary candidates not worth turning out for, but when the contest shifts to your party vs. the other party, you may very well turn out and support your party in the general.

This must be kept in mind in 2016, when there has been little enthusiasm for Crooked Hillary Clinton among Democrats -- don't underestimate their ability to show up in the general simply to "vote Democrat" as usual in our highly partisan climate.

In 2000, the Republican race was more engaging, even though they would lose the popular vote and only eke out an Electoral College victory through shenanigans (halting the Florida recount, and lucking out with the Supreme Court upholding that move). And just because Californians found the Republican rather than the Democrat primary more engaging, that did not mean that California would go red in the general -- and everyone knew it would not, before the primaries were even held.

In 2008, the Democrat race was more engaging, and they would go on to win the popular and EC vote -- although not nearly by as wide of a margin as the primary map suggests. In the South, the Democrat primary was more engaging because black voters were highly motivated to get one of their own into the nomination for the first time ever, while white voters were highly motivated to make sure that did not happen. This resulted in high turnout for both Democrat candidates in the Southern primaries, and therefore high turnout overall in the South during the primary. But before these primaries were even held, everyone already knew that none of these Southern states was going to vote Democrat in the general.

Returning to 2016, all we can tell from the primary turnout on either side is which group of voters found their candidate selection more motivating. In Michigan, excitement was about the same on either side, largely driven by Trump and Bernie raising the issue of trade treaties that have sent large numbers of manufacturing jobs outside the country, hitting the local car industry severely. But it tells us nothing about how Michiganders will behave in the general election, and we should not follow D vs. R turnout in primaries as a guide toward the eventual outcome.

August 18, 2016

Electoral map re-alignment during Trump's new Progressive Era

We've been seeing a re-alignment of the electoral map all primary season, but how far could Trump actually shift things in a single election?

Since he is the re-incarnation of McKinley, the closest parallel we have to study is the 1896 election. Judging from that example, I've tempered expectations about his Electoral College victory away from a 1980 style landslide, and more in the 300-340 range. When the country was just beginning to leave the bitterly divisive Civil War and Gilded Age period, it was unlikely that the President would win in a landslide that suddenly united most of the map.

Still, the electoral map was re-shaped, however slightly, in ways that would grow over time.

How did McKinley win?

First, he won two key swing states -- Indiana and New York, the latter having by far the largest number of Electoral College votes at the time. These two gave him 11% of the entire EC, which today would be around 60 votes. If Trump wins the swing states of Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, that would give him as much as Indiana and New York gave to McKinley.

Second, McKinley actually lost a few red states to William Jennings Bryan -- most of the Plains and Mountain region. This was just a temporary loss, with most won back in 1900, and all back by 1904. So these losses were not part of a re-alignment. And they only defected to the Democrats in 1896 because they were running a populist in the vein of Bernie Sanders. However, with the Wall Street warmonger leading the Democrats this time, it's unlikely any of those rural states will get peeled away.

Third, McKinley won several traditionally blue states, such as Kentucky, which was a fluke and went right back to blue in the next election. This one state gave him 3% of the EC, which today would be about 15 votes. Trump could do this by temporarily winning New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut -- which might go back to being blue in the next election, when there is a Democrat more to their New Englander liking, instead of Crooked Hillary Clinton.

McKinley also won the reliably blue states of West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. These were lasting shifts from blue to red that would last throughout the Progressive Era led by the Republicans, and only returning to blue during the New Deal. Before 1896, Democrat meant anything south of the Mason-Dixon Line. When these states were shifted to red during the Progressive Era, Republican no longer meant "Yankee abolitionists" but "industrialized economies". So these four joined their fellow industrialized states of the Northeast and Great Lakes.

These four states gave him 6% of the EC, which would be a little over 30 votes today. Trump could repeat this by peeling off reliably blue Pennsylvania and Michigan. Just as in 1896, this would be the start of a re-alignment toward Republicans representing industry, manufacturing, and recovery of the Rust Belt.

If Trump doesn't lose any of the Romney states (likely), and adds the states described above, he'll wind up at 304 electoral votes. I think he's got a decent shot at Oregon and Nevada, which would boost the total to 317, right around my best guess of 320 (give or take 20).

The important lesson to remember is that in a re-alignment election, the winner doesn't only "win enough of the swing states" as in the more conventional election. Rather, he peels off several states that had reliably been won by the other party for awhile, and these changes are going to endure for several decades, as the parties re-define what they're all about and who they're appealing to.

Moreover, the re-drawing of the map will be mostly asymmetrical, favoring the winner. Trump is going to peel off far more blue states than Clinton will peel off from the red column (likely zero). During the Progressive Era, the Republicans peeled off those industrial states just below the Mason-Dixon Line, along with New Jersey and Connecticut. The Democrats did not peel off any red states for good in 1896, becoming further and further confined to the South and Texas.

During the period that we're now leaving behind -- the liberal vs. conservative culture war -- the re-alignment favored the Democrats, who in the 1990s peeled off the West Coast and New England from the reliably red column. Those gains assured they would coast through for the entire period. Bush Jr. only interrupted their reign by having his brother halt the Florida recount in 2000, and having Karl Rove pay for the Ohio election to be rigged electronically in 2004.

We can also see how the party purity mindset seals the doom of the loser in the re-alignment shake-up. It goes without saying that pushing the conservative side in the culture war doomed that side to failure by alienating the West Coast, which had been reliably Republican for over 100 years.

I'm sure there was something similar going on with the Democrats during the Progressive Era. They were probably smugly content to abandon West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey because they weren't Southern enough, and were too corrupted by modern industry rather than traditional agriculture. Hey, if you want to keep losing, by all means keep raising the purity threshold for admission into your elect club.

In our New Progressive Era, we will likely see the Democrats return to being the tiny hardened core party that alienates former members of its big tent. Their base will be the Lutheran Triangle plus Illinois, and the ACELA corridor. Anyone who isn't a hardcore practitioner of Minnesota Nice, an ACELA striver transplant, or a FedGov parasite, will be too unclean to join the Democrats, who will implode into being the party of yuppies and schoolmarms -- self-designated elites and know-it-alls who can't stand the common people running their own affairs along populist lines.

Trump getting 15% of black vote, vs. 2-4% for McCain and Romney

The latest USC poll shows a two-day spike in the black vote for Trump, rising from what was steadily 5% or below to around 15%.

This began before his speech in Milwaukee appealing to black voters, and was likely a spontaneous move by blacks themselves. The timing just after the mini-riot in Milwaukee is suggestive, though -- blacks saw yet another black neighborhood and businesses being burned down and terrorized by thugs, and they know Trump is the law & order candidate.

And they also know that Trump has not been campaigning like a typical Republican would, about gutting the social safety net or affirmative action, so they aren't afraid of what he would do to programs they're concerned about. And he's talking about cleaning up the cities, bringing good-paying jobs back, and other bread-and-butter topics that blacks who aren't into identity politics would care about.

Although the black vote is not large enough to determine the outcome of any state, shaving off a few points from Crooked Hillary is good no matter who's doing the shaving. And their support will be greater in some areas like the Southeast, where North Carolina and Florida would be safe if narrow Trump wins with 15% or so of the local black vote.

Romney only got 4% of the black vote, and McCain just 2% -- not surprising when there was a black candidate to vote for, when most are in identity politics mode, and when the alternative was not really going to be better for blacks (or whites) anyway on substantial issues.

Those almost unbelievably low estimates are from the General Social Survey, the gold standard in surveys, which does present the most accurate picture from a very large national probability sample. Unfortunately, the GSS is administered during the summer of even-numbered years, meaning Presidential elections cannot be covered until two years later, and one year after that for the data to be released to the public. By that time, interest has evaporated and nobody bothers looking into it.

Typically people study the exit polls, which are then codified as conventional wisdom, but are more misleading than the GSS. They do not count early voting or bussed-in voting, both of which are more common in Democrat city machine efforts to round up the urban black vote as reliably as possible. (Can't let them try to make it to the voting booth on their own, on Election Day itself -- too much room for error.) And of course the exit polls are not as well-funded and planned out, probabilty-wise, as the GSS is in order to get a representative sample.

Exit polls had McCain getting 4% and Romney 6% of the black vote, when it was really 2% and 4%. Trump looks to be adding a full 10 points to that, showing yet another way in which 2016 is not merely a do-over of 2008 or 2012.

For historical interest, here is what the GSS shows the black vote to be for the Republican candidates back through Nixon in 1968:

1968 -- 11%, Nixon
1972 -- 14%, Nixon
1976 -- 6%, Ford
1980 -- 3%, Reagan
1984 -- 12%, Reagan
1988 -- 20%, Bush Sr
1992 -- 6%, Bush Sr
1996 -- 4%, Dole
2000 -- 9%, Bush Jr
2004 -- 12%, Bush Jr
2008 -- 2%, McCain
2012 -- 4%, Romney

By far the highest support was for Bush Sr. in 1988 -- when the campaign ran an attack ad on Dukakis, a bleeding heart Massachusetts liberal who let out a violent black criminal that went on to commit armed robbery, arson, rape, and murder (Willie Horton). So much for the idea that "fear-mongering" about black criminals will cost a candidate the black vote -- just the opposite! Recall Crooked Hillary's remarks resurfacing from the '90s about black criminals being "super-predators" who "must be brought to heel".

There's a decent chunk of the black population that doesn't want to see their neighborhoods destroyed by thugs, and want the government to come in and act like the black parent who gonna whoop they kid ass if he get outta line. It's not the majority, but it's 10-20% of black voters.

In general, though, the historical data shows that black voters and white voters responded the same way, and do not need to be specifically pandered to in order to win. What did Jack Kemp get for his famous efforts to pander specifically to blacks? -- 4% for Dole-Kemp in '96. Congratulations.

When black support was relatively high for the Republican, it was also high among whites. When it was low with blacks, it was low with whites. The exception that proves which one truly matters more is 1980 -- Reagan barely scraped together 3% of the black vote, yet won over 50% of the popular vote in a three-way race and got nearly 500 Electoral votes.

Trump getting back into the 10-15% range for blacks most likely means his support among whites is going to be a lot higher than it has been for Republicans, either in terms of what percent of them he wins, or how large their turnout numbers are.

Lookin' good, lookin' good.

GSS variables: presYY (year), race

August 17, 2016

Tempering expectations: Trump takes Electoral College, but not in landslide

I want to get in three posts about tempering expectations while we're still in a limbo phase of the campaign, so as to not kill the buzz when things really start swinging back in our favor over the next several weeks. (Remember the rhythm so far: up during the end of an even-numbered month and the start of an odd-numbered month, down the following 3-4 weeks.)

First, with more months having passed during the post-primary and now post-convention stages, I'm revising the Electoral College prediction away from "landslide," though still in the "clear win" range.

Why? I'm going back to what election this one most closely resembles -- 1896, when McKinley inaugurated the Progressive Era by re-aligning the GOP away from the Gilded Age climate of laissez-faire economics, open borders, and Social Darwinism.

The only prediction I've gotten wrong was that Jeff Sessions would be the running mate -- although if I had stuck to what I'd predicted in that post about Trump as McKinley, I would've seen Pence as the choice. McKinley from Ohio balanced the ticket by picking a New Jerseyan, so I predicted that since Trump was from the Mid-Atlantic, he would balance by picking someone from the eastern Midwest touching on the Great Lakes, and Pence was the only one fitting that description.

I got caught up in who I wanted to be VP, and missed what the closest analogy predicted, so I'm adhering more to what happened around the 1896 election.

With that in mind, what was McKinley's Electoral College victory? He got about 60% of the EC, after a series of elections where the winners won by narrower and narrower margins in the EC. During and after the Civil War, elections became more and more divisive by geography. McKinley's Progressive pivot heralded the beginning of a period where the winner won by larger and larger margins in the EC -- meaning voters were not acting on local or regional interests, but the national interest.

By the 1920s (the Great Compression, with falling competitiveness among elites), the winner would get around 80% or more of the EC, a period that lasted through the Reagan years. Bush Sr. was the first crack downward, and it has fallen sharply ever since. During the Obama years, elections have been deeply dividing affairs across geography.

Because Trump is only the first step toward a New Progressive Era, he won't get the EC share that Reagan did, or Nixon, or Eisenhower, or Coolidge, or Teddy Roosevelt. In 1896, the 60% that McKinley got was not so different from his recent past. And in 2016, 60% will not be so different either (Obama won this much in 2012).

So I'm predicting Trump will get around 320 EC votes (60% of 538), give or take 20.

Worst-case scenario, Trump barely ekes out a victory by winning a few toss-up states. Best-case scenario is more open-ended -- if Trump clears, say, 350, then that will mean all sorts of states turned out to Make America Great Again. In that case, who knows how high? -- 400 would not be out of the question, depending if California returned to its Republican roots, after being turned off by the conservative culture wars of the past 25 years. Could happen -- Trump is steering the GOP away from being the More Conservative Than Thou Party.

Still, we should temper expectations about this sky-is-the-limit scenario. It happened in 1980 because voters were not too hyper-competitive and ideological. It was easy for a majority in every state to say, "Y'know, Jimmy Carter has got to go, and Reagan is promising a brand new way of doing things -- Reagan it is." We live in a climate where the states are incredibly more polarized against each other, on the brink of a second Civil War. It will therefore be difficult for so many states that voted for Obama to put the nation first and jump on board the Trump train.

Enough of the blue states will, along with enough of the swing states, to save America from being flushed down the toilet for good. But not so many will be open-minded enough to deliver a 1980 style landslide in the EC.

The next post will look more specifically at which states could flip, based again on which ones flipped in 1896. Not that the exact same states will flip -- but whether they had been traditionally blue or red in the decades before 1896, whether they were swing states, etc. McKinley won a few swing states (one being the Big Apple), and picked up enough blue states to off-set the red ones he lost.

And the third post will look at predictions for the popular vote. Unlike the Great Compression when voters were more of a like mind, in our deeply polarized time the winner will not get 55% or above in the popular vote. McKinley won 51% in 1896, and even Reagan got in the low 50's in 1980. So Trump, too, will probably win with a low 50's popular vote.

The bold new exciting direction we're going in is what should make us happy -- we shouldn't expect a landslide at the very beginning of changing course.

August 15, 2016

Abandoned cities more likely if population was diverse, including Ellis Island diversity from the Gilded Age

Milwaukee blacks are providing yet another demonstration of why nobody wants to live in Milwaukee anymore.

Still, the degree of white flight is staggering -- in 2010, non-Hispanic whites were only 37% of the population, with blacks at 40% and Hispanics at 17% (Asians 4%). Most people probably don't even think of Milwaukee as a city with black problems, or if they were a little more in the know, might think of a sizable black minority next to a white plurality or even majority. In reality, blacks are the dominant group, and whites have mostly fled to the suburbs.

It's an utter shame to see producers and maintainers abandon an entire city to parasites and decomposers. Why didn't they stay around and push back? Not even violently, just banding together however a community can to repel invasions by corrosive outsiders.

You might first blame the wimpy whites who live in Wiscucksin, but you see it in many other cities around the Great Lakes where whites are under 50% -- Chicago (32% white), Detroit (8%), Cleveland (33%), Buffalo (46%) -- not to mention the East Coast, where Nordic Lutheran cuckolds are not that common.

Where don't you see it? Compared to the Great Lakes cities just mentioned, other large cities nearby are a lot whiter, despite all of the region being affected by the Great Migration of blacks out of the Deep South after WWI. Columbus OH, Grand Rapids MI, and Indianapolis IN are 59% white, Rockford IL is 58%, and Syracuse NY is 53%.

These big cities were not Gilded Age boomtowns, not lying directly on a large body of water that would have made them centers for trading and transportation. They had enough going for them to eventually turn into popular places to raise families during the Mid-Century, but not so much going for them that the millions of Ellis Island immigrants would have flocked there in search of easy employment.

In fact, these cities may actually have decent sized populations of Ellis Island ancestry -- just not rooted there from the very first ancestor who arrived in America, and therefore not forming ethnic enclaves that have lasted for generations.

We know from Robert Putnam's study on ethnic diversity and trust levels that the more ethnically diverse a place is, the less people trust each other. Quite simply, if individuals don't come from similar backgrounds -- with similar norms, similar expectations, and similar languages, foods, and customs -- how can any of them plan on coordinating their lives with the others?

Even worse, in a diverse area, members of the same ethnic group trust each other less than if they were in a homogeneous area. While they may share the customs, norms, etc. with those of their own group, they sense a certain futility in trying to convert that into collective action, when they're just one small group within a greater Tower of Babel.

Putnam was studying high-level group differences like blacks and whites. But something similar must have taken place during the Gilded Age, when "diverse" meant a wide variety of white European immigrant groups, who spoke different languages, ate different foods, followed different religions or sects, and lived by different norms and customs. Wherever the white population continued to be descended from these Ellis Islanders, the initial lack of trust and lowered ability for collective action by the citizenry would have persisted -- perhaps to this very day.

I think that's just what we see in all these Gilded Age boomtowns, where the influx of blacks after WWI gradually sent more and more white people out into the suburbs rather than stay and defend their city in one way or another. If trust and collective action potential were low to begin with, they could not have worked together to keep their city white-ish. And not trusting the other groups, or even their "fellow" members of their own group, they would have felt little sense of stewardship over their city's fate.

Let the city crumble, at least I will be safe once I move out into the suburbs.

The cities that saw their greatest growth after the Gilded Age -- especially after immigration was shut off in the 1920s -- would have had settlers who all identified as Americans, not as Poles, Italians, Irish, Germans, etc. Their ethnic distinctions were relegated to quirky things your neighbors did in the privacy of their own home that were of no larger importance, and you poked fun at them the way you do among friends who have strange tastes, instead of looking down upon them as fundamentally Other.

With minimal cultural diversity coming into these later-settled cities, ethnic enclaves were not as common, and trust and collective action for the common good were at higher levels.

Therefore, why abandon the city just because blacks are moving in? We can act in the common good to give them their place, while we keep ours. And they won't try to mess with us as much if they sense the high levels of trust and potential for collective action -- the last thing blacks want to do is start a fight with a tight-knit group of white folks. That's how a white community turns into a white mob -- something not possible when whites are all divided amongst themselves.

That won't stop every weenie from fleeing the city to the suburbs, but it will keep the city noticeably whiter than other big cities facing the same Great Migration of blacks. We're talking at least 20 percentage points more white.

There is one major exception to this general pattern -- Pittsburgh, a former Gilded Age boomtown whose white population has been almost entirely Ellis Islanders from way back, and yet which has resisted the temptation toward white flight. In 2010 it was 65% white, the whitest of any big, old city.

Why didn't the blacks in Pittsburgh drive out the Ellis Islander whites as in Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo? My best guess is that it's the Appalachian cultural influence, which is not found in the Great Lakes and East Coast cities of lower elevation and proximity to lakes and oceans. The Poles, Irish, etc., who settled in Pittsburgh didn't adapt to any old set of founding stock American norms, but specifically Scotch-Irish Appalachian hillbilly norms, which still surround them in the suburban and rural areas outside the big city.

Appalachia, outside of the Deep South where blacks have been rooted since they got here, has remained the whitest region in the nation. The northern routes of the Great Migration forked around Appalachia -- one toward the Midwest, the other toward the East Coast -- because they weren't foolish enough to try to colonize hillbilly country, even if there were big cities like Knoxville TN up that way.

That would be trying to live next to the tight-knit clan kind of white people, so the hell with that, let's just go to some alienated city where the white folks will be too atomized to organize against us. Those would be the cities over-run by Ellis Islanders living in ethnic enclaves.

This suggests, sadly, that some of these Gilded Age boomtowns would not recover even if the non-white populations were magically moved somewhere else. Their roots would still reflect the low-trust divisiveness of the ethnic enclave era, and they would remain vulnerable to invasion, prone to corruption, cynicism about politics, and so on.

Those big cities that began to be heavily populated after the Gilded Age -- and of course before the current wave of immigration -- will probably make better sites for city living and urban culture. We do need to de-urbanize like crazy, but if big cities are going to stay around, it's better for people to live in more cohesive and all-American cities than in those that have proven to be ruined by immigration-induced diversity, whether from the first Gilded Age or the second.

We can also forecast that the Sun Belt cities whose populations have begun to soar due to recent immigration -- such as Phoenix -- will meet a similar fate as the Milwaukees, the Chicagos, and the Detroits further north. And it's not only the foreigners who are raising the cultural diversity of cities like Phoenix, Miami, and Houston, but transplants from highly different regional cultures within America. Throwing a bunch of New Englanders, Southerners, Midwesterners, and Mid-Atlantic people into the same city might as well be like the Ellis Islanders pouring into Chicago over 100 years ago.

The upshot of all this is that proper stewardship over our cities requires low levels of diversity, meaning deport the illegals, lower immigration in the future, and discourage transplanting within the country. We see what the result is when we pursue the opposite of these policies.

August 12, 2016

Another wave of Central Asian marauders destroying civilizations?

A post at Uncouth Reflections about the history of nomadic empires from the Steppe got me thinking about whether we've heard the last of the land that gave us the Huns and the Mongols.

A general weakness of arguments that say "X happened in the past, but cannot happen again" is that sometimes the average interval between occurrences of X are so long that you just might be in that waiting-around time. That's why it seems so unlikely. But project forward the interval length, from the last known occurrence, and suddenly you may not feel so secure.

Nassim Taleb reminds us that we can't rule out another World War I because wars on that scale show up around once every 100 years -- the last one before that being the Napoleonic Wars. For most of the 19th century, Europeans believed they'd moved beyond that level of warfare. Somewhat like how complacent they feel today about the prospect of another such war. And yet we're just coming up on 100 years after WWI, not to mention that there is always random variation in the length between occurrences -- somewhat longer, somewhat shorter.

The same applies to nomadic warfare that destroys / subjugates multiple civilizations across the Eurasian continent. Smaller cases of nomads sacking a nearby civilization are more common, but I'm talking about nomadic empires that span a good part of Eurasia, seriously destabilizing many different settled civilizations in their wake.

The last one was the Mongols, who conquered during the 13th C. If you want to count off-shoots of nomadic horse warriors from the Steppe, you can count the Ottoman Turks (descended from the Oghuz Turks), who conquered during the 14th C.

Before that was the Huns, who conquered during the 5th C. That was 800 to 900 years before the most recent wave of the Mongols / Turks.

Before even that was the Scythians, who conquered during the 7th C. BC. That was 1100 years before the Hun wave.

That suggests an interval of roughly a millennium, give or take a century, between these episodes.

Adding 1000 years to 1200 means we could see another Genghiz Khan or Attila the Hun by 2200, although maybe it'll be closer to 2100, or maybe closer to 2300. In any event, heading down the pike.

If it sounds alarmist, just think what someone would have said in 1000 or 1100 about a second coming of a band like the Huns.

"Seriously? A Steppe nomad invasion throughout Eurasia, in the current millennium? I mean, literally? The 5th century called, they want their fear-mongering back."

God help Eurasia if the Central Asians take up Salafi Islam like the Arabian nomads have. (That's a separate cycle -- Arabian nomads laying waste to the Crescent of Civilization and beyond).

The obvious targets would be the civilizations of the Middle and Near East, Eastern Europe, and China, just like always. But now there's a ripe civilizational target in America, as well as easier ways to travel over oceans. Who's to say that they wouldn't show up here and start wreaking havoc, like the Arabians have?

This is the kind of mindset we need to have when planning for our long-term national security and immigration policies. Certainly we need to respond to the current threats, for example the Arabians. But we ought to plan for the next coming of Attila the Hun -- just to be on the safe side, since we know they have re-appeared throughout history at certain intervals. And the window to prepare for the reincarnation of Genghiz Khan is closing faster than we think -- that army could show up as soon as the end of this century.

Given how slowly we prepare for long-term uncertainties, rather than pressing immediacies, we'd better start thinking about it now.

August 10, 2016

Trump's econ speech: Which states resonate with which parts?

In his recent speech about economic vision, Trump outlined his approach in three major areas -- cutting taxes, lightening up the burden of regulations, and setting trade policies that keep good-paying manufacturing jobs here in America rather than Mexico, China, etc.

Each of these solutions is popular in a different region of the country, whether Trump planned such a broad outreach or simply has good intuition for coalition-building. The non-ideological vision pairs old school libertarianism and protectionism, whichever is best for the larger populist and nationalist cause. This will help in his effort to return several states back into the Republican column -- along with his campaign of not alienating blue-state voters with culture war distractions.

Regional popularity can be measured by responses from the General Social Survey, the gold standard in public opinion research, which has asked questions on these topics in recent years.

First, believing that your federal income tax is too high is most common in the Mid-Atlantic region (NY, NJ, PA). In the 2010s, 55% of people nationally thought it was too high, but it's 68% in the Mid-Atlantic. Even back through the 1970s when the survey began, this region has always been the highest in wanting income tax relief.

The least likely regions to stress over taxes are out West -- the Plains, Mountain, and Pacific regions.

This seems to stem from the materialist vs. non-materialist focus of people's lives. If you live in the heart of the ACELA corridor, you probably derive much of your self-worth from your career, wealth, and displays of wealth. This is true for lower and middle-class residents, too, not just rich people. Cutting taxes allows you to keep more wealth in your bank account, or spend spend spend.

Out West, folks are more lifestyle-oriented, so accumulation and conspicuous consumption of wealth isn't so much of a goal for them.

Second, wanting less regulation of businesses by the government is most popular in several areas, although not in the Mid-Atlantic, who are the most averse to deregulation, along with the Plains.

It is New Englanders, Southerners, and Mountain and Pacific citizens who are the most on board with less regulation. In 2006, 52% nationally wanted less regulation, but it was 5 points higher in these regions, and 20 points higher in New England. Back through the mid-'80s, it has been New England and the Mountain regions that have consistently been more in favor of deregulation. Those two regions are roughly the eastern and western centers of the libertarian spirit.

Third, believing that America does not benefit from belonging to NAFTA is most common in the eastern Midwest (OH, MI, IN, IL, WI) and southern Appalachia (KY, TN, AL, MI). In 2014, 26% of the country as a whole hated NAFTA, but this was 10 points higher in these two regions where there is still a solid manufacturing sector providing good-paying jobs -- especially in the auto industry. Residents here don't want these jobs to get sucked out to a country where labor costs are lower, which is a given under these corporate globalist trade deals.

(Nationally, 27% think NAFTA benefits America, and 47% are neutral, among those with an opinion.)

Interestingly, there's another base of anti-NAFTA sentiment among West Coasters -- but only those who were raised there. They're not as bitterly against NAFTA as the industrial center back East, but more so than the rest of the nation. West Coast residents who were born outside the region, whether elsewhere in America or foreigners, felt the opposite -- noticeably more in favor of NAFTA.

Native West Coasters must remember when all sorts of things were still made locally, whereas the transplants have flocked out West in order to pan for latter-day gold in the white-collar service sector, and aren't so concerned for the native citizens' well-being.

Support for NAFTA is highest in the Plains, both Upper and Lower. Their workers, too, are getting killed by the deal and accompanying immigration, for example the replacement of Americans with Mexicans in the Iowa meatpacking industry. But we are talking about the Cuck Belt here, so it's not surprising. It's no different from the Plains wanting to take in refugees (Upper) and Mexicans (Lower), despite mounting experience with their massive downside and minimal upside.

If the Trump movement, and Trump himself, can emphasize each of these topics in the regions where they resonate most, recent blue states can go red-for-Trump. Kill NAFTA -- Michigan and Ohio, native West Coasters. Lower taxes, more personal spending money -- Philly suburbs, New Jersey. Government shouldn't regulate so many trivial business matters for no reason, while still re-instating necessary regulations like Glass-Steagall -- California, Oregon, New Hampshire.

GSS variables: tax, lessreg, nafta2a, region, reg16, year

August 8, 2016

In tight Ohio Senate race, Trump and Bernie voters courted by Dem challenger

One of the narratives the political Establishment and the media are trying to push as the election draws closer is that Republicans further down the ballot may be harmed by Trump's appearance at the top. In the propaganda view, their failure would be due to guilt by association party-wise, rather than refusing to support the populist and anti-globalist zeitgeist.

We see this dynamic playing out in a very close race for Senator in Ohio, where the incumbent Republican Rob Portman is doing almost nothing to support Trump or the Trump movement.

Judging from the issues section on his website, he's pretending it's still the Romney-Ryan ticket setting the agenda -- entitlement reform, deregulating to empower small businesses (no discussion of trade), gun rights, and pro life. All that appears from the Trump era is his branding as a "common-sense conservative".

He's hardly spoken out in favor of Trump (whether or not he uses a meaningless word "endorse"), and didn't speak at the Convention -- he should have replaced the worthless traitor Kasich as the highest-ranking Republican from Ohio to welcome everyone and lead the cheer for Trump. Not that he's openly rebelling against Trump either, but he's clearly trying to run a separate campaign, divorced from current reality and stuck back in 2012.

His Democrat opponent, Ted Strickland, is seizing the moment and making a play for both the Bernie and Trump voters on the all-important issue of trade. The issues section on his website uses phrases like "jobs-killing trade deals". He pledges to kill TPP, and voted against NAFTA back in the '90s, while Portman voted for it, when both were in Congress.

He makes a further play for both Trump and Bernie voters by talking about the "rigged system" that allows concentrated wealth to control politicians and steer elections.

On defeating ISIS, he wants the locals including Saudi Barbaria to take on more of their own responsibility. There's no neo-con warmongering a la Crooked Hillary or the other Republicans in the primary, aligning with the Trump and Bernie crowd on non-interventionism.

Being a Democrat, he does want more gun control and mouths empty words about climate change, but I can live with that -- he's pitching himself as just a gluten-free version of a Trump supporter. (Other suggested synonyms to disarm Bernie sympathizers: "just a gun-grabbing version of a Trump supporter," "just a tree-hugging version of a Trump supporter".)

At least Strickland is showing that he's on board with the zeitgeist (Trump / Bernie), as opposed to Portman who is still running the failed cuckservative agenda of the culture war era -- distract with red meat about guns and abortion, while TPP sucks out more good-paying jobs and Social Security is handed over to Wall Street.

There's still plenty of time for either candidate to come to populist Jesus or turn their back, but at least so far it's the Democrat challenger who is more in tune with the zeitgeist. The polls have been neck-and-neck the whole time, with 10-20% still undecided. This will be an interesting race to watch for sure.

August 4, 2016

Another turning of Trump's peak-and-slump cycle

Well you all are freaking out again over Trump slumping in the polls, like it hasn't happened before, and like he didn't recover each time.

I pointed out the rhythm of the cycle of Trump support back in mid-June, when he was coming out of the last slump:

At the rate things are going, it seems like there's a month-up and month-down rhythm to the campaign. Peaks occur in the early part of an odd-numbered month, and slumps early in even-numbered months. Fortunately, the election will be held in the early part of an odd-numbered month, favoring the apparent rhythm, although it also predicts a slump during the Republican National Convention in late July. We'll see.

That was based on relative slumps in early February ("Two Corinthians," Iowa caucus), early April (war on women, Wisconsin primary), and early June (La Raza judge, no harm in primaries since he'd already won the nom). Relative peaks were in early March (Super Tuesday I and II) and early May (Indiana primary, locked up the nom). We just saw rising support in the first part of July.

And right on schedule, starting in late July (7/28) and now into early August, he's going through another slump. The two best polls are the USC Dornsife tracking poll (descendant of the RAND poll, a top performer from 2012), and the People's Pundit Daily tracking poll. Regardless of where you think Trump and Clinton are individually, it's clear that their relative standing has narrowed since last week.

Because this fits the earlier prediction about when there would be peaks and slumps, we don't have to attribute this slump to a post-convention bump for Hillary. After her convention, she basically recovered to where she was before, since her convention was so contentious (DNC Wikileaks, DNC Chairwoman resigning, Bernie boo'd by his own delegates for telling them to elect Crooked Hillary, boring speakers, etc.).

We also don't have to attribute it to the Khans -- the narrowing began on 7/28, whereas Khan didn't put on his act until that evening. Trump has more or less not addressed the issue at all, has not "taken the bait," and has been focusing strictly on his main themes since then. And he hasn't made any other gaffes in the past week.

So, while the last time we could have explained the slump by him pushing the La Raza judge case, and the one before that to various "war on women" topics (Michelle Fields, abortion controversy, tweeting ugly pic of Lyin' Ted's psycho wife), this time there is no clear culprit.

"Media firestorm" won't do either, since the media has been constantly railing against him. After the Orlando shooting, they railed on him for renewing talk about the Muslim ban, about gun control, about using the phrase "the gays," Anderson Cooper ambushing FL Attorney General and Trump surrogate Pam Bondi for not supporting gay marriage, and so on and so forth. And yet that didn't stop Trump from climbing out of his slump and heading toward his peak during the Dem convention.

If anything, it looks like the media are reacting to changes in the popular mood. If they sense support wavering, they smell a vulnerable target and pounce. If they sense rising support for a long time, they retreat and stay halfway neutral for awhile -- like Morning Joe covering the GOP convention fairly for a change.

The media, rather than driving public opinion, are more like opportunists chasing after ratings. When Trump is rising, they dial down their attacks. When he's slumping, they unload. They have no spine and no honor, so they aren't about to lead a sustained charge when they're facing increasing resistance from the public. Media treatment is a passive, lagging indicator of what's going on in his popular support levels.

That isn't to say that they treat him fairly at any time -- only that they treat him relatively less biased when his support is rising, and more biased when his support is falling.

So what is driving this cycle? I think it's just a nervous group of voters who are eventually going to vote Trump, but since it is such a risky novelty, get cold feet, then warm back up to him, feel they've gotten over-excited, then cool off again, etc. The USC poll shows women and people aged 65+ as the most variable -- other demographic groups are either more or less constant, or vary by small magnitudes. Women are more risk-averse than men, and old people are more reluctant to embrace radical change.

(Trump consistently leads with ages 65+, but this support rises and falls by large magnitudes, and since the electorate is skewed toward the old, this strongly affects his overall rise and fall.)

I trust that, like the other times, this slump will be followed by another rise. If the rhythm holds, I predict that the VP debate and the 1st and 2nd Pres debates will unfortunately fall in relative slumps (late odd month, early even month) -- again, regardless of how he and Pence actually perform. The nervous parts of the electorate will be going through a jittery phase, no matter what is happening.

Luckily, though, the final debate is toward the end of an even month, and the election itself is in an early odd month -- both of them ending on favorable conditions.

Buckle up -- it is going to be, as always, a bumpy ride toward victory!