Friday, January 27, 2017

Time for Supporters of Trump and Clinton to Face Reality

Supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seem to be stuck in reality distortion bubbles. This is slightly more pronounced on the Trump side, where outright misinformation is believed. But the Clinton supporters are quick to selectively cite misleading information. Misleading data are only slightly better (and sometimes worse) than wrong information when trying to understand and correct problems.

Trump supporters:

  • He lost the popular vote. There was no widespread fraud, no mobs of illegal immigrants storming the ballot boxes. He lost, and lost significantly on the raw national popular vote total. (But it is complicated. See notes to Clinton supporters.)
  • He is the least popular president-elect in the history of polling data. There is no mandate.
  • He plans to nominate a cabinet that troubles many traditional conservatives, libertarians, and progressives. That's not a way to build bridges when you lack a mandate.
  • He has a serious problem with facts. You know, that "truthiness" thing that should matter to all of us.
  • He really did say horrible, terrible, lousy things about various groups and people. He's not a nice person and defending him should be impossible.

Clinton supporters:

  • She lost the Electoral College well aware of the rules of the election system. Winning big in California, the source of her entire popular vote margin, is problematic because of the state's unusual (insane) run-off election system. Trump supporters have a point when they argue California's voting method skews the national results. (More on that follows below.)
  • She would have been the least popular president-elect in history had she won. So, don't crow too much about how unpopular Trump is.
  • She did not lose because of the FBI, WikiLeaks, bad media coverage, Bernie Bros, sexism, or anything other factor. Trump actually won a significant number of two-time Obama voters, so you'd have to consider those voters in your analysis. Democrats had already lost a record number of Senate seats (10), House districts (63), state houses, and state legislatures over the last eight years. The trend for Democrats in general is negative, outside… California. (Seriously. California gained 1.1 million Democratic voters and lost 400,000 Republicans.)

Why is California a problem?

California has a system unlike any other populous state. The primaries are "non-partisan" state-wide, with the top-two candidates for each office appearing on the final ballot. In highly Democratic California, the result in 2016 was a near shut-out of Republicans. No minor party appeared on the ballots for any state-wide office. Only the presidential election is conducted in a way that offers other parties some access.

As Investor's Business Daily notes…
What's more, many Republicans in the state had nobody to vote for in November.
There were two Democrats — and zero Republicans — running to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer. There were no Republicans on the ballot for House seats in nine of California's congressional districts.
At the state level, six districts had no Republicans running for the state senate, and 16 districts had no Republicans running for state assembly seats.
Plus, since Republicans knew Clinton was going to win the state — and its entire 55 electoral votes — casting a ballot for Trump was virtually meaningless, since no matter what her margin of victory, Clinton was getting all 55 votes. 
Is it any wonder then, that Trump got 11% fewer California votes than John McCain did in 2008? (Clinton got 6% more votes than Obama did eight years ago, but the number of registered Democrats in the state climbed by 13% over those years.)
If you take California out of the popular vote equation, then Trump wins the rest of the country by 1.4 million votes. And if California voted like every other Democratic state — where Clinton averaged 53.5% wins — Clinton and Trump end up in a virtual popular vote tie. (This was not the case in 2012. Obama beat Romney by 2 million votes that year, not counting California.)
The California election system is broken. It excludes minor parties - and even the second major party - from meaningful participation. Of course voters loyal to those other parties remain home. Why should they go into a voting both and leave a ballot entirely blank? An entire ballot of write-in voting, in an electronic system, is tedious and pointless.

The notion that you must vote or keep quiet is disproved by California's inane system. Economically speaking, it really is a waste of time and energy for most non-Democratic voters to participate in the system. But, Californian's did this to themselves by approving the run-off model for elections. The majority now has a one-party system to lord over all residents.

To ignore California's system when claiming a Clinton popular vote victory (or a Democratic popular vote win in the Senate) is to ignore reality.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Polls Were NOT "Wrong"

Stop blaming polls or calling them "wrong" because only the Huffington Post polling was seriously flawed. Every other model actually offered accurate *ranges* of potential outcomes.

The polls were not wrong. Polls give probability not certainty. They were accurate. If I tell you Hillary Clinton has an 85% chance of winning... hello? She still has a 15% chance of losing. People didn't want to accept that. They assumed 85% = she can't lose. Sean Trende has attempted to explain this with the example of Pennsylvania. The commonwealth was a close election: so close that one percent in both directions did change the winner, but that does not make the polls incorrect.
It wasn't the polls: It was the pundits
What occurred wasn’t a failure of the polls. As with Brexit, it was a failure of punditry. Pundits saw Clinton with a 1.9 percent lead in Pennsylvania and assumed she would win. [Note: Margin of error was 3% in most polling!] The correct interpretation was that, if Clinton’s actual vote share were just one point lower and Trump’s just one point higher, Trump would be tied or even a bit ahead.  
The best polls were within margins of error. I wish people would stop claiming all polls were "wrong" since they were better than most previous elections. This was a close election, as a 3% to 5% margin of error is just what it says -- a margin. People assumed a lot, but Nate Silver and Sean Trende have explained repeatedly the polls were accurate within their margins. We're not going to get 0.1% error from polling.

People simply did not want the "worst case" scenario, and the press didn't explain with maps: "Here are the two extreme outcomes."

Friday, January 13, 2017

Stop Offering Opinions "to Trump Voters"

Every online post, newspaper column, or magazine puff piece written "to Trump voters" will be read by exactly ZERO Trump supporters... or will be taken as the condescending, presumptuous tripe it is by the one or two Trump voters who care what The New Yorker or National Review (for that matter) have to say.

No Trump voter cares what I write. They don't. They don't care what my opinion of them is. They don't care what any other over-educated Ph.D. or media elite offers as a critique.

The reality is, the few Trump voters I know don't actually like him. They voted against the system, against BOTH parties, and hope it all burns to the ground. Some voted for the Supreme Court and district court appointments. But otherwise, they didn't vote "for" anyone.

The day-to-day worker has moved on. The majority of people didn't vote and a good portion of those who did aren't that engaged a few weeks later.

Life will go on. Some of us will obsess over every word and action of President Donald Trump, but most Americans will not. They will go to work, pay bills, and watch football until the Super Bowl is played. (Then, everyone should rightly return to hockey and baseball seasons.)

The passion so many feel might not fade. That's not bad, as long as it is a passion to hold all politicians accountable.