Cat President.

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Harrison “Harry” Potter, Cat President of the United States. Official portrait to come… as Mr. Cat President had trouble sitting still for it. We’ll get there.

Our new President is known by many names, Harold, Harry, Harrison, Mr. Potter, and now he is known as — Mr. Cat President. “Give ‘Em Hell” Harry (furry version) rode a similar wave of populist appeal and active (albeit sporadic and at times nonsensical) campaigning to come from behind and shock the political world a la President Truman decades earlier. Had Mr. Cat President the thumbs to hold up his version of the “Dewey Defeats Truman” paper, he would have. Perhaps it is fitting that he instead slept on it while an excited but exhausted campaign worker tried to read it.

Cat President’s meteoric rise to the Presidency captivated the nation. Cat President was born in a rain-filled barn in rural America, now he lives on a high-rise, swanky Manhattan apartment. The late, great Bert Cooper (of Sterling Cooper), were he alive today, might remark that Cat President is an “astronaut.”  While many thought he would be vulnerable to attacks from opponents, citing elitism, Cat President never forgot his roots and was driven by fundamental life changing moments early in life which led to some amazing speeches, namely — the fact that he was abandoned shortly after birth. The outpouring of sympathy from the electorate and his “bootstraps” story was a spectacle to behold.

The details of the campaign, and his subsequent term, were driven by his fundamental unreasonableness and lack of respect for anyone. Many were often offended. However, people respected that Cat President was not a sell out. He didn’t beg you for votes. He demanded them. And then he demanded more from you. Campaign donations. A bizarre amount of food donations, etc. And he drove his field team to the point of exhaustion and never seemed to allow them to fall asleep for more than a few hours. He claims he was just “making sure they were alive.” When campaign insiders drifted too far into the “bubble” of campaign-world, staring directly at computer screens, or “light-boxes” as he so bluntly called them, Cat President demanded the attention from those on the campaign. The same attention he demanded from the nation.

There is no doubt the media is baffled by this development. There is no denying the inaction of Cat President in his first term. There have been no new laws. But the trains are still running on time because of the rest of the executive branch having opposable thumbs. There is one thing you can say about the mixed first term of Cat President, he does well with appointments. Except for visits to the vet… which lead him to hair loss, which could help him politically. Gee… that Cat President sure is working hard. He’s working for all of us.

Cat President didn’t get much done this term, but sometimes… no decisions are better than bad ones. You know what I mean, and if you do not you will soon.

Piercing the Bubble: Reflections on Tuesday

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If there is a universal lesson to be learned from Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 — it’s that we should avoid painting people with too broad of a brush. We must work to get out of our own (often) self-imposed “bubbles” and pierce other ones, to remind your neighbor and fellow American that you’re still here too.

First off, I apologize. We got it wrong. But then again, so did everyone. While Agreeing Loudly got the numbers at the Presidential level wrong, if you look at our back catalogue of podcasts and articles, a lot of the analysis was there all year, serving as a caution and a warning that hard times and danger was ahead for the Democratic Party. Ultimately, I followed Nate Silver and the previously reliable polling aggregations. I said we’d barely hold out in 2016 and then 2018 and 2020 would be rough, which would then lead to rock bottom. 2016–meet rock bottom. 

We do this site because we care about the future. We all get busy at times and have things get in the way but at the end of the day — I am incredibly proud of our first year-plus content. I want to encourage listenership to the back catalogue and readership of previous articles. I think it will help provide context to what was driving the decline of the Democratic Party.

I’d also like to point to a few of my favorite “Agreeing Loudly” contributor inventions:

Satire Is Pointless by Carson Starkey.

This is more true than ever now. I struggle to come up with the words of a great dark comedy that would equal this. Satire and reality truly have merged these past few years and AL.com contributor and MoE co-host Carson Starkey was right on top of that development. Which led us to…

Sadly, not satire.

I’d also like to call attention to the name of the site: Agreeing Loudly.

Intended or not, for me the namesake of this site is a reference to the “bubble.” We’ve all been in them. We’ve all lost sight of reality before because we were so focused on improving  things and accomplishing the task at hand, surrounded by like-minded people.

The brilliant and nuanced podcast the “Margin of Error”, an essential listen featuring nearly weekly guests with co-hosts Allan Branstiter and Carson Starkey. The podcast manages to be simultaneously succinct and in-depth. I cannot help but think of the refrain I repeated all year about the ultimate 2016 result. Hillary Clinton will win by the margin of error. However, the funny thing about the margin of error is that by definition, the other candidate can win.

The Greater Recession: Party’s End (pre-written, now being slightly readjusted for the final result) was mentioned during the first and second parts to The Greater Recession article series. Party’s End of course refers to the Democratic Party. So while we missed the final numbers, I cannot say that I am overly surprised by what happened on November 8th.

Even if Hillary Clinton won on Tuesday, the problems of the Democratic Party existed and every contributor here at Agreeing Loudly ultimately believed some version of Tuesday was eventually going to happen, and it would happen no later than 2020. It looks like it has happened in 2016. We now know that the Obama coalition is entirely dependent on Obama (shocker… I know, something named after a person needs that person).

So where do we go from here? Ruminate on some of these themes I plan on discussing in the coming year.

The Political Spectrum doesn’t exist.

“We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For.”

Please Join Us and Please Disagree Respectfully. Reach Out and Ask To Come On The Show. We want to hear from you, learn from you, and do everything in our power to help you all through this and build this site into something that you can take solace and ideas from as we prepare to exit into the long night that is the political wilderness.

Winston Churchill spent time in the wilderness. William F. Buckley created an intellectual movement of conservative principles while in the long political wilderness. It took him twenty five years to see the President that he had dreamed of. Something tells me that if Buckley were still alive, he would be mostly horrified by what just happened even though the movement he created now has more power than at any time since the 1920’s (which of course led to good things right… right?)

President-elect Trump is now mere months away from taking the Oath of Office. He is our President, but that doesn’t mean he is a good man. Because he is not. And if he wants me to change my mind on that he will have to show me something dramatically different.

We must pierce the bubble and learn. We must seek common and mutual understanding and stop speaking past one another if this country is to ever be united again in any meaningful way. I hope for the sake of all of us that President-elect Trump succeeds. I have my doubts. I strongly believe that you have to spend time in the batting cage to get a .300 batting average. Donald Trump has maybe watched some baseball games. Clearly he understands now what people like about it. But it will be very, very hard for him to hit .300 or even .200 or .100. Instead what we are seeing so far is hired guns on steroids, intent on threatening hundreds of years of our traditions and social contract. In these times, here is another thing to bring back: constitutionalist liberals.

Make no mistake the game will get played. And now more than ever, it must be a sell out crowd. Because the whole world is watching and worrying just like us.

Lets go to the ballgame. Lets sing the national anthem still. The team might finish in last place, but we have to show the world that we still care.

In the mean time and in the immediate term, lets take care of one another. We still have strength in numbers.

I ask those that will be vulnerable to be careful, be smart, be brave, and resilient. And I ask those who have privilege to love and support the vulnerable and the hated. It’s not just the bare minimum we can do right now and the right thing to do, but it is the only thing to do.

Call out hatred when you see it and stand up next to the hated. Not because you are trying to persuade the hater, but because we must show solidarity, love, and support for those that are hated.

 

 

Election Postmortem by Justin Norris

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Justin Norris holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a MA in Political Science from the University of Georgia. He is currently completing his PhD there.

When I was a teenager I enjoyed reading the historical fiction of authors like James Clavell. In one of his stories, Tai-Pan I believe, there was supposedly an old Chinese curse that went like this: May you live in interesting times. I have no idea if such a curse exists, but if it doesn’t it certainly should, because we are certainly cursed to live in interesting times.

 
Many have asked me to write a postmortem of sorts for the 2016 presidential election. As to oblige, the following is a list (in no particular order) explaining what I believe led to the outcome in the 2016 Presidential election. Many of the items on this list bleed together and intensify the impact of one another.

 
Word of warning, this is a long list for this kind of format, and I’m not going to put together a tl; dr version. These assessments come from a combination of expertise, the publicly available information released up to this point, and some of the semi-inside info I’ve received from several people who were in the field during the campaign. Since it is still early, some of these assessments may change as new information emerges. That being said, here’s what I think happened.

 
1. Social desirability bias is alive and well. Many people, especially college educated voters (both men and women), did not want to fess up to pollsters that they supported Trump. Of course, in hindsight this is not surprising, and I had concerns about this problem early on, but there was little good evidence to suggest it was a factor during the primaries (and what evidence that did exist was mixed). Moreover, the classic examples for social desirability bias in surveys occurred when white people would lie about supporting African American candidates for political office. The incredible accuracy of the overall polling environment during the 2008 and 2012 elections led many to believe that social desirability bias was no longer as major a problem as it was in the past. We were lulled into a false sense of security, and the consequences were both great and terrible.

 

The bad polling data led to bad polling aggregates and bad models. Or as many methodologists like to joke about these kinds of situations: garbage in, garbage out. Faulty data leads to faulty decisions. This led many within both campaigns to make faulty decisions about vote targets, potentially effective messaging, canvassing goals, targeting areas, etc. It also helped fuel a lot of confirmation bias across the board (myself included). Though to be clear on this point, damn near everyone was fooled by this. There are several reports originating from within the Trump campaign that suggest that they expected to get no more than 240 Electoral Votes on election night. They were caught flat footed by this as much as everyone else.

 
Similarly, most pollsters used faulty assumptions for the population weights they used in their survey results. They assumed that the election would look like 2012. This turned out to be wrong. Some pollsters released multiple findings for their polls using different weights. I think this should become the norm.

 
2. Sexism is alive and well. I have had people (who I thought were smart, until they said this) tell me that Clinton was nominated solely because she has a vagina. Period. The exit polls are suggestive on this matter. Damn near 80% of males overall voted for Trump. Moreover, the large number of sexual harassment stories in the days since Trump’s victory makes it clear that it may be debatable as to whether sexism was the most important factor for deciding this race, but you cannot deny that it was a factor, and likely an important one.

 
3. Racism and bigotry are alive and well. The exit polls and on-site interviews are suggestive on this point. People who care deeply about illegal immigration overwhelmingly went for Trump. And they were very vocal about it. We are talking about a winning candidate endorsed by both Neo-Nazis and the KKK. Moreover, many hate groups bussed ‘their’ voters to the polls in several important states. On a personal (albeit anecdotal) level, I know many of us have had to look no further than our own social media environments to see the role bigotry played in this race. I also know many people who have already had to deal with this in the real world. It is unclear at this juncture how important this was for the outcome, but it’s pretty clear that it was part of the equation.

 
4. White working class/white rural rage is real, and Democrats need to ditch the corporatists that moved the party away from the working class in general when it comes to economics. When it comes to economics, Trump ran as an old-school Democrat in many ways (at least rhetorically). Superficially, much of what Trump said on corporate greed, the system being rigged, etc. is similar enough to what Bernie Sanders said that many voters would not be able to tell the difference. And the Democrats let him get away with it. Instead of showing how full of shit Trump is on these issues the Democrats largely ceded the ground. This had consequences which are now plainly seen.

 
5. I’m sorry, but Clinton was a terrible candidate. I know I’m going to get heat for saying it, but it’s true. To be fair, it’s not entirely her fault. Her enemies have been very effective in painting her in the worst possible terms for decades, and the aforementioned problems with sexism make the impact of these attacks even worse. However, she ran a terrible campaign (especially considering who she was running against).

 
Many of us hoped that the Clinton camp learned from 2008, but as of right now that does not appear to be the case. It appears that they still valued loyalty over competence, and suffered from group think to the extreme. For example, I’ve gotten both inside accounts and read media reports stating that the Clinton campaign did not try to mobilize support or persuade voters in rural areas. Nor did they try to target working class whites.

 

 

Moreover, there are media accounts suggesting that this decision was made over the loud objections of Bill Clinton (who knows a few things about this subject). Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama made plays for these constituencies. Even if you don’t win them over, you must try to counteract your opponent’s efforts in trying to win the day with these voters. The Hillary Clinton campaign ignored these constituencies almost entirely. The damage on this point is evident.

 
Similarly, insiders have told me, and media accounts now confirm that the Clinton campaign overly relied on simulations for determining messaging, canvassing maps, GOTV priorities, and other matters. In and of itself heavy use of data analytics isn’t necessarily bad. If you do it right I believe it can pay dividends. However, it’s what happened next that makes me want to scream. After putting their plans into effect for messaging, canvassing, etc. the people on the ground reported that it wasn’t working.

 

This went on for months in both critical and noncritical states where people on the ground warned the campaign brass that it wasn’t working. Messages were falling flat. They couldn’t build enthusiasm or get voter commitments. Targets were not being met. The brass in Brooklyn told them to stay the course. That is political malpractice, and whoever was in charge of making that decision should never get paid to work in politics ever again. Ever. In general, using data and running simulations to help make strategic decisions is a good thing, but once you’ve tried to implement those plans and the evidence suggests it’s not working then you need to rethink what you are doing. You need to challenge your assumptions, question the data, and listen to the people you have entrusted to put your plans into effect. Ugh. And again, you can’t just focus on minority populations, young voters, and women, and you certainly can’t just focus on the urban and suburban areas. This is a recipe for disaster.

 
6. I am certain I’m going to get heat for this too, but the evidence is already mounting that it’s true. Third Party support did constitute a spoiler effect for both Clinton and Trump. Exit polls suggest that roughly a third of Johnson voters in critical states, states decided by less than one percent were self-identified Democrats. Moreover, nearly all of Stein voters were self-identified Democrats. If these people had voted for Clinton in places like FL, WI, PA, or MI it could have swung the election. That’s a textbook spoiler effect. Though I of course concede that this, and all the other factors identified in this dissection do not exist in a vacuum. Regardless, that is all I’m going to say on this subject.

 
7. The media dropped the ball. In the attempt to adhere to the ‘balanced coverage’ approach to covering campaigns many in the media pursued a false dichotomy that led many to believe that the campaigns were comparable in many ways. This is nonsense. Yes, the media covered the ‘Grab them by the pu**y’ video, but they also dedicated a ridiculous amount of coverage to the email story, even though it was a nonstory compared to everything else going on in the campaigns. For example, even now the majority of voters are unaware that there are around 75 pending lawsuits against Trump, many involving allegations of serious crimes. Similarly, the media gave Trump so much free uncontested air time it was insane. Not to mention that issues were generally ignored. Yes, the media always focuses more on the horse race, but not to the exclusion of damn near everything else.

 
To be fair, television and cable are dying platforms, with fewer viewers by the day. Similarly, much of the traditional print media did a fantastic job, but fewer and fewer people read their content. Instead we get the vacuous nonsense that passes for discourse in social media. And most of what gets circulated in social media comes perilously close to rank propaganda or are downright hoaxes. I had a conversation post-Election Day with a family member and Trump voter where they listed a litany of well-known hoaxes to help justify their vote. To hammer the point home that these stories were false I read them the top Google search results for each story. In each case, the second Google result was the Snopes story explaining that the story was a hoax. I suspect many people have had similar conversations in the wake of this election. It’s has gotten to the point where Silicon Valley elites are starting to ask if Facebook has too much influence over American political discourse, especially given that most of what gets disseminated is patently false.

 
8. The Clinton campaign is arguing that the Comey letter is to blame for their loss. Given all the other problems I believe this is suspect as the sole cause. However, it undoubtedly played an important role. The media jumped on this story, and though they quickly dialed back the more explosive aspects because they were entirely unfounded the damage had already been done. And to add insult to injury the second statement from Comey stating that the new investigation was already over and had found nothing was nowhere near as widely circulated.

 
As for the impact of the FBI putting its finger on the scale, the best evidence at this point suggests that it influenced voter behavior in a number of ways. The exit polls and a lot survey data suggest that the Comey letter had a profound impact on late-deciders, with the majority of them breaking for Trump. This makes the scant coverage of Comey’s retraction all the more damning. Moreover, there is evidence that the Comey letter demoralized a significant number of Democratic leaning voters, and helped bring a lot of wavering Republicans back into the fold. Though I think Harry Reid goes too far in arguing that Comey violated the Hatch Act, his behavior came perilously close, and I believe the Justice dept. should have ordered him to not send the letter.

 
9. There could be many culprits as to why, but this was a low turnout election, especially compared to the two previous elections. This hurts Democrats for a number of reasons, but I will focus on what I think is the most damning reason that has the farthest reaching consequences for future races. This was the first presidential election in 50 years that was not conducted under the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act. After testing the waters in the 2014 midterms the Republican Party pushed for measures in many Republican controlled states that depress turnout, and focused these efforts in traditionally Democratic leaning areas or targeted Democratic leaning constituencies. Unless stopped by the courts, Republican controlled states cut polling places in Democratic leaning areas, reduced the number of days for early voting, reduced the number of early voting locations, and passed voter ID laws purposely designed to make it harder for Democratic leaning constituencies to get lawful IDs.

 
We know that the goal was to target Democratic leaning constituencies because the GOP admitted it through the evidence presented in federal court, and both federal and state rulings were supposed to stop both NC and WI from implementing these laws. Both NC and WI ignored these rulings and did it anyway. In WI this likely threw the election to Trump given that over 300,000 voters were turned away for not having IDs (that the courts said they didn’t need to have), and as of now, Trumps vote margin is around 27,000 votes. Voter suppression (and that is what it was) likely played a critical role in the results for FL, NC, WI, and MI.

 

 

I could go into greater detail and deeper in the weeds for every single one of these points, but this is already longer than I wanted to make it, and I have other work to do.
I hope this clarifies things for many of you or at least gives you something to think about. If anyone wants them I can provide links to support every single one of these points.
I have been getting a lot of questions about what I think the Democratic Party should do or what liberals/progressives should do about all of this. I have a lot of thoughts on this matter, but I am unsure if I will put them out into the ether.

 

 

Though I will say this, when there is no hope there is no fear. For years now the left has allowed the more conservative factions to govern the Democratic Party because many believed the stakes were too high (protecting existing gains, the Supreme Court, etc.). Well, that’s over now. The right now controls all three branches of government, and they are already making plans to do what many have feared. So now I suggest that the left should fight back. Band together and fight for what you actually believe in, and don’t be afraid to lose. When the conservatives were out in the wilderness for decades they were not afraid to lose, and it helped them immensely. Democrats can’t just be the ‘not crazy’ party anymore. The party needs to actually stand for what its voters believe in. Enough is enough.

 

 

Episode 43: Welcome to Trumpdome

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The Agreeing Loudly crew joins forces with The Margin of Error’s dynamic duo to discuss what happened in the 2016 election and what it means for the future.

Will America survive a post-Trump world? Will Pat make it through Justin Norris’s explanation of the polls and 538’s statistical model? And what happened to Carson? Find the answer to these questions and more on another exciting episode of Agreeing Loudly Coast to Coast. Too cool for school? You can also direct download this month’s episode.

2016 Election Preview & Predictions: Part Three – State Elections

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What we often forget is  ultimately the U.S. Presidential Election is a series of state elections. In the final part of our election series, lets take a look at the 50 states (Gubernatorial elections and state legislative elections).

I have no doubt that these will be the hardest predictions to nail down for two reasons: one, the lack of available polling for many state legislative races and even many gubernatorial races (in safe D or safe R states), and two, given the historically high unfavorable ratings at the top of each ticket, it is harder to predict any sort of down ballot affect that usually is in play. Traditionally, for reasons of higher name ID and concentration of media coverage on the top ticket races, Presidential candidates and statewide candidates get more votes and a higher percentage than their down ballot counterparts. At least in theory. Local candidates who have a special relationship with their constituents often do much better than the top of the ticket, but I digress. Let’s start with the statewide races, then state legislative control in all 50 states, and end with going specific in the three states that I have been a resident in at some point in my life (Minnesota, North Dakota, and now New York).

General predictions for the makeup of gubernatorial power in the states.

Currently

GOP: 31 Governors, DEM: 18 Governors, Independent: 1 (in Alaska)

New (prediction)

 

GOP: 31 Governors, DEM: 18 Governors, Independent: 1 (in Alaska)

Overall, most gubernatorial races happen in midterm elections, which will give the GOP a strong advantage as long as the Democratic Party continues to win the White House. Of the few gubernatorial races this year (12 in total), I predict the Democrats easily retain Washington, Oregon, and Delaware, while the Republicans easily retain North Dakota and Utah, which leaves us with closer races in the New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, and Montana.

Of those seven, the GOP will pick-up Vermont, West Virginia, and just narrowly miss out on picking up New Hampshire and Missouri. The Democrats will pick-up Indiana and North Carolina narrowly, retain Montana by at least 5 points, and  narrowly retain New Hampshire and Missouri (where GOP candidate Eric Greitens has ran a frightening campaign, foretelling things to come, stay tuned next week for more on that.)

In other words, no change in the gubernatorial makeup and control of the various executive branches in the states.

General predictions for the makeup of state legislative power in the states.

Currently

The GOP controls 68 out of the 98 chambers (higher chambers and lower chambers) at the state legislative level.

New (prediction)

The GOP controls 65 out of the 98 chambers, which means Democrats net a total of 3 state legislative chambers.

The GOP will pick-up the Kentucky House, a coda if you will to the past realignment and death of the old south where the Democrats were able to compete locally many cycles after they began losing the once solid south at the Presidential level.

The Democrats will pick-up the Colorado Senate (go Jered Weber!), Nevada Assembly, New Mexico House, and the biggest surprise and reach here, the Arizona Senate. In other words, continued signals of the longer term blue trend of the Mountain West and Southwest.

*Note: the state of Nebraska has a unicameral non-partisan state legislature, but let’s not kid ourselves here… that’s another one in the GOP column if we’re being honest.

Now for a spotlight on a few states.

First, the state of North Dakota, which has the honor of being the only state where a Democratic Party has promoted millennials and young people to positions of party and public leadership. Because when you are losing 45-0, why not just call up the farm system and start building…

NORTH DAKOTA

Senate: Current 32-15 Republican majority against the Democratic-NPL (Non-partisan league)

House: Current 71-23 Republican majority against the Dem-NPL

New (prediction), in solidly red North Dakota, which has gone even darker shades of red during the eight years of the Obama Administration (Obama won this state in the 2008 Democratic Primary and finished within 10 in the 2008 General Election), the Republicans easily hold on to their supermajorities in both houses. It’s hard to even imagine where the Dems would pick up seats here other than maybe a few seats out of Fargo. I expect Donald Trump to do better here than most states tomorrow and that could have its own wave effect on the few rural Dem-NPL legislators that still have seats. So I’ll call this one a wash, with virtually no change in either the state house or senate.

MINNESOTA

Senate: Current 38-28 DFL (Democrat-Farmer Labor) majority (or 39-28 if going by 2012 election)

House: Current 73-61 Republican majority

New (prediction)

Senate: 36-31 DFL (the GOP has a net pick-up of 3 seats)

House: 70-64 GOP (the DFL has a net pick-up of 3 seats)

Analysis: The changing demographics (featured earlier in this brilliant and illuminating podcast episode of “This American Life”) propel St. Cloud to deliver pick-ups for the DFL in Senate District 14 and House District 14B.

In general, the split in the DFL between metro-area environmentalists and rural labor unionists and farmers will continue to show up at the ballot box. Rural voters in CD8 and 7 have fewer reasons to vote for the DFL each cycle and that will show up most strikingly in Nolan’s close re-election to the House, a seat that looks to be in deep trouble for the ’18 midterms. The down ballot effects will be seen at the state legislative races while the DFL continues to recruit solid candidates, and party-build well in the suburban metro areas. In the Senate, the GOP will gain seats in SD 1, 17, 24, and 36 to cut in slightly to the overall DFL majority in the state senate. In the house, the DFL has a net-gain of 3 seats, with pick-ups in 21A, 24B, and a hold in 48A. Despite Trump and Jason Lewis on the ballot, the down-ballot MN-2 legislative races hold for the GOP in 56A, 56B, 57A, and 57B. If a few of these races however are called for the DFL, then the Republican majority in the state house is in jeopardy.

NEW YORK

We end with my home state of New York. The disfunction of corruption of both major parties here is seen even in their state legislative election tallies. Low turnout (bottom 5 in the nation usually), and tight election laws by blue state standards will make tomorrow frustrating. We’ve shined the spotlight on three states tonight, North Dakota, a red state trending further red. Minnesota, a blue state trending red. Now New York, a blue state trending further blue, but like another blue state, Illinois, embodies many of the problems with the modern day national Democratic Party.

Senate: Current 32-31 GOP majority

Assembly: Current 106-42 Dem majority

Analysis: The Assembly is safe Democratic hold, and the Senate is anyone’s guess and a true coin toss. Why? Let me explain first how the GOP even gets to their majority. In the New York State Senate, which as I pointed out in an earlier article, has had an unsurpassed string of public corruption and grift, has 29 elected Democrats (with five of them being considered Independents that caucus with the Democrats in Albany), 29 elected Republicans, with 1 Democrat who caucuses with the senate Republicans in Albany. Leaving us with 4 true toss-ups. I’m splitting the difference and saying that the NY State Senate ends up with 32 caucusing as Republicans to hold the majority (29 actually endorsed by the Republicans, and 3 Democrats who caucus with them), and 31 Democrats or elected state senators who end up caucusing with the Democrats.

In other words. Albany is a mess, folks like Andrew Cuomo are not the future of the party, but rather its extreme neoliberal past that ought to be in the rear view mirror as soon as possible. The best news to come out of New York state tomorrow night will hopefully be the election of Teachout in the New York 19th Congressional District.

Now go vote tomorrow if you haven’t already!

2016 Election Preview & Predictions: Part Two – Congressional Elections

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Current Congressional makeup (114th Congress)

The Battle for the US Senate

As it stands right now:

47 GOP – 47 Dem/Independent Caucusing Dem – 6 Toss Up


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

Easy Dem pick-ups in WI and IL, and a hold in CO.

The Balance in the Senate will be decided by these six states:

NH  Incumbent Republican Senate Kelly Ayotte has benefitted from the last week and widened her lead but it is still within the margin of error. (Republican hold)

PA  Katie McGinty has surged the last few weeks in what looked like another missed opportunity for a Democratic pick-up, now looks like a win that should be just outside the margin of error. (Democratic pick-up, now up to 49 seats).

NC – A tough call. Polls show a neck and neck race between incumbent Richard Burr and challenger Deborah Ross, who has ran a good race. I’ll split the difference here with the Presidential neck and neck race in NC and say it’s a hold. (Republican hold)

IN  Another retread candidate because Democratic boomers must hold onto power until the end of time and younger folks are only needed for a vote every 4 years (but not every 2) and to be foot soldiers in #ForeverWars, but I digress. Evan Bayh is boring and if he runs for President in 2024 he should be ignored because 1.) the Democratic Party and the United States should reject political dynasties of every form, and 2.) he won’t win. That being said, while Bayh is a poor fit for the country that actually exists now, he is a great fit for the state of Indiana as it exists right now. He will win, but not by as much as he used to. (Democratic pick-up, now up to 50 seats).

MO – Jason Kander is exactly the type of candidate the Dems should be running in every state, from safe to toss-up. Younger. A veteran. But he has received little help from the Clinton campaign, despite all their talk of “party-building.” He needed the resources, and did not get enough from the national party. What he did get will be too little, too late. Furthermore, he was not helped at the top of the ticket in Missouri. The Clinton camp could have targeted it and expanded their map but they did not, but would that have even helped? More likely, it could have hurt. Clinton is not popular in Missouri and Kander, currently MO Secretary of State, is running ahead of Clinton in polls by double digit margins. So perhaps a smart strategic play by the Clinton campaign but still… where are the resources? Where is the party-building? (Republican hold, but just barely)

NV – Al Franken 2.0 but eventually decided in favor of Joe Heck (R) to give the GOP 51 seats and a narrow Senate majority. Nevada is notoriously difficult to poll and if demographics that favor Hillary strongly show up down-ballot, then Catherine Mastro will win and with the Presidency itself give the Democrats a slim VP tie-breaking majority. However, polls have been trending the way of Joe Heck in the past week and the top of the ticket may not be as much help as previously thought. (Republican pick-up, back down to 49 seats).

The Democrats end up gaining 3 seats in the Senate but come up short. I guess this means Chuck Schumer could be permanent Senate Minority Leader after all. The driving reason I do not think the Democrats will pick up the Senate on Tuesday is the same reason Hillary Clinton will win: there are just too many close races that need to break the Democrats way and too many upsets or slight upsets for me to predict with any sort of confidence, that the Senate will change hands. If the Democrats do pick up the Senate, it will be by the slimmest of margins. I think they’ll come up painfully short, just like Cleveland did last night.

This gives us a final Senate Map of:


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Opportunities for a pick-up left on the table:

  1. Florida (the GOP owes Rubio now that he agreed to run for re-election when he wanted to be done and out of the Senate, and it increases the likelihood that they clear the field in 2020 for him to run again.)
  2. Ohio (Another retread candidate of the Democrats, who have been running way too many of them which underscores that the Democrats have no bench or farm system, and that Boomer control of the party leadership and most positions could very well eventually doom this party that supposedly is demographically assured the future.)

 

The Difficult 2018 midterm Senate Map ahead:

The Democrats will be defending seats in North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, West Virginia, and Indiana all while facing the prospect of a third consecutive midterm backlash to a historic Democratic President.

The Light Skirmish for the US House

GOP – 238

DEM – 197 (9 seats gained by the Democrats)

US House Races to watch: 

Key DEM pickups:

NY-19 (Zephyr Teachout), a model for what needs to happen the next few cycles down-ballot. Teachout is an academic in the Paul Wellstone-mold, she ran statewide and challenged incumbent Democratic Governor Cuomo from the left, with the endorsement of the Working Families Party (who normally cross-endorse with the state Democratic Party). She did very well in that primary against Cuomo by New York statewide election standards, especially upstate, and her victory by a few points in the 19th represents the ideal Democrat team lefty should be electing in reliably blue states like New York and California.

MN-2 (Angie Craig), the only major difference between what I generally predicted at the end of 2015 for the 2016 political year is in the Minnesota 2nd. Where Jason Lewis has ran a despicable Junior Donald Trump-style campaign and Angie Lewis and her campaign team has had everything break their way. Unlike Clinton, Craig has had a blank slate to define herself and continue to define Lewis as a candidate. While outside money has started to pour in and negative attack ads have started against Craig, she has impressed me with her personal brand of retail politics and is exactly the sort of candidate the state and national Democratic Party should continue recruiting for the purple suburban and exurban districts. This will be a Democratic pick-up in the House but will be a tough one to hold onto during the 2018 midterms.

The lone GOP pickup: FL-2

 

Update on the Presidential Campaign and the News of the Last Week:

For the last year I have said margin of error on the ALC2C and MoE (ha!) podcasts, then decided to be influenced too much be current polling. I’ll stick with it though and lay in my bed because of the Clinton ground campaign being vastly superior. As a reminder of what I said would happen:


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

Yes, the last week was brutal, but anyone who doesn’t think this is fake scandal wasn’t going to vote for Hillary anyway. These numbers are more likely being driven by three other factors:

  1. Bad news coming out about premiums rising on the state exchanges and low approvals for the ACA
  2. Gary Johnson supporters who are Republicans coming home to their party, as I predicted they would in the last week (the day I put that up Hillary was up by 7-8 points in aggregate polling, by the time FBI email narrative emerged, that lead was already down to 5 points)
  3. The Media desires the “surge” narrative because of their long-standing bias favoring not the left or right, but rather sensationalism and conflict.

That being said, here is where I am most nervous:

  1. Florida
  2. North Carolina
  3. Utah (this was always a stretch though, based more off of something I wanted to see happen)

I already thought Iowa and Ohio were losses. If she loses FL and NC (along with Trump holding Utah against Evan McMullin) there is still a firewall (seen below).


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

That is if polling trends continue (worst case scenario for the Clinton camp, I stick with my initial predictions that FL and NC hold). The Clinton firewall then becomes Virginia and Colorado, where polling has Clinton up just outside the margin of error. It’s hard to see those states tightening further, but if they do. If EITHER of them do, then the unthinkable has happened and Donald Trump will narrowly become President via the electoral college, likely while losing the popular vote. I do not bring up Nevada even though polls are tightening there because if Nevada votes for Trump, Clinton still wins. Furthermore, if New Hampshire closes dramatically (a moot point because if it does then both Colorado and Virginia are likely in play anyway and it’s a long night) AND Nevada goes for Trump you have the rare 269-269 tie with Clinton popular vote victory, Prime Minister (yes that is a deliberate typo) Paul Ryan oversees voting Trump in as President, and we have a constitional crisis on our hands. None of that will happen but I thought I’d point it out.

Here is what you really need to watch for.

Trump needs either Colorado or Virginia. Those are the tipping point states in the United States right now. They are also states that used to reliably vote Republican that have voted Democratic since the 2006 midterms (for the most part).

I also bring up Virginia because it is one of the first states to report results.

Here is what to look for right off the bat next week:

Virginia will have GOP-heavy precincts reporting before the D.C. suburbs. It will show Trump up. Do not freak out Democrats. This is normal. Obama was down by 5 early on in Virginia in 2008 and ended up easily carrying the state. If Hillary is down early by these margins that is normal. If she is down by more than 5 early on, you have cause to panic a bit. If her support lags with African-Americans and millennials like many indicators are showing, that will depress Northern Virginia turnout and could make that state uncomfortably close. What is most important is taking a blue-trending state and observing that it is under-performing and distilling from that one of the major points I wanted to drive home last week — turnout will be down and early voting indications are that Black and Millennial early voting is down in key battleground states. Those were the two vital parts to the Obama coalition in 2008 and 2012. While one could counter that Hispanic early voting numbers are strong for Clinton, half of the nations Hispanic population lives in California and Texas. Two states that have not been in play in a long time. Remember low turnout is what doomed the Democrats in the 2014 midterms.


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

If Virginia goes that way, look to Colorado. Colorado is another symbol of the Obama coalition. If Colorado is too close to call all night, Hillary is going to lose, because if everything trends relatively equally, New Hampshire and the Maine CD will be in play. This is very symbolic what just about the only thing that has changed in this nation. Back in 2004, we knew if President Bush did not carry Colorado that John Kerry won. In 2016, we know that if Secretary Clinton does not carry Colorado that Donald Trump has won. Same hopelessly divided and politically gridlocked country, slightly different state outcomes – with the Upper Midwest and Appalachia trending Republican against the swing, and the Mountain Southwest and East Coast trending Democratic.

Simply put, don’t worry too much.

Hillary has the advantage even if polls keep tightening for the same reasons President Obama had the advantage over Mitt Romney. HRC has many paths to 270 and Trump has one or two, which as you can tell from what I wrote above, take some mental gymnastics to pull off. Those two paths are winning NH (which has tightened as well) to get to a 269-269 tie, and having Prime Minister Paul Ryan and the House Republicans break the tie in the favor of Trump. Or he can win NH and pick up one of the Maine Congressional Districts. Both of these paths would likely involve losing the popular vote by a larger margin than Bush lost it to Gore in 2000.

Which brings me back to the only thing that matters. Turnout. I said last week this will be the lowest turnout since the 2000 election. Since that article, the last round of the email scandal has push Hillary Clinton’s favorable rating to -12, while Trump is at -18. It is incredibly hard to imagine a scenario where more people vote for either Clinton or Trump than voted for President Obama.

And on a personal note I very much wanted to use this space to talk about the Congressional elections, and only half of it has been about that. The 2016 Presidential Election has been a corrosive and insidious force on our body politic. It will end (hopefully) on Tuesday, but the forces that set it in motion will continue.

Keep calm and carry on. 

-TMO