Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Base Coating

According to a poll published by Reuters, Trump is losing support from his rural base.

Outside the Morgan County fair in McConnelsville, in a rural swath of Ohio that fervently backed U.S. President Donald Trump in last year’s election, ticket seller John Wilson quietly counts off a handful of disappointments with the man he helped elect.

The 70-year-old retired banker said he is unhappy with infighting and turnover in the White House. He does not like Trump’s penchant for traveling to his personal golf resorts. He wishes the president would do more to fix the healthcare system, and he worries that Trump might back down from his promise to force illegal immigrants out of the country.

“Every president makes mistakes,” Wilson said. “But if you add one on top of one, on top of another one, on top of another, there’s just a limit.”

Trump, who inspired millions of supporters last year in places like Morgan County, has been losing his grip on rural America.

According to the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll, the Republican president’s popularity is eroding in small towns and rural communities where 15 percent of the country’s population lives. The poll of more than 15,000 adults in “non-metro” areas shows that they are now as likely to disapprove of Trump as they are to approve of him.

I hate to throw cold water on your hopes that this slippage means the tide is finally turning and that rural America is waking up to the fact that they got conned by this cheap vulgarian.  Given the choice between him and a Democrat, they’d vote for him again.  After all, he promised that he’d get rid of the illegals and make America great again, and when you’re given the choice between abstract possibilities and admitting out loud that you got taken, the abstracts will win every time.

Say what you will about Trump, he knows how to keep his base.  Find a kneeling black football player, pick on a Puerto Rican mayor, start a Twitter war with a moderate Republican; it’s all about the distraction and the visceral.  The base will back him every time.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

That Shrinking Feeling

Trump’s approval rating in three key Midwestern states — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — is below 40%.

In addition, Democrats enjoy double-digit leads in Michigan and Pennsylvania on the question of which party voters prefer to control Congress after the 2018 midterms, and they hold an 8-point advantage in Wisconsin.

[…]

In all three states, more than six in 10 voters say Trump’s conduct as president has embarrassed them, compared to just a quarter who have said it’s made them proud.

These three NBC/Marist polls were conducted August 13-17 — after the Aug. 12 unrest and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the midst of Trump’s multiple responses to the events.

In Michigan, 36 percent of voters approve of Trump’s job performance (including 19 percent who strongly approve), while 55 percent disapprove (including 40 percent who strongly do).

In Pennsylvania, 35 percent give the president’s job a thumbs up (17 percent strongly), versus 54 percent who disapprove (41 percent strongly).

And in Wisconsin, 34 percent of voters approve of Trump (17 percent strongly), compared with 56 percent who disapprove (42 percent strongly).

In 2016’s general election, Trump won all three states by a combined 80,000 votes, becoming the first Republican to carry these states since the 1980s.

Asked if Trump’s conduct as president made them proud or embarrassed them, 64 percent of voters in Michigan and Wisconsin say they’ve been embarrassed, while 63 percent say that in Pennsylvania.

Polls change quickly, and we are fifteen months away from the 2018 mid-terms, but when you start layering in sentiments like “embarrassment,” that has a tendency to stick around longer than the instant reaction to news items that can spike or crater a weekly poll.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Other Priorities

I am sure that the Republicans and Trump will try again and again to kill off Obamacare, but the voters are done messing with it, according to Reuters.

A majority of Americans are ready to move on from healthcare reform at this point after the U.S. Senate’s effort to dismantle Obamacare failed on Friday, according to an exclusive Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Saturday.

Nearly two-thirds of the country wants to either keep or modify the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, and a majority of Americans want Congress to turn its attention to other priorities, the survey found.

[…]

The July 28-29 poll of more than 1,130 Americans, conducted after the Republican-led effort collapsed in the Senate, found that 64 percent said they wanted to keep Obamacare, either “entirely as is” or after fixing “problem areas.” That is up from 54 percent in January.

The survey found that support for the law still runs along party lines, with nine out of 10 Democrats and just three out of 10 Republicans saying they wanted to keep or modify Obamacare.

The only problem with Congress turning its attention to other priorities is that they will probably make as much of a mess of them as they did of healthcare.  The budget will be worse, the infrastructure will continue to crumble, and the only thing that they might pull off is tax “reform,” which to the majority party means nobody pays for anything.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Keep It Up

Apparently the word is getting out that Trumpcare sucks.

Just 12% of Americans support the Senate Republican health care plan, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, amid a roiling debate over whether the GOP will deliver on its signature promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

In the survey, taken Saturday through Tuesday, a 53% majority say Congress should either leave the law known as Obamacare alone or work to fix its problems while keeping its framework intact.

The Senate is getting the word from constituents and will hear a lot more this holiday weekend when they go to the 4th of July picnics and parades and are greeted by people like you who will make their feelings known.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Georgia 6

There’s a lot riding on today’s special election for Congress in the Georgia 6th district, not the least of which are cable TV ratings.  If the Democrats win with Jon Ossoff in this upscale Atlanta suburb, it could be a predictor for how the 2018 midterms are headed, but if they lose to Republican Karen Handel, it could be that she had the advantage of carrying a district that has been Republican for almost forty years and used to be the home of Newt Gingrich.  Spin it as you will.

Or, as Nate Silver puts it, expect some dumbness from the punditry.

Here’s the thing, though: Sometimes dumb things matter if everyone agrees that they matter. Congressional Republicans could use a signal of any kind right now to coordinate their strategy around two vexing issues: first, their health care bill, and second, their behavior toward President Trump and the investigations surrounding him. Whatever direction Republicans take on these questions, they will find some degree of strength in numbers. Republicans would probably be less afraid of publicly rebuking Trump, for instance — and becoming the subject of a @realDonaldTrump tweetstorm or Trump-backed primary challenge — if other GOPers were doing the same.

The Georgia 6 outcome might trigger some herd behavior among Republicans, therefore, changing the political environment in the weeks and months ahead. A loss for Handel would probably be interpreted by the GOP as a sign that the status quo wasn’t working. If even a few members of Congress began taking the exit ramp on Trump and the American Health Care Act, a number of others might follow. A win, conversely, would have a morale-boosting effect; Republicans would probably tell themselves that they could preserve their congressional majorities by turning out their base, even if some swing voters had abandoned them.

Right now Ossoff has a very narrow lead in the polls, but if last November is any guide, polls don’t mean a whole lot.  What does matter is seeing how the parties are shifting their bases; people who voted for Obama shifting to Trump; people who voted for Romney shifting to Clinton; blocs who were once considered reliable for both parties no longer hold that allegiance; and overall, a frustration or anger that they’re not getting either what they want or what was promised to them, thereby adding an age-old corollary on Tip O’Neill’s adage about all politics being local: “What’s in it for me?”  That means that the echos of November and the current situation for Trump don’t mean a whole lot. Even the debate over Obamacare takes second place to who’s going to bring home more bacon.

Ever the pessimist about things like this, I am bracing for a narrow loss for the Democrats and hours of dumb pundit analysis.  (The same will hold true if he wins.)  Twenty-four hours from now we’ll know and see who’s really dumb.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Just Stupid

According to this poll, in spite of what we know now, the American electorate would still elect Trump.

There’s no honeymoon for Donald Trump in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll but also no regrets: He approaches his 100th day in office with the lowest approval rating at this point of any other president in polls since 1945 — yet 96 percent of those who supported him in November say they’d do so again today. . . .

Among those who report having voted for [Trump] in November, 96 percent today say it was the right thing to do; a mere 2 percent regret it. And if a rerun of the election were held today, the poll indicates even the possibility of a Trump victory in the popular vote among 2016 voters.

Seriously?

Among surveyed Americans who say they voted in the 2016 election, 46 percent say they voted for Hillary Clinton and 43 percent for Trump — very close to the 2-point margin in the popular vote. However, while Trump would retain almost all of his support if the election were held again today (96 percent), fewer of Clinton’s supporters say they’d stick with her (85 percent), producing a 40-43 percent Clinton-Trump result in a hypothetical redo among self-reported 2016 voters.

That’s not because former Clinton supporters would now back Trump; only 2 percent of them say they’d do so, similar to the 1 percent of Trump voters who say they’d switch to Clinton. Instead, they’re more apt to say they’d vote for a third-party candidate or wouldn’t vote.

There are various reasons for this sentiment, according to Chauncey DeVega in Salon:

Political scientists and other researchers have repeatedly documented that the American public does not have a sophisticated knowledge on political matters. The average American also does not use a coherent and consistent political ideology to make voting decisions. As Larry Bartels and Christopher Achen demonstrate in their new book “Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government,” Americans have identities and values that elites manipulate, which voters in turn use to process information — however incorrectly.

Or, to put it more succinctly, Americans are mostly ignorant when it comes to what’s going on outside their own little world that may consist of their surroundings and their own sense of entitlement, much less what’s going on in another part of the country or the world.  All they know is what someone tells them, taking it at face value, unaware or uncaring that they are being manipulated or just plain lied to.  The guy on TV said it, therefore it must be true.  (That also explains a great deal about organized religion, but that’s a topic for another post.)

This is but one more reminder that Donald Trump’s victory was not a sudden crisis or unexpected surprise. The neofascist movement that Trump represents was an iceberg of sorts — one that was a long time in the making. If this new poll is correct, many millions of Americans would make choices that would steer the ship of state into that same iceberg all over again. Such an outcome is ominous. The thought process that would rationalize such a decision is deranged.

As I noted earlier this week, not all the people who live in places were Trump won by a landslide are deranged; some of them are more enlightened, even frightened.  But we don’t have a lot of time to wait for the rest of them to come around.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

BTYFO*

Via Greg Sargent:

The 100-day mark of the Trump presidency is approaching, and his aides are worried that the media narrative will depict his historically awful lack of accomplishments with highly unflattering levels of accuracy. But don’t tell that to President Trump. He knows the real problem is that the news media won’t acknowledge how terrific the start to his presidency has actually been in comparison with his loser predecessors…

[…]

A new Gallup poll out this morning, however, strongly suggests that an increasing number of Americans just don’t believe Trump’s spin about his presidency anymore. It finds that only 45 percent of Americans think Trump keeps his promises, down from 62 percent in February, an astonishing slide of 17 points…

I think Trump actually does know that he’s off to the worst start since William Henry Harrison and that’s why he’s doing all that butch stuff like dropping a huge bomb in Afghanistan and pushing the “go it alone” sabre-rattling on North Korea.  The cable TV people love that sort of stuff; they get to pull out those cool graphics and talk all military with retired generals.  They get to rattle off acronyms like MOAB and BFO and pretend they know what life is like in the trenches.

Actually, it doesn’t really matter what the polls say or whether or not the Trump voter is finally getting clued in that they elected a fraud and a bullshit artist (*’Bout Time You Found Out), and frankly I don’t care that they’re now disappointed.  The damage has already been done and whether or not Trump lasts his full term is a moot point; even if the entire GOP has an Oedipus moment — roughly translated as “Holy shit, what have I done?” — fixing the damage to our country and ourselves is going to take more than just an election cycle.

For those of us over the age of fifty, we thought we had this taken care of when our long national nightmare was over after Watergate and we all hung out at The System Works Bar and Grille and congratulated ourselves on saving America in a bipartisan fashion.  It lasted one presidential election cycle and then we were back at it again with the Moral Majority demonizing minorities, Iran-Contra, and right-wing nutsery that made Richard Nixon’s campaign of character assassination look like Candyland.

The disappointed Republicans aren’t going to vote for a Democrat.  They’re going to look around for someone else to blame (mirrors being in short supply) and they’ll be happy to settle on another huckster who can soothe their wounds.

Don’t look now, but I think the odds on Ted Cruz primarying Trump in 2020 are better than even.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Out Of Reach

Even if Trump’s poll numbers suck wind with a lot of voters, there’s one group he’s doing just fine with: his Republican base.  As far as they’re concerned, he’s the next Ronald Reagan.

So even if he doesn’t repeal Obamacare, doesn’t build the wall, doesn’t bring back jobs to the coal mines, raises their taxes and gives more breaks to the rich while piling up the deficit, and poisons the air and water around them, they’ll still support him and cheer him on.

And why not?  These folks have been voting against their own self-interest for the last fifty years.  Why stop a good thing?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nowhere To Go But Up?

Gallup is out with a poll that puts Trump’s approval rating at 36%.

Trump’s three-day reading prior to Friday’s events was 41%. His previous low point was 37%, recorded March 16-18. His highest reading was 46% in the week following his Jan. 20 inauguration, and he has averaged 42% for his term to date.

Trump’s current 36% is two percentage points below Barack Obama’s low point of 38%, recorded in 2011 and 2014. Trump has also edged below Bill Clinton’s all-time low of 37%, recorded in the summer of 1993, his first year in office, as well as Gerald Ford’s 37% low point in January and March 1975. John F. Kennedy’s lowest approval rating was 56%; Dwight Eisenhower’s was 48%.

Gallup tries to put a shine on the news by saying that most presidents get better.

An encouraging sign for Trump, perhaps, is that all presidents whose ratings fell below 36% — with the exception of Nixon — saw their ratings improve thereafter. Clinton provides a particularly relevant example. His approval rating dropped to 37% in June 1993 but recovered to 56% by September of that year.

I think the difference between Trump and the other presidents — even Nixon — is that they were not perceived by the public, regardless of party, as being as openly and flagrantly loose with the truth and their perception of it than Trump.  Even at his worst, Richard Nixon didn’t pull off the whoppers that Trump comes up with every day.

It’s not just the lying and disengagement from reality that sets him apart.  It’s the perception that his policy goals are not the same as the country’s.  The majority of Americans want good health insurance that covers more people, not fewer.  The majority of Americans are in favor of an immigration policy that does not deport 11 million people and separate families.  The majority of Americans want to know if the last election was manipulated by a foreign power whose very name used to send people into fallout shelters.  And the majority of Americans voted for someone else.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Last Visit To The Oracles

The final numbers from the predictors are in.  Take your pick.  If you’re for Trump, make it chloroform.

First, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight:

Hillary Clinton has a 70 percent chance of winning the election, according to both the FiveThirtyEight polls-only and polls-plus models. That’s up from a 65 percent chance on Sunday night, so Clinton has had a good run in the polls in the final days of the campaign. Clinton’s projected margin of victory in the popular vote has increased to 3.5 percent from 2.9 percent.

fivethirtyeight-pollsonly-11-08-16Here’s Sam Wang’s call at the Princeton Election Consortium:

Here are my best estimates. The Presidential and House races are a near-replica of 2012. Four Senate races are within one percentage point. Partisans in Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, and North Carolina may want to lawyer up for possible recount battles.

[…]

President: Hillary Clinton (D).

Most probable single outcome (shown on map below): Clinton 323 EV, Trump 215 EV.

pec-map-11-08-16

The biggest change in the results is that both models plus the Upshot at the New York Times are calling for the Senate to be handed over to the Democrats by the slimmest of margins: 538 calling it 50-50, which means the Democrats control because Vice President Kaine breaks a tie, or 52-48 via PEC (Independents Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME) caucus with the Democrats).  That would fend off total gridlock, which is guaranteed if all the Democrats have is the White House (see Obama, Barack 2010-2016).

Now it’s your turn.

Monday, November 7, 2016

99.9% vs 66.9%

Today — the day before the election — the polling oracles of Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium and Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight are showing two very different predictions.  PEC says Hillary Clinton has a 99.9% chance of winning while 538 is saying it’s 66.9%.  Why?

pec-map-11-07-16

Princeton Election Consortium 11-07-16

Five Thirty Eight 11-07-16

Five Thirty Eight 11-07-16

At the moment 538 isn’t talking, but Sam offers an explanation.  Fair warning: it’s long, detailed, and gets into statistical interpretation that will test your wonk tolerance, but it’s worth the read to see why two different organizations without — at least on the surface — an agenda for one candidate over another can come to two very different results when they’re looking at the same data.

And for a happy medium, there’s the Upshot at the New York Times, which, with Hillary Clinton at 84%, lands exactly in the middle between PEC and 538.

Take your pick.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Not Too Tight, Please

If Nate Silver and his models are making you nervous about the possibility of waking up a week from today and seeing the smoldering ruins around you, there are other sites that can offer more insight and perspective, if not 100% reassurance that all is not lost.

Sam Wang and his group at the Princeton Election Consortium have been consistent with their predictions and still hold out Hillary Clinton as the winner with a 98% probability even as the race tightens.  This is from Monday:

Hillary Clinton’s advantage over Donald Trump has eroded somewhat since our last review of electoral forecasts on October 26th. Much of the change has been around forecasters moving states to toss-up that they had previously characterized as leaning toward Clinton.

Several forecasters followed this reclassification with Florida as it has tightened considerably in the polls. Trump has led in two of the last four polls there and only trailing by one in the other two. With its 29 electoral votes, the Sunshine State is pretty close to a must-win for the Republican nominee.

There are a lot of nuggets of numbers and graphs, and unlike FiveThirtyEight, they’re not interspersed with predictions about college football since PEC is not owned by ESPN (and Princeton hasn’t been a football powerhouse since my dad was there in the late 1940’s).  That’s not to disparage FiveThirtyEight, but just as they’re an aggregate of polls and weighted a certain way, so the the PEC.  And this morning I like this map better:

pec-map-11-02-16There is also the Upshot at the New York Times.

The Upshot’s elections model suggests that Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidency, based on the latest state and national polls. A victory by Mr. Trump remains possible: Mrs. Clinton’s chance of losing is about the same as the probability that an N.F.L. kicker misses a 35-yard field goal.

(What is it with pollsters and football?)  The only problem with the Upshot is that it’s behind a paywall.

I have always thought this would be a tight race down to the finish.  I would rather it was not, but let’s not kid ourselves; the right-wing noise machine was not going to let up even if it meant supporting a misogynistic racist with delusions of tacky grandeur as their one and only.  But I don’t want it to be too tight.  Let’s get Hillary Clinton over the finish line with at least 300 electoral votes, okay?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Two Weeks Out

Is the race over?  Superstitious folk and pollsters with long memories (1936 and 1948) say never say it is, but it’s hard to imagine anything other than a giant meteor changing the trajectory of the race.

There are those who are going around saying yes it’s over; Hillary Clinton has a 93% chance of winning, according to the New York Times Upshot.  I prefer to go with the people at FiveThirtyEight who are a little less convinced (although still convincing) with an 86.3% chance.

fivethirtyeight-pollsonly-10-25-16The Oracle speaks:

As I wrote last week, Hillary Clinton is probably going to become the next president. But there’s an awful lot of room to debate what “probably” means.

FiveThirtyEight’s polls-only model puts Clinton’s chances at 85 percent, while our polls-plus model has her at 83 percent. Those odds have been pretty steady over the past week or two, although if you squint you can see the race tightening just the slightest bit, with Clinton’s popular vote lead at 6.2 percentage points as compared to 7.1 points a week earlier. Still, she wouldn’t seem to have a lot to complain about.

Other statistical models are yet more confident in Clinton, however, variously putting her chances at 92 percent to 99 percent. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big difference, since people (wrongly) tend to perceive odds above 80 percent as sure things. But flip those numbers around, and instead of Clinton’s chances, consider Donald Trump’s. The New York Times’s Upshot model gives Trump an 8 percent chance of winning the election. Our models say a Trump presidency is about twice a likely as The Upshot does, putting his chances at 15 percent (polls-only) and 17 percent (polls-plus). And our models think Trump is about four times as likely to win the presidency as the Huffington Post Pollster model, which puts his chances at 4 percent.

So let me explain why our forecast is a bit more conservative than some of the others you might be seeing — and why you shouldn’t give up if you’re a Trump supporter, or assume you have it in the bag if you’re voting for Clinton. We’ve touched on each of these points before, but it’s nice to have them in one place. I’ll also show you what probability our model would give to Trump and Clinton if we changed some of these assumptions.

TLDR: 1) A lot of voters are still undecided; 2) The model is calibrated on general elections since 1972; 3) The models are allowing for more unlikely events (giant meteor, perhaps?); 4) State outcomes are correlated with one another.

As we say frequently, the greater uncertainty in the FiveThirtyEight forecast cuts both ways. So while we show a greater likelihood of a Trump win than most other models, we’d also assign a greater possibility to a Clinton landslide, in which she wins the election by double digits. But while the campaign is almost over, the suspense isn’t quite done.

In other words, if you can’t bear the suspense, you still have the World Series (which Nate pegs the Cubs as favored to win) or the new TV season to distract you.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Short Takes

President Obama says Donald Trump is “unfit for duty.”

Hillary Clinton gains in national polling.

Miami Zika virus patient count up to fifteen.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton set to retire.

Tropical Update:  TS Earl forms in the Caribbean and heads west.

The Tigers extended their winning streak to seven by beating the White Sox 11-5.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dead Cat Bounce

Most presidential candidates get a positive bounce in polling from their party convention.  For the first time in polling about conventions, Gallup found that Donald Trump’s net support dropped by a whopping 15%.

Trump Convention Bounce 08-02-16

For a few days it looked like Mr. Trump was ahead in the polls; at one point several trackers had him ahead.  It looks like that might have been the proverbial dead cat bounce.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Oracle Speaks

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight is out with his first general election forecast: Donald Trump has a 20% chance of winning the presidency.

Giving Trump a 20 percent or 25 percent chance of becoming president means that Clinton has a 75 percent to 80 percent chance. That might seem generous given that, under ordinary circumstances, the background conditions of this election (no incumbent running and a mediocre economy) would seem to suggest a tossup. Are Clinton’s high odds justified on the basis of the polls? Or do they require making heroic assumptions about Trump, the same ones that got everyone, emphatically including yours truly, in trouble during the primaries?

The short answer is that 20 percent or 25 percent is a pretty reasonable estimate of Trump’s chances based on the polls and other empirical evidence. In fact, that’s quite close to where FiveThirtyEight’s statistical models, which are launching today, have the race. Our polls-only model has Trump with a 19 percent chance of beating Clinton as of early Wednesday afternoon. (The forecasts will continually update as new polls are added.) Our polls-plus model, which considers economic conditions along with the polls, is more optimistic about Trump, giving him a 26 percent chance.

Still, Trump faces longer odds and a bigger polling deficit than John McCain and Mitt Romney did at the same point in their respective races. He needs to look back to 1988 for comfort, when George H.W. Bush overcame a similar deficit against Michael Dukakis to win. Our models are built from data since 1972, so the probabilities we list account for elections such as 1980, 1988 and 1992, when the polls swung fairly wildly, along with others, such as 2004 and 2012, where the polls were quite stable.

Let’s do the numbers.

I know I say it every time I post a poll, but here it is again: take nothing for granted.  I have seen too many polls in June that sealed the deal, and we all remember going to the McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis inaugural balls, right?