Posts Tagged ‘2016 election’

trump-white-house

You know he will put this up if he can!

In one way, I’m not THAT surprised. I had been following Nate Silver’s 538 website’s poll-based statistical modeling of the election which was giving Trump about a 30 percent chance of winning. And while other sites were saying things closer to what I wanted to hear (the guy a lot of Clinton supporters pointed to was Sam Wang, who declared based on his models in October that if Trump got over 240 electoral votes, he would eat a bug…..not sure if that bug has been eaten yet), Nate’s explanations of his model’s assumptions and considerations (including how Hillary’s electoral college position relative to her popular vote position was relatively weak) made a lot of sense to me.

But still, I can’t say that as I watched the results roll in on Tuesday night that I wasn’t in a state of shock. I had taken some comfort that in the last day or so before the election polling had seem to be swing back to Clinton. Besides, errors work both ways and I kept reading about how early voting and Clinton’s superior “ground game” was going to make a huge difference, so maybe Clinton would actually win much bigger than predicted! After all, a guy like Trump….this reality show celebrity unqualified self-centered boor could never actually get enough votes to win the highest office of the land, right?

Yet here we are. Donald Trump won the election, he will be the next President. How did we get here? First things first. This was a very, very close election. In fact, Hillary won the popular vote. Trump won several states (MI, PA, WI) by razor-thin margins. A very small voting shift back to Hillary would have led to a comfortable Clinton electoral college win. Many, many, many things could lead to a mere 1%-2% shift in results, so it’s likely when one person says it was one thing and another person says it was another thing, quite likely both can be right, at least as contributing factors. And anything that contributed at all could be combined with other factors to get to 1% to 2%. Plus factors are not necessarily independent of each other.

Still, in an effort to make sense of it all, I’m going to blog some thoughts….even if it is a bit scrambled, maybe incoherent, and may have jack squat to do with anything. After all, Trump won the votes of 60 million people……..the number of reasons behind those votes rationally have to be just about infinite. So who really knows? Still, I’m confused….so as self-therapy I’m going to write:

  • Candidates don’t matter that much – One thing that a lot of us thought was that Trump was such a historically bad candidate, so apparently unqualified, so offensive, that he would lose traditional Republican voters….not so much that they would vote Democrat instead, though that is something that at least used to be possible. But that they would vote third-party or maybe leave the choice blank. But the polling never indicated any sort of collapse of support, at least never for any length of time. But Trump will end up with just about the same number of votes as Mitt Romney received. In hindsight, I’m not sure that most votes aren’t just set in stone, and we all are now part of team D or team R and most will just support the team. Therefore the baselines for major party candidates may be pretty set and differences in voting may only be at the margins now.
  • Tolerance for ‘isms’ (racism, sexism,heterosexism, etc.) –  These factors had to at least be discounted by Trump voters. Though I have a steady job and am doing well, so maybe it’s easy for me to say that these should be pretty darn big considerations. Perhaps for those who aren’t in a good situation, and feel that the powers that be aren’t doing enough for them, maybe it’s easier to discount the negatives if you think somebody will come in and blow it all up to help you…at some point you just start looking out for number one and are less concerned about the plight of others.Of course, just because Romney and Trump both are going to have about 60 million votes doesn’t mean it’s the same 60 million. Trump had to lose SOME votes for these reasons, and perhaps just made those numbers back up with those who have more racist, sexist, etc. tendencies. Anecdotally, I can say that I did run across a Facebook conversation in which at least two people posted that they didn’t think a woman should be “commander-in-chief” period. As it turns out those two people were women. Attitudes like this really do still exist, and it’s not just men.But Trump didn’t pick up any EXTRA votes. It’s Hillary that’s going to have 6 million or so less votes than Obama, and that’s why the margins are closer. (11/20 edit- They are still counting votes and Hillary is now within 2.5 million votes of Obama. Her popular vote lead is over 1.5 million votes. It’s not difficult to imagine that she may be within 2.0 million votes of Obama before all is said and done. And her popular vote win could well be over +1.5%. Not that any of this matters, but since I mentioned Hillary was going to be 6 million short of Obama, I thought I should make this correction.)
  • Rural versus Urban Divide – Republicans have been winning rural areas for quite some time. But in previous elections, there were some sections were Democrats could pull wins in some rural counties, namely in the Midwest. Obama won Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. But even in 2012, the advantage in these states began to slip. And now in 2016, they pretty much all flipped to Trump. These are all states Clinton lost and it’s because she literally won only the big cities in these states. Whether this is a systematic shift…these are just GOP voting areas now, or whether this is just unique to Trump, that he appealed to the “white working class” voter with his generic anti-trade ‘I’ll bring the jobs back’ rhetoric which at least meant that he paid attention to them (Clinton didn’t even set foot in Wisconsin and only reached Michigan at the last moments) remains to be seen. But it appears there really were voters who voted Obama who voted Trump this time.
  • Voters Vote On Gut Feel – It’s not like voters study for the test. Who has time for that? So there’s probably not a lot of research done. I think nowadays too, we are much more into identity politics. It makes it easier if we just know what side we are on. Then we can just go vote for our side. Plus to the extent we do go for research, we do so based on the same identity politics that feeds into preconceived narratives. Going to Drudge Report, Breitbart, and Fox News is going to give you a much different look at the race than going to Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and MSNBC. It probably really impacts your view of how big of a deal Clinton’s e-mails and Clinton Foundation were versus Trump’s University, Foundation, sexual misconduct, lack of payment of workers, etc. and even if you were aware at all of some of these things. We aren’t all operating on the same information, and that information is incomplete.
  • Elections Are Simply Exercises In Marketing – Clinton had many wonderful position papers on her website, very detailed plans regarding what she would try to get accomplished as President. But that doesn’t win elections. I think Trump almost has no talent. But there is one thing he does about as well as anyone, market the brand “Trump”. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams had been arguing all year that Trump was the more persuasive candidate. While he may well have been more lucky than good in his prediction that Trump would win (after all, he predicted a “landslide”, losing the popular vote can hardly be called a landslide win), he probably had a good point that simple superior messaging can hide flaws and make facts matter a whole lot less. Conning people is not admirable, but it is a skill. Clinton could raise the heck out of some money, but if you can’t translate that money into messaging, it doesn’t matter.
  • Other stuff – James Comey raising that they found more e-mails except they didn’t and it was never a new issue anyway but it was reported like it was. The many free hours of coverage that Trump generated meant Trump didn’t have to worry that much about fundraising. That our system is conditioned to make elections close (all incentives, whether it’s media coverage or political advisors all push for close elections). The electoral college allows the possibility to win the popular vote and still lose the election. Minorities may not have shown up quite in the numbers as they had in the past couple of Presidential elections. Hillary didn’t quite win the percentage of minority votes that Obama did. On and on and on…….
  • Black Swan? – I was reminded by a Facebook post (simply put by posting a picture of a black swan) of one more theory. Black Swan events are an idea developed by Nassim Taleb to describe surprise major events that seems rational in hindsight (and what is everything written above if not a rationalization) but never prospectively. Now I think the Trump win was somewhat predictable by the time November rolled around. But I don’t think anyone was calling this two years ago, or really even when Trump first announced his candidacy. (People would do will to REMEMBER this next time they hope a “weak” candidate wins the nomination for the opposition party! You NEVER know! The country is much better served by having STRONG choices from all sides!) – 11/20

Or maybe it’s none of these things. Regardless, what will Trump’s Presidency look like. If you are like me and think Trump is a con man, there’s already evidence pointing in that direction. For all of his anti-establishment rhetoric, the people he is bringing onto his team is in fact the establishment. Also, if you are like me and think Trump was a lot more interest in winning the election than he is in actually running the country, then we need to start thinking about what a Mike Pence presidency might look like as he may be the defacto President (he’s already in charge of the transition team). That would likely mean a very, very sharp turn toward right-wing conservatism.

However I do hope that maybe, just maybe that Trump will actually do a good job. That would be what is best for the country. He keeps surprising me, maybe for once it can be a surprise for the better.

the donald

Last week I posted about Trump’s rhetoric, which as I mentioned, as awful as it is, it is not that different from the GOP’s standard spiel these days. However, I think there are boxes you need to be able to check off to be qualified to be President that go before even any consideration of political views and policy positions. In my view, not just anybody can be President (or maybe I should say, not just anybody SHOULD be President). I think to be considered for the office of the Presidency, you must have the ability to reason. You have to have good analytical skills (no one can know everything about everything, but as President, you do need to have the ability to understand what your team of experts is telling and make sound decisions based on that information). I also think a President needs to have an intelligent curiosity. They need to have a good grasp of history, economics, sociology, civics, etc., both on a domestic and global scale. A President needs to have empathy, as he/she has to remember that they represent 324 million people, who obviously have different backgrounds, needs, desires, etc. than the President himself/herself. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

I think there are a lot of people who are saying “anyone is better than Hillary Clinton”. The implication of that statement is that either everyone has the qualities required to be President or that amazingly Hillary literally possesses the least amount of qualifications of every single eligible adult in this country. Now I’m not a Hillary fan by any stretch. I disagree with many of her viewpoints (her penchant for military use comes to mind) and do have trust issues with her, not to mention that having the Clintons back in the White House just feels so oligarchical. Still, is she qualified to do the job? Personally I think that’s an easy yes. She has the capability of doing the job, even if I don’t think I’m going to like the way she does it.

So in my view, the “anyone is better than Hillary Clinton” statement just simply isn’t true. Some? Yes. Many? Possibly. All? Of course not. So I really think that comment can be better translated to “I’m voting for the Republican no matter what”. If Bernie Sanders was the nominee, it would be “anyone is better than Bernie Sanders”. It’s a rationalization for voting for somebody that’s not a strong candidate. It means that in your view, political affiliation is by far the most important thing, and without the proper affiliation, none of the other things matter.

The flip side of the argument is “anyone is better than Donald Trump”. Statistically speaking, it is also pretty much impossible that literally everyone is better than Trump. The question really should be is Trump qualified enough (or closely enough as qualified as his opponent) to be considered for the highest office of this country?  In my mind, the answer is a clear no. (At which point, you don’t even move on to comparing policy/political positions….you don’t have to.) Here are just a few things that has led me to this conclusion:

Now maybe this is my own bias and I am not thinking clearly. But I would like to think if somebody like Barbara Streisand or Alec Baldwin somehow was the Democratic nominee (or heck, Donald Trump himself as I think he could have easily decided to run as a Democrat…I don’t think he personally cares that much), I wouldn’t support them because “anybody is better than the “R” candidate”. All I know is I think Trump’s main “qualification” is that he is a celebrity who the press is obsessed with. Otherwise he is not qualified at all. On top of that, he is a very bad person. Not “anyone” would be better than him, but the list of people who are is large enough that it most certainly would include Hillary Clinton.

 

It's one louder.

It’s one louder.

Trump may say things that seem out there, but at least some of what he says isn’t much more than a natural conclusion of the standard GOP rhetoric. For example:

Abortion:

  • What the GOP says – The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. Fourteenth Amendment rights apply to the unborn child.
  • What Trump said – There should be “some form of punishment” for women having abortions.

If the fetus has the same unalienable rights as everyone else, then it stands to reason that laws against the killing of others would apply. The woman purposely sought to have the procedure, so it wouldn’t be any different fundamentally than hiring a hit to take someone else out. It sounds outrageous to say, but the logic does follow.

Immigration:

  • What the GOP says – Illegal immigration undermines and affects American workers. In the age of terrorism, drug cartels, human trafficking, and criminal gangs, the presence of millions of unidentified persons in this country poses grave risks to the safety and the sovereignty of the United States.
  • What Trump said – “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Reading those two statements together, I have a hard time seeing much of a difference. Trump referenced Mexico in particular, but let’s be honest, in this country when we talk immigration, we aren’t talking about Norwegians. The GOP may be more vague. But they aren’t talking about jobs and/or depressed wages. They are talking risk to safety and the very sovereignty of the country. That can’t be true if we aren’t talking significant numbers of people with “lots of problems”.

Muslims:

  • What the GOP says – “Muslim group[s]” say “that Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated.” and “a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called holiest days.”  – both from Mike Huckabee. “We are at war with radical Islam, with an interpretation of Islam by a significant number of people around the world, who they believe now justifies them in killing those who don’t agree with their ideology.” – Marco Rubio.
  • What Trump said – “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,”

If a primary goal of the Muslim religion itself was to “obliterate” all Christians and promote “murderous mayhem”, and if, as Rubio also added, this is a battle of civilizations, is a travel ban against those that call themselves followers of that religion not a reasonable response?

Personally I think Trump says the things he does partly because he doesn’t give anything much thought, so he tries to parrot what he hears from the right. But he also doesn’t give enough thought to realize some of the things said on the right is more rhetoric to capitalize on fears and prejudices than anything that is supposed to lead to an actual proposal for action. And make no mistake, while there is some opposition to him from the right for the same reasons as I oppose him, that as David Brooks put it, he’s epically unprepared to be President (and as such, what passes as “views” and “policy” from him is really irrelevant, because at his core, he’s just a dumb television celebrity), there is plenty of opposition more because they don’t trust him not to be really a liberal (because historically, he has sometimes parroted things that sound “liberal”), not that they are really against his “views” as he generally spouts out today.

In fact, I think that is a good bit of what some people find appealing about Trump. He’s taking the things the GOP has been talking about all along, but doesn’t sugar-coat it. He’s turned the dial to 11.

Admit it, you've never seen them both at the same place, have you?!!

Admit it, you’ve never seen them both at the same place, have you?!!

While I have trouble understanding the appeal of Donald Trump, I have less trouble when it comes to Ted Cruz, who has just established his bona fides as a top GOP presidential candidate by winning the Iowa Caucus. I see him as a really, really conservative that sees politics as a war between viewpoints and wants to apply tactics as such (compromise = losing, there are only wins and loses). If the country burns for a while as a result, well that’s just collateral damage for the “right side” winning. I can only imagine he is a dream candidate for the Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh’s and many of their listeners, who take that same view of politics.

That said, I think in any other year, one without a celebrity billionaire egomaniac which the press can’t quit obsessing about, Ted Cruz would be viewed as the extreme non-mainstream candidate. Here’s my rationale:

  • It seems like nobody who gets to know him actually likes him, not even people on his own side.  Bob Dole surely doesn’t.  People from George W. Bush’s presidential campaign didn’t.  John Boehner?  Nope.  People at Princeton where he went to school?  Not so much.  As President, it’s going to be hard to get around working with people, and while maybe it’s not a requirement, it may be easier if everyone doesn’t see you as an a-hole (then again, if you take the view that politics is war, then maybe you could see someone being YOUR a-hole as a plus).
  • His tactics are slimy. In Iowa, first his team sent out mail flyers to voters falsely stating that they were required to show up for the caucus, else it would negatively impact their imaginary voter participation grade. Then, his team took a CNN report that Ben Carson was flying back to Florida and used that to falsely tell Carson supporters that Ben had dropped out of the race so you better support Ted.  (Once again though, it you think politics is war, then this is just ‘ends justify the means’ kind of stuff.)
  • Ted Cruz and lies have a special relationship.  Check out Politifact for yourself, but by my count, out of all the Ted Cruz statements they have scored, roughly 70% have been scored as mostly false, false, or “pants on fire”.
  • Ted Cruz believes in conspiracy theories. Whether it’s Agenda 21 (including the abolishment of golf), communists at Harvard Law School, the supposed threat from Sharia Law, checking in to make sure the U.S. military wasn’t invading Texas, state nullification of federal law…..if there is a weird right-wing theory, Ted Cruz probably subscribes to it.
  • Ted Cruz is a big believer in using government shutdowns as a “negotiation” tactic.  I have no doubt that as President, he would continue to use this tactic, and it would potentially be a much more potent here.  After all, he’s only one out of hundred in the Senate, but as President, all continuing resolutions and debt ceiling bills would come to him.  I could imagine where we could get to a point that the continuity of government could become dependent on Congressional veto overrides.

Personally, I think anyone elected President, while certainly having a vision for the country, still has to act in the best interests of the country as a whole and every citizen, even those he/she disagrees with.  I don’t think it’s the place for a demagogue who views politics as a war to be won by any political means necessary.

Sources:

https://www.yahoo.com/politics/bob-dole-ted-cruz-cataclysmic-154736208.html

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/ted-cruz-jerk-hated

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/ted-cruz-unites-both-parties-in-belief-ted-cruz-a-jerk/

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/ted-cruzs-iowa-mailers-are-more-fraudulent-than-everyone-thinks

http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/02/05/ben-carson-campaign-releases-tape-of-ted-cruz-worker-spreading-rumors/?_r=0

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/ted-cruz/statements/?page=1

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/05/01/1946211/five-conspiracy-theories-2016-hopeful-ted-cruz-actually-believes/

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/ted-cruz-reached-out-the-pentagon-about-martial-law-conspiracy-theory

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/ted-cruz-texas-senate-conspiracy-theories

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/02/228376346/why-sen-cruz-looms-large-in-government-shutdown-drama

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-09-08/ted-cruz-to-star-in-government-shutdown-the-sequel

 

 

 

donald trump

My hair alone could run this country.

Statistician Nate Silver had been my rock when it came to the chances of Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination.  No matter what the rest of the press was saying, there would be good ol’ Nate saying Trump won’t win.  But with the primaries starting tomorrow and with the collapse of Trump in the polls that I think many of us expected not occurring, well even Nate has backtracked now and is saying Trump has a legitimate chance of pulling this off.  Further, his models now has Trump as the favorite to win Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

So Donald Trump is not a reality television side-show entertainment candidate.  He is an actual real candidate.  As voters start going to the polls, I hope they do their homework on Donald Trump.  For your consideration:

  • Trump says he is a successful business man because he’s made billions.  There are important things to remember though.  First, he inherited around $40 million from his dad in 1974.  So it’s not like he went from rags to riches.  Further, while he is now worth around $3 billion today (not bad right), some say that had he just invested his money in index funds and reinvested any dividends, he would be worth much more.  And Warren Buffet, who was worth about as much as Trump in 1974, now is worth $67 billion.  Doesn’t necessarily prove Trump is a bad business man.  But perhaps he’s not exactly good either, or at least not as good as he purports.
  • Trumps says he is good with money.  But he has filed for bankruptcy four times.  Hey, that’s allowed.  Still, I don’t think anyone has ever responded to the question ‘how are things financially?’ with ‘great, I just filed for bankruptcy!’
  • Trump is self-financing is campaign.  Except not exactly.  Go to his campaign website and you will clearly see a “donate” button.  He’s taken in millions from donations.  And in as such as he has contributed himself, it’s mostly be in the form of loans in which he can pay himself back for at any time using the raised campaign money.  There’s also a Super PAC backing him (“Make America Great Again”).
  • Trump is a man of principles.  And if you don’t like those principles, just wait, they will probably change.  He’s for legalizing drugs, he’s against legalizing drugs, he’s pro-choice, he’s pro-life, the rich should pay a wealth tax, wait no they need a tax cut, he’s for universal  healthcare, oh wait nevermind, Hillary would be a great President, no she would be a disaster, Ted Cruz is a great friend and also a very nasty person……

Clearly some see something in Trump.  I think it may be that what I may see as narcissism, others see as confidence.  Maybe what I may see as boastful and braggadocious, others see as leadership.  What I may see as offensive and racist, others see as courage to call it like he sees it.

Anyway, in case you couldn’t guess, I’m not a Trump supporter and find him a particularly weak candidate.  I think he has lived in a bubble all his life and doesn’t have a lot of real world knowledge.  I think in his arrogance, he has decided that being President would be easy (for a guy like him).  I think his extremely low tolerance to criticism is a major and potentially dangerous character flaw.  Finally, I think he would say or do anything, but only in what is in the best (perceived) interest of Trump (which he would probably think would be in the best interest of everyone anyway).

But I invite everyone to at least do their own homework in regards to Trump  (of course a good idea regardless of who you are voting for).  In my opinion, There’s more to being President than being outspoken.

Sources: