Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton

Did you know that Hillary Clinton wrote a children’s book? Illustrated by the amazing Maria Frazee.

It Takes a Village: Picture Book

Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first book for young readers, inspired by the themes of her classic New York Times bestselling book It Takes a Village, and illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Marla Frazee, asks readers what can they do to make the world a better place?

It Takes a Village tells the heartwarming and universal story of a diverse community coming together to make a difference. All kinds of people working together, playing together, and living together in harmony makes a better village and many villages coming together can make a better world. Together we can build a better life for one another. Together we can change our world.

The book will resonate with children and families and through the generations as it encourages readers to look for a way they can make a difference. It is a book that you will surely want to read again and again, a book you will want to share and a book that will inspire.

The Real Fake Reason Trump Fired Comey: Lock her up

As you know, President Trump sacked FBI Director James Comey yesterday. The firing involved a letter written by Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, complaining about Comey, to Jeff Sessons. (The three relevant letters by Rosenstein, Sessons, and Trump are here.)

Jeff Sessons had recused himself of matters related to the Russia-Trump Scandal, so it was necessary for the DOJ and White House to make up a reason Comey was being fired, apparently, and that letter from Rosenstein included the excuse.

In the letter, Rosenstein said, “The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution…”

This is the announcement that ended the Clinton email investigation.

Let me rephrase this. Sessons agreed with Rosenstein’s recommendation, and Trump with Sessons, to fire Comey because Comey had stopped the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email issues without prosecution.

The reason I mention this now is that to this moment, I’ve not seen a single news reporter, facebook commenter, or any one else get this right. At best the Clinton email connection is left vague, but at worse, people are noting how remarkable it is, and how unbelievable it is, that the Trump administration would use the OTHER THING Comey did about Clinton, the more recent momentary re-opening of the investigation thought by many to be a violation of the Hatch Act, as the excuse Trump is using. That is not the case.

Rather, it looks like this: Trump promised during his campaign to jail his opponent. Now, Trump has fired the FBI director for not taking steps to do so.

I am astonished that this has not been noticed, apparently, not yet, by the media.

I acknowledge that this is likely all a lame excuse, and that most people believe that Trump has fired Comey because the FBI was “getting close” to the White House, or to something, in its investigation of the Russia-Trump scandal. Fine. But the alt-Excuse, assuming it is fake excuse, is still important because top level federal officials including the President have now created policy. That policy is, the next FBI director will only be serving the administration’s needs if they pursue or attempt to pursue a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton. And, again, I note, that “Lock her up!” was a campaign promise of Trump’s.

So, this is not unimportant.

Why Trump Won And How To Fix That For Future Elections

Donald Trump is the president elect of the United States. Why?

Trump did not win because he is widely liked. He is NOT widely liked.

A very small number of Americans voted for Trump, and this number was magnified by the conservative-state-favoring electoral college, and most of those who did not vote for him not only don’t prefer him, but find him truly abhorrent. During the campaign, and over his 70 year long life, Donald trump has done or said myriad things each of which is fully disqualifying to be a candidate for president. These deplorable things are, of course, the reason he won this election. Those who voted for him felt that a deplorable man represented them better than established politicians, because they related to that deplorableness.

A word about the Deplorables

Men like me claim (and I believe us) that we do not encounter conversations like the famous Trump Bus conversation released to the public in the latter weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. But, those conversations are out there. I attended a social event recently, and I had my kindergartener with me. It was a socially required event, or I probably would not have gone. It was attended by men and women ranging in age from their late 20s through their late 60s, along with a couple of younger kids. This was a small number of individuals in one family, their spouses, and on out for a few levels of marriage and consanguineal relation. A clan, if you will.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-12-11-26-pmI did not know people talked like that. I felt like I was in a porn movie except everybody had their clothes on. I’ve seen conversations roughly like this, in terms of risqué-osoty, among younger folks on the convention circuit, but this was different from that in being fully misogynistic and disrespectful, and not jut risqué.

It was bad enough that I endeavored to distract the kindergartener, remove the kindergartener from the environment, sending him out, and getting myself out of there as soon as it was socially acceptable. Well, sooner, actually.

These are the folks, men and women, who find no fault with Donald Trump’s salacio-sexist banter. It is not that they want a profligate leader in the White House, a man who treats women and subcontractors with deep disdain. It is, rather that they don’t mind it, because they are it, and at the same time, they know that electing a Trump is a slap in the face for the elitist, over educated, judgmental, liberal scum over there by the door holding his hands over his son’s ears and trying to get away from the real people. And, they are right. Indeed, it was more than a slap in the face, it was a punch in the gut.

Did deplorable sexists keep Clinton out of the White House?

You might think so, but no.

img_5263There is a long list of reasons one might consider to explain why Hillary Clinton lost or that Donald Trump won. It is possible to point to some of these reasons, on their own, and legitimately claim that if this one reason was not in play, Trump would have lost or Clinton would have won. I want to briefly point them out, and then move on to the actual reason.

In reading through this list, note that “Sexism/Hillary is a woman” is actually part of each and every item. Sexism is so pervasive in this election that sometimes you don’t even see it.

1) If only nobody voted for this or that third party.

This may be worth about 1% of the vote overall, possibly 2%, so if there were no third party candidates in the race at all, perhaps Trump would have lost. Or not. Third party voters may have simply written in The Lizard People. Libertarian third party voters could have split among Trump and Clinton, or been mainly for Trump. I don’t think enough people voted for Jill Stein to matter.

( I quickly add that those who voted for Jill Stein demonstrated with their decision something else that is not especially admirable. I wouldn’t be bragging about it. But I digress.)

Note, by the way, that the third party candidate that got most often picked by those casting protest votes was Gary, not Jill. The boy, not the girl. Significant? You decide.

2) If only the Bernie Bots, the former Sanders supporters, had not …

[voted third party/stayed home/constantly whined about Clinton/made the political process so painful that many simply walked away and never came back/whatever whatever]

This was probably worth a couple percent of the vote, and I think it really mattered. One part of this that mattered the most was the sexist attacks on Hillary, because this gave a lot of people permission to more openly hate the idea of a female president.

Bernie bots ruined politics for a lot of people this year. But, at the same time, Bernie excitement brought new people in to politics,and that is good. Also, I strongly suspect that had Hillary been behind the whole time like Bernie was, and had lost the nomination, there would be a reverse effect. There would be Hillar Bots. There were Hillary Bots in 2008.

I can make a strong argument that the Hillary Bot effect is NOT parallel to the Bernie Bot effect, and would not have been as bad. But if we see the Bernie Bot effect as moving 3% of the vote, enough to have easily elected Clinton, we also need to recognize that the Hillary Bot effect, had it happened, would have been worth about 1.5% of the vote, diluting the imagined no-Bernie-Bot effect enough that it may not matter.

3) The Silent Majority elected Trump.

The number of deplorable, unprincipled, vile, racist, and sexist people in the United States who are of voting age is huge.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-12-13-40-pmAmong these, many don’t vote. Most are white, male, older, and less educated. This has led to a proliferation of comments on social media like, “So, I’m an uneducated white guy, sue me” which makes me think, “can I do that?”

A subset of these dudes don’t vote, and proudly don’t vote. I’ve known guys in this category who will stuff the “I don’t vote, their all crooks” line (and yes, that is how they spell it) down anyone’s throat who will listen, and even won’t listen, as part of almost every conversation they have. It is pretty disgusting. But, sometimes those dudes do vote, and when they do, they are called the Silent Majority.

They are worth 1%–3% of the population, depending on how many get riled up. Oh, and by the way, these dudes don’t talk to pollsters, so in years when they don’t vote, they don’t matter. In years when they do vote, their effect is a surprise. I think they mattered this year, but there isn’t much one can do about them but to wait until they get old and die, and to try to work against the replacement demographic being like them as they grow up by increasing education and awareness.

4) The Bradley Effect.

In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley ran for governor of California. Bradley showed a significant lead in the polls, and the exit polls backed this up. Then, he lost. One theory is that many white voters claimed to support Bradley in order to not appear racist, but once in the voting booth, voted for the white guy. This then became known as the Bradley Effect.

Further consideration of that race, and subsequent analyses, seem to show that the Bradley Effect as described did not happen then, and does not really happen in general. But it is certainly possible for such a thing, either with respect to race or sex, to occur, so it should always be considered.

Personally, I think the Bradley Effect (a gendered version of it) does not explain anything here, but see #3 above for a related (but different) effect. There was lots of sexism here, but it was not altering the polling results. So, I include Bradley here to be more comprehensive, but I think it counts for 0% of the effect.

5) The Democrats put up the wrong candidate.

I think this mattered, but not for the reasons you may think, and it is not the main thing we need to fix. For that, you’ll have to keep reading.

I love Hillary, and I am certain that the long list of reasons some other people hate her are made up by the vast right wing conspiracy led for many years by Newt Gingrich (look for Gingrich to take his power-place in the Trump administration), Karl Rove, and others. Ironically, the anti-Hillary rhetoric, which killed this election, was created by a corrupt political establishment (the Republican Party) and in so doing convinced may anti-corruption anti political establishment voters to vote for Trump.

I am not suggesting that Sanders would have been a better candidate. He would have lacked the negative baggage, but he would have brought to the table some other problems that may have hurt him. Yes, I know head to head polls put Sanders higher than Clinton against Trump, but those early polls, while interesting, should not be the main basis for a decision as to what to do.

Bernie is a boy, and Hillary is a girl. Putting up a female candidate is roughly like putting up a black candidate. You are asking for trouble, asking for racists/sexist votes to come out in huge numbers against you, etc. You could never win with that strategy, could you?

Well, of course you can, and that is what Obama did. But, realistically, a candidate that has inherent negatives with much of the population is potentially at a disadvantage, so one must carefully consider these things. In thinking about this, about the basic question of whether or not the Democrats screwed themselves (and by themselves I mean ourselves because I’m a Democrat) by putting up a woman before the country was ready, several important and often conflicting truths come to the fore.

The people who would vote against a black man because he is black are not going to vote for very many Democrats. So, Obama did not lose very many votes because of the color of his skin. Meanwhile, the prospect of the first African-American president was so exciting to so many people, that Barack Obama brought people out to the polls in such large numbers that fire marshals around the country freaked out about the crowds.

Is it true that the people who wold vote against a woman because she is a woman are also not going to vote for very many Democrats? In other words, is racism very compartmentalized across party lines, while sexism is not as compartmentalized? I think that might be true, but I’m not sure by how much or if it matters. I would have thought that the excitement of having a woman president would have brought more people to the polls to vote for Hillary, but that is not what happened.

I think that the Democrats needed to run a woman this year, and we need to elect a woman to the presidency, and that there is really nothing stopping us from doing that. Sexism played a role this year, but sexism can be dealt with if we fix the actual problem we have in getting people elected. You’ll have to read down tot he bottom to find out what that is.

But first, look at these numbers and consider what conclusions we might draw from them.


There are 219 million eligible voters in the US, of which about 146 million are registered to vote. About 27% of the adult eligible population, or about 18% of the total population, voted for Trump.

  • Democrats are more popular than Republicans.

  • Obama is wildly popular.

  • Trump is the least popular.

  • Clinton is very unpopular for a Democrat.

  • Voting turnout was biggest in the Election of the Century (2008) and smallest in the “Most Important Election Of Our Time.”

  • The “This is the most important election of our time” memo did not get out, apparently.

Those who show up make the decisions. But if only a few people show up, they’ll make the wrong decision.

This brings us to the real reason that we elected Trump as well as a clear indication of what to do about this.

Trump was elected president because of the failure of the Democratic Party to get Clinton elected. “He’s begging the question,” you are saying to yourself right now. Or, “that’s a tautology.” Well, yes, I’m begging the question by stating a tautology. But tautologies are not logical fallacies. They are logical realities that sometimes lead to explanations. Trump could have won this race by being the winner, but instead, he lost it because the other candidate was the loser. There should have been ten million more people voting than their were, a large proportion of which would have voted for Hillary (or against Trump) but they did not show up. If they did show up, we would not be looking at a Trump presidency.

So we can blame the voters for voting like they did, and especially, a subset of the voters for not voting at all.

The actual number of people in this country who can vote if they wanted to is roughly double the number that showed up. So, about 100,000,000 million people failed Democracy this time around, slightly more than usual. Most importantly, 5% o 10% of those non-voters should have been energized to appear at the voting booth based on prior years’ data. I’d reckon that nearly ALL of voters who would actually prefer Trump showed up, and about 5% of usual voters who would prefer Clinton did NOT show up, giving us Trump.

Minnesota Congressional races as object lessons

Now, I’d like to expand on this from the point of view of what happened in some of the congressional races in Minnesota.

I want to compare three races in Minnesota, CD2, CD5, and CD8.

I am using CD5 to calibrate. Here we re in the upper midwest, the beginning of the plains. East of us is increasingly red Can’t-Even-Get-Rid-Of-Scott-Walker Wisconsin. West of us are North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, western Washington, etc, all very red. South of us (next to Nebraska) is reddish Iowa. Minnesota is farms and factories, white, pretty conservative overall.

And right there in the middle of it all is MN CD5, wherefrom the most densely populated part of Minnesota is represented by the only Muslim in Congress. Who is black. And who is politically radically left.

All, or at least most, of the DFLers (thats what we Democrats call ourselves round these parts) in Minnesota look at Congressman Keith Ellison with awe, and see him, as a parson, his policies, and his representation of a Congressional District, as about the best thing we’ve got going in the state. Few Minnesota DFLers may be to the left of Ellison, and few are very far right of him either. We’d be happy to have someone with Kieth Ellison’s politics and policy positions representing all of the districts of the state, and it would be especially helpful to our overall social and cultural mission if most of those representatives were in one or more ways not christian-white-male-normative. Not that Christian white male democrats are bad, but we want a good amount of diversity so we can truly represent a diverse, and increasingly diverse, nation.

So that’s the calibration.

Now lets look at the 8th district. This is the Iron Range. Have you seen the movie, “North country”? Maybe we don’t want to use popular culture depictions to represent congressional districts, but if you don’t mind, you could watch this:

White, conservative, industrial, miners, sexist, hockey. This should be a Republican district. But it is also worker, working class, union. And, DFL means “Democrat, Farmer, Labor,” This, the 8th district, is one of those places that actually gave birth to the modern American labor movement. (And played a big role in the environmental movement, by the way.) Democrats are pro union. Republicans are anti union. The workers of the Iron Range know which side of their toast has the butter on it.

So, now, calibrate and contrast. The modal DFL activist is pro environment, and does not want to see copper mining, now being proposed in the Iron Range/8th district. Ask Congressman Ellison, who represents Minneapolis and environs, if he thinks there should be widespread copper mining in the Iron Range, and I’ll bet he’d say no. Ask Congressman Ellison’s constituents in Minneapolis. They’d say no.

MN CD8 Choice (that's Paul Wellstone's picture in the background).
MN CD8 Choice (that’s Paul Wellstone’s picture in the background).
But Democratic Congressman Nolan, who represents the district and just won a tough race with a Frat Boy Libertarian (but Republican) Beer Guzzling Party Boy Yahoo who also happens to be very wealthy, i.e., Donald Trump with a different haircut, and he will tell you different. He’ll tell you that we need to have mining in the 8th district because we need jobs there. When push comes to shove, I’d bet Congressman Nolan will also want to protect the environment, and he’ll be the perfect person in there to insist on working out future mining in a way that makes sense. But he supports it, and his support of it allows him to be a Congressman.

Putting a finer point on this, in case you’ve not already grokked it, the ideal modal democrat can’t be the candidate you run in every district. Republicans CAN do that. They run on ideological issues that play perfectly well everywhere. Every Republican is interchangeable with every other Republican. Not true with Democrats. Think about that for a minute.

This is the reason this country is more likely to elect a Republican president over a Democratic president all else being equal. It is the reason that when Democrats hold a slim majority, they actually don’t hold a majority with respect to most issues, because they fight, they are diverse, they represent a varied landscape of constituency and preference. The Democratic Party is the very definition of a big tent. We have the bigliest tent. Fabulous, yuge tent.

This is also the reason that, in order for Democrats to win at the Congressional level and above, and often at State Senate or lower levels, they have to start out with 60% or more of the population more or less on their side, so that when 5% break off and become radically inflamed or disenfranchised-depressed, the candidates still hold at least a slim majority.

Hillary Clinton had certain characteristics that made her the ideal Democratic candidate, but among those characteristics, she also had serious negatives. I do not think that Clinton lost because she is a woman, though sexism supercharged most of the smaller effects working against her campaign, as enumerated above. Sexism that happened because she was a woman candidate for president, combined with the false but effective “crooked Hillary” trope, may have brought out the “silent majority,” and sharpened the misogynist Bernie-bot effect.

Now lets’ look briefly at CD2 in Minnesota. This was an open seat this year, and I think it should be looked at very closely. The district may be thought of as roughly equivalent to the 8th district in levels of conservatism, but with two important differences. First, the union-labor part is not very strong there, so that natural avenue of support for Democrats is gone. This is mostly farmers, rural conservatives. By rights, CD2 should always be Republican, were it not for the general like of the DFL even by conservative individuals across the state.

Angie Craig
Angie Craig
The second difference is the presence of academic, medical science-linked, relatively liberal Rochester in the district. That allows for a clump of progressive that liberal ice can freeze to and build up over time.

Now, lets look at the candidates. Think Rush Limbaugh vs. Ellen. Sort of. Republican Jason Lewis is a right wing radio shock jock who makes Trump look like an alter boy, and I’m only exaggerating a little. He, like Trump, is temperamentally disqualified to hold major public office. Angie Craig is a first time candidate who hails from the medical insurance industry, so she has experience in an important issue area, is an “outsider,” and all that. She is also a lesbian and is married to a woman, making her one of the handful of same-sex-married candidates that stepped into the political limelight this year.

So, unlike Nolan, one might argue that Angie Craig is more of an ideal modal DFLer, more akin to Congressman Ellison than to an old timey out state labor-loving democrat like Congressman Nolan. And, I can tell you right now, if I want, that it might have been a bad idea to run her in that district, because she is female, gay, and flaunts her female gayosity by going out and marrying a girl. And, yes, she lost the race. The Democrats should have run a straight white farmer in the 2nd district, right?

In retrospect, running Angie Craig in that district was not a bad idea. The fact is, she almost won. This was a nail biter. She was a far superior candidate, and everyone could see that. She should have won and almost did.

So, why didn’t she win? The Democrats would have taken this district had they run, as I noted, an old white farmer or something. A Lutheran Batchelor Farmer preferably. But Democrats strive to do something different. The Minnesota DFL runs plenty of Lutheran Batchelor Farmers all across the state. The calculation that Angie Craig could win this district was made before Trump was recognized as a factor. The right wing radio shock jock won on Trump’s feces covered coattails. And, only barely.

At this point, I can make an argument that we need to do a better job at picking candidates based on their match with the voters, sometimes taking the chance and running individuals who are non-white, non-straight, etc. but otherwise sticking with the candidate that “most resembles” the district at hand, in terms of gender, age, color of skin, and policy. And, yes, that is actually correct, one must consider these things all the time. However, we are the Big Tent people, the Democrats, so naturally we are not going to do that all the time. We will, should, and do, accept the occasional loss because in this or that race we could not fit our giant tent into the local voting booth. In fact, it is only by overreaching and losing that we know where that line is, so we can cross it frequently and therefor move it in the right direction. Losing a race in a place like Minnesota’s Second Congressional District is what we need to do now and then. In two years, we’ll take it back.

But we also need to win races, and that means making good choices. But, although I can make an argument that we need to do a better job at that, that is not the argument I want to make.

The real reason Angie and Hillary lost

The reason that Angie Craig lost in MN CD2 is not because she was female, lesbian, or married to a woman. The reason that Angie Craig lost in MN CD2 is because the National Democratic Party screwed up and a number of people, just a few thousand, that would have voted for Angie, stayed home or didn’t volunteer or otherwise get involved.

We did have high voter turnout in MN, apparently, as we usually do. But in CD2, about 20,000 people didn’t show up. During the last presidential election, 357 thousand voters voted in that district, in contrast to about 337 thousand this year. This perfectly mirrors the national numbers. In the national election, about 6% fewer people voted this year than in 2012. In Minnesota CD2, about 6% fewer people voted this year than last year.

Lack of voter turnout caused both Hillary Clinton and Angie Craig and countless other Democrats to lose to Republicans in 2016.

There is plenty of room in that six percent to work with, to have elected Hillary Clinton as President and Angie Craig to Congress.

(“Hey, but what about the 8th district, was there a similar drop there? Cuz your DFL guy won there. If you’re right, there wasn’t a drop there. Cough up the numbers, Greg.” Answer: There was virtually no difference in that district between 2012 and 2016. Hypothesis survives.)

It is all about voter turnout. The second and third reasons why Democrats lose are: Not enough voter turnout, and voter turnout is too low. Also … voter turnout.

But, why was voter turnout low? Here, we could go back to the other reasons a candidate might win or lose. Hillary was a woman. The Great Right Wing Conspiracy against Hillary. Trump was a TV star. Whatever. And we would still be missing the point.

Since half of the population are women, about 60% of them, apparently, care that a woman is elected president enough go get really excited (the remainder are repressed Republicans or hopelessly sexist), and that should readily offset anti-woman voting from sexist men. Hillary did not lose because she is a woman, but it mattered that a relatively high percentage of sexist people (mostly men, some women) voted in lower population states. In fact, that probably would have killed Hillary’s chances in even more states were she not rescued by the Black and Hispanic communities. Hillary’s negatives mattered a lot, I suspect. If anything, Trump’s very existence, and the entire GOP circus, turned voters off to the entire process, and not just Republican voters. The Bernie Bot’s themselves, with their special snowflake votes, probably didn’t matter much in their voting habits, but their unceasing yammering probably turned some people away. Doesn’t matter. Only one thing matters, because all these things feed into that one thing: Depressed turnout.

How To Win The Elections

In Minnesota, we expected to turn one of our houses Democratic and keep the other Democratic, and to maintain or increase our Democratic delegation to Congress. This did not happen, and our state got redder because the national election sent people away from the polls. There were a lot of things we were going to do over the next two years in this state, and that is over now.

The way to fix this is not to fix the candidates, or to deal with this or that particular problem that emerges in this or that national level election. It is not to forego women candidates, or to avoid men and women in same sex marriages, or to compromise in any other way. It is to make national elections matter less, and local elections matter more, so that every year, on election day, a large part of the population bothers to show up at the voting booth. Twice (primary and main election day).

Instead of the outcome of, and interest in, local elections being determined by the ebb and flow of national elections, so some years we all take it in the neck because the national party is outdone by the other party, or some other effect, killing us all with deadly coattails, by down ticket effects, by all that, the opposite should be true. Local political activity should be broad, wide, and intense, and that activity should determine up ticket effects.

Instead of coattails jerking around state house races, state house races should be the solid foundation for national races. As it stands now, the public face of people we will never really meet, even if we may once shake their hand on a rope line, determines the nature and character of the electoral process every four years, and leaves hanging and ignored, that process in all other years. What should happen is this. The public servants that live next door and who’s houses we can, I don’t know, cover with toilet paper if we want to, and who’s kids go to school with our kids, and all that, should collectively and en masse shape the nature and character of all elections, all the time, every single year, and then of course determine the outcome of that singular and occasional election for President.

I am not the first person to say this. This approach underlies all grassroots activism. Tip O’Neil said it. Marx said it. Everybody said it. But we don’t do it.

We need to do it.

The Democratic Party Party

Consider the amount of money that the Democratic Party or a major Superpac spends on an hour of presidential election season ads in a major market. Take some of that money. Or, maybe just take the total cost of a presidential campaign, about a billion dollars, and put aside a chunk of it.

A Macon County Democratic candidate wining the hearts and minds of the people.
A Macon County Democratic candidate wining the hearts and minds of the people.
Those funds, widely distributed, can pay for clambakes and brat bbqs in state house or senate districts. A Democratic Party Party for all the neighbors, two or three times a year prior to the primaries and again prior to the election. Every year.

Imagine if it was normal for the Democratic Party to have a gathering, a feast, a night-out-thing, a few times a year, EVERY year, regardless of the election cycle, with all invited, not by what party you are in or by what politics you hold, but simply because you are in the neighborhood.

Perhaps the Republicans would start doing it to. If they do, then we really win, because there would be twice as many public, welcoming events without us paying for it, but this technique mainly benefits Democrats. Why? Because a party has tents! Actual tents for our big tent thinking, making the political process a local, regular, normal, social process, embedded in our culture, with clam rolls or brats or crab cakes or whatever your local thing is. And the chicken dance, if you must. And a bounce house.

Choices and chance at the national level turn the turnout dial up or down, unpredictably, every four years, and otherwise not much happens. When turnout is high, Democrats win. This is why Democrats lose in the house race every midterm. The dial is turned down because there is no national election. This is a situation we will never, ever get out of if we leave it be. It is a situation caused by the top to bottom flow of energy, money, and decision making. It is, if you will, a situation caused by the very nature of the Democratic Party establishment of which we hear so many complaints these days.

I propose that we turn a good chunk of that national level money flow to the local level. Put up that tent, have the block party, rent the VFW, the Union Hall, now and then the local church.

A voter registration table, some local candidates, a couple of VERY SHORT speeches. In Minnesota, Al Franken gets up on a chair and draws a map of all 50 states from memory because he can do that. Maybe there is some raising of funds, a money jar, to off set the cost, but this is not a fundraiser but rather, a fun raiser. Did I mention that there will be a bounce house?

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-12-09-04-pmAfter election day, we feast. No particular reason it is done in this order, but every year, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November comes just a few days before the fourth Thursday in November. I propose that we reverse that. Leave Thanksgiving where it is, of course, but add a feast before election day, and another one before that, and two before primary day, or caucus day, or in Minnesota, both. Not political events, but social events that emphasize civic engagement and voting, run by our party, because we have to get the ball rolling. If the other party wants to do it to, fine. They can borrow our Weber.

Obviously, spending the money and resources on a big party is not the actual suggestion I’m making here. It is just one way to do it. Civic engagement at the local level to encourage and expand voting, to raise the turnout rate by double digits. That’s the ticket to turnout.

Minnesota is surrounded by red, and it probably should be red, by comparison. But we are not. Why? Look at this map of the 2012 general election (selected to show a presidential race but not a great outlier i.e. 2008):


Look at the higher turnout zones. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are rural farm states that should be pure red, but they are either blue, or trend blue many years, and they have high voter turnout. New Hampshire and Maine should be very conservative, given the demographics, but they trend blue, and have high voter turnout. Virginia is a blue southern state. There is a long list of reasons Virginia is blue and not red,but on that list must be voter turnout. Texas has piles of urban, lost of immigrants from blue states, and a relatively diverse population. Why is it red and not blue? Oh look, Texas has low voter turnout. Colorado, outside of certain areas, is very conservative but tents to vote blue among a sea of red. Look at the voter turnout.

The causal arrow is probably a bit more complex than a simple Turnout—> Blue relationship. But the relationship is known to be real. Hell, if the supports of Democratic Candidates just spent a pile of time and money on voter turnout in general, they would win more. But if the person handing you the free brat and plastic cup of beer happens to be wearing a blue shirt with the name of a Democratic candidate on it …

The Real Story Behind The Basket of Deplorables

I have to say, first, that when I hear the term “Basket of Deplorables” I think right away of Edward Gorey, for some reason. Do you?

Anyway, I’ve seen and hear a lot of whining and bellyaching about this term, and Secretary Clinton’s statement.

But most people have only heard the statement, and not the discussion that led up to it. That, folks, is the real story. So spend two minutes and edumicate yourself:

Personally, I can’t see how one would support Trump unless one was fully deplorable, or a basket case, or both. Secretary Clinton underestimated with that 50% thumbsuck guess.

Who Won The California, New Jersey and Other Democratic Primaries?

And, how did my model do?

There was a lot of talk about California, and a lot of back and forth, but in the end I stuck with my original model to predict the outcome of that race. See the table above for the results, but the bottom line is that I predicted that Clinton would get 57 percent of the votes and Sanders 43 percent. It turns out that Clinton got 57 percent and Sanders got 43 percent.

Excuse me for a moment while I bask in the bright light of being-right-ness.

Thank you. Now, on to the details.

First, a quick, note on the numbers and methods. All my percents (for prediction and as reported for the outcome) are the proportions of each candidate’s take of the two candidates, so “other” or “The Lizard People” or anything other than Clinton or Sanders are taken out of consideration. In some cases this will cause the numbers to look different than those reported by the press. The awarded delegates I provide here are from the Washington Post, and often do not add up to my predicted proportionate amount. This is because the process of awarding delegates is complicated and bizarre. Eventually the numbers of proportionate delegates will settle to be very close to those you would get form using the percentage of votes for each candidates.

The outcome of yesterday’s primaries was pretty much as expected, but not exactly. Polls and my model both seemed to predict that Clinton would win New Jersey by a large margin, California by a good amount, likely New Mexico, and that Sanders would take Montana and the Dakotas.

Clinton ended up doing better in New Jersey than expected, but in the case of landslides, the final numbers are often a bit off probably because of some fundamental behavior of variance. California was as expected, as was Montana. Sanders did much better in New Mexico (a closed primary, by the way) than expected, but still did not win.

The Dakotas are the enigma. The expectation was that Sanders would do very well in both states, better in South than North. It turns out that South Dakota totally reversed, with Clinton winning by four percent. In North Dakota, Sanders wiped Clinton out, not only winning by a large amount as expected, but trouncing clinton with what must be one of the highest margins all season.

With respect to my model (detailed here), I think we are looking at sample size and a few other things. I was within a fraction of a percent in the largest state, and the smallest states were the oddest. But, I also suspect different campaign efforts by the different candidates played a role. Also, when we talk about openness of the primary (or caucus) it is important to note that not all contests have corresponding Republican contests going on at the same time. That may be a big factor in the Dakotas.

In the end, there are two big winners today. Hillary Clinton had a resounding victory in the largest state, and did very well across the board otherwise. This comes hours after the press deciding to declare her the Winner-Apparent based on math, and it verifies that math. Sanders has continuously said he would fight to the convention, attempting to overthrow the process using super delegates. He seems to have not noticed that the entire Democratic Party is mad at him, even former Sanders supporters, and the super delegates’ job is actually to make an effort to maintain the spirit of the process when something goes wrong. Sanders is the thing that is going wrong at the moment — with his effort to reverse the democratic process — so there is zero chance that the Supers are going to come to his aid.

The second winner is, of course, Science by Spreadsheet. I’ve been running spreadsheets on elections since spreadsheets were invented, and this is the best cycle I’ve had. I’m pretty sure my model out performed all the other models. Perhaps I will summarize all that in another post at some point.

Can’t wait to get started on the electoral map.

I should mention that DC still has a primary to go, and it will go overwhelmingly for Clinton.

How Bernie Sanders Lost Nevada Four Times

First, Sanders lost Nevada because Hillary Clinton won the caucus.

Then, the Sanders campaign put their ground game into effect, in an effort to overtake Clinton during the nearly-unique-to-Nevada process that allows for changes in pledged delegates at later caucuses. But he didn’t get enough delegates to achieve that. The Sanders campaign does get credit for getting more delegates than they had before, of course.

Then, at the State Convention, Sanders had enough delegates in place to gain a couple of more delegates and possibly tie with Clinton in the end. But the organizers for the Sanders campaign failed to ensure that all the delegates to that convention were totally on board with what they needed to do in order to be credentialed at the event. Of the thousands of delegates at the convention, a handful of Clinton delegates failed to be credentialed (an expected number) but something over 60, initially, of the Sanders delegates were not legit, so they could not participate. A few of those managed to get credentialed by clarifying their information, but most did not. I’m not 100% certain of this, but I think that had they all been credentialed there would have been enough Sanders delegates to win one more delegate.

The fourth failure is complex, and mainly philosophical. First, Sanders supporters around the country are complaining a lot about how the Democratic Party process is an insiders game and ignored the will of the people. This is odd, considering that the will of the people leans strongly towards Clinton. In any event, the Sanders campaign playing the ground game in the middle of the Nevada process was inside politics. This sort of inside politics is perfectly normal, legal, expected, and what you have to do if you want to win. But by complaining loudly about the Clinton campaign doing this sort of thing, and then doing this, Sanders lost a moral high ground. The fact that this particular moral high ground does not exist to begin with means that this is merely an annoyance, but it is annoying.

Another part of the fourth failure is the cacophony of Sanders voices complaining about getting screwed in Las Vegas (I’m sure they weren’t the only ones that evening). This is a problem because it engenders bad feelings among democrats, but the accusation is based on nothing. What really happened is that the Sanders campaign tried to grab a couple of more delegates, but owing, I think, to too many people involved being ignorant of how the system works, failing to do as well as they might have. This same ignorance has led to unfounded complaints about what happened at the Nevada convention. This whole thing, this fourth way of losing, has given people whoa are getting tired of the Sanders followers more of a reason to call for Sanders to drop out of a race he has already lost. That loss may be more important than the small number of delegates that the Nevada Sanders campaign organizers failed to get.

A few points for those not fully aware. First, the numbers of delegates at the convention is very large, and the number of delegates who were not credentialed is very small, a fraction of a percent. Second, yes, this convention was chaotic, but guess what: they are all, always, chaotic. What happened at this convention was mostly pretty normal, though the Sanders antics did make the event run way more over time than usual. Another thing that was a bit unusual was that they were allowed to go over time by three hours. That is fairly remarkable. Usually, a extended event (caucus or campaign) shuts down much sooner.

Both campaigns had people involved in counting delegates, credentialing delegates, and running the meeting. This was not a case of Sanders people all on the floor and Clinton people running the show. Rather, both Clinton and Sanders people were involved in all aspects of this convention, and both Sanders and Clinton people, for the most part, acted properly during the event. I think it was just a small number of Sanders people who were causing all the extra raucous, and later complaining about it.

When considering the events in Nevada, remember that no two caucuse systems are alike, and the Nevada system is probably much less like the others than any. People are calling for a revision of the Nevada system, to not allow so much changing around of delegate pledges after the initial causus (though that has nothing to do with what happened Saturday), but actually, this system is better for the campaign process and for democracy. First, candidates have to demonstrate that they are willing to do more than just show up for a few days of stumping and buy a few ads. They have to be involved at the state and local level the whole time. Second, if there is a shift in the opinion of party mebmers as to who should get the state’s delegates, this allows for that adjustment. In this case, the adjustment mainly indicated a shift towards Clinton and away from Sanders. Thus, the Sanders people are a bit upset. Understandable, but just part of the process.

By and large, a lot of Democrats (both Sanders and Clinton supporters) are deciding to love or hate a the process, or a particular part of the process, based on whether their candidate won or lost. Please stop. In fact, estopp. You signed up for the game, this is the game, these are the rules. Feel free to suggest changes in the rules, but you can’t issue a complaint when the rules are followed but you didn’t get your way.

Tuesday’s Democratic Primaries: Clinton favored in all polls, but Sanders will win two

Between now and the end of the primary season, I expect Sanders to pick up more delegates than Clinton, in total, by a very small margin.

On Tuesday, April 26th, there will be primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. That’s 384 pledged delegates at stake.

Polls put Clinton ahead in all these states, but not all the polls are current and not all the Clinton leads are strong.

Added Note:

I noticed some very strong reactions in the comments section from people apparently (but not very clearly) accusing me of making up numbers to make it look like Sanders will win some races (esp California?), with the presumption that I’m a Sanders supporter.

Those of you who have been following my writings on the campaign will know that for the first several weeks of the primary season, until very recently, I did not support one or the other candidate. I like them both. And, if you like either of them, and you know anything at all about American politics, you’ll like the other as well, though of course you are entitled to have a strong preference. Either way, it is impossible to like one of these two candidates and not prefer the other over either Trump or Cruz (or any Republican who ran this year). If you do like any of those Republicans over one or the other Democratic candidate, please note that most people looking at you will be thinking “WTF”?

Anyway, the analysis I use to make these predictions is something that I have been developing and refining since the very first days of the primary season, and it is a dispassionate unbiased statistical prediction, and has nothing whatsoever to do with which candidate I support.

If you are making an assumption that I support, say, Sanders, and that is why I wrote this post, then I’m pretty sure that you’ve not read the post. Why do I say that? Read the whole post and find out!

My model, as you know, has been doing a pretty good job at predicting outcomes in this year’s Democratic primary process. And, that poll says that Clinton will win three states, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and garner a total of about 221 delegates, and Sanders will win two states, Connecticut and Rhode Island, getting a total of 163 delegates.

Note that my expected spread in Pennsylvania is actually very close. Clinton is firmly ahead in the polls, my model says she’ll squeak by, and my model has done better than polls in many instances. Who knows, maybe Sanders will win there?

Delaware and Rhode Island are really close, and could go either way. On a related note, there is supposed to be a new poll for Rhode Island coming any second now (there is no current polling there) so that will be interesting.

The table at the top of the post shows my projections for Tuesday as well as through the rest of the race. Note that starting Tuesday and running to the end of the primary season, Bernie Sanders is expected to get more delegates than Hillary Clinton, but only 10 more. This a very small number, and the final count could go either way. It would, of course, take Sanders winning a much larger number to catch up to Clinton in pledged delegates. Sanders is behind by 237 delegates.

In order for Sanders to close the gap with Clinton, he would have to do 17% better than my model projects from here on out.

That does not sound like a lot, but there are two things to consider. First, my model has been very accurate. It has been closer to a few percent off over time, and I don’t expect it to suddenly stop working at that point. Second, to the extent that my model is wrong, it tends to under predict Sanders in caucuses and open states, esp. open caucuses. All the remaining contests are primaries, and most of them are closed or semi-closed.

Note also that my model conflicts with the polls and common knowledge in California, where I say Sanders will win, and everybody else (except Sanders, I assume) says Clinton will win. Also, note how some of these contests are very close, really too close to call especially Indiana, and Kentucky.

Who Won The New York Democratic Primary, and Why?

I don’t know yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll post that below.

With 98.5% of the delegates counted, Clinton won 57.9% of the vote, Sanders 42.1%. This puts Clinton at 139 delegates, very close to my prediction of 137.

Clinton closing in on 57%, or about 140 delegates.
Clinton closing in on 57%, or about 140 delegates.

If that holds, this is pretty much of a shellacking for Sanders. Sanders out spent Clinton on ad buys, has campaigned heavily, and has set the expectations as a definitive win. This is Sanders home state (of birth, not representation). Yet he seems to have definitively lost. This will put Sanders even more behind in the delegate count.

Sen. Hillary Rodham ClintonThe bigger the loss for Sanders, the bigger the steaming pile of bull substance will be put forth by that presumably-tiny-and-hillary-has-them-too-yadayada Sanders supporters, with claims that the election was unfair, stolen, etc. And that will probably turn off even more people undecided between the candidate, and Sanders will do even worse in future contests. I’ve predicted that he will win in California, and I’ll stick to that story until my own analysis suggests otherwise, but it won’t be enough to offset his current deep-second position, Clinton’s increasing lead, and all that.

You know what they say. It ain’t over until the big green lady with the torch sings.

And she just did.


Meanwhile, some background on a key aspect of today’s Democratic primary in New York.

This is a closed primary in a state where you have to be registered in a political party by some time in October in order to participate.

See this for more information about how that sort of thing varies across the states.

I have projected that Clinton will win this primary, and my estimate for the delegate take is 137 for Clinton and 110 for Sanders. See this for a detailed breakdown of this and other projections for the rest of the race.

But, is this what will happen? Clinton does better than Sanders in southern states, and New York is not a southern state. In fact, Clinton tends to win all of the southern states, and while Sanders wins more non-southern states than Clinton, he certainly does not win all of them. See this for more details on the southern effect.

New York is a big state, and Clinton tends to do better in big states, as shown here.

There have been nine closed caucus states, and Sanders has won seven of them, with a tie in one. There have been three open caucus contests, and Sanders has won in three of them. There have been 7 closed primary contests and Sanders has won in one of them, with a tie in one. There have been 13 open primaries, and Sanders has won three. So, he does better in caucus states, but tends to lose in primary states, and possibly least well in closed primary states, which is what New York has.

Now, here is the interesting thing, recently pointed out by Rachel Maddow. Sanders, and the Sanders campaign, is not making any attempt at all to control expectations in New York. Clinton has a better claim to favorite daughter status. New York is relatively diverse, and Clinton does better in diverse states. Clinton tends to win closed primaries. The polls show Clinton ahead. My own projection, not based on polls, has Clinton winning. But Sanders keeps up with the “we will win here” mantra, which is not the advisable approach if you are not going to win. You can win and lose at the same time by setting up the expectation that you will lose by, say, 15% and then you go ahead and lose by only 9%. That’s a win(ish) in the primary process. But Sanders is not doing that.

Here’s Maddow’s thing:

Sanders’ evidence is that he tends to come from behind, and over perform. And in my own modeling, that has tended to happen. All those times I was right about the outcome of a contest and the great FiveThirtyEight was wrong, it was a Sanders over performance, pretty much.

But, for all the reasons stated above, I don’t expect this to happen in New York. If it does, that will be very significant, and we may have to rethink the whole primary process this year!

Anyway, just for fun and because I thought you might find it interesting, I rand some numbers. I simply took the last several polls in several states, and recalculated the percentage for Clinton and Sanders such that the percents attributed add up to 100%, and then added to the top of the list the actual performance in the contest. From this I made a graph, with the moment of winning on the left side. If Sanders tends to jump up and win the contest, this will be seen by a line tracking (backwards) along below 50% then suddenly, for the actual voting, jump above 50%.

I did not do this for all the contests because there simply isn’t enough poling data. Indeed, Sanders tends to win in open and/or caucus states, and pollster don’t even bother polling in those states because they are so crazy. And, he tends to win in small states, and pollsters tend to not poll in small states. Which, if you think about it, should give you pause in considering Sanders’ claim. He does better than expected when the expectation is based on nearly zero or otherwise crappy data.

Anyway, I non-systematically picked a bunch of states and made a bunch of graphs and shoved them all onto one graphic:

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 10.43.30 AM

Sanders did the Bernie Blast to the top in Minnesota, but we had almost no info in Minnesota. He seemed to do it in Michigan, but if you look at the polling over time, it was not utterly unexpected. He might have done it a little, but not enough to win, in Arizona, but note that this is the state that had all that voter repression.

I indicated on each graph the nominal category of contest so you can gaze at these results and draw your own conclusions.

As I’ve said numerous times, each contest is a test of a particular hypothesis or model about how the primary season is going. If Clinton wins New York and wins it by about 10-15%, the NY primary does not change the fact that she will win the race, but come in just under the required number of pledged delegates to lock without super delegates. If she does way better, that changes our expectations for the rest of the primary season.

If, on the other hand, Sanders wins, that will be huge and require a major revision of our thinking.

Polls close at 9:00 PM Eastern in New York. If urban and NYC districts are counted early, and upstate later, because they use clay pots and send the results in by pony or something, then we should see Clinton surge then Sanders slowly slog towards catching up (or not).

Stay tuned.

Who Will Win The New York Democratic Primary?

As you know, I’ve been applying a model to predict the outcome of each of the Democratic Primary contests, and have done pretty well at predicting results.

All of the future contests are primaries, not caucuses. It turns out that the two modes have very different patterns. Many have suggested that this has to do with how the process works, and somehow caucuses, or open contests, favor Sanders, who has won several. However, it also turns out that caucusing is a northern thing (and Sanders does somewhat better in the north, or more accurately perhaps, rarely wins in the south). Caucusing is also a white thing, apparently. Caucuses happen in non-southern mostly white states, and these are states that Sanders can (but does not always) win.

Since the remainder of the contests are primaries, I used my simple ethnic-based model, which predicts the outcome of the various contests based on the estimated percentage of African American voters. I used only data from previous primaries to develop a simple linear model. This model applied to all of the future contests, starting with New York, tells us that Clinton will win in New York.

After that, Sanders wins in several smaller and mostly norther states, but also, California . Clinton wins in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which are relatively large. If this plays out as predicted, between now and the end of the primary season, Hillary Clinton will pick up about 795 delegates and Sanders will pick up about 778 delegates.

How many delegates does each candidate have so far? Clinton has approximately 1310 and Sanders approximately 1094. (This is approximate because in some states it is actually a little hard to count because of the nature of the system.)

Here is a table showing all of my projections from here on out. I’ll probably redo the model a few more times, especially if anything unexpected happens, so stay tuned.


Something important, something troubling, and something dangerous

The important thing first.

I predicted who would win the Wisconsin primary, although my prediction suggested that Sanders would do better than he did. (He underperformed.) I predicted the outcome of the Wyoming primary exactly.

These are the most recent two in a long series of mostly correct predictions of which Democratic candidate will win each of the contests in this long presidential primary season. My predictions of which candidate would win have been mostly accurate, but also, fairly accurate with respect to how many delegates each candidate would pick up.

Several primaries back, for several primaries in a row, Sanders did somewhat better than my predictions suggested, indicating that the model I was using to make these predictions possibly underestimated that candidate’s long term performance. However, that stopped happening, and Sanders went back to performing pretty much as I expected him to perform, or not as well.

This verifies the fact that Hillary Clinton will finish this presidential primary season in the lead. Yes of course, one never knows. But at some point one has to presume, even if there is a small chance that a numerically nearly impossible outcome will emerge. And, if this turns out to be wrong, since I am tracking every delegate, I’ll be among the first to know and acknowledge, and shift strategy as needed. But at the moment I feel very comfortable working with the assumption that the primary season will end with Clinton having about 2,000 pledged delegates, and Sanders having between 1700 and 1800 pledged delegates.

If the unpledged delegates simply track this outcome, this will give Clinton the nomination on the first ballot.

I have been using a similar model for making these predictions all along, but refining the model (how it works) and adding data (with each contest’s outcome). I have tried several times to develop a version of the model that would put the consistently second place candidate, Sanders, at an advantage, biasing the model with assumptions about a possible improved performance. Not once did that alternative version of my predictive model put Sanders in the lead at the end of the primary season, though he got close once.

Simply put, barring an unlikely surprise, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2016. That is the important thing.

Now the troubling thing.

From the start of this primary season, I was happy with either candidate, and vowed to support whichever candidate is nominated. Most sane people intend to support the winner, because the alternative is rather horrible. Most people did pick a candidate earlier in the process, but I refused to. Of course, every time I questioned a criticism of Clinton, some Sanders supporters “accused” me (as though that was a legitimate accusation of wrong doing) of supporting Clinton. When I would critique a criticism of Sanders, the reverse would generally happen. Many people were simply not allowing me to be supportive of both. Also, I wasn’t undecided. I had decided that both were excellent candidates, in their own ways.

But it goes beyond that. During this primary season, I’ve witnessed, again and again, people who had previously shown signs of high level functioning and impressive intelligence saying many utterly stupid things. I’ve closely monitored and been involved in many presidential elections, and I note that this often happens to some degree, but this year, this has been happening wholesale and to an extreme. I will not give you examples. If you are a reasonable person who has been paying attention, you don’t need me to give you examples because you know exactly what I am talking about. If you are one of the folks who has been quick to make utterly illogical or fact free arguments about every aspect of this race, often reaching far into the land of conspiracy theory, then you don’t know what I’m talking about but you will sense, somehow, that this paragraph is deeply insulting to you. Feel free to make defensive comments below. I will ignore them. And, I have nothing else to say about this. This departure from reason is, of course, the troubling thing.

The dangerous thing overlaps with the troubling thing.

Weeks ago it started to look like a small number of supporters of Bernie Sanders, in the event that Hillary Clinton was nominated, were going to either write in Sanders, vote for Trump or Cruz, or not vote at all. This did not surprise me, because a good number of the Sanders supporters where I live, in the shadow of Michele Bachmann’s congressional district, are fairly right wing. This may not make sense if you see Sanders as a progressive, very left candidate (which he is) but have a non-nuanced view of politics, but it is both true and understandable. The same thing happened with the Paul mini-Dynasty. I will not spend any time here outlining how this happens.

Over time, however, this “small percentage” has grown, and polling indicates that something close to 20% of declared Sanders supporters are what has become known as “Bernie or Busters” of various political stripes, but all holding the same dangerous view. These folks will not support anyone but Sanders, or will turn on the Democratic party if Sanders is not nominated.

Parallel to this phenomenon we see myriad other destructive practices by Sanders supporters, and by destructive I mean destructive to the political process and to the Democratic candidacy. Given that Clinton is going to get the nomination, it is a significant problem that so many Sander supporters are trying so hard to damage her.

These trends, of “Bernie or Busters” or of taking Clinton as seemingly equivalent to Satan, are a problem not only because of their immediate effects, but because the Sanders campaign accepts and exploits these activities and attitudes. It is no longer possible to point to the two or three times that Bernie Sanders scolded someone for this attitude and claim he is taking care of this, and it is no longer possible to give the Sanders campaign the benefit of doubt, suggesting that they just don’t know about what is going on. Campaigns know these things. Sanders knows about these things.

To this we add the clearly emerging pattern of the Clinton campaign working down ballot, to elect a blue, or at least, bluer Congress (and to help Democrats in other ways), while Sanders does very little in this area (he has done some things, but not much). Sanders’ strategy of having the masses show up in DC to shame the GOP Congress into not being nefarious haters was never going to work. Clinton’s strategy, and the strategy of the rest of the Democratic Party, to take back Congress, can work if we follow through. The numbers show that we actually could do it this year, if we don’t throw away the opportunity. Sanders appears to be throwing away the opportunity, Clinton is not.

So that’s the dangerous part. We need to approach the general election with a candidate and supporters who are going to do what is needed. The Sanders campaign has become a danger.

Several days ago I posted this on my Facebook page:

Among the reactions to this meme were assertions that somehow it is wrong for candidates to help each other (see comments above about taking back Congress .. Franken’s election is exactly how the Democrats retook the Senate for a couple of years). Among the reactions was a call to find someone to primary Franken. These are insane reactions. These are the reactions of deluded cultists, not political activists.

And, these reactions were among the small number of final straws that had fallen upon this particular camel’s back. I decided to take a break from the Facebook conversation about this election for a few days, and I blacked out my profile pics, without comment, as a form of protest. To underscore the protest, I began posting nothing but cat pictures. A handful of my Facebook friends understood and commiserated. A good number of Sanders supporters seemed to quiet down (except one or two), probably realizing that I was fed up.

And now, I’m back. But guess what. I’m not going to argue about Sanders, or Sanders vs. Clinton. The Sanders campaign is done. If this had all gone somewhat differently, I’d still be talking about Sanders, points he’s making, interesting things about his campaign, but the cost of doing that is too high. The Sanders campaign, owing mainly to the personality cultists and the Bernie or Busters, which are probably in total about a third of his supporters, have ruined the campaign, and made it not worth talking about. The Sander campaign, sadly, has become less interesting, more annoying, and just as predictable, as a bunch of cat pictures.

980xThis is not to say that Sanders contribution has not been great. It has been very significant, and this souring of his campaign detracts from that only modestly. But that part is done. We’ve heard Bernie, we’ve listened, he’s influenced the process.

But from hear on out, if you are a Bernie supporter, talk to the paw.

The Rest of the Democratic Primary

We are in the Primary Doldrums. For the last several days and the next several days, there is not too much happening, big gaps between the action. Wisconsin is important, and it is Tuesday, Then Wyoming by itself, then New York by itself, then a sort of Super Tuesday with several states.

As you know I’ve created a multivariable model that has a good record of predicting primary and caucus outcomes in the contests between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. For the rest of the primary season, this is what it looks like.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 12.49.47 PM

I used yellow highlighting to indicate who is expected to win the most delegates on each primary/caucus day. Sanders will do well in Wisconsin, tie (or maybe even better) in Wyoming, do well in Indiana, and on balance, do well on June 7th when there will be six contests at once including Pennsylvania. But while Sanders may win the day on three (or four) days, Clinton will win the day on five. In total, Clinton is predicted to take 886 delegates, and Sanders 790.

This is the distribution of cumulative delegates starting with now and moving across this range of primary dates, showing the evolution of the difference between the two candidates throughout.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 12.50.32 PM

On balance, Clinton will, according to this model, will widen her lead over Sanders. If Sanders does better than projected this gap will narrow, but he’ll have to do very well to close the gap.

Bernie Sanders’ Strategy to Win the Nomination

Bernie Sanders has either stated or implied two features that make up his strategy to win the Democratic nomination to be the party’s candidate for President this November.

Implied, sort of stated: Convince so-called “Superdelegates” (properly called “uncommitted delegates”) in states where he has won to vote for him, even if he is in second. That is a good idea, and if the two candidates are close, it could happen. However, when I run the numbers, giving Bernie “his” uncommitted delegates and Hillary “her” uncommitted delegates, it is pretty much a wash. The uncommitted delegates are not perfectly evenly distributed across the various voting units (states and such) but they are evenly enough distributed that not much happens. Not that this can’t come into play when Spooky Delegate Math is applied, but there isn’t much there.

Stated, the other part of the strategy: Get more votes. The idea here is that the second half of the primary season (counted in terms of numbers of delegates awarded over time), which started on March 22nd, is more favorable to Sanders than it is to Clinton.

Earlier work I did showed that this strategy has only a small chance of working, because Clinton will in fact win plenty of delegates during this second half of the season, and she has plenty of delegates under her belt now. Bernie just can’t catch up. See this post for details.

Unless …

As I have said many times, each primary or caucus, or each day on which there are a number of contests at once, is a test of one or more hypotheses. One hypothesis at stake last Tuesday was the accuracy of the model noted above. The various iterations and updates of my models for predicting primary outcomes have been very accurate all season, and I accurately predicted the outcome of Tuesday’s primary in terms of wins. I predicted that Hillary would win Arizona, and Bernie would win Idaho and Utah, and they did.

However, the magnitude of the predictions was off. Hillary won fewer votes than expected in Arizona and Bernie did way better in Utah and Idaho than predicted. (Also, the role of crossover voting was reduced as a likely factor in these elections, because Bernie did so well in Arizona with no crossovers.)

The difference in magnitude was so great that the seemingly assured Clinton victory in delegate count was turned on its head, and Sanders got more delegates than Clinton.

Is that a wakeup call? Or is it random variation?

Well, let’s assume for a minute that this is not random, and that this small set of contests tells us that the model is fundamentally wrong(ish). One thing I could do to fix that is to add the new data into the multivariable model and recalculate, but the number of new data points is insufficient to make a difference.

Another thing I could do is to assume that there is change over time in voting behavior, and add a variable for time. There are two reasons to not do that. One is that the more variables you add, the more accurately the model can predict the past (i.e, predict the value of the variables that are used to make the model), but not necessarily the future. The second reason is that if time is in fact a variable, simply adding it now would not work because of imbalance over time in sample size for the relevant variable.

So, what to do? Well, a third possibility is to fudge the data. Let us take a chance and provisionally assume that Arizona, Utah, and Idaho indicate that from here on in the expected outcomes based on my model are off by a certain amount, and then adjust future states to reflect that.

I quickly add that I’ve done this before … fudging the model to see if a Sanders claim about future outcomes might change the numbers … and each time that new hypothesis was falsified by subsequent primaries. But, why not try it again? The numbers from yesterday’s contests are startling enough to make it, actually, necessary, if one wants to remain honest about what is happening on the ground.

I have felt all along, and still feel, and most people agree with this, that there are two kinds of states, those that tend to favor Bernie and those that tend to favor Hillary. Also, the variables used in the multivariable analysis may have asymmetries across the nearly-even-state boundary of bias. (In fact I’m pretty sure they do.) So, let’s consider Arizona as a Clinton-favoring state in which she underperformed a certain amount that we estimate by comparing the expected results with the actual results. Let us also assume that Utah and Idaho are Sanders-favoring states in which he over performed by an amount that we can similarly estimate.

This is conservative because the estimates are based on the differences between the candidates, not the absolute magnitude of their delegate takes in each contest.

In this revision, then, I put Clinton’s expected future performance in Clinton favoring states as a 30% reduction in the spread, and Sanders’s expected future performance in Sanders favoring states as a 300% increase in spread. (Notice the asymmetry emerges here.)

Those sound like really different numbers, but they are not. The typical predicted Sanders win is small, so the total number of extra delegates Sanders ends up with is pretty similar in the two kinds of states.

When I do this, Clinton still wins. See the chart at the top of the post. But, there are three very important things to note.

First, this is too close to call. If this Sanders II strategy works out over the next few contests, and we believe it is the New Normal for this primary season, then it will simply be impossible to say who will win. The outcome here is very close, and had I used just slightly different numbers, I could have come up with an equally close outcome with Sanders winning.

Second, it is possible, depending on what happens with uncommitted delegates, that if the race is this close, there could be a brokered convention. I actually think this is unlikely, because in order to have that happen you probably need three or more candidates staying in it until the end, so a bunch of delegates are bound to vote for someone other than the two front runners. But, I’ve not looked at the numbers and the data and the rules closely enough to be sure. Consider it something to look into.

Third, the role of the big states now emerges as more important than it was before. The really big states, including New York, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey, were actually all very close in the model, and frankly, I can’t tell if they are Sanders vs. Clinton favored states. This is for a good reason. These states are so large that they are internally fairly diverse, and also, not easily affected by odd rules in the primary or caucus process the way some other states are. The apparent bimodality of states in general applies mainly to the smaller states.

Putting this another way, the larger the state, the closer to the national average response we see, and the national preference between the two candidates is similar. Smaller states stray away from the mean, larger states regress towards the mean. Like this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.29.35 AM

So what does this mean? This means that larger states are not going to break strongly for either candidate. But, it also remains true that there are a lot of delegates in these states. So, this could mean that a strategy that effectively focuses on the big states, or one or two of them, could push that state over to one side or another.

I can make you this promise. Both campaigns are currently having this conversation and there will be intense campaigning in the big states. It is possible, maybe probable, that the candidates will watch each other doing this and end up differentiating, with the different states being focused on by different candidates. But, there are also states neither will give up. I suspect New York and California will be fought over heavily, while Clinton may give way to Sanders in Pennsylvania and Sanders may give way to Clinton in New Jersey.

The cycle over the last several weeks has been to see Sanders as possibly moving closer to Clinton, but then, failing to do so. But this week, he did. And, this is the first week in a series of contests where elements of the stated or implied Sanders strategy are supposed to come into play. And maybe they did. Or maybe not.

Frustratingly, the next several states are not going to be too informative. Washington is big, and Sanders will probably make big gains there. My main model, which I will continue to assume is the most accurate projection until proven otherwise, has Sanders getting ten more delegates there than Clinton. The revised Sanders II concept, in contrast, has him getting 30 more delegates than Clinton. That will be a test of the Sanders II hypothesis.

Then, eventually, comes New York, where we will see a test of the Too Big To Fail In State strategies. My model has Clinton winning in New York by just a few delegates, and the Sander II model says pretty much the same (remember, it is conservative, addressing only the gap). If New York is close to a draw, as predicted, then we will be left wondering. If Sanders takes 20 or more more delegates than Clinton in New York, then we will be left in wonderment.

Following that is Little Big Tuesday, with several small states and Pennsylvania. That should also be close to a draw, according to my primary model, with Clinton winning a few more delegates than Sanders. But the Sanders II model has Sanders winning not just a few more, but many more delegates.

According to the Sanders II model, at the end of the day on Tuesday, April 26h, after Pennsylvania, a ca 320 delegate lead by Clinton will be cut to a 190 delegate lead. According to the main model, the one I still trust until proven otherwise (perhaps over the next few weeks), the Clinton lead will still be over 300.

So, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Both of them. For now.

Democratic Primaries in Arizona, Utah, and Idaho: Sanders is still in the race

This post was written in two parts, pre-primary and post-primary. To see the result and a discussion of what they mean, skip down to the last part of the post, where I’ll discuss why Tuesday’s results may mean that Sanders could win the primary.


As already discussed, Clinton is likely to win the Democratic nomination. Sanders is too far behind to catch up without extraordinary results, as outlined here. However, it is also true that Sanders is likely to win a majority of contests from here on out, while at the same time, Clinton is likely to win many (if not most?) of the actual delegates.

Here, I’ll review what my recently upgraded predictive model indicates for today’s primaries in Arizona, Idaho, and Utah. Also I’ll provide a list of states and delegate counts for the upcoming primaries (including today’s) that would have to be realized for Sanders to catch up to Clinton. At the end of the post, you’ll find results of today’s primaries, and some discussion, when available.

First, the expected outcome of today’s primaries based on this model:

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 9.59.26 AM

Clinton is expected to win big in Arizona, while Sanders is expected to squeak by in Idaho and win handily in Utah. The total delegate count for the day would be 82:49, Clinton:Sanders, so if this model is accurate, Clinton will win the day. As I’ve noted before, this model tends to under-predict Sanders’ wins when he does win, so the delegate count could be closer.

Or, this could be totally wrong and Sanders does much better, which would require me to go back to the drawing board. Which, of course, I’ll do.

In order for Sanders to catch up to Clinton, he’ll have to do much better than he’s done, even given the fact that he is favored in a lot of upcoming states. If we take all the upcoming states together and simply give Sanders even wins across the states sufficient to tie Clinton on the last day of contests, then he’ll need to win Arizona 44:31, Idaho 14:9, and Utah 19:14.

Here’s a chart of the outcomes across all states for Sanders and Clinton to finish the primary season in a tie.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 10.03.27 AM

This is, of course, totally unrealistic. Sanders would likely do much better in some places, and just OK in others. But this chart serves as a basis of comparison for future races.

Every primary or caucus is a test of a hypothesis. The hypothesis that Clinton will do what I suggested she will do here is being tested by today’s contests. If Clinton gets somewhere around 75 to 89 delegates, the hypothesis is not rejected. If Sanders manages to perform much better than 49 delegates, say, over 62 or so, then the hypothesis has to be rejected (I’m not being formal here with rejection levels) and the possibility of him catching up has to be re-evaluated. If, of course, Sanders gets fewer than 40 or so delegates today, than he will have an even steeper uphill battle for the rest of the primary season.

I’ll add more information and commentary below after we get results!


OK, it is early the next morning and we have results, but the results are not entirely complete. Because of oddness in the way delegates are assigned, it is often the case that the votes are counted, the primary results published, but the delegate allocation incomplete. Texas took forever, it seems, to post its actual delegate count, for example. All three states that had contests yesterday have incomplete delegate counts, even though we know how people voted. Proportional representation applies in all three states but things are not so simple.

For example, in Arizona, a certain number of delegates are eventually (in April) selected at the congressional district level, a certain number are at large, a certain number are linked to party officialdom, and a certain number are linked to constitutional office. Delegates are selected at different times (most at the convention in April). There is a right of review (by the candidates) of some of these delegates. Some delegates are committed to vote a certain way on the first ballot at the national convention, some are uncommitted. There are threshold effects whereby certain delegates may not be assigned if the threshold is not met in the preference ballot (I think … this part confuses me). A delegate is both a number (i.e., 10 delegates for Mary and 10 Delegates for Sam) and a person (Joe Bleaugh will go the National Convention as a delegate). There are lists of delegates (as in number as well as personage) and the exact number of “delegates” that might be on that list depends on … all of the above.

And that is the simple version of it. The rules are 18 pages long. Arizona is not unusual. Anyway, Arizona has 75 pledged delegates, of which 63 are counted as pledged (though they don’t exist yet as people) now, but the rest will be eventually. In the end, the allocation will be close to proportional, but because of the precinct and district level math, and other things, the exact number for each candidate probably can’t be known at this time.

So, given all that, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that in Arizona, Clinton will have 44 pledged delegates, and Sanders will have 31. This is not the same number you will see reported, because several delegates are listed as “available” for reasons cited above.

Using the same method, Idaho will award 5 delegates to Clinton and a whopping 18 delegates to Sanders. This is close to the reported amount, but off by one. I’ll attribute that to the Washington Post’s rounding error.

Meanwhile, Utah has reported delegates nice and clean like, straight shooters that they are, and we have 18 assigned to Sanders and 5 assigned to clinton.

My model predicted that Sanders would win Utah and Idaho, and he did. My model predicted (along with everyone else in the country) that Clinton would win Arizona.

However, the numbers are different than expected. Sanders did much better than my model suggested and better than mainstream media expected.

My model had predicted that Clinton would walk away from yesterday’s contests with 82 delegates to Sanders’ 49 delegates. Instead, depending on rounding and other factors, Clinton will have 54 and Sanders 67.

This means that Sanders is walking away from Tuesday’s contests with more delegates than Clinton instead of the other way around.

I’ve stated several times that Sanders has to average 60% of the take for the rest of the contest in order to tie clinton. He didn’t do that this time, he only got 55%. But that is 55% on a day when the largest contest, Arizona, was expected to go very favorably towards Clinton. In other words, because of the variation across primaries noted above in the discussion of “what Sanders needs to do to tie Clinton,” Sanders may have actually done what he needs to do this week.

You see, Sanders is expected to get about 48% of the votes here on in, with Clinton at about 52%. He needs to achieve a seemingly unlikely 60%. Last night, he got 55%. My model suggested that last night he’d get less than the overall expected, by a tiny a mount (46.7%) but he got much more.

Sanders is expected to win many of the upcoming states. Hawaii and Alaska are next, and I have no idea what will happen in Hawaii. But he will likely win Alaska, then Washington, then Wisconsin, then Wyoming and, I think, New York. My current prediction is that he’ll take about 57% of the delegates trough that period, but if he performs better during that time than expected at the same level as yesterday, he could easily exceed the required 60% return and move significantly toward catching up to Clinton.

All I can say is that I like both candidates a lot and will be happy with either one. If you are supporting either of these candidates, I hope you keep in mind that it is still possible that the other candidate, the one you don’t support, whoever that is, may win. Vote blue no matter who!