Needed 1215
Haley 21
Trump 116
Other 12
Remaining 2280
Political Wire logo Judge to Set Date for Trump’s Classified Docs Trial
Jamaal Bowman Was Stealth Winner of New Map
Georgia Case Against Trump Takes Big Hit
Biden-Trump Border Visits Revealed a Deeper Divide
Missouri GOP Backs Away Candidate Tied to KKK

Happy Sadie Hawkins Day to all!

McConnell Will Step Down as Party Leader in November

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the longest-serving leader in the Senate ever, having overtaken Mike Mansfield in Jan. 2023. Yesterday, he announced that he will stay in the upper chamber until his Senate term runs out on Jan. 3, 2027, but will be an ordinary backbencher starting in November of this year.

McConnell's aides said his decision was unrelated to his health, but we don't believe that for a second. The Republicans have at least a 50-50 shot at controlling the Senate in January, in which case McConnell would be almost certain to be majority leader, a position he has held before and covets very much. Why would he make himself a lame duck when he is on the cusp of returning to power? If Joe Biden is reelected and the Democrats capture the House, then as Senate majority leader, he would be the most powerful Republican in the country. McConnell is not someone to shirk that kind of power. He fell last year and suffered a concussion and has frozen up in public several times, probably due to TIAs. He turned 82 last week and may well have other medical conditions he hasn't disclosed. His wife's younger sister died last week, but we doubt that is sufficient reason to give up so much power.

Another reason we suspect McConnell has some undisclosed reason for giving up his leadership post is that he hates the direction Donald Trump is taking his beloved Republican Party. If Trump wins and McConnell were majority leader, he could thwart Trump in many ways. For example, when Trump nominated an incompetent flunky for a (sub)cabinet, agency, or judicial position, McConnell could simply refuse to hold a vote, or at least vote against confirmation and try to bring a few more Republicans with him along with all the Democrats. This would force Trump to nominate people who were at least marginally competent. McConnell also supports NATO, hates Russia, and wants to help Ukraine. As majority leader, he could write a bill with funds for a border wall, funds for Ukraine, and a big tax cut for millionaires and tell Trump: "Take it or leave it. It's all or nothing. If you veto it, you don't get a border wall." There is a long list of things McConnell could do to advance his policy goals in both a Biden administration and a Trump administration. If he felt he could herd the cats for 2 more years until his likely retirement from the Senate in Jan. 2027, he would hang in there.

McConnell will be replaced by a vote of the new Republican caucus in December, but the jockeying for position began yesterday in a serious way. It could determine the future of the Republican Party, no matter who is elected president. The new leader will probably be named John, and not just because that is a common name. The top contenders are Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-SD), Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barraso (R-WY), and former Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX). Sens. John Boozman (R-AR), John Kennedy (R-LA), and John Hoeven (R-ND) are not likely to try out, even though they passed the John test, and Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and John Fetterman (D-PA) are Democrats. Ten percent of the male senators are named John. The presence of so many Johns in the upper chamber helps explain why the Senate is so often full of sh*t.

The Three Johns in the running have different degrees of MAGAosity. Thune is considered a friendly guy but just got around to endorsing Trump last Sunday. He doesn't mean it. He originally endorsed his Senate colleague Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). He doesn't like Trump and would be like a younger version of McConnell. He would recruit Senate candidates who could win, without regard to their Trumpiness. Barraso is completely in the tank for Trump and would de facto allow Trump to run the Senate. He would rarely, if ever, block Trump nominations for anything. Did you expect anything else from a guy from Wyoming? Cornyn is in between the two.

Theoretically, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) could try for the top job again, but he was swatted down last time he tried because he is a serious contender for the least popular senator in the GOP caucus, not an easy feat when competing with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Also, if Scott barely wins reelection this year, that will label him as a weak leader. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) said he thinks there will be 8-10 candidates. He played college football and clearly got banged in the head one time too many. There will not be 8 serious candidates. Maybe four or five at most, but probably just the three Johns.

Each of the three Johns has supporters in the Senate and the arm-twisting will probably go on for months, especially if none of them can corral a majority easily and if McConnell stays out of it, even behind the scenes. Most senators are being very cagey now, although Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) did admit that he supported "John." Not that many senators are very Trumpy and since the election is by secret ballot, we think Thune is likely the favorite, with Cornyn in second place, but the sausage-making will be fierce, albeit under wraps. (V)

Trump Got Mixed Legal News Yesterday

Donald Trump got some legal news from three different sources yesterday, some good and some bad. First the good news, then the bad news.

  • Immunity: The best news for Trump is that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Trump's claim that he is immune to prosecution for crimes he committed as president because, when the president does it, it is not illegal. The hearing will be in the week of April 22. The ruling could be in June, or even later. If just one justice (Sam Alito? Clarence Thomas?) sits on their dissent, it could drag this thing out indefinitely. If Trump loses, he will argue that it is unfair to put him on trial so close to the Republican National Convention. If Judge Tanya Chutkan buys that, he might be able to delay his trial in the coup case until after the election.

    In any case, the Supreme Court's decision to hear oral arguments 2 months from now is very good news for Trump. After all, he doesn't care so much about winning or losing. What he cares about is delay, and he got some yesterday. As to the Roberts Court's reputation, well, apparently the members don't care anymore. This should be a simple matter, and even if it isn't, they could fast-track it given the significance. It is very difficult to interpret the slow-play approach as anything other than the conservative justices doing Trump a favor. After all, they could have just ruled that the appeals court did a fine job and there is no need for a review.

    If the ruling comes down in June, the trial judge could schedule the trial for, say, August, but then Trump would appeal that, too. If she ruled that a defendant can't appeal a trial date and held the trial anyway, he might decide not to show up and not have his lawyers show up. Would the judge hold the trial anyway? Would she dare hold Trump in contempt of court and put him in jail? Uncharted territory, to say the least.

  • Ballot access: The news out of Illinois was decidedly worse for Trump. There, Cook County Circuit Judge Tracie Porter ruled that Trump participated in an insurrection and per the 14th Amendment is therefore disqualified from being on the March 19 Illinois primary ballot. She ordered his name removed from the ballot. However, she stayed her ruling until the Supreme Court can make a final call on it. Trump has also been banned in Colorado and Maine. A situation in which some states allow him and some ban him is not something the Supreme Court is likely to tolerate. It already heard oral arguments in the Colorado case and is likely to make a decision no later than June for the whole country. The smart money is betting that the justices will somehow weasel out of banning Trump. For example, the Court could rule that Sec. 3 of the 14th Amendment is not self-executing, and Congress must first pass a law defining "insurrection" and specifying whether the president is an officer of the United States.
    Of course, Chief Justice John Roberts (who is not running for the position of leader of the Senate Republicans although he meets one of the key requirements) doesn't want a situation in which the ruling is 6-3 with a bitter dissent signed by the three Democratic women. Getting to 9-0 will test his people management skills to the limit.

  • Bank fraud case: Trump has appealed the penalty of $454 million in his bank fraud case, saying that although he checked under all the couch cushions at Mar-a-Lago for loose change, he couldn't come up with the $454 million. His filing ran 1,800 pages. Did his lawyers seriously think they could snow the appeals judge? If so, it failed. Associate Justice Anil Singh, on the mid-level New York State appeals court, rejected the appeal. However, he did stay one part of Judge Arthur Engoron's ruling. Singh allowed Trump to try to get a loan from a New York bank. Of course, getting a New York bank to loan him half a billion dollars after he was found guilty of defrauding New York banks may not be so easy, even if it is now allowed. Trump has already asked for an en banc ruling. If he loses that, the next step is the New York Court of Appeals, the state's top court.

    Trump's lawyers decided a good strategy would be to negotiate with the appeals court. They said Trump would be willing to post a $100 million bond instead of a $454 million bond. The judge didn't rule on that, but it seems unlikely the court will overrule Engoron, who argued for his number in a detailed verdict. (V)

Trump Seems to Be Underperforming the Polls So Far

The "shy Trump voter" bedeviled the pollsters in 2016. How do you poll people who systematically refuse to be polled because they don't trust the pollsters—or worse yet, actively want to sabotage them? Random-sample polling is based on the idea that you sample the population and all kinds of voters are equally likely to take the survey. Even if 9 out of 10 people called refuse to take the survey, that doesn't matter (except for increasing the cost of the poll) as long as the survey-takers are truly representative of the overall electorate. All pollsters are keenly aware of the problem and each one presumably has some (secret) way of trying to compensate for it. A crude way might be to note that the 2016 or 2020 poll in some state underestimated Trump's share of the vote by X% and then just add X% to his measured vote this time. Maybe they have something better, but they are not talking.

That said, one peculiar feature of this year's primaries is that the polls have overestimated Trump's share of the vote three times this year. They have also overestimated his winning margin over Nikki Haley four times. Have pollsters overcorrected for the "shy Trump voter" effect or is this just statistical noise? The effect isn't big, but the other Nate (Cohn) of The New York Times, has noticed it and written it up (actually, he wrote it up before the Michigan results were in, but the same thing happened there).

Here are the data for Trump. For example, the polls predicted that Trump would get 79% of the vote in Michigan and beat Haley by 57 points, the difference (delta) between them. He actually got 68% of the vote and beat her only by 42 points. So Trump underperformed the polling average by 11 points and underperformed the expected margin by 15 points (meaning not only did he underperform the polls but she also overperformed them). Note that in Iowa, Haley came in third, just behind Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) who got 21% to Haley's 19%. Nevada is not included because Haley was in the primary and Trump was in the caucus. There was no polling for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  Final polls   Results   Error
State Share Delta   Share Delta   Share Delta
Iowa 53% 34%   51% 32%   -2% -2%
New Hampshire 54% 18%   54% 11%   0% -7%
South Carolina 62% 28%   60% 20%   -2% -8%
Michigan 79% 57%   68% 42%   -11% -15%

The misses aren't large, but the polls over predicted Trump's margin four times, and by an average of 8 points. A difference of 8 points is the difference between winning and losing in all the swing states.

Four data points is not a lot and the errors in Trump's score weren't enormous, although the errors in the margins were quite large, meaning Haley did much better than expected rather than Trump doing worse.

What is going on here? Cohn has three theories. First, the undecideds ultimately broke strongly for Haley. Second, the pollsters got the electorate wrong, possibly by not including enough ratf*cking Democrats. Third, there were some "shy anti-Trump Republicans" who chose not to be polled. We would add a fourth possibility, namely, that this is just statistical noise and means nothing. After all, if you flip a coin four times and get four heads, that doesn't mean the coin is biased. If you run the four-flips test 1000 times, you are going to get four heads about 62 or 63 times. This is just the nature of statistics.

An extremely tentative conclusion, if it's not just noise, is that the polls this time may not be underestimating Trump either because (1) Trump voters aren't shy at all anymore; they are proud of their support for him now and want to tell the world about it, or (2) pollsters have figured out how to compensate for it. Or something else. We don't know, but another 50 or so primaries and caucuses are left, so by summer we will have a lot of data. (V)

Why Won't Haley Drop Out?

Nikki Haley seems to be tilting at windmills (which is not as environmentally friendly as tilting at oil derricks, but she is a Republican, after all). Why? One popular explanation is if she stays in all the way to the convention and gets 25-35% of the vote in the process, then if "something" happens to Trump, the convention might just pick her as the next in line. The "something" could be a health-related incident, a law-related incident, being caught on a hot mic saying something devastating like "my base consists of dumb hayseeds whose only value is for me to suck the maximum amount of money possible out of them. I certainly don't plan on helping these gullible yokels in any way," or something unexpected. As long as she can continue to pull in enough small-dollar donations to fund her travel and a small staff for 4 more months, why not keep going? She doesn't have anything better to do.

Conservative columnist Henry Olsen has a different theory. He writes that she is almost certainly aware of the RNC rules. One of the rules is that candidates who have a plurality of the vote in at least five states can get their names formally placed in nomination and get air time. If Haley can win five states, she could give a speech tearing Trump to bits and urging Republicans to write her name in or even stay at home. Trump wouldn't be able to tolerate that and would then have to negotiate a deal with her, giving her some real power. She might, for example, demand a formal written platform (which the Party didn't have in 2020) and insist on a few planks she cares about, such as a promise to remain in NATO and a national ban on abortion only after week 16 of a pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother far beyond that. Getting her on board and not causing floor fights (which would lead to "Republicans in disarray" headlines), might force Trump to negotiate with her and allow her to extract concessions from him. So her clout depends a lot on whether she can actually win any states.

Winning five states is a long shot, and she seems to understand this. She knows that she can never win deep-red states with closed primaries where only Republicans can vote. Her best chances are in moderate states with open primaries (anyone can vote in either primary) or semi-closed primaries (independents can vote in either primary). The goal would be to win five open or semi-closed states with help from non-Republicans or independents, respectively. Her messaging could emphasize the need for independents and Democrats to vote for her, where allowed, to save the country from Trump. Since she is never going to get always-Trumpers to vote for her, openly pitching to independents and Democrats has no downside anymore.

Her travel plans seem to indicate that she understands all of this. She has held two rallies in Michigan. Next up is Minnesota. Both are moderate states that do not allow voters to register in a party so both hold open primaries. She is also campaigning in Colorado, a blue state where independents can vote in either primary and where moderate Joe O'Dea crushed a MAGA opponent in the 2022 Republican senatorial primary. And she is campaigning in the affluent and well-educated Denver suburbs where O'Dea won big time. Then she goes to Utah, which holds a caucus on Super Tuesday. Odd? No. Remember that LDS church members don't like Trump and the caucus is semi-closed.

After that it is east for rallies in North Carolina, Virginia and D.C. Virginia has an open primary (because there is no party registration) and North Carolina has a semi-closed one. D.C. has a closed primary, but it is ground zero for the never-Trump Republican elite. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and then-governor John Kasich got a combined 73% of the vote there in 2016. Finally, we come to an event in Needham, MA, a town where the median household income is over $200,000 and 80% of the adults have at least a college degree. Massachusetts is a semi-closed state. Then up to Vermont, which is not only an open state but one that currently has a Republican governor, Phil Scott, who has endorsed Haley.

Actually winning five states is a very steep hill to climb, but it is not impossible and assuming enough small donations keep coming in, does she really have something better to do for the next couple of weeks? Olsen may be wrong, but Haley's campaign choices seem to suggest he may be onto something.

Of course, if Haley fails to win five states, she is likely to drop out and endorse Trump to preserve her viability for 2028. After all, her viability is more important than her dignity. (V)

Wyoming's County Caucuses Start Saturday

Within broad guidelines, state parties are pretty much free to propose any scheme they want for selecting delegates to the national conventions. Then the DNC or RNC approves or rejects each plan. Many states just have a primary, but some have a more complex scheme. On Tuesday, Michigan had a statewide vote to allocate 16 of its delegates; on Saturday there will be a state convention to choose 39 more delegates.

Wyoming has an even more complicated scheme. The Cowboy State is interesting because it was Donald Trump's best state in 2020. His margin of victory was 43.4% there, better than second-place West Virginia (margin of 38.9%) and much better than third-place North Dakota (margin of 33.3%). Trump got fully 69.94% of the total vote in Wyoming in 2020, just 177 votes shy of a full 70%. So it is an interesting question of how well Nikki Haley will do in a state full of Trumpy cowboys (and cowgirls), especially since Wyoming is a closed state (i.e., only registered Republicans may take part in the process). Consequently, there will not be any Democrats engaging in ratf*cking to muddy the waters. The Haley vote there could give an indication of how many Trumpists really have misgivings about Trump and who might potentially be open to voting for a third-party candidate (or even Joe Biden).

Like Iowa, and unlike Nevada and Michigan, there is no statewide vote, not even among registered Republicans, so there are no statewide vote totals or tables or charts. As a result, interpreting the results may not be so easy. Here's how it works: There have been precinct caucuses ongoing, on different days, since Feb. 2. Any registered Republican resident of Wyoming who will be 18 or older on Nov. 5, 2024, could attend. At these caucuses, individuals were elected to go to the county conventions to represent their precincts. Each of the 23 Wyoming counties will elect one delegate to the Republican National Convention. At the county conventions, the candidates will be discussed and the lone representative to the Convention will be elected. It is likely to be a Trumper in every county, but the number of Haley votes could be interesting (if the county results are published).

Like the precinct caucuses, the county caucuses are not all on the same day. Out in Cowboyland, nobody in tarnation is going to tell each county what to do, dadgummit. On Saturday, the process will start, with Campbell County (Gillette area up to the Montana state line) and Carbon County (Rawlins to Medicine Bow and down to the Colorado state line) going first. Other counties will follow over the next 2 weeks. The county conventions will elect representatives to the state convention, April 18-20, where the final six delegates to the national convention will be elected. Thus, the process is far from over, but hopefully we will eventually get a take on what happened. (V)

Russia Is the Dividing Line for Republicans

Ronald Reagan never said it literally, but surely he must have many times thought: "The only good Russian is a dead Russian." Russia was the Evil Empire and it was an article of faith at that time that every Republican hated Russia. How times have changed. Now many Republicans are pro-Russia, something Reagan would have regarded as an unforgivable sin. But some Republicans are anti-Russia, so Russia is an issue that is causing a deep schism among the Republicans in Congress. So far, it hasn't mattered, but it is never a good sign for a party to be deeply divided on a major issue.

Donald Trump is the main supporter of Russia. Nobody really knows why. Two theories are: (1) Russian President Vladimir Putin has kompromat on him and is effectively blackmailing Trump or (2) Trump is sucking up to Putin to get permission to build Trump Tower Moscow, which would be the tallest building in Europe (possibly with the entire top floor being a penthouse given to Putin as a gift). Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is scared witless of Trump and parrots whatever he says. He is also doing his level best to block all aid to Ukraine to demonstrate his obedience to Trump. What Johnson really thinks is a mystery.

On the other hand, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley is constantly warning that the U.S. needs to aggressively confront autocrats and dictators like Putin. Mitch McConnell, who's still Minority Leader for another 6 months, is also old school and hates Putin and Russia. Many Republican senators are with McConnell, although some of them are scared to say it out loud. Former representative Liz Cheney is with McConnell and not shy about talking about it, loudly saying that de facto, Johnson supports Putin.

A bipartisan group of representatives have put together a compromise plan that provides aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, but also beefs up security on the Mexican border, something Johnson has said he wants. Now he has it but hasn't brought it to a vote. One of the authors of the plan, Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), one of the Biden 17 whose D+3 district covers northern Westchester County and all of Putnam and Rockland Counties, said: "Vladimir Putin is a vile thug and dictator and he needs to be held accountable for his conduct, for his actions. He is not our friend. He is not our ally, and his conduct in Ukraine and in his own country is indefensible." These are not words Trump wants to hear from a fellow Republican.

Haley may drop out in a few weeks, but Lawler is running for reelection. He and various other Republicans are going to be supporting a policy that directly opposes what Trump wants. Will Trump support their primary opponents? He might, but the result might be to convert House races with an incumbent Republican into open-seat races, which are much easier for the Democrats to flip. While foreign policy is rarely the key issue in an election unless the U.S. is involved in a shooting war somewhere, Trump's support for Russia and many other Republicans' hatred of Putin could endanger some Republicans in suburban districts like Lawler's and thus threaten the Republicans' House majority. (V)

DeSantis 2028?

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) apparently missed the memo that "candidate quality" does not apply only to Senate races. It also applies to the presidential race. Consequently, he is already working on his 2028 campaign. What he seems not to understand is that he has the Wrong Stuff and is a terrible candidate. Unless he can get a complete personality transplant, he is probably going to do just as badly in 2028, especially if he has to face upbeat candidates like Govs. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA), Brian Kemp (R-GA), and Chris Sununu (R-NH), among others. Kemp is not a certain candidate in 2028 though, because he might decide to challenge Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) in 2026 instead of running for president in 2028.

People close to DeSantis say that he is actively thinking about how to maintain his national profile. He will be governor of Florida until Jan. 2027, at which time he can switch to being a full-time candidate. While he is governor, he can get millionaires and billionaires who have business before the state to pony up for his campaign fund so that it has tens of millions of dollars before his term is up. He can easily stay in the news as governor by asking the legislature to pass bills to fight woke and then signing them with fanfare. He can call press conferences whenever he wants to and draw a big crowd. There are many things he can do to stay in the news and stay relevant up until his last day as governor, when he can switch instantly to campaign mode.

He has learned a little bit from his campaign fiasco. One thing he did right was to create a state political committee that can take in unlimited donations that can later be funneled to a super PAC. He is doing that again. One thing he is doing differently now is being nice to his big donors. In the past, he took their money but didn't give them the time of day. Now he is busy making thank-you calls to his big donors, to show them how important they are and how much he loves them. They like that, even if most of them can see through his act.

One thing DeSantis has not done since he dropped out is talk to Donald Trump or asked Trump how he can help his (Trump's) campaign. He has also criticized Trump's search for a running mate and has criticized conservative media for kowtowing to Trump. This led one of Trump's top advisers, Chris LaCivita, to criticize DeSantis' weight and eating habits and call him "a sad little man." It is weird for DeSantis to pick fights with Trump. He doesn't want to be veep and is not looking for a cabinet position, but sucking up to Trump in hopes of getting Trump's endorsement in 2028 seems to us to make more sense than criticizing the notoriously thin-skinned former president. It goes to show that DeSantis has a tin ear and no hearing-aid manufacturer can correct that. (V)

2020 Isn't Over Yet

No, we don't mean the 2020 presidential election. That is long over. What we mean is the 2020 redistricting process. That is normally completed as soon as the new census data is in. But in no fewer than three states, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and New York, it is still on the front burner.

First, in Wisconsin earlier this week, Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) signed a bill creating a new legislative map after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled the old gerrymandered map unconstitutional. The state Senate is massively gerrymandered, with 22 Republicans, 10 Democrats, and 1 vacancy. The Assembly is almost as bad, with 64 Republicans and 35 Democrats. With a bit of luck, and the new maps in place, the Democrats could win both chambers in November. Meanwhile, it's only a matter of time until the state Supreme Court hears a challenge to the congressional maps, which are also massively gerrymandered. If that case is completed in time, a 6R, 2D House delegation could potentially become a 6D, 2R delegation, in a blue wave.

The new legislative map in Wisconsin is due to the liberals getting a majority in the state Supreme Court. In North Carolina, it went the other way, with the Republicans getting the Supreme Court majority, allowing them to gerrymander the hell out of the maps. The current congressional delegation is 7D, 7R, but with the new map, Republicans will probably win 10, 11, maybe even 12 seats. Will Democrats sue? They might.

Now on to New York. Yesterday, the state legislature approved a new map that will probably flip at least one House seat, in addition to the NY-03 seat that Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) flipped on his own 2 weeks ago. The newly flippable seat is NY-22 in central New York, currently occupied by Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY). The old district was D+1. The new one was won by Joe Biden by 12 points in 2020. The Republicans can yell "Let's go Brandon" all they want, but Brandon is not going to be in the House next year. The new map also makes it easier for Suozzi to get reelected in November. Several of the competitive districts in Westchester and Long Island are still competitive, but the map is not as aggressive as Republicans feared. Still, half a dozen districts are genuinely in play. That includes these Republican-held districts: Anthony D'Esposito's NY-04 (D+5), Mike Lawler's NY-17 (D+3), Marc Molinaro's NY-19 (EVEN), Nick LaLota's NY-01 (R+3), Andrew Garbarino's NY-02 (R+3), and Nicole Malliotakis' NY-11 (R+6). Democrats could flip all of these and Williams' district as well, for a net gain of seven seats, but it would take a strong blue wave to do it. (V)

Demography is Destiny--But It Is Complicated

Politicians tend to think in terms of what will happen as far as the next election. Demographers think in decades. But in the long run, demographers win. Thomas Edsall wrote another interesting column on political demography published yesterday in The New York Times. In it he notes that the fear that the United States will become a majority-minority nation sometime in the next few decades is something that scares the daylights out of many rural white Americans and causes them to vote for Donald Trump because they think he will stick his finger in the dike.

What also bothers them is the fact that before too long, the majority of working people will be minority and the majority of retirees will be white. Social Security does not have a giant pot of money from which current retirees are paid. There is a modest trust fund, but basically current workers are paying for current retirees with their current FICA contributions. If the workers are mostly minority and the retirees are mostly white, at some point the workers may stop liking that deal and elect politicians who change the law to drastically cut Social Security benefits, leaving the white retirees stranded. This makes them very nervous.

Another demographic change under way is the domestic migration from blue states in the Northeast and Upper Midwest to the South, giving the Southern states more House seats and electoral votes. This may at first appear to help the Republicans, and that is true up to a point. But the folks moving often pack their old political views with them. This domestic migration has made Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona purple, and if it continues, they may become blue states in a few years. Even Texas and Florida could flip eventually. The migrants tend to be much younger than the current residents of the recipient states, which may accelerate the process.

Another demographic trend that will help the Democrats in the long run is that death rates in red states are higher than in blue states. This is partly due to the opioid crisis, resistance to public health measures (vaccinations and masks), obesity, and increasing lack of medical care as doctors are fleeing the red states due to new laws they are afraid of. In the long run, higher death rates translate into fewer House seats and electoral votes.

Working the other way is the declining labor force participation by noncollege men. In 2022, 78% of men with college degrees had jobs vs. 66% of noncollege men. The noncollege men are finding it harder to support families, which makes them bitter. According to Paul Krugman, the decline in jobs for noncollege men is due to technological change. American farms produce 5x more food than 75 years ago and do it with one-third as many farm workers due to better seeds, better machinery, better fertilizers, and better pesticides. Eighty percent of former coal miners are out of work now while coal production has doubled due to newer mining techniques. Manufacturing jobs have moved to Mexico and Asia.

Meanwhile, the sorts of new jobs available in the 21st century tend to require a college education. You can't turn an unemployed coal miner into a database administrator or AI programmer. Becoming obsolete destroyed these men's dignity, since they think of themselves as hardworking "real Americans," more so than degenerate city dwellers. However, the economy thinks otherwise. The worse their economic prospects are, the more these men become angry and turn to demagogues like Donald Trump for hope. But Trump can't stop technology, even if he wanted to, which he doesn't. On the whole, this kind of technological change helps the Republicans because the Democrats are increasingly catering to the preferences of college-educated voters.

A related demographic issue is that lower-status women don't find these unemployed men to be good marriage material. This may reduce their fertility rates. On the other hand, affluent well-educated couples with good jobs don't want large families, so poor rural families may still win the fertility race. In 2017, households with an income under $10,000 had a birthrate of 66 children per 1,000 women while households making over $200,000 had 44 children per 1,000 women. But separate from income, deeply religious women tend to have larger families than secular women, which also helps the Republicans. In short, it's really complicated. (V)

AI Chatbots Are Already Giving Out Dangerous Misleading Information

Fifteen states and one territory will hold primary elections next week on Super Tuesday. Millions of people are asking AI-driven chatbots for basic information, like where to vote. The chatbots are often getting it wrong. The bots are sending people to nonexistent polling places or getting other information wrong because they get their information from the Internet and much of what is out there is obsolete or wrong. Seth Bluestein, a Republican city commissioner in Philadelphia, took part in a group that took the chatbots for a test drive last month. His conclusion: "The chatbots are not ready for primetime when it comes to giving important, nuanced information about elections."

Five different bots were tested: ChatGPT-4, Llama 2, Gemini, Claude, and Mixtral. They all failed basic questions about the democratic process. The group categorized 40% of the responses as not only wrong, but actually harmful. For example, when asked where to vote in ZIP code 19121, a Black area of Philadelphia, Google's Gemini replied: "There is no voting precinct in the United States with the code 19121." This is simply false. When confronted with the group's findings, a Meta spokesman, Daniel Roberts, blamed the testers for not formulating their questions correctly. But if the experts couldn't formulate their questions correctly, does Meta expect that less expert people will? Google's head of AI, Tulsee Doshi, was at least honest: "We're continuing to improve the accuracy of the API service, and we and others in the industry have disclosed that these models may sometimes be inaccurate." In other words, we know the chatbots don't work. It would be nice if every reply ended with a disclaimer like: "There is a good chance that the above answer is wrong because it may be based on obsolete information the bot found on the Internet." Don't count on that, though.

Another example. The group asked the bots if same-day voter registration is allowed in Nevada. Four of the five said it was not. Actually, it has been allowed for 5 years. Meta's chatbot, Llama 2, told the group that you can vote in California by sending your vote in by a text message. This is total garbage. Google's chatbot was the worst of all, getting two-thirds of the answers wrong.

A recent NORC/AP poll shows that 58% of adults think that AI will hasten the spread of false information, but when they ask a specific question and get a specific answer, will they stop to say: "Nice try, but this is probably wrong?" We are leery.

As an aside, before we put in the (gag) line about Sadie Hawkins Day at the top of page, we asked Google about Sadie Hawkins Day. Google's chatbot said: "There are no rules about who you can or cannot ask to a dance and the traditional idea of Sadie Hawkins dances are heteronormative and non-inclusive, erasing the fact that nonbinary people do not identify within the male/female binary." Google's chatbot may get the answer wrong most of the time, but at least it's woke. Maybe we should have put in a remark about Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance instead. If you don't know the story, the hero was apprenticed to the pirate king until his one-and-twentieth birthday—but he had the misfortune of being born on Feb. 29. Fortunately, that frees him from service just in time to run for President of the United States. (V)

If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city. To download a poster about the site to hang up in school, at work, etc., please click here.
Email a link to a friend or share some other way.

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Feb28 What's Good for the Goose Is What's Good for the Michigander
Feb28 One Last Look at South Carolina
Feb28 The Other Guy Is Out
Feb28 Story Behind AI Robocall Revealed
Feb28 Johnson Says He Doesn't Want a Shutdown
Feb28 IVF Fight Heads to Congress
Feb28 Looking Forward to 2024, Part IV: Reader Predictions, Donald Trump Edition
Feb27 Trump Legal News: Will Your Lawyer Talk to God?
Feb27 The Republicans Are The Nazis' Party
Feb27 Today in Republican Shenanigans
Feb27 Ronna Romney McDaniel Sticks to the Plan...
Feb27 ...And So Does the New York Legislature
Feb27 Biden Sits for an Interview with Seth Meyers
Feb27 Another Week, Another Useless Poll
Feb27 Looking Forward to 2024, Part III: Reader Predictions, Joe Biden Edition
Feb26 What Will Haley Voters Do?
Feb26 What Will Haley Do?
Feb26 Vice Presidential Candidates Exhibit Their Trumpiness at CPAC
Feb26 Nancy Mace Also Wants to Be Trump's Running Mate
Feb26 The Clock Is Ticking for Trump
Feb26 Democratic Groups Are Prepared to Attack Biden on His Possible Border Measures
Feb26 California Senate Race Is Tightening
Feb26 Sherrod Brown Gets Some Good News
Feb26 Is Facebook Like Verizon or Like CNN?
Feb25 Nikki Haley: Good, but Not Good Enough
Feb25 Sunday Mailbag
Feb24 Saturday Q&A
Feb23 IVF Decision: Republicans Are Running for the Hills
Feb23 Biden Impeachment: GOP Hopes Are Shattered
Feb23 Biden Age: Could the Antiques Roadshow Reach a Dead End?
Feb23 Right-Wing Websites in Decline: Breitbart's the Biggest Loser
Feb23 I Read the News Today, Oh Boy: The Big Break
Feb23 This Week in Schadenfreude: What Not to Wear
Feb23 This Week in Freudenfreude: Happy Birthday to an American Idol
Feb22 Trump's Short List for Veep Is Full of People He Would Never Pick
Feb22 Noem Will Use S.D. National Guard to Bolster Her Veepability
Feb22 Another Goal for Trump v2.0: Christian Nationalism
Feb22 Biden Has Canceled Student Debt for Almost 4 Million former Students
Feb22 Nikki Haley Agrees That Frozen Zygotes Are Children
Feb22 Republican Parties in Three Swing States Are Consumed with Infighting
Feb22 Giuliani May Appeal $148 Million Judgment--If Someone Else Pays
Feb22 Porter Finally Gets Under Schiff's Skin in Final Senate Debate
Feb22 Poll: Casey Leads McCormick in Pennsylvania Senate Race
Feb21 Trump Legal News, Part I: Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Feb21 Trump Legal News, Part II: It's All About the Benjamins?
Feb21 Alabama Supreme Court: Embryos Are People, Too
Feb21 The Five GOP Factions that Cause Mike Johnson's Headaches
Feb21 Politics Makes Obnoxious Bedfellows?
Feb21 Siena Uncorks Another Wild One
Feb21 Who Knew the Deep State Had Been in Operation for So Long?