Tag Archives: clinton



Every four years, there comes a time when my blog posts, due to a life-long fascination with politics in general, and love of presidential electoral politics as my form of major league sports in particular, take a political turn. And then, once the election is over and things settle down, I return to all the other things I love to write about: Music. Writing and publishing. Geek culture. Science. Spirituality.

What I want to tell you now is, I absolutely would have done it.

If Hillary Clinton had won, I would have sunk back into my personal concerns and a kind of semi-apathy. I would have liked some things she did, disliked others, tut-tutted at the opposition, occasionally posted a story online or signed a petition, but that would have been about it. If it had been a “normal” Republican, a Jeb Bush, say, or a John Kasich, I would have been a little more active. But not much.

Return to normal, however, is no longer an option. This is not normal. Donald Trump is the most personally reprehensible nominee either party put forward in a century or longer. Maybe in ever. He doubled down on this by repeatedly attacking the very foundations of democracy and decency throughout his campaign. And since his “election” and inauguration, he’s tripled down on that by showing that he meant every poisonous, un-American word of it.

So I’ve been marching. Organizing like-minded people. Petitioning my Representatives. I made an offhand comment to a friend that this election made me a militant. Looking at the definition, though, that’s not quite right:

adjective: militant
  1. 1.
    combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods.

I’ll be confrontational certainly, but I’m not aiming to be violent. I know there are those who disagree. I still believe that it is possible to be active and fully committed without being violent and hating those who disagree. But even non-violent soldiers are still soldiers, and we must steel ourselves for the fight.

That brings us to another notable thing about the word militant. It comes from the 15th century Latin “militare” meaning “to serve as a soldier”. Which brought to mind one of their new favorite dismissive phrases for us: “Social Justice Warrior”. I would like to pick up that mantle.

They are abso-fucking-lutely right, and I am thrilled to be called a warrior on behalf of justice for all members of our great society. I’m starting with the methods our Democracy affords us. But make no mistake, we will not surrender justice and freedom to this budding despot. Our values are better, we’re in the right, and we will defend them, come what may. 

I do hope to keep writing about my favorite things. But I’ll also be writing about this. A lot. One of my primary weapons is the creative word. We’re in the fight now, for at least the next four years, and I will use all the best weapons at my disposal. I am a warrior.



Election 2016: Final Update!


So, it turns out just enough space opened up in my schedule today for a quick lunch-time update to my 88 hours to go post from Friday. This really will be the final one though, since I’m in vendor demos all day tomorrow, and then home to watch results!

If you recall from my last post, at this stage it really is all about margins and momentum. I’ve updated the tables from that post, and on the popular vote front we find:


Extremely amusingly, despite plenty of movement in the individual components, the net effect is that each candidate went down slightly over the past three days, and they have the same net today that they did on Friday. No evidence of further last-minute movement toward Trump, and, based on these numbers, and assuming a roughly 6% third party vote and 50/50 split of the 4.5% remaining undecided, we’d end up with Clinton 48.9% to Trump 45.2%. Now, 3% is around a typical poll’s irreducible error-margin, so the end result could be higher or lower, but we can say that Clinton looks to be ahead outside any margin of error.

In the swing states that actually matter for the electoral college, we see the following (I’ve added Michigan, since a flurry of activity from both campaigns seems to indicate they think that it could be in play (or else they’re trying to fake each other out, which does happen)):


As one might expect this late in the campaign, nobody’s moved all that much- all margins are up or down within a half percent of where they were Friday. It does dispel the notion that Trump is having any kind of last-minute surge, though. Given the margin and momentum, Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Michigan and Pennsylvania don’t really seem to be swingy, which would lead to this map:


This is about where we were on Friday- Clinton is one shy of the 270 needed, and for Trump to win he would have to take all six remaining swing states and the split electoral vote from Maine. He’s only leading in two of the six (Iowa and Ohio), and in one of the six (New Hampshire) Clinton has a steady lead with no signs of further erosion. If this holds, it would make her President, as follows:


In which case the remaining three states would be superfluous, although victory in Nevada would help pad out her map, and North Carolina or especially Florida would make it possible to experience an upset loss in one or more other states and still pull through. All-in-all, not a bad place for her to be. And early voting totals in all three states are looking very good for Clinton, especially Nevada, where a surge in Latino voters has already banked enough votes that Trump would have to beat Clinton by double-digits on election day to still take the state.

I don’t have time to do pretty graphic inserts for all our other indicators. But it doesn’t really matter, because they aren’t too different from Friday, and, crucially, not a single one favors Trump:


While Clinton’s lead in the popular vote and her probable margin in the electoral college has gone up and down, it’s worth remembering that, over the last 6 months, Trump only ever had a lead for an aggregated total of eight days:


Exactly as one would suspect from this, it is much more likely than not that Hillary Clinton will be elected the next President of the United States tomorrow.


Election Check-in: 88 Hours To Go!


Well, here we are, the Friday before the election. Almost made it, America! And, in contrast to how it might have seemed ten days ago, it’s looking like it could be a lively and interesting night on November 8th. We’ll check in on several of our standard indicators, but really at this point it’s all about margins and momentum. So let’s take a look at that.

First, let’s look at the movement in three leading poll aggregators over the last week. RCP is the most “conservative”, in the sense that it takes a small set of polls, and only does a straight mathematical average. HuffPost is the most “liberal” in the sense that it includes almost all polls, and then does regression adjustments on them. 538.com is a data-rich medium, which includes a wider array of polls than RCP, but more selectively than HuffPost, and weights them according to historical accuracy of the pollster, and makes adjustments for historical partisan bias of various pollsters. These three averages include some of the same data across them, some different, and treat it in three different ways. If we average them all, we get:


There are a couple of things to note here. First, Trump has definitely gained over the last week, but he hasn’t done so at the expense of Clinton, who’s average all-in is unchanged. The most likely explanation is that Republican-leaning voters who had been on board with Johnson or undecided are now coming home to the Republican party in the wake of the latest FBI kerfluffle. Second, Clinton’s lead is probably outside a margin of error of roughly 3%, albeit narrowly.

What if we assume the same thing happens over the next four days that did over the last week? That would leave Clinton unchanged at 47%, and gain Trump another 1.7% to bring him to 45%. At this point, assuming current Johnson+Stein polling of around 6% is right, that would leave just 2% undecided. Looking at the makeup of the current undecided/uncertain vote, there’s no clear indication of a decisive break toward either Clinton or Trump. This is kind of a Trump “best case” (all remaining movement is toward him, and he gets a 50-50 split of undecideds), and it still ends up with Clinton-Trump 48%-46%.

The rub, of course, is that the popular vote doesn’t determine who becomes President. The Electoral College does. Looking again at our above three poll averagers, and adding in DailyKos, who doesn’t do a  national polling average but does track individual states, we see the following movement in what are commonly considered “swing states”over the past week. Since it’s a lot of data, I’m just listing the margin between the two candidates (+ for favoring Clinton, – for favoring Trump):


The same shift toward Trump in National margin is apparent in every state, sometimes to a  greater extent, sometimes less. The other thing that you immediately notice is that some of these aren’t really swing states at all. Colorado and Pennsylvania have Clinton margins outside the margin of error, and remain in her column even if Trump makes further gains over the next 4 days equal to what he did the past week. Similarly, Georgia has a Trump margin that’s unlikely to go anywhere. Adding these to the “safe” map for each candidate, you get the following:


You could look at this map, in conjunction with the state numbers above, in two ways:

  1. This is a pretty good map for Clinton. Even with further shifts against her, she probably has 269 electoral votes, and Trump can only win if he takes all 7 swing states, and peels off one of the electoral votes in Maine (one of two states that splits its electoral votes). Clinton currently has leads in three of them, and Nevada is 50-50.
  2. This is an extremely borderline map for Clinton. She still has leads in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Florida , but if the next four days see further movement for Trump equal to the last week, all these leads could go away.

So, in other words, Clinton very likely is headed toward a popular vote win. But even if she’s ahead nationally, the following three electoral college maps are all plausible (I’m splitting Maine in one of them, but not fiddling with the outside chance that McMullin takes Utah, which is an additional wildcard):


I would advise looking carefully at the updated state averages on Monday (I may publish an update Monday if I have time, but my schedule is looking dicey). In the meantime, let’s take a look at what various sources are saying. Because saying that all three outcomes are possible (or even a larger Clinton blowout, or Clinton collapse) is not the same as saying that they’re all equally likely, and your best bet is still look at an array of indicators.

Even after the FBI scare, Clinton still has about a 6 point edge in lower net unfavorability compared to Trump:

The RCP “No Toss Ups” Map shows the following:


The DailyKos forecast model has this:

HuffPost’s model shows the following:

270towin.com’s 10,000 simulations a night are returning the following averages:


And 538.com is currently showing:


Note that 538 shows a much lower confidence level than the others. What this essentially boils down to is a difference not over what the polls are saying, but how likely it is that the polls themselves are wrong. 538.com builds into its model a higher chance that, although state totals indicate a Clinton victory, there could be a polling error of a magnitude such that the polls are wrong. Not a 100% chance, but not zero either, thus they end up around 70/30 instead of the 90%+ that the others are at.

The aggregated betting markets at Predictwise.com are somewhere in-between these two levels:


And, finally, President Obama’s approval rating remains at a level that could indicate Democratic victory:


With less than four days to go, based on the preponderance of all available indicators, Hillary Clinton is quite likely to be elected the next President of the Untied States on Tuesday. There is one final relevant indicator: You.




Election 2016: Two Weeks Notice


I really despaired of making it this far! It’s actually been both better and far, far worse than I would have imagined. But, putting aside the chance that one candidate refuses to concede the results and stirs up armed revolt, the election will indeed be over in two weeks. I’m as happy as the little pyromaniac girl in the above meme. Who hopefully is not a preview of things to come…

Hey! Do you know who usually wins a Presidential election? The candidate with higher likability. In our case this year, that translates to the candidate with lower net unlikability. But there is a clear difference, with Clinton in single digits at -9.6% net favorability, and Trump over 2x higher with -24.5%:

Two weeks out, you would predict on this basis that Clinton will very likely be the winner. What do the polls say? Amazingly, the same thing! Here is RCP’s polling average for the period of May 11th (the day Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee when Kasich and Cruz dropped out after losing Indiana) to today:


A word about “rigging”: Let’s say you have an average of hundreds of polls over five months by a range of media, educational institutions and private foundations, many of whom even have a house tendency to skew Republican. This average shows that the Democrat has led the Republican in an average of recent polls every single damn day except for two four-day periods, and has a lead of around five points with two weeks to go. If you see that Democrat win, you are not seeing a stolen election. You’re seeing exactly how voters have told pollsters they’re going to vote.

RCP is not the only poll-averaging game in town. HuffPost Pollster also does a polling average, to which they further make trendline adjustments. They have Clinton ahead by around 7 points:


Ah, but what about that wily electoral college? RCPs map of “solid” and “lean” states currently shows a narrow Clinton victory even without the remaining swing states:


Their “no toss-ups” map expands the margin even further:


A word about “rigging”: Let’s say you have an average of hundreds of state polls by a range of media, educational institutions and private foundations, many of whom even have a house tendency to skew Republican. This average at two weeks to go shows that the Democrat wins the electoral college even without the close states, and wins it by a lot more when all the narrow leads are added in. If you see that Democrat win the electoral college by a large margin, you are not seeing a stolen election. You’re seeing exactly how voters have told pollsters they’re going to vote.

270towin runs 10,000 simulations a night using the latest state polls, and comes to a similar conclusion:


The simulation’s margins have been wider and lower at certain points, but they’ve never shown Clinton not winning:


All of the above are based on “where things are now” in some form or another, and there are still two weeks left. Nobody in modern Presidential history has come from the kind of position Trump is at now two weeks out and gone on to win, but it is worth pointing out that now does not equal Nov. 8. Forward looking models using various means of taking current data and projecting out are showing the following at 538.com:



And DailyKos:


You may notice that 538 is projecting somewhat higher odds for Trump than anyone else. if you want a really data geeked-out discussion of why, read here. Not to be outdone, an average of thousands of bettors over several betting markets are also overwhelmingly forecasting a Clinton victory:


Finally, there is the theory that an election is a referendum on the incumbent, even when the incumbent isn’t running again. If so, Obama’s net job approval rating over the last few months would also indicate a Democratic victory:


It hopefully doesn’t need to be said again, but every last indicator on the board would lead you to expect that Clinton will win. And, while the margin has been narrower at some times than others, this has been consistently true for the whole period since the primaries ended.

A sizable Clinton victory in two weeks isn’t a sign of a stolen election, it’s what you’d expect to see based on all available data.


Election 2016: One Month To Go!


Technically, 31 days, but that’s monthish. And, I mean, how many of us felt like we would never even make it this far? Even better than our group survival thus far, the data is now worth looking at as well.

If you recall some of our earlier analytical forays, a year out, any poll is just about worthless. At 6 months, they’re still not very indicative. By two weeks after both conventions are over, they start to be meaningful. And right about this point, 10 days or so after the first debate, they actually have a pretty strong correlation with final results. So, keeping that in mind, here’s how things look.

On the favorability front, Clinton continues to experience a net unfavorability unprecedented for a major party’s nominee. But, crucially, her gap has closed to single digits post-debate, and remains significantly lower than Trump’s also historically unprecedented unfavorabilty:

We’re probably now at the stage where this gap in their gaps, which has been consistent for months, matters. On the actual how-people-will-vote polling front, Clinton was already on an upswing from her mid-September lows before the first debate. Since then, her position has been further consolidated while Trump’s has turned back down:


Whereas RCP does a straight poll averaging, HuffPost’s Pollster has a somewhat different averaging method that includes trendline results, and is showing an even wider margin for Clinton:


State-by-state, the effect of this net change has been dramatic. When they were within a point of each other, her Electoral College margin was a razor-thin 272-266. The current 4-point national lead has swung several of the swing states back from pink to light-blue, and the RCP no toss-ups map currently looks like this:


270towin.com’s simulator runs 10,000 simulations a night based on averages of all recent state polling, and it has Clinton winning more than 90% of the time:


The crucial caveat is, of course, that the election is not being held today. 538.com’s model projects out the 31 days from now result based on current state polling, with weighting based on the pollster’s history of reliability and partisan bias, and further trendline adjustments based on demographic correlation between states and whether the national polls show a variance to state totals. They then run 20,000 simulations a night. Their “polls-only” model is currently showing the following:

pollsonlyThey also have a “polls-plus” version that includes what you would expect for the incumbent party based on economic performance in the mix. As election day approaches, the two converge, since it’s assumed this is increasingly “priced in” to the polls. This model remains a little more conservative than “polls-only”, and it is showing the following:


It’s always nice to have someone else doing the math too as a sanity-check. DailyKos employs a predictive model that similarly uses regressions and trendlines, and is producing broadly similar results to 538.com:

Meanwhile, the betting markets have several thousand users who are actually ponying-up on what they expect the result to be. Predictwise.com aggregates the results from several of these markets, and they are strongly expecting Clinton to win:


Finally, we can look at the incumbent party President’s approval rating. Obama has had a net positive rating for about 6 months, has been above 50% since August, and has trended up even more strongly in the last few days:


There are other factors that we could examine data on: Clinton has a strong edge over Trump in field offices in key swing states, while Trump is doing very well with White Men without a College Degree, he is actually doing worse than Romney among White voters overall, and the uncertainty in the forecasts is decreasing as fewer undecided and third-party voters remain. These factors, and every one of the above indicators, signal that Clinton remains the likely winner.

Could there be an unexpected change? Always yes. But Wikileaks has pretty much fizzled out on having an October surprise up its sleeves, the pluses and minuses of both candidates are well known, and high-magnitude changes at this stage of a campaign are unusual. We’ll check in again on October 26th, and see how it looks with all three debates concluded, and only two weeks remaining!



State of the Race on the eve of the debate



Good news for my blogging life! I’ve finished the final draft of my screenplay (at last!) and it’s starting to make its way out into the world of submissions. Which should free me up to return to more regular blogging.

As it happens, this is a fortuitous time for an update on the election- we’re 45 days from the finish line, on the eve of the first debate, and have a body of polling that’s now fully absorbed the reaction to Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark, and her giving fuel to the ridiculous Healtherist fire by fainting from (and not immediately coming clean about having) pneumonia. So, how do the numbers look?

A popular (and pretty reliable) shorthand is that the relatively more “likable” candidate usually wins. It’s a bit hard to gauge in this case, since Clinton has a historically unprecedented double-digit net unfavorability:

clinton unfav.PNG

This would normally be the kiss of death, except Trump’s has consistently been even higher, and remains so through today, even after Clinton’s bad news stretch:

trump unfav.PNG

Of course, what actually happens in an election is that people vote, not weigh in on favorability. Looking at the RCP polling average, you can certainly see that Clinton’s bad weekend cost her:


At one point, her average margin over Trump was down to 0.9%. Since then, though, it’s started to expand again. But guess what? It isn’t actually about how people vote! Or rather, it is, but in specific states, depending on how they add up in the electoral college. Here, the shifts of the past two weeks have turned several of the light blue swing states pink, leaving Clinton with only a narrow margin:


Now, there are a few ways to look at this. You could make the case, as RCP analyst Sean Trende does, that Trump behaving exceptionally well under the influence of his new campaign team and Clinton having a horrendous week, combined, still weren’t enough for him to pull ahead. Or you could make the case, as 538.com does, that indications of Clinton’s polling rebound are mixed, and her reliable states are only just enough to get her over the electoral college finish line.

Speaking of 538, their “polls-only” model, crunching all state and national polls, making adjustments for polling firm track-records of of reliability and distortion toward one party or another, trending them forward to election day, and averaging the results of several-thousand trail runs, shows the following:


In other words, on average, Clinton carries the popular vote by over 2%, and has a fairly narrow electoral college victory. Her reliable states are the same 272 that the RCP average shows, with Nevada and Florida being pretty close to 50-50 (as indicated by their being light pink). If her polling numbers improve a percentage or two from here, her electoral map gets more solid. If they decline, it stays razor-thin.

Their “polls plus” forecast also weighs economic fundamentals into the forecast. It’s typically a bit more skeptical than polls-only, since the economics indicate more of a 50-50 shot for the incumbent party. However, it weights the economic factors less strongly as election day approaches, figuring everything is more “priced in” to the polls by then. Currently, it’s not too different from “polls only”:


HuffPost’s model does something similar, combining weighted poll averages with trend-lines, and it has Clinton ahead by around 4 points:


270towin.com runs 10,000 simulations a night based on the latest state polls, and it currently shows Clinton winning the majority of those simulations:


The summary of betting markets at predictwise.com is still pretty bullish on Clinton winning:


Finally, the popularity of the incumbent party can be an indicator. It doesn’t have the greatest track record in years when the incumbent isn’t running for reelection, but is still worth looking at. Obama’s approval numbers shifted into net positive in March/April, and remain fairly strong today:


One thing that I think is important to keep in mind is that, even on a strong run for Trump and coming off of a bad one for Clinton, there isn’t a single indicator on the board that has him ahead. Based on all available data, if the election were held today, you would expect Clinton to win. Somewhat narrowly, but win nonetheless. Unless the debates make things markedly worse for her, or notably better for Trump, the advantage remains Clinton’s.

We’ll tune in to the numbers again on October 7th, at which point we’ll be two weeks past the first debate, a few days after the VP debate, and a month away from the General Election. See you then!


Clinton vs. Trump: 4 1/2 months out, the needle points to…


First of all, before we go any further, let’s stipulate that polls at this stage of an election are not very good at predicting final results, though not as bad as they are a year out. You really need to start looking at polling a week or two after both conventions are over, which would be mid-August or so. But you just can’t help it, can you?

Let’s start with this basic fact: Generally, if a candidate had this kind of net unfavorablity rating, you wouldn’t give that candidate a very high chance of being elected:


Unless they were running against this candidate:


Score one for Clinton! What about head-to-head polls? Despite my above caveat, there is some sensibility to looking at the polls now. Trump has eliminated his opponents, Clinton’s has gone quiet, nobody really disputes that either is the prospective nominee now, and the last week’s worth of polls even captures reactions after a major news event involving two hot-button issues, terrorism and guns. If we start with the day that Trump became the Republican’s all-but-certain nominee and run through today, we get:


You can see that Trump gained some ground after wrapping up his nomination, and Clinton lost some as her’s dragged on. But she’s now gotten a drift up following her consolidation of nomination, while Trump has dropped. Note that RCP employees a straight averaging of recent major polls:


However, not all polls are created equal. Different polling firms have different track records of reliability, and also some built-in tendency to skew either Democratic or Republican. 538 does a good overview of this, if you’re interested. Ideally, you’d do some re-balancing of your poll weightings based on historical accuracy and partisan skew. Huffpost Pollster does some version of this, and they’re showing the following:


It’s worth mentioning that in either polling aggregation, Clinton’s lead is well outside the average margin of error. Of course, the popular vote isn’t everything. In fact, in a U.S. Presidential election, it isn’t even the thing that determines the winner. RCP doesn’t yet have a “no toss-ups” version of their electoral map, but based on the latest state polls, they’re showing the following solid, leaning and toss-up states:


You see a lot of the usual “toss-up state” suspects here, but you also see two that indicate the Republicans are stretched in more territory than usual: Arizona and Georgia. Meanwhile 270towin.com, based on recent state polls where available and extrapolations from 2012 where there isn’t good recent polling, has an electoral simulator that can be fun and terrifying to watch. This simulator does a run of 10,000 simulations a night, for which the latest results are:


They’ve been doing this for three weeks now, and there hasn’t been a lot of variability:


In addition to silly things like polls and electoral votes, we can also look at the betting markets. These can be much handier to pay attention to than the opinions of pundits because they do the same thing (indicate the opinions of election watchers) but with the advantage of aggregating many thousands of those opinions, and literally asking the opiners to put their money where their mouth is. PredictWise.com, based on the results of several different betting sites, is currently showing:


Finally, we can look at the popularity of the incumbent party. This isn’t as reliable as when an incumbent is running for reelection themselves (for example, Bill Clinton was sitting on around 60% popularity in early November 2000, but Al Gore ended up with 48.4% of the vote), but it certainly has some value as an indicator. Obama’s approval ratings over the last 6 months look like this:


It’s certainly early days still, but looking at every statistical leading indicator we have, you would have to say that Hillary Clinton’s chances look pretty good.



The Meaning of Bernie Sanders


Well friends, here we are. One final Super Tuesday! I haven’t written an election post in a few weeks, mainly on account of:

  1. On the Republican side, Trump’s opposition spectacularly collapsed all at once, leaving him uncontested.
  2. On the Democratic side, the math hasn’t changed.

It still hasn’t. Yes, technically, the nomination is not decided until the convention in July. And neither Democratic candidate will have enough pledged delegates to win outright until the Superdelgates vote on the first ballot. But assuming, as all indications are indicating, that she stomps it in New Jersey today and does something at least nearly 50% in California, Clinton will only need a fraction- say 10% of the Superdelegates to vote with her to be nominated. The Superdelegates are not going to switch en-mass to Sanders. Nor should they.

Whatever one thinks of the system as it stands, under the system as it stands, Hillary is unambiguously winning- she has something like 55% of total votes, is several hundred delegates ahead, and has won a majority of individual contests. As I wrote a few weeks back, no self-respecting Sanders supporter, if the situation were reversed, would say it would be okay if the Superdelegates reversed a Bernie 55% of vote, several hundred delegates ahead and majority of contests won and voted for Clinton instead. I like to keep my principles the same no matter what personalities are involved, and the principle is clear to me here- there’s a set of rules, and under that set of rules, one candidate has clearly been chosen over the other.

So I don’t care to talk about that anymore. What I would like to talk about is the meaning of Bernie Sanders.

Exhibit A:


This is what Bernie did, as a virtual unknown running against a candidate with nearly 100% name recognition, a huge fundraising head-start, and overwhelming support from the party establishment.

Exhibit B:


Excluding the unregulated outside groups (Thanks Citizens United!), he actually outraised her. And did almost all of it with small donations from individual donors.

Exhibit C:


These are the vote totals that candidates coming from a similar ideological bent of the Democratic Party got in the previous most recent open contests. Sanders is on track to get around 45%.

To me, the conclusion is inescapable: Even in a very unfavorable party environment for it, an unapologetically Progressive candidate has flourished in this primary cycle. A significant portion of the Democratic base is ready for the party to push a bolder Progressive agenda.

One can imagine that if circumstances had been different- no candidate as predominantly established going in as Hillary, or Joe Biden stepping in and dividing the moderate/establishment vote, Sanders could even have been the nominee. You could also make the argument that Obama already ran and won the nomination in 2008 with this emerging Progressive plurality. While his policy substance was (and still is) pretty centrist/establishment as far as the Democratic party goes, his symbolism and the base he put together was very much fueled by these Progressive voters.  And one can easily imagine, in an upcoming cycle, a candidate who is slightly more polished and camera-ready than Bernie and who isn’t facing a Democratic dynasty running and winning with this agenda.

In the meantime, we organize (especially at the state and local level), we vote (especially for city councils, state legislatures, etc.).

And we keep the faith.





Once more unto the Super-Tuesday breach…


Well, last Tuesday we had New York with 291 delegates on the Democratic side, and today five Northeastern states are up at once with a combined 462 more. This looks like one of those rare times that the preferences of the East Coast will have a major effect on choices the nation makes-28% of all the delegates left in the rest of the race will be chosen by this time tomorrow. Here’s where things stand:


First off, hoo-boy was I wrong! I said last week that I thought there were signs that Bernie Sanders was going to do better in New York than the polling seemed to indicate. In fact, he got shellacked in New York 58%-42%, a proportion pretty much matching what the polling averages were indicating.

Looking back, I would say that, whatever traces I thought I was sniffing, I should have been a good data-head and really crunched the numbers, because I was badly under-estimating the effect of New York being a closed primary. It’s been observed that Sanders has drawn a lot of his support from voters who register Independent, who can participate in states that have open primaries, but can’t in states with closed primaries. Indeed, if you crunch the numbers on averages of non-Southern open primaries vs. closed primaries, you find the following:


Sanders wins a narrow majority of total votes in open primaries, but has lost the closed primaries 47-53. All five of today’s states have closed or semi-closed primaries, which means Sanders will not be picking up cross-over voters. Thus, you can probably take the polls that show him facing double-digit losses in Maryland & Pennsylvania at face value. His best bets for the night look like Connecticut and Rhode Island, where he’s narrowly behind:



If he ends up 0-5 on a night when 28% of the remaining delegates are up, that’s not going to silence the voices calling for him to admit the game is up. Narrowly winning 2 of the smaller states, both from his native New England, won’t either. He’ll certainly have the money and the enthusiastic base of supporters to stay in until the end. There’s even an open primary coming up next week, Indiana, and he remains within striking distance in polling of the largest state of all, California. And a decent argument can be made that he should stay in for the good of his movement, and democracy in general. But in terms of realistic chances, the New York blowout made his already up-hill shot even steeper, and tonight is liable to make it steeper still.


In a certain sense, the Republican side is much clearer, and in a certain sense, it’s murky as %$#@. After a very strong New York last week, Trump is showing solid leads in all five states tonight, and the Republican delegate rules are liable to expand his haul even further.

But behind the scenes, Cruz continues to have a much better ground game for the nuts and bolts of picking up delegates that are still being chosen in state conventions even after the voting has ended. In the current Republican game of delegate-by-delegate attrition, in which a Trump who hasn’t reached the required 1,237 delegates by the convention could have serious problems thereafter, every bit counts.

And then there’s the alliance! Cruz and Kasich are strategically agreeing to stay out of each other’s way in several of the remaining contests. This may indeed be too little, too late, but it does stand a decent shot of handing Cruz Indiana next week, and getting Kasich several Western States. If it does work, Cruz getting all 57 of the winner-take-all delegates next week could seriously complicate Trump’s remaining math. If it doesn’t, that 57 plus his haul from tonight will probably put Trump on track to get close enough to the 1,237 that the game is, effectively, over.

Stay tuned!

Election 2016: The Empire State is About to Strike…


After a blessed break from writing about this blasted campaign for a few weeks, we are now entering what could be a vital stage of the primaries. New York votes tomorrow, with a significant portion of the remaining delegates at stake for both parties. This is followed next week by a truly super Tuesday in which Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island all vote on the same day. The (North)East Coast is about to have its say! How are things looking on the eve of all of this?


Bernie Sanders is coming off of a very strong month. Counting the finalization of the Democrats Abroad Primary results on March 21st, and the primaries and caucuses held between March 22nd and April 9th he’s won 8 out of 9. Am I really going to continue my Sanderskepticism in the face of this winning streak?

Well, I will merely observe the following. Here is where the delegate-count currently stands in terms of pledged delegates:


And here’s where the cumulative vote total stands:


One could point out that this includes the earlier Southern States where Clinton prevailed by a total margin of 67%-33%, and that Sanders has actually won a (albeit slim) majority of the vote in all other states. One could alternately point out that this included many caucuses, where the enthusiasm of Sanders supporters may have given them outsized influence, and there is only one caucus left in the schedule from now through June. Taking the average of the 11 non-Southern primaries, thus theoretically eliminating the pro-Clinton and pro-Sanders distortions, it’s nearly 50-50:


One could counter that Sanders doesn’t need to get enough delegates to clinch the nomination. He could arrive at the convention with more than Clinton, and make a reasonable appeal to the Superdelegates that they should support him instead. Okay. Here are the delegates left, and the minimum percentage Sanders would have to win in order to arrive at the convention with more delegates than Clinton:


This would get him there with 2,182 to her 2,168. Anything less than winning 56% of all remaining delegates, she arrives at the convention with more delegates, and the lead in the popular vote. If he does something like what he’s done so far (splitting it 51/49) in the remaining primaries, they’ll get there with Clinton 2,265 and Sanders 2,085. She would need Superdelegates to win on the first ballot, but less than a quarter of them. Whatever the valid Fall strategy argument may or may not be, no self-respecting Sanders supporter, myself included, would argue in a reverse case (Sanders ahead in votes and delegates) that it would be okay if the Superdelegates nominated Clinton instead. Barring a startling departure in the remaining primaries, the Democratic primary voters have decided.

All this being said, I do think Sanders is going to do much better in New York than expected. Current polling averages have it here:


Meanwhile, however, national polling shows Sanders has pulled nearly even with Clinton:


New York is a very large, very diverse state, and one would be surprised to find that it’s Democratic electorate was markedly different from the National Democratic electorate as a whole. Given this kind of disparity between state and national polling, in the absence of something more precise, we might split the difference, and expect it to be something more like Clinton winning by 7%.

Consider also 538.com’s analysis from a few months back of how you would expect Sanders to do, based on demographics, if he and Clinton were tied nationally. More often than not, this has correctly called the direction of contests so far, and here’s what it shows for New York:

New York

Back that off a little from a national tie to Clinton ahead by 1.2% nationally, it suggests a New York that’s a photo-finish. Add to this the size of Sanders’ rallies in the state and his recent union endorsements… I don’t expect he’ll win New York, but I do expect it will be a scarier victory for Clinton than she’s currently expecting. Which keeps us going until the next Super Tuesday…


I had so many weeks worth of math pent up on the Democratic side that I’m out of time! I will observe that Trump is in no appearance of any danger at all:


What this means in terms of delegates is a bit more murky. Unlike the proportional allocation on the Democratic side, the Republican primary rules in New York are, “New York allots 14 at-large delegates proportionally based on the statewide results of the primary; 81 delegates — three for each congressional district — are awarded according to the results of the district, and then “split 2-1 between top two finishers, with 50 percent winner-take-all trigger,””. Huh?

In short, Cruz and Kasich have an opportunity to peel off delegates from Trump even given a massive victory on his part. This is significant because the numbers are currently steep for Trump to get enough delegates for a first ballot win at the convention:


And there’s a persuasive argument to be made that, if he doesn’t take it on a first ballot, he’ll actually do worse than that on following ballots. His delegates are pledged to vote for him on the first ballot, but the Trump campaign so thoroughly eschewed traditional state-by-state organization that they didn’t make sure there were slates of delegates that actually liked Trump. Cruz has done a far better job of this groundwork, and as soon as they can, many of the delegates in the hall will switch votes from Trump to him.

Cleveland is looking like it could be a wild ride…