Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Two Week Out - Clinton Loses Ground

A week ago I made a prediction of a Clinton victory in a somewhat close electoral vote victory of 305-233, with a 2 point margin in the popular vote.
In the intervening week, both Florida and Nevada have fallen under the 70% fivethirtyeight yardstick, moving both into the tossup category. Here is the 70% map as of today:

A surprising diminished lead for Clinton, which looks pretty much like the 80% map of a week ago. I'm sticking with my prediction.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Three Weeks Out - First Prediction of US Election

I have a horrible track record predicting presidential elections. For as long as I have been blogging, I have been wrong, both in 2008 (when I got the right outcome, but with numbers that were woefully off) and 2012 (when I thought Romney would win).
So let's try again...
I now have a simple rule: if gives a state a better than 70% chance of going for a particular candidate, I give it to that candidate. At 3 weeks out, the chances of tectonic shifts in a state's results are approaching nil.
So let's look at this morning's 70% electoral map:

So even if Trump wins in all the tossups (Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, and North Carolina - as well as the single votes in Maine and Nebraska), Clinton wins 307-231.

OK, let's make this even tougher, let's look at an 80% or better map:

Note that three states move into the tossup column: Alaska, Nevada, and Florida. Even if all these former and new tossup states went to Trump, Clinton is the winner, 272-266. A squeaker.

Now let's slide the yardstick to 90% or better:

Now we can add South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, and Georgia to the tossup column. This map represents the absolute floor for each candidate.

So here is my prediction: barring some cataclysmic late "October surprise" of tectonic proportions (the release of 33,000 emails, chock full of classified documents; a foreign disaster; a cataclysmic 9/11-level event; Clinton physically collapsing in the final debate; oh hell - maybe an alien "first contact") - Hillary Clinton has won this election.

Which means, which means...

Let us assume that Bannon, Conway et al, can read a map. Let us further assume that Trump can do the same. What this means is that tomorrow night's debate is his almost last chance. I say almost because I suspect there is one more ploy at his disposal - in the final 2-1/2 weeks Trump can purchase prime time chunks of network television as Ross Perot did in 1992. Maybe we'll have a foretaste of TrumpTV. Let's assume that all of these certain and potential upcoming performances are desperate, no-holds-barred, unconventional presentations. I don't think it will matter.

The concrete has set, the cake has been baked, and the train has left the station.

The only questions now are the size of the electoral vote victory, and the margin of the popular vote win. My guess: 305-233 (less than the 2012 margin of victory); 47-45% (about the same 2 point margin as in 2012).

Be certain that I got it wrong yet again.

Actually, I hope for a 1964-style blowout (486-52; +20 margin in the popular vote). Maybe a Clinton-Dole 1996 result (379-159; +9 margin) is more realistic? (h/t @soverytired) The only reason I won't go with a blowout scenario is the "Brexit" factor - I am convinced that a sizable number of poll respondents are not answering honestly. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

How did we get here?

If you had told me in 2014 that I would be writing an editorial for a local newspaper on behalf of Hillary Clinton for President, I would have offered to make a bet against you.

I, like many sentient adults who lived through the 1990s, suffer from Clinton fatigue. Make no mistake, I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

In my mind, his policies were largely positive, despite the triangular centrism of his social policy. His stewardship of foreign and domestic policy was admirable.

But it was all the muck, the back story, and the scandals, that drove me to fatigue. The ugly persecution of Clinton and his ridiculous impeachment by Congress was exhausting. He didn't launch the impeachment, but his predatory behavior in the Oval Office started the avalanche of Republican hypocrisy which ensued.

Hilary had her back story also. I've always assumed most of it is true.

There certainly was a "vast right-wing conspiracy" out to get her and her husband, even now 20 years later. Some voters may be just now getting to know the Clintons. But for us baby boomers - we already know the story.

So I had enough of the Clintons. In 2014 I said that if the Republicans pick Bush and the Democrats picked Clinton, I would move to Canada.

The sclerotic Democratic party and President Obama together could come up with nothing better than Hillary Clinton, the second-most disliked person in American politics. But the Republicans were in for a surprise. Instead of "the smart Bush" with his endorsements and his $250 million war chest, the Republicans were "primaried" into anointing the most disliked person in the history of American politics as their candidate.

He strides the podium like his mustachioed predecessor, he speaks of dark global conspiracies, and he promises to jail his opponent. He's not Republican, he's not Democrat. He's simply a brand promoter, a man who needs to hear and see his name. That's what celebrities crave.

In the inchoate gobbledygook of his political stances - all of which can change on the dime of cynical convenience - there is nothing but fascism. Donald Trump might very well be the last President of the United States.

What about a protest vote instead? For me it is simple, particularly after the debacle of the Florida recall in 2000. Any vote that even remotely lessens the popular majority of Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump is a vote to ensure that the dolchstosslegende will survive after November 8. The future of our democracy remains locked up in the balance of powers between the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial branches, not in the ravings of a preening self-promoter. The only way a citizen can put a stake through the heart of American fascism is to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Season Finale of Survivor: Election 2016

In my last post, I argued that this is not a presidential election we are witnessing. Instead, I argued, we are watching an executive producer's wet dream - the perfect reality TV series.

What trips up the lead character of a semi-scripted reality show - whether it be a good Bachelorette or a deceitful, caddish Bachelor - is betrayal. It is the only dramatic "reveal" that can keep viewers watching until the end of the series, as we approach the season finale. Such a reveal has the ability to wrench the audience's pre-conceived notions and emotional bonds. It usually makes for a top-ten rated finale episode.

What political pundits call "the October surprise," TV executives call "the dramatic cliffhanger."

And so the central character of this season's reality extravaganza, the star of two prior reality show stints, is a cad that 40% of the audience is rooting for, and a deplorable man-boy that a bit more than 40% of the audience hates. Cameras have been trained on the central character for years. Secreted away in the treasure trove of outtakes (owned by the very network which propelled the central character into the deplorable cad persona we now all are addicted to) are the indelible moments of betrayal needed to generate a riveting season finale.

And lo and behold, the reveal arrives, and suddenly the last undecided members of the audience can witness in plain view the cad for what he is. The rooting audience is buffeted but blindly holds on to the discredited cad, the undecided audience is prompted to finally take a stand, and the smug detractors are affirmed for their perspicacity.

Producers of reality shows know there is one final ploy to release upon the audience - a dramatic invocation of the rules of the show - a kind of breaking of the fourth wall. Contestants get disqualified, the rules can suddenly be changed. Rumors abound that the call-in vote is somehow "fixed." Part of the drama lies in the capricious rules/no rules that can be invoked by the producers to apply one last shuffle of the deck. As long as the audience keeps watching.

As they say on American Idol, the voting lines are now open.

Note: The reality show analysis continues here.