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micro variety post

October 17, 2018

In this edition: Brazil, alleged Kashoggi abduction, US elections.

Othewise, Not much going on, as I’m catching up with a backlog of work.

Brazil – Here’s a pair of pieces by Glenn Greenwald on the surprise domination of the far-right in Brazil’s first round election results:   item 1 (2018-10-8)item 2 (2018-10-10, video).

With the runoff election at the end of the month, the far-right Bolsonaro leads in polling.

See also: Jacobin (2018-10-17) providing additional detail.

alleged Kashoggi abduction  – Washington Post journalist and “important figure” Jamal Kashoggi disappeared a couple of weeks ago in Turkey after entering the Saudi Consulate. The current assumption in the US (especially from both CNN and leading Republican Senators) is that he was abducted, likely murdered, possibly dismembered by Saudi Arabian security services, acting on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Typically, the uproar seems insincere when contrasted to bipartisan support of the Kingdom in the course of decade after decade of general barbarism – most recently the Yemen campaign.

This might be because this time the victim is “part of the family” in some sense, (possibly being the nexus of the US “IC”, journalism, and Saudi Royal social circles .

Interestingly we aren’t getting too many statements from top Democrats – yet.

This kind of news item, of hopeless corruption and helplessness in the face of disturbing violence — especially framed as something that is an inevitable part of geopolitics — is something I would expect would depress electoral turnout, if it continues to lead headlines.

On the plus side, there are some stirrings in Congress about reducing US support for Saudi belligerence. Here, again, is a Jacobin article with valuable specific detail: which members of Congress to call to express opposition to further US involvement in the Yemen war.

US elections – 3 weeks to go. Time for regular reminders – go vote!!! This cycle, I am endorsing Generic Democrat for all offices in swing states.

Overall, it’s been a quiet week since the Kavanaugh saga wound down. Polls are showing the House firmly led by Democrats and the perhaps more important Senate will continue to be Republican.

Random thoughts regarding the election

  • Sanate: MO, NV, FL, AZ closely contested. TX, ND, TN looking Republican.
  • A possible Senate wild card, in my opinion, is Montana, which still doesn’t have enough recent polling.
  • Close states where polls show independents favoring one of the parties may present a specific downside risk for that party. This is because independents are relatively unmotivated this cycle. Their turnout will likely underperform “likely voter” estimates compared to R/D party loyalists (both self-reported estimates and ones based on historical data). We’re talking about an effect of 2-4% effect at most, and only in states where independents are split asymetrically. Of the contested states, it’s MO, ND, and AZ. In these, independents are about 2:1 for Democrats, so if their turnout disappoints that will get Republicans an extra couple percentage points in the result. This effect may be altered in AZ because of high hispanic population (leaning 2:1 Dem both nationally, and in AZ) . Most importantly, hispanic voter engagement (per polling) is higher than for whites AZ. However, average age of hispanics is younger, which means lower turnout. Overall historical turnout for white:hispanic in AZ are about 2:1, but this ratio should be less extreme this year. References: 1, 2, 3. Do dig deeper in to the latindecisions reports.
  • Unlike in a presidential year, turnout will also be driven by state-specific factors, such as if there is an exciting gubernatorial race (FL and NV).
  • AZ is also somewhat interesting, since the Republican gubernatorial candidate has a meaningful lead, but the Senate polls show a marginal Democratic lead. The state has plentiful polling so it’s worth digging into this in more detail.
  • Beto O’Rourke is a great speaker, looks like he could be the star of the 2020 election (Dems better not force thru a Biden nomination).
  • We also had an unexpected appeal by crossover pop musician Taylor Swift. Resulting in a record rate of voter registrations. Good for her!
  • High turnout issues – we are forecast to hit a generational high point in voter turnout. This brings up the possibility that voting facilities will be overwhelmed, and voters will face long lines or worse. Especially possible in urban areas in Republican-controlled states, which should raise some serious questions.


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