Nate Silver: Clinton Campaign Strategists Were ‘Huge Dumbasses’

There are many myths about the 2016 election. On the left it is an article of faith that Donald Trump could not have won without illicit coordination with the Russians. On the right, there is the pervasive notion that because Trump beat the odds to win the presidency, all polling is wrong and should be disregarded. Yesterday Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight managed to blow up both of these theories in a single tweet.

The exchange began with a tweet from Ben Collins of NBC News that asked, “What did the Kremlin’s cutouts know about targeting MI and WI? How did they know it? And is there data to show they took action on it?”

https://twitter.com/oneunderscore__/status/1082750493842173953

Silver, the head of the FiveThirtyEight polling analysis site, responded quickly with a tweet that slammed the door on that particular aspect of Russian collusion. “The 538 model, which was based on publicly-available polling data, said the campaigns should target WI and MI,” Silver wrote. “You didn’t have to have any proprietary info to know they were important states. You just had to look at the data and not be huge dumbasses like the HRC campaign was.”

https://twitter.com/NateSilver538/status/1082777389460004864

Silver followed up with a link to a FiveThirtyEight article from February 2017, “Donald Trump Had A Superior Electoral College Strategy.” The thrust of the article, subtitled “How Hillary Clinton and the media missed the boat,” was that Hillary made two key errors in the campaign. First, she focused on states where the race was close rather than states that had the potential to tip the race. In particular, the article points out that Clinton did not set foot in Wisconsin after the Democratic primary. Second, she was overconfident and limited her focus to a narrow range of states. Hillary’s main focus was on Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio.

Silver didn’t explicitly address the idea that because the forecasts were wrong in 2016 that all polling is wrong, but it is implicit in his statement that the Clinton campaign was made of “huge dumbasses” who ignored polling data that showed that Hillary was in trouble. Many Republicans claim that the media gave Hillary a 99 percent chance of becoming president on election night, but FiveThirtyEight’s forecast, which is still posted, gave Donald Trump a 29 percent chance of winning. Under those circumstances, Trump was an underdog, but not prohibitively.

With respect to the two states in question, FiveThirtyEight gave Trump a 21 percent chance in Michigan and a 17 percent chance in Wisconsin. Many polls were within the margin of error in Michigan, but Wisconsin polling was further off, showing a consistent albeit single-digit lead for Hillary.

As I pointed out a few months ago, polls are snapshots rather than predictive. One good technique for examining polls is to look for trends in the big picture. The big picture of the polling average from 2016 is still available on Real Clear Politics in convenient graph form. If we look at the trend, we can see Trump plunging in the polls about Oct. 10 then starting a slow rise on Oct. 20. There is a sharp increase between Oct. 28 and Nov. 2 that brought Trump to within two points of Hillary, well within the margin of error of most polls. Going into Election Day, the national polling average had the two candidates about three points apart, a close race by any standard.

If we look at key events that occurred in the campaign, we can see exactly what caused these movements in the polling. Keeping in mind that polls are lagging indicators, we see that Trump’s decline in early October followed the release of the Access Hollywood tape on Oct. 7. The final presidential debate was on Oct. 19 and Trump’s performance seems to have helped him in the polls, but not enough to close the deal. The event that sealed the race in Trump’s favor occurred on Oct. 28, the release of FBI Director James Comey’s memo to Congress that detailed the discovery of thousands of emails that related to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. In a May 2017 article, Silver also made the case that Comey’s memo cost Hillary the election.

There are lessons for both parties in Silver’s tweets and articles. For the Democrats, candidates should not take the Rust Belt states for granted. Traditional party loyalties may not be enough to carry a state, especially in an election where everything seems to be going wrong for your candidate. There is no substitute for getting into the field and making appearances. Charisma, broad appeal outside the party, and the stamina to campaign should be factors in nominating a candidate.

For Republicans, the lesson is also that the Rust Belt states should not be taken for granted. Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were all decided by about one percent of the vote after being all but ignored by the Democrat candidate. Just because they voted for Donald Trump once does not mean that they will do so again. The Clinton campaign made mistakes that will probably not be repeated by the next Democratic candidate. Even with these mistakes, however, Trump still lost the popular vote and would most likely have lost the electoral vote had it not been for James Comey. Donald Trump has the stamina to campaign, but he lacks charisma and popularity outside the GOP.

Despite claims from both sides, the 2020 election is far from a sure thing for either party. The outcome will be determined by which side better learns the lessons of the 2016 election and adapts their strategy to a changing electoral environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Biden Reveals His Fear of the Clinton Machine…And His Presidential Regret

In his new memoir, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose, which drops next week, former Vice President Joe Biden has made some interesting revelations. The Daily Mail reports that America’s Crazy Uncle chose not to run for president in 2016 because he feared the vast Clinton machinery.

Biden reveals how he wrestled with the idea of running for office before and after his son Beau’s death, and even admits he did not want to be Obama’s vice president in 2008…

Clinton was the only opposition to him – and what he does not say in the book is what ‘stop at nothing’ would mean.

But at the time his bereaved family was being torn apart by his surviving son Hunter’s bitter split from his wife amid accusations of blowing a fortune on drugs and sex with prostitutes.

Biden believed that the difficulty of his family life at the time would have provided plenty of fodder for Clinton and those in her orbit to go after him. (It’s not much less of a soap opera now: Hunter Biden is now in a relationship with Beau’s widow.)

Biden still holds that he could have beaten Trump had he become the Democrat’s nominee.

‘My numbers on trustworthiness, honesty, and empathy were as high as they had ever been. And I was strongest where the most formidable candidate, Hillary Clinton, was weakest: the key swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida,’ he writes.

The former VP is making the talk show circuit, including interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.

‘I have a regret that I am not president,’ Biden candidly told Oprah, for an interview with OWN, which airs Sunday. ‘Because I think there’s so much opportunity. I think America’s so incredibly well-positioned.’

On Ellen, the comedian pleaded with the ex-vice president to run for the presidency in 2020.

‘Just remember, that is what I’d like to see,’ Ellen said. ‘I don’t know if it’s going to be myself or Oprah as your running mate,’ she said, grabbing his hand.

Ellen can keep ruminating on what could be – and Biden can keep speculating on what might have been. But just remember: we may be saved by the fact that Biden will be 77 in the run up to the 2020 election, so we may not have to see his hair plugs and shiny veneers on the campaign trail next go ’round. And that’s a good thing.

Donna Brazile Denies Primary Was Rigged

Donna Brazile, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called Hillary Clinton staffers who criticized her take on the 2016 campaign out of touch. Brazile, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” defended her claims that Clinton control of the DNC tied the group’s hands and made it difficult for the group to be involved in the campaign, but denied that the primary was rigged against Bernie Sanders.

“Here’s what they don’t know. What it was like to be over at the DNC during the hacking. What it’s like to bury a child. I did, Seth Rich. They don’t know what it’s like to protect a staff from further harassment,” Brazile said.

“They don’t know what it’s like because they’re — the high command of Brooklyn,” Brazile added. “The people making the decisions, even for the DNC, they didn’t come and work with us. They told us to shut up. And basically let them win the election. When we tried to intervene, we had to spend money we raised to try to help them win. That was my job as chair of the party.”

In a racially charged comment rarely applied to fellow Democrats, Brazile also said that she had to tell the Clinton campaign that she was no slave. “Yeah, I’m not Patsy the slave because I got sick and tired of people trying to tell me how the spend the money,” Brazile  said. “I wasn’t getting a salary. I was volunteering my time. I was trying to increase the level of enthusiasm and passion for Hillary Clinton and the rest of the ticket across the country.”

In other comments, Brazile denied that the Democratic primary was rigged against Bernie Sanders. “I said I would get to the bottom of everything, and that’s what I did,” Brazile said. “I called Senator Sanders to say, you know, I wanted to make sure there was no rigging of the process … I found no evidence, none whatsoever.”

“The thing, the only thing, I found — which I said, ‘I found the cancer, but I’m not killing the patient’ — was this memorandum that prevented the DNC from running its own operation,” she added.

Brazile’s claim that Hillary Clinton colluded with DNC long before Clinton won the Democratic nomination is ethically questionable, but falls short of actually rigging the election. In Brazile’s version of events, she discovered the Clintonian control of the DNC after the convention in July. Per Brazile, Bernie Sanders agreed to campaign for Clinton even after he was told of the party’s duplicity.

In spite of the result of the election, Brazile stands by her actions. “Do I regret taking on a job the second time in my life as chair of the party? Cleaning up everyone’s mess? Taking all of the income in? Being unable to spend funds that I raised? Do I regret being on the road 100 percent of the time? Being hacked by the Russians? Being — being harassed, getting death threats? Do I regret any of that?” she asked rhetorically.

“Do I regret standing up for what is right? Helping Hillary Clinton? Helping the Democratic Party? … No, I wish I could have done more.”

Candidate Makes Dead Voters Into A Campaign Ad

Buzz Brockway, a state representative who is running to be the next Georgia Secretary of State, came out with an amusing campaign ad regarding voter fraud.

While working away at his desk, Brockway is seen denying a zombie’s application to vote.  Interestingly, the zombie appears to be a supporter of failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

As hilarious as the campaign ad is, it focuses on a systemic election issue.

Dead voters did not sway the presidential election last year, but enough instances of voter participation by people who passed away long ago are enough to warrant attention to voter fraud. We hear of examples every two years.

An investigation by a local Colorado news outlet found extensive numbers of residents in the state — people who died not just months ago, but years ago — voting in subsequent elections following their passing. One local Colorado woman, Sara Sosa of Colorado Springs who died in 2009, had cast ballots in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 — eliminating any possibility that her case was a simple clerical error, but a case of malicious voter fraud. That single investigation uncovered 78 dead people still eligible to vote in the state.

The numbers are much higher in other parts of the country.

Reporters in southern California discovered 265 eligible dead voters in the area, the vast majority of them located in Los Angeles County alone. 212 deceased voters in the county were listed as eligible to vote and had the potential to participate in the 2016 election. Despite being dead as can be, records indicated many of these people voted not just once beyond the grave, but year after year.

These numbers around the country can add up, especially when we look at the increasingly narrow margins of victories in swing states.

An analysis by Judicial Watch and National Review reveal 462 counties in the United States where the registration rate surpassed 100 percent — something that should obviously be impossible. There were 3,551,760 more individuals registered to vote than voting-age U.S. citizens who reside in the flagged counties.

Georgia, typically considered a noncompetitive state, saw itself thrust into the national spotlight during Democrat Jon Ossoff’s failed (but competitive) bid to replace longtime Republican congressman Tom Price. That special election to represent Georgia’s 6th Congressional District included Fulton County. The report revealed that this voter-rich county in the state at an 108-percent registration rate — a number that should raise alarms for anyone who cares about the democratic process.

Unfortunately, as the 2018 elections heat up and voters once again begin to pay attention to political campaigns and their messages, not much attention will be given to candidates for secretary of state. As Americans who care immeasurably about our free and fair elections, however, we should give extra focus to secretaries of state — the office holders most responsible for keeping order in the voting process.

Kudos to Brockway for running on such a theme.

Russia Purchased Black Lives Matter Facebook Ad

Evidence is mounting of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, but the evidence does not always fit the preconceived notion that Putin’s government acted to help Donald Trump’s campaign defeat Hillary Clinton. A new revelation that a Facebook ad purchased by the Russians promoted Black Lives Matter casts doubt on the usual narrative.

CNN reports the Russians bought “at least one” Facebook ad that promoted the Black Lives Matter movement. The ad appeared in late 2015 or early 2016 to audiences in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland. Ferguson and Baltimore were the subject of race riots in August 2014 and April 2015 respectively.

The ad was purchased by what CNN refers to as “accounts linked to the Russian government-affiliated troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency.” US military intelligence has described the group as “a state-funded organization that blogs and tweets on behalf of the Kremlin.”

Facebook previously revealed that about 25 percent of the 3,000 ads traced back to the Internet Research Agency were geographically targeted. The Black Lives Matter ad targeted to Ferguson and Baltimore Facebook users is the first specific example of such targeting. CNN’s sources said the wording of the ad was such that it could be interpreted as both supporting and warning against the Black Lives Matter movement. The ad itself has not been released by Facebook.

Information on the Facebook ads purchased by the Russians seems to indicate that, at least early in the election cycle, the focus was on promoting division and anger rather than promoting a specific candidate. The Russians also bought ads with topics such as gun rights, immigration and the validity of western democracy.

“This is consistent with the overall goal of creating discord inside the body politic here in the United States, and really across the West,” Steve Hall, a former CIA officer and current CNN National Security Analyst, said. “It shows they the level of sophistication of their targeting. They are able to sow discord in a very granular nature, target certain communities and link them up with certain issues.”

Last December, the FBI and the CIA publicly agreed that intelligence showed that Russian cyber operations during the election were aimed at supporting the Trump campaign. In July 2017, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told NBC News that there was no disagreement among US intelligence agencies that the Russians “are trying to undermine Western democracy,” but stopped short of stating that the interference was targeted to benefit Trump.

In the months since the election, many on the right have pooh-poohed the idea that Russia interfered in the election at all, attributing the claim of interference to sour grapes by Clinton campaign. That may change as more information about Russian interference comes out, such as the recent revelation by Homeland Security that 21 state election agencies were targeted by Russian hackers and that the Russian goal was to stir the pot by promoting hostility on both sides of the political spectrum.

The biggest question about Russian meddling is what to do about it. As CIA Director Mike Pompeo told NBC News, “This threat is real. The U.S. government, including the Central Intelligence Agency, has to figure out a way to fight back against it and defeat it. And we’re intent upon doing that.”

Hillary Clinton In Her Ghostwriter’s Words





MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who hosts Morning Joe when he’s not busy recording songs that make “We Built This City” seem listenable by comparison, scored a big get when an exclusive clip from Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book What Happened!!! landed in his inbox.

Wasting no time, the former Republican congressman-turned journalist–who is now a former Republican, period–immediately hustled the audio excerpt onto his show, whetting the appetites of the dozen or so hardcore Hillary fans who have been anticipating the book ever since her heartbreaking loss to Donald Trump last November.

Here’s just a little taste of what we can expect:

Chills, man, total chills.  The way Hillary delivers those lines, with all the passion of a former child star phoning in a cameo for a Sharknado movie, it’ll be a travesty if she doesn’t win a Grammy for her performance.

Among my favorite highlights:

Writing this wasn’t easy.

Which is probably why she hired someone else to write it for her.

Every day that I was a candidate for president, I knew millions of people were counting on me, and I couldn’t bear the idea of letting them down. But I did. I couldn’t get the job done. And I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.

Happily, the rest of us won’t have to live with her being president for the rest of our lives.  I’d call that a silver lining.

In this book, I write about moments in the campaign that I wish I could back and do over. (Laughs) If the Russians could hack my subconscious, they’d find a long list.

No doubt filled with yoga routines and plans for Chelsea’s wedding.  Thank goodness the Russkies had your server to hack instead.  I imagine they found your 33,000 emails a lot more riveting than your prose.





Fortunately, like a lusty reader flipping through the boring parts of Fifty Shades to get to the good parts, Hillary jumps ahead to the stuff that her readers actually care about–like what really happened when she and Trump did their own take on Meet Me in St. Louis:

This is not okay, I thought, It was the second presidential debate, and Donald Trump is looming behind me.

That would be the fruit of the loom, sweetheart.  We’re talking about the Donald here.

Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now we were on a small stage, and no matter where I walked he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces. It was incredibly uncomfortable.

You’d think that after living with Bill, she’d be used to that sort of thing.

He was literally breathing down my neck.

#ConfessYourPetPeeve:  People who use literally when they mean figuratively.  Everybody knows that Trump’s mic was the only thing that got the heavy breathing treatment that night, and even then it was coming though his nose.

My skin crawled.

Too bad she didn’t have some ice to put on that.

It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, ‘Well, what would you do?’

Bette Davis would have thrown a drink in his face.  But you, Hillary, are no Bette Davis.

Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space?

Donald Trump is a Space Invader.  Somebody call Don Lemon.

Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, ‘Back up you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’”

I myself would have gone with, “Step off, Jack!”  But then I’ve always thought that brevity was the soul of wit.  Hillary, on the other hand, looks like she focus groups her snappy comebacks.  Well, the ones that aren’t laced with f-bombs, anyway.

Then again, maybe a few f-bombs might make the book more interesting.  It would certainly make it more believable.  No matter what happens, though, I’m sure What Happened!!! will be a monster bestseller.  Better get your copy before the SEIU snaps them all up.

Hillary’s Pastor Has Written a Book – And You Won’t Believe His Metaphor for Her Election Loss




I’m a major Beatles fan, but one of their songs that really gets on my nerves is “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” For those who don’t know, John Lennon took a irresistible musical groove and put inane lyrics over it about his marriage to Yoko Ono and the headlines they grabbed with their bizarre behavior. The two lines of the chorus demonstrate how highly Lennon thought of himself:

You know it ain’t easy. You know how hard it can be.

The way things are going, they’re gonna crucify me.

Yes, John Lennon compared the media circus over his and Yoko Ono’s marriage and peace protest stunts to Jesus on the cross.

But Lennon isn’t the only one to make such a dramatic, overblown comparison. Hillary Clinton’s pastor, United Methodist City Society Executive Director Rev. Bill Shillady, is publishing a book of the devotions and sermons he emailed to the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. Strong for a Moment Like This, which releases August 15, includes this gem of a devotion from the day after the election, when Shillady compares Clinton’s loss to the eve of the most important moment in history. Here’s a taste:

Today, you are experiencing a Friday. Your Friday is what happened in the last few weeks and last night in the tragic loss. But Sunday is coming!

Jesus completed the excruciating task of giving up his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. It was his faith and belief in his heavenly Father, that gave him the grace and peace to submit to Friday. While death had seemingly won, Jesus knew better. When he said, “It is finished,” it wasn’t meant to be a statement of concession. It was a declaration that a new day was on the way.

Friday is finished. Sunday is coming. Death will be shattered. Hope will be restored. But first, we must live through the darkness and seeming hopelessness of Friday.

You know one of my favorite sayings is “God doesn’t close one door without opening another, but it can be hell in the hallway.” My sister Hillary. You, our nation, our world is experiencing a black Friday. Our hope is that Sunday is coming. But it might well be hell for a while.

Good Lord. I’m sure losing a presidential election is tough, but Jesus’ disciples were devastated because they thought that the Messiah they served was dead. They thought the ministry to which they had devoted the last three years of their lives was in vain. They thought that God’s work of redemption ended at the cross. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton lost an election.



Apples to oranges much, Rev. Shillady?

Shillady also believes that Clinton will now pursue some sort of leadership in the Methodist church. He told The Atlantic that he believes that the fomer First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State has much to offer the church.

“Given her depth of knowledge of the Bible and her experience of caring for people and loving people, she’d make a great pastor,” Shillady told The Atlantic. “No, she probably won’t go to seminary … no, she probably won’t pursue an official lay position in the Methodist church, like deaconess.”

He added, “I think it would be more of … her guest preaching at some point. We have a long history of lay preachers in the United Methodist Church.”

Don’t get me wrong: I sincerely hope that Clinton’s faith in Jesus is sincere, but I have a difficult time imagining hearing those cadences with which she speaks delivering a believable message of hope and redemption from the pulpit. I don’t think I could bear to listen to her speak on any topic, much less preach a sermon.

Then again, I would also hope that if she’s a sincere Christian, Hillary Clinton would bristle at her pastor using the death of Jesus – God’s Son, the Messiah, the redeemer – as a metaphor for an election loss.

Russians Hacked 39 States During Election

Newly released details of Russian cyberattacks indicate that the Russian hacking during the election was far more widespread than previously indicated. Sources within the investigation reported that Russian cyberattacks hit at least 39 states. The hackers accessed software used by poll workers and at least one state’s voter database. The extent of the attacks raises concerns about the integrity of future elections since Russia has also been implicated in hacking other elections including the recent French presidential voting.

 

The recent revelations were made to Bloomberg Politics by three people with direct knowledge of the US investigation. The details released to Bloomberg come on the heels of the report leaked by Reality Winner, a contract employee of the NSA. The classified NSA report revealed that Russian hackers traced to the GRU, Russian military intelligence, had targeted US companies that provide software for voting machines.

 

The Bloomberg report states that the hackers tried to alter or delete voter registration data in Illinois in addition to the “spear phishing” attacks that compromised the emails at the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. Russian hackers were trying to take over the computers of 122 election officials shortly before the election.

 

The sources report that Illinois was considered “Patient Zero” for the investigation. The state gave federal investigators almost full access to its election computer systems. Unauthorized access to systems at the state board of elections was detected as early as July 2016 and as many as 90,000 voter records in the state database were compromised with personal information on voters such as names, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, birth dates and gender.

 

The sophistication and sheer number of the attacks prompted the Obama Administration to complain directly to the Kremlin via the hotline between Washington and Moscow. In October, the US reportedly used a back channel to provide evidence of Russian complicity to the Kremlin and threatened that continued hacking could lead to an expanded conflict. The hacking continued up to the election.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied any involvement by the Russian government in the cyberattacks. Earlier this month, Putin suggested that the hacking might have been carried out by “patriotic hackers” not connected to the Russian government.

 

During the election, the federal government did not have jurisdiction over state election systems. Some states cooperated with federal counterintelligence operations, but others did not. Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, proposed in August 2016 that election systems be considered a critical national infrastructure, which would give the federal government more latitude in protecting state systems from cyberattacks. Ultimately, partisan disagreements meant that the designation was not made until January 2017.

 

There were hints of the Russian hacking revealed prior to the election, but Bloomberg reports that the Obama Administration kept the full scope of the attacks from the public. The government feared that the full truth would undermine public confidence in the election.

 

The claims of Russian hacking have become a source of amusement for many conservatives, but the recent revelations show the frightening extent of Russian interference in a core function of American democracy. So far there is no evidence that Russians were able to manipulate votes or voter rolls, but it was not for lack of trying.

 

And it probably isn’t over. Former FBI Director James Comey warned the Senate Intelligence Committee in his testimony, “They’re coming after America. They will be back.”