Saturday, October 31, 2020

So this seems a little counterintuitive?

So polling being wrong regarding Democrat vs Republican breakdown on early voting is irrelevant because same polls say it's independents who are breaking towards Biden?
So where is it that we get the sense that Independents are breaking massively towards Biden? Unless I am mistaken, we get this from the same polling that has led us to believe that Democrats would have a massive edge in early voting numbers? 

Whether early voting numbers can be helpful in determining a potential winner is a question that has been batted around for some time. But the bigger question is simple: why is it that we are not looking at early voting numbers as a means to judge the accuracy of the polling we are seeing? After all, these are tangible numbers than can be compared in real time to what the polling has been suggesting. Right now the tangible numbers look absolutely nothing like the polling would suggest as it pertains to early voting numbers.

Either way...

Early voting numbers have become increasingly worrisome for Democrats. In many states they are running behind where they were at in 2016 when compared to Republican early vote totals. Even in some states where they believe they are banking a slightly larger advantage (such as Nevada), those states do not seem to be battleground states that Trump would need to win.

We have heard about disappointing early voting numbers for Democrats in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other states over the past few days. After Democrats secured massive leads over the first few days of early voting, Republicans have made their way back to respectable, if not favorable numbers. 

Now I understand that in some polling, they are polling early voting based on whether you are a Biden voter or a Trump voter. But that will still be dominated by partisan political breakdown as Democrats will still make up over two thirds of Biden's overall support. When you talk about Independents breaking, you might be talking  the difference between 13-14 percent of the overall vote total and 15-16 percent of the overall vote total being Independents who vote for Biden. Independents only make up about 30% of the electorate and they are the most prone to vote third Party. 

More to the point, there are enough polls out there that suggest Registered Democrats should be approximately two times more likely to vote by mail or vote early than Registered Republicans. But that sort of dominance simply is not happening. So the question becomes: does one bad apple (polling question) spoil the whole bunch? Or should we not be concerned that the polling we are relying on was simply out to lunch on the questions regarding early voting?

In other words, if you cannot trust these polls to get early voting numbers relatively close, then should we trust them to get the rest of it accurate? 

If 2020 was a jack-o-lantern!

Happy Halloween! 


When everything is racist, then nothing is racist...


Friday, October 30, 2020

Everyone was waiting to hear from Trafalgar?

Well maybe not...

For those of you living under a rock, Trafalgar become famous (or infamous) for being the sole pollster that got the Trump battleground state surge correct in 2016. While your classic pollsters showed Clinton winning the great lake states fairly comfortably, Trafalgar stood alone (and suffered mocking) with polling numbers showing Donald Trump running even with (or slightly ahead of) the former Secretary of State in those states and others. 

So Trafalgar put out what appears to be their final election polling for 2020 and it tells a similar story. 

  • Trump up four in Ohio. 
  • Trump up three in Florida.  
  • Trump up three in North Carolina. 
  • Trump up two in Michigan. 
  • Trump tied in Pennsylvania.
  • Trump down one in Wisconsin.
  • Trump down two in Nevada.
  • Trump down three in Minnesota 

Most of these polling numbers are within a point of where Trafalgar polled in 2016. Moreover, a state by state breakdown of most of the closest states are showing things very close to where polling was in 2016. Where there seems to be the most discrepancy between 2016 and 2020 are with the states (such as Texas & Georgia) that were not considered necessarily "battleground" in 2016. This appears to throw off the overall average and explains to some degree why Biden is doing better in Battleground state polling than Clinton did.

This actually throws even more credence behind the suggestion that there is a wide discrepancy between these state polling numbers and the national polling numbers. IBD/TIPP provides a bit of an insight with this:

"Most of Biden's advantage comes from the blue states, and it is clouding the hard battle the candidates are fighting in the battleground states," TIPP President Raghavan Mayur said.
The IBD/TIPP presidential poll suggests that Biden is outperforming Clinton's 2016 results in both red and blue states. However, swing states, those six states decided by less than 2 points in 2016, look highly competitive.
Today's Trump vs. Biden poll finds Biden up by 26 points in blue states and Trump leading by 11 points in red states. Yet the two are tied at 48% in swing states. To be sure, those differentials reflect smaller samples, especially the swing state total, which comes with a wide credibility interval.

So perhaps it's not so much that the national polling is wrong, it's just that the blue states are becoming darker blue, while the deep red states are becoming lighter. The reality is that there is no real benefit in our election format to win groups of states by an average of 26 points. 

So it's entirely possible and even plausible that IBD/TIPP and Trafalgar are both correct (as they both were in 2016). That the battle ground states are still in play and that larger national popular vote polling leads are misleading as it pertains to the electoral college.    

FBI confirms Biden investigation (open since 2019) and is currently active

Also confirms Tony Bobulinski is a material witness who has been interviewed

One of the silliest arguments heard from liberals regarding the Hunter Biden investigation is that it cannot be true because otherwise we would have heard about it from leaked sources. We have become so accustomed to our intelligence and federal authorities leaking information to WaPo and NYT and other liberal media, that we seem to now believe it is not only legal but commonplace to the point where nothing actually is real until you read about it from an anonymous source.

One of the least publicized (but likely most important) development in the widespread turnover at the upper levels of our intelligence community was a large crack down on unauthorized leaks. Criminal charges were filed over previous leaks from the Obama/Biden administration regarding investigations into Trump and his associates and new policies were put in place. New leadership vowed to put a "lid on things" when it came to leaking.

File this under the "be careful what  you wish for" category, as after being burned over and over and over by unauthorized, illegal, and misleading leaks, President Trump now sees a much tighter ship that has kept an important investigation into the son of the Democratic Presidential candidate completely silent (up until just recently). Moreover, this investigation may have offered support of the President's Ukrainian behavior that led to Democrats "impeaching him" for questioning things regarding Hunter Biden. If only it had been leaked to someone willing to print the information. 

To the degree that Joe Biden is involved is unknown and will likely remain unknown unless charges are brought. While this is the manner in which the FBI (and all law enforcement) is supposed to conduct business, it certainly seems counterintuitive to hide any possible involvement in a criminal investigation of someone this politically important. Would Joe Biden even had been the nominee had Democrats voting for their candidate had know that his son was under Federal criminal investigation for actions in the Ukraine that might have involved the Vice President himself? Probably not. 

So the question at this point is a simple one. Was there simply no talking amongst the leakers and the media cronies who serve this purpose, or did the collective group of busy bodies decide that this was one that the public didn't need to hear about? Certainly the media at this points seems oddly disinterested in the idea that someone who might be elected President has his only son under criminal investigation, and might also be involved himself in said investigation. For the life of me, I cannot offer any reasonable explanation that doesn't involve blatant media bias. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Remember the big NY Times Ed-Op from "anonymous" ?

There was much buzz about the criticism of the high ranking Administration official who took the President to task in a brutal opinion piece published by the NY Times. At the time, the speculation (especially with people on CNN, MSNBC, etc...) was that this high ranking official could actually have been Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, General Kelly, or Jared Kushner. Some suggested that it might be his own daughter, Ivanka. 

Here is our high ranking Trump administration official better known as "anonymous"

But the one thing that they were sure of was that this was someone extremely well placed, someone who was extremely close to the President, and someone with the inside knowledge required to make his scathing article all the more damning. 

So was it Mike Pence?
Was it Nikki Haley or General Kelly?
Was it a member of the President's own family?

Nope... it was non-other than the ridiculously well placed Miles Taylor. If you have never heard of Miles Taylor, it's because he really isn't anyone worthy of hearing about. Miles Taylor employed by the Department of Homeland Security and served directly under Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during her reign. I am not even sure that Kirstjen Nielson was a big enough fish to have been discussed as possibly being the infamous "anonymous" ed-op writer. Certainly a subordinate to her would not have been considered. 

But apparently Miles Taylor is providing us all with a tell-all book, complete with his assertion that he was considered a "high ranking" member of the Trump administration. The sad thing is... there are people out there probably dumb enough to buy it! 

A spokeperson from the Democratic Party explains it all!

Sometimes early voting can tell a story that is different from the obvious?

One of the things I was reading recently was that in Florida, there was record setting early voting and that early voting was especially good in traditional Democratic strongholds such as Broward County.  The intuitive situation is that when a county like Broward (which went 67% to 31% for Clinton over Trump) has big numbers, that this is good for Biden. 

Now, obviously anywhere a candidate is considered a heavy favorite in an area (or county in this case), it is good to have as many voters as possible putting in their early ballots. But does that tell the "whole" story? Is it possible that there could be heavy early voting in a county like Broward, yet not necessarily be something that is "good" for Joe Biden?

If we look at some  Broward county numbers for early voting (this report is from a few days ago) - it shows that there were 13,391 Democratic ballots returned, while there was 8310 Republican ballots returned, and 6516 ballots returned from people not affiliated. Assuming that the vast majority of Party ballots are being returned across Party lines, the Republican ballots already make up approximately 30% of the ballots returned, whereas the Democratic ballots only make up 47% of the returned ballots. 

This essentially makes it effectively impossible for Democrats to be running ahead of their 2016 totals in terms or percentages. Unless nearly every independent ballot is marked for Biden, he is not going to reach the 67% of the early vote that would be reflective of what Clinton received in the full count. On the flip side, it would only take an extremely small percentage of the unaffiliated ballots to have Trump marked, for the President to be running ahead of his 2016 percentage in Broward County. 

So what does this tell us? Well at least in Broward County there is not factual tangible evidence at this time that Democrats are early voting by the same margins as all of the polling suggests that they are. If these polls are correct, we would not just expect more Democrats than Republicans to be voting in Broward county, we would expect that the percentages would be larger for Democrats than they ended up with in 2016 (because there is a much larger number of Democrats in Broward county). If this early voting holds true, and Republicans turn out heavy on election day, then Biden could be looking at a much closer Broward County result than Hillary won. That would be bad news for Biden in Florida where they expect huge percentages and even larger raw numbers out of these counties.

Of course, this could simply mean that more Democrats than expected will vote on election day or that less Republicans than expected will vote on election day. Perhaps someone's intent on "when" to vote is not as important as who they intend to vote for?

Or perhaps the Democrats of Broward county are in "why bother" mode? After all, Biden leads by double digits and the President has all but conceded the election. What incentive or reason do they have to just "pad that total" when they can just sit this one out and still see their candidate win by a landslide?

Unexpected good economic news!

GDP beats expectations...
  • U.S. GDP accelerated at a 33.1% annualized pace in the third quarter, the Commerce Department reported. 
  • That was better than the 32% estimate from a Dow Jones economist survey. 
  • A surge in business and residential investment along with stronger consumer activity helped the economy after its worst-ever quarter in Q2.

State of the election - five days out...

Two polling worlds are clashing

In 2016 there was very little difference between battleground state polling and the national polling. When Trump ran against Clinton there was only a 0.4% difference between the battleground states and national polling. Today there is a difference of 4.1%. This difference is literally ten times larger today than it was in 2016. 

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that your closest states should be reflective of the overall country. However, right now we have a huge discrepancy between our battleground state polling and the national polling. So much so, that they do not even resemble the same election. 

To be clear, the chances of polls showing eight different battleground states all being within the margin of error being correct pretty much eliminates the possibility that the four national polls showing Joe Biden up double digits are correct. Or to look at it a different way. If Joe Biden "is" really leading by double digits nationally, then there is absolutely no way that these polls in these battleground states are in the vicinity of being accurate. 

How would it be that Trump has maintained his status (or within polling margins) in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and others, if he has lost 6-10 points nationally? Do people in Iowa or Arizona really think differently than people in Nebraska or Nevada? Do they really see things "that" differently? Make no mistake, there is a correlation between state and national polling that is not being seen here. Something is off. 

Bottom line: If the battleground state polling is to be believed, then we might still have a very interesting election night. If national polls are to be believed, then there will be very early calls in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin for Biden and the election will be over in time for old man Joe to make is bedtime. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

It is over - Trump concedes

No need to even hold the election, Trump admits. RCP average, Cook report analysis, and the information provided in the CHT comment sections are all too damning to bother with an actual election.

Trump: the Cook report is an amazing report. Once I realized how
 amazing that amazing report was, I had to concede the election.

While some pundits are seeing the race closing down the stretch or otherwise still question whether the polling might have similar issues as it did in the past two elections, those closest to the President have suggested that Trump and his team has finally determined that it is just conservative "slant" and that things are just too grim to continue.

Even when confronted with early voting numbers that appear to show Republicans doing better than 2016 in many important states or an unusual new registration advantage for Republicans in this election cycle in many battleground states, the President (and his inner circle) suggested that we just "look at the RCP average" and stop worrying about anything tangible or empirical. 

Trump has even suggested stepping down prior to the election and just "appointing" Joe Biden as President earlier than normal. Apparently the belief is that any incumbent that has already lost (even before the election is held) doesn't deserve to finish out his term. Insider sources suggested that the final straw that broke the camel's back was a cut and paste of "horrible" headlines on the comment section of an obscure blog called The Coldheartedtruth. Had the President not been saddled with having to witness such "truth", he might have had the courage to go on.

Nate Silver accesses Biden's chances if he loses Pennsylvania

Is Joe Biden Toast If He Loses Pennsylvania?
So here’s a question we can ask with our nifty scenario generator. Is Pennsylvania a must-win for Biden?
No, not quite. It is close to being a must-win for Trump, who has only a 2 percent chance of winning the Electoral College if he loses Pennsylvania. Biden, however, has a bit more margin for error. He’d have a 30 percent chance if he lost Pennsylvania, which isn’t great but is also higher than, say, Trump’s overall chances on Election Day 2016.

So does it really turn on Pennsylvania? Why the focus on Pennsylvania? Well other than Biden suddenly having to defend positions on fracking and fossil fuels in general, there was a police shooting and... well... riots.  More rioting in a critical battleground state, with less than a week to go before the election, was the last thing that Joe Biden needed.

The lull in these riots has actually allowed Biden to turn everyone's full and complete attention on Covid, and now the riots are going to disturb this message and remind everyone about the failures of these cities run by Democrats in states run by Democratic Governors being able to stamp out these riots. 

I don't believe it's a coincidence that the response to this riot has been much more robust than most cities and states. These Democrats understand how critical it is for them to get this under control and prove that Democrats can so more than just appease and let cities burn. The longer these riots go on, the more it will remind people of these institutional failures to keep people safe. Institutional failures that have been effectively 100% on the heads of Democratic leadership where-ever they have broken out.

But isn't it interesting that suddenly Nate Silver is suggesting that Pennsylvania (where the polling has moved substantially towards the President) would be the key to Biden going from massive favorite, to more than a 2-1 underdog. Seems like an awful fragile "landslide" in the making, huh?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Well well... perhaps things are going to get interesting down the stretch?

Polls: Trump now up in Florida and Ohio in RCP and last two polls in Pennsylvania shows Trump up two and a tie... 

(currently there are four states where one candidate leads by less than one percent)

For sake of argument, let's say Trump wins those three states. He is polling ahead in Florida and Ohio and as soon as the older double digit CNN and eight point Quinnipiac polls drop from the average, Trump will be about 2% down in Pennsylvania. 

All it would take is Trump winning those three states, beating small polling deficits in  Iowa (0.8%), Arizona (1.5%), and North Carolina (0.7%)  (all states he won comfortably in 2016) and hanging on in states he previously won and is currently leading the polling...

and lo and behold Trump has 280 Electoral College Votes. 

In other words, if polling is overstating Biden support in the battleground states by as little as 2% - then Trump would win reelection, in a manner eerily familiar to all.  Two percent! A lot can happen in a week that could flip 2%, huh?

More rioting the week before the election...

30 officers injured in protests after shooting of knife-wielding man by Philadelphia police
At least 30 police officers have been injured and 33 people have been arrested as protests continued overnight in Philadelphia over the shooting death of a Black man by police in West Philadelphia on Monday afternoon.
The Philadelphia Police Department confirmed that a 56-year-old female PPD Sergeant was struck by a black pickup truck in the area of 52nd and Walnut streets at approximately 12:44 a.m. on Tuesday morning. She was subsequently transported to a local area hospital where she is currently in stable condition with a broken leg and other injuries.

Once upon a time people got upset when "unarmed" black men were shot by the police. Now we are looking at violent rioting whenever a black man is shot regardless of the circumstances. Once upon a time people were expected to drop their weapon when police officers ordered them to do so. Now apparently that is also a bridge too far. 

What, exactly, is the solution here? Do we just make black men immune from any police intervention what-so-ever. Just let them rob, rape, and murder without consequence, because otherwise attempting to arrest them for criminal acts or prevent them from committing criminal acts is considered racist and unfair to minorities. 

USSC Justice Amy Coney Barrett

 Confirmed 52-48

And now the sore loses are talking about everything from "expanding the court" to the most recent concept of a potential President Biden "demoting" Supreme Court Justices to a lower court and then replacing them with new Justices. 

At the end of the day, demoting a Justice would likely be unconstitutional and I doubt you could get anything like that past the courts (all things considered). I would venture a guess to say that "any" attempt to upset the Supreme Court will find court challenges that ultimately and ironically be decided by the USSC. 

Wouldn't it be a kick in the pants if attempts to alter the USSC was actually shot down by the USSC. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

An interesting tidbit...

A glimmer of hope for Trump? 

If you look at the states where Trump won in 2016, there is only one of those states (Wisconsin) where he doesn't lead in at least one poll. Even in Wisconsin, there is one poll showing him tied. This isn't that unlike the situation in 2016 (with the large exception being national polling - which is much better for Biden than it was for Clinton). It's not that there were not polls showing Trump ahead of Clinton in many of these battleground states, it's just that there were more showing Clinton ahead and most people just "assumed" that the pro-Trump polls were outliers or biased in his favor. 

Oddly, the same opinion and attitude is prevalent today. We have two states where some polls show Biden up double digits, but also have polls showing Trump ahead. Most pundits suggest that it's the polls that are more favorable to Trump that are the biased one, not the other way around. There seems to be an even more intense belief in the polls showing Biden way up and an even more intense disbelief of polls showing Trump doing well than what we saw in 2016 with Clinton and Trump. You can almost see the collective "eye roll" of the various election pundits every time a poll comes out that suggests Trump might be winning a battleground state (or even ahead nationally as the most recent Rasmussen poll shows). 

Either way,  if Trump were to simply win all of the states where there is at least one poll showing him ahead, then he would end up with 295 or 296 Electoral College votes (depending on whether he wins the one ECV from Maine again). He could even afford to lose one other state (or possibly two depending on the states and whether he hangs on in Maine to that one ECV) and still win reelection. 

Not saying that this makes Trump any sort of a favorite (I still believe he is the underdog). Just that I would take pause before betting the mortgage that Biden is a shoo in to be the next President. Funnier things have happened, and funny things seem to happen when it involves Donald Trump. 

Trende looks at the trends in early voting (or doesn't)...

For example, we can look at North Carolina, and see that Democrats have a 10.5-percentage-point lead over Republicans in early voting. That seems great for Democrats.
But we could also contextualize this by noting that at a similar point in 2016, Democrats had a 13.1-percentage-point lead there in early voting. In other words, Democrats are doing worse than they were at this point four years ago (and much worse than they were in 2012).
You can see similar stories developing in Florida and Nevada, where you can make a case that things look roughly the same as they did about a week out from Election Day in 2016.
This precisely illustrates my point. The claim is not “the early vote actually is good news for Republicans.” The point is “the early vote is not even news.” We don’t know in these states what share of Republicans, Democrats, or independents are voting for Republicans or Democrats, and we don’t know how many voters for any party are going to end up voting on Nov. 3. This is all speculation dressed up as news. We’ve waited this long for actual election returns; we can wait eight more day.

Vote early, vote often is the famous quote. As Trende is pointing out, attempting to analyze early voting allows people to see what they want to see. If you look overall and see an early voting advantage for Democrats that could seem like good news for Democrats. Many Democrats are jumping on mail in and early voting numbers as a sign of a major wave election for Democrats. The mail in voting, especially, has been advantageous to Democrats.

But as pointed out by Trende, those advantages are not atypical of normal election advantages for Democrats with early voting, or at least they are not atypical of the previous few elections. Given all of the polling that states that more Democrats would vote by mail and vote early than Republicans and more Republicans would wait and vote in person, it seems counterintuitive that Democrats don't hold a bigger than normal lead in early voting. So if one was so inclined, they could see the early voting numbers as good for Republicans. 

If nothing else, it would appear that polling (that suggested a huge mail-in and early voting advantage for Democrats) might not have been very accurate, which should make us take other portions of the polling with a larger grain of salt than we might normally do. As pointed out by many of the deep divers of the election projection world, most everything "other" than polling looks good for Trump and the GOP.

The reality is that while we have heard much about robust early voting, it seems that we are not hearing all that much about one side or the other having an advantage. That tells me that neither side is jumping up and down about the early voting numbers, nor is either side necessarily panicking. There is many different ways to look at and analyze early voting data. As Sean points out, it might just be best to wait the extra eight days before reading too much into anything.  

Senator Collins will be the only Republican to vote against Barrett

Will this be the end of Susan Collins?

Collins made a tough vote for Kavanaugh, but won't do it for Barrett

I find it almost impossible to believe that Senator Collins believes she will help herself by voting against Amy Coney Barrett today. However this started off, Coney Barrett has now gained approval of the majority of Americans, including a majority of the Independent voters that Collins would need to secure her reelection. Not sure how bucking what your constituents (or voters in this case) wants will help you win an election.

Perhaps she is too far behind to be worried about reelection and figures this is another chance to prove herself to be a "maverick" who doesn't vote strict party lines. Sort of a legacy thing. Of course, there is another word for a maverick Senator.... and that would be "ex-Senator". Outside of Joe Manchin and possibly Collins, there are very few "independent" Senators left on either side. The idea of maintaining your independence is a forgotten art and not one that is rewarded much (if ever).

Either way, it looks like Barrett will be confirmed and sworn in before the election, thus eliminating the possibilities of anymore 4-4 USSC decisions moving forward. This might be important, if the election proves closer than most anticipate.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

And this is why he is so confident he will win!

Well at least he is being honest. Have to give him this!


While working out on my elliptical yesterday, I saw something very ironic on cable news. I usually watch recorded reruns of two and a half men, which if you watch two episodes fast forwarding through the commercials you generally get a good 45 minute work out or so.

But when I turned on the television it was on cable news and they were streaming a Joe Biden "rally" and the subject happened to be prescription drugs. I heard Joe Biden promising that he would lower prescription drug prices if he was elected President. He talked generically about how high they were and how they had to be brought under control. He didn't offer any real tangible manner in which he would do so, however. He just made some generic statement about  negotiating better with the pharmacy companies. 

I turned on Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer and worked out. 

About forty five minutes later I turned off the DVR recording and it went back to cable news. This time the President was on and as irony would have it, he was also talking about prescription drug prices. The difference was that Trump wasn't making any promises, we was explaining how under his leadership, the powers to be have negotiated pricing down considerable. He provided names of the people and companies who were responsible for the negotiations (as he likes to to: "fantastic man, wonderful company, amazing negotiations, etc, etc, etc..."). He also provided real numbers about how much some of these prescription drugs were under Obama/Biden and how much they are today. While it doesn't come as a shock to me that many of these drug prices have lowered, you wouldn't believe it by the way the issue is covered in our media.

But this highlights the difference between the two candidates. 

One, who has been in politics for 47 years, including 8 in the White House, and is still making promises about things he will do (which are all things he never got done in his first 47 years). There is very little in specifics, and almost no reason to believe he will actually get any of it done because he has no real plan other than to make generic promises.

The other, literally got into politics by becoming President and has done everything from lower prescription drug prices, to lowering taxes, to lowering illegal immigration, to renegotiating our trade deals, to getting NATO countries to pull their weight, to bringing back blue collar jobs, to being nominated for Nobel Peace Prizes three different times for negotiating international peace agreements. 

One is a man of bluster and promises. A typical politician loved by the political class.

The other is a man of bluster and action to back it up. A man hated by the political class.

Which type of man is your man and why? Think about it...

Too little, too late?

FBI continues investigation into Bidens by scheduling interview with Tony Bobulinski 

The FBI has agreed to interview former Hunter Biden business associate Tony Bobulinski, Bobulinski's lawyers told the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which released a statement Friday.
The FBI has asked Bobulinski, who went on the record Thursday to accuse former Vice President Joe Biden of lying about his involvement with his son's business dealings, to turn over copies of his phones, according to the committee.
The FBI declined to comment "in keeping with our standard practice of neither confirming nor denying the existence of an investigation." A senior administration official told Fox News that Bobulinski or his lawyers reached out to the FBI about a meeting, not the other way around.

It's sort of amazing that the FBI is investigating the actual Democratic Presidential candidate and his family for possible international criminal behavior (because the FBI doesn't investigate non-crimes) and we have literally heard nothing about it.

Not that there is something "wrong" about this behavior, it's just that we are so used to the corrupt nature of our Federal law enforcement and intelligence community as it pertained to leaking to the media and even publicly making comments that they probably should not be making. 

In an objective non-political world, there would have been no need to ever know that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton were under investigation during the last election cycle. After several months of investigating Clinton and several years of investigating Trump, the wide girth of our intelligence community failed to bring charges against either. 

As stated before, our constitution protects people from having law enforcement make public attacks or allegations against citizens who have not been charged with any crimes. You cannot (for instance) investigate John Doe for possible tax evasion, find nothing, but then hold a press conference as tell every one that while Mr. Doe did not break any tax laws, they found porn sites in his cookies and his private email suggests he might be having an affair on his wife. The only place you are allowed to make allegations publicly is in court and they have to in regards to provable crimes. 

The trouble here is the double standard. There is no question that if the shoe was on the other foot and it was Trump being investigated, that the NYT, WaPo, Politico, and others would have stories (based no-doubt on anonymous sources) that would have been dominating the news over the past few weeks. But since it is Biden, and everyone seems to be protecting him, we have heard nothing and will likely hear next to nothing until sometime after the election.

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, October 24, 2020

A telling statement from the focus group

The media doesn't focus on issues that matter to everyday people

Undecideds liked Trump, but does it matter?

Frank Luntz is one of the premier focus group hosts. His people have never been shown to be anything other than undecideds. They generally represent some of the few people who vote for candidates over Party. The buzz of the night was that Trump did a better job explaining his positions and was surprisingly Presidential. Meanwhile, Biden was described as elusive, defensive, and vague. He was also said to come across as old and "grandfatherly".

But I think it's important to understand that Joe Biden (right, wrong, or indifferent) did not go into this debate to aggressively appeal to undecideds or to provide any real specifics. One has to assume that Biden is still "running out the clock" and cares more about holding on to the potential voters they probably feel that they have locked up, rather than winning any new undecideds. Biden's goal was likely to not "rock the boat" or to simply look the part of competent alternative.  Other than talking about phasing out natural gas and oil, which was a mistake, Biden was probably mostly successful in these regards.

But I think it's telling that there seems to be a growing frustration among independents with how the media is handling politics. It's no longer just Republicans who take issue with the main stream media, it's the everyday non-political American who is now growing tired of the media attempting to "control" what it is that we should care about, talk about, and how we should judge our politicians. 

It's one thing for the mainstream media to nearly completely ignore the Hunter Biden situation, but it's quite another to see social media quite literally censor any of the stories off Facebook and Twitter. The fact that we spent nearly three years listening to the media drone on about the so called Trump Russia collusion conspiracy, when in the end there was literally no truth to it, makes their decisions to "censor" what we hear about Joe Biden all the more hypocritical. 

One of the problems is that there doesn't seem to be much alternative anymore. Tucker Carlson and other conservative Fox news hosts dominate prime time,with Carlson many times beating out the network television shows for the same time slot. But even Fox News is changing everywhere other than the prime time hosts, bringing more and more liberals to add "balance" while CNN, MSNBC, and others offer nothing in the way of balance. 

The almighty dollar has seemed to be replaced with the almighty sense of partisanship. Liberals who own and run the networks would rather use them to influence. They seem to care little about being objective or even make money. There is no question that Fox still outperforms everyone, and that if another conservative network came along, it would instantly become more successful than the existing networks. People are itching to hear both sides of the story, and right now almost nobody is telling it.

Friday, October 23, 2020

State of the Race ten days out?

There is no question that Biden would have to be favored based on polling

Nate Silver had a tweet post-debate where he suggested that Trump will lose "unless" there is a systematic problem with the 2020 polling or something substantial happens to shake up the race. While this is not unlike 2016 to some degree, to a large extent it's the degree that matters. Polling was off in 2016 enough to turn an assumed Hillary victory into a Trump win. But polling might have to be off by even larger amounts in 2020 to see that same magic trick repeat itself.

Reality is that 2016 and 2020 look remarkably similar from a standpoint of the battleground state polling right now, but those polls closed quite a bit down the stretch in 2016. Trump actually underperformed the battleground state polling in almost as many states as he overperformed. It's just that he still won the states he underperformed in, while overperforming in states that really mattered (Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin). 

But in states like Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, Arizona, and Georgia, Trump held polling leads in 2016, whereas in this election cycle, most of those states show him behind. Now this could change between now and election (as it did in 2016) but I have a gut feeling that Trump will continue to be polling at least slightly behind the 2016 numbers.

So to a large degree, Silver is correct. There would have to be an even greater systematic problem with the 2020 polling as there was with the 2016 and 2018 polling. The intuitive concept here would be that pollsters should have learned some lessons from the past couple of election cycles and would be more accurate in 2020. Whereas it would be counterintuitive to suggest that they would have doubled down on their previous failures and allowed themselves to be off even further.

It has been suggested recently that if Donald Trump wins reelection that the entire polling industry might go the way of Blockbuster Video, being replaced with something completely different and never to be heard from again. So it seems very difficult to believe that pollsters are not bending over backwards to not repeat the previous mistakes. Their own credibility and careers might just be at stake.

On the flip side, no incumbent since Jimmy Carter has taken the sort of beating that polling suggests Trump might take here. Let's be clear, Donald Trump maintains a rabid following that Jimmy Carter never had and Joe Biden is no Ronald Reagan. It's really hard to imagine that any President would go from winning states by 8-10 point margins, to losing them four years later (which is what many of these polls are showing).

If I am being objective across the board, I don't believe the polling that shows Joe Biden up by 10 points or polling that shows Biden winning states that Clinton lost by double digits in 2020. But just because I don't believe in double digit swings, doesn't mean I don't believe that Biden will overperform Clinton's 2016 disaster. The factual truth is that Biden only has to be marginally better than Clinton was in 2016 to reverse fortunes. At this point in time, there is little reason (based on polling) to believe he won't be at least marginally better. 


Biden claims that he will implement a mask mandate and provide protective equipment 

But yet, 99% of the country (every state but South Dakota and Utah) are already under mask mandates. Moreover, we have no actual shortage of masks or other equipment. In fact many places offer free masks when you walk in the door, mask manufactures are making a killing, t-shirt companies are making masks, N95 masks are available to the public on Amazon or E-Bay, and most people have more masks than they know what to do with. We manufactured more ventilators than we will ever use and there is very little that the medical community is requiring right now that they have not already been provided.

Except of course a vaccine. 

Everything Joe Biden says he will do to stop Covid is already being done. Let's be clear. Covid-19 will not go away because we elect a new President. Joe Biden has no actual ideas that are new or not being implemented. The entire thing is an exercise in beating a dead horse, because politics is essentially about pointing fingers rather than offering real solutions.

If all it took to defeat Covid was to enact mask mandates and provide more medical equipment, then we wouldn't be seeing a third wave, because mask mandates are already in play and we have all the equipment we need. 

Post debate analysis...

Win lose or draw? The debate was as much about demeanor as subject matter.

Obviously the first debate was fought like a drunken bar brawl. While both candidates pulled many of the same stunts, the bulk of the coverage was on the President's behavior and he seemed to take a hit. This debate was more traditional in the sense that both candidates were allowed to talk without interruptions and to the degree that there was open mic banter, it was fairly respectful in comparison to debate one. 

The question becomes, was there anything about this debate that could have "moved the needle". To those regards, I would offer that to the extent that the needle moved, that it probably just moved back. 

In other words, to the degree that the President may have "lost" potential voters from the first debate, then he probably gained them back after this debate. To be clear, it's fairly obvious that anyone wishy washy enough to be easily swayed by debate one will be just as easily swayed by debate two. Probably the one major theme about last night's debate was that Trump was more "Presidential" than he was in debate one, which seemed to have played very well with the various focus groups that were being held.

There wasn't any real gotcha moments and neither candidate landed any sort of knock out blows. I personally believe that spending a half hour on Covid was both beating a dead horse and a gift to Biden. To the degree that we have been through two debates where the moderators ignored the subject of the President being nominated for multiple Nobel Peace Prizes for multiple successes in foreign policy was blatant omission and another gift to Biden. The fact that these moderators believed that Mideast or Eastern European peace is less important than tin foil hat conspiracies about Russia is fairly scary. 

If there was something substantial here, it was the fact that Biden openly stated that he would phase out oil and gas. This will most certainly cost him votes in blue collar states that rely on this. This will be deja vu all over again for people who watched these jobs go away under Obama, watched many of them come back under Trump, only to hear Biden tell them that they will go away again if he was elected. 

On a lesser note, the concept of a pathway to citizenship might poll decently, but it will not move votes in favor of Biden. If illegal immigration is a powerful issue for you, then you are likely for more border security, less illegal immigration, and you probably don't want 11 million more illegals becoming citizens overnight. Those who like the concept of feeling good about the idea of a pathway to citizenship probably have way more other important issues in their rainbow colored wish bag. 

I wish I could give a solid prediction as to how this will affect things, but that is hard to do when you have little trust that we still have any accurate way to measure these things. My gut tells me that Trump has a bit of momentum right now and that the debate didn't do anything to halt that. But history tells us that these polls will likely close these last few days either way and that this may not be as much a reflection of momentum as it is just a polling correction.