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?”

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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.”

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BREAKING: GOP Tax Plan Is Massive Overhaul Of Tax Code

Republicans have finally released their proposal for tax reform. The bill includes dramatic changes to the current tax code that, if enacted, will be largest overhaul of the tax system since the Reagan era.

The new plan maintains the top individual tax rate at 39.6 percent per Politico, but would reduce the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. New individual tax brackets of 12, 25 and 35 percent would be created. Income levels for these brackets are not yet available.

The plan doubles the standard deduction and increases the child tax credit to $1,600. The exemption for the estate tax would be doubled and the estate tax would be repealed after six years. The plan also keeps the popular retirement savings vehicle, the 401(k) account, which some Republicans had hinted could be eliminated.

The plan’s treatment of the mortgage interest deduction is sure to be controversial. The bill would limit this popular deduction to newly purchased homes less than $500,000. Realtor associations are already gearing up to oppose this change.

Republicans also maintained the deduction for state and local taxes. The new plan allows taxpayers to write off up to $10,000 in state and local property taxes, which critics say subsidizes states with high tax levels. Republicans from high tax states sought to preserve this deduction, but the limit is less than property taxes in many blue states.

The tax rate cuts would be offset by the elimination of targeted tax loopholes that favor certain industries and activities. The details of the loopholes to be closed are not yet available.

There are other questions that have yet to be answered as well. There was no clear indication on whether the tax rate cuts would be permanent or have a sunset clause as the 2001 Bush tax cuts did.

The bill also reportedly contains elements to discourage corporations from relocating to other countries. These details also have yet to be revealed.

There was also no word on whether the border adjustment, a tariff on imports, was part of the final plan. Tim Phillips, the president of Americans For Prosperity, had previously warned against the import tax, saying, “We strongly oppose adding a new tax that would raise prices on everyday goods while disproportionally hurting the poor and middle class.”

A weakness of the bill is the failure to lower the top tax rate. While cutting taxes for the wealthy is politically unpopular, per OMB Director Mick Mulvaney the top 20 percent of taxpayers pay 95 percent of the taxes. These taxpayers will benefit from rate cuts to lower brackets, but a cut in the top rate would also be beneficial.

Now that the Republican tax plan is written, the next step is to sell it to the country. Democrat disinformation is already being used to attack the reform proposal with the result that Americans oppose the plan out of the gate by 35-25 percent in a new NBC News  poll. The good news is that almost 40 percent have not made up their minds.

If Republicans can unite and if Donald Trump can stay focused on the issue at hand, tax reform may turn out to be the first real GOP legislative victory of the Trump era. Republicans need this win badly.

Signs Point To Democrat Wave Building For 2018

2018 is shaping up to be a year of great uncertainty. What will happen to Obamacare? Will tax reform become law? What of the myriad investigations of Russian interference in the election? Along with these questions, there is growing doubt about the Republican Party’s ability to hold its congressional majorities in the 2018 elections.

Josh Kraushaar of National Journal writes that many House Republicans are “increasingly alarmed” that Republican congressmen in vulnerable seats are not doing the fundraising work that is needed to defend themselves from Democrat challengers.

“Of the 53 House Republicans facing competitive races, according to Cook Political Report ratings, a whopping 21 have been outraised by at least one Democratic opponent in the just-completed fundraising quarter,” Kraushaar writes. “That’s a stunningly high number this early in the cycle, one that illustrates just how favorable the political environment is for House Democrats.”

Among the Republicans Kraushaar mentions by name are Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), who only raised about a third as much as his leading Democrat rival, John Culberson (R-Texas), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) and Leonard Lance (R-N.J.). These seats are all rated as “lean Republican” by the Cook Political Report, but the incumbent Republicans are falling far behind Democrat challengers in fundraising.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who has been criticized for his support of Vladimir Putin and Russia, has only $600,000 in the bank according to the report. His Orange County, California district is in an expensive media market where much more advertising money will be needed. Rohrabacher’s seat is currently rated as a tossup.

Adding to the Republican finance problems are primary challenges from the right. Rohrabacher will be facing a Republican primary challenger in addition to a Democrat in the general election. Former White House strategist and sometimes Trump supporter Steve Bannon is supporting primary challenges to many sitting Republicans.

Republicans currently hold a 46-seat majority in the House of Representatives. If Democrats can win 23 seats, it would tip the balance of power in the lower chamber. Per the Cook Political Report, Republicans currently have 12 tossup seats in the House. This includes two open seats in Washington and Michigan. An additional 23 seats lean Republican, but this includes the four seats mentioned earlier where the Republican incumbent is likely to be outspent by large margins.

In contrast, Cook only rates three Democrat seats as tossup. These are all open due to retirements. Six seats lean Democrat and one of these is Florida’s 27th congressional district where a Republican, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is retiring.

In fact, Ros-Lehtinen is only one of 18 House Republicans who have announced their plans to retire in 2018. Cook’s David Wasserman notes that so far only four of these retirements are in vulnerable districts, but, with a months to go before the primary season starts, that could change.

In the Senate, things are a bit more solid for Republicans. The only two tossup seats are Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.). Democrats have three seats rated as tossups (Donnelly in Indiana, McCaskill in Missouri, and Manchin in West Virginia) so they would have to run the table to bring the Senate to a tie. In that case, Vice President Pence would cast the deciding vote on legislation, but Republican bills would be even more vulnerable to defections by mavericks like Rand Paul (R-Ky.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The reason for the Republican fundraising slump is likely two-fold. Donald Trump’s popularity is not good. This is especially true in swing districts held by vulnerable Republicans. Some Republican incumbents may be tainted by their association with the unpopular president.

Even among Republican voters, the current Congress is not popular. The failure to pass any sort of Obamacare reform bill cemented the perception of a do-nothing Congress. A CNN poll last month showed that twice as many Republican voters support the president as Republican congressional leaders.

As the congressional stalemate has become more apparent, Republican donors have closed their wallets. The party is pinning its hopes for 2018 on the success of tax reform since it has few other accomplishments to show for its majority. A senior House Republican strategist said that he expects many more Republicans to retire if tax reform fails.

It is far from certain that Democrats will take control of the House in 2018, but current trends are not looking good for vulnerable Republicans. If the Democrats win control of the House, it would fundamentally change Donald Trump’s presidency as the Republican takeover of the House in 2010 did for Barack Obama. More ominously for President Trump, a Democratic majority would open the door for a possible impeachment.

BREAKING: Poll Shows Roy Moore Tied in Alabama Senate Race

A surprising new poll shows that Republican Roy Moore is tied with Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race. Moore handily defeated incumbent Senator Luther Strange in the Republican primary last month.

In the new poll by Fox News, both Moore and Jones had the support of 42 percent of registered voters. The poll showed that only 53 percent of respondents were extremely or very interested in the race. Of those voters, Jones had a slight led of 46-45 percent.

Previous polling had shown Moore with a lead over Jones. Two polls taken at the end of September showed Moore with a lead of eight and five points respectively. Those polls sampled likely voters, which are historically more accurate than polls of registered voters.

The new poll shows deep divisions in the Republican Party. Forty-two percent of Moore’s supporters have reservations about the GOP candidate, who has a history of controversial behavior and comments. Only 28 percent of Jones voters have reservations.

Moore’s history, including two unfinished terms on the state Supreme Court, explains why a third a Jones voters support the Democrat candidate because they believe that Moore is too extreme. Twenty-one percent say that they are voting against Moore as opposed to voting for Jones.

While campaigning for Luther Strange, President Trump worried that Moore might have problems in the general election. Two months before Election Day, that seems to be a real danger. Thirty-nine percent say that Moore is “out of step” with Alabama compared to 29 percent who say that Jones is too liberal.

In deep red Alabama, the electorate still favors the Republican, but the new poll should be alarming to GOP strategists. Expect both parties to pour money into the state to compete for the 11 percent of voters who are still undecided.

 

 

 

 

 

GOP Realigns Behind Trump As Approval Falls To Record Low

A new poll found that approval for the Republican Party has hit a record low. The survey of 1,053 adults conducted last week found that only 29 percent had a favorable view of the Republican Party. This is the lowest that the GOP has ever polled since the question was first asked in 1992 and is 13 points lower than the party’s approval six months ago.

The poll, conducted for CNN by SSRS, an independent polling company, showed that Democrats had an 11-point advantage over Republicans at 41 percent. President Donald Trump polled slightly more popular than his party at 33 percent.

Congressional leaders shared the low approval ratings on a bipartisan basis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had the lowest approval at 20 percent while Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) was highest at 32 percent. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had approval ratings of 29 and 28 percent respectively.

The poll seems to underscore a shift in control of the Republican Party. President Trump is more popular with Republicans than the party’s congressional leaders. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans think President Trump is leading the country in the right direction compared to 40 percent who believe that of Republican leaders in Congress. Fifty-two percent of Democrats believed their party is moving the country in the right direction.

The previous low point for Republicans was in October 2013 after the government shutdown. That month, Republican approval dropped to 30 percent in two polls.

The precipitous drop in GOP approval does not necessarily portend a disaster at the polls in 2018. In many cases, voters view their own congressman more positively than the party or Congress as a whole. In November 2014, less than a year after the last low point in polling, Republicans benefitted from the problems with the rollout of Obamacare to win majorities in both houses of Congress.

By a margin of 44 – 38 percent, respondents said that their representative deserves re-election. At the same time, they favored the Democrat candidate over the Republican by 50- 41 percent.

As the parties move into the midterm elections, the bottom line is that 59 percent of voters are angry at both parties. Seventy-one percent say that the government in Washington does not represent their views. Across the board, a plurality voters say that the parties need to cooperate with President Trump.

With voters angry at both parties as well as the president, the results of the midterms is not a foregone conclusion. With the president and the Democrats more popular than congressional Republicans, it seems likely that the big loser next year will be traditional conservative Republicans.

Poll: GOP Is Now The Party of Trump


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President Trump is drawing criticism from all sides these days. His erratic behavior, frequent tweeting and personal attacks against Attorney General Jeff Sessions have drawn criticism from even staunch Trump supporters. A new poll shows that one group is still standing by the president: Republican voters.

The new poll by Rasmussen found that Republicans support Trump over Republican members of Congress by a margin of almost three to one. When asked whether their views more closely relate to the president or congressional Republicans, 33 percent aligned with President Trump compared to 12 percent who support the congressional Republican caucus.

The finding comes amid polling that shows that most Americans disapprove of President Trump by double-digit margins. An analysis of past presidential polling by FiveThirtyEight found that Trump is more unpopular than almost any president since the dawn of modern polling in 1945. The sole competitor is Gerald Ford, whose popularity plummeted after he pardoned Richard Nixon, who resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

Overall, likely voters remain sharply divided. The poll found that a total of 45 percent of respondents identified with Republicans, either in Congress or the White House, while 44 percent identified with Democrats. This is well within the three percent margin of error for the poll. Twelve percent were undecided on which party they favored.

The findings support past polls that indicated that, in spite of his missteps and lack of accomplishment, President Trump’s base is holding firm. Even though he is hemorrhaging support among moderates and independents, he remains popular among members of the Republican Party, more popular, in fact, than longtime members of the GOP.

The polling presents the disturbing picture of a party divided against itself. The evenly divided electorate means that Republicans must unite to fend off Democrat challenges in 2018, but as the president becomes even more polarizing, party unity is likely to become even more elusive. Rumors that Trump may back primary challenges to Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) may further deepen the schism.

It remains to be seen whether Trump’s behavior can go far enough to alienate the Republican base. For now at least, the Grand Old Party is effectively the Party of Trump.

Many Millennials Refuse To Connect Radical Islam To Terrorism

A shock poll that is, quite frankly, not so shocking.

An online Daily Wire/Whatsgoodly survey asked students across the country, “Do you believe radical Islam has connections with terrorism?” The survey was conducted from June 6 to June 12 and included 1,489 students across the political spectrum. The results: 66 percent said “yes,” 15 percent said “no,” and 17 percent stated they were “unsure.”

Before we move forward, let’s make one point very clear. This poll did not ask students if they associated Islam with terrorism. It specifically asks if they associate radical Islam with terrorism. One-third of the students who responded (the survey has a margin of error at +/-3 percent) wouldn’t make a connection between the two.

Has liberal academia really taken us this far?

The breakdown of respondents and how they answered makes a little more sense.

Respondents who identified as “pro-Clinton” refused to associate radical Islam with terror by a tune of almost 40 percent (19 percent said no and 19 percent were unsure). On the other hand, almost 90 percent of “pro-Trump” college students connected the two – with “pro-Gary Johnson” students not far behind at 83 percent. Also, men were more likely to associate radical Islam with terrorism than their female counterparts.

The answers are certainly troubling, and come at a time when extreme liberal activism on college campuses has strangled universities across the country.

The University of Missouri has been forced to close numerous residence halls after the 2015 race protests there scared off prospective applicants – enrollment to the university has plummeted by the thousands. UC Berkeley literally becomes a war zone every time a right-wing speaker attempts to visit their campus. When Evergreen State College professor Brett Weinstein had the audacity to question the propriety of having a “no white people on campus day,” he was was forced to leave for fear of his safety by liberal student activists – kids carrying baseball bats have been spotted on campus “policing” the area.

Liberal activism on college campuses has gone from bad to worse, to absolutely insane. The poll conducted by Daily Wire/Whatsgoodly only confirms what we already know.

YIKES: Polling Shows More Americans Want Democrats In Control Of The House Of Representatives

Quinnipiac has released a poll showing respondents’ opinions of Congress and the President, and it’s not pretty. For starters, let’s look at what voters have said about the House of Representatives:

By a 54 – 38 percent margin, American voters want the Democratic Party to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the widest margin ever measured for this question in a Quinnipiac University poll, exceeding a 5 percentage point margin for Republicans in 2013.

If Democrats had won control of the U.S. Senate in the 2016 elections, the country would be in a better place than it is now, 41 percent of voters say, while 27 percent say it would be in a worse place and 30 percent say it would be the same.

Yikes! It stings, doesn’t it? But that’s not all. President Trump is losing the good graces of the electorate according to respondents to the poll:

American voters, who gave President Donald Trump a slight approval bump after the missile strike in Syria, today give him a near-record negative 36 – 58 percent job approval rating, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Critical are big losses among white voters with no college degree, white men and independent voters.

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“There is no way to spin or sugarcoat these sagging numbers,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

We know that polling can’t always be trusted or taken at face value – and, yes, the party out of power tends to do better in off-year elections – but this one indicates that the writing is on the wall for the GOP. Both Trump and Congressional Republicans need to get it together to avoid squandering the historic gains in the 2016 election.

It’s not enough to coast on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch and some foreign policy successes. The GOP must lead, be proactive, and somehow get in front of the public relations battle to reverse this trend. It would be a shame to lose 2018 after the triumphs of 2016.

Tax reform is a good way to start. Just saying.