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Posts Tagged ‘elections’

In more ways than one, I have returned.

After three years in Thailand, I am back living in the United States.

After a year and a half away from this blog, I am back writing. I’m not sure how long I’ll be back on these pages, but I am here now to put these thoughts down.

The 2016 presidential election is over and Republican Donald J. Trump has, in a stunning upset, defeated Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the next President-elect.

The words “stunning upset” is used because most political polls showed Clinton winning even up to Election Day itself. The polling aggregating website, Fivethirtyeight.com, had Clinton winning 302 votes in the Electoral College and Trump taking 235 votes. This website gave Trump a 28.6-percent chance of winning the election. Three other websites that I followed (Electiongraphs, Real Clear Politics, Princeton Election Consortium) also predicted a Clinton victory.

There will be many more pieces written by others that will discuss how Trump won. I, instead, would like to take this space and explain how Clinton lost.

I posit that Clinton lost (and Trump won) three states that had voted for the Democrat in the past six presidential elections. This troika of states held 46 votes in the Electoral College that were more than enough to tip the election towards the Republican in 2016.

Those states are Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

I posit that it is not that Trump won those states, but Clinton lost them. For my proof, I will use the metric of votes cast in the 2012 and 2016 elections.

In Michigan, in 2012, Mitt Romney garnered 2,115,256 votes (44.71%). In 2016, according to the data from the Associated Press Trump received 2,279,210 votes (47.59%), an increase of 163,954 (0r +7.75%). For the other party, in 2012, Barack Obama received 2,564,569 votes (54.21%). Four years later, Clinton received 2,267,373 (47.34%), a decrease of 297,196 (or -11.58%).

Had Clinton received the same number of votes in Michigan that Obama received in 2012, she would have won the state and its 16 votes in the Electoral College. In fact, Clinton’s tally of votes in Michigan was less than the number of votes given to the Democratic presidential nominee in the past three presidential elections (2012, 2008 (2,872,579), 2004 (2,479,183)).

In Michigan, Trump grew the Republican vote total while Clinton’s numbers shrank. It’s not that people who voted Democratic in past elections went for Trump as his vote tally only grew slightly; it’s that people who voted Democratic in past elections did not come out for Clinton as her vote count decreased.

In Pennsylvania, in 2012, Romney, garnered 2,680,434 votes (46.68%). In 2016, Trump received 2,912,941 votes (48.79%), an increase of 232,507 (or +8.67%). For the Democrat, in 2012, Obama received 2,990,274 votes (52.08%). Four years later, Clinton received 2,844,705 votes (47.65%), a decrease of 145,569 (or -4.86%).

Had Clinton received the same number of votes in Pennsylvania that Obama received in 2012, she would have won the state and its 20 votes in the Electoral College. In fact, Clinton’s tally of votes in Pennsylvania was less than the number of votes given to the Democratic presidential nominee in the past three presidential elections (2012, 2008 (3,276,363), 2004 (2,938,095)).

In Pennsylvania, Trump grew the Republican vote total while Clinton’s numbers shrank. It’s not that people who voted Democratic in past elections went for Trump as his vote tally only grew slightly; it’s that people who voted Democratic in past elections did not come out for Clinton as her vote count decreased.

In Wisconsin, in 2012, Romney garnered 1,407,966 votes (46.04%). In 2016, Trump received 1,409,467 votes (47.87%), a increase of 1,501 votes (or +0.1%). For the Democrat, in 2012, Obama received 1,620,985 votes (53.01%). Four years later, Clinton received 1,382,210 votes (46.94%), a decrease of 238,775 votes (or -14.73%).

Had Clinton received the same number of votes in Wisconsin that Obama received in 2012, she would have won the state and its 10 votes in the Electoral College. In fact, Clinton’s tally of votes in Wisconsin was less than the number of votes given to the Democratic presidential nominee in the past three presidential elections (2012, 2008 (1,677,211), 2004 (1,489,504)).

In Wisconsin, Trump grew the Republican vote total (albeit slightly) while Clinton’s numbers shrank. It’s not that people who voted Democratic in past elections went for Trump as his vote tally barelt ticked up; it’s that people who voted Democratic in past elections did not come out for Clinton as her vote count decreased dramatically.

That’s my contention. In these three states that were the cinder blocks of the “Blue Wall”, there was an “enthusiasm gap” where voters who had selected the Democrat in 2012 did not do the same in 2016. It’s not that they voted for Republican. They either sat it out or voted for a third-party candidate. It’s not that “Reagan Democrats” or “angry white men” came out in unexpected droves in those states to tip the balance for Trump. It’s that the members of the “Obama Coalition” did not come out in droves to support Clinton.

Had this “enthusiasm gap” been turned around even slightly and those 46 votes in the Electoral College held by MI, PA, and WI swing away from Trump and towards Clinton. Those votes would have been enough to make her the President-elect.

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Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post about a press release I found concerning the Presidential Commission on Electoral Administration (PCEA).

The PCEA was a commission asked for by the President to come up with recommendations on how to better run elections.

Yes, I realize I am late to the party but allow me to post on the final report put out by the PCEA which came out in January of this year.

In its report (PDF version here), the PCEA has six key recommendations. In order, they are…

Online registration: The PCEA says the trend towards online voter registration should continue and that states should allow eligible voters to vote and update their registration via the Internet.

Interstate exchange of voter lists: The PCEA recommends that states check their voter registration lists against each other to ensure accuracy.

Expand Election Day: To reduce congestion on Election Day, the PCEA suggests that states expand alternative modes of voting (e.g., vote-by-mail, in-person early voting)

Use Schools as Polling Places: The PCEA recommends that states encourage the use of schools as polling places as those locations can provide the best facilities to conduct elections.

Adopt Resource Allocations Tools: The PCEA links to their own website and to a resource allocation calculator which election officials can use to determine how voting machines and staff that might be needed.

Upcoming Crisis: The PCEA says that within the next decade, many voting machines will have reached their end-of-life and will need to be replaced. The PCEA recommends that the standards and certification process for new voting technology be reformed.

With those six recommendations in mind, my follow-up question is this: Will my home state of Virginia adopt any of these recommendations or is this PCEA report yet another federally created doorstop?

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Tripping through the Web is one of my fun activities. Poking through the nooks and crannies of the Internet turns up some interesting items, especially when I turn my electronic spotlight on the halls of American government.

Case in point today is the White House.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue puts out press releases and other announcements on a daily basis. On March 28, the Office of the Press Secretary put out this communication which creates the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

“Yeah,” he writes with sarcasm, “another commission created by the White House.”

Part of the release states that the mission of the Commission – whose acronym is PCEA – is to…

…identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections in order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots without undue delay…

Further down in the announcement, it states that PCEA can consider…

…the number, location, management, operation, and design of polling places;
…the training, recruitment, and number of poll workers;
…the efficient management of voter rolls and poll books;
…voting machine capacity and technology;

Now, please correct me if I am wrong (feel free to leave your pleasant feedback in the Comments section), but aren’t all elections the responsibility of the states or local authorities? Heck, even a Presidential election is actually fifty-one separate elections run by the fifty states and the District of Columbia.

So, doesn’t it seem like an intrusion of the federal government into the state’s sphere by coming up with recommendations about elections? A story from POLITICO ends with that same thought as Jennifer Epstein writes, “Most election laws are determined by states and local jurisdictions, and even where the federal government does have oversight…”

The release from the White House says that the Commission will be advisory in nature so there is nothing mandatory about PCEA’s ideas. What that means is that the end result here is that (at most) nine people will get together, hold meetings, chat, debate, and create a document that would become a weighty doorstop if people still used doorstops.

However, there is one person who expressed his support for PCEA. Perhaps President Obama can name him to the commission.

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The original concept of this post was to be an update concerning an earlier post about the 2010 special Senate election in Massachusetts to fill the seat vacated by the death of Democrat Edward Kennedy. To recap, Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in that election.

That post highlighted the fact that 655,781 fewer Bay State citizens cast their ballot in that 2010 election when compared to the number of citizens who voted in the 2008 Senate election (John Kerry (D) vs. Jeff Beatty (R)).

I wanted this post to see if the number of voters in Massachusetts increased or decreased in the 2012 Senate contest between incumbent Scott Brown (R) and challenger Elizabeth Warren (D). To recap, Warren won.

The total number of ballots cast for Brown and Warren was 3,090,053, which is a 38.7% increase from the 2010 total of 2,226,789. The 2012 total was also a 7.1% increase from the number of ballots cast during the last regular Senate election in the Bay State (2008 = 2,882,570).

I was heartened by these figures. Not necessarily by the results, but by the numbers. It always does my heart glad to see more people becoming involved in the political process and having their voice counted. My previous post on this subject ended with the thought that the reason that fewer people voted between 2008 and 2010 was because they were tired. I think the increase seen in the 2012 totals show that either I was wrong or that the people woke up.

While cruising through the numbers and tallies, I did see something that caught my eye. Warren earned 1,660,738 votes to win the election. In that same election, President Obama earned a “yes” mark from 1,901,276 citizens of the Bay State. That means that over 240,538 checked the box for the current resident of the White House, but declined to give the same courtesy to his fellow Democrat.

What intrigued me more was the following comparison which skewed the opposite way. On the other side of the political spectrum, 1,429,315 people voted for Scott Brown in 2012 (which, by the way, was a 22.3% increase over his 2010 tally…and he still lost). On that same ballot, only 1,178,245 cast their vote for president for the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. That means that 251,070 (there’s your number for the day) gave their seal of approval to Brown who did not do the same thing for Romney…and he was the former governor of that very state.

Not sure what it means. I’m not paid for analysis; I just like to dig for data.

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I’m as patient as the next person (actually, I’m not, but I needed a trite intro for this piece), but it’s been over a week since the election and I am still seeing signs for Frank Wolf, Jeff Barnett, William Redpath, Gerry Connolly, and Keith Fimian.

Enough already !

Eye Sore Galore

My radical proposal (and really, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for) is that candidates, winners and losers alike, should be forced to take down their signs once the polls close. The penalty for not following through is that for every sign that still mars the landscape 48 hours after the deadline, the offending candidate would lose 500 votes.

Who’s with me ?

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Imagine a world where news outlets only reported the news from California and New York. When asked, their stated reason for avoiding any news from Virginia is that less than five percent of the population lives there so it’s not considered newsworthy.

Imagine a world where news outlets only reported the news about Ford and Chevrolet and dismissed any news from Porsche because that company had less than fifteen percent of market share.

Of course such imaginings are preposterous as who can imagine a news outlet basing their coverage not on what is newsworthy, but instead on on some arbitary number.

However, this situation is exactly what occurs in the world of political coverage where candidates who are neither Democrats or Republicans appear to be routinely snubbed by news outlets because the alternative candidate does not reach some threshold of poll number as determined by the outlet.

I live in Virgina’s 10th Congressional District and while I know there is a candidate for the House of Representatives from the Libertarian Party, William Redpath, you would hardly know that from looking at our local paper’s coverage. The cover of the October 15 issue of The Indie has a picture of the candidate from the Democratic Party, Jeff Barnett, with the sub-heading:

This Week: The Challenger
Next Week: The Incumbent

next to a picture of the current Republican office holder, Frank Wolf.

There happens to be another challenger, Redpath, but I guess The Indie doesn’t think he’s newswothry enough for a cover photo. Inside, the paper devotes three pages to Barnett (pages 3, 4, and 6) and buries a profile on Redpath on page 12.

In the next issue of The Indie (October 22), the cover again slights Redpath with the sub-heading

This Week: The Incumbent
Last Week: The Challenger

Again highlighting the “fact” that Wolf only has a single challenger.

News outlets aren’t the only ones guilty of ignoring those who don’t have a D or R after their name. Redpath claims he was excluded from a debate being held October 12 by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.

So why do organizations shun reporting on third-party candidates? I have no idea because it would seem that having more choices would make for more interesting and entertaining stories (just look at Jimmy McMillian and the “Rent Is Too Damn High” Party in New York).

My best guess as to why those in the mainstream don’t want to give a voice to an alternate party is that if they do, the alternative might actually win (just look at what happened when Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura was given a spot on the debate stage…he became governor).

All I’m asking…give me more stories about alternative candidates and less stories about Lindsey Lohan.

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It’s primary voting day which means the calendar is moving its way to November and the mid-term elections.

The buzz this election cycle has been about throwing the bums out.

However, all this means is that a Democrat bum (er…incumbent) will be replaced by a Republican and a GOP bum (sorry again…incumbent) will be replaced by a Democrat. These are the same two parties that got us into the mess we’re in now. What good is trading one bum for another just because the “outsider” candidate has a (D) or an (R) after their name.

Do you really want to throw the bums out?

I’ll ask again…do you really want to throw the bums out?

The if you really want to throw the bums out come November, then look beyond the donkey and the elephant and give a third-party candidate a try.

As for me, I am seriously looking at Libertarian candidate for the House of Representatives (Virginia, District 10), Bill Redpath.

Why not – his party hasn’t run up a huge deficit, started two wars, brought the financial system to its knees, been impeached for obstruction of justice, or mangled the response to a hurricane. Why shouldn’t I give his party a try?

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