Posts Tagged ‘2016 Presidential campaign’

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.

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Don't look at me that way. I'm with you. Sort of.

Don’t look at me that way. I’m with you. Sort of.

I am one who will be voting for Hillary, but without a lot of enthusiasm. Now I am not sure how much I am being affected by years and years of media attacks, some of which certainly is ridiculous (Benghazi comes to mind). I’m also not sure how much I’m impacted as a male by subconscious bias against women in positions of power. I actually think that plays a role. All that said, even trying to adjust for those factors, I do think some of my discomfort is justified. The things that bother me include:

  • The Clintons have taken advantage of their political clout to enrich themselves. For those of us that think there’s too much money in politics, the Clintons are not people who shy away from that money. Bill takes the millions from a for-profit university. Hillary takes the millions in speaking fees from Wall Street, corporations, and other lobby organizations. They don’t really go out of their way to make sure that the operations (in both actuality and appearance) of their Clinton Foundation (which I do believe the preponderance of the evidence shows by and large does good charitable work) are totally separated from their government work. For those of us that think money buys undue influence regardless of whether there’s any specific quid pro quo, Hillary doesn’t seem like she really can credibly be the champion of changing that.
  • The e-mail thing. The reporting on this is frankly confusing, probably because of being in the middle of a Presidential campaign, competing interests either want you to think it’s a big nothing that should go away immediately or the greatest crime ever perpetrated against humanity. But from the things I read, I’m not that concerned over the supposed “classified” e-mails, as my understanding is that the true top-secret e-mails are on its own system. Maybe some minor information from the “classified” system may have leaked into discussions on the “non-classified” side of things. But my guess is that’s probably quite common.

    My concern is that there was ever a private server for work e-mails at all. I’m expected to do all my work communication via my work’s e-mail and it shouldn’t be different for government officials. I think if I set up a private server to handle my work e-mail and my employer found out, they would find that very suspicious. This was then compounded by the decision to also use that same e-mail for private use. Once again, if I choose to use my work e-mail for private matters, it’s with the understanding that my employer still owns those e-mails.

    So once it came time to turn the e-mails over, the Hillary team wanted to just hand over work e-mails. The problem is that they themselves made the determination of which e-mails where work-related and which were private. Personally I think once the decision was made to use the e-mail for both work and private purposes, she should have turned over all the e-mails. At the very least, a third-party should have been brought in to sift through them (what admittedly was probably an almost impossible task given the thousands and thousands of e-mails).

  • I am definitely of the opinion that Hillary is going to be more aggressive with foreign concerns than Obama has been. The people she has brought onto her national security team seems to support the view that it’s likely we will have more military involvement overseas, not less.
  • Issues of trust/spin. The lawyerly spin they often present to the public sometimes reaches the point of absurdity (it depends on the what the definition of “is” is anyone?). A good example was Hillary’s clumsy attempts to try to argue that FBI director James Comey had really confirmed her version of the e-mail issue. I think she was going for a A equals B and B equals C so A must equal C logic. A = What I told the FBI B = Separately, what I told you, the public. C = Comey said A was true. Therefore what I told the public was also true. Of course, this clearly falls apart because one, Comey just said he had no reason to think Hillary was lying, which is a different statement than saying she is telling the truth. And two, it’s quite clear Comey was not supporting Hillary’s version of events, and was making no statement in regards to what she was telling the public. So it just comes off as obvious spin.

    Hillary clearly also doesn’t trust the press, so she is sometimes so reluctant to release information. This is sometimes to her own detriment. The whole pneumonia thing is a good example. Instead of just disclosing she had pneumonia and taking the time off to recover, she instead worried about how that would play given how some of tried to make her health an issue and tried to push through it. Then she was caught collapsing into her car, which provided far more fuel for the health issue than had she just stayed home and rested (and also was evidence that she wasn’t doing her own health any favors). Even when busted, the team tried to first say it was mere overheating (which probably wasn’t exactly untrue, just not the root cause) before finally coming clean.

    I don’t think she was wrong in thinking that people would have raised questions had she come out saying she had pneumonia. And she probably really did think she could just stubbornly push through it. But while it sounds corny, I think most often, honesty really is the best policy. Yes, there would have been questions. But rest, recover, and come back strong and the questions will fade because you will prove that you are fine, because you are fine. Instead, those who have a question of trust received more ammunition.

All of that said, she doesn’t have to be the best candidate in the world. She only needs to be a better candidate than Donald Trump. Hillary is the establishment for sure. But she is also smart, capable, and experienced. In short, she is qualified to be President. And if she were able to enact the positions she has taken, for the most part I would say they would represent steps forward for this country. Is she my favorite candidate? No. But is she better than Donald Trump? Yes, and it’s not close in my mind.

As far as Trump and his issues go, that’s a post for another time. But I guess if I were to summarize, I would say Hillary is a bit of a capable but unsavory politician. Trump is an unsavory human being.

2016-democratic-national-convention-stage-set

I can’t do it. I had planned to do the same kind of mocking of the Democratic National Convention as I had the GOP National Convention. I even started to write it….and it was turning into more of a college paper summarizing the thing than anything else. To be fair, in my eyes, this year’s GOP Convention was just so easy to mock. And really, I do mean this year’s, because in all fairness, generally in the past, you give either party four nights to put their best foot forward, they do exactly that. That this particular GOP convention was so uniquely odd this year is yet another flag against Trump having the skills to be President.

So instead, I’m just going to mention my favorite quotes from the Democratic National Convention and leave it at that:

  • “To the Bernie or bust people, let me just tell you, you’re being ridiculous.” Sarah Silverman
    Hey, I voted for Bernie too, so I get it. And I think we should push for many of things Bernie had stood for, including changing the nomination process. But you do have to realize that he lost. And you really generally don’t change the rules for any current contests midstream, you have to change them for the next time anyway. Make no mistake though, Bernie did good, he got some nice things into the Democratic platform.
  • “How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”Michelle Obama
    This is what she tells her children when they are subjected hateful language from public figures and people questioning their dad’s citizenship and faith. More high road please!
  • “I want someone with the proven strength to persevere, someone who knows this job and takes it seriously, someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.”Michelle Obama
    I thought this was a very effective summation and take down of Donald Trump, all without even mentioning his name. Very succinct too (still too long for Twitter, though, 231 characters).
  • “That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”Michelle Obama
    I’m not sure I would have even included this had it not been for the reaction of people who either don’t know history, don’t understand history, or want to hide from history. What I heard was a recognition of how far we have come as a nation. What other people apparently heard was ‘omg, she said ‘slavery’ and that’s probably not true and why did she even mention that and she should probably not even bring that up’. Or Bill O’Reilly’s odd point in “fact-checking” that the slaves building the White House were “well fed” and had “decent lodging”, which is so beside the point that it’s absurd.
  • “I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill, more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America”President Barack Obama
    I have been giving some thought lately in regards to how unique it would be to have somebody serving as President who spent 8 years as First Lady (and let’s be honest, we all know she wasn’t a ‘Good Housekeeping’ first lady baking cookies), 8 years as U.S. Senator, and another 4 years as Secretary of State and would have a former President as her spouse. Whether that’s all good or not, that seems like a much better background than Trump’s career as a celebrity, scam-artist, and at best very mixed business record.
  • “Let me ask you: Have you even read the Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law’.”Khizr Khan
    This is the father of a Muslim man who served our military and was killed in the line of duty. Most times this would be ridiculous, but with Trump, I think it’s a fair question. After all, at one point Trump declared he would defend Articles of the Constitution that don’t even exist. Trump responded with appreciation for this family’s sacrifice before…..yeah, of course that’s not how Trump responded. Instead he insulted the mom, saying she had “nothing to say” and maybe she wasn’t “allowed to have anything to say”. Ghazala Khan, the mom in question, responded that she was still in too much pain to speak, though she thinks she said that without saying a word…..but that would take empathy to recognize, which I’m not sure is in Trump’s DNA.
  • “None of us can raise a family, build a business, heal a community or lift a country totally alone. America needs every one of us to lend our energy, our talents, our ambition to making our nation better and stronger.”Hillary Clinton
    This is a vision for the country that we need to get back to in my opinion. We are all in this together.

To me, the difference between the two Conventions was night and day (or should I say midnight and morning). The GOP’s Convention was a disorganized mess pushing the politics of fear and division with a solution of a savior to save us all. The Democratic Convention was a well-ran (which again is typically true for both parties…) event that while warning against a potential Trump administration given his shortcomings, pushed a message of optimism and unity for moving forward to the future. That message is much more appealing to me, and right now I don’t see this choice as being close.