Category Archives: Hillary Clinton

hillary clinton don't go away

Stop Telling Hillary Clinton to Go Away

It’s Ridiculous to Try to Silence Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s out with a new book, “What Happened,” and, unsurprisingly, she’s received immediate backlash for daring to put pen to paper.  Many simply want the former presidential candidate who lost a shocking and disappointing race to Donald Trump to simply go away, fade into the night.  That’s utterly ridiculous and hypocritical.  Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee for a major party, is a Democratic leader and has every right and reason to speak bluntly and openly — an honesty that many thought she lacked during the primary, but now want her to shove that honesty up her…wherever — about the campaign and politics in America.

A former presidential nominee who won more votes than any white man in United States history, the first woman to nearly become president, a Secretary of State, U.S. senator, and First Lady has every right to speak about politics.  Full stop.  Losing should not muzzle an individual, especially one who has committed her life to public service and helping others.  No one asked John Kerry to fade into obscurity after his 2004 loss; Al Gore continued to be a loud liberal voice following his defeat; Harry Truman opted to avoid defeat in 1952 by not running, but remained a steady Democratic force (the 1952 lose, Adlai Stevenson, ran again in 1956 and 1960).  Many rightfully idolize Clinton.  She’s a role model to women everywhere — her actions have inspired countless to pursue public office.  There’s absolutely no reason to shut up a party leader and hero.

Clinton’s book shows humility and, above all, honesty, a trait which many claimed she lacked, leading to countless vicious character assaults.  Yet when Clinton opens up and shares her true thoughts — thoughts or reasons with which any reader may disagree, but honest ones nonetheless — critics hypocritically turn Clinton’s honesty against her.  At what point does incessant character nagging become obsessive?  Deride her proclaimed lack of honesty; harangue her clear honesty because suddenly it has no place in public discourse as it may sow discontents within the party.

While it’s true that Clinton’s book may rehash or reopen some party wounds from the 2016 election, right now is the perfect time to have a dialogue about the direction of the Democratic Party and how it can better handle nominating affairs and unity thereafter.  The midterms are 14 months away’ the 2020 presidential election, 38.  Who do we harm by debating whether Bernie Sanders hurt Hillary Clinton?  When the party’s grappling with a strong centrist block and a insurgent (far) leftist movement, oughtn’t we at least consider how the appeals play or open divides within the party that could hamper general election chances?  And, if we agree we need those conversations, shouldn’t we do so now rather than in the months leading up to a general election against a bigot like Donald Trump?

Critics arguing Hillary Clinton should simply go away employ little logic — they disparage the honesty presented by a long-time party often mocked for privacy and overly scripted behavior while accusing her of  weakening the very party they sought to overhaul and tear apart as it became overwhelmingly apparent their favored candidate would not emerge from the primaries victorious.  Clinton should not shut up.  She should not go away.  She, and every Democrat, should continue to speak as she feels fit, helping the party come to grips with the election, understand its mistakes, resist Donald Trump, and, ultimately, strengthen itself for the tasks the lie ahead.

hillary clinton's what happened
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Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened”

hillary clinton's what happened
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Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened” Explains Why She Lost

Months after her shocking defeat to Donald Trump, Clinton has released a new memoir detailing how she lost the election.  Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened” offers a raw look into her mind, both as a candidate and after deep reflection of her campaign and its tragic ending.  While there are many reasons that Clinton lost last year — many, if not most, related to the candidate herself, to which she owns up — the blame must also fall on one particular group: Voters.

Blaming voters for an undesired outcome may seem elitist, or simply whiney, but to avoid casting even an inkling of guilt on the actors who knowingly and willingly decided to vote for a charlatan ignorant of American values and laws would itself be an act of the utmost condescension by ignoring the agency inherent in everyone’s decision making.  We’re all responsible for our choices and those choices, especially when they affect hundreds of millions, invite critique.

Ignoring History

The Founding Fathers despised demagoguery and populism, fearing both (though especially the latter) would undermine the Constitutions and the institutions put in place to protect it.  A demagogue would corrupt the rule of law and use his majority for insidious means.

They also envisioned great individuals holding elected office, including the presidency.  Trump’s election represents a dramatic break from the Founders’ vision of the country.  Trump, first and foremast, is a demagogue.

Our Constitution’s structured to separate powers, offer checks and balances, and leave voters only indirectly in charge of government in order to stop demagogues from seizing power (Shays’ rebellion, which prompted the constitutional convention, only heightened fears among the Founders of demagoguery).

hillary clinton what happened
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That’s why America is a republic and not a direct democracy.  John Adams himself wrote “Remember Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes exhausts and murders itself. There never was a Democracy Yet, that did not commit suicide.”  Federalist 1 warns

“On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”

Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened” may not mention the historical ignorance of the electorate, but it’s important that we understand voters deviated from the will of the Founding Fathers.

Encouraging Ignorance

Supporting and voting for Trump only encourages ignorance, both in candidates and the electorate.  Trump knew — and still knows — nothing of policy.  Whenever pressed to explain policies, he failed to do so, often blabbering or simply repeating himself numerous times in a garble of largely incoherent rambling.  But he seemed to revel in his ignorance, not once willing to engage in actual policy discussions and showing little interest to meet with experts.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise from someone who proudly screamed about how he “love[d] the poorly educated” and bragged about “knowing more than the generals” because he watched “the shows.”  His vile antipathy for experts bled over to his voters, with whom he shared and encouraged this hatred.

Needless to say, a poorly informed electorate will not perform well when it goes to the polls.  Ditto one misinformed because it chooses to listen to one man and one man only.  Such actions fundamentally undermine democracy because when a polity entrusts its citizenry with such awesome power, there lies with the citizens a civic duty know what they’re doing and be well-informed on issues settled by elections.

Voting for a man who ran and now governs in ignorance only encourages other political hobbyists to run for office because they realize that knowledge is not a barrier.  Charisma and yearning for self-enrichment suffice.  It tells candidates that voters don’t value thought and policy, instigating a race to the bottom as candidates forego meaningful discussions in order to appeal to grievances and base emotions.

what happened hillary clintonForgiving Bigotry

Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened” naturally touches on Trump’s disturbing bigotry and the willingness of voters to simply overlook what he said or twist his words in such a way that clear bigotry lost its bite.  We mustn’t forget that Trump began his presidential campaign by claiming Mexico sent its “rapists” and “drug-dealers” into the United States out of malice or some dark motive.  These actions continued throughout the campaign, such as his remarks that a Mexican judge couldn’t do his job because of his heritage, which Speaker of the House Paul Ryan labelled the “textbook definition” of racism.

Other minority groups also received Trump’s ire.  Trump frequently ranted against Islam and Muslims, claiming universal Muslim hatred of the United States, threatening to illegally close mosques, and wanting to ban an entire religion from entering the country.  The fool went actually said that “I think Islam hates us. There’s something there that — there’s a tremendous hatred there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.”

Of course, Donald Trump also led the birther crusade against President Barack Obama, falsely claiming that the president was not born in America.  These lies stirred the right-wing fever swamps, which embraced and pushed false claims about Obama, and, under Trump’s leadership, surged into a powerful grievance movement.

Voters knew all of this.  They recognized Trump’s inherent racial animus, his animosity for Islam that bordered on paranoid delusions, and the lies he for years pushed, yet cast a ballot for him anyway.  Supporting such clear bigotry should not be overlooked and those that chose to make the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis’ beloved candidate president should be held responsible for enabling and legitimizing grievanced racism.

Read Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened”

Clinton lost for many reasons.  No one reason explains the loss.  Her book rightly analyzes many culprits and ultimately she accepts her primacy in defeat.  Read Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened” to gain and understand her inside perspective.

While a politician cannot blame voters for a reprehensible decisions, I most certainly can, and I will.  Overlooking Trump’s clear historical flaws, his deep-seated ignorance and promotion of stupidity, and his all-too-obvious bigotry to vote for the demagogue deserves criticism.  We should all be held responsible for our actions.  And so, above all else, I blame and repulsed by the voters who opted for Donald J. Trump.

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clinton cash

The Truth About Hillary’s Supposedly Scandalous Finances

No Wrongdoing.  At All.

As far as Clinton’s money is concerned, she graduated from a top law school and easily could have immediately gone to work at a big law firm, making a lot of money.  Instead, she opted to work at the Children’s Defense Fund and, later, became one of two female faculty members at the University of Arkansas’s law school while also working as the director of a legal aid clinic.  Though that last bit has garnered her some notoriety, providing legal aide to the accused is a fundamental part of the American judicial system (see: John Adams defending the British after the Boston Massacre).
Fast forward to recent times.  No Clinton received a salary from the Clinton Foundation, which we know to be true because of released tax returns from Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.
Money came primarily from book advances and sales as well as Hillary’s much-reviled speaking tour.  The speaking tour, even though she received millions from big banks, did not change her policies.  In fact, her Wall Street reform plan presented a tough stance on big banks while doing so in a way that wouldn’t dramatically overhaul the banking system.  Many, if not most, former public officials embark on such a tour as they’re low in supply and high in demand.  Her actions were not unusual.
I’m personally okay with their free market actions.  If they want to earn money, I’m happy for them; if not, that’s their choice, too.  I do think she erred in her decision to receive millions from the likes of Goldman Sachs ahead of a planned presidential run.  The perception of cozying up to the big banks is powerful, even if it’s not true, and I think that hurt her in both the primary and general.  Had I been her, I would not have pursued such speaking fees, but, again, it’s her private life.
clinton email scandal

Clinton’s Emails Should Not Have Been a Scandal

It Was The Most Ridiculous Campaign Issue

Perhaps the biggest 2016 campaign story revolved around Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Facts: As Secretary of State, Clinton used a personal email address hosted on a privately-owned server rather than her government email, a practice done by previous secretaries of state, including Colin Powell.  She turned over 55,000 emails to the State Department, but deleted 33,000 other personal emails.  James Comey found that no “reasonable prosecutor” would recommend charges be pressed against Clinton for her email actions.
Reality: Her explanation that she acted out of convenience is true (no one wants to carry around multiple phones; I’ve seen government officials do that and be quite annoyed at constantly switching and fumbling between phones).  This did violate a State Department policy directive.

Clinton, as you may have heard, is married to former president Bill Clinton, who stepped down from office in January of 2001. Clinton was in the White House throughout the 1990s when the rest of us were being bombarded with AOL signup CD-ROMs, so he didn’t have a personal email when he left. Gmail didn’t exist back then, and his new job was, in effect, running a Bill Clinton startup. He launched a charitable foundation, he established his presidential library, and he made big bucks on speaking tours. He had a staff and he needed IT infrastructure and support. So he paid a guy to set up an email server that he could use.  Hillary Clinton — who is, again, his wife — also set herself up with an account on the same server. This is a bit unusual, but a lot about being married to a former president is unusual. What it’s not is suspicious.

Upon discovery of her personal email use, the House Select Committee on Benghazi requested her emails and Clinton turned them over.  She undoubtedly should have had a process in place to automatically turn over emails or duplicate them onto a government server where they could easily be accessed by appropriate parties without hassle.
(An Inspector General report said Clinton should have printed her emails and filed them with the Office of the Secretary.  This requirement seems outdated and entirely wasteful, but Clinton of course should have followed it and created an easy process by which it could be followed.  But sloppiness and overlooking cumbersome demands does not malice make.)
Clinton did delete 33,000 emails, but those were all personal in nature (and really, there’s no need for the public to be reading about wedding or dinner plans, etc).  There’s also little reason to believe she wrongly deleted work emails — since it’s an email, there’s obviously a receiver; if the receiver of a work related email didn’t see it in the emails released, it would be all too easy to send that email to investigators or the press and quickly expose wrongdoing.
That didn’t happen.  We also know from released emails that Clinton and her lawyers had a very generous definition of work-related.  Many emails involved her asking about TV shows.  Those certainly seem personal in nature, and yet they released those.

And while she seemed (inadvertently) to handle classified emails on her personal server, she did so without malice (actual malice being needed for it to be illegal).  Ben Wittes of Lawfare agreed with Comey’s conclusion, arguing that

For the last several months, people have been asking me what I thought the chances of an indictment were. I have said each time that there is no chance without evidence of bad faith action of some kind. People simply don’t get indicted for accidental, non-malicious mishandling of classified material. I have followed leak cases for a very long time, both at the Washington Post and since starting Lawfare. I have never seen a criminal matter proceed without even an allegation of something more than mere mishandling of sensitive information. Hillary Clinton is not above the law, but to indict her on these facts, she’d have to be significantly below the law.

To sum, Clinton acted without malice and for the sake of convenience.  Those motives seem pure enough, but Clinton did fall short when it came to transparency.  She should have established some manner to duplicate emails onto a government email/server to facilitate discovery.  I also wish she had been more forthcoming about the email server and her practices immediately after it came to light.
Drawing out the controversy and dodging the issue made a simple and explainable decision seem nefarious.  This again goes back to what I described earlier as her overboard commitment to a private sphere that doesn’t exist as a public official.  It makes sense when putting yourself in her shoes, but it was the wrong decision.
benghazi truth

The Truth about Benghazi

Clinton/Obama Naysayers Have It Wrong

Background/facts: On September 11, 2012, terrorists storm the US mission in Benghazi, killed four US nationals including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.  Many initially think the attacks came from an angry mob protesting a viral video.  The next day, in a Rose Garden address, President Obama says, “The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. … no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.” Later that day he says, “No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.”
Only on September 20 did Jay Carney and other White House officials back away from the theory that the aforementioned video caused the attack.  While this may seem absurd, it’s a logical conclusion if we assume their information (or lack thereof) pointed to such a culprit.  It’s dangerous to immediately jump to the conclusion that a given attack was committed by terrorists.  That said, the Obama administration did move slowly to such a label.  A day later, Hillary Clinton echoes the terror attack rhetoric.

Claims versus Reality

Claim: Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi, initially blaming the video for the attack despite knowing better and continuing this lie.

Reality: Clinton, in her first public statement on the day of the attack, did in fact cast blame on the video (which had caused protests throughout the Middle East).  That same day, she emailed Chelsea and said “an al Qaeda-like group” carried out the attack.  This came to light during the Clinton email investigation and only led to general distrust.  The next date, in speeches and a statement, Clinton made no mention of the video (in relation to Benghazi, though she mentions it in connection to Egypt, where the material did spark protests).  Not until September 21 did she call it a terrorist attack.  Why this delay?
It seems that in between her first statement on September 11 and the email she sent to Chelsea, a government agencies emailed top officials saying that Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility for the attack.  I’m guesing she and the administration wanted to confirm that claim before presenting it to the American people (which is, admittedly, a generous concession, but also one of the simpler explanations.  The administration had little to gain from covering up the motives.  Obama faced reelection in two months and had little to gain by covering up facts that would obviously come to light, though he did have reason to “play down the possibility of a planned attack because that would raise broader questions about whether U.S. intelligence and embassy security in Libya were adequate.”).
Another explanation came to light in 2013.  I’ll quote the Washington Post (above link) in full:

This analysis first suggested that the core reason for the evolution of the talking points was a bureaucratic battle between the CIA and the State Department. We informed readers that although the ambassador was killed, the Benghazi “consulate” was not a consulate at all but essentially a secret CIA operation which included an effort to round up shoulder-launched missiles. U.S. officials had been constrained in discussing that fact, as the administration could not publicly admit that most of the Americans in Benghazi were involved in a secret CIA effort that had not even been formally disclosed to the Libyan government. State Department officials objected to the talking points, initially drafted by the CIA, as an effort by the spy agency to pin the blame for the tragedy on the State Department.

So, in short, there are many possible explanations for why Clinton and the Obama administration did not immediately label the Benghazi attack as a terror attack (and one last point: The Washington Post fast checking team gave Senator Marco Rubio two pinocchios for his claim that Clinton lied about the Benghazi happenings, saying there’s not evidence to support that claim).
Claim 2: Clinton told the false video story to Benghazi widows.
Reality: There’s no evidence to support this claim.  Clinton says she didn’t and 4 of 6 interviewed widows support her version of the story.  No transcripts support this claim, either.
Claim 3: Clinton’s inaction as Secretary of State led to mishandled consular requests for additional security, easing the attacker’s push into the consulate.
Reality: Security at Benghazi (and many other consulates) was lacking.  Here’s a quote from a State Department Accountability Review Board (the PDF link is broken, so I can’t supply it; the in-depth review largely exculpated Clinton and the administration):

“The number of Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack and in the months and weeks leading up to it was inadequate, despite repeated requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for additional staffing. Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing. The insufficient Special Mission security platform was at variance with the appropriate Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards with respect to perimeter and interior security. Benghazi was also severely under-resourced with regard to certain needed security equipment, although DS funded and installed in 2012 a number of physical security upgrades.”

Some quick facts from Washington Post that counter false narratives:
  • There were planes available for Special Ops forces
  • Clinton did not issue a stand down order to Leon Panetta
  • Clinton was not aware of requests for additional security.  Many consulates made such requests and mid-level staffers usually handled them
The last point is the most import.  There is no evidence that Clinton herself ignored security requests.  Ambassador Stevens also turned down offers of additional military security at the compound.  Clinton also did not sleep through the attack and worked throughout the entirety of the night, contrary to Donald Trump’s claims.  With the evidence available, the compound’s defensive shortcomings cannot be blamed on Clinton herself.
(As a side note, during a trip to a Marine consular defense center, I attended a lecture about the process of defending consulates and embassies.  One important note mentioned by a Marine pertained to the difficulty in bringing military personnel to such compounds because doing so requires permission from the host country.  We can’t just move members of the military into sovereign states will-nilly.)
hillary clinton privacy

The Origins of Hillary Clinton’s Privacy

Experience has taught her to be private

I’ve read enough and talked to enough Clinton antagonists to understand why people distrust her (which isn’t to say I agree).  The problem itself stems from Clinton’s private nature (others would say secretive, and that’s not necessarily incorrect — she’s not inclined to extraordinary transparency), which has been a perceived issue since 1994.
In response to a question from a reporter about letting scandals “fester” by not immediate jumping to full transparency, she replied: “My sense of privacy — because I do feel like I’ve always been a fairly private person leading a public life — led me to perhaps be less understanding than I needed to of both the press and the public’s interest as well as right to know things about my husband and me,” she said.  And apparently she hasn’t really learned that privacy doesn’t go over too well when you’re a prominent political figure.

The Clinton Administration

It’s worth looking at why Clinton is so private because doing so adds depth to the character.  Long ago, during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and the couple years of her presidency, Hillary often shared “her deepest thoughts and feelings,” including a speech she gave on “the politics of meaning” as her “father laying dying.”  The media, left and right, “ridiculed” that speech for its preacher-esque tone and theme.  She gave open interviews in which, unlike today, she did not sound overly scripted and disciplined.  But negative press coverage as well as the ceaseless attacks that naturally come during a presidential campaign (the Gennifer Flowers controversy, answering for Bill’s infidelities knowing that any response would be attacked by different groups, Whitewater, Bill’s Vietnam draft record, etc) left her distrustful and increasingly secretive.  She didn’t want her words to incite controversy or be used against her, a product of natural being and being a lawyer.

Those experiences shaped the private Hillary we know today.  Really, to understand why she falls short in transparency, we have to understand her thinking.  Clinton truly believe(s/d) that immediate and complete transparency invites dramatic backlash through public inquiries, media attacks, and political weaponry.  So to avoid that, or minimize its negative effects, she opts for privacy.

A Logical Decision Regardless of Whether You Agree

Now, I, and probably most other Americans, would come to the opposite conclusion and, even if sympathetic towards Clinton, wish she would simply embrace transparency as controversies arise.  Withholding information or otherwise dragging out alleged scandals only worsens them as people equate secrecy with wrongdoing and the media can focus day in and day out on the scandals, extrapolating or otherwise guessing as information remains woefully incomplete.  It’s more than reasonable to believe Clinton came to the wrong conclusion about privacy and to criticize her for the pervasive secrecy, but I do think it’s important to at least understand her position so we can view her actions as those of a rational human being with a valid — but likely not sound — argument about the (political) virtues of secrecy (in this search for understanding, I should also mention the truly outlandish conspiracies that further Clinton’s privacy: Vince Foster and Seth Rich’s deaths, which many in the “fever swamps” believe to be part of a Clinton crime conspiracy, and Pizzagate, another delusion which actually led someone to shoot up a DC pizza parlor).

So Clinton made the ill-fated decision to ignore transparency and instead act in an incredibly private manner.  This has rightfully come with political costs.  The president has the most prominently public office in the world.  We expect openness and transparency from the president and rightfully so — the head of state and government, the leader of the free world, should not be hiding from his or her constituents.
obama trump voters

Why Clinton Lost, Part 1: Obama-Trump Voters

8.4 Million Obama-Trump Voters

Obama Voters Abandoned Clinton

President Barack Obama won two elections with a robust and resilient electoral coalition that propelled him to easy wins throughout the Midwest.  His coalition, resilient though for him, did not remain intact for Clinton.  According to the American National Election Study, 13% of Trump voters cast a ballot for Obama in 2012.  That amounts to around 8.4 million individuals.[1]  By comparison, of Clinton’s voters, only 4% voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 (totaling around 2.5 million people).

Makeup of Clinton/Trump Voters by 2012 President VoteObamaRomney

Extrapolating those numbers to individual states and adjusting for state swing from 2012 to 2016 yields the following Obama-Trump voter estimates and compares that to Trump’s margin of victory.[2]

Estimated Obama-Trump VotersTrump’s Margin of Victory
Iowa 182,024 147,314
Michigan 449,036 10,704
Ohio 545,985 446,481
Pennsylvania 481,434 44,292
Wisconsin 253,924 22,748

In each state, Obama-Trump voters more than account for Trump’s margin of victory (though, again, see the caveats).  Even accepting flaws in these estimates, it’s readily apparent that a sizable number of Obama voters had to flee from the Democratic Party: How else would Iowa have swung 15 points; Ohio, 11; Michigan, 9.7; Wisconsin, 7.7; and Pennsylvania, 6.1?

These gains came predominately from the white working-class.  A pre-election survey in Pennsylvania found that of Obama’s white working-class voters, some 18 percent planned to vote for Trump over Clinton.  In Iowa, Obama won the white working-class by around 3 points in 2012 whereas Clinton lost it by 20 just four years later.  Macomb County, Michigan, went to Trump by 11.5 points but Obama by 4.  Trump took Erie County, Pennsylvania, by 2 points.  Obama won it by 17.

The exact reasons Clinton failed to retain white working-class voters who supported Obama continue to be debated.  Cultural and economic anxiety quickly come to mind, as does Donald Trump’s demagoguery, critical rhetoric aimed directly at this sprawling constituency.  Regardless of why the white working-class abandoned the Democratic Party, this instance of the Obama coalition’s partial collapse spelled disaster for Hillary Clinton as the voters with which she aimed to replace them simply did not reside in swing states.

Coming soon: Part 2 – An Inefficient Electoral Coalition


[1] Such survey results do come with caveats: Respondents routinely misremember (or lie) about for whom they voted in the preceding election.  In this case, 58% of ANES survey takes claimed to have voted for Obama in 2012.  Obama only received 51% of the vote.  Research posits that individuals tend to say they voted for a socially acceptable answer – in this case, that means saying they voted for Obama (who has a high approval rating) where in following 2004, more claimed to have voted for John Kerry than for George W. Bush.

[2] These numbers suffer from the same drawbacks explained above.  Furthermore, these are just estimates and may well be off (this is also single-party crossover; the numbers don’t look at Romney-Clinton voters).  I tried to account for partisan swing by treating the 13% of Trump’s voters who cast a ballot for Obama as a baseline adjusted upwards based on how much the state swung to the Republican Party in 2016.  That means states with the largest GOP swing is estimated to be home to more Obama-Trump voters than that state’s share of the nation’s total voting population.

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.

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:

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

StateClintonTrumpJohnsonSteinClinton Chance of WinningTrump Chance of Winning
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%

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

Poll-based states’ predicted results:

North Carolina44.42%44.01%4.35%1.07%
New Hampshire46.57%40.40%0.00%0.00%

(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!