• Trump Won White Women
• Breaking Out of the Bubble
• Whither the Electoral College?
• Christie Out, Pence In as Transition Chief
• The Map that Should Have the GOP Nervous
• Trump Open to Keeping Parts of the Affordable Care Act
• Facebook Under Scrutiny
John Judis, a well-respected political analyst and author, has written a long piece on why Donald Trump won. His view is that Clinton was a weak candidate for multiple reasons. First, it is hard for a party to win three consecutive terms in the White House. After eight years, enough people are angry with the party that there is demand for "change," even when the outgoing president is popular, as Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton were. Second, Clinton had a long history in the public eye and a lot of baggage, including multiple scandals, real or imagined. Third, she made little effort to reach out to the "basket of deplorables," who constituted a large piece of the electorate. Fourth, she bet on the Obama coalition holding together, but she did worse with the young, the black voters, and the Latinos.
Many of the Trump voters were really anti-Clinton voters more than pro-Trump voters. Nevertheless, Trump presented simple ideas in middle-school language that voters could understand, such as making America great again. Clinton never articulated a clear message of why she sould be elected. In fact, most of her campaign was extremely negative, railing against Trump rather than explaining what she would do for the country. She had dozens of specific issues on her website, but no unifying theme to entice voters with something they could easily understand. (V)
As reporters begin to analyze the exit polls more, we are beginning to get a better picture of what really happened on Tuesday. One surprising discovery is that Trump won 53% of all white women. The New York Times interviewed a number of white and non-white female Trump supporters to better understand their votes. Debbie Biro (57) of Pennsylvania, a white lifelong Democrat and vegetarian churchgoing single mother who practices yoga said, "Trump is a strong leader and he'll get things done." Nicole Been (22) is a Roman Catholic who attends DePaul University in Chicago. She is deeply opposed to abortion and the college hookup culture. Daphne Groggins (53) is a black community activist who said that decades of Democratic rule have done little for the black community. Sue Gauta of Florida is tired of paying $1,800 per month for a health insurance policy with a $12,000 annual deductible. Kyleigh Ostendorf (26) of California, a graphics designer, said she has seen America fall down and is attracted to Trump's business plan. Bobbye Horton (67), who is a Latina, approves of Trump's plan to build a wall with Mexico. And, of course, there are millions of other women who voted for Trump as well, each with her own reasons.
The Times also interviewed female Clinton supporters and got a different earful. Molly Hubner (26) told her 6-year-old daughter that Trump wouldn't be a good president because he isn't kind, and now is at a loss to explain his victory to the daughter. Jill Laurie Goodman, a Manhattan lawyer Hillary Clinton's age, said: "I woke up yesterday feeling as if everything I thought 45 years ago was wrong, that I had just gotten it wrong." Sally Waldron (69) of Massachusetts is scared of what Trump might do. Jessica Leeds, one of the women who said Trump groped her, was astonished to learn that so many women voted for Trump. Quite a few of the other women interviewed said that the fact that Clinton is a woman played a big role in her defeat. (V)
Customarily, we try to avoid hyper-partisan sources on either side of the aisle; this one's an exception. Riaz Patel is gay, a Muslim, an immigrant, and is Pakistani-American. He spends much of his life safely ensconced in a liberal, generally tolerant, Hollywood bubble. But he decided to shake things up, and travel to Alaska to talk to people there, as he writes for Glenn Beck's website. Here's the list of lessons he learned:
- There exists a HUGE population in America who are desperately struggling to feed their families.
- They feel their needs are not authentically represented within this huge government.
- They feel their concerns are not being voiced by any major news outlet.
- They are tired of being called "dumb," "bigoted" and "racist."
- And, based on the shocked expressions of every anchor Tuesday night that all their polling data was off, apparently they aren't even really counted.
It's worth reading the whole piece, just to get a perspective that's not often presented in the media, on either side of the aisle. (Z)
There is much discussion of the Electoral College these days, and for good reason. For the second time in 20 years, this institution—something of a mystery to most Americans—will presumably award the presidency to someone who did not win the popular vote. That is nearly as many times as it happened in the 200 years previous (1824, 1876, 1888). And given that 1824 and 1876 were both special circumstances (with Congress getting involved), a fairly strong argument can be made that the Electoral College overrode the people's will just one time before George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump came along. Quite a few people, mostly of a liberal stripe, are not too happy about this.
To understand the situation, and the potential for change, first requires a bit of a history lesson. The men who wrote the Constitution created the Electoral College for two reasons. The first was to give greater weight to the votes coming from small states. The Framers knew that they needed at least nine of the 13 colonies to sign off on the new government, and that the Rhode Islands and Georgias of the world would not do so if they felt they would be completely at the mercy of the Virginias and the New Yorks. So, they awarded one elector for each member of Congress, which means that each state gets a minimum of three of them (two senators, one representative). The way this plays out today is that in a state like Wyoming (3 EVs and 600,000 people, or 200,000 people per EV), a citizen's presidential vote is weighted roughly 3.5 times as much as that of a citizen in California (55 EVs and 39 million people, or 700,000 people per EV).
The second reason that the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College was that they didn't entirely trust democracy. Most of them did not doubt that monarchy was no good, but they were all wealthy, powerful men who tended to hold grimy working-class types at arm's length. Therefore, the Electoral College was created as an insurance policy against the teeming masses making a terrible mistake. Their notion was that the presidential electors could, and should, step in if the people chose someone unfit to be the Chief Executive.
This now brings us to the present day. One of the petitions (and ideas) that is going around is that some of Donald Trump's electors should switch their allegiance, and vote for Hillary Clinton. To do so would absolutely be consistent with the vision of the Framers. In Federalist No. 68, "Publius"—almost certainly Alexander Hamilton—discusses the Electoral College and its purposes at length. In describing the type of candidate that the Constitution is trying to protect against, Hamilton writes:
The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.
Modern translation, for those who don't speak 18th century-ese:
We certainly don't want a president who has no real qualifications for the job. And while we can see how someone who is good at scandal-mongering and getting publicity might win a single state, we're hoping that person couldn't win multiple states. If they somehow do, then the Electoral College insures against that.
In some ways, Hamilton seems to have had a crystal ball. In other ways, not so much.
So, if roughly 40 "faithless" electors abandon Trump and award the presidency to Hillary Clinton, it would absolutely be justifiable from a legal and historical standpoint, and would likely stand up to a court challenge, given past precedent (faithless electors have never been punished before), as well as the stated intentions of the Founders. As a practical matter, it seems unlikely to happen. The electors in question were either chosen by the Trump campaign, or by the Republican Party. It seems rather unlikely that 40 of these people would jump ship for a Democrat, particularly one with the baggage that Clinton has. Somewhat more plausible (but not that much more plausible) is that 40 or so electors vote for someone who is neither Clinton nor Trump, like Mitt Romney or Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and then Congress (which would get to choose from the top three EV finishers) elevates that person to the presidency. This scenario, with the Electoral College effectively pulling a president out of thin air, is probably not what Hamilton, et. al., had in mind. But it too would likely stand up to a legal challenge. Assuming, of course, that Trump's supporters had not burned down all the courthouses by then, since denying The Donald would without a doubt lead to rioting in streets.
At the same time that some people are focusing on this election, others are thinking long term. Another popular petition right now calls for the Electoral College to be abolished. This may sound good in theory, but it's not going to happen. Since the College is enshrined in the Constitution, it could be abolished only by a Constitutional amendment. Such an amendment would have to pass Congress, and then would have to be adopted by 3/4 of the state legislatures (i.e., 37 of them). While California and Illinois would sign off on the amendment tomorrow, there is simply no chance that 20 or 25 of the smaller states would willingly cede power to the larger states. Just as Rhode Island and Georgia were not interested in letting Virginia and New York call all the shots 200 years ago, Montana and Wyoming are not interested in letting California and Illinois call all the shots today.
There is also an alternative to changing the Constitution; something of an end run around the Electoral College called the National Popular Vote Bill. The notion is that states controlling 270 or more electoral votes would band together and agree to award those votes to whoever won the popular vote. This would, de facto, guarantee that the popular vote winner and the electoral vote winner were always the same person. This plan's a little more likely to happen than a change to the Constitution, but it also has some significant obstacles. To start, it would require some red states and some blue states to agree to the plan at the same time. Not coincidentally, red states tend to be very happy with the Electoral College when blue states are unhappy, and vice-versa—they're not usually unhappy simultaneously. Beyond that, it would take a lot of power and influence away from both small states and swing states, neither of whom are likely to be happy about that. And finally, this would not be a federal law (that would be illegal), it would be a patchwork quilt of state laws, which could lead to all kinds of shenanigans. Imagine, for example, that with a quick, late-night legislative session on December 18, Texas could change the president from a Democrat to a Republican. Would they be able to avoid that temptation? Or would California, if the shoe were on the other foot?
In short, the Electoral College seems to have outlived its usefulness. The Constitution is a done deal, so there's no longer a need to placate small states. And, assuming that Trump is confirmed, then the College is clearly not tossing out candidates with "Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity," so that function is dead as well. But while it may be past its time, we're likely stuck with it, nonetheless. (Z)
Donald Trump demonstrated yesterday that he is still skilled at firing people, even though he is no longer on reality TV. Yesterday, he abruptly fired the head of his transition team, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). He didn't explain why, but he is surely aware that the "Bridgegate" trial last week showed that Christie had consistently lied about not knowing about the lane closings on the George Washington bridge. While Trump himself lies all the time (according to the fact checkers), apparently he does not like this characteristic in other people.
Also a factor in Christie's demise is Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who hates Christie with a passion for putting his father, Charles Kushner, in prison when Christie was a U.S. attorney. The younger Kushner is expected to play a major role in Trump's administration, even if he isn't given a formal position.
The new head of the transition team is Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Trump knows little about governing and Pence, having spent 12 years in the House and 3 years as governor of Indiana, knows a great deal about it, so replacing Christie with a Washington insider obviously makes some sense. Many people feel that the relationship between Trump and Pence will be similar to that of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, with a newbie president relying on an experienced vice president. Earlier this year Trump tried (unsuccessfully) to sign up Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) as his running mate, telling Kasich he could run domestic policy and foreign policy. Kasich said no, but it is entirely possible that Trump made the same offer to Pence. Since Pence served 12 years in Congress, he knows Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and all the other big players very well. One insider said yesterday that Pence was in line to be the most important vice president in history, kind of confirming this line of thought.
One critical decision Trump will make on his own is his choice for chief of staff. There are apparently two contenders, as different as two Republicans can be. One is Reince Priebus, the current RNC chairman—an insider's insider, and as calm and polite as people come. The other is Steve Bannon—CEO of Breitbart News, and a bombthrower with a history of antisemitism. If Trump picks Bannon, who is popular with his base, there could be clashes between Bannon and Kushner, an orthodox Jew. (V)
We have written several times about the demographic problem that the GOP faces, namely that their base is aging. 2016's results put that problem into focus, as shown in this map of how the electoral vote would have gone if only voters 18-25 were counted:
It is true that people sometimes drift Republican as they get older, have families, pay more taxes, acquire assets, and the like. But that tendency alone is not going to be enough to counter the millennial surge by itself, especially since they are projected to be the largest group of voters by 2020 (overtaking the Baby Boomers). Either the GOP is going to adapt, abandoning positions that don't fly with young people (like being against gay marriage), of they are going to spend some time in the wilderness. (Z)
In a surprise move, yesterday Donald Trump said that he planned to keep parts of the Affordable Care Act, despite his spending months saying he planned to repeal the entire act and get rid of it, root and branch. The parts that he likes are the rules allowing adult children up to age 26 to stay on their parents' insurance policies, and the prohibition against insurance companies discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. This sudden change of plans is not going to be popular with his many supporters who hate the entire law.
Trump probably doesn't realize the implications of what he just said. Any attempt to repeal the entire law would require an act of Congress. The Democrats would certainly filibuster any such attempt. At that point, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would be in a bind. He could eliminate the filibuster for everything, including legislation, but he is well aware that the Republicans might be in the minority some day, and once the filibuster is dead and buried, it is not coming back from the grave.
If McConnell decides not to eliminate the filibuster for legislation, the best he could do is use the budget reconciliation process (which requires only 51 votes) to try to cripple the law. However, budget reconciliation can be done only for things that affect the budget. The Supreme Court ruled that the penalty for not being insured is a tax, and changing tax policy can be done using reconciliation. However, if Congress eliminated the hated tax but kept the rest of the law intact, then young, healthy people might not buy insurance. This would result in the insurance pool being largely old, sick people, forcing insurance companies to raise premiums. That would cause more people to drop insurance, and the entire healthcare system would collapse. McConnell doesn't want that, either.
So maybe McConnell will abolish the filibuster entirely and simply repeal the entire law, including the parts Trump likes. Not so fast. The insurance industry loves the ACA. After all, it brought in 22 million new customers. It doesn't care that the government is paying for them. Suddenly losing 22 million customers is something the industry has not prepared for. Furthermore, many of these people would then start using hospital emergency rooms for primary care. From the point of view of the hospitals, losing 22 million paying customers and in return getting 22 million people who want free care doesn't sound like any fun at all. If repeal came to a vote, healthcare and insurance lobbyists might just descend on Congress like a swarm of locusts to inform them of the size of their warchest for defeating members of Congress who vote for repeal. Also not helping things is that Obamacare sign-ups are surging as we speak, with the day after the election ending up as the busiest day of the year, thanks to 100,000 new enrollees. No matter what McConnell does, he has a big headache. (V)
Given its 1.2 billion users, and its engagement with all parts of the political spectrum, there's a case to be made that Facebook is the most powerful media company in the world (even if they insist they're a technology firm). They have enormous power to shape elections, in all manner of ways, but particularly in terms of their news feed. Given the obvious impact that social media had in 2016, critics are starting to ask some probing questions about the mysterious algorithms that control Facebook content.
One major problem is the echo chamber effect. It is clear that Facebook tends to show users content that they will "like," which often translates to "content I agree with." Therefore, users are fed item after item that comports with their basic worldview, and little that might challenge it or shake it up. Then there is a second problem, which is that Facebook does not appear to be doing much of a job (or any job at all) of filtering out false news (which might just as well be called disinformation). As such, blatant falsehoods thrive on the social media site; recent examples include stories that poll workers in Nevada were wearing "Defeat Trump" shirts (that would be illegal electioneering), that Hillary Clinton was paid a bribe to vote for war in Iraq (she was not), and that Michelle Obama is secretly a man and that you can see her...manhood under her dress (you can't). Because of the first problem, these falsehoods are most likely to end up in the feeds of people who most want to believe them.
There is, it would seem, no easy solution to these problems. Facebook is a private company, and largely beyond the control of the government, due to First Amendment and other concerns. They could make their algorithms open source (or at least share them with a selected handful of scholars), but they have been completely unwilling to do so. And because the site makes money from eyeballs, and shares, and clicks, they have no particular motivation to get rid of the inflammatory stuff, even when it's completely false. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov11 Was the Trump Voter Motivated by Economics or by Racism
Nov11 Other Key Findings from the Exit Polls
Nov11 Things Are Turning Ugly
Nov11 Classes, Exams Canceled on Wednesday
Nov11 Did Hillary Clinton Have a 98% Chance of Winning?
Nov11 President Ryan?
Nov10 Exit Polls Reveal a Deeply Divided Nation
Nov10 Third Parties Had a Huge Effect on the Election
Nov10 What Went Wrong?
Nov10 Trump's Business Conflicts Present Some Serious Issues
Nov10 Preliminary List of Trump Cabinet Officials Leaks
Nov10 Maggie Hassan Defeats Kelly Ayotte
Nov10 Democrats Have No Leader and No Direction
Nov10 Jihadists Happy About Trump's Win
Nov10 U.S. Elects LGBT Governor for the First Time
Nov09 Possible Electoral Vote: Trump 310, Clinton 228
Nov09 Popular Vote Is Very Close
Nov09 What Happens Next?
Nov09 How Did This Happen?
Nov09 How Does This Result Affect 2018?
Nov09 Election Postmortem, Take One
Nov08 Live Blogging Will Begin this Evening around 6:30 PM EST
Nov08 Our Prediction: Clinton Will Win
Nov08 Clinton Leads in Eight of Nine New National Polls
Nov08 Latino Vote Is Surging
Nov08 Justice Department to Monitor Polls in 28 States
Nov08 Candidates' Final Day Is Hectic
Nov08 Democrats Vote Early
Nov08 Americans Don't Think the Election Is Rigged
Nov08 Supreme Court Declines to Overturn Appeals Court on Voter Intimidation Order in Ohio
Nov08 Obama Campaigns in Michigan for Clinton
Nov08 Stock Market Zooms Up
Nov08 Clinton Draws First Blood
Nov08 Final Senate Update
Nov08 Will Republicans Really Obstruct SCOTUS Nominee?
Nov08 Will Trump's Movement Outlast Him?
Nov07 Comey: After Reviewing New Emails, Clinton Will Not Be Charged
Nov07 Clinton Continues to Lead in the Electoral College
Nov07 National Polls Give Clinton a Small Lead
Nov07 Prediction Models Agree that Clinton Will Beat Trump
Nov07 Betting Markets Say Clinton Will Win
Nov07 Trump's Aides Block His Twitter Access
Nov07 Reid's Machine Could Be the Deciding Factor in the Election
Nov07 Is Michigan in Play?
Nov07 Libertarian Veep Candidate Weld Kinda, Sorta Endorses Clinton
Nov07 Pope Francis Kinda Endorses Clinton, Too
Nov07 Judge Says that RNC Is Not Working with Trump
Nov07 The Nine Races that Will Determine Control of the Senate
Nov07 Today in Donald Trump Takedowns