Forecasting U.S. politics: focus on the turn-out
February 9, 2020 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Rachel Bitecofer came into the world of political forecasting with a bold pitch, predicting that Democrats would pick up 42 House seats in 2018 (Christopher Newport University), some four months out from the election, compared to other predictions calling for less than 30 (The Crosstab). They took 41 (Wikipedia). With 16 Months to go, Negative Partisanship Predicts the 2020 Presidential Election (CNU.edu) (spoiler: Democrats are a near lock for the presidency, are likely to gain House seats and have a decent shot at retaking the Senate). If she’s right, it wouldn’t just blow up the conventional wisdom; it would mean that [...] whole industry of experts is generally wrong. An Unsettling New Theory: There Is No Swing Voter (Politico)

More from the Politico piece:
The classic view is that the pool of American voters is basically fixed: About 55 percent of eligible voters are likely to go to the polls, and the winner is determined by the 15 percent or so of “swing voters” who flit between the parties. So a general election campaign amounts to a long effort to pull those voters in to your side.

Bitecofer has a nickname for this view. She calls it, with disdain, the “Chuck Todd theory of American politics”: “The idea that there is this informed, engaged American population that is watching these political events and watching their elected leaders and assessing their behavior and making a judgment.”

“And it is just not true.”

[...]

In 2016, the pollsters had the race largely wrong, but the academic forecasters got it mostly right, even though many ended up doubting their formulas after they spat out a likely victory for Trump, since such an outcome seemed impossible.

But even the more academic forecasts, like the polling models, are based on longstanding assumptions about why and how candidates win elections. And sometimes an event occurs that blows up those assumptions.

In Bitecofer’s experience, that event wasn’t Trump; it was the Tea Party. She was still a graduate student in 2010 when a wave of conservative populism returned the Republicans to power in the House. According to any conventional theory of politics, that wave made no sense. Two years prior the GOP had run the economy into the ground; under a Democratic president and a fully Democratic Congress, the economy had stopped its slide and begun to recover. How could the Democrats lose 63 seats in a brutal shellacking two years after totally routing the Republicans?
posted by filthy light thief (181 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
 
The swing voter has been a myth for a long, long time. Bitecofer seems right about this in my eyes.
posted by joedan at 2:24 PM on February 9 [16 favorites]


Her current pinned thread: 2020 Bitecofer Model Electoral Predictions
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:40 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


I can only hope. But I also pray she does not wind up on my 'never trust again' list like 538 did leading up to 2016. Seeing those numbers inverse on the hilary win probability that evening was a straight horror show.
posted by Karaage at 2:50 PM on February 9 [10 favorites]


I like how irreverent Bitecofer is. Especially the swearing. Discussion of politics needs more swearing.
posted by medusa at 3:01 PM on February 9 [25 favorites]


I read the Politico article and it didn't seem to answer this question: has Bitecofer applied this approach to prior elections? The article says she didn't make a forecast in 2016 at the time, but maybe she did after the fact. It can be tricky to eliminate hindsight bias, but I'd really like to see more than n=1 before deciding if this was a significant improvement in forecasting accuracy or just luck (or somewhere in between).
posted by jedicus at 3:06 PM on February 9 [17 favorites]


I hope you are right, Ms. Bitecofer. I really do.

While it’s clear the naive model of the mythical swing voter has been debunked, I don’t see the insane dynamics that put Trumpism is power having changed all that much. In fact I see that power solidified and growing.

And I see the left more fractured And disorganized than ever and mainstream liberals having no idea what to do at all. At least my exposure phone volunteering and working locally just feels more frustrating than ever. Maybe that’s my expectations. I don’t know.

But I’d rather be surprised than disappointed. And, you know, “...do as the wiseman would: prepare for ill and not for good.”
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 3:08 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


From a very astute person I know leads a successful political volunteer organization:
I have been following her for a while, and I am interested in her analyses. And I sure as hell hope she is right. But the counterpoint in the article is offered by Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report:

The idea that turnout explains every election result, I am sorry, but that is just factually not true,” said Wasserman. “There are a significant number of persuadable voters who bounce back and forth between the two parties depending on the candidates and depending on the year. And there are absolutely millions of voters who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and for a Democratic congressional candidate in 2018 and did so because they were persuaded by Democratic campaign outreach.

So I think we need to go with an "all-of-the-above" approach. Turnout and persuasion.
And James Carville said this in a recent Vox interview:
"I think the other side wants us to think there are no swing voters, that we’re doomed and it doesn’t even matter if you have a message because you can’t reach anyone. I think that’s bullshit. I think that’s a wholly incorrect view of American politics. But look, if no one’s persuadable, then let’s just have the revolution."
posted by PhineasGage at 3:08 PM on February 9 [14 favorites]


This is very interesting and I would prefer to believe her model over Allan “keys” Lichtman, but the caveats she gave in her summer 2019 blog post are pretty important:
By and large, I don’t expect that the specific nominee the Democratic electorate chooses will matter all that much unless it ends up being a disruptor like Bernie Sanders.

Indeed, the only massive restructuring I might have to make to this forecast involves a significant upheaval like the entrance of a well-funded Independent candidate such as Howard Schultz into the general election, which our national survey in March shows would likely to pull 5 votes away from the Democrats’ nominee for each one vote it would pull away from Trump. Other potential significant disruptions might be a ground war with Iran, an economic recession, or a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11.
Mostly I agree with Kyle Kondick’s quote that “The more you learn about this stuff, the less you feel like you have a grasp on it.”
posted by sallybrown at 3:14 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


"The idea that turnout explains every election result, I am sorry, but that is just factually not true,” said Wasserman. “There are a significant number of persuadable voters who bounce back and forth between the two parties depending on the candidates and depending on the year. And there are absolutely millions of voters who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and for a Democratic congressional candidate in 2018 and did so because they were persuaded by Democratic campaign outreach."

Her counterpoint to Dave Wasserman: "If she allowed personal conversations to influence her work, she said, then 'I would be a god-fucking awful quantitative scientist.'"

She's mostly right. Swing voters are largely an illusion, turnout is the dominant force in American politics, there is no median voter — voters tend to use their alignment on their most extreme personal position as test of authenticity for politicians.

Political preferences can also be generally better predicted by overall marketing and social identity questions — do you like trying new things? etc. — than policy positions. Almost all of what pundits and reporters, including the one who wrote this story, is totally fucking irrelevant to how actual voters experience politics, and the faster we wash away the mysticism and superstition of political science, the better.
posted by klangklangston at 3:14 PM on February 9 [27 favorites]


Hardly anyone gave Trump better odds than 538. They gave him a 30% chance to win. Trump winning doesn't mean that they got it wrong. The people you should be mad at were the models that gave him a 1% chance.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:19 PM on February 9 [94 favorites]


it would mean that [...] whole industry of experts is generally wrong

They're only wrong if you think their job is "predict the election results" instead of "maximize public confusion and anxiety to drive up advertiser revenue."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:23 PM on February 9 [21 favorites]


I realized four months into the 2016 campaign that financial disclosures didn’t matter one whit to the GOP — and Trump was never releasing his tax returns and not one Republican voter cared — I knew Trump was going to win.

Behavior, ethics, character, criminality and corruption — these are now only things that matter to Democrats. And that is a helluva asymmetrical war to fight.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 3:26 PM on February 9 [39 favorites]


Please, call her Dr. Bitecofer.
posted by medusa at 3:30 PM on February 9 [33 favorites]


I agree that voters voting for candidates across multiple parties is rarer than it used to be, I question that she is discounting the personality and background of a particular candidate; a candidate's personality can still encourage some voters to vote a split ticket.

This just happened in my home state of Ohio in 2018 where Democrat Sherrod Brown won his reelection bid for the US Senate 53-47% yet every other state-wide office (governor, AG) ; Republicans won (typically by a 3-5% margin)
posted by fizzix at 3:35 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


I think that mostly thanks to MF politics threads this theory doesn't seem remotely new or ground-breaking to me, just.. yes, that's how things are, we have to get turnout up (and overcome voter suppression). Also:

spoiler: Democrats are a near lock for the presidency

TTTCS geezus what the fuck are you thinking you cannot just say things


please let it be true
posted by curious nu at 3:50 PM on February 9 [38 favorites]


"if no one's persuadable, then let's just have the revolution." - Carville sounds like a Bernie supporter!
posted by nofundy at 3:58 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


I figure Democrats are a near-lock for the presidency.
* Trump's support has not grown. His base has gotten louder, but not bigger.
* He won by the hair of a shark's tooth last time: 2 states (3?) by less than Stein's numbers, and IIRC 6 by less than Stein + Johnson. And while all of those wouldn't have been Democratic voters if they hadn't been running, they were certainly not all R votes.
* There are thousands of new potential voters in Florida who have no reason to like Republican politics.
* A whole lot of people, including his supporters, aren't happy with his policies and actions. Not enough to vote for D, of course, but enough for a few of them to stay home on election day.

Extreme voter suppression (which is, I'm aware, happening) is the only way he keeps the presidency.

Hearing that we've got a good chance at the Senate is encouraging, though.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:13 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


I might believe in Swing Voter Theory more if US election turnout weren't so dismal in general. If you're getting 80% of people to the polls, then I can accept that includes a lot of people who are just thinking stuff through as they enter the polling place, because you are sampling a pretty wide array of the population and should see results generally reflective of that, which includes a lot of people who aren't paying close attention to this stuff. The US hasn't seen even 60% turnout since the late 60s, and it just doesn't make sense to me that 15% of the smaller subset of people who actually take the time to vote would, in every cycle, be the exact same group of 20 million people who are dedicated to the otherwise wildly unpopular slate of opinions that make up the electoral center (deficit reduction, privatizing Social Security, a little less Medicare but a little more overseas war, tax credits you have to fill out multiple worksheets to know if you even qualify for, etc.).

Also, while Democrats are arguing over the relative merits of the theories and still trying to peel off small group of swing voters, the Republicans have not just bought in wholeheartedly on Turnout Theory, but seen it work quite well for them. They've spent every election of my adult life minimizing the number of Democrats who are even allowed to vote and heaving red meat at their own base to get them as stirred up as possible. Meanwhile, the amount of time Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell has spent trying to convince even a single Democrat to vote for a Republican is minuscule, and they certainly haven't turned a single policy position even an iota to the left in the last 25 years. They clearly care about turnout much, much more than persuasion, and I can't say it hasn't worked in their favor.
posted by Copronymus at 4:25 PM on February 9 [44 favorites]


"In a piece explaining his work in POLITICO Magazine, Abramowitz wrote: “Over the past few decades, American politics has become like a bitter sports rivalry, in which the parties hang together mainly out of sheer hatred of the other team, rather than a shared sense of purpose. Republicans might not love the president, but they absolutely loathe his Democratic adversaries...The new electorate, as she forecasts it, is made up mostly of people who want a president named anything but Donald Trump, competing with another group that fears ruin should anyone but Donald Trump be president."

The Fuck You electorate: "My vote for my team = Fuck You and your team." Voting as vengeance. This squares with what I have seen at my overwhelmingly red polling place. The 2016 presidential was...angry, with an element of hysteria, best paraphrased as "Vote against that bitch, or we're screwed." I am absolutely on board with channeling Democrats' fear and anger over what has actually happened over the last few years into turnout efforts!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:27 PM on February 9 [10 favorites]


The fact that anyone who lived through November 2016 (and the following 3 years) is throwing around the words "Democrats" "near lock" and "presidency" in the same sentence is mind-boggling to me. Like, where do you get that kind of hubris standing at the bottom of a well?
posted by gwint at 4:27 PM on February 9 [35 favorites]


It should be assumed that exit polls are obvious excuses about how someone voted, and it explains why conservatives tend to exaggerate their incomes on them accordingly. But if we're going to wipe away polite models of giving people credit for thinking about their vote, then we should consider that voting is mostly genetic. Either one votes to submit to traditional authority, or one bucks authority and finds themselves in factional territory under the minimal two parties. Genetics alone explains why so many people irrationally vote against their survival interests in the privacy of a polling station (even when they aren't brainwashed to do so), which is a luxury they dream of but don't yet have.
posted by Brian B. at 4:30 PM on February 9


Every lesson of 2016 was completely forgotten by the time Sam Wang picked out the last bits of carapace from between his molars.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 4:31 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


Bitecofer is a great Twitter follow; she seems to have an absolutely limitless capacity for writing long, peevish threads about analysis out there she sees as wrong or unsupported.
posted by escabeche at 4:32 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


I really, really hope she's right, but I'm pretty sure that arms-race level voter suppression is going to be practiced this time. The attacks on the Dem presidential hopefuls are just a dry run -- and things like 4chan assholes deliberately tying up the Iowa caucus reporting lines in order to fuck with things because it's fun are going to be the norm, not the exception.

And, of course, he'll probably refuse to count the votes from liberal-leaning areas, or just shut down the polls.

It really wouldn't surprise me if his numbers wound up at 80% or 90%, with a reported voter turnout of 30% or less. It's a nightmare.
posted by jrochest at 4:34 PM on February 9 [11 favorites]


And this is Frank Graves and Michael Valpy's take on the same 'sorting' that's happening in Canada:

The Conservative Party's moderate centre has disappeared

They are a little more sanguine about the numbers up here -- 65 percent of the population calls themselves centre-left, apparently -- but it's troubling, because it means the right of centre parties are getting pulled to the Trump side of the spectrum, just with better hair and suits.
posted by jrochest at 4:43 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


My very inexpert analysis comes mostly from being friends with a lot of much more knowledgable and involved people than myself - organizers, fundraisers, other assorted political operatives and some professional political researchers/historians. My belief, and this flies somewhat in the face of Allan Litchman though not entirely: Trump pulled off his narrow 2016 victory in large part because of Russian meddling and voter suppression, but also because 1.) After eight years of Obama, conservatives were frothing and Trump played that anger like a fiddle, 2.) Clinton had the detriment of a decades-long vicious character attack campaign against her, 3.) A decent number of Leftists in particular never forgave her for voting in favor of the Iraq War, and 4.) The one I never see anyone talking about, The Republicans had a very crowded field which eventually coalesced around a highly Charismatic (to them, anyway) Trump, while the Democrats had a bitter and protracted two-person race that left a lot of Bernie supporters feeling dejected.

There are Repubicans who will switch their votes for the right Democratic candidate. Not a ton, but I've met them. A law school roommate who grew up a southern Conservative but who really thought Hillary would be the best person for the job (back in 2008 he was saying this.) An older, wealthy, white male in my building who is one of the friendliest people I know (he hosts the stoop parties we have in our Harlem neighborhood whenever the weather is warm, for instance) who has desperately wanted Michelle Obama to run, because "she understands the job and would bring class back to the white house." And here on MeFi, corb publicly switched parties during the RNC in 2016.

But those voters seem rare to me, and what's worse, they seem finicky. Turnout is the key, I believe.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:45 PM on February 9 [17 favorites]


What's being shuffled under is that the "high turnout predicts results" thing is that the actual variable in an election is how many non-right voters will turn out. The GOP has consistent voting numbers because those voters are older or driven by issues like religion or guns or race issues which are high-passion issues. Whether the non-right voters turn out or not is what fluctuates.

From 2004 to 2016 the GOP presidential candidate has gotten 60-62 million votes. In the same span the Dem candidate ranged from 59 to 69 million--Obama in 2008 got 10 million more votes than Kerry did while with all the stuff Bush did coming to light and a collapsing economy McCain only sagged 3 million votes from Bush's 2004 total. In 2016 Clinton got a sliver less than Obama's 2012 vote total while Trump got 2 million more votes than Romney but also there were nearly 5 million 'other' votes.

Also, notice which party wants to make voting harder versus which party wants to expand voting by making it easier which presumably would enable more people to vote, like with vote by mail which makes total sense.

I've pondered elections really being about turnout since about 2013 or 14 when somewhere on the internet I came across a graph of detailed polling on the Obama-Romney race that was probably internal to one of those campaigns. What surprised me was that the support percentages didn't change much at all the whole way from a year out. What changed and fluctuated is how "energized" the different groups of supporters are versus the opponents. Rarely campaigns "convert" voters, most of the winning or losing is a matter of getting people who already support them excited and willing to put in the effort to vote and how much you can de-motivate your opponent's supporters.

The other thing is that the political parties have way more detailed and high quality polling than what we, the public, see in the news. The public polling is like the least expensive statistically viable polling possible. The thesis of 538 is that they can combine all the public polling in certain ways to reverse-engineer what the detailed polling would say.
posted by Blue Tsunami at 4:54 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


Bitecofer says: By and large, I don’t expect that the specific nominee the Democratic electorate chooses will matter all that much unless it ends up being a disruptor like Bernie Sanders

Well don't just leave us hanging here! How will it matter??
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 4:56 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


The fact that anyone who lived through November 2016

If you lived through November 2018, you can see the merit to the "Democractic lock" argument. The polls kept (and keep) telling us that most demographic groups outside of older white men hate Trump. 2018 (and the special elections) gave us clear on-the-ground evidence of that. I can't say that 2020 will be a repeat of 2018, but it almost certainly will not be a repeat of 2016.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:00 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


there were nearly 5 million 'other' votes

This is key. And the other vote was 5x more likely to benefit Trump, which is why the Russian ops pushed pro-Stein propaganda in Michigan and other receptive places.
posted by chaz at 5:13 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


The GOP has consistent voting numbers because

Right, and the election meddling will once again focus on convincing people to stay home if their preferred candidate didn’t win the primary, voter suppression, and hyping third party candidates

One of which is mike fucking self funded billionaire bloomberg

I think “a lock” is...optimistic
posted by schadenfrau at 5:20 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


yes but is she more accurate than carl diggler?
posted by entropicamericana at 5:25 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Bitecofer says: By and large, I don’t expect that the specific nominee the Democratic electorate chooses will matter all that much unless it ends up being a disruptor like Bernie Sanders

-Well don't just leave us hanging here! How will it matter??


Maybe because Trump wants Bernie.
posted by Brian B. at 5:32 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


jedicus: I read the Politico article and it didn't seem to answer this question: has [Dr.] Bitecofer applied this approach to prior elections?

I think the idea is that the past is a different place, and you can't rely on past trends to indicate the future patterns, at least if you look more than an election cycle or two back. The Politico article notes her interest in the Tea Party surge, which started circa 2009.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:34 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


The federal government locked up a whistleblower who exposed attempts by a foreign nation to manipulate 2016 presidential vote data, until after 2020.

Republicans have made it clear with North Carolina and Georgia that they are comfortable with electoral fraud. Trump has made it clear that he is above the law when it comes to actions in his own best interest, and convinced a toothless legislative branch of that legal argument.

Swing voters, independent voters, whatever — it really doesn't matter who votes, at this point. What matters is who or what devices count votes, and who has control over that process and the resulting outcome.

Statistical models only work when the system isn't rigged, which is why I still have some sympathy left for Nate Silver. But our democracy is very sick, maybe dying.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:41 PM on February 9 [15 favorites]


Maybe because Trump wants Bernie.

Trump wants Bernie the same way Clinton wanted Trump.

Besides, do people honestly think stopping Bernie is going to protect the dems from Trump calling them communists? They called Obama a communist. Who gives a shit. He'll call Bloomberg a communist for banning soda in NYC. He'll drink a can of coke during a debate and get a 10 minute standing ovation.
posted by Reyturner at 6:00 PM on February 9 [67 favorites]


First and foremost, 'lock' is Politico's word, not Bitecofer's. Please don't hold Politico's innumeracy bullshit against Bitcofer.

Basically, she's predicting the dem's take back the the parts of the Midwest they've historically held and that FL is in play. None of that is very far from what actually happened in 2016, so it's not all that out there. I'd be willing to bet when we start to see some modelling from 538, Real Clear Politics and the rest it'll also look a lot like this.
posted by Frayed Knot at 6:07 PM on February 9 [13 favorites]


Besides, do people honestly think stopping Bernie is going to protect the dems from Trump calling them communists?

If anyone was afraid of being called a communist before, it's because they weren't communist (and would not rush to vote for one, or for someone successfully painted as one). I'm only assuming this is what Bitecofer was suggesting about Bernie being a disruption to her prediction.
posted by Brian B. at 6:51 PM on February 9


I always thought the true swing voter pool was the sum of new voter registrations + (or minus) the number of voters suppressed.
posted by thorny at 6:57 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


This is very interesting and I would prefer to believe her model over Allan “keys” Lichtman

Lichtman is just silly nonsense.

Look, here's the thing: most presidential elections are utterly trivial to predict. Let's look back since the primary system started in 72. 72, 76, 80, 84, 88, 04, 08 -- all utterly trivial. 92 and 96 add in a nontrivial third party candidate but both are pretty easy. Only 2000 and 2016 would actually require prediction in the sense of "Hey, I want to know who's gonna win because I got no idear who that is."

Lichtman's stuff has so many ridiculous judgment calls in it -- is there a *serious* scandal? If the candidate you're pretty sure is gonna lose is facing it, it's serious. If the candidate you're pretty sure is going to win is facing it, it's not serious. Etc.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:02 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Bitcofer is right that Sanders would be a disrupter. If Sanders wins the nomination, then Trump wins a second term hands down, IMO.

While Sanders has a core of very enthusiastic supporters that could get him the nomination, I don’t see that support expanding into the general election. Many Democrats would be holding their noses to vote for Sanders—they don’t forgive him for his tepid support of Clinton in 2016, and they see him as an opportunist who is only Democrat when he wants to run for President and then goes back to being Independent outside of election years.

Meanwhile Trump would rile up opposition to the “socialist Jew.” And unlike calling other potential candidates socialists, Sanders embraces the label, with all of the anxiety that “socialist” provokes in many Americans.

Having Sanders on the ticket would be the 1972 US Presidential election all over again or like the recent UK election—total victory for the right wing candidate.
posted by haiku warrior at 7:21 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


Making that comment is a bold strategy, haiku warrior. Lets see how it works out!

Hardly anyone gave Trump better odds than 538. They gave him a 30% chance to win. Trump winning doesn't mean that they got it wrong. The people you should be mad at were the models that gave him a 1% chance.

Yeah I've found that you can get a pretty good handle on how well someone understands US politics by their opinion on how well 538 did in the 2016 election. Not, mind you, on how well they do punditry but strictly the 2016 election modeling.
posted by Justinian at 7:25 PM on February 9 [15 favorites]


Quite a trick to claim that Clinton losing was the fault of people insufficiently supporting her but that it will be Bernie's fault for losing because people won't want to support him.
posted by Reyturner at 7:28 PM on February 9 [17 favorites]


Yeah I've found that you can get a pretty good handle on how well someone understands US politics by their opinion on how well 538 did in the 2016 election

Yeah, especially since 538 pretty much nailed their final prediction that HRC would win by ~3m votes, which she did.

Also, I think people on websites such as this one and Twitter are really, really, really underestimating how much the general asshole-ness of the Bernie's snake emoji crew is turning people off.

Someone who is paying enough attention to list of all of the nuances of the various flavors of Medicare for All in play might just vote for the nominee with a D by their name no matter what. But, someone who didn't know Iowa had a caucus vs a primary until the fuck up last week is likely to lookup and see a group of people that at first glance act just like MAGA hat wearing Trump supporters. Why go through the effort to vote if either way we're going to get the same type of people (remember, these are people that aren't super paying attention to the campaigns) that are already in power? These voters aren't going to get within miles of Bernie's actual policies before his supporters cause them to tune out.
posted by sideshow at 7:57 PM on February 9 [8 favorites]


Swing voter by choice. What does that mean. I voted for Bush and Clinton therefore I swing...a wide swing usually means a quick change in party affiliation. History shows this, whigs, bull moose, etc. It's like political absorption of misery and anger, this last election, the latter.

"To her critics, she’s an extreme apostle of the old saw that “turnout explains everything,” taking a long victory lap after getting..."

Yeah, gotta turn out for that swing to work or its just rhetorical boo-ha-ha.
13.2℅
posted by clavdivs at 7:57 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


If turnout is everything, then the low turnout in Iowa is a very bad sign: "Why the Turnout in Iowa Has Some Democrats Worried"
posted by crazy with stars at 8:16 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Bitecofer has a nickname for this view. She calls it, with disdain, the “Chuck Todd theory of American politics”: “The idea that there is this informed, engaged American population that is watching these political events and watching their elected leaders and assessing their behavior and making a judgment.”

The thing about voters like this is, if they are out there, they're just going to keep listening to the Chuck Todds of the world and thinking they're clever for both-sidesism and nobody can control that but the Chuck Todds of the world. The Republicans know that any low effort argument they offer for their side of the Both Sides take is sufficient, because Chuck Todd and co will do the heavy lifting putting it up on a pedestal, and fence sitters will still sit there and say hmm, yes, the deficit, very important. That media machine would keep churning away forever with zero real effort from anybody outside of it and still have the same effects.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:32 PM on February 9 [11 favorites]


If turnout is everything, then the low turnout in Iowa is a very bad sign: "Why the Turnout in Iowa Has Some Democrats Worried"

I wouldn't base too much on primary season turnout this year. Anecdotal, sure, but the Democrats I know who didn't care about caucusing this year didn't care because they just want to get on with it and vote for whoever isn't Trump.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:36 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


they don’t forgive him for his tepid support of Clinton in 2016, and they see him as an opportunist who is only Democrat when he wants to run for President and then goes back to being Independent outside of election years.

99.9 percent of voters don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Stop assuming people are paying that much attention, and definitely stop thinking your average voter is on Twitter. Twitter is so fucking far from people’s daily lives it’s below the horizon.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:38 PM on February 9 [36 favorites]


Having Sanders on the ticket would be the 1972 US Presidential election all over again or like the recent UK election—total victory for the right wing candidate.

About that UK election...

Angus Johnston @studentactivism:
Bernie Sanders approval rating average: -3.
Donald Trump approval rating average: -11.
Boris Johnson approval rating average: -12.
Jeremy Corbyn approval rating average: -40.
posted by joedan at 10:47 PM on February 9 [14 favorites]


Or take it from Mike Bloomberg: “There is a guy, Bernie Sanders, who would have beaten Donald Trump. The polls show he would have walked away with it."
posted by joedan at 10:51 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


But, someone who didn't know Iowa had a caucus vs a primary until the fuck up last week is likely to lookup and see a group of people that at first glance act just like MAGA hat wearing Trump supporters.

you think people who barely pay attention to the primary are paying a lot of attention to people talking shit about the primary on the internet?
posted by atoxyl at 10:53 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Bitecofer is a great Twitter follow;

Yes, good rants and all, but she has "Bite" right in her name and did not take advantage of this fact on Halloween!
posted by Jpfed at 11:08 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Nate Silver was the least wrong of the pollsters. He gave 3:1 odds in favor of Clinton which are not-great odds and he cautioned over and over again that the race was far from decided. Comey’s memo probably decided things but she was never a slam dunk.
posted by simra at 11:25 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


About that UK election...

I'm a Warren supporter who'd happily vote for Bernie in the general. Their ideals align closely. I suspect that, once you get away from old white seniors in Iowa, most of the country that has Trump fatigue probably sees both candidates as having similar ideals and goals, and a general respect for working-class Americans of all colors and backgrounds, people which the previous candidate's campaign advisers didn't apparently care much about reaching out to.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:50 PM on February 9 [14 favorites]


When. you RTFA she says swing voters do exist and do matter, just much less than it is normally understood. And that seems right. And it seems clear that many American voters vote against their own interests and beliefs. Trump ran on better healthcare, which he hasn't even tried to provide. So I agree that the "centrist" voter who can be persuaded by sensible arguments is a rare bird. Specially because the center moves all around all the time. I see myself as moderate, but at the last election here I voted as far left as possible, because suddenly the "centrist" position is that racism is fine.
I hope the Democratic candidate is not Bernie. The thought of two radical and angry old men fighting it out is pathetic, depressing and unpredictable. Someone who is more of a contrast to Trump would be better.
posted by mumimor at 12:39 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]


FTA:
"check the voter file, she says. “It would be one thing if that county had 100,000 people in it who voted in 2012, and then it was the same 100,000 who voted in 2016, but that is not what is happening,” she says. “The pool of who shows up changes."
This, to me, is the heart of her argument. My own suspicion, especially post-2016, is that since we do have some pretty strong evidence that people tend to be consistent voters or consistent non-voters, when counties or districts or states swing from one party to another the pundits & analysts have assumed that the swing is due to consistent voters picking the "other side." And of course it's possible to find anecdata that reinforce that idea - cf. the endless rounds of small-town diner interviews with white people that found Obama-Trump swing voters.

But given that swings in counties and districts can be caused by a few thousand or even a few hundred votes, it seems entirely plausible that the appearance of inconsistent voters who decide to show up for an election could have as much if not more effect as voters who actually swing from one party to another. (Along with changing demographics - I know for a fact that several of the Ohio suburban/ex-urban towns where they did Obama-Trump diner interviews have had a lot of population changes even considered from 2012 to 2016, much less since 2008.)
posted by soundguy99 at 4:48 AM on February 10 [13 favorites]


I also feel that a lot of the assumptions about the existence of swing voters is because there are an increasing number of people who claim that they are "independent", not Democrats or Republican, in polls. But my understanding is that the actual evidence of voting results suggests that most of those voters will pretty consistently vote for one party, even when they don't claim a party affiliation. So pundits and analysts are kind of getting suckered, where they look at a bunch of "independent" voters and interpret that as "swing" voters, when in reality most of those voters aren't going to swing, they're just refusing (for whatever reasons) to admit that they're largely party-line voters.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:03 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


The reason we think there are swing voters is pretty simple: people tell us that they are switching their votes.

Sometimes, this is in panel studies, where we (try to) talk to the same people now, in 4 years, and in 8. They say they voted D in one election, and later say they voted R in the next. More commonly, we just ask people who they voted for in the previous election, and they say they voted for the R last time and the D this time.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:36 AM on February 10


Negative partisanship is a consequence of the first-past-the-post electoral system. People aren't stupid and realise that if they actually vote for what they want they're very much likely to get what they really don't want. It's also likely responsible for these shifts in inconsistent voting - the inconsistent voters don't really have any way to express what they really want and are forced only to vote against.

Electoral reform is urgently needed in every country that still uses FPTP.
posted by zeripath at 5:41 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


I listen to Bitecofer because she's the only analyst that mentions and takes into account the effect of demographics 'targeted by Russians'. It infuriates me to see so many predictions not mentioning the attack the US is under at all.
posted by Harry Caul at 5:42 AM on February 10 [27 favorites]


The reason we think there are swing voters is pretty simple: people tell us that they are switching their votes.

Nobody, least of all Bitecofer, is denying that swing voters exist - the question is whether they are a significant enough portion of the electorate in the current political climate that politicians need to be chasing their votes, or whether it would be better to spend the time and money boosting the turnout of potential voters who may not have consistently shown up in the past.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:12 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


Sometimes, this is in panel studies, where we (try to) talk to the same people now, in 4 years, and in 8. They say they voted D in one election, and later say they voted R in the next. More commonly, we just ask people who they voted for in the previous election, and they say they voted for the R last time and the D this time.

I would trust those people more if it couldn't also be described as "They say they voted [for the winner] in one election, and later say they voted [for the winner] in the next."
posted by Etrigan at 6:15 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


One data point in her favor is the Alabama Senate election. Roy Moore didn't lose because the right-wing turned against him. They just didn't vote.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:17 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]




Also, the polling data coming out of Iowa seems to imply that Sanders led (and often dominated) the rest of the field when it comes to women of color and women under the age of 45, which means his perceived problems with racism and sexism may stem largely from older white women.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 6:44 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I would be really interested to hear her argument for why Sanders would qualify as a disruptor on par with a recession or unexpected attack, but she doesn’t elaborate on that. I also wonder whether Bloomberg as nominee, especially if chosen through a contested convention, would fall into that category (to me, absolutely). Lichtman’s model tries to incorporate the chance of an unusual challenger party nominee through the idea of charisma (like being a “national hero”), but that doesn’t really capture either of these scenarios.
posted by sallybrown at 6:49 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Per the conclusion of her opinion in The Guardian this morning:
Ultimately, it may be Bloomberg, not Biden that subverts Buttigieg’s already historic bid for the Democratic nomination. Bloomberg, like Buttigieg, has a complicated relationship with voters of color. But unlike Buttigieg, he has experience and a campaign war chest the likes of which we’ve never seen. At the end of the day, what voters are looking for the most in their nominee is reassurance that their long national nightmare will end and that is the message Bloomberg is selling. And he has all the money in the world to bankroll the effort.
posted by persona at 6:57 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


[A few deleted. Please stick to the posted topic here. If you want to discuss the Iowa caucus, there's a separate thread for that; if you want to fight about Sanders vs Clinton, please go to a different site on the internet.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:59 AM on February 10 [18 favorites]


"which means his perceived problems with racism and sexism may stem largely from older white women."

Why should the assumption be so readily made that Iowan people of color and women under the age of 45 are representative of the rest of the country? Buttigieg's popularity there is clearly the result of heavily targeting the state and doesn't extrapolate outwards...
posted by Selena777 at 7:15 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


A near annual reminder:
The 2016 election, by the numbers looked for the most part like every other recent election.
Some examples: the Republican candidate received 55, 52, 48 and 52 percent of male voters in the 4 past presidential elections. Trump was not an anomaly for these Republican voters.
Republican candidates won 58, 59, 57 and 55 percent of white voters. Again pretty normal turnout for their candidate.

Even Clinton’s near 3 million popular vote win was within the normal range for the winning candidate’s difference (3mil, 5 mil, 9mil and 3 mil. out of over 136 million voters) Most of what are described as flaws in her campaign actually succeeded in getting her more votes. In a normal, predicted manner.

Except for the possible micro-targeted interference exploiting the electoral college system that we still have for the right 40k voters spread over 3 states, 2016 was a normal, average voting result.
posted by Harry Caul at 7:15 AM on February 10 [15 favorites]


Hardly anyone gave Trump better odds than 538. They gave him a 30% chance to win. Trump winning doesn't mean that they got it wrong. The people you should be mad at were the models that gave him a 1% chance.

It's still okay to make fun of Nate Silver though since he went from one of the best pollsters/analysts, to one of the worst pundits.
posted by so fucking future at 7:24 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]


In general I feel the turnout based model makes the most sense.

I've never understood the insatiable drive of Democrats to run on the most moderate platforms to be 'electable'. Trump ran openly on racism and nationalism and had a relative blow out of the most 'electable' candidate. Maybe there's something to be learned from that (and it's not that America is a racist-ass failed state, which might be true, but separate issue) about how you should get people pumped up with even just the empty promise of change (see Obama), instead of promising absolutely nothing will really change, don't worry .
posted by so fucking future at 7:29 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


> "Except for the possible micro-targeted interference exploiting the electoral college system that we still have for the right 40k voters spread over 3 states, 2016 was a normal, average voting result."

Something I find completely terrifying.
posted by kyrademon at 7:53 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]



I've never understood the insatiable drive of Democrats to run on the most moderate platforms to be 'electable'.

It's the [funders] stupid!
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:56 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]




Alternate theory: if you have a thousand people make random predictions about the future state of a system that is too complex and poorly understood to be modeled accurately, at least one of them will be eerily accurate and will then get lots of talk show invitations and interview requests.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:05 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


But if the Dem Party runs away from their nominee, my model would be changing.

She clarifies in a later tweet that she means the party apparatus, not the voting base. I was heartened by the Biden/Sanders embrace at the NH debate for this reason. It may seem...somewhat false...for everyone to play Happy Family after 2016, but I think it will happen, including support from the Obamas. The chunk of the electorate overrepresented on Morning Joe (the Donny Deutsch Dems) may break off, but I can’t see them floating to Trump. Bloomberg has already promised not to leap to a third party run, and the Donny Deutsch Dems tend to live in places (NY/NJ/CT, CA, DC/MD/VA) where Dems have lots of space for them to stay home. There weren’t enough of them to keep the real Donny Deutsch‘s show alive.
posted by sallybrown at 8:40 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I've never understood the insatiable drive of Democrats to run on the most moderate platforms to be 'electable'. Trump ran openly on racism and nationalism and had a relative blow out of the most 'electable' candidate.

To me, you answered your own question. Voters aren't electing extremes or anti-moderates by mistake or whimsy, and it's not bidirectional or two-sides the same. If Trump can claim to shoot someone in Times Square and get elected, then nobody else can, and that was his point. Evangelicals and conservative Christians don't really believe what they say on people's doorsteps. That's a con job to get poor people who want sympathy to join so they can trap their kids politically for life, because it's a political organization. A moderate is a person without a dogma to sell, and if the word "moderate" is a bad word to anyone, it usually means they are fighting their own side for some personal reason, or were raised by true believers in something. If chosen, Bernie's pivot to the center will anger his base because his base is on fire, but Bloomberg is free to run as an independent on his own terms.
posted by Brian B. at 8:46 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


If chosen, Bernie's pivot to the center will anger his base because his base is on fire

I dunno, it seems like any true believers of a candidate are willing to grant them some slack to dress up a little to get through the main event. Like a bride who knows she’s still marrying a rebel even if he agreed to wear a suit for the wedding to please the in laws. Bitecofer’s Sanders disruption scenario seems to say we should be trying to avoid the in laws standing up to object in the middle of the vows.
posted by sallybrown at 9:03 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]


The real question about any nominee is "will she/he take swing states that Clinton lost?" This is a big problem, because the economy is doing much better than it was four years ago in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, even with all of the issues with quality of jobs and with cost of housing, healthcare, and education.

IMO, lots of voters in those swing states will see Sanders' socialist policies as threatening an economy that has improved greatly (longest economic expansion in history, low inflation, low unemployment, low interest rates, and record highs in the stock market) and benefited them, even if they do have big concerns about access to healthcare (Sanders' big issue), etc. It's an issue with which he will have to deal, should he get the nomination.

Being popular nationally is not enough. The Democratic candidate will have to have enough appeal to overcome Trump's electoral college advantage in those swing states. Who, if anyone, among the Dems has that appeal, is something I just don't know.
posted by haiku warrior at 9:09 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


The words “near lock” scare me but I do think Trump got really lucky last time and he’ll have to get really lucky again.
posted by BeginAgain at 9:19 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Btw joedan, thanks for that info. While I still stand by my opinion that a Sanders nomination would be a rout for Trump in the general (jeesh, I hope I am wrong), I hadn't known seen those stats about just how unpopular Corbyn was. What an incredible screw-up by Labor! Had Corbyn come out against Brexit and (or at least) strongly repudiated the anti-Semitism expressed by some Laborites, he could have won. As it was, he was the worst of both worlds.
posted by haiku warrior at 9:22 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


"IMO, lots of voters in those swing states will see Sanders' socialist policies as threatening an economy that has improved greatly (longest economic expansion in history, low inflation, low unemployment, low interest rates, and record highs in the stock market) and benefited them, even if they do have big concerns about access to healthcare (Sanders' big issue), etc. It's an issue with which he will have to deal, should he get the nomination."

I think the strategy will be to try and convince people that they're not doing well, whether it's in comparison to EU members, billionaires or Americans 70 or so years ago and that democratic socialist policies are the answer to that. I'm honestly curious about whether they'll bite.
posted by Selena777 at 9:24 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


The real question about any nominee is "will she/he take swing states that Clinton lost?" This is a big problem, because the economy is doing much better than it was four years ago in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, even with all of the issues with quality of jobs and with cost of housing, healthcare, and education.

I don't think the economy is doing better in the counties that Trump won in. Coal is even deader than it was four years ago, the steel mills certainly haven't come back, the car industry is closing plants and farmers are getting crushed.
posted by octothorpe at 9:27 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


Yeah, citation very much needed on the idea that the Rust Belt economy is significantly improved under Trump. This Pittsburgh-living software engineer is doing just fine, but the benefits of the Trump economy are not accruing to the demographics he promised to help.

The TL;DR of those links is that headline unemployment numbers and national trends mask weaknesses in state and county-level job and wage growth that voters in these areas are certainly feeling. Whether that's enough to pull them away from the comforting, scapegoating, nativist arms of Trump's 2020 campaign on election day is another story, but it can't be helping.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:41 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]


I live in a place with a lot of opportunity and where a lot of people are doing very well (and a lot are infamously not doing so well at all) and I think even still, most people I know would agree with the statement that the economy has really only gotten better for shareholders. Outside of a couple of hugely distorted employment bubbles like tech and finance, few people are going home raving about how generous their annual raise/bonus was. I'm not sure this is a hard sell, but I wouldn't be surprised if a more centrist nominee can't make it effectively for fear of appearances.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:44 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


IMO, lots of voters in those swing states will see Sanders' socialist policies as threatening an economy that has improved greatly

This assumption relies entirely on the narrative driven by the major news orgs that almost exclusively talk to conservative white working class voters to let them air their grievances. This kind of thing plays well with wealthy white dudes like David Brooks (who just wrote an article making this exact same point), but there's no reason to believe it applies to any group other than conservative white working class voters.

Jeet Heer goes into a deeper dive:
1. There's an argument going around, articulated most forcefully by @nytdavidbrooks, that now is not the time for the Democrats to embrace Sanders' social democratic agenda because the economy is growng.

2. The point Brooks is making is superficially plausible but falls apart when you look at it. The key misunderstanding is the idea that social democracy needs economic downturns in order to gain popularity. But, with one major exception, the reverse is true.

3. The very book Brooks cites in his article makes the opposite point he thinks it does. The whole point of Benjamin Friedman's “The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth,” is growing economies make people not just more tolerant but also more receptive to progressive policies.

4. The Great Depression skews people's memories, but it's important to understand the timing because it lasted so long: the Depression hit in 1929, bottomed out in 1932/33 -- thus doing FDR a favor by totally discrediting Hoover & the GOP.

5. FDR benefitted from the uspwing of 1934-1936 to start on reform. He then self-sabotaged by adopting austerity too soon (creating a mini-recession of 1937-1938). But larger reform agenda flourished again after wartime & post-war booms: the era of mass unionization & GI Bill

6. Aside from complex & special case of New Deal, periods of robust economic growth (early 20th century, 1960s) are the ones where progressive economy policy is most likely to succeed. People feel more secure, see wealth isn't being share & push for it.

7. The great recession of 2008 bottomed out in 2010. We've had 10 years of economic growth. Unemployment is low. Wages haven't kept up. There is an affordability crisis. Now is the best time to push for expanded social democracy since 1960s. More here:

8. The above argument centers around Sanders because that was Brooks' target. But it also applies to Warren, who doesn't call herself a social democrat but is offering a nearly equally ambitious program of economic overhaul. It's one I think is sellable, more now than ever.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 9:48 AM on February 10 [20 favorites]


"if no one's persuadable, then let's just have the revolution." - Carville sounds like a Bernie supporter!

Carville sounds exactly like a political consultant who has built a career around selling his putative ability to persuade people.

Also he was married for 26 years to a Republican political operative until two years ago when his spouse switched to Libertarian. So in more than 2 and half decades he has moved the person he is closest to further to the right.
posted by srboisvert at 10:06 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


I heard Bitecofer speak at the League of Women Voters' Virginia state convention last year; she was a great speaker. The most interesting part of that talk was when she said that all of us at the convention were exceptionally politically involved by definition and to remember that political involvement (and even just turnout) is actually a multi-generational project.

She asked us how many of us had gone with our parents to vote when we were children, and out of this room of hundreds of people, with an average age of maybe 60 years old, literally EVERY SINGLE ONE of us raised our hands. It was mind-blowing that even these people of retirement age were politically active now because they'd been taught from the cradle to be politically active, that NOBODY who hadn't been taught the same from the cradle was even there.

Obviously there are many individuals who are politically active regardless that their parents weren't, and vice versa. But on a statistical level...maybe not really?

That certainly made me think of turnout and the project of voter access/empowerment differently. Turnout is key but turnout is also the fruit of generations' worth of labor...just an interesting thought about what our time horizon needs to be when we make our plans or hope our hopes.

Not that that is necessarily going to make anyone feel better about the presidential election in nine months' time.
posted by rue72 at 10:18 AM on February 10 [19 favorites]


Your points are well-taken about "what really is happening in those swing states?"

Here are some unemployment data from the Fed for the last five years. While the unemployment rate has ticked up in the last year, in each case it is better than December 2016. The increase could in part be due to people previously too discouraged to look for work now reentering the workforce as the economy has improved.

Michigan
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin

Here are five years of weekly wage data. The data here are even more favorable, as weekly earnings are up significantly, above the rate of inflation, which was about 6.4% over from December 2016 to December 2019. Whoever is the candidate will have to get past perceptions that are at least partly backed up by hard data.

Michigan up 10.9%
Pennsylvania up 7.1%
Wisconsin up 9.1%

Got to work, gang! Very interesting thread.
posted by haiku warrior at 10:31 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


It's still okay to make fun of Nate Silver though since he went from one of the best pollsters/analysts, to one of the worst pundits.

Pundits as a class are so universally useless, so completely without any redeeming characteristics, that picking "worst" pundits is really very difficult.

2. The point Brooks is making is superficially plausible but falls apart when you look at it. The key misunderstanding is the idea that social democracy needs economic downturns in order to gain popularity. But, with one major exception, the reverse is true.

Very insightful! The Euro welfare states were all built during years of unprecedented growth as well. People who are optimistic about the world because their own lives are getting better are much more receptive to projects which claim to improve the world because they are already in a frame where such things are possible.

See also: why ideas about four day weeks and universal basic income are much more popular with Labour voters in London with thriving careers than they are with voters in struggling Northern towns in England even though those might right result in transfers from the former to the latter. When things are good, people can be persuaded to make them even better.
posted by atrazine at 10:34 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


Bernie's pivot to the center will anger his base because his base is on fire

You don't think Trump might try to move in the center (in his own way) if Sanders is the nominee?

It's possible that Trump would start moving towards the center in some issues as well. Ironically, Trump could even end up defending (what's left) of ACA against the "destruction" of Medicare for all. I know this sounds ludicrous to everyone here, because it was just two years ago when "Repeal and Replace" was the Republican mantra, but don't forget Trump has no core and he loves to rewrite history to take credit for things he didn't do.

And I don't think he will attack Medicare for All on cost, at least not directly. He'll go to the Christian Right and say M4A will kill millions of unborn babies because of free abortions. He'll also say M4A will result in millions of people crossing the border to drain all the US's health care.

Of course, none of this will be true, but he and the Right will figure out a way to tie things together to create conspiracy, fire up the base, and sow confusion.
posted by FJT at 11:19 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I think the strategy will be to try and convince people that they're not doing well, whether it's in comparison to EU members, billionaires or Americans 70 or so years ago and that democratic socialist policies are the answer to that. I'm honestly curious about whether they'll bite.

Yeah I think he has to make - well, he does make, but it remains to be seen how well it will sell - a specific case, which is that things are going well on paper but should be going much better for the average person.

One thing I worry about is what if he - or any Dem candidate - gets stuck with the Trump crash? In theory the social democrat should be in the best position to respond in that situation, but the time lag between intervention and effect and recognition of effect would be a problem.
posted by atoxyl at 11:31 AM on February 10


Trump will try to pick up on and spin any and every message that seems to resonate with people. It'll sound like bullshit, because it'll be bullshit, but it's what he did last time around and he doesn't really change his ways, like, ever.

If Sanders is the nominee you will see Sanders-like talking points get espoused by Trump 'cause he thinks "campaigning" is just promising people what you think they want to hear knowing it's all lies but whoever tells their lies better wins.
posted by VTX at 12:31 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I think what you can sell is security. Okay, you're doing well, how do you keep it that way? Don't you want to make sure that you're covered when the economy goes in the crapper again? Don't you want someone in charge that will hold the bankers accountable if they crash the economy again?

And even though the economy is not bad, there's a ton of people who are one medical emergency away from in trouble, heck, one toothache away from not being able to pay for food and rent.

Maybe a time when people aren't in panic mode, but look to the future with apprehension and worry is the time to be selling this stuff. Because even if the economy is good, I think a lot of the "Yeah, things are going fine" is tinged with an edginess from the 2008 crash, and a strong dose of let's not think too hard about what happens next year or the next when things might not be so great.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:34 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Great short read here on attacks on Ben Nimmo, someone who researches misinformation campaigns ramped up by Russia and other malicious actors as we get further into the election year.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:41 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I think what you can sell is security. Okay, you're doing well, how do you keep it that way? Don't you want to make sure that you're covered when the economy goes in the crapper again? Don't you want someone in charge that will hold the bankers accountable if they crash the economy again?

I think this would be smart framing, especially considering...

CNBC: There's a 70% chance of recession in the next six months, new study from MIT and State Street finds
posted by joedan at 1:21 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Not entirely convinced that the Trump camp actually do want to go up against Bernie.

They do seem unusually keen on Bernie being their opponent. Bannon was pumping him up the other day. But they might be pulling reverse psychology.

'Yeah, put us up against Bernie. That's the opponent we want.'

Because they really don't.

But I genuinely have no idea who is best placed to take on Trump.
posted by Pouteria at 3:22 PM on February 10


But I genuinely have no idea who is best placed to take on Trump.
Anyone that doesn't anger Republicans enough to want to vote.
posted by Harry Caul at 3:25 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


But I genuinely have no idea who is best placed to take on Trump.

"Mini Mike"

If you want to understand Trump, you need to know two things. First, he sees life as a brutal zero-sum competition: who’s up, who’s down, who’s winning, who’s losing. Which is why he’s always been obsessed with money — not only because of what it can buy but because of what it represents. “Money was never a big motivation for me,” Trump once tweeted, “except as a way to keep score.”The second thing to know is that much of what the president says is shaped by projection — the tendency to project onto other people one’s own impulses and motivations, often as a defense against anxiety. Trump’s nicknames for opponents reflect this aspect of his personality: “Crooked Hillary,” “Lyin’ Ted” and so on.
posted by Brian B. at 3:45 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


New Polls Suggest Dems Should Chill the F Out
Two important new polls have come out this afternoon. They’re clarifying on a number of grounds. The first is that President Trump’s rise in the polls is at best overstated. Quinnipiac puts him at 43% approval, on the high side for that poll but the same as their previous three polls back into December. Monmouth has him at 44%. Their previous three polls had him at 43%. Just moments ago Yougov released a new batch of polls which put Trump at 41%, basically where he’s been since forever. (I put more stock in Quinnipiac and Monmouth but it’s another important data point.) Take this all together and they suggest Trump is in a relatively strong position based on where he’s been over the last three years. But there’s little evidence here of some game-changing move. Certainly nothing like the 49% Gallup found last week, which remains a distant outlier.

Quinnipiac has head to head match ups with Democrats. All the top candidates beat Trump by significant margins. Bloomberg 51-42, Sanders 51-43, Biden 50-43. There’s a lot of information that tells us that President Trump can definitely win reelection. But these numbers all point to an incumbent who has an uphill climb at best. And at least for now there’s little evidence suggesting a really different situation than we’ve had to date.

They also certainly suggest that if you think Sanders is a weak general election candidate that must be based on the predicted effects of attacks that have yet to happen. Because 51-43 is pretty solid.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:56 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


A friend said today that he would love to see a Bloomberg-Abrams ticket.
posted by PhineasGage at 3:57 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Bloomberg/Abrams—now that would be something! Would it be a winner? I don’t know, but what an interesting combination. For Bloomberg, having Abrams as his running mate might blunt a lot of criticisms of his relations with minorities from his time as mayor of NYC. I like Abrams a lot.
posted by haiku warrior at 4:51 PM on February 10


The idea that Abrams would cozy up to Mr. Stop and Frisk to get a job that's far beneath her political ceiling and would undercut so many of her political beliefs seems pretty far-fetched to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:00 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


It’s all speculation, of course. With respect to Abrams views on Bloomberg’s problematic policies while mayor, I don’t know how she feels about them or Bloomberg generally. But being one heartbeat from the Presidency seems to be as close to anyone’s political ceiling as one can get. There’s that for her.
posted by haiku warrior at 5:18 PM on February 10


Why is my comment, which has since been quoted by two other people, not appearing?
posted by Pouteria at 5:33 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


[Couple of comments deleted; sorry for confusion, meant to leave a note earlier. We're asking people to avoid the Br'er Rabbit/Br'er Fox idiom; the Uncle Remus [wikipedia link with 19th century racism] stories have a mixed legacy for African-Americans, and it's a charged thing that's better not to throw around.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:53 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


the author says: "We will not see a divided Democratic Party in 2020."

i was hoping so too, but this damn iowa thing just wont go away. i mean, whatever "momentum" signification it had is obviously baked into the cake by now that we have moved on, and the actual number of delegates in play there is tiny. so who fucking cares at this point??

and yet at least three campaigns are still freaking out over it (biden, buttigieg, and sanders), not to mention tom perez, as a microcosm for everyone's perceived grievances about each other.

maybe once we get a nominee, dems will all get on board... or maybe i'm just trying to convince myself.
posted by wibari at 5:54 PM on February 10


[Couple of comments deleted; sorry for confusion, meant to leave a note earlier. We're asking people to avoid the Br'er Rabbit/Br'er Fox idiom; the Uncle Remus [wikipedia link with 19th century racist caricature] stories have a mixed legacy for African-Americans, and it's a charged thing that's better not to throw around.]

Fair enough. I am not a US citizen and didn't know about that. Apologies for any offence caused.

Can you restore the comment and just substitute 'reverse psychology' in place of the Br'er bit?
posted by Pouteria at 6:12 PM on February 10


[Sure, made that edit.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:15 PM on February 10


I'm emotionally attached to the theory that elections are won by attracting new voters, but I'd like better evidence for it. Parties have traditionally gone after swing voters not just because they like convincing people, but because a swing vote is twice as a new vote: it subtracts one vote from their opponent's total and adds it to their own. I'd also like to see data on the subsequent voting record of new and swing voters: to what extent does persuading them continue to pay dividends in subsequent elections.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:24 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


[Sure, made that edit.]

Thanks.
posted by Pouteria at 6:52 PM on February 10


They do seem unusually keen on Bernie being their opponent. Bannon was pumping him up the other day. But they might be pulling reverse psychology.

Trump is also on record saying that Bernie would have been a tougher opponent/Bernie as VP would have made Clinton a tougher opponent in 2016. Of course anything any of these guys say either way can be taken to mean the opposite - and I think the truth is they don't know for sure what's going to beat them any more than the rest of us do!
posted by atoxyl at 10:56 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I can't think of anything more likely to tear the party apart than nominating a billionaire white supremacist who funded white supremacy for decades and was openly anti-LGBTQ until pretty much this year, and then tacking on a token woman of color because they think her existence balances out his policy. Of course, that means it's pretty much a guarantee that the national Dems will try their damnedest to make it happen.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 4:21 AM on February 11 [7 favorites]


I think the truth is they don't know for sure what's going to beat them any more than the rest of us do!

They didn't last time either. Quite stunned they were.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:21 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Bloomberg is the accelerationist candidate. His victory roadmap also would require flipping PA and/or Florida because he’d get destroyed in the Midwest.
posted by eagles123 at 5:37 AM on February 11


Abrams isn’t joining up with Mike fuckin Bloomberg:

"Ninety-five percent of murders- murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16-25. That's true in New York, that's true in virtually every city (inaudible). And that's where the real crime is. You've got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed. You want to spend the money on a lot of cops in the streets. Put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods. So one of the unintended consequences is people say, 'Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.' Yes, that's true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that's true. Why do we do it? Because that's where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them... And then they start... 'Oh I don't want to get caught.' So they don't bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home."
posted by joedan at 7:23 AM on February 11 [7 favorites]


Jeet Heer on Twitter, quoted above: 2. The point Brooks is making is superficially plausible but falls apart when you look at it.

That sentence is evergreen. It's always true.
posted by Gelatin at 9:18 AM on February 11 [11 favorites]


What you’re probably getting wrong about New Hampshire primary voters (WaPo)
University of New Hampshire demographer Ken Johnson calculates that since the last election, about 195,000 of the state’s 1.1 million voters have departed — either from the state (150,000) or from this mortal existence (45,000). They’ve been replaced by about 230,000 fresh faces, including 70,000 young people who became newly eligible and 160,000 outsiders who moved in.
For one in five voters, this will be their first presidential primary in the state, according to Johnson’s latest calculations. Most of the state’s 2020 primary voters wouldn’t have been eligible to vote in 2008, when Hillary Clinton eked out a win over Barack Obama.
posted by mumimor at 9:51 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


since the last election, about 195,000 of the state’s 1.1 million voters have departed — either from the state (150,000) or from this mortal existence (45,000).
I keep an eye on the CDC annual mortality demographics, for the US, particularly for people over the age of 65 who have left since 2016. (probably between 6 and 7 million.)
posted by Harry Caul at 10:23 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Some thoughts on the results from the New Hampshire primary that pertain to this conversation, from Washington Post data scientist Lenny Bronner:
An interesting thing are the nonvoters of 2016 who decided to vote this time. Buttigieg seems to be the big winner there, getting 47% of 2016 nonvoters that decided to vote. The rest were basically split between Klobuchar and Biden (25% each or so)
More in his full thread.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:23 AM on February 12


But I genuinely have no idea who is best placed to take on Trump.

Anyone that doesn't anger Republicans enough to want to vote.


There is NO SUCH PERSON. Whoever gets nominated will be held up by Trump and Fox News as a fire-breathing liberal determined to take away the guns, let ISIL declare Sharia Law in the mid-west, raise taxes to 100% and force women to have abortions in the 8th month.

It is IMPOSSIBLE for the left to win by placating the right, or the (very tiny) middle. We win by MOTIVATING MORE PEOPLE TO VOTE. This is Bitecofer's whole point!
posted by Frayed Knot at 11:07 AM on February 12 [18 favorites]


Gonna repost this every month for the remainder of the primary:

"I said it last time and I will say it again: your choices in this election will be (1) the bowl of diarrhea with shards of broken glass in it or (2) the chicken. Let's not get hung up too much on the specific kind of chicken." - Meg Massey @blondnerd

Even assuming he's electable, I would dread a Sanders presidency. Still, he's chicken. For those of you with similar reactions to Bloomberg, remember he's chicken too.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:01 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


That's an awfully white take.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 1:06 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I wish I could tell you to ask Kalief Browder how similar Bloomberg is to Trump, but I can't because he committed suicide after being being put into a cage as a child for the crime of being black.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 1:13 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


On what basis would one conclude that Donald Trump would somehow be a better president than Bloomberg for reducing the number of Kalief Browders in the future?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:21 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


The point is that Bloomberg may not be worse, but there is plenty in his record that points to him being just as bad (if maybe slightly better) on issues such as putting children into cages, trying to destroy POC lives on a massive scale, allowing the ultra-rich to destroy everybody else economically, and basically every other issue that isn't gun control and maaaaybe abortion. He was giving money to Steve Scalise after his palling around with David Duke. Claiming that Sanders would be just as terrifying as Bloomberg on pretty much any metric is ridiculous.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 1:36 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


> Claiming that Sanders would be just as terrifying as Bloomberg on pretty much any metric is ridiculous.

...and also not what the chicken vs. diarrhea analogy is saying.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:41 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Then to further mangle the analogy, my point is that Bloomberg isn't a different kind of chicken, he's a different bowl of diarrhea with slightly fewer shards of broken glass in it.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 1:49 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


To me, from a long distance, Bloomberg, Sanders and Trump are all old white men who are stuck in the past and clinging to the world view they established in the 1970's and never changed. Actually Bloomberg has probably been a tiny little bit more alert than the other two in the years between 1980 and now, but not so much it's worth mentioning and anyway he is obviously racist.
It's depressing that they are even in the run.
One of my smartest friends once said to me: when you reach a certain age (I think it was mid-forties), you need to start mentoring young people, so they can become the new leaders. Otherwise, you're just a d***. The boomers failed to do that in politics and other fields. I don't think we lack young or youngish talent who can express the needs and emotions of the younger generations. I think we need the boomers to let go.
I can also understand why a lot of young people admire and vote for Bernie. He is a young person who never grew up and compromised, he has the energy of someone who stands up for his values. And those values are to a large extent admirable. I guess what I share with a lot of other middle aged ladies is the experience of how that lack of compromise has a backside of unbearable righteousness that easily becomes lack of results.
posted by mumimor at 2:06 PM on February 12 [11 favorites]


That's an awfully white take.

Whatever take it is, as a country we're pretty much at chicken-or-broken-glass-diarrhea stage. The sitting president treats the Department of Justice like a personal law firm. Like a mob boss he takes open and violent retribution against those who oppose him. He murders children at the border through abject neglect. His hate speech has triggered mass shootings in El Paso and Pittsburgh, and he cheers on neo-Nazis who riot openly in the streets. No one who would run against Trump in the general would behave this way, or get to. Not even Bloomberg. These are facts. There's absolutely room to criticize every single Dem candidate for past actions and inactions on various scales, including Bloomberg, but the starting point on the other end is a capital-F Fascist who appears to be on a four-year coked-up revenge bender and wants even more time to play his psychotic mind games.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:17 PM on February 12 [9 favorites]


Michael Bloomberg’s Polite Authoritarianism
Bloomberg won in New York City with an electoral coalition of, more or less, all the different kinds of white people—wealthy, liberal, educated, uneducated, conservative—which is unlikely to be enough to propel him to victory in a general election in which, for the first time in his career, he would be running against a Republican. So Bloomberg has spent a lot of money (even though it’s only a small fraction of his enormous fortune) introducing himself to voters in places where they aren’t already familiar with his full record, and he has apologized for stop-and-frisk.

These apologies are dishonest and disingenuous. Michael Bloomberg is precisely the sort of person who should be kept out of power, in large part because so many Americans are comfortable with his genteel authoritarianism. Donald Trump understood the true purpose and meaning of stop-and-frisk, which he extolled to cops in 2018. It’s alarming to see Democrats considering nominating someone who expressed the same ideas in a calmer tone. Bloomberg’s presidential candidacy, now annoyingly relevant, will test whether or not liberals truly believe in civil rights for all Americans.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:43 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


No one who would run against Trump in the general would behave this way, or get to. Not even Bloomberg. These are facts. There's absolutely room to criticize every single Dem candidate for past actions and inactions on various scales, including Bloomberg, but the starting point on the other end is a capital-F Fascist who appears to be on a four-year coked-up revenge bender and wants even more time to play his psychotic mind games.

I would like to see some more evidence for the proposition that Bloomberg wouldn't treat the Department of Justice like his personal law firm considering he's treating the office itself like something he can buy on a whim and already treats his company like an extension of himself. I'd also say that his capacity for violent retribution is shown in his frankly shocking treatment of his female employees, especially those whose actions might have slightly diminished his company's profitability, such as by reporting sexual violence committed by other employees or even just becoming pregnant. As for protecting children at the border, I'd take him far more seriously there if there wasn't audio of him saying that every single visibly nonwhite 16 year old should be treated as a criminal.

Is he a capital-F Fascist? Sure, not in the way that Trump is. But there is a great deal of extraordinarily hateful and cruel behavior in his past, much of it directed specifically at women and people of color, that he has not even begun to reckon with. He has personally made millions of people's lives materially worse through actions he is solely responsible for, and that has caused death and injury to innocent people. I'm comfortable saying he has a history of mistreatment of people and misuse of power that is on the order of, if not quite as bad as, Trump's.
posted by Copronymus at 8:50 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


. . .that Bloomberg wouldn't treat the Department of Justice like his personal law firm considering he's treating the office itself like something he can buy on a whim and already treats his company like an extension of himself.

I work at one of the hundreds of Bloomberg-branded entities (as in, it has his name because he threw a ridiculous amount of money at it to get his name on it). He treats everything that comes to his attention as an extension of himself, often buys them on a (well advised) whim, and has no problem throwing narcissistic tantrums in public. Just not on tv so far as I can tell.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:25 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Bloomberg's the real disruptor in this race, in my opinion.

Imagine if he were to become the nominee for a second. Between his racist stop-and-frisk, tough-on-crime bullshit, the fact that he supported George Bush at the 2004 RNC, and the 40+ sexual harassment lawsuits that've been filed against him*, it's difficult to imagine a potential candidate better positioned to depress turnout for the Dem base. If Dr. Bitecofer's correct in that turnout is more consequential than persuading swing voters, Bloomberg's liabilities for the ticket are even worse.

But think about what kind of damage he can do even without winning the nomination. Since he can dump virtually unlimited amounts of money into the race he can stay in until the end, further splitting the moderate vote and hiring up talent needed by other campaigns.

I suspect, by the time this is all over with, just the fact that he's associated with the party and survived longer than several other supposed frontrunners like Harris or Booker isn't going to reflect well on the Dems. If he wins I think the party will end up splitting during his first term. I don't know how someone like him holds the coalition together, even with the pressure to pick a not-Trump.

*Bloomberg Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Lawsuits
posted by davedave at 12:01 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Call me naive but I just can't see the Democratic party giving the nomination to a dude with 40+ sexual harassment lawsuits. (There are plenty of other reasons too, I'm just picking a topical one.) How can you claim Trump is unfit for, among other reasons, his treatment and attitude towards women and then nominate Bloomer?

And the only way he could be the nominee is if it was handed to him; the odds of him getting a delegate majority pre-convention are close enough to zero as to not be worth talking about.
posted by Justinian at 12:44 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Ok, 538 has it at 7% but... I don't buy that. Maybe its 1%.
posted by Justinian at 12:44 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


I can also understand why a lot of young people admire and vote for Bernie. He is a young person who never grew up and compromised, he has the energy of someone who stands up for his values. And those values are to a large extent admirable. I guess what I share with a lot of other middle aged ladies is the experience of how that lack of compromise has a backside of unbearable righteousness that easily becomes lack of results.

I feel like this sentiment of older generations illustrates the ideological gap more than anything real that it is saying, though. It is boomers that value a superficial kind of compromise, but the neoliberal consensus was nothing about compromise but the socioeconomic oppression of the working class. So reframing it as if leftists are the ones who don't compromise could be viewed as a projection of class interests. I think negotiation and compromise and other skills are valuable, but it is easy for any complicit oppressor to accuse others of not compromising. I think cutting through the rhetoric of purity criticism and getting people to really confront possible prejudices in what they are saying, matters too.

And suggesting that young people basically "like" Sanders because he's a child is kind of very problematic in a patronizing way.
posted by polymodus at 12:51 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]


And suggesting that young people basically "like" Sanders because he's a child is kind of very problematic in a patronizing way.

Well, I can see that, sorry. That isn't OK.
But I deliberately wrote in my comment that I am voting as far and uncompromisingly left as I can, here in a country that is not the US where the far left is much, much further left than Sanders. And among many things, it's because I've met the people, most younger than me, and know how they work hard to get influence even though they are a relatively small party. And they get it by working with others, and doing the hard work of writing the bills and getting the majority to vote for them. I can't see Sanders doing that. He has only rarely done it while in his many years in congress, and I don't know any people who can get political results without building alliances. It is possible to build political alliances when on the far left, that isn't the issue. The issue is that Sanders has no experience in doing that, because he hasn't been willing to do it.

"Getting to Denmark" in Denmark is very literally about compromise. The Danish welfare state works because almost every party from the far right to the far left has stakes in it, which also means that both the welfare and the taxes are universal. We didn't have a Bernie Sanders in 1933, demanding that now everyone gets free healthcare and education. We had a Social Democrat getting all the parties except the minuscule Nazis and the Stalinist Communists aboard a deal that was the first step in a long journey.
Denmark was in many ways then, where the US is now, with huge inequality, insufficient healthcare, squalor, and an urban/rural political divide. Back then, there was a huge threat right next door (the Nazi takeover in Germany) that made everyone focus very well during the negotiations. But today we have another huge threat to aid focus: catastrophic global warming. I'not imagining that any Democrat can work across the aisle, that's rubbish. But I am thinking that any Democratic president must be able to bring together all Democrats, and support those who are working hard to win in Red states.
posted by mumimor at 4:50 AM on February 14 [8 favorites]


+1, mumimor
There are so many problems with Bloomberg, but Sanders is an ideologue who has accomplished virtually nothing in his decades of public life. If Warren can't win the nomination with her combination of progressive values and actual ability to negotiate and persuade (e.g. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), I will still energetically support whoever the Democratic candidate is, to defeat the fascist incumbent. This is no time for utopian thinking.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:07 AM on February 14 [11 favorites]


As usual, I'm with Krugman:
So who will the Democrats nominate? Your guess is as good as mine. What’s really important, however, is that the party stays focused on its strengths and Trump’s weaknesses.

For the fact is that all of the Democrats who would be president, from Bloomberg to Bernie, are at least moderately progressive; they all want to maintain and expand the social safety net, while raising taxes on the wealthy. And all the polling evidence says that America is basically a center-left nation — which is why Trump promised to raise taxes on the rich and protect major social programs during the 2016 campaign.

But he was lying, and at this point everyone with an open mind knows it. So Democrats have a perfect opportunity to portray themselves, truthfully, as the defenders of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the now-popular Affordable Care Act against Republicans who are more or less nakedly favoring the interests of plutocrats over those of working families.

This opportunity will, however, be squandered if the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she is, turns the election into a referendum on either single-payer health care or deficit reduction, neither of which is an especially popular position. Things will be even worse if the Democrats themselves degenerate into squabbles over either ideological purity or fiscal probity.

The point is that whoever gets the nomination, Democrats need to build as broad a coalition as possible. Otherwise they’ll be handing the election to Trump — and that would be a tragedy for the party, the nation and the world.
posted by mumimor at 8:05 AM on February 14 [7 favorites]


But I deliberately wrote in my comment that I am voting as far and uncompromisingly left as I can,

I would have endorsed this sentiment a generation ago, but caution that to anyone under 30 or so it now translates to an -ism or two, with fundamentalist purity and blind faith as certainty. In the politics of economic reform, it is paramount to distinguish between supply and demand approaches, as in producing food from state owned farms, or simply redistributing money to needy people to spend on food and other things. If the former, then we can expect the worst, because nobody is paid to care all the way down the line, and platitudes and slogans only motivate the brainwashed enforcers, not workers. Supply-siders aren't just dictating the economy, but reality and "truth" itself, same as ancient religion or modern fascism. Whoever controls the supply is oppressing everyone. The only way to balance supply-side control is to keep demand wide open by redistribution. Marx is therefore outmoded because he didn't believe in money at all, even as a balancing tool. Bottom line is that we should never let the state control supply, whether in partnership with the wealthy 1% or the pseudo-revolutionies. Pure power self-justifies oppression, and if someone doesn't distinguish between supply and demand approaches under any -sim, then assume they don't know the difference and are merely would-be oppressors.
posted by Brian B. at 10:20 AM on February 14


Remember: Voting isn't CHOOSE YOUR CHARACTER. Voting is CHOOSE YOUR OPPONENT.
You're deciding who you want to be in government, not who you want to pledge allegiance to. You're picking who you will hold to account, who you will lobby and confront, who you feel has the best starting point.
Even in an election between two candidates you hate, you can still choose the one that you (and everyone else impacted by your choice) can fight more productively.
posted by mbrubeck at 12:27 PM on February 14 [4 favorites]


Previously

"The evidence is mixed on whether compulsory voting favors parties of the right or the left and some studies suggest that most United States federal election results would be unchanged. But all that misses the point because it overlooks that compulsory voting changes more than the number of voters: It changes who runs for office and the policy proposals they support." - Waleed Aly, New York Times

Staying home and not voting at all is just telling whoever does end up winning that they shouldn't listen to you, your neighbors, or people like you.
posted by VTX at 12:49 PM on February 14 [4 favorites]


I think Denmark as a narrative is one that American leftists have deconstructed. Some Americans argue that Denmark and other Nordic countries succeeded because they are small and ethnically much more homogeneous. Homogeneity enables conservatism and thus a narrative of compromise; this ideological critique reverses the narrative of compromise as something that arose out of material characteristics.
If you think history is merely repeating itself, then it's natural to apply historical examples of success to today. But today's situation is possibly unique; America is the center of global actually-existing capitalism and the divide between the partyless left and neoliberal Democrats is a symptom of how extreme things are, sociopolitically. Blaming the left for not knowing how to work with others doesn't make sense given this large scale picture. See for example Piketty's new book about who Democrats really are. Let's consider that it's people who don't want to work with Bernie, and why is that?
posted by polymodus at 1:51 PM on February 14


All nows are unique, and I certainly don't think history repeats itself. I also don't think the Danish parliamentary experience can be copied in the US with its two party system. What I am explaining is that the strength and durability of the Danish welfare model is very much a result of its historic and contemporary roots in cooperation across party lines. You would think that "the Scandinavian Model" is the same throughout Scandinavia, but the Swedish version is quite different (and maybe historically closer to what Sanders imagines), and the Norwegian version is wholly dependent on their amazing management of their oil and gas ressources.
That all said, I don't think global capitalism has a centre, and I believe that is one of the problems we are dealing with. Yes, there are more global monopolies based in the US than in other countries, but they are not tied together by their American-ness. The Koch business probably has more in common with Mexican and Brasilian companies than with Amazon or Apple. And they in turn have more in common with Huawei or Samsung. The unique thing about the US is not its capitalism but its bloated military-industrial complex. Nothing in the world compares in scale and power. And the nature of that is such that the Democratic Party can not distance itself from it, not least because the military is the entryway for the working class into middle class. This has nothing at all to do with the university-educated political elite distancing themselves from the working class on the left wing, although the radical right and the self-flaggelating left both love that narrative. It's an alliance between the elites that control the fossil fuel industry, the weapons manufacturing industry and the military and military contractors, and that significant subset of the working and middle classes who earn their living and have made their identities within this sector or on its fringes.
Sanders' one great accomplishment is a veterans health care bill, and while I applaud his work (I am an army brat) it is also the proof in the pudding of the stronghold the military-industrial complex has on the whole American political system.
We could easily cut down our use of fossil fuels if we could cut down our militaries to a scale where we could only kill all human life once. That is a much easier task in countries where the military and weapons industry has less influence.
Add to that the whole healthcare industry, which has absolutely nothing to do with global capitalism, and everthing to do with exploiting all but the very richest Americans.
posted by mumimor at 2:28 PM on February 14


More support for the argument that turning out swing voters is key: "No, radical policies won’t drive election-winning turnout."
No myth is stronger in progressive circles than the magical, wonderworking powers of voter turnout. It’s become a sort of pixie dust that you sprinkle over your strenuously progressive positions to ward off any suggestion that they might turn off voters. That is how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), now the Democratic presidential front-runner, has dealt with criticism that his more unpopular stances — including eliminating private health insurance, decriminalizing the border and covering undocumented immigrants in a government health plan — might cost him the votes he needs to beat President Trump.

Sanders’s explanation of why this is not a problem is simple, and he has repeated it endlessly. When a member of the Los Angeles Times editorial board asked him whether “a candidate as far to the left as you” would “alienate swing voters and moderates and independents,” the senator replied: “The only way that you beat Trump is by having an unprecedented campaign, an unprecedentedly large voter turnout.” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’s campaign manager, adds: “Bernie Sanders has very unique appeal amongst [the younger] generation and can inspire, I think, a bunch of them to vote in percentages that they have never voted before.”

This has remarkably little empirical support. Take the 2018 midterm elections, in which the Democrats took back the House (a net 40-seat gain), carried the House popular vote by almost nine points and flipped seven Republican-held governorships. Turnout in that election was outstanding, topping 49 percent — the highest midterm turnout since 1914 and up 13 points over the previous midterm, in 2014 — and the demographic composition of the electorate came remarkably close to that of a presidential election year. (Typically, midterm voters tend to be much older and much whiter than those in presidential elections.) This was due both to fewer presidential “drop-off” voters (people who voted in 2016 but not 2018) and to more midterm “surge” voters (those who voted in 2018 but not 2016).

Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of the Democrats’ improved performance came not from fresh turnout of left-of-center voters, who typically skip midterms, but rather from people who cast votes in both elections — yet switched from Republican in 2016 to Democratic in 2018. The data firm Catalist, whose numbers on 2018 are the best available, estimates that 89 percent of the Democrats’ improved performance came from persuasion — from vote-switchers — not turnout. In its analysis, Catalist notes, “If turnout was the only factor, then Democrats would not have seen nearly the gains that they ended up seeing … a big piece of Democratic victory was due to 2016 Trump voters turning around and voting for Democrats in 2018."
posted by PhineasGage at 4:50 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


This has remarkably little empirical support.

You can't rationally persuade someone out of a position they didn't persuade themselves into rationally. I keep trying but there's always a reason why it didn't happen last time but it'll happen next time.
posted by Justinian at 4:54 PM on February 14 [4 favorites]


The only question in my mind is will the President at 12:01 AM on 1/21/21 be Donald Trump or a Democrat other than Bernie Sanders. If he becomes the nominee, Sanders will get crushed in the general. Bernie Sanders will not be President of the United States.

Regardless of whether one supports his agenda or not, if by some miracle Sanders gained the Oval Office, his coattails would be very short, and he would not have the allies needed to implement his ambitious plans. Sanders does not have the skills, inclination, or personality to form the coalitions necessary to get legislation passed.

It may come down to a brokered convention. Sanders will not have nearly a majority of the delegates but has a good chance of having a plurality.

Unfortunately, I have little confidence that Sanders will be a team player if delegates from several candidates unite around a single, more moderate person. For example the second and third highest delegate holders could decide to become running mates to gain a majority of delegates. Sanders has already said that choosing a nominee other than the person with a plurality of delegates at the Democratic Convention would be very divisive. The threat is obvious.

It is very early days in the primary season, and so perhaps someone other than Sanders will have a plurality by the time of the convention. Otherwise I fear Sanders and many of his supporters will sulk and throw the election to Trump, if he is not selected as the Democrats’ standard bearer. (Note how some supporters of his have reacted to the culinary workers union in Nevada, and how Sanders has not taken them to task to stop their harassing behavior.)
posted by haiku warrior at 8:09 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


There's the same amount of evidence that Sanders can't win the general as there is that a hidden army of non-voters will turn out if you just run a person progressive enough; none. Sanders polls second best against Trump of all the Democratic candidates and best in a few important states like Texas (though losing a state by 2 would be worth almost exactly as much as losing by 40.)

If we're gonna point out that there is absolutely no reason to think a secret army is just itching to vote if the right person is nominated we should be consistent and not posit that one of the two best polling candidates is inherently doooooomed.
posted by Justinian at 11:55 PM on February 14 [8 favorites]


Teixeira is the F. Fukuyama of voting demographics. According to several of his books, we should be living in an upper middle class Democratic ruled paradise by now. Like with Fukuyama, history immediately squashed his vision with 8 years of Bush/Cheney, Tea Party rule then McConnell-Trump. He’s also a leading discounter that Trump’s popularity has anything to do with racism. Partake of his ideas with discretion.
posted by Harry Caul at 5:30 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Sanders support is very enthusiastic, but very narrow. (And a bunch of them are bullies, and he is unwilling to rein them in, as the culinary union tiff shows.) A relative unknown was essentially his equal in two contests, and he got many fewer votes in NH than four years ago. These facts form part of my evidence.

Polls at the national level at this point are mostly about name recognition. As the the primary season moves along and other candidates come into the spotlight, we may get a clearer picture of who stacks up well in the general election.

The rules of the Democratic Convention are that the nominee must be nominated a majority of the delegates. If Sanders doesn’t have majority, he will have to get delegates pledged to other candidates to vote for him.

That can happen in two ways after the first vote. Candidates can pledge their delegates to Sanders. Or they can free their delegates to vote for whomever ever they want.

Bernie Sanders has better get good at the deal making he despises, if wants to be the nominee. The same shortcomings have made him an ineffective legislator will prevent him from becoming the nominee, IMO.
posted by haiku warrior at 6:15 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Note how some supporters of his have reacted to the culinary workers union in Nevada, and how Sanders has not taken them to task to stop their harassing behavior.

He'd already done this over a day before you made this claim, so why keep repeating it? Especially because, as it turns out, the CU's problem doesn't appear to be mean Sanders supporters online, but that the leadership spoke for a rank-and-file that seems very split, let alone in lockstep with them, and who rightly did not want to have dissenting voices silenced. Much like the repeated assertions that Sanders did less to support Clinton than she did for Obama, and that more Sanders supporters went for Trump than Clinton supporters went for McCain, these are easily-debunked myths. The last people that should be repeating them are the ones who think that Trump and/or foreign governments are using "fake news" to divide the party, because while they don't need the help, you have to know by now that they sure as hell welcome it.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 7:52 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]


Sanders support is very enthusiastic, but very narrow.

Current available data does not support this assertion at all.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:28 AM on February 15 [6 favorites]


Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of the Democrats’ improved performance came not from fresh turnout of left-of-center voters, who typically skip midterms, but rather from people who cast votes in both elections — yet switched from Republican in 2016 to Democratic in 2018. The data firm Catalist, whose numbers on 2018 are the best available, estimates that 89 percent of the Democrats’ improved performance came from persuasion — from vote-switchers — not turnout. In its analysis, Catalist notes, “If turnout was the only factor, then Democrats would not have seen nearly the gains that they ended up seeing … a big piece of Democratic victory was due to 2016 Trump voters turning around and voting for Democrats in 2018."

Yeah, OK, I got some real doubts about this -

If you look at the actual Catalist analysis linked in that WaPo article (Medium article or pdf version on GoogleDrive) there's no "89" percent there at all, so I don't know what Teixeira is referring to here.

And my read is that the actual Catalist analysis is nowhere near as definite as Teixeira is presenting it as - the "Top highlighted" bit in the Medium piece is, "Regardless, our view of what this data shows is — turnout is important, but it would be unwise to assume that people’s voting preferences are cast in stone." IOW, both increased lefty-leaning turnout AND some level of "swing" voters were in play in 2018.

And even besides that, while it's interesting and possibly useful to compare midterms with Presidential elections, direct one-to-one comparisons (especially now) don't necessarily hold water because 1) Presidential elections, like it or not, are driven to a large extent by the personalities/public perceptions of specific individuals vying to be "Leader of The Free World", so what drives people to vote for local politicians and issues in midterms may not be what drives them in Presidential elections, 2) it's certainly not uncommon for voters to decide that The President needs some reining in, so they vote for the opposite party in the following midterms, and (IMO most importantly) 3) I don't doubt there were a lot of people who voted for Trump assuming that he would be maybe a loudmouth version of Standard Republican, and have had two years to realize HOLY SHIT WTF IS WRONG WITH THIS GUY? So at least some midterms vote-swapping is maybe not unexpected, but not necessarily a strong sign that targeting "swing" voters needs to be the Dem strategy in 2020.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:32 AM on February 15 [4 favorites]


Anyone claiming to know ex ante how a contested convention is going to play out is already on thin ice, but if there's one person I'm not going to listen to such punditizing from, it's someone who is citing widely-discredited data about job/wage growth in Rust Belt states and thinks that a Bloomberg/Abrams ticket is an "interesting combination".
posted by tonycpsu at 8:35 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, I have little confidence that Sanders will be a team player if delegates from several candidates unite around a single, more moderate person. For example the second and third highest delegate holders could decide to become running mates to gain a majority of delegates. Sanders has already said that choosing a nominee other than the person with a plurality of delegates at the Democratic Convention would be very divisive. The threat is obvious.

Let me say this as someone who didn’t vote for Sanders last primary: he would be absolutely correct in calling this divisive (and unprecedented, and imo, unfair). Since the advent of nationwide primaries, only one party has faced a contented convention, and they went with the candidate who had the highest number of delegates going into it (Ford). In a system based around democratic voting, it’s going to seem unfair not to choose the person who comes the closest to winning. I would feel the same way if Bloomberg (ugh) went into the convention with the highest number of delegates as well.
posted by sallybrown at 9:18 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Comments on this forum are almost all punditizing.

Of course I don’t know how a contested convention is going to play out. I’m stating an opinion based on the facts available to me, my personal experiences, and my observations of following politics since 1976, when I was 13 years old.

As for data being discredited, you will have to point me to information that supports your assertion. I used that citation to support my opinion that many people I have encountered feel better off. Is that sense broad based or simply skewed by the small sample size of the number people of people I know? That data indicates more the former than the latter.

As for a Bloomberg/Abrams ticket, my description of that pairing is simply that—not an endorsement. The scenario is one that I had not even remotely considered, and it has a lot of “politics makes odd bedfellows” aspects. So yes, it is interesting. Could it even happen? Very unlikely. Is it desirable? Only if it defeats Trump.

My opinions here are stated to be informative and to provide fodder for a healthy discussion. My intention is that they are respectful of other commenters, even when I disagree with them. No one need agree with my opinions, but not listening would appear to be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Use my arguments to strengthen your own, and maybe I will change my position. I try to keep an open mind, and I definitely have been persuaded to alter my views in the past. Dismissive comments don’t work, though.
posted by haiku warrior at 9:38 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Here’s a little slice of history (Twitter link) from Steve Kornacki, about the Democratic Party’s worry that Jesse Jackson might win a plurality, but not majority, of delegates.
posted by sallybrown at 9:39 AM on February 15


What if the delegate count were the following?

Sanders 27%
Buttieg 26%
Klubacher 25%
Bloomberg 22%

Should Sanders still be the nominated as the plurality vote getter? Because something like the above could happen, based on what we have seen so far.

Those not-Sanders candidates have much more in common with each other than with Sanders. They would seem likely to support a ticket including two of them, the third being promised a prominent role in the administration.

We’ll get more clarity by mid March.
posted by haiku warrior at 10:00 AM on February 15


Should Sanders still be the nominated as the plurality vote getter?

Yes. And if Mayor Pete is the one who’s one percentage point ahead in first, then I think he should. Fair is fair.
posted by sallybrown at 10:01 AM on February 15


To elaborate, I think we’re the most in danger of going wrong when a group of people with more power decides to make an exception to a general rule to choose a course that they personally prefer, which makes it more likely that they’re making a subjective mistake. Our brains like to trick us into thinking what we want is the same thing as what is best. This is one reason why I trust the rules over the wisdom of people picking on the fly, but then I’m an institutionalist at heart (which is why I don’t usually jive with the “burn it all down” crew that likes Bernie).

To me, a good example of this was the Bush v. Gore ruling—unlike a lot of people, I don’t see that as pure and conscious corruption, but rather a group of people used to being considered wiser than the rest of us choosing (colored by their own biases) to suspend the general rules of elections to do what they thought was best for the country (which aligned with what the personally preferred, surprise surprise), rather than let a tense and more difficult process play out in the way it was supposed to.

If a bunch of electors say “well, even if Bernie has the most delegates, he doesn’t have enough, and you could group all the moderates’ totals together and argue they won as a collective”—they are shaping the means to suit their desired ends, even if they want to convince themselves otherwise. An especially telling red flag would be if there was a claim of a unique situation that should not be repeated in the future - like the especially pathetic part of Bush v. Gore, which tried to claim “we’re only doing this once, don’t use this as a template for any future event.”
posted by sallybrown at 10:15 AM on February 15


Respectfully disagree, sallybrown. First, that is absolutely not fair, I’m my opinion. The person who has the least overall support for their policies gets the nod because the opposition is nearly divided among three candidates. So a majority is thwarted by plurality. If ranked choice voting were allowed, as many people on Metafilter advocate, I doubt that Sanders would prevail.

Second, the rules state the the nominee must have the majority of the votes. The person getting the majority is the better coalition builder. This is an option for Sanders, too, but I don’t think he can/will for reasons I have stated.

Third consider another situation where the plurality vote getter were some truly awful person like Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County, AZ sheriff. Would you still say that he should be the nominee and fair is fair?
posted by haiku warrior at 10:21 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Here’s a little slice of history (Twitter link) from Steve Kornacki, about the Democratic Party’s worry that Jesse Jackson might win a plurality, but not majority, of delegates.

Do you want Dukakis?! Because that's how you get Dukakis!
posted by kirkaracha at 11:04 AM on February 15


Responding your second comment sallybrown, it would be Sanders changing the rules to get the nominee chosen by plurality not majority. Sanders knew the rules when declared his candidacy, but now he suggests modifying them when they might not favor him?

The Bush v. Gore analogy is not the right one, in my opinion. Then a small minority of the country made a decision that countered a majority of the voters. In the case of a contested convention presumably there will be a majority of several thousand delegates selecting the nominee and these delegates will represent a majority of Democratic voters.

If my scenario about is grouped by preferred policies, the percentage break down would be

Very Liberal 27%
Moderate 73%

Please understand, that I will absolutely vote for Sanders in the general, should he become the nominee. I just believe that he would be soundly defeated by Trump. While I hope Sanders is not the nominee for that reason (and think he would not be an effective President), I also hope that I am wrong should he turn out to carry the standard for the Dems.

Got to divert to real work now!
posted by haiku warrior at 11:05 AM on February 15


Use my arguments to strengthen your own, and maybe I will change my position. I try to keep an open mind, and I definitely have been persuaded to alter my views in the past. Dismissive comments don’t work, though.

This is sealioning: it’s no one’s job here to convince you of anything—nor to provide citations to your standards—and pointing out statements of opinion mistakenly asserted as fact is hardly dismissive. Conversation is not argument.
posted by LooseFilter at 3:27 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


This is sealioning:

I see only good faith arguments there. And his examples are sound too, in that a minor tally has no way to win a majority contest without a runoff or second-choice voting.
posted by Brian B. at 5:04 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


This is the first time I heard of the term sealioning! So thanks for the information LooseFilter. I learned something.

And thanks for your support, Brian B. You articulated my view far more succinctly than I.
posted by haiku warrior at 6:11 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


It's pretty frustrating to cite three articles showing the very mixed results and very uneven distribution of Trump's economic policies, have that very detailed analysis "refuted" with a handful of FRED charts of nominal wage and unemployment data, and then be told that *I'm* the one that's not listening.

The links I cited made a convincing case that the very states lagging behind in Trump's economy are those he promised to help, the industries that are lagging behind are those he promised to help, and the counties doing the worst are many of those that he flipped from Obama in 2016. All of these factors make a broad statement like "the economy is doing much better than it was four years ago in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania" misleading at best.

Voters don't need to read FRED charts to decide how the economy is treating them. Anyone who's fooled by the surface stats that tell a rosy story in the Rust Belt was already going to vote for Trump anyway.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:28 PM on February 15 [8 favorites]


Thank you for your response tonycpsu.

. . . if there's one person I'm not going to listen to such punditizing from, it's someone who is citing widely-discredited data about job/wage growth in Rust Belt states and thinks that a Bloomberg/Abrams ticket is an "interesting combination".

As the emphasized portion quote from your comment shows, I'm not the one saying you are not listening.

In an earlier comment, I addressed my description of the hypothetical Bloomberg/Abrams ticket as an "interesting combination," and how it definitely was not an endorsement. While I believe that you rushed to judgment on my original comment, especially since I said I like Abrams a lot and nothing about Bloomberg, I can see why you might have thought otherwise.

"Widely-discredited data" did not seem to be the correct term to describe what your cited articles show. So when you wrote that the Fed data had been widely-discredited, I asked for a citation based on that phrase. I understand now that you were merely referring back your previous citations, which do not discredit the Fed data all. Rather those articles indicate the statistics from the Fed don't paint the complete picture and that many people are not doing so great. I absolutely agree, and you would get no argument from me on that perspective.

My point is about about people's perceptions, and how any Dem will have to address them if people feel they are doing better. Your cited NY Times article also raises this issue.
Still, compared with the crisis of the Great Recession — or even the years of more gradual industrial decline that preceded it — the economy in the Midwest remains on relatively solid footing. The unemployment rate is hovering around 4 percent in much of the region and is even lower in some states. Almost every Midwestern state has added jobs in the past year with the exception of Michigan, where the strike at General Motors temporarily knocked some 17,000 workers off payrolls in October. (November data, which should reflect the end of the strike, will be released later this month.)

It isn’t clear how voters will respond to what has been, so far, a mild economic slowdown. Early polls show Mr. Trump leading in the Midwest against several of his prospective Democratic opponents, and his approval ratings have remained largely steady. Patrick Anderson, an economist in East Lansing, Mich., who has studied how the economy affects elections, said he doubted that voters would view the slowdown as a crisis.

“Many of these voters are resistant to the notion that this is a bad time because they have lived through a very bad time,” Mr. Anderson said.
[emphasis added]
People notice not only what is happening to them but what is happening around them. How are their friends and relatives doing? Are there more "Help Wanted" signs? Do they see more commercial and residential construction? Having housing prices rebounded? How bad is inflation? While they might not have invested in stocks, new highs in the stock markets are reported in the news, and they notice that. They will notice that the economy has been growing for the last three years and may have heard how this is record long expansion. Healthcare costs might be very much on their minds, but if they or their children don't plan to go to college education costs might not be so relevant, and if they live outside cities, housing costs might not be a worry.

Most important, people don't compare how they are doing relative to other states. (And, yes, those Rust Belt states are lagging.) Rather, people compare how they and those around them are doing today relative to four or five years ago. In that regard, they will see improvement, and the Fed statistics reflect that in the broadest sense, which is why I linked to them when some wrote "citation needed" or the equivalent. (I should have block quoted the passage above, too.)

Bernie Sanders in particular, who proposes radical changes is how our economy functions, will have to deal with reluctance to upset the apple cart, if people generally feel the economy is going in the right direction, as the quote from Mr. Anderson above suggests.

Hope this clears the air.
posted by haiku warrior at 11:32 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Should Sanders still be the nominated as the plurality vote getter?

Yes. And if Mayor Pete is the one who’s one percentage point ahead in first, then I think he should. Fair is fair.


this is so alien to me. I think a plurality-only nominee would be a disaster no matter who it is, precisely because it doesn't seem fair. like nothing about that is "fair" to me. A brokered convention actually seems more fair to me than that, in the abstract sense, even though I think it would also be disastrous and I am fucking dreading it.

what I would like to see is ranked choice voting with all states holding their primary on the same day and no more fucking caucuses, ever, but nobody asks me.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:30 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


What if the delegate count were the following?

Sanders 27%
Buttieg 26%
Klubacher 25%
Bloomberg 22%


Did you just erase Elizabeth Warren?
posted by srboisvert at 10:41 AM on February 17 [7 favorites]


The names and numbers were Illustration purposes only.
posted by haiku warrior at 1:07 PM on February 17


its funny because even though most americans self-describe as moderate, when questioned about their actual beliefs, turns out they're pretty fucking liberal.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:36 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


[A few deleted. Please stick to the topic of the post and don't turn this into a Sanders-Hate vs Sanders-Love knockdown dragout. Please go find somewhere else on the internet to do that; we do not have the human bodies or emotional capacity, energy, intention or will to nonstop babysit this dogfight 24/7.]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:01 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Perhaps I will be eating some crow come November 4. The Hill: Sanders now leads 2020 by 15 points

He’s not my preferred candidate by policy or temperament, and I still have big doubts about his electability. The Dem must take those midwestern states, and so leading Trump in national polls is not enough. But I will jump on the bandwagon if he is the nominee!

The first debate including Bloomberg should be interesting. (That’s not an endorsement, okay gang?)
posted by haiku warrior at 9:44 AM on February 19


The Audacity of Hate NYTimes opinion piece by Thomas B. Edsall
Karl Rove had a novel idea for how to organize President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

He and the chief campaign strategist, Matthew Dowd, decided on a “base strategy.” They reallocated the bulk of the campaign’s media budget to focus on social conservatives instead of on moderates — a decision predicated on the fact that the swing, or persuadable, share of the electorate had shrunk from one in five voters to less than one in 10. The most effective use of campaign funds, the thinking ran, was to invest in turning out more of the millions of white right-wing voters who needed to be motivated to show up at the polls.

The result was a shift that year from a traditional centrist strategy to an emphasis on anger and fear, a shift that turned out to have profound long-term consequences.

Campaigns in the past had relied on activating resentment and hostility, of course, but the re-election drive for Bush in 2004 was the first to make this the centerpiece of a mainstream presidential effort.
American politics were irrevocably transformed, polarization strategies became institutionalized and the stage was set for the explicit racial and anti-immigrant themes dominating Donald Trump’s campaigns for election and re-election.
posted by mumimor at 4:41 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Well, an analogous strategy could never, ever work for the Democrats, so let's keep chasing old white guys in Ohio diners, mkay?
posted by Rykey at 5:17 AM on February 20


Well, an analogous strategy could never, ever work for the Democrats, so let's keep chasing old white guys in Ohio diners, mkay?

What even is this suggesting? The lizard-brain anger/resentment buttons are racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. And abelism in a pinch, probably. Which one of those would you have the Democrats press?
posted by schadenfrau at 6:50 AM on February 20


None, I'm saying Ds would do much better to court voters further out to the left, rather than chasing swing voters closer to the center.
posted by Rykey at 7:25 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


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