2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, 2016 Republicans, Counting Delegates, Poll Watch, State of the Race, Uncategorized

Measuring the Conventions

July 19, 2016

The first day/night of the Republican National Convention was charitably shaky. The average voter may not have noticed or heard about the delegate scrum during the day when #NeverTrump forces unsuccessfully fought to have a full roll call vote. Whatever.

Commentators spent plenty of time talking about rising star Joni Ernst getting stuck speaking to an empty hall after the networks cut away, while actor Scott Baio, last seen playing Chachi back in the 1980s, had a better audience. General Flynn sounded like the Republic was ending next Tuesday. Donald Trump called in to Bill O’Reilly’s show, forcing him to cut away from the mom of one of the Benghazi four, who was emotionally excoriating Hillary Clinton from the podium. Continue reading

2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, 2016 Republicans, Iowa, Poll Watch, State of the Race, Uncategorized

Poll Watch: Iowa Signals Trouble for Hillary

July 12, 2016

Let’s begin with my normal warning not to read too much in to any one survey. Let’s remember the election is still four months away, that neither major party nominee has chosen their VP, nor held their convention. The electorate saw their summer slumber interrupted by the killings in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas last week.

Between those brutal events, the FBI decision to pass on pushing for indictment of Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump being himself, there’s plenty for a voter to process. ¬†However, we have very limited polling over the past week, with the most recent national surveys being pre-Dallas, and before the full impact of James Comey’s takedown sans indictment of Clinton. Continue reading

2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, 2016 Libertarians, 2016 Republicans, Poll Watch, Uncategorized

Poll Watch: Is Trump Catching Up?

July 6, 2016

Yes. Donald Trump is either catching up or rebounding from bottoming out. As of the time of this writing, he’s improved a bit in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, moving past a 20% chance of winning on their polls-only measure, getting near 30% with polls-plus, and reaching 25% if the election were today.

If you’re a Trump partisan, a one-in-four chance may seem low, but it’s better than the 1 in 5 from last week. Though they look at this from three different angles, the most important input for FiveThirtyEight is poll results, both at the state and national level. Trump has gained on Hillary Clinton in two important respects.¬† Continue reading

2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, 2016 Libertarians, 2016 Republicans, State of the Race, Uncategorized

Independent’s Day

July 4, 2016

Happy 4th! Today we commemorate the 240th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson and friends officially breaking free of the British. Sure, it took several years of war, one that very much resembled a civil war, as plenty of colonials were in favor of remaining part of the British Empire, but ultimately Leave won out.

This wasn’t something that happened overnight. More than 150 years passed between the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock and their descendants deciding to form a Union. In the 1750s, a Declaration of Independence would have seemed like lunacy. Twenty years later, it happened, even if the public was hardly unified behind the concept.

Similarly, until very recently, the idea of challenging the established two major parties was out of the question. Sure, every few generations (Ross Perot-1992, Teddy Roosevelt-1912) a third-party presidential candidate makes a dent, but they’ve proven completely unable to turn personal appeal into an ongoing alternative. Continue reading

2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, 2016 Libertarians, 2016 Republicans, Poll Watch, Uncategorized

Trusting Nate Silver

June 29, 2016

If you’re reading this, there’s an 80-90% chance you know who Nate Silver is. After he correctly predicted 49 of 50 states in 2008 and all 50 in 2012, he was anointed as a predictive savant, something he found more amusing than accurate. Nate’s actual contribution is bringing baseball-style (he cut his teeth at Baseball Prospectus) data analysis to politics.

For all the talk about polls, most pundits aren’t real versed (like at all) in reviewing data, tending to grasp at whatever result bits fit their preferred narrative instead of digging for the most likely reality. Having Silver and his blog-turned-platform FiveThirtyEight around provides some important balance and has definitely influenced how I look at numbers. Continue reading

2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, 2016 Republicans, Poll Watch, State of the Race, Uncategorized

Pick Your Narrative

June 27, 2016

These are dangerous times. For the campaigns. The stretch between the end of voting and the gavels calling the respective party conventions to order often leads to illusion. While we can’t assume the next three weeks will stay quiet, voters are usually looking for a bit of a summer respite from their presumptive choices.

Bernie Sanders hasn’t officially endorsed Hillary Clinton, but he says he’s planning on voting for her. His campaign isn’t doing anything beyond hoping to influence the party platform and campaigning for selected Berner-friendly candidates in down-ballot primaries. We won’t hear much from him until the Democrats reach Philadelphia at the end of July. Continue reading

2016 Democrats, 2016 General Election, 2016 Republicans, In the World, Uncategorized

Brexit is a Variable More Than an Indicator

June 24, 2016

A bit of an earthquake from the other side of the pond. Britain is out. At least that’s what they voted for. Voters in the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union after 40 plus years of becoming increasingly enmeshed in the pseudo-United States of Europe.

The actual mechanism for leaving will take some time. Once the U.K. triggers Article 50, they have two years to negotiate their exit. They’ll need new trade agreements with the EU. They’ll be able to negotiate new ones on their own with other countries and trading blocks. That sort of thing takes time and often doesn’t go well. So far, the world markets aren’t excited. Continue reading