Tag Archives: campaign 2016

Who won the election? Were the polls accurate? What lessons learned?

Summary: The results of the election are in! The Republic lost, with a new President who got second place in the public vote. Then came a barrage of lies about the simple facts of the election, propaganda which our institutions seem unable to fight. Can we reform the Electoral College before 2020? That will show if the Republic remains vital or has become decrepit. The clock is running.

Election 2016

Contents

  1. Who won?
  2. How accurate were the polls?
  3. Our necessary response.
  4. For More Information.

(1)  Who won?

The right-wing lie machine is gearing up to deceive Americans about the 2016 vote. The lies start at the top. We must draw a line in the sand beyond which we become a reality-based community. Let’s start now.

Trump won the Electoral College (EC) 57% to 43%, with (tentatively) 306 votes to Clinton’s 232. See this sortable table of historical EC results. Trump’s EC margin is the 46th largest among the 58 presidential elections. The lies about this continue, despite being obviously false. On Nov 27 Trump tweeted “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide…” An unsigned statement from Trump’s transition team on Dec 9 said “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history.” On Nov 28 by Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said…

What about the popular vote? Most of the ballots have been counted. The current totals show Clinton with over 2.8 million more votes than Trump, winning by 2.1%. See this sortable table of election results. Trump has the third largest losing margin among the five presidents that lost the popular vote. But on Nov 27 Trump tweeted “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”  Like sheep, conservatives quickly adopted that as scripture, despite the near-total lack of evidence for Trump’s claim.

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Clinton’s ads show her weak strategy: purely tribal, no content

Summary: Why did Hillary flop in the Electoral College? Liberals search frantically for explanations. A previous post discussed the failure of Clinton’s fear campaign and the public’s dislike of her social justice warriors. Here we look at another cause: her advertising.

Ready for Hillary

Liberals continue to ask themselves who is responsible for Clinton’s defeat. Most reply “not her, not us”. Many of us have flagged her Anything But Issues Campaign. But some disagree.

“Clinton offered, inter alia, such longtime Goldman Sachs priorities as a family leave plan, an increased minimum wage and better overtime rules, the Employee Free Choice Act, child care funding, Social Security increases, a public option for health care, and support for repealing the Hyde Amendment. {Her speeches} were mostly arguments in favor of these policies. Should the Clinton campaign have tried to be more creative about finding ways of getting word of this attractive platform out …? Yes.”

— Scott Lemieux (prof of pol sci, College of Saint Rose) at Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Professor Lemieux is correct — people who listen to politicians’ speeches and read their white papers know the platforms. For the other 99% of America — there are advertisements, a key to success in modern campaigns. Clinton’s were both boring and devoid of specifics about what she might do as President. It’s all tribal affinity and malarkey. Trump’s tweet’s read like the Federalist Papers by comparison (in terms of promised action, without the Paper‘s reason and soul). She burnt on these ads a big part of the $690 million donors gave her.

“Tomorrow” – The final Clinton ad…

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Clinton lost because fear failed, and voters disliked her Social Justice Warriors

Summary: Political gurus gush forth with explanations for Trump’s victory in the Electoral College (although more Americans voted for Clinton). They discuss arcane strategy, the effect of the media, personalities, and scores of other things (mostly trivial). But there are two elephants in the room. First, Clinton relied on the politics of fear, which surprisingly failed. Second, Social Justice Warriors (her shock troops) terrified voters — who realized the power SJW’s would wield as commissars in an HRC administration. Together these two factors account for her support dropping by the tiny margin that led to defeat in the Electoral College.

Hillary Clinton

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

No Fear

(1)  Clinton’s politics of fear failed

“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.”
By Aristotle, from Joannes Stobaeus’ Florilegium.

The Democrats ran the anything but issues campaign on the fear Trump platform. Fear climate change, fear sexism, fear racism, fear nativism, fear Russia, fear fascism, fear NAZIs, etc.  These created a weak foundation for Clinton’s campaign, especially as she spent so little effort describing an alternative great future for America.

The Putin connection was only weakly supported and extremely speculative. The non-Left majority of Americans was skeptical about the odds of severe danger from climate change. The -ism’s became ineffective after decades of the Left using them as generic attacks on all their foes. Saying Trump was Hitler just triggered Godwin’s Law, probably ending many people’s interest in her message.

For all his clownish behavior and many flaws, Trump offered an action-based plan and a vision for a better America that appealed to many voters. It was a classic case of something beating nothing.

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Breaking the myths about Campaign 2016, so we can prepare for 2020

Summary: By nightfall after Trump’s election we had rationalized away this astonishing event with myths, ensuring that we learn nothing from Campaign 2016, Let’s strip away these pleasing stories and confront the truth — no matter how painful. Then we can start to prepare for a better choice in 2020.

President Donald Trump

Contents

  1. Myth: Trump won the election!
  2. Myth: The polls were very wrong!
  3. Myth: The election repudiated US elites!
  4. Myth: 2016 was a victory for populism!
  5. The big lesson from Campaign 2016.
  6. For More Information.

(1)  Myth: Trump won the election!

The final counts are not in, but Clinton currently leads by over 200,000 votes (roughly 0.2%). Estimates for her actual total are well over a million votes. The Electoral College put Trump in the White House, as it did with Bush Jr. in 2000 (Gore won by 440 thousand votes, 0.5%.

Like our bizarrely allocation of votes in the Senate (our version of Britain’s “rotten boroughs“), the Electoral College is a historical artifact of our governing system that has outlived its utility — but we are too lazy to fix. For more about it see this article by Scott Lemieux (Prof of Political Science, College of St. Rose) in The New Republic.

(2)  Myth: the polls were very wrong!

People saying the polls did not predict correctly predict the outcome often point to the surveys in the months before the vote, forgetting what polls do. First, polls measure the public’s current intentions — they don’t predict future votes. The correct comparison is between pre-election surveys and the actual vote. The last average of 4-way polls tracked by RealClearPolitics gave Clinton a 3.3% lead — vs. her current lead of 0.2%. The remaining uncounted votes will narrow this gap, perhaps giving her much larger win. (California has 4.4 million of them; if she gets 62%, that’s 2.7 million more votes.)

Second, polls are statistical tools — not Dr. Strange’s magic spells. They should be presented with error bars showing the uncertainty of the survey. News stories about election polls and forecasts don’t have them, nor do stories about economic surveys, nor do stories about climate data and forecasts. The press want simple stories. Experts who insist about discussing uncertainty get no more calls from journalists. We’re ignorant because we read the news.

Consider the uncertainties in estimating the vote from polls. Only a small fraction of people answer polls, only some of those will answer honestly, and only some of those who answer will vote. Then there are systemic challenges in any polling methodology, such as extrapolating from the sample who they call and who answers to the actual population of people who vote.

The average of pre-election polls missed the actual result by 3.1% (estimated 3.3% vs. actual +0.2%). I have not found the margin of error for the major polls, let alone the average of polls, but I’ll bet that is within the 95% margins.

Third, our whining about the polls is so modern American. We get the poll accuracy we pay for. Journalists could pool their money and have a few large accurate surveys. But polls are fillers between the advertisements, so each corporate media wants its own. So we get dozens of polls, none very accurate. For more about the margin of error in polls see this note by Pew Research.

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Resources to help you prepare for the Trump years

Summary: Trump’s victory surprised the experts. But the potential for radical change, the alienation that caused it, and the resulting rise of populism have all been discussed at the FM website. Here are resources to help you prepare for what lies ahead for America during the next four years. Understanding is the first step. See tomorrow’s post a closer look at what we can expect during the Trump years.

“In preliminary exit polls …voters are expressing more fear than excitement over both a Trump and a Clinton win.”
— “The Country Is Terrified” by Ella Koeze at 538. Fear is the real winner in 2016.

Trump: make Americ great again

Predictions: I relied on the experts’ models and they were wrong, hence these go on the Fails & Smackdows page: Forecast: Clinton will crush Trump in November and The five reasons Trump will lose in November. Maximilian Forte (Prof Anthropology, Concordia U) was correct: An anthropologist explains why Trump will win in November. Here I listed some reasons that Trump might win.

The hidden factor that might have decided the electionMax Weber explains Trump 2016: we want a charismatic leader to restore America and Hillary’s weakness: traditional & charismatic leaders attack her bureaucratic authority.

Significance: This is a massive repudiation of the US ruling class, which was unified behind Hillary to an extent rarely seen in US history, as I described in here and here. Several posts described these dynamics of the election: Trump, not Sanders, is the revolutionary and Why Trump thrives despite the news media’s attacks.

About Trump’s views, ignored or hidden by the press: Trump wins because he says some sensible things which journalists can’t conceal (You must not see populism!), Trump says interesting things about foreign policy that scare our elitesTaxes: one of the bright lines distinguishing Trump from ClintonWhat Trump means by putting “America First”, and Prof Danner looks at “The Magic of Donald Trump”.

“And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, so the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.”
— Khalil Gibran in The Prophet (1923).

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An anthropologist screens six documentaries about Hillary Clinton

Summary: You have read criticism of both Trump and Clinton here, showing aspects of both that the media have undercovered in their excitement with soundbites and other trivia. For the last round I turn the page over to Maximilian Forte, who has assembled a video festival about Hillary Clinton. Don’t have any illusions about what is coming. Whoever you vote for and whoever wins, America loses on November 8. Let’s start on November 9 to give America better choices in 2020. It will not be easy.

Hillary Clinton: foundation and money pile

6 Documentaries for the 2016 US Presidential Election

By Maximilian C. Forte from Zero Anthropology, 6 November 2016.
Reposted with his generous permission. The best is at the end.

This is an idiosyncratic selection of what I consider to be some of the most important reports and documentaries released during the 2016 US presidential election campaign, with direct reference to some of the maximum stakes and vested interests behind the maintenance of the current “global (dis)order”. Collectively they address the groundwork of the globalist regime: the construction of the status quo of encrusted elitism of corporate and financial interests, their lobbies, and how the ruling oligarchies have rigged the political and economic system to their benefit.

While the ruling elites and their dispensable, desperate followers among the middle class, shriek at the “coming disorder” portended by nationalist movements in Europe and the USA, I instead tend to side with Benedict Anderson who in 1992 wrote in an article in the New Left Review, titled “The New World Disorder”.

“Behind the language of ‘fragmentation’ lies a Panglossian conservatism that likes to imagine that every status quo is nicely normal”.

The current neoliberal state of affairs is far from “orderly,” if stability is what people want to defend instead of justice. In that spirit, the final video in the list below (the seventh) is neither a report nor a documentary, but an extended campaign advertisement that speaks to the issues shown in the videos above it -– it is the “closing argument”.

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Are we screwed no matter who wins, Trump or Clinton?

Summary: A question from a reader prompts this summary of our situation, fodder for thought before we vote on November 8. Perhaps it will spark action some readers on November 9, so that we have better choices in 2020.

Trump or Clinton?

A question from a long-time reader of the FM website.

“Both candidates are deeply flawed and evoke emotionalism and division between parties, within each party, and among the American people. Can either candidate serve effectively as President? What would a Trump White House look like (perhaps like “Mad Max: Fury Road“?) What about a Clinton White House. Both candidates seem likely to dive into Alice’s rabbit hole, a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. It seems that either way we are screwed, blued, and tattooed!”

A great question, to which we can only guess at the answer. Here is my speculation.

Consequences of our poor judgement on November 8

As usual, our situation was generally foreseen by the Founders. After all, Britain had been governed by incompetent — sometimes mad — Kings (they had better luck with Queens). So they radically decentralized power in the Republic. The President is in many ways best classified as a weak executive (the bogus “bully pulpit” is an example of the Green Lantern theory of governing). For details see articles by Ezra Klein and Jonathan Bernstein. Only in the right circumstances with the right person does the White House become powerful.

There are profound differences between the two candidates, so it is a real if unpleasant choice. “Bad” and “worse” is a choice that must be made. More broadly, America has survived corrupt and incompetent presidents. We can do so again. There will be damage, of course. There is always a price to be paid by our folly.

About political polarization

The political polarization is among us, not our rulers. Our leaders encourage our fragmentation and polarization (details here). This keeps us divided and weak, foolish and bickering. Our rulers have a strong bipartisan consensus on most key policy measures (e.g., the strong bipartisan support for our mad wars). Obama’s administration made this unmistakably clear. Only our amnesia and blindness prevent recognition of this. Some examples…

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