Thursday, July 6, 2017

Poll Shows Governor Baker Ahead and Senator Warren Cruising to Reelection in 2018

A June 27 WBUR poll is further evidence that incumbent governor Charlie Baker and Senator Elizabeth Warren are in commanding positions for reelection in November 2018. Both Baker and Warren have good favorability ratings and are well known to their constituents. President Trump's favorability continues to lag badly - he will be tied to Baker by the Democrats as it may be the only way to close the gap.

Full poll results can be accessed here.
WBUR June 2017 Poll


Topline












As one can see, name recognition is tied to having positive favorabilty (except in the case of Trump). Perhaps a challenger's biggest barrier to election is the inability to be a household name or at least as well known as the incumbent.

Head to Head

The head to head match-ups show Baker winning convincing (by over 20 points) against all announced challengers, but with a closer race (48-36) against as of yet undeclared candidate Maura Healey. As the sitting Attorney General she has already won statewide office and is relatively well known.

Senator Warren collects 60% plus of the vote in a hypothetical contest with either of her very unknown and pro-Trump Republican challengers. I would not expect to see that change as time goes on.

Crosstabs

The poll's crosstabs reveal a few interesting tidbits:

  • President Trump is viewed very unfavorably by all groups, but he breaks even with high school educated white males over 50 years of age in southeastern Massachusetts. Nationwide as in Massachusetts, this reflects his base of support.
  • The gender gap is apparent.
    • Senator Warren has overwhelming support among women, but split favorable/unfavorable with men. 
    • In a head to ahead against Baker, Maura Healey is even with women, but loses badly with men.
    • Interestingly, men and women have very similar favorability for Baker. He seems to transcend the gender gap at least in personal favorability.
  • People under age 29 have the highest rates of not having heard of a particular candidate.
  • Democrats fare far better among those with graduate degrees.
  • Regionally, Republicans do best in Southeastern Massachusetts; Democrats do relatively well inside the Rt 128 belt. No surprises.
Two ballot questions are also polled. The proposed "millionaires" surtax on income enjoys 81% support while a measure to roll back the state sales tax from 6.25% to 4.5% has the support of 62% of respondents.

The surtax question will win by a very large margin, but probably less than 80% - the poll figure seems just too out of the norm.

It is likely that the sales tax fight will be very close, especially since Massachusetts may be in a revenue shortfall. It is one of those questions that conceptually seems good, but its effects on education and state services may give many pause. Additionally, there will be massive organized opposition to this proposal and the opponents will outspend proponents.

There will be more polls as time goes on. Unless there is a major event that takes precedence, it is likely the results that we see today will be predictive in the case of Warren's reelection. I am hesitant to give Baker the same rating simply because he is a Republican in this overwhelmingly liberal state. I do think he will win, but not by the landslide that Warren will win by.

Onwards!

The Prof

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Massachusetts Governor's Race 2018 - An Early Look

It's 18 months in the future, but this is a good opportunity to time travel and assess the 2018 Massachusetts Gubernatorial election. The battle lines are forming and Governor Baker, although very popular at this time, is no shoe-in for reelection.

Charlie Baker won a very close contest (by just over one percentage point) against Attorney General Martha Coakley in 2014. However, his moderate and managerial approach has won the Republican accolades from many Independents and grudging respect from his opponents. He has parlayed this into favorably ratings that most elected officials can only hope for. An April 2017 Morning Consult poll has Baker's overall favorability at a stratospheric 75%. Other recent polls have showed him at 70%. This should make him nearly untouchable even this far out from an election. However, Baker is a Republican in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. This coupled with the deep animosity toward President Trump's (his approval in Massachusetts is currently under 30%) makes 2018 a race where Baker has an advantage, but also vulnerability if things go south.

To negate this, Baker has very publicly separated himself from the president, both before and after his election. Baker's challenge will be maintaining that distance while maintaining his own brand of Yankee Republicanism. His socially liberal stances have disarmed some of the activist community, but his fiscal moderation is under attack from the political left who desire a more active state government role and progressive tax structure.

The Democrats will use Trump's unpopularity to tie Bake to the administration in Washington whenever possible. Additionally, they will use politically popular initiatives such as the proposed millionaire's tax (which will be on the ballot and is very likely to pass in 2018) and raising the state's minimum wage to motivate the progressive wing of the party to turn out.

As of now, Baker has three declared opponents:

  • Jay Gonzalez, former State Secretary of Administration and Finance
  • Bob Massie, nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 1994 and candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012
  • Setti Warren, Mayor of Newton and candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012

All three are from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. I expect other people to get into the race, especially if the state's economy turns negative. As of now, Baker's popularity and fundraising prowess are keeping other prominent Democrats out of the race, although I suspect Attorney General Maura Healey may rethink her decision not to run if Baker appears vulnerable. Of the three declared candidates, I see Warren as having the best chance of being nominated as he is young, polished, and will do well within the minority community and suburban liberals.

Baker's strategy will be to use his "aw shucks" personality, active managerial approach, and not to pick any fights on social issues although the right wing of his base is deeply suspicious of him for being to moderate and has been given the dreaded RINO (Republican in Name Only) moniker by the more vocal folks on the right. He will face populist pressure on healthcare and taxes and will need to walk a tightrope on these issues.

To win re-election, Baker needs several things to coalesce:

  1. Keep the lion share of Independents, a group he overwhelmingly won in 2014.
  2. Stay competitive in traditionally Democratic blue collar communities, many of which he won by narrow margins. He will need to win about 25% of registered Democrats.
  3. Keep the Democratic victories in the cities and wealthy suburbs tight enough not to be overwhelmed on election night.
  4. Keep the GOP right wing from fielding a primary opponent which will create party division and drain resources. He needs to win 90% plus of registered Republicans.
  5. Most importantly, manage the state's economy (attract business, fix issues with healthcare, the MBTA, DHHS, etc.) to the extent that he can and avoid a fiscal crisis that will undermine his managerial assets.
  6. Stay on cool (if not cold) relations with President Trump. If the president visits the state, Baker would be well advised not to be photographed with Trump - this will be used in attack ads from the Democrats.
Advice for the Democrats:
  1. Tie Baker to President Trump at every opportunity. Rinse and repeat.
  2. Actuate the minority community to vote in greater numbers. These are reliably Democratic voters, but they turn out at relatively low rates.
  3. Play the populist game. Higher taxes on the wealthy and more state spending and services. However, this needs to be presented in a way that can't be portrayed as just tax and spend policies. Outline these proposals in a fiscally responsible way and couch them as investments and tax fairness.
  4. Tie Baker to Trump, did I say that yet?

Massachusetts is one of the most liberal states in the union, but has a tradition of not always giving complete control to one political party. Baker has been wise to promote himself as a check on the Democratic legislature whist working with the Democratic leadership at the same time on key issues. In an odd way, Massachusetts politics are relatively non-polarized when compared to the other areas of the nation. Voters seem to appreciate the parties minimizing their squabbling and getting things accomplished without excessive rancor and gridlock.

As today, I would give Baker about a 60% chance of retaining his seat in 2018, but as Larry Sabato says; He who lives by the crystal ball ends up eating ground glass.

Onwards!

The Prof

Friday, January 13, 2017

Electoral College - Like It or Lump It

In the United States, we have the peculiar and most unique institution known as the Electoral College which sole function is to elect the president. In fact, the actual presidential election is when the Electors meet in their respective state capitals on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, at which time they cast their electoral votes on separate ballots for president and vice president. For the 2016 election this occurred on December 19, 2016.

Electoral College Results in 2016:

Trump 306 (304 after vote of Electors)
Clinton 232 (227 after vote of Electors)
Others 7 (votes cast by faithless Electors)

Some background:

Electors are allocated via a very simple formula:

EV (electoral vote) per state = the number of congressional reps in that state plus the two senators. So Massachusetts has 9 representatives yielding a total of 11 EVs. Vermont with 1 representative has 3 EVs. Florida with 27 congressmen has 29 EVs.

A presidential candidate needs to win a simple majority of the 538 total EVs available. The magic number is 270 or more to win.

Thoughts of the Founders:

Alexander Hamilton in Federalist #68 "A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated tasks"

Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution states:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 of the Constitution states:

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing [sic] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Since the election of 1824, most states have appointed their electors on a winner-take-all basis, based on the statewide popular vote on Election Day. Maine and Nebraska are the only two current exceptions, as both states use the congressional district method. 

Love it or hate it this is the constitutionally enshrined system of electing the US president. Let's look at the pros and cons of this system as its supporters and detractors would frame them.

Pros:

  • The EC ensures that the states have at least some say in the selection of president. States can allocated EVs by winner-takes-all as 48 currently do; winner by congressional district (the Maine and Nebraska model) or can allocate them by other means such as popular vote percentage if they so choose. Needless to say, the federal nature of the Constitution is preserved by the EC.
  • The EC ensures that candidates must campaign and appeal to multiple interests and geographies. If the election was strictly popular vote, states with large populations and major urban centers would receive the lion's share of candidate attention. Smaller states and rural areas would receive limited or no attention to their issues. In 2016 with Hillary Clinton winning by nearly three million votes nationwide, California proved her with a cushion of over 4 million votes. In fact, LA County alone contributed more than 1.8 million additional votes to Clinton over Trump. Why would a candidate want to campaign in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, or Maine (all swing states in  2016) with so few votes to be harvested from these areas? Focusing on turnout in a small number vote-rich urban counties would reduce the "hinterlands" to an afterthought. In essence, the EC forces candidates to run truly national elections instead of competing for urban votes only.
  • Much less chance of recounts with the existing system - even with a close election. The EC usually (with 2016 being a glaring exception) amplifies the victory of the popular vote winner and establishes a clear winner on election night thus forestalling the need for recounts, challenges, and the inevitable lawyering-up post-election. Imagine a scenario of the 2000 recount debacle in Florida being played out for weeks or months all over the nation...
Cons:
  • 2016! The EC is simply an undemocratic mechanism. Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of 48% to 46% (nearly 3 million votes over Mr. Trump) and still "lost" the election. No other nation in the world (including nations with a federal framework) have an equivalent to the EC.
  • While it may have made sense in 1787, times change. The original theory was to have an august body of wise men selected by elites in the state legislature who would debate and select the man with the best temperament, education, and abilities to discharge the office of the Presidency. This made some sense with an uninformed and ill-educated population (by the by only white males had suffrage at this time), but with an educated population citizens can make informed decisions.
  • Under the current system a Republican voter in Massachusetts or a Democratic voter in Utah has little incentive to vote in a presidential election as there is little doubt as to which party will win those states. However, under a popular vote, citizens nationwide would have incentive to vote and help their candidates, even citizens residing in states that are not competitive. How many Republicans in California and Democrats in Kentucky stayed home due the the EC? 
  • Piggybacking on the previous point, candidates focus most of their campaign in the 15 or so swing states every four years thus ignoring a major portion of the nation at least in terms of active campaigning.
  • As states have different standards regarding voter registration and eligibility (felons voting rights vary from state to state) arguably the voting franchise is variable. Having a national election with on standard would remove any potential disenfranchisement.
  • Seven electors in 2016 were faithless electors thus potentially giving just a few individuals the ability to overturn an election.
So what does the Prof think? I believe that that nation ought to retain the EC, but establish modifications to address some of the very legitimate concerns outlined above.
  1. Eliminate the role of individuals being voting electors and make it a mathematical construct. This removes the unlikely, but real possibility that faithless electors could overturn an election result. The EC would just be a numerical count based on the electoral vote tally as allocated by the states.
  2. Encourage some mechanism to avoid wasted votes in the non-swing states - be it using the aforementioned district plan nationwide (although that is fraught with potential issues as well, i.e. numerous recounts in closely contested districts) or possibly an allocation of EV per state by the candidate's vote percentage in a given state. For example, if a candidate receives a floor of at least 40% of the vote in a state, they would get at least some proportion of EVs from that state, even if they lose the state overall.
I think it is important to keep the federal character of electing a president while acknowledging and correcting some of the undemocratic elements of it. 

Remember, changing or eliminating the EC would require a constitutional amendment which would need to be passed by at least 38 states. This is very unlikely to occur as small states benefit disproportionately from the EC and would be quite loathe to give away the limited sway over presidential elections that they currently enjoy under the EC. Thus much of the above argument is purely academic...
*By the way, if the entire nation had used the District Plan for allocating Electors in 2016, the results would be similar. 

Trump 290
Clinton 248

Onwards!


The Prof


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mea Maxima Culpa! Election 2016 Post Mortem



Wow - I really blew this one!! There is safety in numbers as just about everybody else in the punditry world did as well. Suffice to say, there was a much greater antipathy to conventional politicians than almost anyone anticipated and 2017 will welcome in President Trump.

Reasons Trump won
  • Kept a very simple message: the economy, immigration, and corruption. He stayed on message despite numerous misstatements and less than stellar debate performances.
  • He attracted unusually large numbers of blue-collar whites in the rust-belt. This was the margin of victory as many counties in these states shifted to the GOP for the first time in 30 years.
  • Trump's own failing in both business and his personal life did not have a major effect at the end of the day.
  • Public opinion polling was incorrect almost across the board. Nationally, polling was about three points off and it was further off in much of the state polling.
  • The "shy" Trump vote. It is possible that the "Bradley Effect" may have moved the race a point or so in close states as Trump voters either unwilling to participate in surveys or intentionally misleading pollsters due to social stigma. This can't be proven, but may be a part of this story.
  • Lower voter turnout among blacks and young people as compared to 2012.
  • Trump's base supporters were very loyal - and they voted in large numbers.

Reasons Clinton lost
  • The email scandal - Clinton simply was not seen as honest or trustworthy. The FBI Director's letter 11 days prior to the election reminded people of this. The Clinton Foundation's perceived ethical issues and both Bill and Hillary Clinton's cumulative (alleged) scandals since the 1990's were brought into focus by this as well.
  • She did not pay enough attention to jobs and the economy - people are hurting in many parts of the nation and they did not perceive her addressing their concerns. When she said that things in the nation are well they vehemently disagreed.
  • The Clinton campaign thought the "blue wall" was solid. Despite some worrying reports from the field they reacted too late in Michigan and were absolutely shocked to lose Wisconsin.
  • The challenge in the primaries from Bernie Sanders made her shift positions and appear to have no core beliefs.
  • Constant distraction by the Wikileaks dumps.
  • Arrogance - pure and simple. The Clinton campaign thought this election was already sealed and they appeared to let up on the campaign toward the end. Relying on surrogates and celebrities probably won them few additional votes. In effect, they rode a victory lap on a flat tire.

Now to look at my own predictions from last week... (warning disturbingly incorrect predictions ahead!)

Clinton is going to win due to the following factors.
  • A unified Democratic Party (Bernie supporters have come home) and a far less unified Republican Party with multiple prominent Republicans either publicly supporting her candidacy or not endorsing Trump. Clinton is likely to garner the support of 90% or more of Democrats. If Trump manages only 85% of Republican voters it will give her enough of an edge in the swing states to win the majority of them.
According to the exit polls Trump actually drew 90% of GOP voters while Clinton drew 89% of Democrats. This was certainly enough to help sway close states such as PA, FL, and NC. 
  • Independents who usually lean to the GOP appear to be breaking slightly to Clinton. More bad news for Trump.
Independents broke for Trump 48-42.
  • Superior Clinton ground game in all respects. This is important in driving key supporters to the polls in both early voting and on election day. Data on early voting suggests that it is on par with 2012 which produced Obama victories in almost all of the swing states. by contrast, Trump has publicly shown his disdain of data and organization. This will cost him dearly.
Another miss here. Clinton's data driven approach failed to turn out key segments of her coalition (African-Americans) in sufficient numbers contributing to the losses in NC, PA, MI, and WI. Trump's "gut-feel" approach succeeded in driving far larger number of blue collar whites to him in the rust belt. Clinton ignored this group at her peril and it cost her dearly.
  • Clinton's policy positions (overall) are more in-line with the majority of voters. This varies of course with Trump's positions on the economy and jobs being preferred by a large number of voters - but the urban, college-educated, female, and minority coalition that form the backbone of the Clinton candidacy will outweigh that of the Trump coalition of white, male, religious, and less educated voters.
This was not inherently incorrect, but many voters were not voting on issues or by party per se...
  • Expanding on the aforementioned point, Trump is getting hammered with female voters by over 20 points who have both a chance to make history and reject Trump's perceived chauvinism. Trump leads among men, but by a far smaller margin than Romney did four years ago.
Clinton indeed did win female voters, but "only" by 14 points. Normally this would be a significant win, but Trump won men by 14 points as well so the gender gap was basically a wash. Delving a little deeper into this, Trump won white women 53-43 and white men by a massive 63-31 margin. Clinton won white college educated women by only 5 points. College educated whites voted for Trump 49-45 which was not in line with the pre-election forecast.
  • The economy, while not booming, is perceived as being good enough to keep the Democrats in power. There are large pockets where the economy is doing poorly mainly in large segments of the Midwest (Ohio, Michigan) and this benefits Trump. But it is not going to be enough to win enough electoral votes in the end.
Wrong again Prof Brad - the perceived poor economy in Middle America was the major reason Clinton lost in much of the rust-belt.
  • In an ordinary election year the base factors would tilt slightly to a GOP win after eight years of a Democratic administration. But this year Trump has alienated and has made himself unqualified as act as President to a vast segment of the electorate and suffers from very high disapproval ratings. Hillary suffers high disapproval as well, but she is seen as being qualified for the job by more voters. This is very important as it gives wavering Republicans a place to go to if they cannot bring themselves to support Trump.
Despite Trump's disapproval of 60%, many voters overlooked this. The GOP largely came home. Clinton's disapproval numbers were not too far behind at 54%.
  • As predicted, the third party candidacies of Johnson and Stein have faded and they will have little overall effect on the election.
Both Johnson and Stein underperformed. They may have swung a state or two given their vote in some of the close states, but there is no data to support that as of yet.
  • There is going to be a very powerful anti-Trump wave in the Hispanic community. It will put tossup states like Nevada and Florida in Clinton's corner, will keep states that lean Democratic like Colorado in Clinton's column and  and will diminish Trump victories in Arizona and Texas. This is a major and existential problem for the GOP going forward. If Hispanics solidify 80% or more support for the Democrats, the Republicans will be hard pressed to win another presidential election in the foreseeable future.
I still think that Hispanic voters are an existential problem for Republicans. This is demonstrated by the less than landslide Trump victories in AZ and TX. But if the exit polls are to be believed, Trump lost Hispanics 65-29 which is quite close to Hispanic breakdown margin in 2012.
  • Finally, the Democratic "blue wall" of states that give them a comfortable base in the Electoral College appears to be largely holding. This gives them a base of over 250 EVs which means that only one or two of the swing states needs to be won to ensure victory. The GOP literally needs to run the table to win.
And indeed he did pull the inside straight! The blue wall was not only breached, but broken. PA, MI, OH, and WI all flipped from Blue to Red. PA and MI have not voted GOP since 1988. Wisconsin has not voted Republican since it supported Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Electoral College Final Results 2016




Popular Vote Breakdown
Clinton wins the popular vote by 5 points, but fails to break 50%.

Clinton      49
Trump       44
Johnston    5
Stein           1
Other          1


I was right on Clinton being popular vote winner (mainly through her landslide wins in blue CA and NY). These results may adjust a bit as the final popular vote tally will not be certified for a couple more weeks.

Clinton      47.8
Trump       46.7
Johnston    3.2
Stein           1.0
Other          1.0


Lets see how I did on the individual state calls...

Arizona - Typically a GOP stalwart, Hillary has made a play due to it's growing Hispanic population. AZ is trending more purple of late, but it is probably a bridge too far - this year. Prediction: Trump by 5

I was pretty good on AZ. It did get closer for Clinton, but not close enough. Actual: Trump by 4

Florida - This is a must-win for Trump as the 29 electoral votes are critical for any chance he may have. Both candidates have poured money and resources into the states. Results from the bellwether counties of Hillsborough and Polk in central Florida will give an early indication of who will prevail. There is a large white rural demographic in northern Florida and the Panhandle that will run up the score for Trump. Clinton will clean up among the growing Puerto Rican community. Elderly voters will favor Trump, but the margins may not be enough. My sense is that this may look a lot like 2012 where Obama squeaked out a 0.9% victory. This is a knife's edge and will be decided who has the better ground operation. Thus I am calling it for Clinton. Prediction: Clinton by 2


Florida behaved like the swing state it is with the usual regions supporting the GOP or the Democrats. However, Trump overperformed in some swing regions and it was enough to swing it to him. Actual: Trump by 1.3


Georgia - Like Arizona, Georgia is trending more purple as the Atlanta metro area has a large population of college-educated whiles and there is a sizable African-American community that will swing strongly to Clinton. But also like Arizona, it is still a fundamentally Republican state with demographics that favor a Trump victory. Prediction: Trump by 5


Georgia stayed GOP as Trump ran in totals in the rural pars of the state. As expected, Clinton did well in metro Atlanta. Actual: Trump by 6

Iowa - This state voted twice for Bush by a close margin and was won by Obama twice by comfortable margins. However, the demographics favor Trump and he is leading in all of the late polling. Prediction: Trump by 4

Iowa defied expectations with Trump winning all but 5 counties. Actual: Trump by 9

Maine - Using the District plan for apportionment of Electoral Votes, Maine splits its EVs by the winner of each congressional district. The statewide winner receives 2 EVs  and then the winner in each of Main'es two districts receives one EV per district won. Clinton will win statewide in Maine easily based on a victory in relatively wealthy CD 2 in southern Maine. But Trump is striving for a slim victory in CD 1 in poor and rural northern Maine. Prediction: Clinton by 6 statewide (3 EVs)Trump by 2 in CD 2 (1 EV)


I got the split correct in Maine! Actual:Clinton by 3 statewide (3 EVs)Trump by 10 in CD 2 (1 EV)

Michigan - Michigan has become a state that both candidate are working in over the past two weeks. Clinton has ramped up operations in this usually-blue state as a struggling economy and large white and blue collar population are making possible a Trump pickup.  Unfortunately for Trump, Clinton will win a massive victory in minority Detroit and the educated white Detroit metro area which will outweigh his vote elsewhere. Prediction: Clinton by 4


Wow - Michigan did surprise.Clinton did indeed win the metro Detroit area, but the turnout was down just enough to be offset by Trumps running up the vote elsewhere and flipping many counties that Obama won in 2012. The white blue collar workforce in this struggling state made the difference. Actual: Trump by 0.3%.

Nebraska - Like Maine, Nebraska uses the District Plan to allocate EVs. Obama won the single urban congressional district around Omaha in 2008 to steal that electoral vote. Clinton is making a play for it, but I think Trump squeaks it out to carry all 5 of Nebraska's EVs. Prediction: Trump by 12 statewide; Trump by 2 in CD 2


Big Trump win in Nebraska including CD 2. Actual: Trump by 26 statewide; Trump by 3 in CD 3

Nevada - Won by Obama twice, this formerly red state is trending blue due to demographic changes. The Hispanic vote will secure a victory for Clinton as Nevada follows New Mexico away from the GOP due to a declining white population, Trump's stance on immigration certainly does not help here either. Prediction: Clinton by 4


The Democratic machine was able to deliver Nevada for Clinton, albeit by a close margin. Actual: Clinton by 2.5


New Hampshire - New Hampshire is always in play and Trump over-performed  in the February Primary. Sanders pummeled Clinton here as well in February...but my gut and the polling is indicating a modest Clinton win here. Prediction: Clinton by 4

NH was won by Clinton in a razor thin margin of 3,000 votes. Actual: Clinton by 0.3%


North Carolina - Another red state that is turned purple in recent years, the 15 EVs in North Carolina are being bitterly fought over. Like Florida, this is a close call and wont be decided until late in the evening or the next day. Clinton will barely squeak it out with high minority turnout and the winning northern Whites with college degrees who have relocated to this booming state. Prediction: Clinton by <1 span="">

North Carolina surprised and went to Trump despite all the attention by Clinton and the President in the last week of the campaign. Actual: Trump by 4

Ohio - Ohio is tailor made for Trump (blue collar, white, and smaller percentage of college grads) and usually is a must win for either party. Luckily for Clinton, she can afford to lose Ohio due to her strength elsewhere. Watch the vote totals late in the evening from Cleveland and Cincinnati to see if she can catch Trump who will build a large lead in the more rural and blue collar regions. My belief is that the cities won't be enough o put Clinton over the top. Prediction: Trump by 3

Trump dominated and flipped many hardcore Democratic counties in Appalachian Ohio. This was not that close in the end. Actual: Trump by 9

Wildcards - states that are not likely to swing, but one never knows:


Oh, was I wrong here!


Pennsylvania - Described by pundit James Carville as "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the ends with Alabama in the middle" Pennsylvania has long been sought after by the GOP who have not won here since 1988. Romney made a big push here in 2012 and lost by 5 points. Philly and the suburbs will be a lonely blue island in an otherwise red sea, but the suburban female vote will be so overwhelmingly pro-Clinton that she should not be too worried here. Prediction: Clinton by 6


A surprise Trump win by racking up very large margins in rural PA, taking industrial Erie County and doing just well enough in suburban Philly. Clinton did better than Obama in the suburban counties, but did not do as well as Obama in central city Philadelphia. Actual: Trump by 1.2


Virginia - Yet another solid Republican state which has gone blue due to the booming and highly educated DC suburbs. If Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine was not a sitting Virginia senator it may have been marginally in play. Prediction: Clinton by 7


Clinton managed to hold onto VA due to a strong suburban DC vote overwhelming Trumps's vote downstate. She did slightly better than Obama in 2012, thus turning VA a bluer shade of purple. Actual: Clinton by 5

Texas - What?! Yes, this GOP anchor is slowly eroding as the Hispanic population continues to grow. Trump will win, but his margin will not be close to Romney's 16 point win in 2012. Prediction: Trump by 9

As predicted, Trump did not do as well as he should have in Texas - warning sign for the future... Actual: Trump by 9

Wisconsin - Narrowly won by Gore and Kerry, Obama won here easily despite local Congressman Paul Ryan being on the GOP ticket in 2012. However, Wisconsin is lily white and blue collar. Look for the cities of Madison and Milwaukee to propel Clinton to victory, but it will be closer than Obama's 7 point win in 2012. Prediction: Clinton by 4


One of the evening's biggest surprises, Wisconsin flipped for the first time since 1984. Depressed inner-city turnout  coupled with Trump winning a number of counties that had long been Democratic for that flipped 10 more electoral votes for the GOP. Actual: Trump by 2


Utah - Another shocker that Utah is even in play. The GOP typically racks up victories of 25% plus. Trump's unpopularity in the Mormon community and conservative local boy turned presidential candidate Evan McMullin are making this closer than expected. Closer between Trump and McMullin that is! Clinton runs a real risk of coming in third place in Utah. Prediction: Trump by 9 over McMullin with McMullin and Clinton in a near tie.


Trump ended up winning easily. Actual: Trump by 19 over Clinton with McMullin losing to Clinton by 9 points to take 3rd place.

Colorado - Closely divided between rural conservative and urban, educated, and liberal regions Colorado seems to be swing state. Yet again, a Hispanic wave is going to sink Trump's chances despite some poll tightening. Prediction: Clinton by 6

A bit closer than I expected... Actual: Clinton by 3


Missouri - This former swing state keeps drifting to the GOP. Clinton will keep it fairly close, but Trump should not have a major problem in holding here. Prediction: Trump by 7


Very easy Trump win here. MO is no longer a swing state. Actual: Trump by 19



The Prof's Home State of Massachusetts

I did well on the calls in Massachusetts at least!

Prediction and Actual


Clinton      65   61
Trump       29   34
Johnston    6    4
Stein           2    1

All incumbent Democratic Congressional Representatives cruise to 20 point plus victories. Only 4 out of the 9 districts have even token opposition.

Massachusetts Ballot Questions

#1 Casino/Racetrack

Yes 33   39
No  67   61

#2 Charter School Expansion

Yes 47   38
No  53   62

#3 Be Nice to Farm Animals

Yes 79   78
No  21   22

#4 Legalization of Marijuana for Recreational Use

Yes 52   54
No  48   46

Other Fun Predictions

Prediction and Actual

Top 5 Clinton States

Massachusetts +36  +27
New York +34  +19
Vermont +34  +29
Maryland +32  +25
California +29  +28

Top 5 Trump States

Oklahoma +26  +37
Alabama +24  +28
Wyoming +21  +48!
Arkansas +21  +27
West Virginia +19  +42

Gary Johnson breaks 10% in his home state on New Mexico and gets nearly 10% in Libertarian-friendly Colorado. Johnson received 9% in NM and 5% in CO.


Congress

The House remains Republican albeit with a reduced majority.

The GOP only lost 9 seats, much better than anticipated.

The Senate flips to the Democrats with pickups in IL, WI, PA, NH, and MO. This puts it at 50/50, but the new VP Tim Kaine will be the tiebreaker.

Wrong again - the GOP held the seats in WI, PA, and MO and will have a 52-48 majority. Can we say Unified Republican Government on 1-19-2017...

I will write up a postmortem of the changes that we can expect with a President Trump, a look at the future of both parties, and how to address the faulty public opinion polling.

Onwards to 2018 and 2020!

The Prof

Sunday, November 6, 2016

2016 - Hillary to Win by a Comfortable Margin, but not a Landslide

Well, it's that time again for The Prof to encapsulate in stone (or cyber-ware) predictions for what we will see in the next 72 hours. Election 2016 is finally upon us. In fact it has been upon us for several weeks if one factors in the early voting in a number of states. As of November 5, just shy of 40 million early votes have been cast. This election will (hopefully) be concluded by the wee hours on Wednesday morning and I predict the nation will (sort of) welcome President-Elect Hillary Clinton.

Clinton is going to win due to the following factors.
  • A unified Democratic Party (Bernie supporters have come home) and a far less unified Republican Party with multiple prominent Republicans either publicly supporting her candidacy or not endorsing Trump. Clinton is likely to garner the support of 90% or more of Democrats. If Trump manages only 85% of Republican voters it will give her enough of an edge in the swing states to win the majority of them.
  • Independents who usually lean to the GOP appear to be breaking slightly to Clinton. More bad news for Trump.
  • Superior Clinton ground game in all respects. This is important in driving key supporters to the polls in both early voting and on election day. Data on early voting suggests that it is on par with 2012 which produced Obama victories in almost all of the swing states. by contrast, Trump has publicly shown his disdain of data and organization. This will cost him dearly.
  • Clinton's policy positions (overall) are more in-line with the majority of voters. This varies of course with Trump's positions on the economy and jobs being preferred by a large number of voters - but the urban, college-educated, female, and minority coalition that form the backbone of the Clinton candidacy will outweigh that of the Trump coalition of white, male, religious, and less educated voters.
  • Expanding on the aforementioned point, Trump is getting hammered with female voters by over 20 points who have both a chance to make history and reject Trump's perceived chauvinism. Trump leads among men, but by a far smaller margin than Romney did four years ago.
  • The economy, while not booming, is perceived as being good enough to keep the Democrats in power. There are large pockets where the economy is doing poorly mainly in large segments of the Midwest (Ohio, Michigan) and this benefits Trump. But it is not going to be enough to win enough electoral votes in the end.
  • In an ordinary election year the base factors would tilt slightly to a GOP win after eight years of a Democratic administration. But this year Trump has alienated and has made himself unqualified as act as President to a vast segment of the electorate and suffers from very high disapproval ratings. Hillary suffers high disapproval as well, but she is seen as being qualified for the job by more voters. This is very important as it gives wavering Republicans a place to go to if they cannot bring themselves to support Trump.
  • As predicted, the third party candidacies of Johnson and Stein have faded and they will have little overall effect on the election.
  • There is going to be a very powerful anti-Trump wave in the Hispanic community. It will put tossup states like Nevada and Florida in Clinton's corner, will keep states that lean Democratic like Colorado in Clinton's column and  and will diminish Trump victories in Arizona and Texas. This is a major and existential problem for the GOP going forward. If Hispanics solidify 80% or more support for the Democrats, the Republicans will be hard pressed to win another presidential election in the foreseeable future.
  • Finally, the Democratic "blue wall" of states that give them a comfortable base in the Electoral College appears to be largely holding. This gives them a base of over 250 EVs which means that only one or two of the swing states needs to be won to ensure victory. The GOP literally needs to run the table to win.
Electoral College - Base states for each party and swing states
(all maps courtesy of 270towin.com)


As you can see, the Democrats enjoy an advantage of 89 EVs looking at the states each party is nearly guaranteed to win. The likelihood of Trump winning Massachusetts or Clinton winning West Virginia are a faction above absolute zero. So lets look at the swing states and assign them based on polling, demographics, and historical voting patterns.

Arizona - Typically a GOP stalwart, Hillary has made a play due to it's growing Hispanic population. AZ is trending more purple of late, but it is probably a bridge too far - this year. Prediction: Trump by 5

Florida - This is a must-win for Trump as the 29 electoral votes are critical for any chance he may have. Both candidates have poured money and resources into the states. Results from the bellwether counties of Hillsborough and Polk in central Florida will give an early indication of who will prevail. There is a large white rural demographic in northern Florida and the Panhandle that will run up the score for Trump. Clinton will clean up among the growing Puerto Rican community. Elderly voters will favor Trump, but the margins may not be enough. My sense is that this may look a lot like 2012 where Obama squeaked out a 0.9% victory. This is a knife's edge and will be decided who has the better ground operation. Thus I am calling it for Clinton. Prediction: Clinton by 2

Georgia - Like Arizona, Georgia is trending more purple as the Atlanta metro area has a large population of college-educated whiles and there is a sizable African-American community that will swing strongly to Clinton. But also like Arizona, it is still a fundamentally Republican state with demographics that favor a Trump victory. Prediction: Trump by 5

Iowa - This state voted twice for Bush by a close margin and was won by Obama twice by comfortable margins. However, the demographics favor Trump and he is leading in all of the late polling. Prediction: Trump by 4

Maine - Using the District plan for apportionment of Electoral Votes, Maine splits its EVs by the winner of each congressional district. The statewide winner receives 2 EVs  and then the winner in each of Main'es two districts receives one EV per district won. Clinton will win statewide in Maine easily based on a victory in relatively wealthy CD 2 in southern Maine. But Trump is striving for a slim victory in CD 1 in poor and rural northern Maine. Prediction: Clinton by 6 statewide (3 EVs); Trump by 2 in CD 2 (1 EV)

Michigan - Michigan has become a state that both candidate are working in over the past two weeks. Clinton has ramped up operations in this usually-blue state as a struggling economy and large white and blue collar population are making possible a Trump pickup.  Unfortunately for Trump, Clinton will win a massive victory in minority Detroit and the educated white Detroit metro area which will outweigh his vote elsewhere. Prediction: Clinton by 4

Nebraska - Like Maine, Nebraska uses the District Plan to allocate EVs. Obama won the single urban congressional district around Omaha in 2008 to steal that electoral vote. Clinton is making a play for it, but I think Trump squeaks it out to carry all 5 of Nebraska's EVs. Prediction: Trump by 12 statewide; Trump by 2 in CD 3.

Nevada - Won by Obama twice, this formerly red state is trending blue due to demographic changes. The Hispanic vote will seure a victory for Clinton as Nevada follows New Mexico away from the GOP due to a declining white population, Trump's stance on immigration certainly does not help here either. Prediction: Clinton by 4

New Hampshire - New Hampshire is always in play and Trump over-performed  in the February Primary. Sanders pummeled Clinton here as well in February...but my gut and the polling is indicating a modest Clinton win here. Prediction: Clinton by 4

North Carolina - Another red state that is turned purple in recent years, the 15 EVs in North Carolina are being bitterly fought over. Like Florida, this is a close call and wont be decided until late in the evening or the next day. Clinton will barely squeak it out with high minority turnout and the winning northern Whites with college degrees who have relocated to this booming state. Prediction: Clinton by <1 font="">

Ohio - Ohio is tailor made for Trump (blue collar, white, and smaller percentage of college grads) and usually is a must win for either party. Luckily for Clinton, she can afford to lose Ohio due to her strength elsewhere. Watch the vote totals late in the evening from Cleveland and Cincinnati to see if she can catch Trump who will build a large lead in the more rural and blue collar regions. My belief is that the cities won't be enough o put Clinton over the top. Prediction: Trump by 3

Wildcards - states that are not likely to swing, but one never knows:

Pennsylvania - Described by pundit James Carville as "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the ends with Alabama in the middle" Pennsylvania has long been sought after by the GOP who have not won here since 1988. Romney made a big push here in 2012 and lost by 5 points. Philly and the suburbs will be a lonely blue island in an otherwise red sea, but the suburban female vote will be so overwhelmingly pro-Clinton that she should not be too worried here. Prediction: Clinton by 6

Virginia - Yet another solid Republican state which has gone blue due to the booming and highly educated DC suburbs. If Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine was not a sitting Virginia senator it may have been marginally in play. Prediction: Clinton by 7

Texas - What?! Yes, this GOP anchor is slowly eroding as the Hispanic population continues to grow. Trump will win, but his margin will not be close to Romney's 16 point win in 2012. Prediction: Trump by 9

Wisconsin - Narrowly won by Gore and Kerry, Obama won here easily despite local Congressman Paul Ryan being on the GOP ticket in 2012. However, Wisconsin is lily white and blue collar. Look for the cities of Madison and Milwaukee to propel Clinton to victory, but it will be closer than Obama's 7 point win in 2012. Prediction: Clinton by 4

Utah - Another shocker that Utah is even in play. The GOP typically racks up victories of 25% plus. Trump's unpopularity in the Mormon community and conservative local boy turned presidential candidate Evan McMullin are making this closer than expected. Closer between Trump and McMullin that is! Clinton runs a real risk of coming in third place in Utah. Prediction: Trump by 9 over McMullin with McMullin and Clinton in a near tie.

Colorado - Closely divided between rural conservative and urban, educated, and liberal regions Colorado seems to be swing state. Yet again, a Hispanic wave is going to sink Trump's chances despite some poll tightening. Prediction: Clinton by 6

Missouri - This former swing state keeps drifting to the GOP. Clinton will keep it fairly close, but Trump should not have a major problem in holding here. Prediction: Trump by 7

Final Prediction Map for 2016




Popular Vote Breakdown
Clinton wins the popular vote by 5 points, but fails to break 50%.

Clinton      49
Trump       44
Johnston    5
Stein           1
Other          1

Does Trump have a path to Victory?

Trump can win if all of the following factors play out. This will be the equivalent of an inside straight, but it is not impossible though very unlikely.

  • Clinton's GOTV operation does not match that of Obama's thus flipping the closest tossup states FL and NC.
  • Depressed African-American turnout in the Rustbelt diminishing Clinton's vote in PA, MI, and OH.
  • A hidden Trump vote (Bradley effect) adds a point or two for Trump in some swing states.
  • Very high white blue collar turnout in the Rustbelt flipping states like MI and possibly PA.
A winning Trump map would likely look like this.



Again, I believe that this is unlikely, but not impossible.

The Prof's Home State of Massachusetts


Clinton      65
Trump       29
Johnston    6
Stein           2

All incumbent Democratic Congressional Representatives cruise to 20 point plus victories. Only 4 out of the 9 districts have even token opposition.

Massachusetts Ballot Questions

#1 Casino/Racetrack

Yes 33
No  67

#2 Charter School Expansion

Yes 47
No  53

#3 Be Nice to Farm Animals

Yes 79
No  21

#4 Legalization of Marijuana for Recreational Use

Yes 52
No  48

Other Fun Predictions

Top 5 Clinton States

Massachusetts +36
New York +34
Vermont +34
Maryland +32
California +29

Top 5 Trump States

Oklahoma +26
Alabama +24
Wyoming +21
Arkansas +21
West Virginia +19

Gary Johnson breaks 10% in his home state on New Mexico and gets nearly 10% in Libertarian-friendly Colorado.


Congress

The House remains Republican albeit with a reduced majority.

The Senate flips to the Democrats with pickups in IL, WI, PA, NH, and MO. This puts it at 50/50, but the new VP Tim Kaine will be the tiebreaker.


Aftermath

This will be addressed in my post election entry, but suffice to say that nearly 50% of the nation will be disappointed/angry should either candidate win. Maybe out long national nightmare is only beginning...

Onwards!

The Prof