Category Archives: Campaign Beat

what does brexit mean for the 2016 election

What Does Brexit Mean for the 2016 Election?

Perhaps the hottest take since Britons decided to leave the European Union has been the parallels between the so-called Brexit referendum and the 2016 election.  Does the shocking “Leave” victory mean that Donald Trump will win — or at least fare better than expected — in November?  Or are the two countries too different in character for trans-Atlantic comparisons to hold weight?  Through the internet’s noise, no melody has emerged — that said, I’ll happily lend my voice as the cacophony crescendos.

The Brexit vote should cause worry to those opposing Trump for two reasons: first, the xenophobic forces that partially propelled “Leave” voters are also prominent in American society today, and, second, disgruntled and displaced Labour members throughout industrial England rebelled against party leadership (and perhaps their economic interest) in voting for Brexit.  Their reasons for doing so — de-industrialization and decreasing manufacturing jobs — resonate with voters in the Ohio and Pennsylvania, two Rust Belt swing states.  These forces transcend borders and oceans and might very well sway independent or even Democratic voters into the Trump camp.

Xenophobia

Soft and hard xenophobia, which I characterize as dislike of foreigners due to potential economic displacement and general dislike (even hatred) of colored, “other” bodies, respectively, drove many Britons to endorse Brexit.   The migrant crisis from the Middle East and North Africa preceded these strong xenophobic forces, but not all detest for foreigners is rooted in racism.  Many feared that millions of new laborers willing to work for lower wages and fewer benefits would cost natives their jobs.  The voters, soft xenophobes, ignored basic capitalist teachings — one of the few ways to meaningfully expand an economy is through the introduction of new workers; this becomes especially important in a country with an aging populace — and looked for a way to curb the labor influx.  Brexit offered that.  We see those voters in America.  Donald Trump immediately gained national notoriety when he called for a wall to be built on the Mexican border, a policy that would accompany his kicking 11 million illegal immigrants out of the country.  Soft American xenophobes rallied behind those arguments because they (erroneously) believe that such actions would help them keep their jobs and reduce government spending on non-citizens (ignoring the fact that illegal immigrants are net contributors to public budgets).

Hard xenophobia also played an unfortunately powerful role in causing Brexit.  Many Britons simply did not want to see their predominately white country overrun by colored immigrants, especially those of different religion and starkly different cultures (ie, migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, those desperately fleeing failed states and ruinous economies).  No event better characterizes the disturbing beliefs of hard xenophobes than Labour MP Jo Cox’s tragic death at the hands of a man who shouted “Britain first!” as he shot her and who later told a court his name was “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”  These hard xenophobes wanted to leave the EU simply to keep Britain white.  Sadly, they have counterparts in the United States.  White supremacists have flocked to Trump, whose blatant nativism and embrace of Know-Nothing policies have endeared him to those who fear a heterogeneous country comprised of different skin colors, religions, and ethnicities.  Both soft and hard xenophobia can be used to pit racial factions against each other; slogans like “America Fist” can rally nationalistic sentiment that draws on emotion, not logic, to propel voting outcomes.  As the debate surrounding terrorism and the fallout from the Orlando attack continue, more Americans might be swayed by soft and hard xenophobia and nationalism, thus bettering Trump’s chances of reaching the Oval Office.

Economic Displacement

Many industrial regions and cities supported the Brexit effort because they despised the internationalist intentions of the European Union.  The free market relies on free labor mobility (which Brexit voters wish to curb), free capital mobility, and free trade.  It is the latter which breeds the most discontent.

Free trade benefits all, but oftentimes those benefits are hidden by the economic calamity free trade can bring to a few.  Outsourcing manufacturing or other jobs lowers prices for all and frees human capital and entrepreneurial spirit; it also costs millions their jobs.  Writ large, the nation benefits from cheaper goods, but to those who lose their source of economic livelihood, saving a couple hundred dollars does not solve losing tens of thousands in wages.  At fault is fiscal policy — the state needs to supplement income for individuals displaced by trade and offer vocational training to help those individuals find new, better paying jobs.  However, fiscal policy does not a rallying cry make.  People are not motivated by wonkish economic arguments.  They are motivated by attacking the overall system, even when doing so won’t solve their problems and might actually make their economic situation worse.

That’s what happened on June 23.  Displaced industrial workers who traditionally had aligned with the Labour Party ignored the will of elites and opted to bring down the entire system rather than work within it to create a stronger, more vibrant economic society.  (Part of this might have been drive by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s quarter-hearted support of “Remain”).  These voters went against party leaders, European and global elites, and the opinion of many economic experts.  That’s a phenomenon we say today in America.

Trump continuously touts his ability to bring back manufacturing jobs through a mixture of tariffs and magical deal making that would result in multinational companies suddenly bringing factories back en masse.  This, of course, has no economic truth: manufacturing is not coming back largely because of automation — the factories that have opened on American shores are capital, not labor, intensive.  Trump has tapped into anger against the free trade, globalist economic system that has brought us cars, iPhones, and laptops and is seeking to tear it down, consequences be damned.  Problematically, many displaced workers to whom Trump’s braggadocio and rhetoric might appeal are clustered in swing states, most notably Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Those Rust Belt states account for 38 electoral votes and have the ability to tip the election to either Hillary Clinton or Trump.  Though they voted Democrat in the last two elections (and Pennsylvania hasn’t voted Republican since 1988), Trump’s attacks on the economic system that has cost both states numerous manufacturing jobs might appeal enough independents and Democrats to tip the states in his favor.  While not enough to win him the election, it would make his path to victory much more feasible.

What does Brexit mean for the 2016 election?

Brexit means that transnational xenophobic and economic forces have the ability to thwart the desires of the global elite and intellectuals.  It means that voters are privy to rebellion against immigration and an economic system (free trade) with clustered and industry-specific losses.  It means that voters are lusting for change and are willing to vote against the status quo even when doing so requires a leap into the abyss of uncertainty.

What does Brexit mean for the 2016 election?  It means that the possibility of a Donald Trump victory should not be dismissed or underestimated.  Tapping into the same resentments that now teeter the world’s economy, Donald Trump could very well become president.

The 2016 Electoral Map

The Aggregated 2016 Electoral Map

 

One week to go!

Hillary Clinton has a strong electoral lead — 347 to 191 — and she is close in a few states where Donald Trump leads, such as Georgia and Missouri.  Consistent with polls and the election narrative, Clinton is en route to handing Trump a resounding electoral loss.

Here’s the predicted 2016 electoral map:


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

The below table shows current projections for battleground and other close states in the 2016 electoral map.

StateClintonTrumpJohnsonSteinClinton Chance of WinningTrump Chance of Winning
Arizona39.04%46.88%7.24%7.29%25.8%74.2%
Colorado46.62%40.04%9.48%3.56%92.1%7.9%
Florida49.11%46.06%4.63%1.48%70.0%30.0%
Georgia44.51%47.05%8.18%0.14%43.7%56.3%
Indiana40.48%47.15%11.72%0.78%10.20%89.80%
Iowa45.44%45.34%6.78%2.49%48.3%51.7%
Maine46.94%38.45%7.46%7.24%90.00%10.00%
Michigan49.64%39.56%7.36%3.51%91.90%8.10%
Minnesota47.75%39.91%5.82%6.52%81.40%18.60%
Missouri43.40%48.07%6.63%1.37%38.6%61.4%
North Carolina48.58%45.45%5.82%0.01%65.4%34.6%
New Hampshire48.16%41.25%8.49%2.88%93.0%7.0%
Nevada48.87%42.96%7.08%1.18%79.2%20.8%
Ohio46.88%44.99%6.40%1.82%69.1%30.9%
Pennsylvania50.15%42.96%5.16%1.78%87.8%12.2%
Virginia51.49%40.69%7.13%2.03%87.5%12.5%
Wisconsin49.86%41.61%5.86%2.60%66.3%33.7%


Structural Model Method

Independent of candidate characteristics, the Republican Party should fare well in 2016 due to Democratic Party fatigue (only once since 1952 has the same party held the White House for more than 8 years in a row).  However, Donald Trump’s historically low favorability ratings may very well cost him the presidency — including candidate favorability in the structural model hurts Trump to the tune of 60 electoral votes, enough to flip the election from a close Republican victory to a Clinton rout.

The structural model takes data from the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections to run a linear regression that determines the relationship between a handful of variables, including state demographics, and number of Democratic public officials, and the Democratic vote share.  It is developed by averaging two approaches: one which ignores candidate favorability and a second which includes in the regression the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s net favorability (the results from those models can be found here and here.  Clearly, Trump’s historically low favorability ratings could potentially cost him the election).

The structural model assesses the underlying electoral landscape separate from campaign actions.  By accounting for factors such as the state partisan voter index (developed by the Cook Political Report), the percent of House seats occupied by a Democrat, and region, we can understand how states are inclined to vote without campaign activities or candidate quirks.  Of course, considering Clinton and Trump have high unfavorable ratings, a pure structural analysis will likely miss the mark (hence averaging it with a structural model that includes favorability).  We have also developed a state battleground model to analyze poll results.

The structural model serves as a baseline.  We can expect these, or similar, results if the campaign ended today.  Between now and November 8, one variable will be adjusted: the difference between Clinton and Trump’s net favorabilities.  Numbers are from Gallup.

Overall, the model explains around 94 percent of the vote share variation during the four elections.

Predicting third party candidate vote shares is difficult because they fared poorly in previous elections, but polls indicate 2016 will be different.  Regression models won’t work.  Instead, using a Libertarian and Green Voter Index, vote shares for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein can be modeled.  The voter indices approximate each state’s inclination to vote for a Libertarian/Green Party candidate by taking state results from the past four elections and dividing them by the LP/GP national result.  This index can then be multiplied by Johnson and Stein’s national polling average to estimate their vote share in any given state.

An example should clarify the method (the following numbers are all made up): Say in Alabama the Libertarian candidate received 0.5% in 2000, 0.25% in 2004, 1% in 2008, and 2% in 2012.  Nationally, that candidate earned 1% in 2000, .50% in 2004, 1.5% in 2008, and 3% in 2012.  The index for each year is 0.5, 0.5, .67, and .67.  Averaging the four, Alabama would have a Libertarian Vote Index value of 0.59.  To estimate Gary Johnson’s 2016 vote share in Alabama, I multiple 0.59 by his national polling average (which I have weighted to account for pollster accuracy and date).

With a Libertarian and Green Party candidate included, Clinton and Trump vote shares need to be adjusted.  To determine how much to subtract from each, I find the difference in polling averages between the weighted Clinton vs. Trump average and the weighted Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein polling averages.  From there, I divide the difference between each candidate’s polling average by the total number of percentage points lost between Clinton and Trump.  Their initial vote share estimates are then subtracted from the difference quotient multiplied by expected Johnson and Stein vote shares.

These values will obviously change as Johnson and Stein’s poll numbers fluctuate and the difference between the two polling averages changes.  As such, this model will be updated weekly (assuming new polls are released during the week).

State Poll Method

This model is developed through a simple process: Take the cross-tabs of each state poll and look at response by race, gender, and party identification.  Those results are multiplied by inferred electoral composition of each group (determined by a linear extension of the trends displayed in 2004, 2008, and 2012).  Demographic breakdown (race, gender, and party ID) is averaged and then multiplied by pollster rating (numeric values assigned based on the 538 assessment of polling outlets) and 1 divided by the days until the election from the poll’s end (this means that recent polls are weighted more than older polls).  Results are then multiplied so the numbers are sensible (ie, so that when added together, the numbers are equal to the sum of poll values in the RealClearPolitics average).

Aggregate Model

This model aggregates and weights the structural and state poll maps.  Initially, the two are weighted equally, but as states are polled more and election day nears, the battleground states model is dynamically given a larger say in the aggregate.  The structural model without candidate favorability sheds weight faster than does the structural model that includes candidate favorability.

To determine win probabilities, each state’s expected vote tally is simulated 1,000,000 times, varying candidate strength among different races, gender, party, and expected third party vote.  Doing so allows the model to account for polling error — by varying strength among demographic subgroups, the model analyzes what might happen if Clinton or Trump fares, for instance, unexpectedly well with black voters (an outcome that could flip Georgia to Clinton or allow Trump to win Pennsylvania).

 

*Old Updates*

July 20 Update: Our model continues to favor Hillary Clinton though polls, national and state, are beginning to tighten.  The structural model, which accounts for candidate favorability, gives Clinton a large edge.  Clinton’s unfavorable ratings have risen whereas Trump, with the aid of the Republican National Convention, saw his favorable ratings rise a couple of points.  However, Clinton’s margins in state polls, while shrinking, when combined with the structural model yields a comfortable lead.  Neither candidate is consistently crossing 45% in state polls, a clear sign that voters are dissatisfied with their choices this November.

Is Indiana in play?  The model saw Clinton’s chances in Indiana skyrocket this past week.  Can she actually compete in the traditionally red state?  Most likely not, though Trump’s selection of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate and joint rally in that state, plus his commitment to spending money defending the state’s 11 electoral votes, indicates that the Trump campaign might not be comfortable in its slim lead there.  Indiana’s past proclivity to vote for a libertarian candidate leads to a high expected result for Gary Johnson in the state.  Our models show that when Johnson is included in national polls, Trump loses slightly more support than does Clinton.  Those two instances intimate a close race in Indiana, one which might not bear fruit in November.  State polls are needed.

How might the RNC affect the race?  It’s too soon for polls to reflect Trump gains from the RNC, though his net favorability, tracked by Gallup, has risen throughout the week.  Polls released over the weekend and the beginning of the next week will likely show a closer race, with the Democratic National Convention next week similarly giving Clinton a bump.  In the weeks after the conventions polls should stabilize and begin to reflect the true nature of the race.

June 29 update: In the last week, Donald Trump’s net favorability numbers rose by around 4 points while Hillary Clinton’s fell by the same amount.  That net differential helped Trump gain a couple of points in the structural model, narrowing Clinton’s lead in Florida, Ohio, and Iowa and allowing Trump to expand his margin in Indiana and Missouri to double digits.

North Carolina remains in Trump’s corner by a couple points.  Georgia and Arizona, two states Clinton supporters think might turn blue this cycle, both favor Trump by 9 points.  Here the state polls differ from the structural model: Our state poll model shows Trump three points in the Copper State, but the structural model gives him a larger edge.

July 6 update: The holiday weekend meant few polls released this past week.  National numbers continue to strongly favor Hillary Clinton and state polls largely back up that data (though more are needed).  This next week will be interesting as polls will capture the effects of Donald Trump’s latest Twitter snafu and the potential fallout from Clinton’s email investigation conclusion.  

North Carolina is currently anyone’s game, as evidenced by Clinton campaigning there with President Barack Obama and Trump holding a rally in the state that same night.  Other efforts to expand the electoral map, for both campaigns, are not yet looking good.  Arizona and Georgia, two states in which some Clinton folks believe she will be competitive, still strongly back Trump; Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, states Trump believes he can flip, are pro-Clinton at this time.  Ohio remains very close and Nevada, while still favoring Clinton, is showing a very tight race in state polls.

Gary Johnson is still forecasted to do well for a third-party candidate.  His national numbers are approaching double digits, though his state polling is rather low (or non-existent — a number of surveys fail to include his name).  Currently, third-party candidates actually hurt Clinton more than Trump, perhaps indicating that a few points of her support comes strictly from people voting against Trump (not for Clinton).   

July 13 update: North Carolina has flipped from slightly favoring Donald Trump to favoring Hillary Clinton by a percentage point.  The state’s 15 electoral votes put Clinton at 347 and Trump at 191.  Aside from Indiana, which has tightened this week as Trump (and Clinton’s) favorability dipped, this map is the same as the 2008 electoral map.  

In recent days, national and state polls have reflected a close race.  Contemporary Quinnipiac University polls show tight, if not tied, races in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.  Our models, which look at weighted and aggregated polls, still show Clinton with a slim lead in those states and a likely victory.  That said, if the polls continue to show a close race in said states, our model will quickly reflect the new reality.

Heading into Cleveland, Trump must try to further unite his party.  He currently receives between 70 and 90% of the Republican vote in most states whereas Clinton generally receives 80-95% of the Democratic vote.  Trump must boost his numbers among Republicans; he still has room to grow in that area.  Clinton has yet to reach her ceiling among independents, a number of whom likely supported Bernie Sanders in the primary and are still making their way to the Clinton camp.  Sanders’ recent endorsement of Clinton may hasten that process.

Some fallout from Clinton’s email scandal has been noted.  Her favorability numbers declined this week and polls post-James Comey’s decision not to recommend charges have shown her shedding a couple of points to Trump.  However, it doesn’t seem like Trump successfully capitalized on the announcement.  Time will tell whether he can keep salient Clinton’s email scandal.

The Republican Convention will likely boost Trump’s poll numbers a little bit.  That likely won’t be reflected next week, but rather during the week of the Democratic National Convention.  Trump unveiling his vice-president might also pad his numbers among Republicans.  As summer wears on, the excitement continues — check back next week for the updated model!

Election 2016: State Polls Model

Assessing State Polls

*June 29 Update*  Hillary Clinton has narrowly pulled ahead in North Carolina.  Her leads in other states have slightly expanded in the past week, largely following the trend in national polls.  The gender gap is currently favoring Clinton — though Donald Trump tends to do well with men, Clinton does even better with females.  Trump is still struggling to consolidate Republican support.  He’s polling in the high 70s to low 80s with Republicans throughout the states, bleeding some support to Gary Johnson (LP) and Clinton.  To win, he’ll need to earn their support.

The PoliticalEdu state polls model uses polling data to analyze individual states in the 2016 presidential race.  It accompanies the structural model and is combined with it in the aggregated 2016 electoral map model.

This model is developed through a simple process: Take the cross-tabs of each state poll and look at response by race, gender, and party identification.  Those results are multiplied by inferred electoral composition of each group (determined by a linear extension of the trends displayed in 2004, 2008, and 2012).  Demographic breakdown (race, gender, and party ID) is averaged and then multiplied by pollster rating (numeric values assigned based on the 538 assessment of polling outlets) and 1 divided by the days until the election from the poll’s end (this means that recent polls are weighted more than older polls).  Results are then multiplied so the numbers are sensible (ie, so that when added together, the numbers are equal to the sum of poll values in the RealClearPolitics average).

Naturally, this model only applies to states that have been polled.  Many have not, leading to a number of grey “undecided” states.  Those will hopefully be filled in as the election approaches and more states are polled.

The model’s results, shown below, are favorable to Hillary Clinton.  Thus far, she is faring well in state polls; however, it is still early and much can change between now and November.


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Poll-based states’ predicted results:

StateClintonTrumpJohnsonStein
Arkansas36.90%47.84%5.26%0.00%
Arizona41.11%44.95%3.47%0.00%
Florida45.40%41.20%3.47%0.97%
Georgia41.08%44.23%3.72%0.00%
Iowa45.81%41.66%0.00%0.00%
Michigan44.89%39.89%14.03%0.00%
North Carolina44.42%44.01%4.35%1.07%
New Hampshire46.57%40.40%0.00%0.00%
Ohio45.00%40.03%3.19%1.02%
Pennsylvania47.04%42.33%3.44%1.21%
Texas33.20%41.53%0.00%0.00%
Virginia42.28%39.63%3.82%0.00%
Wisconsin48.26%40.44%4.28%0.60%

(You’ll notice these numbers do not add up to 100% — the polls released have options for “don’t know/other” and “wouldn’t vote,” thus preventing the candidates from adding to 1.  The number of “don’t know” respondents should decrease as election day approaches.)

This post will be updated as more polls are released!

Structural Model Regression Output

Democratic Vote Share Structural Model
Dependent variable:
dem.vote.share
dem.nom.fav0.005***
(0.001)
dem.8-0.04***
(0.01)
atlantic.coast0.04***
(0.01)
new.england0.05***
(0.01)
west.coast0.02*
(0.01)
midwest0.03***
(0.01)
great.plains0.005
(0.01)
mountain.west0.01
(0.01)
state.gdp0.0000
(0.0000)
south0.002
(0.01)
dem.reps-0.01
(0.01)
rep.nom.fav-0.0003
(0.001)
net.rep.fav
net.dem.fav
mood
percent.minority0.10***
(0.02)
dem.senators0.004
(0.003)
st.pvi-0.01***
(0.0004)
Constant0.39***
(0.02)
Observations204
R20.95
Adjusted R20.94
Residual Std. Error0.03 (df = 188)
F Statistic222.02*** (df = 15; 188)
Note:*p<0.1; **p<0.05; ***p<0.01

Electoral Map 2016 — Structural Model

Electoral Map 2016: The Structural Model

PoliticalEdu is developing three electoral models for 2016.  The first, the structural model, takes data from the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections to run a linear regression that determines the relationship between a handful of variables, including state demographics, and number of Democratic public officials, and the Democratic vote share.  It is developed by averaging two approaches: one which ignores candidate favorability and a second which includes in the regression the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s net favorability (the results from those models can be found here and here.  Clearly, Trump’s historically low favorability ratings could potentially cost him the election).

The structural model assesses the underlying electoral landscape separate from campaign actions.  By accounting for factors such as the state partisan voter index (developed by the Cook Political Report), the percent of House seats occupied by a Democrat, and region, we can understand how states are inclined to vote without campaign activities or candidate quirks.  Of course, considering Clinton and Trump have high unfavorable ratings, a pure structural analysis will likely miss the mark (hence averaging it with a structural model that includes favorability).  We have also developed a state battleground model to analyze poll results.

The structural model serves as a baseline.  We can expect these, or similar, results if the campaign ended today.  Between now and November 8, one variable will be adjusted: the difference between Clinton and Trump’s net favorabilities.  Numbers are from Gallup.

Overall, the model explains around 94 percent of the vote share variation during the four elections.

Predicting third party candidate vote shares is difficult because they fared poorly in previous elections, but polls indicate 2016 will be different.  Regression models won’t work.  Instead, using a Libertarian and Green Voter Index, vote shares for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein can be modeled.  The voter indices approximate each state’s inclination to vote for a Libertarian/Green Party candidate by taking state results from the past four elections and dividing them by the LP/GP national result.  This index can then be multiplied by Johnson and Stein’s national polling average to estimate their vote share in any given state.

An example should clarify the method (the following numbers are all made up): Say in Alabama the Libertarian candidate received 0.5% in 2000, 0.25% in 2004, 1% in 2008, and 2% in 2012.  Nationally, that candidate earned 1% in 2000, .50% in 2004, 1.5% in 2008, and 3% in 2012.  The index for each year is 0.5, 0.5, .67, and .67.  Averaging the four, Alabama would have a Libertarian Vote Index value of 0.59.  To estimate Gary Johnson’s 2016 vote share in Alabama, I multiple 0.59 by his national polling average (which I have weighted to account for pollster accuracy and date).

With a Libertarian and Green Party candidate included, Clinton and Trump vote shares need to be adjusted.  To determine how much to subtract from each, I find the difference in polling averages between the weighted Clinton vs. Trump average and the weighted Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein polling averages.  From there, I divide the difference between each candidate’s polling average by the total number of percentage points lost between Clinton and Trump.  Their initial vote share estimates are then subtracted from the difference quotient multiplied by expected Johnson and Stein vote shares.

These values will obviously change as Johnson and Stein’s poll numbers fluctuate and the difference between the two polling averages changes.  As such, this model will be updated weekly (assuming new polls are released during the week).

Including Johnson, this is the electoral map 2016:

 

electoral map 2016

 

The map belies the closeness of many states.  Here is a table of states that could very easily change the election.

Clinton +5-7.5Clinton +2.5-4.9Clinton +0-2.4
ColoradoIowaFlorida
New HampshireOhio
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin
Trump +0-2.4Trump +2.5-4.9Trump +5-7.5
North CarolinaIndiana
Missouri

This post will be updated!

orlando strong

Congrats, Trump Voters, You’re Abetting Terrorism

trump terrorism
This is the type of idiotic shit that turns people against America in the first place. It’s moronic on so many levels.
 
Islam is not the problem. The problem is extremists who adopt a perverted doctrine for any number of reasons. But one of the reasons is stupid crap like the above tweets. What better way to alienate people than by claiming their religion is inherently one of violence, one that wants to see the rest of the world destroyed, one that is nothing but cancer? ISIS believes, and gets others to believe, that the West is at war with Islam. That’s not true. But then you get politicians like Trump wanting to ban from entry all Muslims. You get a former congressman (Joe Walsh, R-IL) saying there should be “no more Muslims in the US.” This may come as a shock to the people too stupid to understand politics and foreign relations, but trying to ban a religion or otherwise attacking it on strawman arguments entirely proves ISIS’s point that the West is at war with Islam. So you hold these beliefs, Trump legitimizes them and spreads the across the country, and ISIS uses them to recruit more vulnerable people to a sick ideology. And more terrorist attacks occur.
 
These are the same people who ignore or otherwise downplay acts of white, Christian terrorism. Why didn’t they propose banning Christians from entering the country during the Ku Klux Klan’s heyday in the 1920s? Why wasn’t there a conversation about banning, spying, or otherwise creating a Christian registry after the Sikh Temple shooting in 2012? After Dylann Roof decided to kill black churchgoers, I didn’t see Trump or his Cult of Stupidity rail against Christians and make ludicrous “policy” suggestions.
(Nor should they have — any such ideas are premised in fantasy and detract from the actual problem. Christianity was not to blame, but by Trump/Trumpkin logic, the religion was at fault and thus we should have at least considered banning them from entering the country.  That speaks volumes to the amount of racial animosity that courses through their veins.)
 
These people are nothing but moronic, ignorant, misinformed, clueless racists embracing un-American ideals in their lust to see a ruthless, demagogic sociopath become president, destroy the Constitution, undermine liberty and freedom for all but whites (or perhaps Aryan sympathizers) while destroying America’s standing in the world.
 
Congrats, Joe Walsh, Trump, and all other Trump voters: You’re abetting terrorism.
donald trump is stupid

Donald Trump Promotes Stupidity


Donald Trump’s rise poses many threats to America — he’s an illiberal democrat hell-bent on coming to power through a mixture of scapegoating and denouncing those who dare oppose his moronic worldview.  Both serve as dangerous precedents for American democracy; it is the latter, though, that can infect more than just a mischievous faction.

It takes but a short scroll through Trump’s outlandish Twitter feed to discover his contempt for opposition.  Oftentimes, his ire and love of elementary school insults are directed towards the free press — generally reporters who dare question his knowledge, point out his inconsistencies, and who simply share his quotes.  Luckily for Trump, he has a cult of dedicated followers who think that Trump, and Trump alone, speaks the truth.  His followers refuse to accept all the evidence that clearly says Donald Trump is stupid and dangerous for democracy; by steadfastly ignoring all critical coverage of Trump, these voters become stupid as well.

They believe that media outlets try to bring Trump down (a view they believe only because Trump has repeated it at essentially every one of his rallies).  The Cult of Trump operates in a bizarre and fallacious logical circle: Any Trump statement is true because Trump himself said it (begging the question).  This means that Trump voters are misinformed — dangerously so — and that stupidity permeates and defines a sect of voters devoted to the election of a man antithetical to American values and our Founding ideals.

A well-functioning liberal democracy relies on the Fourth Estate (the free press) to inform the electorate.  We need objective reporters to relay stories, vet information, and hold candidates accountable for previous actions and statements.  By and large, that is what the American press does.  Trump, however, has made it his mission to undermine a number of our country’s best news outlets — most notably, the New York Times and the Washington Post — because the two bother to do actual reporting.

Recently, the New York Times wrote a piece interviewing a number of women with whom Trump interacted in his pre-politician, playboy days.  They relayed quotes and stories in an objective manner.  The reader could come to any conclusion desired (and the natural conclusion is that Trump is a vile sex-hound with little regard for females).  One of the women interviewed took issue with the piece, claiming that it misrepresented her story.  But such accusations have little factual bearing: She could point out no incorrect or falsely attributed quotes and the New York Times shared her anecdote as she described it.  They did not editorialize or share their own conclusions.

That did not stop Trump from repeatedly attacking the Times on Twitter (his bully pulpit).  For days, he has hurled baseless accusations at the paper and the reporters involved with the story.  His cronies often appear on Fox News and, unchallenged, repeat the same attacks.  Fox, for its part, tweets quotes to its 9 million Twitter followers without bothering to accompany such tweets with facts or reality.  Does Fox know that Donald Trump is stupid?  Surely, but apparently for Fox, party allegiance comes before the well-being and intelligence of the nation.  Fox is complacent in myth spreading.

Trump voters, who believe every word out of Trump’s mouth, see such attacks and insults and surmise that the New York Times is “out to get” Trump and that they can therefore ignore every piece written by the Times.  In other words, operating with numerous logical fallacies (begging the question and a point of origin fallacy), Trump supporters dismiss, out of hand, the Times’ reporting.  They simply ignore facts, quotes, and stories from the outlet because the outlet bothers to actually look into Trump and his disgusting behavior.  These Trump voters become dangerously misinformed as they receive one-sided information that portrays Trump as a God among humans — we see that Donald Trump is stupid, they see that he is infallible, a man fit to be Emperor.

The New York Times is not alone.  Recently, Trump has derided the Washington Post as a tax haven for its owner, Jeff Bezos.  These accusations, of course, have no basis in reality, but that doesn’t stop Trump and it certainly does not stop his cult from ignoring all the Post has to offer.

In some ways, Trump’s dismissal of the Post as an honest news platform does more to perpetuate stupidity than do his attacks on the Times.  The Washington Post has a number of blogs dedicated to bringing academic research to the public.  Two of these blogs — The Monkey Cage and Wonkblog — offer incredible and incredibly important analyses of politics and policy.  The Monkey Cage is run by political scientists; Wonkblog, though operated by journalists, always seeks to incorporate academic findings.  Both blogs offer a wealth of information and plentiful analysis, the likes of which often find their way into collegiate syllabi.

But this fountain of knowledge is seen by only a few.  Trump’s attacks on the Post mean that blogs premised on analysis and research by the best professors in certain fields does not make its way into policy discourse.  Findings are neither vetted nor read by Trump supporters; rather, they are ignored, chastised, and laughed at.  Donald Trump is stupid for ignoring all the evidence that points to the insanity of his policy ideas.  His supporters are stupid for believing, as fact, everything Trump says and making it their mission to discredit all news sources that dare challenge that assumption.

It’s a shameful way to treat accessibility to knowledge.

Trump voters are misinformed precisely because they ignore analysis and anything that might challenge their preconceived notion of Trump as a mythical, higher being sent from the heavens to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain (I must have missed the point in time when we ceased to be a great nation).  These individuals rely on sources such as Drudge and Breitbart (in which Trump might have a financial stake) for information.

Ironically, it is these two sites that have a clear and unmistakable ideological inclination.  They are sources dedicated to ensuring Trump’s election.  An echo chamber is created wherein Trump supporters see and accept only the information that brings Trump to new heights.  All countervailing analysis — even that premised on Trump’s own words and actions — is rejected without thought or reason.

We know that Donald Trump is stupid.  But his supporters don’t.  And they never will.  It leaves voters dangerously misinformed and completely unable to vet policies.

Worst of all, it represents a major party’s candidate undermining the free press and attacking knowledge in order to maintain a Cult of Stupidity that will follow him on the dark, illiberal road to proto-fascism.




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Have ideas about how to show the entire nation that Donald Trump is stupid?  Share in the comments!




can trump win

Can Trump Win? Yes, Very Easily

Can Trump Win the Presidency?

Democrats are convinced that Donald J. Trump will not be elected president.  And they have good reason for that belief: Trump has managed to insult many crucial demographic groups, most notably Latinos and women.  But Democratic thinking mimics that of Republican elites nearly 10 months ago.  Remember when all GOP candidates and many elected officials stated that Trump would not become the nominee?  Such cocksure statements ultimately proved to be false.  Trump wantonly attacked 2008 Republican nominee John McCain because he was captured in war, compared Ben Carson to a child molester, ceaselessly harassed Lindsey Graham, brazenly dismissed the last Republican president (George W. Bush), insinuated that Ted Cruz’s father took part in John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and assailed 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.  Yet he won.

What makes Democrats so sure that Trump won’t win the general election?  Yes, he has a foot-in-mouth habit, flip-flops constantly, and puts forth absolutely no effort in learning public policy, but none of that has mattered.  No ideological attacks have changed his poll numbers.  No debate attacks over his conservative bona fides or outlandish policy ideas diminished his chances of winning the nomination.  In fact, through it all, Trump supporters — a true cult — fell deeper and deeper for their illiberal candidate.  Why would that change for the general election?  Better yet, why, given his many missteps and poor standing among Latinos and women, can Trump win?

All it takes is one event over the next 5.5 months and all those laughing when asked “can Trump win?” will spend election night pondering where they went wrong; all it takes for Trump to become president is one event.

That event is a domestic terrorist attack.

Prior to the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, Trump’s poll numbers had started to stagnate and even dip.  However, following the terrorist strikes and his Muslim ban proposal, his numbers rocketed.  The chart below shows his poll numbers from the beginning of November through the end of 2015 (he soared almost 10 points, or 40 percent, in that time frame).

trump poll numbers
Source: RealClearPolitics

For some reason, a man with no foreign policy experience — a man who touts being the Grand Marshall of a parade as pro-Israel credentials and has cited hosting beauty pageants in foreign countries as international experience — is viewed as tough on terrorism.  That’s true beyond just Republican voters.  A domestic terrorist attack could very well provide Trump with an irreversible boost in the polls, one which would flip the current electoral standing.

Here’s the scary part: ISIS has every reason to encourage a lone-wolf terror attack in the United States before the general election.  Trump is a boon to ISIS’s recruitment: ISIS thrives on an incorrect notion that the West is at war with Islam.  But Trump almost makes that idea correct.  His want to ban Muslims from the country and register Muslims citizens here (when asked about how that idea differed from Hitler’s Jew registry, Trump responded “you tell me”) lends weight to the (incorrect) idea that Western democrats and individuals despise Islam and want to see it eliminated.  Using Trump and his policy ideas in recruitment advertisements and videos will help ISIS find new members.

ISIS leaders are not dumb.  They understand politics and surely know that a Trump presidency would strengthen their standing.  And I have to imagine they realize that the best way of electing Trump would be to launch or encourage a domestic terror attack.

As seen in Brussels, terrorist strikes are frighteningly easy.  There are many vulnerable points in American mass-transit systems.  A strike in any of those spots would result in numerous casualties and surely would succeed in terrorizing the nation, pushing undecided voters into Trump’s camp given his (horrendously flawed) image as a tough man.

One terrorist attack and an illiberal politician whose policies could well push America on a road to proto-fascism may be swept into the Oval Office.

We need to defeat Trump early — Democrats need to destroy his candidacy before he destroys them (and the country).  That means super PACs need to front-load advertisements; the Clinton campaign needs to do the same.  Bernie Sanders, if he insists on staying in the race, needs to focus his ire on Trump, not Clinton.  Rank and file Democrats need to volunteer and donate to the party and its presumptive nominee early so the party can destroy Trump’s poll numbers and standing with voters.

Trump needs to be put down right away; otherwise, the uncertainty of the next 5.5 months might be a boon to his candidacy.

So, can Trump win?  Yes, and very easily.

campaign finance

Is Our Campaign Finance System Broken?

A Quick Glance at Campaign Finance

Bernie Sanders has made the campaign finance system a central point of his presidential candidacy.  Anybody who’s listened to the Senator speak has heard him rail against the “corrupt campaign finance system” that allows billionaires to “buy” or otherwise “rig” elections.

But are his accusations true?

A thorough study is very difficult due to few presidential elections in the post Citizens United era — this is just the second.  With little data available, a rigorous quantitative study cannot yet be done.  As such, I leave you with this chart that pulls super PAC data from OpenSecrets.  Flush with cash, these super PACs have often backed losing candidates (which isn’t surprising — all but one candidate ultimately loses).  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

CandidateSuper PAC Dollars RaisedIs He/She President?
Mitt Romney$153,741,731No
Scott Walker$24,127,173No
Bobby Jindal$4,472,589No
Lindsey Graham$4,182,034No
Rand Paul$9,909,755No
Carly Fiorina$14,131,949No
Chris Christie$20,276,835No
George Pataki$1,547,674No
Jeb Bush$118,864,488No
Marco Rubio$57,933,414No

bernie sanders wisconsin

Bernie’s Big Wisconsin Night

Our model gave Bernie Sanders a 58 percent change of winning the Wisconsin primary and estimated he would earn 53 percent of the vote, thus carrying 46 delegates.  The actual results? 57-43 in favor of Sanders, leading to his taking 48 delegates (to Hillary Clinton’s 38).  He clearly beat our expectations, though at the same time, a large victory in an 82 percent white state (with a small African American population) is not necessarily shocking.  Regardless, the victory is sure to lead to another influx of hard money into the Sanders campaign coffers and will serve as a springboard into New York and other Northeastern primaries.

That said, Bernie Sander’s performance in Wisconsin still leaves much to be desired: He’s still losing African-Americans by a lot (69-31).  The upcoming states have decent African American populations that can make or break Sanders’ attempts to close the delegate gap.  This problem isn’t new – a failure to connect with African Americans has plagued the Sanders campaign since its inception and is the prime cause for Clinton’s large delegate lead.  Her sweep of Southern states, many by shockingly large numbers, rendered Sanders’ victories in small caucus states and his close upset in Michigan meaningless.  And though Clinton could not best Sanders in Wisconsin, the demographics of the upcoming states and her continued strength with African Americans (though she’s not as strong with minorities as a whole, winning them in Wisconsin 57-43) should portend well for her.

Sanders supporters will naturally counter with two arguments.  The first would be that Sanders is narrowing his gap among African Americans.  Compared to the opening days of the campaign, that is indubitably true.  Sanders lost African Americans in South Carolina by a whopping 72 points, 86-14.  Compare that to Wisconsin and it’s easy to claim that significant inroads have been made.  However, we’re not seeing any current movement.  In Michigan, his most significant upset, Sanders lost African Americans 28-68; similarly, in Illinois a week later, he lost the minority 30-70.  Numbers have hardly changed since the middle of March despite Sanders’ win streak and supposed momentum.  As of yet, he’s simply not changing numbers.

The other argument Sanders supporters would advance revolves around momentum.  Sanders is on a large winning streak and that’s giving his campaign renewed hope and his supporters renewed faith in ultimate victory.  With this momentum has come millions of dollars – $44 million in March alone.  Can Sanders translate momentum into votes?  There lies the make-or-break question.  If Sanders can translate momentum – a seemingly overrated and overplayed buzzword – and his cash windfall into votes and support among minority communities, the upcoming states might become competitive and maybe, just maybe, he could close the delegate gap.

Is Wisconsin a turning point in the race?  Not in itself.  It’s a state Sanders needed to win and did; he achieved the necessary.  Only if Sanders can compete in New York will race be altered.

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