September 25, 2016

Is any historical model predicting a Hillary win?

To keep folks from getting too emotionally invested in the debates and media polling as we head down the home stretch, it's worth asking what the long-term perspective suggests.

Political scientists say that the consensus of researchers is that campaigns don't matter -- debates, polls, ads, rallies, etc. -- and that the general election is a referendum on the incumbent party in the White House. There is either a demand for more of the same, or a desire for changing the guard, and this mood about the past four years has already formed by the time the general campaign season begins, so that its myriad happenings will not shift the mood by Election Day.

This standard view rarely gets a hearing in the media, whose profits come from micro-obsessing over the speeches, polls, gaffes, etc. Nor is the public very interested -- there's nothing exciting about historical models, when there's so much relatable stuff going on every day during election season, and you want to be part of the buzz in social settings.

However, this year is different because most of the media and nearly half the country want to allay their fears that Trump could actually win the election. If the normally overlooked historical models were predicting a victory for Hillary, then for once they too would be endlessly discussed and dissected, as yet another source of confirmation that "Trump can't win (he just can't)".

An honest political scientist came out way back in the early stage of the primaries and said Trump is all but a guaranteed win. Helmut Norpoth was basing this off of the performance of his primary model, which has correctly predicted the winner of the popular vote since 1996, and retrospectively makes the correct call back to the beginning of the data-set in 1912, aside from 1960 (which was a coin flip in the popular vote).

The model is a simple theory of the electoral pendulum: it awards points to the incumbent party after one term, penalizes the incumbent party after two terms, and favors the stronger candidate in their respective primary contest. After Trump won New Hampshire, South Carolina, and cleaned up on Super Tuesday, Norpoth felt comfortable to call it then. Hillary lost the key early battle of New Hampshire, and was saddled with the burden of running for a third consecutive term of the incumbent party.

Another political scientist whose model has successfully predicted the outcome for even longer -- back through 1984, and retrospectively back to 1860 -- has taken far longer to admit that his model, too, is predicting a win for Trump. He's a hardcore Hillary supporter, and was holding out for nearly a year in an attempt to soothe his cognitive dissonance. But even they have had to concede that Crooked Hillary's candidacy is doomed.

Allan Lichtman's 13 keys to the Presidency is starting to make the rounds in the media now, although he discussed it with The Fix (WaPo) back in May, and even as far back as last December in a faculty research profile at his university. It asks 13 questions about the past four years -- economic trends, foreign policy successes, scandals, etc. -- and about the candidates themselves -- incumbency, hero status, facing third-party splitters, etc. If 6 or more of the 13 go against the incumbent party, they are out, and the opposition party is in.

By these measures, it was already clear last December that the Democrats would not keep the White House, although you could have debated a point here or there. But certainly by mid-May, when Lichtman was interviewed for The Fix, it was guaranteed. He was still delusionally insisting that it remained an open question whether or not there was a serious contest for the nomination in the incumbent party, which hurts the party in the general -- yeah, that whole Bernie phenomenon was all in our imaginations. This guy had his head buried deeper in the sand than the Cruz Cult.

At any rate, both of these respected academics with solid track records are predicting a win for Trump. Neither has mentioned alternative models that also have solid track records, both predictive and retrospective, which are however predicting the Democrats to go three in a row. Lichtman especially ought to be hyping those up, if they existed, since he's so desperate for Trump to lose.

If there are any political science nerds out there, let us know.

Otherwise, take comfort in what the long-term, big-picture data are predicting, and don't obsess so much over what the micro-term, info-overload of BIG DATA are predicting. All signs point to the incumbent party not holding on for another term.

September 23, 2016

One final slump ahead before victory in November?

With the first debate coming up, and everybody expecting it's going to be a knockout for Trump, I want to reiterate a warning I've been giving since the pattern first appeared in June.

Support for Trump among the general public rises and falls in a cycle, roughly a month up and a month down. Up phases are the second half of an even-numbered month and first half of an odd-numbered month. Down phases are the second half of an odd-numbered month and first half of an even-numbered month.

During the last up phase -- beginning in mid-June -- he enjoyed a prolonged rise because of the VP pick and the Convention. I don't think we're going to see a prolonged up phase this time, as the debates are not as galvanizing as the Convention.

Indeed, the daily polls from USC, People's Pundit Daily, and Reuters all show a steady decline over the past four or five days. Trump is still ahead by a few points, but trending downward -- so don't be surprised if he winds up down a few points in early October.

I'm hoping that with each turning of the cycle, people are getting less wishy-washy as Election Day approaches, and as they get to know Trump outside of the media caricatures. Perhaps in this final down phase, they will pull even, rather than Trump being down a few points. But who knows yet.

In the last post, I showed that there was very little to explain the downturn after the Democrat Convention -- he didn't attack the Khans like the media was making it out to be, and the media itself has no influence because they're constantly attacking Trump, yet support rises and falls. If anything, the media jump on the bandwagon -- ingratiating when he's nearing a peak (Morning Joe wanting to make amends last week), and excoriating when he's past it (hysteria over the Khans).

The cycle seems to be a psychological wishy-washy-ness among the voters themselves. They get comfortable, then they think he's still too unfamiliar of a candidate, so they grow uncomfortable. Then they're uncomfortable long enough that they feel they're being unfair, give him the benefit of the doubt, and start supporting him again.

Trump fans do not waver, but remember that the Trump voters will be made up of a large chunk of the electorate for whom Trump still seems like an outside-the-box candidate. They want to vote for Trump / Republicans, or against Obama / Clinton / Democrats, but the highly unusual nature of his candidacy is going to make them go through cycles of ease and unease -- totally regardless of what is going on in the daily news cycle. If they mention something in the news, it will only be a convenient rationalization, as there's always been something to point to, yet their support rises and falls.

As for the major events left in the season, and where they fall in the cycle, here's the prediction from last time:

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.

Now we can add another possible wrinkle -- if early voting takes place during a relative slump, that'll dampen his surge in the second half of October and early November. We should hold off on encouraging early voting until we're in a clear up phase, unless you know the person is already pro-Trump.

Just one more bump in the road, and then we're in the clear -- don't wuss out if we head down for a couple weeks coming up. It's going to end on an up-swing.

Trump train hooks up with its caboose? Kim Kardashian may ditch the witch

Timed to immediately overshadow Ted Cruz's endorsement, Kim Kardashian put the word out that she is also considering voting Trump. Her manager-mother can read the writing on the wall, and the future looks grim for Crooked Hillary Clinton. Plus she is hated by young people of all races, who are the target audience of the Kardashian brand.

Whether she ultimately endorses or not, this announcement of "being on the fence" serves the same purpose as Jimmy Fallon hosting Trump on the Tonight Show -- to humanize and normalize him, putting to rest the media hysteria that he's a Russian-backed reincarnation of Hitler.

Even if most of her legions of Millennial followers don't register and vote Trump, at least they'll be softened to his Presidency. Maybe they'll like it, maybe not, but it couldn't be the end of the world as we know it, if the most brand-conscious celebrity out there is considering associating herself with it. They will treat it as something from the mundane world, not an apocalypse.

I wonder whose late endorsement will prove more valuable -- Cruz or Kardashian?

Related: earlier in the summer, Blind Gossip posted an item suggesting that Angelina Jolie is a Trump supporter and working behind the scenes to help get him elected.

September 22, 2016

A "mostly peaceful" mob: Propaganda, or good feels from the hugbox?

One of the recurring ideas of riot coverage is that the mob is "mostly peaceful". They mean this to cover individuals -- only a "few bad apples" are throwing rocks into the heads of police -- and to cover the time-frame -- for hours the demonstration was without violence, except for that brief instant when some guy threw a rock into the policeman's head (and that other brief instant when some guy broke the windows of an apartment building).

Members of a mob are only emboldened to throw rocks at cops, etc., when they have large enough numbers of people who literally have their back. By the time the mob dissipates, curiously nobody is willing to get into any serious shit with the police, who now outnumber the handful of remaining rioters. The members of a mob who aren't directly aggressing against the cops are supporting those who are, and they know that -- that's why they're there, admiring the front line soldiers, rather than trying to stop them from giving the group a bad reputation.

And only an autistic would meter the flow of time to see what percentage was spent engaging in violence, rather than the extent of violence inflicted during the course of an event. Aside from that brief moment at the end, Abraham Lincoln was enjoying a safe and sound evening at the theater, being pursued by an assassin who was non-violent for 99% of his time in the building.

According to the media, the world is fundamentally at peace unless there is a state of constant, all-against-all mayhem. So however disgusted you are by the riots you're seeing unfold on live TV, just remember -- it was mostly peaceful.

The level of desperation and repetition makes me think that the general public doesn't buy this crap. They can spin all they want, normal viewers understand that it's not a trivial problem -- reducing violence from 1% of the time to 0% -- but something far more serious -- preventing riots from breaking out in a major city for at least two nights in a row.

More and more, it's becoming clear that the media do not serve as propaganda, which implies some degree of effectiveness in manipulating public opinion. Nobody with half a brain believes that riots are mostly peaceful. Rather, their job is to provide rationalizations to their audience, who feel a gut-level need for reducing their cognitive dissonance about some important matter.

"Blacks rioting in another city -- uh oh, sounds like it could HELP TRUMP... quick, MSNBC, tell me why it's not really such a big deal after all. Aha, they're 'mostly peaceful' -- indeed. Ahhhh..."

Soothing the viewer's fragile ego, pumping them full of a topic they've got an addictive craving for, giving them ideological morphine when they've got a cognitive dissonance headache -- the media are more of an informational pharmacy, and a shady sell-all one at that.

It's not to deny the propaganda role that they play, but most people already have their minds made up about most of the topics that they would sit through a story about. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

September 21, 2016

Bernie, too, would have lost to Trump; How could his successor win?

Now that the Democrats are starting to accept defeat, they've resorted to the blame game. Some say it was the media's fault for giving Trump so much free airtime, when you can't sell people what they don't want to buy. Some say it's the Millennials' fault for hating Hillary, when young people are barely a drop in the bucket of the electorate. And of course others are saying it's the Establishment's fault for not making Bernie the nominee in the first place.

Since the Bernie people are the Democrat version of the Trump people, it's worth considering their view and providing for a little more awareness, since they're still in cognitive dissonance reduction mode. They're not just emptily shilling for Hillary, Obama, etc., so they're worth hearing out.

The fact is that Bernie would have lost to Trump as well, and probably by a larger margin than even Crooked Hillary is going to.

Why?

Quite simply, because he lost his party's primary, albeit by a lesser degree than what the bias and rigging produced. If he couldn't win among Democrats, how would he win among Democrats plus Republicans?

"Independents" voting in the Democrat primary are already Dem-leaning and not true swing voters, so he only won the Dem-leaning Indies -- not Democrat partisans, not Republican partisans, and not Repub-leaning Indies. Who knows how he'd do among true Indies, but they're not enough to make up for losing among the partisans of both parties -- you need at least one group of loyalists to form your base.

Crucially he lost among minority voters, who are a reliable chunk of the Democrat coalition. It would be like if Trump lost among gun owning Republicans.

But he also lost among older voters, who make up the majority of the electorate.

And although he did well among liberals, he appealed less to moderates, compared to Clinton.

Structurally, he is not an incumbent in the Obama administration. Going for a third consecutive term for the party requires an incumbent in the Executive -- President, VP, Cabinet member, etc. Hillary is not incumbent, but Bernie has never been in the administration -- he's a Senator. That would be OK if he were looking to upset the incumbent party, but not during an attempt at a third consecutive term, where he needs to be a plausible bridge.

(Assuming such a thing were desired, which it is not, judging from the flagging momentum going from '08 to '12.)

Like everyone else, the Bernie people drank the kool-aid about who the Obama coalition is -- young people, minorities, and progressives. In reality, it was middle-aged and old people, predominantly white, and moderate -- with 25% of it being Bush '04 voters who had had enough of neo-conservatism. The handful of young people who showed up, and the boost in the black vote, gave him a wider margin of victory, but they were not sufficient to win. The key demographic was the ex-Bush voters who were white middle-aged suburbanites.

If Bernie had been gifted the nomination by the superdelegates, despite losing the popular vote, he would have been this generation's George McGovern. He wouldn't have flamed out in the general as bad as McGovern because Nixon had the incumbent advantage in '72, and the Great Compression was not very partisan, allowing Nixon to play well among all sorts of voters in all sorts of places.

In our more partisan polarized climate, Bernie would have at least had the safe blue states. However, he would not have added any red states -- the only ones Hillary is even making a play for are Arizona and Georgia, on the basis of minority voters, but Bernie doesn't do well with them and lost both of those states in the primary.

North Carolina would remain red, and both Ohio and Florida would still go to Trump. Bernie lost those, Trump won them (adjusting for Kasich's rigging of Ohio), and they are genuine swing states that are not safely for either party.

While Virginia is going to remain out of reach with Hillary as the Democrat, it would have probably swung to Trump against Bernie. Virginia is voting for Hillary based on her being the Establishment favorite, and Virginia is increasingly an outgrowth of Washington DC. With both Bernie and Trump being anti-Establishment choices, Virginians would have to choose on some other basis, and Bernie's just a little too out-there to play in Virginia, compared to Trump. And given the military-related population, they'd feel safer in the hands of Trump than Bernie, even if both were coming after the federal Defense bureaucracy, since Trump says he wants a much stronger military.

Then Trump would need only one more state, and he'd beat Bernie. Ripe states are those won by Trump and lost by Bernie in the primary, and that have tended to be only light blue in the general.

Nevada went to Trump rather than Bernie in the primary, and it's not a West Coast hotbed of progressive values. New Mexico is close even against Clinton, and would be closer still against minority-shunned Bernie who lost the state. Minnesota, Wisconsin, and probably Michigan would be hard to win against Bernie, but not necessarily Iowa. And although Bernie would safely guard New York and New England, I think Trump could take Pennsylvania or New Jersey against Bernie -- look how close they are against Clinton, whereas Bernie lost them in the primary (Trump won them), due to the minority vote.

Overall, I don't see Trump's Electoral College vote being so much worse against Bernie than Hillary -- win, and not hard to get 300 up through about 330. And by not appealing to as broad of a group, Bernie would have done worse in the popular vote than Hillary.

The upshot is that the standard strategy of leftists is destined to fail in election-centric polities -- trying to be the "vanguard party" that is radical, progressive, revolutionary, or whatever, and that will pull the masses along the path that it blazes.

Trump did something distinct -- the hostile takeover -- which still leaves some of the older elements in place, both at the upper and lower levels. Trump largely sidelined the culture war, but he didn't openly mock social-cultural conservatives, like McCain did. And he did allow them a key role in determining what kind of Supreme Court Justices he would pick. He also included big tax cuts for individual and corporate income, to appeal to moderate suburban country club types.

Bernie's successor needs to pursue populism and non-interventionism in a way that includes the middle-of-the-road Democrats who are older than 40. Displace the culture war stuff to promises about who he'd pick for the Supreme Court. Focus on corruption, campaign finance, lobbying, etc., which disgusts old people more than young people (who don't really know how it all works).

And be more patriotic -- in the vein of that Simon & Garfunkel "America" ad that they ran early on. Working-class people and suburban moderates want to know you've got their back, and are running for the good of the country, not to implement the universal wisdom of socialism in this particular nation because here is where you happen to have been born.

That seems quite a ways away, whereas we already have Trump. So I see the Democrats retreating, reflecting, and re-grouping over the next several cycles, and maybe the better part of 20-30 years before they're a real force again. That would be akin to the Republicans running the Progressive Era, followed by the Democrats running the New Deal.

Related: some earlier thoughts on who will un-cuck the Left.

September 20, 2016

Primary turnout predicts who wins infrequent and crossover voters in general election

Although turnout in the primaries does not predict turnout in the general election, the party with higher primary turnout does enjoy one benefit in the general -- the votes of people who had sat out the previous election, but are showing up this time around.

Here is primary and general turnout (in millions) since the 50-state primaries became the norm in 1976:


In years when both parties ran a primary, the Democrats had higher turnout in 1976, '80, '88, '92, and '08. The Republicans only had higher turnout in 2000 -- and now this year as well.

The party with higher primary turnout doesn't necessarily win the general (see '80 and '88). But higher primary turnout does show up in the general as a bias toward that party among the infrequent voters (who did not vote last time).

Here is how the infrequent voters compared to the frequent voters (who did vote last time), where positive values show a greater bias toward Democrats, and negative values a bias toward Republicans.


Compared to frequent voters, infrequent voters showed a bias toward Democrats in '76, '80, '88, '92, and '08, while they showed a bias toward Republicans in 2000.

This predicts that, since the Republicans had higher primary turnout in 2016, the infrequent voters this year will vote even more Republican than the frequent voters will.

What about crossover voters? Their bias, compared to partisan voters, looks highly similar to the infrequents compared to frequents. But in 1980, the crossovers voted more Republican, while the infrequents voted more Democrat. So the party with larger primary turnout almost predicts which direction the crossover voters will head, although not perfectly. Still, it's a strong relationship, and the prediction this time is that crossovers will favor the Republican more than the partisan voters will.

We've already come to these predictions after looking at the history of crossover and infrequent voters in the general election. But now we have another source of confirmation -- the outcomes of the primaries.

Clearly Clinton will win among partisan voters since Obama beat Romney, and Democrat affiliation is higher than it is for Republican. But with substantial crossover (the main effect) as well as a minor boost from infrequent voters, Trump is set to win in the overall electorate.

September 16, 2016

Leftist moral panic intensifies after Jimmy Fallon yuks it up with Trump

Jimmy Fallon treated Donald Trump like any other guest on late night TV -- asked him what's going on with his work and life, asked what's coming up next for him, interspersed with gag segments to lighten the mood.

For failing to subject Trump to a kangaroo court trial and open up a trap door underneath his seat, Fallon has caused the leftists to melt down even more than they already were after seeing how well the polls are looking for Trump. (We have the best polls, really phenomenal.)

What is going on here is a textbook case of a moral panic, as detailed in an earlier post. Notice how uncannily familiar the reactions would have sounded during the Satanic panic of the 1980s, after David Letterman had Dee Snider from Twisted Sister on his show for a usual interview -- and not condemning the wicked corrupting influence of heavy metal on America's children, as the right-wing record-burners would have demanded.

Here are some representative freak-outs from Twitter:


That is the over-arching theme -- normalizing evil. Trump and heavy metal (and horror comic books) are not part of the ordinary mundane world that you and I are from -- they're from an evil nether-dimension that must be kept sealed up so that it can't influence our daily life.

What is the solution implied? The media cannot play it safe, and cannot try to prove that they're "fair" (whatever THAT means, right?). Total unmitigated propaganda is the only way to prevent fatal accidents like allowing Trump to be elected.

Also notice that the leftists are calling out their own ("liberal media") for not policing evil, a hallmark of witch hunts. Even if you're not a witch yourself, you must drop everything and join the hunt -- or else you're complicit in letting the witches go around spreading their wicked influences. (Second-order norm enforcement.)


Well, we've already used "evil" -- why not something more tangible like a "monster"? Scary, scary beasts!

Also the threat of going to Hell, right out of the moral panic playbook. And again, used to threaten one of their own for failing to drop everything and go hunt those damn witches.


Anyone voting for Trump is part of a cult, just like every high school kid who bought an Iron Maiden album was part of a not-so-hidden cult. Using "cult" is making an appeal to orthodoxy and orthopraxis. Trump's voters aren't just any old ordinary group of political participants, who right-thinking people may or may not agree with -- they're qualitatively deviant, and they probably even enjoy deviating from what the orthodoxy allows.

I only wish he'd thrown in a reference to "brainwashing" or "deprogramming," but then we haven't seen real cults for awhile, so the references may not spring immediately to mind.


You knew they were going to say it at some point -- WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN. What if little Aiden and Arabella stayed up late and caught this TV segment where the funny man is treating the devil man like a normal person? Their impressionable little minds will now think it's mundane for a leader to pledge to "build a wall" against foreigners, instead of trembling in fear from such racist and xenophobic spell-casting.

Jimmy Fallon is corrupting the youth of America by yukking it up with Donald Trump!

I think we're seeing peak shitlib now. I searched Twitter to see if "Romney" and "normalizing" came up in 2012, and there was only one or two remarks the whole year about him trying to normalize racism. No freak-out that the media was normalizing evil by treating him like they do other politicians.

Romney, McCain, etc., were all just a bunch of cuckservative stooges who posed no real threat, so the media and its leftist consumers treated them with derision, mockery, smugness, etc. The way that schoolchildren all laugh at the clutz who bumps hard into the table and hurts his knee yet again. Ditto their treatment of Romney / McCain voters.

After it became clear that Trump would win the primaries, the leftists began waking up to the reality that their reign is coming to an end. Trump and his supporters represent an existential threat to corporate globalism, and slowly but surely those phenomenal polls are starting to clue them in to their imminent doom.

That's why this time is not their typical "mock the Republicans" campaign. It's a bona fide witch hunt in which no crusader can sit idly by, not for a single minute. You ever notice how the anti-Trump people have all aged 10 years within the past 10 months? I'd look like total shit, too, if I were getting no sleep and my adrenal glands were maxed out.

Not only is the enemy killing themselves individually, they are turning on each other for showing insufficient zeal in hunting those deplorable demon voters. First Matt Lauer, now Jimmy Fallon. If media figures want any acceptance with normal Americans, they will blow off the witch hunters. They don't even have to make a principled stand against it -- just act normally like Lauer and Fallon did, and that's enough to demoralize the witch hunters.

All that's left to do is a carpool karaoke with Donald Trump singing a harmless dad-rock song like "Tiny Dancer".

Bullyciding the leftists is best done by showing a happy-go-lucky side at least some of the time, all the better to shatter their fragile brains with thoughts about "normalized evil!"

September 15, 2016

The minimal role of infrequent voters, 1972 to 2012

An earlier post on the large role of crossover voters showed that they have swung several elections away from the winner of the race among partisans only. We're ready for another spike in crossover voting, as independents are tired of the Democrats and are ready to put the other party in power. Converting formerly reliable Democrat voters into Trump voters is part of a greater re-alignment.

I still don't see that leading to a landslide -- meaning 350 or 400 or more in the Electoral College. Some states will be stubbornly resisting re-alignment, and there isn't a large third party vote that will steal primarily from the Democrats, so we can rule out the states needed to carry a true landslide -- California, New York, Illinois, etc.

Others are convinced that a landslide is coming, on the basis of infrequent voters coming out of the woodwork, and in all sorts of states. I've already addressed the basic flaws of the "monster vote" model in this post. To reiterate: you can't project primary turnout into general turnout, using the same multiplier across the years. The likely outcome of the popular vote is a close or clear win for Trump, but not a landslide.

To alleviate some fears about what happens if no monster vote shows up, let's take a look back and see if such a massive turnout of infrequent voters was even necessary in other recent landslides.

The data are from the General Social Survey (going back to 1972), and unlike most data, allow us to study whether a person voted in two consecutive elections, and if so, who they voted for. This is a national probability sample, and the gold standard in social science research.

How rarely does someone have to vote in order to qualify as "coming out of the woodwork"? Well, they have to at least have skipped the previous election. If you want a more restrictive cut-off, their role will be even smaller than what is presented here.

First, how common were infrequent voters in the overall electorate? The graph below shows what percent of voters had not voted in the previous election:


There are three clear peaks in 1972, 1992, and 2008 -- which makes it seem like a cycle with roughly 4 to 5 elections in between peaks. If that is true, then we will not see another peak in 2016, only 2 elections after the most recent peak. But it will be higher than the low in 2012, somewhere between 10-15%, probably on the lower side. The peaks themselves have all maxed out at 15% of the electorate.

It's possible that the present will break the mold of the past -- say, 20-25% of all voters having sat out the last election. But we ought to have seen signs of that by now. There should be tens of millions of newly registered voters who can be predicted to vote Trump, but there are not.

What effect have they had on the outcome? The graph below shows the popular vote among frequent voters (in blue) and with both frequent and infrequent voters (in orange). Positive values show Democrat victory, negative values a Republican victory:


Notice that no election was switched from a clear win for one party among frequent voters to the other party winning once the infrequents showed up. The orange and blue boxes for each year lie on the same side of the axis. That's despite the three peaks where their influence ought to have been more visible.

In the 1972 peak, the infrequents actually stole about 5 points from Nixon's margin, and he still won in a landslide.

In the 2008 peak, the infrequents added to Obama's margin, but not by much and were not necessary to blow out McCain.

There is one year, however, where the infrequents broke a tie among frequent voters -- 1992, one of the peaks, where they gave Bill Clinton a narrow win in the two-party popular vote. In the post on crossover voters, we saw that the partisan voters in '92 gave a decisive win to Bush, but that the crossovers put it into a tie.

So Clinton winning in '92 relied on two bankshots -- not so surprising since he had to unseat an incumbent, and after decades of losses for Democrats (Carter's one-term win in '76 was one of the closest ever). Both of these feats might not be so miraculous, given that it was the turning point for the culture war era, and he was clearly on the liberal side that would govern for most of the period.

Worth noting: the infrequents in 1980 reduced Reagan's margin. This shows that the only first-term landslide under consideration did not rely on the monster vote, but as shown in the last post, on the massive crossover vote -- the Reagan Democrats, not the Reagan First Timers.

To summarize, the infrequent voters are generally a smaller share of the electorate than the crossover voters (except in some 2nd-term elections when crossovers are taking a breather), and their effect on the outcome has been far less important. Focus less on them to predict the outcome.

As for 2016, all signs point to Trump doing better in the crossover race than in the partisan race, and better among infrequents than among frequents. He's going to win based on winning over the "voters who didn't vote for your party last time".

There is one other group of unusual voters -- those who were too young to vote last time -- but they play no role at all, and are mostly like the infrequent voters. We'll take a quick look at them over the weekend just for the sake of completeness.

GSS variables: presYY (year), voteYY (year)

September 14, 2016

Insulting Americans vs. foreigners, in the globalist and liberal mindset

One of the kneejerk responses to Hillary's line about "basket of deplorables" was that Trump had insulted plenty of people, too, and not just politicians and elites but Mexicans who stream over the border, Syrian immigrants who could be the greatest Trojan Horse, etc.

I figured it was just them trying to shill for their awful candidate, but they have reacted that way the whole time -- long before Crooked Hillary turned against the voters.

In the globalist mind, for an American aspiring to political office to cast aspersions on foreigners is no different from insulting American citizens. Both are potential subjects for the would-be ruler -- the only thing is where they happen to be residing, but that is a distinction without a difference to the globalist.

They assume that the job of the American government is to guide, control, and police the entire world and all of its peoples. Pointing out all of the awful foreigners (drug runners, rapists, drunk drivers, murderers, etc.) who flood across our border is like singling out the citizens of a particular American state for being asshole drivers.

They can't conceive of an American government that is for the Americans, where the feelings of foreigners don't count in our elections.

While world domination drives the globalist elites, they couldn't connect with voters unless they too saw the rest of the world as "part of us". In an earlier post and comments, I detailed what drives the lack of an in-group / out-group distinction among liberals, which is a more childlike mindset.*

Until puberty when cliques and social belonging begin to strengthen in importance, self-centered children tend to distinguish only between "me" and "everybody else". If grown-up children are supposed to care about anybody else, then they must care about everybody else.

Hence the perception of foreigners and American citizens as having equal importance in American elections, and how problematic it would be for an aspiring American politician to appeal to the citizens while ignoring or pushing away the foreigners.

Let this be a lesson about how difficult it will be to find like-minded populists on the liberal side. Democrats who are cultural conservatives or moderates will not be hard to connect with on populist matters, but the cultural liberals who style themselves as populists believe in globalism -- only with the qualifier "from below".

But since populism and nation-first are inter-dependent, the globalists from below are destined to fail. Specifically, they will push for unchecked immigration, legal or illegal, which lowers incomes and raises the cost-of-living for native citizens (greater supply of labor, greater demand for housing).

At the same time, I think we've been overestimating the share of dyed-in-the-wool liberals among Democrat voters, especially in Rust Belt states where moderate and conservative Congressmen and Governors are electable, and where folks are more pro-guns and pro-life than on the East Coast. That leaves plenty of Trump Democrats to work with, without even having to compromise on the major issues.

With the re-alignment already under way, for the next several decades it is going to be the hardcore liberals rather than the conservatives who are the elitist, out-of-touch, post-factual, denialist Party of Stupid, whose only goal will be to impotently whine about the opposition. The Republicans had the cuckservatives, now the Democrats will have the limperals.

* That also explains their aversion to hierarchy, and their dismissal of purity and disgust as moral norms. Kids hate being told what to do by authority figures, and they put all kinds of weird shit in their mouths, often on purpose to get a reaction out of the grown-ups.

Rust Belt to the rescue

Now that the USC daily poll is showing Trump pulling away from Crooked Hillary big-league (up 5 points), let's take a look at where in the country that might be coming from. At the Reuters daily poll, it looks like it's in the Great Lakes region.


He's been surging for the past month, from 25 to 45, while Hillary has been falling and stagnating, unable to rise above 40. (And since Reuters surgically altered its methodology to give Clinton a 5-point bump, the reality is even worse for her now.)

This region includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Obviously Chicago and Minnesota are weighing down the regional average, and only Indiana would have been a sure thing no matter who the Republican was. That means Ohio is looking all sewn up, Michigan is on board (as suggested by the Emerson poll), and Wisconsin may be coming around too (a Marquette poll from a couple weeks ago had Clinton up by just 3, which may have been lost by now).

The surge is not due to a consolidation of the stubborn cuckservative crowd -- who are not a large factor in the general election here anyway. It is mostly a re-aligning of party affiliation. Remember that it's crossover voters who transform the electoral map.

During her decline, Hillary now stands to get only 60-70% of Obama voters in the Great Lakes, while Trump will take about 20%, the rest going third-party or staying home. Trump has 80% of Romney voters, while less than 5% are jumping ship for Clinton. Obama voters were more numerous in all these states except Indiana, so Trump's greater percentage steal comes from a far larger base as well.

Further examination shows the surge in the region coming from those with less than a college degree.

After getting sold out by the first Clinton with NAFTA, and seeing no improvements under Obama, these folks are ready to take a chance on Trump, whose central populist plan is to re-industrialize our formerly great but currently pre-modern economy.

It was the Industrial Revolution that narrowed the inequality gap between rich and poor, while the de-industrialization of the past 40 years has sent it widening. When we start making things here in America again on a grand scale, these blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt are going to enjoy more of the egalitarianism that the Great Lakes region values so highly.

September 12, 2016

Crossover voters transform elections: Their turnout and impact, 1972 to 2012

An earlier post discussed the false assumptions of the "monster vote" model, which expects tens of millions of Republican voters who haven't voted in a long time or ever. That put into question whether or not 2016 can be a landslide election.

But are infrequent voters the only source of a landslide? I decided to look into the composition of the electorate going back as far as the data allows, 1972, to see who the crucial groups were in the landslide elections. The data come from the national probability sample in the General Social Survey, which allows us to study the voting behavior of the same person across two elections.

Infrequent voters have not mattered except in close elections, and often their effect goes against the landslide winner. But we'll get to those infrequent voters in another post.

The group that has the largest effect of up-ending the status quo is not an underground army of infrequent voters who swoop in like a deus ex machina, but frequent voters who decide to change sides from who they voted for last time. Although we do live in polarized partisan times, it's a mistake to dismiss the effect of those who do not simply vote for the same party every single time.

The graph below shows what percent of the electorate were crossover voters. First they have to have voted in the previous election, and then they have to have voted for a different party in the current election. Only Democrats and Republicans are counted.


There is a clear decline over time in the willingness to switch your party -- a sign of the well-attested rise in partisanship since the 1980s. About 20% of all voters in 1980 were crossovers, and it's become hard to break 15% since then.

Still, there is a clear cycle around that trend, roughly showing when the voters wanted to dump the incumbent and change the guard. Usually when there's a new party, the voters give it a chance and don't cross over so much when it's up for re-election. When the party has had two terms, then they'll cross over again and change which party is in office.

Ousting a one-term party shows up in the consecutive rise in crossovers from 1976 to 1980. First they wanted to be done with the Nixon administration, crossing over to elect Carter. But then he turned out to be a terrible replacement, so they crossed over even more in 1980 to elect Reagan.

Conversely, voters were fine with the Republicans staying in power during the '80s and crossed over less and less.

Although Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, the spike in crossover voters may show how he won back the Electoral College, through converting many voters who voted for Clinton in the South and Appalachia.

The cycle sure looks like it's about to swing back up again in 2016, as the non-partisans seem to have had enough of the Obama years, especially when they would have to choose Crooked Hillary as their third-term Democrat President. If this year is operating under the same constraints as there have been since the polarizing '80s, the crossover vote will be between 10-15% of the electorate, probably on the higher side. Without the non-partisan climate that prevailed before the '80s, we probably won't see 20% or higher.

How great of an effect have the crossovers had? In other words, how would the election have turned out if you were only allowed to vote for the same party as last time -- and if you wanted to cross over, you stayed home?

That scenario, where only partisans vote, is shown by the blue boxes in the graph below (positive values show a win for the Democrat, negative values a win for the Republican). By allowing people to cross over, as well as stick with the same party, the outcome is shown in orange. These are the outcomes among frequent voters only, but the infrequent voters have not decided any election other than 1992.


Of the 11 elections, 3 have been transformed from one party winning to the other -- shown by the blue and the orange results lying on opposite sides of the axis -- one was reduced from a solid win to a tie, and another tipped from a tie to a solid win.

In 1976, voters who went Nixon-Ford were a lot more common than those who went McGovern-Carter, not only because there weren't many McGovern voters to begin with, but because it was a more natural fit to vote for Nixon and his VP, whereas McGovern was a leftist and Carter a deregulating born-again Southerner. However, his non-leftist stance allowed Carter to draw a large number of former Nixon voters. Given the high rate of crossovers (from the first graph), it was enough to change the outcome from a win for Ford among partisans, to a narrow win for Carter overall.

In 1980, the partisan race was won by Carter because it was more natural to vote Carter twice than to vote Ford and then Reagan, who were from very different wings of the Republican Party (liberal/moderate vs. conservative), and who had faced off in the primaries of the previous election. However, the widespread disappointment with the Democrat -- "Anybody But Carter" -- led to a surge in crossover voting (first graph). That was enough to change the overall election toward Reagan's victory.

These are the famous Reagan Democrats, and that is what won him the election, and in a landslide -- not voters who had not shown up in earlier elections.

In 2000, partisan Democrats outnumbered partisan Republicans because there was positive momentum for the Democrats (who did win the popular vote a third time in a row), and because Gore was Clinton's VP -- a natural progression to follow. But Bush drew a large number of former Clinton voters, primarily in states with counties in Appalachia and in the lower Mississippi region. Perhaps they felt like eight years in the White House had turned Gore into an elitist Eastern liberal (despite hailing from Tennessee), while Bush had a more folksy Southern-ish appeal.

Only by reclaiming these Clinton voters from the Greater South did Bush manage to turn around the Electoral College.

In 1992, a similar dynamic played out as in '76. Among partisans, it was natural to go Bush-Bush than it was to switch from a typical Northeastern liberal like Dukakis to a Southern pro-business moderate like Clinton. Not to mention there were many more Bush '88 voters than Dukakis '88 voters. This gave Bush a decisive win among the partisans. However, like Carter, Clinton appealed to Republicans who were Southern, socially and culturally moderate or conservative, and who wanted a more pro-business than tax-and-spend economic approach.

This enormous crossover appeal allowed him to declare a draw among frequent voters. The infrequent voters would then decide it narrowly in his favor in the popular vote. The regional nature of his crossover appeal made it so that he won more handily in the EC by picking off states in the Greater South.

In 2008, the dynamic was the opposite, with the partisan race more or less tied. Going Bush-McCain was natural as both were neo-cons, Kerry-Obama was too since both were Anybody But Neo-cons, and the size of Bush and Kerry voters were similar the last time. What made this election such a blowout was the crossover from Bush '04 to Obama '08. If you voted in both elections and chose Bush in '04, you had a 25% chance of defecting to Obama, and among Obama voters, Bush '04 voters made up 25% of his coalition (these don't have to be the same number).

Why didn't the Bush voters who defected to Obama choose Kerry in the first place? They might not have thought the Iraq War, the housing bubble, and so on, had been going so badly by '04. But with another four years of neo-con disaster, they could no longer in good conscience vote for McCain and went with Obama by default.

They are the weakest element of his coalition, and will mostly be voting Trump this time -- they wanted a Republican who was against neo-conservatism and Wall Street bailouts, and settled for Obama. And they are a very large chunk of the Obama coalition, at 25%, meaning their return to the Republican Party will be a profound disruption to the so-called "blue wall" of safe Democrat states, even if "only" a majority and not all of them migrate back to red.

The countervailing movement will be the tiny handful of hardcore neo-cons who will defect to Clinton, who never met a war she didn't like, and the somewhat larger number of Joe Scarborough yuppies who feel like supporting a populist would kill their attempts to climb higher up the status pyramid.

But it is clear from polls that the crossover votes heavily favor Trump -- around 15% of Obama voters support Trump, compared to 7% of Romney voters supporting Clinton. And Obama voters outnumber Romney voters, meaning Trump's larger percentage is drawn from a larger population too.

This election will not be decided by an outpouring of folks who rarely vote, but by those who have voted recently and are tired of where the Obama administration has taken things -- particularly those back East, outside of the Sun Belt where all the trendy people have been moving to. In the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, and New England, masses of left-behind voters are up for a change of pace, even a radical one. Things have been going the wrong way for so long, that's what it's going to take.

GSS variables: presYY (year), voteYY (year)

September 11, 2016

Middle America tired of elitist moral panic over racist/sexist folk devils

The more that Team Hillary and her media operatives try to fear-monger over the alt-right contingent of Trump supporters (the "basket of deplorables"), the more they look like the Moral Majority crusaders of the 1980s, with quite a different target obviously, but generally the same in tone and purpose.

Then the targets were non-traditional family structures, promiscuity and teen pregnancy, drug use, and heavy metal music -- all ultimately sharing the same cause of Satanic influence, for which a vigorous Christian fundamentalism was the only antidote.

Today's crusaders are not religious, but are no less paranoid and zealous in their witch hunts. The deviant behaviors are everywhere: voting for a closed border and deportation of illegals, flying the American flag non-ironically, living in ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods, and sending your daughters to schools with no Muslim rape-fugee population. Underneath such pervasive social ills, the dark occult forces of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, etc. are working their evil magic -- and only multicultural globalism can reverse their spell over the hoi polloi.

Both phenomena are cases of moral panic, although sociologists would get fired if they studied the moral panics of the left. It's a shame that they don't do the sociologist thing and emphasize the class dimension of moral panics, since the culture war is fundamentally a battle between rival factions within the elite, over control of the masses. The only question is whether elitist conservatives or elitist liberals will wield that control. Their material needs are beyond being met, so they have plenty of time and energy to devote to airy-fairy concerns like whose ideology ought to prevail in government.

However, these panics rise and fall in cycles, and we're clearly near the end of the witch hunt against any normal decent person who wants to live in a cohesive and prosperous society, which cannot sustain itself under the constant influx of immigrants, who mix up our sense of shared norms and customs, and who form the reserve army of the unemployed that lowers American incomes. The victory of Trump in the Republican primaries, and soon in the general election, is the most visible sign of the turning of the moral panic wheel.

But you can feel it everywhere -- ordinary people, especially among the rebellious youth, are sick and tired of elite busybodies wagging their finger and scolding them for committing some supposedly sinful behavior that seems rather natural and common-sense. The Hillary Clintons of today, sermonizing about the alt-right, could not look and sound more like the Tipper Gores of the 1980s, who convened Congressional hearings on the corrupting influence of pop music (under the Parents Music Resource Center).

It doesn't matter that the Moral Majority is now secular rather than religious -- normal people are tired of their sanctimonious hectoring, and have begun to simply tune them out as yet another annoying political lobby, not the moral arbiters that they style themselves to be.

It's ironic that Hillary Clinton should be the one to finally run the "everybody's a racist" witch hunt into the ground, given her husband's role in putting the last nail in the coffin of the previous cycle. Back in 1992, the Cultural Right had just about run its course as a mainstream movement, and in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton hammered away at both its hypocrisy and its divisiveness -- sadly not without a grain of truth by 1992.

Here is the video, and here is the transcript. At 2h 41m, he says:

Frankly, I am fed up with politicians in Washington lecturing the rest of us about family values. Our families have values. But our government doesn't.

I want an America where family values live in our actions, not just in our speeches. An America that includes every family. Every traditional family and every extended family. Every two parent family. Every single-parent family. And every foster family. Every family.

Frankly, we are fed up with politicians lecturing the rest of us about cultural values. Our American culture has value.

Every traditional America and every free-spirited America. Every rural America. Every suburban America. And every urban transplant America. Every America.

Then at 3h 11m:

Tonight every one of you knows deep in your heart that we are too divided. It is time to heal America.

And so we must say to every American: Look beyond the stereotypes that blind us. We need each other - all of us - we need each other. We don't have a person to waste, and yet for too long politicians have told the most of us that are doing all right that what's really wrong with America is the rest of us- them.

Them, the minorities. Them, the liberals. Them, the poor. Them, the homeless. Them, the people with disabilities. Them, the gays.

We've gotten to where we've nearly them'ed ourselves to death. Them, and them, and them.

But this is America. There is no them. There is only us.

Them, the white guys. Them, the conservatives. Them, the coal people. Them, the hometown loyals. Them, the downsized. Them, the flag-wavers.

It's disturbing how full-circle we've come in them'ing ourselves to death, and with Clinton's wife now acting as Them'er-in-Chief.

With the "everybody's a racist" witch hunt now effectively dead, we can celebrate for a little while -- but we ought to guard against spawning yet another cycle of leftist moral panic. I actually think keeping our targets as foreigners will keep things common-sense and survival-based. A moral panic only arises when it seems like one element of the society is turning on another. That's unusual and calls for an unusual explanation (witchcraft), whereas preserving the in-group against the out-group is basic human nature and requires no bizarre hidden forces to account for it.

From the Progressive era, which focused on ending immigration, through the New Deal era, which focused on curbing Communist subversion, there were no major sustained counter-movements to open the floodgates of immigration again, or to allow Communists to come and go as they please in positions of power. The only time it triggered a bit of resistance was when the anti-Communists targeted their fellow Americans more so than foreigners.

Within 10 to 20 years, nobody will be weeping crocodile tears over illegal immigrants who were sent back home under the Trump administration. The only measure that would overstep the bounds would be deporting blacks to Africa, or the Ellis Island descendants back to Europe. As long as we preserve Americans, and keep the focus external, we won't get too carried away and cause a backlash.

September 10, 2016

Basket of deplorables, New York values -- which is it?

Crooked Hillary is taking another page out of Lyin' Ted's winning playbook and doubling down on culture war smearing, calling half of Trump supporters a "basket of deplorables," like she's already planning out the concentration camps for anyone who doesn't vote for her -- and everyone who disagrees with her, including Bernie Sanders, is a sexist, racist, xenophobe, Islamophobe, bla bla bla.

Lyin' Ted's line about Trump representing liberal "New York values" didn't even get off the ground, and that was during the primaries when such a charge ought to have greater effect. It would be more of a shock to find a liberal in the Republican primaries, and the charge amounts to treason.

In the general, a Democrat accusing a Republican of sexism etc. is not a shock, and the charge does not amount to treason. Just "my side is better than your side".

If smears about identity politics didn't work when they're most powerful, why would they work when they're tuned out as the typical noise?

The Millennial homosexuals who run Hillary's campaign are so insulated in their media bubble that they can't even understand what has unfolded in front of everybody's eyes this election season -- the death of the culture wars.

Worse than that, they don't appreciate that since Trump was attacked all throughout the primaries as NOT A TRUE CONSERVATIVE, the general public is not buying the smear that he's Mitt Romney 2.0 or McCain on steroids.

Campaign consultants are lucky that they get paid for effort rather than results. And lucky for us, for that matter.

September 8, 2016

With "What is Aleppo?" gaffe, Johnson loses the smarter-than-thou protest vote (AKA all of his voters)

When questioned about his thoughts on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Libertarian candidate simply responded "What is Aleppo?" with a blank stare on his face.

Within hours, all of the chattering classes slammed him for not knowing one of the factoids that the self-styled smartypants set is supposed to know. He can't possibly be a member of our cool club if he flunks such a basic test.

And with that intense and widespread ostracism, Gary Johnson is functionally no longer a candidate in this election.

His whole appeal to voters was to give them a way to vote -- don't want to be one of those low-info proles who sits the election out -- while still broadcasting their moral and intellectual superiority over the voters of both major parties.

Now that their candidate has the reputation of being publicly dumber than Dan "Potatoe" Quayle, they can no longer use him as their vehicle for signaling how much smarter and knowledgeable they are than the sheeple voting for Trump or Clinton.

His main block of support was younger voters, those who are most certain to have witnessed the tarring and feathering over social media. If they voice anything other than snark for their erstwhile candidate, their own social media accounts will get lit up with snarky comments questioning their own knowledge base. Nothing could be worse for the South Park intellectuals.

And it's even worse than that: having been revealed as just another goofy know-nothing stoner, Johnson has acquired the lowbrow-freakshow persona that his supporters had associated with "carnival barker" Trump, who has never felt more Presidential. Now it is they who would be voting for the Idiocracy candidate.

Of course, they weren't actually going to vote for him. In 2012, he got one-fifth of his poll numbers from just before the election -- polled at 5%, got just under 1%. He has not been running a campaign this time either, and is merely hoping for unearned protest votes.

Still, polling at around 10% in close races would have gotten him 2%, which we cannot afford in so crucial of an election, with a real difference for a change on the major issues between the two parties. My impression is that he was mostly drawing Bernie bros and moderate Republicans, which means when they go back to the major parties (or stay home), it will benefit Trump more than Clinton.

Don't be afraid to maintain the ostracism of this guy for "not knowing basic facts," which this crowd competes for status over. We can't have any holier-than-thou protest votes getting in the way of long-overdue change.

Where does the electoral pendulum swing? Ask the voters who stayed home last time

The greatest obstacle that Hillary Clinton faces is winning a third consecutive term for the same party. In the last post we saw that everyone who pulled that off was an incumbent in the outgoing administration, and a high-ranking member like President, VP, etc. Hillary is a non-incumbent, which hinders her serving as a bridge of continuity, and she was Secretary of State, a role that has not been a launching pad toward the Presidency since the early 1800s, when it was of greater prestige than the VP.

Now we're going to look more at the idea of momentum that carries the same party from winning one election to the next. The basic idea is that the party has become more popular from the first to the second, an upward trend that could deliver victory in the third election.

The common way to measure this is by looking at the share of the popular vote -- if the party got 51% the first time and rose to 57% the second time, they seem to be on a roll. If they won the first time with 57% and fell to 51% in their second win, that suggests their popularity is evaporating and will not last to secure a third win.

But it turns out this is not entirely accurate. I'll be looking only at the elections back to 1972, because the data-set that the new model is based on only goes back that far. We'll just look at who won the popular vote, since that usually means they won the election. When we say "won," we mean the popular vote.

There have been 6 elections back through 1972 that were the second term of the same party, which allows us to see if they went on to win a third time. How good of a prediction is "gaining share of popular vote"?

In 1972, the Nixon landslide was a major improvement over his narrow win in '68. That suggests soaring popularity for Republicans, which ought to have led them to victory again in '76 -- but the Democrats won instead.

In 1984, the Reagan landslide was up even higher than his earlier landslide in '80. This predicts a win for Republicans in '88, and that did in fact happen.

In 1988, Bush's popular vote was lower than Reagan's in '84, and about what it was in '80 (adjusting for the third party vote). His Electoral College win was smaller than either of Reagan's. That predicts a loss for the fourth election in '92 -- and they did indeed lose it to the Democrats.

In 1996, Clinton's re-election improved from his first win, suggesting a third win in '00 -- and Gore did indeed win the popular vote (though not the EC).

In 2000, Gore's popular vote was down from Clinton's in '96, and far lower in the EC, suggesting that the Democrats would lose the next time -- and in '04 it was Bush who won the popular vote.

In 2004, Bush improved on his showing in '00, predicting a third term in '08 -- yet the Republicans got blown out.

So, the measure works in 4 out of 6 cases, which isn't bad but isn't great either.

For what it's worth, Obama declined in the popular vote (and EC) from '08 to '12, predicting a loss for Democrats in '16.

I stumbled upon an even better measure by investigating the behavior and the effects of voters who are "new" to a party and therefore represent changing directions driven by those who are not partisan loyalists -- having crossed over from the other party, having sat the last election out, or having been too young to vote last time. I'll be writing much more on these topics, but for now let's look at how they predict what happens in the attempt at a third consecutive win for the party.

It turns out that we can predict the fate of that third attempt by looking at the second win, and ask how the "infrequent" voters leaned -- meaning those who could have voted in the last election, but did not, and are now getting off the sidelines to participate. Something motivated them beyond typical partisan loyalty, and that something could be a sign of which way the wind is blowing.

We're using the General Social Survey because it allows us to get the voting behavior of a person across two separate elections.

We'll start with the level of support that, say, the Democrats enjoyed among the "frequent" voters -- those who voted in the last election, and the current one as well. That captures where the zeitgeist already is, whereas the infrequent voters will tell us where it is headed. So we take the difference in support levels for the Democrats, comparing the infrequent against the frequent voters. Compared to the usual voters, how much more Democrat-leaning are the infrequent voters?

For example, in 1972 the frequent voters went 35% for the Democrat, while the infrequent voters went 52%, for a difference of 17 points favoring the Democrat among the infrequents. The graph below shows how Democrat-biased the infrequent voters were, compared to the frequents, where negative values mean they were Republican-biased compared to the frequents.


Let's look at those 6 elections again, and see how this measure of momentum performs. It makes the same correct predictions as the "increasing popular vote" measure does for '84 (R in '88), '88 (D in '92), '96 (D in '00), and '00 (R in '04).

But in the two that the crude measure missed -- '72 and '04 -- it correctly identifies flagging momentum. In '72, the share of the popular vote may have shot up for the Republican, but those who came off of the sidelines actually favored the Democrat (and in an election when he would get demolished). That predicted the failure of the third attempt in '76.

Later in '04, when Bush had improved his popular vote, the voters who had sat it out in '00 decided that they couldn't sit idly by this time, and joined in the effort to dump Bush. As in '72, they failed at their current task, but this counter-movement showed the way forward, and the Republican would lose big-time in the attempted third term in '08.

For what it's worth, this model shows a loss of momentum between Obama's first and second wins. Those who sat it out in '08, but showed up in '12, were more Republican-leaning than the frequent voters. That suggests discontent with the Democrat administration already by their second win, making a third win all but impossible.

This model does not perfectly predict whether a first win will lead to a second win. For example, the infrequent voters in '76 were Democrat-leaning compared to frequents, yet they lost massively in Carter's re-election bid in '80. The infrequents in Reagan's first win were also Democrat-leaning, yet he won re-election handily in '84.

Still, in 8 of the 10 elections, the behavior of infrequents does predict who wins the next time. But those bungled predictions from '76 and '80 are rather damning failures -- missing the Reagan landslides in '80 and '84.

Why do infrequents perfectly predict from a second to a third, or a third to a fourth, but not necessarily from a first to a second? I think these folks who tend to sit things out will let the first term of the party have a chance to do well. After having four years of results to judge them by, they'll come out and give a referendum.

Remember, this does not block the incumbent party right away -- they were biased toward McGovern in '72, Dukakis in '88, and Kerry in '04. Instead, it reveals a stalling momentum, that the people who generally pay little mind to politics are upset enough with the status quo that they're actually participating this time.

On the other hand, if these infrequents make a point of leaving the house this time around just to support the incumbent party, that means even the election-averse citizens are eager for more of the same, and the party has enough momentum to win another term the next time. The infrequents were biased toward Reagan in '84 and Clinton in '96, which heralded popular vote wins for the incumbent party in '88 and '00.

For predicting the 2016 outcome, both measures -- trend in popular vote and bias of infrequent voters -- agree that there is no momentum going from '08 to '12, putting a third win out of reach for the Democrats.

GSS variables: presYY (year), voteYY (year)

September 6, 2016

The electoral pendulum: What does history suggest about a third term for the Democrats?

Time for some big picture stuff that I've been researching over the past week or so. There will be more data-filled posts later -- with a new model of what drives the electoral pendulum -- but to break the ice on this topic, let's take a look at how hard it is for the same party to win three or more elections back-to-back.

That is one of the most under-reported aspects to this election, both in the media and among internet observers. The only coverage it's gotten has been due to Helmut Norpoth's "primary model," which predicts a Trump victory in 2016 on the basis of the difficulty for the incumbent party to win a third consecutive term, and Trump's stronger showing in his primary than Hillary in hers. Here is a summary of the model in the present context, to appear in a peer-reviewed journal.

The goal now is to see whether the current climate, and Hillary Clinton in particular, look similar to the other times when the same party won three or more elections in a row. Spoiler: it does not. There has to be increasing popularity for the party from the first to the second elections, to carry it into the third term. And the candidate for the third term has to be high-ranking (President, VP, etc.) and incumbent. None of these conditions is true for Clinton's run in 2016, with '08 and '12 as the background, and Hillary as a non-incumbent Secretary of State.

The last time that the incumbent party won a third term was 1988, after wins in '80 and '84. Reagan was not only popular, but gained in popularity from his first to second election. Bush was the sitting VP.

In 2000, the incumbent party won three popular votes in a row, although it failed to win the Electoral College, due to shenanigans in Florida that favored the opposition party. Still, the pattern looks like 1988 -- Gore was the sitting VP, and Clinton was fairly popular, and became more so from his first to second election. (Note: not necessarily his second full term, which became plagued by scandal, but between his wins in '92 and '96.)

During the New Deal era, FDR won third and fourth elections, but that is no longer a possibility. Who knows whether the Democrats would have won those elections if the candidate had to be some one other than FDR. They could well have, but we can't study what conditions favored those third and fourth wins -- did the successor to FDR have to come from within the administration, what role did they play, etc.? Truman did win on his own, and he was the sitting President who had been VP before FDR died in office.

Before the New Deal era, Hoover managed to win a third term for his party in 1928. He was the sitting Secretary of Commerce, for two terms, and was regarded as successful at his job. Hillary is not sitting, was Secretary of State for just one term, and is regarded as a failure at that job. And unlike the Democrats during Obama's rule, support for Republicans had grown from 1920 to 1924, suggesting that it was still popular in '28.

In 1904, Teddy Roosevelt won a third term for his party. The previous two terms showed growing support, from the 1896 to the 1900 elections. And like Truman, Roosevelt was the sitting President who had been the sitting VP when McKinley was assassinated.

One election later, in 1908, Taft won a fourth win for the Republicans. The momentum was on his side, since the 1904 election showed even greater support than 1896 and 1900. Like Hillary, Taft was a one-term Cabinet leader (Secretary of War), although he was the incumbent rather than the next-to-last holder.

Before the Progressive era, Grover Cleveland won the popular vote three times in a row from 1884 to '88 to '92, although he lost the Electoral College in '88. He got roughly the same support in '84 and '88, rather than sagging momentum. And in the '92 election, he was a recent former President.

During the Civil War and Reconstruction era, the Republican Party was dominant because the Democrats were so closely tied to the defeated South. In 1868, Grant won a third term for the Republicans, but largely because in the wake of the Civil War, there was no real competition from the Democrats. He was a military general who people saw as the real leader that ended the Civil War, not the incumbent President, who was actually from the opposition party.

Lincoln and his VP Johnson were from opposite parties, but ran together in 1864 to ease tensions during the Civil War. When Lincoln was assassinated, the Democrat Johnson took over, so in '68 perhaps the voters were already considering the election one of changing parties rather than continuing the run of Republican victories. Grant's third, and fourth, wins may not be such great examples of consecutive third and fourth wins, in the minds of voters.

After Grant's two terms, in 1876 Hayes won yet another election for the Republicans, but he lost the popular vote. Even the Electoral College win is among the most controversial, and it's still not clear he legitimately won that. This makes 1876 a non-example of continuing the incumbent party's run.

Before the Civil War, a third consecutive term was won for the Democrats in 1836 by Van Buren, who was the sitting VP. From 1828 to '32, the Democrats increased their Electoral success, and in the popular vote either stayed even or slightly increased -- Jackson got a slightly smaller share of the vote in '32, but it was a more divided field than the two-way race in '28.

At the beginning of the 19th century, America was a one-party nation at the Presidential level under the Democratic-Republican Party, with Electoral College wins from 1800 to 1820, and a victory in 1824 despite losing the popular vote and Electoral College. This was the Era of Good Feelings, totally unlike today's highly polarized partisan environment, where the same party is not going to just coast on because people don't want to have contentious party battles.

From 1800 to 1804, the Democratic-Republicans increased their showing in the popular vote, meaning the momentum was on their side for a third win in 1808, which they did get. The winner, Madison, was the incumbent two-term Secretary of State -- back when that role was more prestigious than the VP in planning a run for President. In 1812, the momentum was not on their side, since their share of the popular vote declined from '04 to '08. Sure enough, it declined in '12, but it had been so sky-high that even with this decline, it was still just over 50% in '12. The winner was Madison, the incumbent President.

At the same time, 1812 was more of a primary election since both candidates were from the same party, albeit one from a dissident wing. Either way, the party won. This lack of competition would propel the party forward in 1816, whose winner was Monroe, the incumbent Secretary of State. He won with more of the popular vote than the mainstream candidate did four years earlier, in the "general as primary battle," which suggested positive momentum for the next one in 1820. Sure enough, the party won yet again under the incumbent President, who ran unopposed.

The final case of consecutive wins is 1824, although it was really more of a bitter primary battle again, with four candidates running from different wings of the same party. The favored Establishment choice, John Quincy Adams, actually lost the popular vote and the Electoral College. However, the candidate with the plurality of both the popular and EC vote did not get a majority in the EC, and it went to the House of Representatives, who chose the Establishment favorite over the challenger Andrew Jackson, in the infamous "corrupt bargain". Adams was the incumbent Secretary of State.

Do any of these examples match the background conditions in 2016, and the candidate of Hillary Clinton in particular? No.

Already by his second election, Obama and the Democrats were less popular than in the 2008 election, whose purpose was to purge the country of the Bushies and neo-cons for good. Four years after 2012, they are even less popular.

And Hillary Clinton is not the incumbent anything -- she hasn't been in the administration since the previous term. She was also the Secretary of State, not VP -- and in a climate far removed from the founding of the nation, when it was Secretaries of State rather than Vice-Presidents who were considered as the next-in-line for President.

Being an out-of-office Cabinet member makes a real difference to most people about how well and how naturally she could continue the incumbent party's presidency -- if that were truly desired, and judging from the flagging momentum, it is not.

Had Joe Biden run in the primaries, he would have been a more attractive choice for the voters and the states that Crooked Hillary won as the Establishment candidate, and would have become the nominee instead of her. As the sitting VP, he would have been better poised for the difficult task of winning a third consecutive term, although the downward momentum from '08 to '12 would still be working against him.

It's fortunate for the Trump movement, then, that the Clinton machine must have threatened Biden in some way or another into not running in the primaries -- the same way they have clearly threatened Bernie Sanders into shutting the hell up and becoming a ventriloquist for the Wall Street warmonger.

Aside from being in a weaker position to win the third term, Crooked Hillary is much more hated on a personal level than Biden, and is a passive-aggressive woman, rather than the Irishman who would have given Trump more of a fight. Biden would also have been a better protector of blue-collar votes in Rust Belt states, whereas Her Royal Highness cannot conceal her contempt for ordinary Americans. And Biden is not obviously at death's door like Hillary is, despite being older than she is. Not even to mention her failures in office, and her epic levels of corruption, compared to Biden.

The fact that our opposition is Clinton rather than Biden is another major example of how elite hyper-competitiveness has made it easier for the outsider populist candidate to triumph. We saw that in the GOP primary, where the Establishment candidates refused to drop out and unite behind a single challenger to Trump, and where the voters themselves refused to pool their votes into a single non-Trump candidate.

As much as we may hate Hillary Clinton, we ought to be thankful for the deep divisions and internecine Establishment wars that have made her rather than Biden our main opponent.

August 29, 2016

Michigan poll rigged, Trump actually winning 47-38 (Emerson)

Emerson just released three battleground state polls for Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where Trump is tied, down 3 (within m.o.e.), and supposedly down 5. I more or less accept the OH and PA estimates, since Emerson had good showings in the primaries and are not a transparently media-driven BS outfit. Someone else can check out OH and PA, though, just to be sure.

But ever curious about Trump converting solid blue states, I looked at the Michigan data and noticed a whopper of a rigging attempt -- they made nearly half of their sample aged 75 and older! Michigan may not be the youngest state in the union, but half of the electorate there is not going to be in a nursing home.

Moreover, the cross-tabs show that this elderly group is demographically unlike Michigan overall in the most anti-Trump way -- they are far more Democrat, far less Republican / Independent, more female, less educated, far more black, and more likely to live in the Detroit area.

In other words, the only people who are bitterly against Trump in all of Michigan are elderly black church ladies and white tone-policing grannies from Detroit, so the pollster stuffed the sample with enough of them so that the overall result was Clinton up by 5.

Here are links to the review of all three states' results, and the full spreadsheet for Michigan, which are also available at their website.

Did they rig the OH and PA samples to be composed of nearly half elderly folks? No, because the true results are probably more favorable to Clinton in those states (more or less tied). In fact, both OH and PA have the same breakdown by age groups, and only 9% were aged 75+. The age composition for both OH and PA is:

18-34 -- 25%
35-54 -- 37%
55-74 -- 29%
75++ -- 09%

In Michigan, the age composition was impossibly older:

18-34 -- 16%
35-54 -- 21%
55-74 -- 18%
75++ -- 44%

Way, way, way off. They under-sampled young, middle, and old by 10 points or more, and replaced them with the elderly Trump-haters.

Here is Trump support by age group in MI:

18-34 -- 45
35-54 -- 52
55-74 -- 48
75++ -- 28

I took Trump's support among the various age groups in MI, and weighted them by the age composition of the accurate OH and PA samples. What was the result?

Surprise: Trump 47, Clinton 38, Johnson 8, Stein 3, Unsure 4.

Looks like the original home of the "Reagan Democrats" is stepping up to the plate to Make America Great Again.

Of course the true picture could be a closer race than Trump 47 to Clinton 38 -- I'm just weighting their age groups properly. But if they sabotaged the sample that badly, it may be a garbage sample overall and not worth studying, whether properly or improperly.

Still, the fact that they took such a great bald-faced risk to bias their results suggests that Trump truly is ahead by at least several points.

If you're on Twitter, ask Emerson Polling why they stacked the deck with 44% elderly in MI, vs. only 9% in OH and PA? These shills deserve to have their public reputation trashed, especially when they brag about how well they did in the primaries.

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.