Category Archives: Campaign Beat

georgia's sixth district

Georgia’s Sixth Special Election Prediction

Ossoff the Slight Favorite in Georgia’s Sixth

My model projects that Jon Ossoff will receive 50.14% of the vote on Tuesday’s special election, which, when factoring the model’s margin of error, translates to a 51.00% chance of victory.

The model relies on a few variables — Donald Trump’s low approval rating, generic congressional polling the currently favors Democrats, Georgia sixth’s partisan voter index (PVI) as calculated by the Cook Political Report, and 2016 district presidential election results.

georgia 6 2016

This aligns with recent polling that has Ossoff a couple of points ahead of Republican challenger Karen Handel and with analyst consensus that Ossoff heads into the election as the favorite.

Ossoff has raised more than $23 million in his attempts to win the seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price who, in 2016, won the district by 23 percentage points and once held by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.georgia 6 education

Georgia’s sixth congressional district is the most-educated district to be represented by a Republican; it has transitioned from a Republican safe seat to the most obvious example of evolving political coalitions: As the educated become increasingly Democratic, suburban districts throughout the country now offer Democrats a narrow pass to the House majority.

georgia 6 race

An Ossoff victory in Georgia’s sixth would be a further example of a national shift towards Democrats that could lead to a strong midterm showing in 2018 unless President Donald Trump improves his presidential approval rating.  It might also scare Republicans from similar districts long unworried about reelection races (other vulnerable Republicans may be encouraged to retire if Ossoff wins).  At its extreme, an Ossoff win might push Republicans into taking a harder stance on Trump and the man scandals surrounding his presidency.

Of course, that the race is competitive and has become the most expensive House race in history points to new national battlegrounds and Trump-caused problems for Republicans.  A victory or narrow Ossoff loss doesn’t change that; a victory would, however, drive media coverage and hand Democrats a much-desired win for their resistance movement.

An Electoral College Proposal

An Electoral College Proposal

The Electoral College gives undue weight to small states – the method of apportioning Electors, senators plus House members, results in state Electoral vote shares unequal to their population percentage share.  For instance, California is 12% of the nation but only 10% of the Electoral College; the relationship is flipped for small states as their Electoral College vote share exceeds the percent of the country that lives within their boundaries.

Furthermore, and more importantly, the winner-take-all (WTA) Electoral Vote allocation leads to outcome quite far removed from popular vote realities.  Take 2000: A margin of a few hundred votes (out of nearly 5,000,000 cast) resulted in George W. Bush receiving 25 Electoral Votes and Al Gore zero.  The WTA systems prevents elections from being thrown to the House of Representatives – a noble goal – but in doing so, fails to reflect vote choices by denying Electoral College representation to large factions.

Proportional representation within each state would ensure that Electoral outcomes reflect state wishes.  Federalism would still thrive because the election is not determined by the national popular vote.  Large states would not bully small states as margins would not be 55-0 as they are now in California.  Candidates would campaign across the country to drive out turnout even in states they will lose in order to boost Electors at the margins.  This would create a truly national campaign where no people are forgotten.



Here is my proposal: 1,000 Electors divided between the states in accordance to their population percentage, found by simply multiplying a given state’s population share by 1,000 and rounding to the nearest whole number.  Each state’s Electors are then proportionally allocated to all candidates receiving at least 15 percent of the vote in the state (thus preventing extremist parties from denying a candidate an overall majority, plunging the election into the House of Representatives).  Electoral votes would be divided based on vote share of viable candidates – in other words, should two third parties receive 5 percent of the vote each, viable candidates would earn Electoral Votes based on their share of 90 percent of the vote (100 percent lessed nonviable votes).  Rounding would be to the nearest whole number and vote distribution would match, as closely as possible, a 1:1 ratio.  In the case that conventional rounding results in a distribution greater than the number of Electoral Votes a given state has (ie, candidate A would have 12.8 Electors and candidate B 6.9), rounding up priority will be given to the state victor with the lowest-placing viable candidate rounding down.  Similarly, if the sum of the rounded numbers is lower than the state’s Electoral Votes, then the state’s victor gets the Elector.

Under this plan, the Electoral College distribution would look like this:

electoral college



And the 2016 results like this:

electoral college 2016

Such a setup would create truly national elections with candidates traveling the country to persuade and mobilize voters in all states in order to win Electors at the margin.  Federalism would remain intact while still ensuring that results match the national popular vote.  Close state results would reward both candidate rather than unnecessarily punishing a candidate who loses by hundreds or thousands out of millions.  It creates a fair system where, for the most important election in the country, “one person, one vote” defines the voting system.

vichy republicans

Vichy Republicans

Republican elected officials claim to be leaders.  They claim to believe in American values and principles.  They claim to believe in the betterment of our beloved country.  They claim, above all, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

So, when an authoritarian-minded, conning fraudster, demagogic charlatan whose cult of personality and policy beliefs (insofar as he actually holds coherent policies) define him as a proto-fascist, rose to power, what did these alleged leaders do?

The people charged with protecting and promoting our collective interests cowered in fear, unable to muster the courage needed to confront the short-fingered vulgarian.  Republican officials allowed, condoned, encouraged, and empowered the very figure our Founding Fathers warned could create a constitutional crisis or otherwise destroy our Republic.  The Republic for which the GOP leaders claim to stand.

Trump’s Reich – from his blatantly anti-Semitic language that has motivated and mainstreamed neo-Nazis to his belligerent rhetoric towards Muslims – has turned once respectable elected officials into Vichy Republicans acting as puppets controlled by the strongman.  They may claim independence from the Fuhrer and argue they will effectively control his agenda, but what in their utter and complete acquiescence to his rise makes us believe their statements of legislative control?



These pawns of the Fuhrer had their opportunity to take on their party’s cancer before he became its central node.  But instead they watched in denial, claiming repeatedly that he simply could not and would not win.  Except they did nothing to ensure their prophecy came true.  The Vichy Republicans let their organization get overrun by a man with values antithetical to the Constitution.  They let what could have been the mischief of a small faction become a major force in American politics who know-nothing nativist mischief will continue to hound our politics and nation for years to come.

Vichy Republicans overlooked the labelling of an entire subset of people as rapists.  They issued hollow statements when the Fuhrer announced that his administration would ban all Muslims from entering the country.  And while the condemned the Cheeto Jesus’ assertion that a judge’s ethnicity meant he could not do his job, the Vichy Republicans still vowed to support, vote for, and campaign with the nominee.  Actions have always spoken louder than words and these Vichy Republicans made clear that while our Founders decried the electoral appeal of demagogues, defying one and risking electoral backlash simply would not be a high priority.



And so these Vichy Republicans have abandoned the principles of their party and the values of our country.  They succumbed in terror to an existential threat to the Republic.  They have no ideology except that of self-preservation.  They are puppets of an ignoramus Fuhrer.

Fascism doesn’t come to America solely from a family aspiring towards a First Reich.  It comes through the sheer cowardice of anointed leaders; it comes from their utter and total willingness to accept a man whose ideas they have labelled as un-American and unconstitutional.  It comes from leaders who put preservation over betterment of the country.  Vichy Republicans are but enablers, not men and women of principle and respectability.

Does Lawmaker Ideology Influence Trump Defection?

Over the weekend, a number of GOP lawmakers un-endorsed Donald Trump, with some going as far as calling on him to drop out of the race.  What role did ideology play in the decision-making?  Below is a chart that maps out the ideology (in the from of DW-NOMINATE scores) for the entire 114th House GOP caucus and whether the MC supports Trump (a value of 1 indicates support for the nominee while 0 means the lawmaker does not support the top-of-the-ticket).  Data regarding support is found from this spreadsheet, compiled by @Taniel.Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 11.32.07 AM

Moderates abandoned Trump in greater numbers than conservatives, though a few strong conservatives also walked away from the nominee.  Another consideration comes into play — district competitiveness.  Lawmakers hailing from competitive districts (who tend to be moderate) might risk electoral defeat at the hands of appalled independent voters if they continued to support Trump; those from solid-GOP districts, on the other hand, might risk alienating Trump voter and thus inviting a future primary challenge or, at worst, encouraging voters to skip down-ballot races, perhaps imperiling a reelection bid.

The below chart compares lawmaker ideology to the Cook Political Report’s district Partisan Voter Index — the evident trend of increased moderation as a district becomes more competitive (a PVI close to 0) is a well-documented phenomenon.   Interestingly, a few lawmakers from safe districts have decided to un-endorse Trump.  However, by and large, condemning and refusing to support Trump seems to be but a calculated political move dependent upon reelection, not party health or policy principles. Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 11.47.44 AM

Put Your Children First and Vote for Hillary Clinton

For your children’s sake, you ought to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Elections tend to focus around economic issues and this year is no different — according to Pew Research, 84% of voters say economic issues are “very important” when deciding their vote (making it the most important factor in vote choice).  Gallup similarly found that “the economy” and “employment and jobs” are two of the four most important issues for Republicans and Democrats this cycle.  Voters want a candidate who will create jobs, both for current and future generations.

It’s for precisely the latter goal — creating well-paying jobs for our children — that voters should choose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

The economy today is very different than it was a half, or even a quarter, century ago.  Twentieth century America saw manufacturing dominance with factories employing millions of workers with high wages and generous benefits.  But in the last 20 years, those manufacturing jobs have been evaporating.  They will not return, for one simple reason: Automation.

New factories are capital — not labor — intensive, meaning that production is done largely by machines rather than workers.  This allows factories to increase productivity while keeping costs low, savings that are ultimately passed on to consumers.  In other words, even if companies decide to move production back to the United States, there will not be a manufacturing jobs boom.  It simply will not happen and anyone promising otherwise is immune to the economic reality of automated production.  No comparisons can be made to manufacturing’s heyday because automation was at that point but a fantasy.



This is not a uniquely American phenomenon.  Throughout the developed world, manufacturing employment has been steadily declining over the past 40 years.

donald trump manufacturing

In fact, as a country gets richer, manufacturing’s share of national employment tends to drop rather sharply.  This is true across the world.donald trump manufacturing plan

With manufacturing’s steady (and largely irreversible) decline, economic salience increases as voters wonder whether, where, and how their children will find employment.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),  among the jobs seeing the greatest increase in demand between 2014 and 2024, and thus those likeliest to employ our children, are:

  • Registered nurses, 16% increase, median wage of $67,490
  • General and operational managers, 7.1% increase, median wage of $97,730
  • Accountant and auditors, 10.7% increase, $67,190 median wage
  • Software developers, applications, 18.8% increase, $98,260 median wage
  • Computer systems analysts, 20.9% increase, $85,800 median wage
  • Management analysts, 13.6% increase, $81,320 median wage
  • Market research analysts, 18.6% increase, $62,150 median wage

What do these jobs have in common?  They all require a college degree.  That is no surprise: According to the BLS, those with a college degree have exceptionally low unemployment rates and earn wages well above the American median.  As the economy continues to specialize, requiring specialized skills and education, this gap will likely continue to grow.

hillary clinton college plan



To ensure your child will find a job, you must vote for the candidate that will make college accessible and affordable to all.

Donald Trump’s website doesn’t mention education.  He has no plan for college affordability and his given no indication that he’s willing or able to help families give their children a world-class education.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has outlined and detailed a plan that would allow all students coming from families earning less than $125,000 a year.  Under her proposal, 80% of all students would attend college for free.  Furthermore, no taxes would be raised on middle- or working-class families in order to pay for near-universal college.

College is necessary to thrive in the new-age economy.  With a degree comes very low levels of unemployment (ie, very good chances of finding a job) and high wages.  Only Hillary Clinton will help students get the education they need to thrive in the 21st Century.

Put your Children First and vote for Hillary Clinton this November.

Bernie Sanders Fundamentally Misunderstands TPP

As Bernie Sanders’ quest for the Democratic nomination for the presidency winds down, he has set his sight on other lofty ambitions: influencing the Democratic Party’s platform.  Recently, that’s meant vehemently condemning the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Sanders decries as unfairly forcing workers to compete against “low-wage countries who earn pennies an hour.”

Sanders stands against TPP for economic reasons, though his arguments largely miss the mark.  TPP will likely not affect the American economy.  A U.S. International Trade Commission study predicted that the trade agreement would “lift U.S. gross domestic product by a small amount – 0.15%, or $42.7 billion, by 2032 – and increase employment by a net of 128,000 full-time jobs.”  The effects are not spread evenly.  Business services and agriculture would each grow by around $10 billion; manufacturing would decrease by around the same amount (per the ITC study).

Criticizing the TPP on economic grounds is not the right line of attack.  The approach ignores evidence to the contrary and, more importantly, fails to analyze TPP’s geopolitical ramification, the agreement’s motivating factor.  Sanders’ TPP disparagements therefore shows that he fundamentally misunderstands the multinational trade pact – TPP is much more a strategic foreign relations move by President Barack Obama than it is a free-trade pact designed to affect the domestic economy.



China’s influence across Asia is growing.  Its development as a country and increasing international clout threatens America’s standing as the world’s sole hegemon.  The spread of Chinese political thought – illiberal, totalitarian governance coupled with a quasi-capitalistic economic system – threatens America’s commitment to liberal democracy.  TPP comes at a time when “China is…pushing to accelerate the transition to a new order in Asia – one in which China itself has greater influence over the United States, Japan, and other smaller states in the system.”  The trade agreement seeks to contain China by boosting America’s image in Asian and Southeast Asian countries, some of whom, like Vietnam, already view China’s rise with weary eyes.[1]

And it’s easy to see how TPP will accomplish that goal.  A study done by Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer of Brandeis University estimates that the economies of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore will grow by 8.1, 7.6, 5.9, and 3.9 percent, respectively, by 2030.  There’s no better way to ingratiate America to the people of these countries than through economic and income growth.  Both will increase the standard of living for people throughout TPP member states and, coming from American action, will pull those countries away from Chinese influence.

Lowering trade barriers, apart from creating prosperity for the involved countries, fosters a culture of openness and togetherness.  Member nations must work together to establish rules by which all must abide.  Doing so creates the long-sought society of states where countries coexist in a peaceful, stable order that builds wealth and promotes the general welfare of all those involved.  TPP creates that society, headed by the United States, in a region where an aspiring hegemon hopes to overpower American interests.



What’s more, if successful, TPP could induce China to apply for membership.  Though such an action is not imminent, President Obama mentioned that China has “already started putting out feelers about the possibilities of them participating at some point.”  Their membership would hinge on “major changes to its economy, international diplomacy and attitude toward free trade.”  In turn, that would ideally lead to China further accepting capitalistic reform and the political liberalization that usually accompanies market reforms (this on top of the benefits accrued from China entering a society of peaceful states).  Distant, perhaps infinitely so, the possibility of China entering TPP and working with America on equal grounds is worth mentioning as a TPP plus.

TPP poses the best means for America to curry favor with Asian and Southeast Asian countries while containing Chinese influence.  As such, opposing TPP on pure economic grounds not only fails to accommodate research findings, it displays international ignorance.  Sanders embraces a position that simply does not make sense and, in fighting TPP, he demonstrates that TPP’s true benefits and design eludes him.  As Michael J. Green and Matthew P. Goodman stated, “The opponents of TPP have offered no better pathway to [the aforementioned] beneficial future.”



[1] In a sense, TPP fights fire with fire: China expanded its sphere of influence largely through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  Soft power often yields the best results in foreign relations.

Donald Trump is an Anti-Semite

Donald Trump has risen to power through a message of xenophobia and overt racism.  Hidden among his racially-charged rhetoric is another lurking beast: Antisemitism, the likes of which should immediately disqualify him from office.  Courting Neo-Nazis and other white-nationalists — and, through Trump’s frequent retweets of their messages, granting them a large, eager audience — should not be accepted in a major party’s nominee for president.

Here are but a few instances of Trump’s antisemitism, played out for all to see:

1) Trump Retweets, with Startling Frequency, Antisemitic, White-Nationalist Accounts

Twice Trump has twice retweeted @WhiteGenocideTM, a user who claims to live in “Jewmerica” and links, in his profile, a site promoting a documentary that urges viewers to “think differently” — sympathetically — about Adolf Hitler.  The account frequently retweets Neo-Nazi propaganda and greets all profile clickers with this lovely image, directed towards non-whites:

donald trump kkk

Trump also retweeted a now-deleted antisemitic account that put together a blatantly false, altogether racist meme regarding crime statistics.



donald trump racistApparently,  the meme’s origin from a Neo-Nazi account that praised Hitler appealed to Trump and instinctively earned his trust.  He didn’t bother to fact-check the image.  Here’s the account’s profile:

donald trump anti-Semite

In case it isn’t painfully obvious, the “Austrian chap with the little moustache [sic]” to whom the account claimed we should have listened is Adolf Hitler.



2) Trump refused to condemn, on national television, renowned Klansman David Duke

The incredibly painful interview:

Trump, who claims to have “the world’s greatest memory” apparently couldn’t remember the details about David Duke or Duke’s endorsement, despite Trump having talked about Duke in the days leading up to the CNN interview.

Duke, in 2003, penned a book seeking to expose quests for “Jewish Supremacy” and has called Jews the “real problem” facing our country.

3) Trump Told Republican Jews They Wouldn’t Support Him Because They Couldn’t Buy Him

This came after he told the Republican Jewish Coalition “you just like me because my daughter happens to be Jewish.”

It’s hard to spot notable differences between Trump’s argument here and those espoused by David Duke.

4) Adopting “America First” as a Slogan

Trump decided to up his nationalist appeal by unraveling a spiffy new slogan: “America First.”  The phrase, designed to conjure up xenophobia (American should be for Americans, not colored people!), has its origins in a group of Nazi sympathizers.  That Trump chose it for his presidential quest is no surprise or coincidence.

The American First Committee arose at the beginning of World War II, before America’s entry into the affair.  It advocated remaining neutral in the war and treating the Nazis as a legitimate political and governing party, one with whom the United States should do business.

However, the Committee, already on the wrong side of history, furthered its foray into antisemitism when Charles Lindbergh, the face of America First, revealed his deep-seated antisemitism, calling Jews a great threat facing the country.

Henry Ford, a prominent anti-Semite, and Avery Brundage, “the former chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee who had prevented two Jewish runners from the American track team in Berlin in 1936 from running in the finals of the 4×100 relay,” also originally sat on America First’s executive committee.

America First’s ugly history, one tainted with the foul stench of antisemitism, is of course conjured up by Trump’s use of the slogan.  It can be no surprise: Trump’s campaign had long involved antisemitic tropes before adopting “America First.”

The slogan is just another in a long list of antisemitic activities by the aspiring tyrant.



5) Linking the Star of David with Corruption and Greed

Most recently, Trump sent out an insulting image that combined Hillary Clinton and the Star of David with images of money, representing greed, and the inscription “most corrupt candidate ever!”

donald trump antisemitism

It’s origin?  8chan’s /pol/, a message board dominated by white-supremacists, anti-Semites, and Neo-Nazis.

The Trump campaign claimed it lifted the image from a Twitter user (who has since deleted his account) who again espoused antisemitic and Neo-Nazi viewpoints.

Either origin means that campaign staffers perused alt-right, Neo-Nazi feeds for images they could use to attack Hillary Clinton.

Jewish leaders and Republican officials quickly moved to condemn the meme.  The Trump campaign offered a second defense: They claimed the star represented a sheriff’s badge, not the Star of David.

For those curious, a sheriff badge has rounded corners.

donald trump sheriff badge

Whereas the Star of David has sharp corners.

donald trump star of david

There’s little doubt as to which the meme references.  Rather than own up to its mistake, the Trump campaign continues to lie and mask its blatant antisemitism.



Unacceptable Antisemitism

Does any of this come as a surprise from a man and campaign who accepted a white-nationalist to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention?  It shouldn’t.  For months Trump has been displaying, even touting, his antisemitism.  It’s time Republican leaders pushed back against Trump’s hatred and bigotry by refusing to lend him their support.  Voters need to take heed of Trump’s actions and recognize that their beloved candidate may very well be a modern version of Adolf Hitler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

donald trump free trade

Trump Embraces Mercantilism

Today, in the battleground Rust Belt state of Pennsylvania, Donald Trump spoke against free trade agreements and the globalized economy; today, Donald Trump took a firm stand against capitalism.

Capitalism, the most prosperous economic system ever devised, one which brings wealth and rights to nations across the globe, requires the free movement of goods in order to function.  By attacking trade, Trump is attacking a fundamental axiom of capitalism: comparative advantage.

A state has a comparative advantage when it can produce a good at a cheaper cost than all competitors.  All nations have a comparative advantage regardless of their economic, political, or social development.  Trade allows states to import cheap goods while simultaneously exporting the good or service in which they have a comparative advantage.  Products remain cheap, jobs are created throughout the world, and economies stress efficiency and innovation to maintain comparative advantages.  That leads to higher standards of living domestically and abroad as new goods are exported.

Thus all nations benefit from trade.

But Trump ignores 300 years of economic teaching and instead embraces an old and failed philosophy — mercantilism.  His many claims to bring American manufacturing back to our shores demonstrate his economic illiteracy and proclivity to lie to American voters.



First, it is impossible to bring back manufacturing jobs.  The ones that have returned to our shores are capital — not labor — intensive.  This means that even when factories come back to the states, they employ few individuals.  Automation will ensure that trend continues.  Unless we decide that the time and cost saving benefits of robots and other mechanized processes ought to be destroyed (they absolutely should not be), they heyday of American manufacturing is gone, a fond memory resigned to our collective pasts.

That isn’t a bad thing.  It’s how a capitalist economy works — growth through destruction.  Old industries move offshore or die as new technologies supplant them.  The death of American manufacturing frees human capital to explore more efficient and better paying labor opportunities.

Voters should rail against failed fiscal policy that refuses to help those displaced by technological advancement.  We should be funding vocational training and other continuing educational studies so those hurt by creative destruction can quickly rejoin the labor market and thrive.

Voters should call for reform within the system, not it’s total destruction and a regression back to the 17th Century.

Second, Donald Trump is lying about his ability to bring back manufacturing.  Assume he does pull out of all free trade agreements; assume he does erect destructive tariffs that isolate us from the world.  Prices for all goods — especially manufactured goods — would skyrocket because we would not tap into comparative advantage.  Rather than importing goods from those able to create them most cheaply, we would be buying them domestically from incredibly expensive producers.



When price increase dramatically, consumers cease to spend.  When consumers cease to spend, businesses must layoff workers to prevent bankruptcy.  When businesses layoff workers to prevent bankruptcy, fewer individuals have disposable income with which to buy goods.

We would get caught in a vicious cycle that encourages high prices and high unemployment.

We would be in a depression.

Mercantilism, the philosophy of an isolated and protectionist domestic economy, failed.  It encouraged the destruction of environments, continual oversea military conquests to establish colonies then plundered for resources, and animosity between states.  Mercantilism’s assumption of finite global wealth inherently means that the standard of living cannot rise — one nation’s benefit comes directly at the expense of another.

Capitalism believes in infinite wealth, that a rising tide lifts all ships.

Mercantilism believes in tariffs, whose burden is passed onto the consumer.

Capitalism believes in free trade that allows all to thrive and pursue fulfilling, productive, prosperous work.



Mercantilism believes in colonial conquest and bellicose attitudes between states.

Capitalism believes in international cooperation and peace.

Mercantilism believes in a statist economy maintained only through an authoritarian government that restricts the natural rights of its citizens.

Capitalism accompanies democracy and embraces the fundamental rights of all.

Mercantilism comes with joblessness and depression.

Capitalism comes with prosperity.

Donald Trump believes in mercantilism.  You should not believe in him.

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!