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Election 2020 (VII)

Ok, finally “the call” has been made by the various media organizations, and we have some hope of a less farcial political reality. Time to take stock of the situation.

We just elected the most conservative Democrat nominee I can think of since… too long a time to contemplate. Checkered history on EVERY issue that defines the Democratic party. Look for a lot of reaching across the aisle.

Previous Dem presidents, like Bill Clinton, would at least hand out consolation prizes, like pro-choice and affirmative action, and environment — while giving away everything of monetary value, deregulating media, finance, telecom, energy, fiscal austerity (“balanced budget”), outsourcing, offshoring, and dismantling of union power even though it elected him. What consolation prizes will be offered by Biden? Not being a racist clown. That’s great.

But wait a minute… Something is wrong here. To barely win the electoral vote, while running against an clown, against a manifestly incompetent administration, and with the benefit of the being able to blame the incumbent for a double disaster of botched pandemic response and economic collapse? Something doesn’t add up.

Meanwhile, stuff like $15 minimum wage passes in FL, having a majority with the same voters who say they would rather die than support “socialism”. Gay marriage passes by such an overwhelming majority in NV, plenty of Trump voters had to have voted for it. Legal pot passes in every state it is on the ballot. Democratic House members who support “toxic” issues like M4A get re-elected in swing districts that gave a slim majority to Trump.

In short, there is a disconnect.

To make it real simple: Republicans continue to get a pass on all kinds of obnoxious positions, primarily by preaching the issue of protectionism.

Insincerely, to be sure… but compared to which other party? Democrats are moving away from any alternative to protectionism, when it comes to material issues for lower-middle income voters. We’re talking about: minimum wage, medicare for all, deregulation, taxation (i.e. wealth distribution). Take all these off the table, and protectionism wins – by default.

Since Biden isn’t about to change this, nor will Harris (she is associated with shooting down California gig workers’ rights, in the ballot initiative that would have forced Uber/Lyft to treat drivers like employees)…. nor the US Senate, which is divided… We will be having this same discussion again in 3-4 years time.

Until then, stay safe & healthy.


Election 2020 (VI)

So my call on AZ and subsequent theory about the state’s voting pattern is looking shaky (although at current rate of closure the result should still hold, doing the arithmetic in my head from 538’s livestream report).

Looking at the House of Reps map, to see where the ballots came from, tonight’s batch of ballots came from all over the state fairly evenly (“3-5%” of the expected vote in the various congressional districts), and Trump continued to gain a substantial amount. 2 of the 4 more heavily R districts are now nearly done counting FWIW (PA-5 98%, PA-4 99%), so the remaining ballots should have a slight bias towards D districts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the ballots themselves will reflect that.

On the other hand, GA is looking very likely to flip to Biden. There will likely be a recount, though the state of the Senate races may impact how that decision is played. PA as well.

Perpetual election night goes on. Ready for it to end….

Election 2020 (V) — Arizona

Between yesterday midday and now (noonish eastern), Trump votes have taken about 20k+ votes off Biden’s margin. This suggests a pace which might change the outcome.

To get a hint whether or not this rate of change will continue, I’d look at the map by US House of Representatives districts. Not by counties. County population is all over the place. House districts have similar population (in theory same), thus more useful for analysis.

Per the ABC news House map (click on AZ), and from wikipedia:

2020 AZ-1: 52-48 Dem (87% reporting, ~305k votes) , 2018: 54-46

AZ-2: 57-43 (85%, ~335k votes), 2018: 55-45

AZ-3: 65-35 (90%, ~230k votes), 2018: 64-36

AZ-4: 31-69 (95%, ~345k votes), 2018: 31-68

AZ-5: 43-57 (94%, ~380k votes), 2018: 41-59

AZ-6: 51-49 (87%, ~365k votes), 2018: 45-55

AZ-7: 77-23 (89%, ~179k votes), 2018: 85-0 (uncontested)

AZ-8: 41-59 (91%, ~370k votes), 2018: 44-55

AZ-9: 63-37 (88%, ~304k votes), 2018 House: 61-39

Yesterday, I suspected the Republican-leaning AZ-6 house district was lagging slightly behind the others in the AZ counting, at “80%”, with the others in the high 80’s. Now it is “87%”, so largely caught up. This district was 55-45 Republican in 2018, so it will turn more red probably. I think it was over-represented in the past 24 hours’ change.

At this point, if ABC’s estimates of “remaining votes” are accurate (I wonder), then the Republican-leaning districts are more fully counted. This would be good for Biden.

Election 2020 (IV)

Wednesday early evening. Previous call still holds. The notable change is that WI is close enough to recount.

With the WI count nearly final, Biden’s margin looks on track for under 1%, allowing the Trump campaign to request a recount. They will. The idea is that the recount invalidates more Democratic ballots than Republican ballots. It would need to be a LOT more – Biden is up by something like 20,000 votes, more than an order of magnitude more than the difference in the Florida 2000 recount.

The other relevant state being discussed is AZ. In what I think might be a favor to the Trump campaign, AZ stopped giving hourly updates. If they had continued to do that, the state would be called by now. Instead we will have to wait until the end of the day. I don’t expect it to change much.

The one thing I see for Trump in AZ, is a big chunk of ~200k uncounted votes in the AZ-6 district, near Scottsdale. This district went Republican in 2018, 55% to 45%. On that basis, Trump might reduce Biden’s ~100k margin by something like 20k votes, lets say 30k votes to be generous — just from AZ-6. In the rest of the state, a similar analysis nets out to not much I think. However, delaying AZ buys time to prepare for a Wisconsin recount strategy for the Trump team.

MI is looking on track for a close but fairly ordinary Biden win. NV won’t report until tomorrow. I don’t see Trump having a realistic chance of taking either one of those back.

NC and GA look like Trump will hold them. PA, with all the huffing and puffing, might end up a being a Trump win. Would not surprise me. If Trump loses PA, which would also not surprise me, there is a limited chance of further legal appeal, though my feeling is the SCOTUS would avoid hearing the case any further. Or maybe they won’t. Anyway Trump would have to somehow get back 20k votes in WI for that to matter. Will he try? Probably.

Election 2020 (III) – calling it for Biden

I’m calling it for Biden!

WI is now 97% counted, Biden up by ~23k with ~100k mail-in’s left to count. Looks very likely Biden is going to win WI.

MI is now 86% counted, Trump up by ~30k with ~680k mail-in’s left to count. Looking more closely, a big chunk of the uncounted seem to be from the Detroit area. I’m confident Biden is going to win MI.

AZ is now 82% counted and Biden is up ~140k with ~450k ballots of various types left to count. Looks very likely Biden is going to win AZ.

Together with an electoral vote in Nebraska, that would give Biden 270, regardless of what happens in NC, GA, PA. It also renders any possible PA legal nonsense moot.

Election 2020 (II) [updated]

Just before midnight eastern time. Looks like the map I predicted so far, except that AZ and NC change places, with Trump winning NC outperforming polls there by something like ~4 points as of now, and Biden takes AZ, probably also outperforming polls there but by an by an unclear margin, which speaks to the Hispanic vote.

GA and NV are not yet in. Unless Biden wins GA, it will pretty much be down to PA. [update, not true, late night sloppy arithmetic off by 1]

UPDATE – with the morning light here, the upper midwest is looking closer than expected, but with remaining ballots being mail-in’s, it will shift back toward Biden. So on the one hand, Trump again outperforms polls in WI and MI, which many think predicts Trump winning PA. However, it does seem to me Biden will win both WI and MI (and he pretty much has to), with ~11% and ~16% still to count, respectively.

In the above scenario, which I now think is the most likely one, Biden would win 270-268, picking up one electoral vote in Nebraska (and losing one in Maine)! Proportional representation in action!

Also, it still possible that Biden wins GA or NC. In NC, ~250k to count, he is down ~73k, so would need ~63% of remaining ballots.

Waiting for Election Results

States to watch:

1st tier swing states: FL, PA, NC, AZ

2nd tier swing states: MI, WI, NV

FL, NC, and AZ will report relatively earlier than many other states. This is because they tally mail-in ballots as they arrive [source: NPR].

I would use AZ and NC as a benchmark / early warning sign early of any systematic error in swing-state polling. Systematic polling error may have additional distortions in FL and PA due to those state’s closed-primary policy confusing the state political-party-population data (i.e. voter registration stats). In closed-primary states, independents tactically register as R/D depending on which primary they think is worth voting in. This creates an additional unknown that polls must correctly estimate or else their sample weightings will be off, and the effect is especially significant now because there are a LOT of new voters. From what I understand, many polls outsource their modeling of the state demographics (and thus the polls’ sample weighting) to a company called Aristotle, and this may be an avenue by which a potential systematic error source is shared among many polls that are assumed to be independent of each other.

Other random incomplete thoughts: Among the swing states, AZ is perhaps most dependent on hispanic voter turnout. Likewise, NC is I would say most dependent on black voter turnout. While not unique among the swing states, NC might stand out among the swing states in that black churches provide a well established organizational network for a key bloc of Democrats and can arguably produce more campaign manpower in a chaotic environment as we have had this year.

Election 2020 (I)

Here we are again. I stopped posting amid the hopeless noise, but just for the record, here are some predictions. There may be follow-up posts, not sure.

US President:

The defining issue that makes 2020 different from 2016 is of course the disastrous response to the Covid-19 virus. The effect on the important swing state polls, not surprisingly, is that it has peeled ~10-15% of the age 65+ age group away from Trump, although varying by state.

I am in agreement with the conventional wisdom, predicting a win for Biden, with my electoral vote predictions mapped below [graphic generated at].

PA, NC, and FL are the most uncertain states in my estimation. The other swing states – MN, WI, MI, AZ, OH, NV – I considered to be ‘leaners’.

The arithmetic of this map allows Biden to lose PA+FL, and still squeak by with a margin of 4 electoral votes, since I’m giving him NC. This is important because Biden’s admirably direct comments about fracking might hurt him in PA among any voters that can still be swayed, although it’s not clear to me that there are more than a handful of those left.

The implication of being able to lose PA and still win, is that the pivotal state now changes to NC. So that is the one whose state polls should be most watched?! It is a state I am not as familiar with as PA, though I recently visited. The radio ads are running hot there, and the few locals I talked to seem pretty worked up, as would be expected. Unlike PA, NC also has a Senate race, whose polling [NC Senate polls, 538] can serve as another proxy. That polling has narrowed noticeably in the past month or two, from being a 5-10 point Dem advantage before that.


Next, the US Senate. I did not put much research into this, beyond scanning through the state polling for the 5-6 closest ones to look for trends. So call it an uninformed guess.

I have a 52-48 Democratic majority, with map below. I would hedge by predicting a 25% each chance of either AZ or NC going Republican, so it could just as likely be 51-49 Dem, which would make all legislation hostage to the two most fiscally conservative Dem Senators, whoever they are.

And that’s it.

Hope this crazy year hasn’t been too awful for anyone who may be reading this. Stay healthy, and vote if you have not already done so.

pre Super Tuesday post + virus

Alright, here we go, big day tomorrow.

Biden survived South Carolina, maintaining the African American vote, at least in one distinctly conservative state where Biden may well be a better GE candidate than Sanders.

Importantly, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Steyer are now out. Warren and Bloomberg are staying in. Glenn Greenwald [Intercept 2020.03.02] has a good take on it, and I agree with it. Biden is already the weaker general election candidate, and the Dem party alienating Sanders voters would make him even weaker.

For tomorrow, the crystal ball says (by votes): Sanders 36%, Biden 28%, Warren 16%, Bloomberg 12%, All others 8%. Let’s see what happens.

In other news we got the coronavirus, quite possibly coming to a population center near you. US disaster response hasn’t been all that it could be, so this is a real point of concern. China, Korea, and Japan have gone to great lengths to keep it contained. Italy has cordoned off part of the country. Meanwhile, it would seem the US hasn’t made full use of the month or so of head start we got. I’m not particularly optimistic. That said, any “prepper” talk is way overboard in my opinion.

The things I can do are limited, and mainly involve immune system health: (1) get plenty of sleep (2) limit alcohol consumption (3) no smoking of any kind.

Iowa: wtf (update1)


Ok, as of 5pm the day after, they managed to collect 62% of the results – i.e. they collected less than 1100 pieces of data in one day. This would be trivially easy, even without modern tech. It is a process that was reliable in the pre-fax-machine age. There’s something else going on.

With 62% of precincts reporting:

Delegate results: Buttigieg 27%, Sanders 25%, Warren 18%, Biden 16%, Klobuchar 13%

Vote results: Sanders 26%, Buttigieg 25%, Warren 21%, Biden 13%, Klobuchar 12%

Note that Sanders had more supporters than Buttigieg, but the quantization and reallocation worked in Buttigieg’s favor. I am a little unclear why the RealClearPolitics page is not assigning any delegates in their estimate to Biden or Klobuchar at this time. In any case, Biden and Klobuchar being under 15% in votes would be a concern for them going forward — i.e. they will want Mayor Pete out.

If the full statewide results extrapolate from this, it would be a little disappointing for Sanders, who came ~5-10% under some polls, and a complete disaster for Biden, who came in ~40% below what he was polling. Klobuchar and Buttigieg outperformed. In what may be a sign of things to come for Bloomberg, billionaire Steyer got nothing after spending more than $100M of his own money and flooding the airwaves.

Going forward, the question will be how long it can remain a 5-way race. It is possible that the Biden team figures they can get more delegates by using Buttigieg and Klobuchar as placeholders than by using Biden himself. While this may not be as crazy as it sounds for the DNC itself, it would be a spectacular sign of weakness for the general election. Alternatively, and probably more likely, Buttigieg and Klobuchar might fade as the next contests will be far from their home turf in geographical distance, demographics, and regional culture. More to come.


What a load of BS. Each caucus has a single page “results sheet”. It is public information, there are dozens of witnesses for each. Take a damn picture with your phone and email it in. How can they not figure this out? There are a couple hundred [correction- 1765] precincts from which a handful of numbers are to be collected. A clerk could have them entered into a spreadsheet in an hour or two at most. A team of 12 year olds organized in the obvious way would have it in done in 20 minutes.

I think they don’t want to report the results.