Saturday, December 3, 2016

Digging into the State Story in the Rust Belt

We've already seen that on the national level, the story of the 2016 Presidential election was simply that the rough trend continued, with turnout approaching the norm.

As more analysis on the state specific level comes in, particularly with regard to the states that defied conventional wisdom, we can now get a more data-backed analysis of what happened there:

"4. The real story—the one the pundits missed—is that voters who fled the Democrats in the Rust Belt 5 were twice as likely either to vote for a third party or to stay at home than to embrace Trump."

-- from The Myth of the Rust Belt Revolt

The supposed flight of working class voters to Trump just didn't fit, as some had already guessed just from looking at the overview, particularly in income bracket totals. Instead, it was that people who'd previously shown a leaning towards Democrat decided for whatever reason that they weren't going to vote for a front-runner this year.

And since this change wasn't well reflected in the general trend of polls leading up, we can figure a good bit of it was a last minute change. Exit polls don't tell us much about the specific reasons why there, so it's hard to get more than speculation on the full details spurring such a turn.

Perhaps that last minute flurry of attacks on the Democratic candidate among "fake news" outfits?

And just how much of it was because of Comey's unconventionally timed interference?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Taxes Are Pro Growth

Will we ever get people to stop pretending lower and lower taxes are somehow more and more "pro growth"?

Infrastructure spending is pro growth.
R&D spending is pro growth.
Educating the labor pool is pro growth.
Setting safety standards is pro growth.
Grants to startups are pro growth.
Safety nets mitigating risks are pro growth.
Redistribution so all can spend is pro growth.

All of these things tend to come from taxes. Maintaining at least moderate taxes is pro growth. Increasing taxes on those of us with more tends to be pro growth.

Lowering taxes is anti-growth, unless it's strictly done only for those who already lack a surplus.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Broad Stroke Story of The Election: National Versus State


In broad strokes, the national-level story of the United States 2016 Presidential election could be described as that the rough trend continued.

D/VAP R/VAP Avg/VAP
1996 0.2409 0.1992 0.2200
2000 0.2431 0.2405 0.2418
2004 0.2689 0.2826 0.2757
2008 0.3022 0.2607 0.2815
2012 0.2802 0.2590 0.2696
2016 0.2575 0.2487 0.2531

There was a swing up between the mid 90s and the mid 00s. The Democratic and Republican percentages of the voting age population (VAP) both increased in 2000 and 2004, with a much bigger Republican increase in 2000.

Then there was a transition in 2008. That year, the Democrats had a much bigger increase equivalent to the Republican jump of 2000. Meanwhile, the Republican turnout began sliding down.

And now we're in a swing down in the 10s. The Democratic and Republican percentages of the voting age population both decreased in 2012 and 2016.

Where will we go from here? For both parties, the percentage of the VAP in 2016 was still up from what either party saw in 1996 and 2000. Considering the past two decades on average, we can't really say there was low turnout in 2016; just not quite as high as the peaks. Both candidates this year got a higher percentage of the potential vote -- more support -- than even the winning candidates from 16 and 20 years ago. We'd have to go back to 1984 to find a higher percentage of the VAP turning up for the two major parties; and that was the only higher year between 1980 and 2000. Based on the trend of the last 10 elections, we're likely only approaching the valley and barring some particular phenomenon drawing more people out to vote we'll likely see yet another decline in overall turnout next Presidential election.


If there's one thing we can say from the overall national trend, it's that the narrative of unenthused voters doesn't really fit. We've heard claims that voters were particularly disinterested in these candidates. Yet what drop there was this year was only in keeping with the direction of the past few elections. The turnout / VAP in 2016 remained over the average for the last 10 elections.

There also quite clearly was no national surge whatsoever toward the Republican party. On the contrary, the Republican specific turnout was yet again down slightly, just like in the previous election. In fact, this year's Republican turnout brought it low enough at 24.87% to be below the 25.47% average Republican turnout for the last 10 elections.

Democratic turnout also was only down this year by about the same degree it was down the previous Presidential election. And that was only returning it towards the rough trend, smoothing out from previous big gains. The 2016 Democratic turnout of 25.75% remained slightly above the 24.92% they've seen for the last 10 elections.

By and large, the nation continued a return towards trend. The Republican party dipped slightly below their average; and the Democratic party remaining slightly above. There may have been changes in the character of each party's support, such as the widely reported gains among the less educated for Republicans and among the more educated for Democrats. But these qualitative fluctuations did not budge the totals from the previous quantitative heading nationally.

If there's a major story specific to this 2016 Presidential election that differs from the typical trend of the previous years, it would have to be at the state-by-state level. It isn't just that a few states decided the election in the electoral college; it's also that what happened in those particular states and the states that went the other way from them would together have to be the entire story of how this election might differ from the norm in voting.


* Popular vote totals used for the above analysis were derived from Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections as of 11/28/2016.

Broad Stroke Story of The Election: National Versus State


In broad strokes, the national-level story of the United States 2016 Presidential election could be described as that the rough trend continued.

D/VAP R/VAP Avg/VAP
1996 0.2409 0.1992 0.2200
2000 0.2431 0.2405 0.2418
2004 0.2689 0.2826 0.2757
2008 0.3022 0.2607 0.2815
2012 0.2802 0.2590 0.2696
2016 0.2575 0.2487 0.2531

There was a swing up between the mid 90s and the mid 00s. The Democratic and Republican percentages of the voting age population (VAP) both increased in 2000 and 2004, with a much bigger Republican increase in 2000.

Then there was a transition in 2008. That year, the Democrats had a much bigger increase equivalent to the Republican jump of 2000. Meanwhile, the Republican turnout began sliding down.

And now we're in a swing down in the 10s. The Democratic and Republican percentages of the voting age population both decreased in 2012 and 2016.

Where will we go from here? For both parties, the percentage of the VAP in 2016 was still up from what either party saw in 1996 and 2000. Considering the past two decades on average, we can't really say there was low turnout in 2016; just not quite as high as the peaks. Both candidates this year got a higher percentage of the potential vote -- more support -- than even the winning candidates from 16 and 20 years ago. We'd have to go back to 1984 to find a higher percentage of the VAP turning up for the two major parties; and that was the only higher year between 1980 and 2000. Based on the trend of the last 10 elections, we're likely approaching the valley if not having bottomed out for the current downswing.


If there's one thing we can say from the overall national trend, it's that the narrative of unenthused voters doesn't really fit. We've heard claims that voters were particularly disinterested in these candidates. Yet what drop there was this year was only in keeping with the direction of the past few elections. The turnout / VAP in 2016 remained over the average for the last 10 elections.

There also quite clearly was no national surge whatsoever toward the Republican party. On the contrary, the Republican specific turnout was yet again down slightly, just like in the previous election. In fact, this year's Republican turnout brought it low enough at 24.87% to be below the 25.47% average Republican turnout for the last 10 elections.

Democratic turnout also was only down this year by about the same degree it was down the previous Presidential election. And that was only returning it towards the rough trend, smoothing out from previous big gains. The 2016 Democratic turnout of 25.75% remained slightly above the 24.92% they've seen for the last 10 elections.

By and large, the nation continued a return towards trend with the Republican party dipping slightly below their average and the Democratic party remaining slightly above. There may have been changes in the character of each party's support, such as the widely reported gains among the less educated for Republicans and among the more educated for Democrats. But these qualitative fluctuations did not budge the totals from the previous quantitative heading nationally.

If there's a major story specific to this 2016 Presidential election that differs from the typical trend of the previous years, it would have to be at the state-by-state level. It isn't just that a few states decided the election in the electoral college; it's also that what happened in those particular states and the states that went the other way from them would together have to be the entire story of how this election might differ from the norm in voting.


* Popular vote totals used for the above analysis were derived from Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections as of 11/28/2016.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eichenwald on How

http://www.newsweek.com/myths-cost-democrats-presidential-election-521044




Awash in false conspiracy theories, protest voters and angry non-voters put Trump in the White House.
newsweek.com|By Kurt Eichenwald

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Before And After


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

November Elections

In November of 1932, eighty-four years and two days before the 2016 American election, the majority of the German people did not do anything quite like the way hindsight and simplification might make it look. Combined, just slightly more of the German electorate voted for the next two parties than voted for the Nazis. In total, a hair over twice as many people voted for the total of all other parties than voted for the NSDAP (that is, the Nazis). However, this doesn't make it just a matter of what the mere 1/3 who voted for Hitler's party chose.

By and large, what the German people did was fail to unite against the Nazis.

But their grave error wasn't one of failing to vote for a party and its leader who we all now know would commit all the horrors of the Holocaust. Their disgrace came not from the things they didn't know then but from failing to recognize all the relatively little bad that was quite clear at the time. Back then, nobody knew it would mean the atrocity of slaughtering millions and a permanent national disgrace to fail to unite behind the most viable alternative.

They knew the Nazi leader winked at the violence of his party and maybe even encouraged it.

They knew he attacked his nation's negotiated treaties.

They knew his party embraced an ideology favoring one particular race and xenophobic of others.

They knew he used anti-Semitism in his campaign.

They knew his party opposed women being in the workplace, pushing that they stay home producing children.

They knew he'd botched his preferred line of work and essentially gone bankrupt.

They knew about his failed coup.

They saw all his various campaign attacks on people and groups.

They had a pretty good idea he was more than a bit unhinged.

Trump's RCP Average Favorability as of 11/8/2016: 37.5%
And sure, it was only the worst 1/3 of them that embraced him despite all of that.

But the majority of the German people knew all of this and failed to consider it sufficiently crucial for them to unite to keep Hitler and his party out of power. They considered it more important that they not vote for a party other than their particular preference. Or that they punish a party they usually preferred but that hadn't made everything better fast enough.

They saw a lot of warning signs. And they failed to stop it. And that's more than bad enough.

It would have been more than bad enough even if the Hitler of 1932 hadn't eventually become the Hitler of the later 1930s through the mid 1940s. The Hitler of 1932 was not then the Hitler of later history. But what was known in 1932 should have been plenty to unite to stop the Nazis from ever attaining power.