USA Election Filter - Increased Turnout and More News From Polling Sites
October 7, 2020 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Early voting is breaking records in 2020, fueled by a big mail-ballot lead for Democrats

More than 4.2 million people have already voted early in the presidential election, vastly exceeding the pace of 2016 as Democrats amass a commanding lead in returned mail ballots.

Election 2020: When early voting and mail voting for president begins in every state

First day of early voting in Santa Fe has rocky start

At least a few New Mexico counties struggled with hiccups on their first day of early, in-person voting for the general election, with voters enduring long waits and in some cases getting turned away because of confusion surrounding absentee ballot requests.

Also, from the Albuquerque Journal (not linking because no free stories): Lines were out the door from before opening at 8 a.m. until at least noon at the earliest poll in the state's biggest county. Twenty-three percent of the state's registered voters have requested absentee ballots.
posted by NotLost (207 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
This pattern is particularly unusual because in most elections, Democrats tend to vote later. This is called the "blue shift"; the last mail in ballots to be received tend to be more Democrats.

I think it's good news this year that the ballots aren't skewing that way, it eliminates various kinds of strategies the Republicans have for suppressing votes. (Ie: stopping the count early.) It may also be evidence that all of the Republicans' efforts to denigrate voting by mail have backfired in that their own people are now afraid to vote by mail. Some of them will still vote in person, not wearing a mask no doubt, but they may have suppressed their own voters.
posted by Nelson at 7:15 AM on October 7 [12 favorites]


Although not in the USA Today article, I would bet that a lot of Democrats are voting early because they have heard news and rumors of vigorous Republican efforts to ensure Trump's re-election through shady legalistic means.
posted by kozad at 7:15 AM on October 7 [35 favorites]


This is going to be a long 27 days.
posted by octothorpe at 7:16 AM on October 7 [44 favorites]


It's going to be a lot longer than 27 days. Some other key days:

~November 17: most states will have counted most ballots
December 8: electors are selected by each state
December 14: electors vote for President
January 6: electors votes are counted by Congress
January 20: inauguration

If there's any important thing to teach everyone, it's that the election vote count is not over on Nov 3. It's definitely clear that the ~Nov 17 date will be the important date for knowing who won the Presidential popular vote. A Biden landslide on Nov 3 probably won't be overturned by a later count, but any close vote count on Nov 3 means nothing.

But the Republicans are now so ruthless and without honor that there's a lot of concern they will subvert the electors process. Read here for various nightmare scenarios. Dec 14 or Jan 6 may well be important dates. And those intervening 6-8 weeks are going to be absolutely awful. Prepare to be in the streets if necessary.

I'm not resting easy until the corrupt monster is literally not sitting in government.
posted by Nelson at 7:32 AM on October 7 [95 favorites]


Dear Americans,

Why, in the name of everything democracy, is any information on tentative ballot results being published before all polls are closed nationally?

Best,

A Confused Canadian.
posted by sixohsix at 7:39 AM on October 7 [44 favorites]


In case you are wondering - like I was - when your mail-in ballot will be counted, I found this table from the National Conference of State Legislatures very helpful. There is a wide range of state-level requirements, from being required to process ballots immediately, to not being allowed to process them until election day, and some states have temporary changes in place just for this election. I know a lot of us are worried about how long it will take to process huge numbers of mail in ballots and whether that will increase potential election night/week/month chaos. I found this information helpful in navigating that "mail-in or in-person" decision, personally. Knowing that Illinois must process my ballot within two days of receipt and that it will be added to the tally immediately at 7pm on election night puts one (of my many) worries to rest.
posted by misskaz at 7:39 AM on October 7 [15 favorites]


Why, in the name of everything democracy, is any information on tentative ballot results being published before all polls are closed nationally?

No one is reporting the ballot results, just who sent them in. There's no knowing how people from each party actually voted until election day (and after).
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 AM on October 7 [10 favorites]


In case you are wondering - like I was - when your mail-in ballot will be counted...

Not so much when as if, really.
posted by Paul Slade at 7:43 AM on October 7 [11 favorites]


There are many reasons why I'm bummed about breaking my knee last week, but one of them is that it has cancelled my plans to be first in line at my district's early-voting poll site first thing in the morning on the first possible day of early voting so I could be first to vote those fuckers out.

Have requested a mail-in ballot. I may be mobile enough by election day anyway, so if I don't get it I may still get a car to the poll site and hobble in and cast my vote.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on October 7 [11 favorites]


Great post. PSA: here in Virginia an absentee mail-in ballot can be taken to early voting, the poll worker will void the mail in ballot and you can vote using the machine. I did this - fewer mailin ballots to count. But Virginia is burning up early voting. Yay!
posted by bluesky43 at 7:50 AM on October 7 [6 favorites]


"There isn't a reason for Republicans to panic just because Democrats are 'winning' the mail vote," said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster, who has worked for Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He said the numbers reflect a mail-voting advantage for Democrats that polls forecast long ago. "Every vote counts just once whether it is cast today or cast on Election Day."

Oh, if only that were true...
posted by Naberius at 7:50 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Just a reminder that if you have requested a mail-in ballot and change your mind to do some form of in person voting, bring your mail in ballot to surrender! Rules vary by state and county but in some locations they will be unable to invalidate your mail in ballot and will instead issue you a provisional ballot for in-person voting, which is only counted after all the other votes are in! This is something I’ve been concerned about here in California as they automatically issued mail-in ballots to the entire state, but our local registrar appears to have plans in place.
posted by q*ben at 8:10 AM on October 7 [8 favorites]


Ha ha, octothorpe, that just raises the second question that’s confusing to Canadians- the fact that “who” is public, and in particular that party affiliations are public. We tend to see voting preferences as a private matter and privacy is an important safeguard against, say, autocratic presidents wielding this information as a weapon.
posted by simra at 8:23 AM on October 7 [7 favorites]


When I was working on the Obama campaign, I could look up anyone's registration and see a list of every election they'd voted in.
posted by octothorpe at 8:27 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Early voting started in MN on September 18th. Herr Duck is helping out with the early in-person voting and dropped-off absentee ballots. As of now, over 20% of registered voters in our city have already voted. This also counts the ballots mailed back in directly to the county. This is wild!! I'm glad that people are on top of things AND I'm relieved that perhaps Election Day won't be the madhouse that we Election Judges were all dreading.

MN typically has among the highest voter turnout in the nation, and the precinct where I'm head judge had 86% turnout in 2016. My other election judge friends and I make predictions about turnout and this year we're all guessing in the 90%'s with one person guessing exactly 100% turnout (considering day-of registrations will cancel out those few that don't vote). Everyone is super fired up.
posted by Gray Duck at 8:29 AM on October 7 [9 favorites]


538 released its House forecast, currently a 93% chance of a Democratic majority, average predicted pickup of +5 seats.

The Senate forecast is much less clear. 67% chance of a Democratic majority, but the 80% confidence interval covers everything from 47 and 55 seats for Democrats.

The 538 presidential forecast continues to move in Biden's favor at 83%, buoyed by consistently stronger polling.

The Economist's forecasts are in the same ballpark, but rosier. 99% for the House, predicting a pickup of 9 seats. 71% for the Senate. 90% for the presidency.

The Senate is the key pivot point. Without a Senate majority the Biden administration will be hamstrung and there will be no hope of expanding the Supreme Court.
posted by jedicus at 8:29 AM on October 7 [17 favorites]


There's nothing that will make you want a thing like some asshole trying to take it away from you... I'd expect Republicans of all people to understand this, given that they believe the only valid emotions are feeling awesome because you own a yacht, or feeling jealous because you don't.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 8:31 AM on October 7 [11 favorites]


When I was on the Obama campaign, I could look up anyone's registration and see a list of every election they'd voted in.

I'm a dork, and have an ongoing contest with a friend on whose parser can go through the NYS voter file. There are 45 fields, and the last one is "VoterHistory", it's a CSV file, and a very brief survey shows that field can be almost 1k.
posted by mikelieman at 8:37 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I've been an absentee ballot voter my whole adult life in CA and I have always just dropped off my ballot at my polling place on Election Day itself. This year I'm not going to do that - gonna fill it in and drop it off at the local drop box ASAP, but I have not seen anything indicating that you need to do anything with your mail-in ballot other than drop it off at a polling place or a drop box.
posted by toastyk at 8:42 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


A lot of election rules vary by state. It's important to be aware of the rules in your own state.
posted by NotLost at 8:49 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


The fivethirtyeight election forecast for 2016 show a much more volatile race than 2020. Gimme your hot takes!
posted by piyushnz at 8:53 AM on October 7


I Voted! It felt great! Maine has Early Voting, where you go to Town Hall, get an absentee ballot, fill it out in a kiosk, turn it in. Maine has no known voter fraud, plus Ranked Choice Voting. Maine also just instituted Absentee Ballot Tracking. We use paper ballots, counted by machine, which seems safest.

If I get hit by a bus, at least I voted.
posted by theora55 at 9:04 AM on October 7 [22 favorites]


Hot takes, you say?

Georgia, Iowa, Ohio are tossups. North Carolina is a tossup barely trending blue. Texas is a tossup barely trending red.

Florida and Arizona are close, probably within "margin of error" in a lot of models, but with consistent Biden leads of 3 to 4 points.

Pennsylvania has a small but slowly growing Biden lead. I'd rate it at Biden by 6 at this point.

Unfortunately, any of these close states could be targeted by Republican shenanigans of one sort or another: bogus legal challenges, "Brooks Brothers Riot" style disruptions as in 2000, or who knows what else. Vote overwhelmingly, and act accordingly.

I have more hot takes, but that's it for the moment.
posted by gimonca at 9:12 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


the fact that “who” is public, and in particular that party affiliations are public

The US has used primary elections to determine party nominations for a long time, which requires recording party affiliation. (Or using open primaries, which are dumb and bad and are like letting Leafs fans decide who the Habs are going to draft)

Canada sensibly lets parties determine their own nominees more or less however they see fit.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:14 AM on October 7


The fivethirtyeight election forecast for 2016 show a much more volatile race than 2020. Gimme your hot takes!

Biden has always had a consistent, substantial lead in the polls, with very few polls showing Trump ahead. Clinton's lead was frequently very narrow, with many polls showing Trump ahead. That's pretty much the whole story.
posted by jedicus at 9:15 AM on October 7 [7 favorites]


I'm really worried about the Senate race here in NC because Cal Cunningham (D) is embroiled in a late-breaking infidelity/sexting scandal. Shades of John Edwards. Of course his opponent, Thom Tillis, is the worst and I wouldn't vote for him. But I'll be thinking "meh" as I vote for Cunningham, and it's possible he might even still drop out. FFS. I'm also worried that his "aw shucks native son" appeal to a conservative state just popped like a balloon due to the keeping-up-appearances morality that dominates here.

Tillis: doesn't believe in climate change; opposes abortion; urged Trump to ditch the Paris agreement; A+ NRA rating; opposes the ACA; and said about people on government aid ""What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance". So, still voting D.
posted by freecellwizard at 9:17 AM on October 7 [6 favorites]


Also, the fact that who votes is public is actually helpful to voters.

When campaigns see that Joe Schmuckatelli has voted, they quit contacting him.
posted by NotLost at 9:17 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Also good (if not good tasting) to remember the vote count from the election is just a cultural norm we (most of the time) follow in electing presidents.
The election of the president is on Dec 14 (if the electors are agreed upon in each state, and probably there are no impending legal issues to wait for) and then that vote is confirmed by the Congress Jan 6, 2021.
Again if not enough shenanigans to delay or derail are going on.
This nation is and was designed as a republic to be ruled by an elite minority, not by the masses voting. Popular rule was the nightmare of most of our founders, and they protected against it, by putting no right to vote in the Constitution including the Bill of Rights.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:18 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I have a question for the 538 folks. They occasionally show a grey dot when they simulate an electoral vote tie, which is then resolved by the House. But the House has a Democratic majority, which would presumably vote partially or entirely along party lines, which would mean Biden wins. Does 538 show a grey dot to be sticklers, or is there a different process by which that House vote takes place, which would potentially lead to a Trump win?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:19 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, any of these close states could be targeted by Republican shenanigans of one sort or another

Arizona had a last minute voter registration deadline extension, and it's already getting push-back from Republicans "Kory Langhofer, a lawyer representing the Republican National Committee as it joins the case as an intervenor, argued in court Monday that groups hoping to register voters were never prohibited from doing so under the state's recent public health measures, which have allowed for political activities from protests to political rallies."

What happens if suddenly everyone registered between now and the new deadline become ineligible, and their votes are thrown away?
posted by lizjohn at 9:21 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


The House vote goes by state, not individual representatives.
posted by NotLost at 9:22 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Does 538 show a grey dot to be sticklers, or is there a different process by which that House vote takes place, which would potentially lead to a Trump win?

They vote by delegation, and the winner is the candidate who receives the majority of state delegations. This favors Republicans.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:22 AM on October 7 [5 favorites]


But the House has a Democratic majority

A contingent election in the House is done by state delegations, not by individual house members. (So, for example, New Jersey gets one vote.) It's also done by the incoming House that hasn't been elected yet, so we don't absolutely 100% know what the situation would be in that scenario yet.
posted by gimonca at 9:22 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Does 538 show a grey dot to be sticklers, or is there a different process by which that House vote takes place, which would potentially lead to a Trump win?

Sticklers. It seems very odd to imagine a non-party-line vote on this but technically it could go any way the votes go.

Also, and this is super weird, but the House vote is by State delegation, not by representative. So if there are more California Democrats than Republicans, ok, that's CA's one vote for Biden.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:23 AM on October 7


(Sits in the back of the class, raises hand: Oooh! Oooh! Pick me!)
posted by gimonca at 9:23 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


At this moment, Republicans control 26 state delegations for the purposes of the contingent election, which is the bare minimum needed to win. Pennsylvania is likely to flip in this context, Michigan might as well, some smaller states might flip (Montana, possibly even Alaska).

A majority of the 50 states is required, so a 24-23 vote by delegation (for example) would be "no decision"......and throw the question of who's president further down the presidential succession process.
posted by gimonca at 9:29 AM on October 7 [6 favorites]


Well, I hope everyone gets out there and votes, then.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:30 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


As a Florida resident in a red county (Brevard) who was pretty concerned about vote by mail being artfully suppressed, the Democratic party has been much more involved this year than the last 8 in mobilizing the vote.

A rough timeline of my interactions:
- Texted on the day the county mailed my ballot to me
- Texted on the day that my ballot was delivered, encouraging me to immediately fill out and return it
- When I did respond that I'd mailed the ballot they almost immediately texted me back stating it hadn't shown as returned yet (this made sense to me since I'd only just placed it in the mail), and started telling me how to follow up with the county to figure out what had gone wrong (nothing, in this case)

That got me wondering so I emailed somebody involved in the campaign. It turns out they have access to exactly whose ballots have been sent out, whose have been returned, and whether they were accepted or rejected (and need to be cured), and they are following up on *ALL* of them. Even in red counties.

In the 8 years I've lived here I have never seen GOTV like this. It was maybe one or two random texts reminding me that the election was a thing. I've been feeling some weird combination of trying to not get too excited too early (or at all) and... intensely frustrated that this machine didn't exist 4 years ago.

I am much, much less concerned about ballots being silently discarded due to mismatched signatures now. If somebody doesn't follow up on their own (or the county conveniently forgets to inform them) the party absolutely will. I'm still nervous about the election, but it at least feels like some lessons were learned. It doesn't feel like anything is being left to chance.
posted by rssor at 9:52 AM on October 7 [36 favorites]


Interesting that 538 has Biden's lead in NC growing substantially this week after being stuck in the 54 Biden / 46 Trump range for some time. Trump's base is a bunch of ride-or-die (or ride-and-die) cultists, but this last week and a half has been impossible for a lot of folks to ignore.

Cal Cunningham is a numbnuts, but he's miles better than Thom Tillis (shudder). North Carolina has been so fucked over by the GOP since 2010, Kansas-style, they have not made a lot of lasting friends. When you see government as a piggy bank to break open for your friends, you have to cheat to get your majorities and eventually it becomes obvious how corrupt and venal you are. I think publicly ostracising anyone willing to identify as Republican is a necessary step, in the same way that (for a while) it was seen as beyond the pale to be openly and publicly racist.

We can't fix the Constitution yet. There are still too many powerful people who would put awful things in it. But the Dems have to be serious about fixing as much of the system as they can: expanding statehood, expanding the SCOTUS bench, Senate rules, expanding the House, addressing gerrymandering, enshrining norms into law, prosecuting corruption (past and present), impeaching rapists of all parties, campaign finance, etc. (while still finding time for universal health care and the wealth tax).
posted by rikschell at 9:57 AM on October 7 [11 favorites]


I was burned so badly by my obsession with polls last cycle that I swore I would stay the hell away this time around. But that was before I discovered the NYT Electoral College Interactive.

If Trump takes TX, FL, NC, OH, GA, ME and IA, Biden still wins if he takes PA (Biden currently polling at +6.4), AZ (+4.5), MI (+7.6), MN (+9.4) and then only ONE of WI, NV, NH, or NE. If Trump loses any of FL, NC, or OH it's a landslide, but I don't expect those states to flip. If Biden loses PA and AZ, bad things happen.

Anyway, polls can obviously be very very very wrong + R voter suppression = we really don't know, so keep fighting.
posted by gwint at 9:58 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


Remember, North Carolina went for Obama in 2008, after the last time the GOP wrecked the country. It took weeks to count, but we did it. Yes, we have racist dead-enders, but we are so much more than that. The Research Triangle, Greensboro, Charlotte, Asheville. We are fighting as hard as we can against a party that has only won with illegal, unconstitutional dirty deeds.
posted by rikschell at 10:04 AM on October 7 [24 favorites]


The fivethirtyeight election forecast for 2016 show a much more volatile race than 2020. Gimme your hot takes!

Nate Silver betrayed me, personally, in 2016, and I will never listen to him again. Hot enough for you?
posted by The Minotaur at 10:10 AM on October 7 [7 favorites]


Dear non-Americans: America has a secret ballot. You can be a registered Republican and vote for Biden and no one will ever know you put country over party. This is why some states have taken the additional step of making it illegal to photograph your ballot.
posted by Monochrome at 10:11 AM on October 7 [7 favorites]


Nate Silver betrayed me, personally, in 2016, and I will never listen to him again. Hot enough for you?

Silver was one of the only forecasters who was warning that Trump had a solid chance in 2016.
posted by octothorpe at 10:14 AM on October 7 [21 favorites]


Nate Silver was one of the only forecasters who gave Trump a decent chance in '16.
posted by saturday_morning at 10:14 AM on October 7 [9 favorites]


If you want to feel personal betrayal you can blame Sam Wang, but he already ate a bug for it.
posted by echo target at 10:18 AM on October 7 [14 favorites]


Slightly heartened by the current model over at electoral-vote.com, which aggregates poll results to reach a sort of "if the election were held right now" result.

Currently, Biden is at 350 electoral votes over Trump's 164, with Iowa and Ohio listed as ties, and Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina only slightly into Democratic territory. (It also lists Texas, Alaska, and Arkansas as only slightly over the line towards Republicans.)

Biden could lose Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Iowa, and Ohio, and still win the election 290 to 248. So we need to hold the line on PA (up by 7), WI (up by 6), MN (up by 7), and AZ (up by 5).
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:26 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Cunningham, what a selfish shit. Couldn't keep it in his pants for this election?! All these guys have investment-banker level masters-of-the-universe arrogance. Public service, my ass.

This has been my election rant. Stepping back a bit.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:28 AM on October 7 [10 favorites]


The fivethirtyeight election forecast for 2016 show a much more volatile race than 2020. Gimme your hot takes!

Only the Atlanta Falcons could blow a lead as big as Biden has right now.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:34 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


I'm really worried about the Senate race here in NC because Cal Cunningham (D) is embroiled in a late-breaking infidelity/sexting scandal.

FWIW, sample size of one, talking with my 79-year-old dad yesterday (Hendersonville resident, formerly life-long Republican who did hold his nose to vote for Clinton in 2016), he mentioned this scandal and his reaction, as he laughed, was 'and I completely don't care. I will vote for the Democrat no matter what, this kind of personal behavior is irrelevant right now.' (His old-dudes social club up in the mountains there includes a few retired military brass types, and they are all incandescent with rage toward DJT.)
posted by LooseFilter at 10:37 AM on October 7 [15 favorites]


I don't listen to the polls as much as 538, and there aren't many electoral paths for Trump. But weird stunts, vote suppression/ legal challenges could be a problem.

Susan Collins (R-Me) is barely behind in the Senate race, and I just got a super-sleazy flier from Maine GOP.
posted by theora55 at 10:41 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Nate Silver was one of the only forecasters who gave Trump a decent chance in '16.

On the subject of hot takes, Nate Silver also called people "sheeple" for worrying if Trump is going to cede power peacefully. And then Trump basically came out later that same day and said he wasn't going to.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:43 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


A majority of the 50 states is required, so a 24-23 vote by delegation (for example) would be "no decision"......and throw the question of who's president further down the presidential succession process.

Not resolving the election does not I believe result in going down the presidential succession list. It leaves us with no legal president and no legal acting president either.
posted by mark k at 10:44 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Regarding the "inaccuracy" of polls in 2016:

Most of the swing states showed Clinton up by quite a bit vs. Trump. To take a pretty typical example, in mid September for Florida, Monmouth University's poll (one of the polls rated A+ by fivethiryeight) had Clinton 46% and Trump 41% for a 5 point lead.

But those two numbers only add up to 87%. A lot of voters were undecided and quite a few were saying they planned to vote for Gary Johnson. In the end Clinton got just under 48%, Trump got 49%.

Compare that to Monmouth's last poll a few weeks ago for Florida: 49% for Biden, 46% for Trump. It's a smaller lead, but harder to overcome because there are so few undecided voters and no real third party candidate.
posted by justkevin at 10:44 AM on October 7 [6 favorites]


270toWin.com Electoral map based on polling and no tossups (slightly leaning red = red etc.)
posted by emelenjr at 10:44 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Cal Cunningham/Thom Tillis race in NC: ‘Complete and utter annoyance:’ NC Democratic voters react to Cunningham affair:
Cunningham’s sexts created questions — and plenty of frustration — among Democratic voters. Yet across the state, registered Democrats said they’re sticking by Cunningham, seeing the transgression as a blip that shouldn’t overshadow their goal of flipping the Senate and expanding Medicaid.
From the article, it sounds like a lot of NC voters find Tillis's history WAY more problematic than Cunningham's.
posted by kristi at 10:47 AM on October 7 [5 favorites]


In the end Clinton got just under 48%, Trump got 49%.

Wikipedia says Clinton got 48.2% of the vote, while he only got 46.1%.

It's important (to me, at least) to always remember that she got millions more votes.
posted by kristi at 10:51 AM on October 7 [21 favorites]


no real third-party candidate. They could not get that Kanye train going fast enough I guess.
posted by emjaybee at 10:55 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


And Trump is still mad about the popular vote and thinks it was stolen from him.
posted by octothorpe at 10:55 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia says Clinton got 48.2% of the vote, while he only got 46.1%.

It's important (to me, at least) to always remember that she got millions more votes.


Sorry if I wasn't clear: I was referring specifically to the results for Florida.
posted by justkevin at 10:55 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


report from a swing district in a swing state:

*walks to mailbox to check for ballot for 4th time today and 87th time since last week*
*nothing yet*
*nothing yet*
*still nothing*
*waiting impatiently*
posted by Dashy at 10:55 AM on October 7 [7 favorites]


Nate Silver betrayed me, personally, in 2016

That's a pretty stale take really. Unless.. wait, you said "personally". Wow, how do you know him? Do you work with him? Did he steal your boyfriend? Did he cut in front of you in line at Starbucks?

If you want to be mad at something in 2016 election wonkery, be mad at the NYT anxiety needle.
posted by Nelson at 10:58 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


I drove past the recorders office in Tucson this am, first day of early voting. There were some voters in line but not a lot. The thing is, Arizona actually runs its elections competently. We also now have a Dem SOS and the county recorders of the state’s largest counties are Dem. in addition, we have a massive chunk of registered voters who are on the permanent early voter list. We have been majority mail in and early voting for a while now. I think the SOS said that in the primary 88% of ballots were early/mail in. Turnout was also way up in AZ over the midterm and the primary, especially among Dems. (In Maricopa County Dem turnout doubled from the 2016 primary.) Voting should be this easy everywhere.
posted by azpenguin at 11:00 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


the NYT anxiety needle.

Flagged for PTSD.
posted by Dashy at 11:02 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


Maybe snarking about other’s people’s takes at a time when we’re all stressed and hurting isn’t really a great idea, Nelson — can we disagree with someone’s takes without being sarcastic and insulting?
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:03 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


It leaves us with no legal president and no legal acting president either.

In a previous thread, I think someone brought up the hypothetical situation where the House would be deadlocked, the Senate would elect a VP, and the VP would then become President.

Or, in the absence of either a Pres or VP, you start working your way down the list. (Acting President Pelosi, etc.)

Note that the House can reconvene at any time after that and hold another election, if they previously couldn't make a selection. So, they could be deadlocked in January, you get an 'Acting President' temporarily, then they come back in April and manage to elect a President for the remainder of the term.

If the House is truly deadlocked, that decision might wait until a new House is elected in 2022 and seated in 2023. (Assuming things haven't otherwise fallen totally apart by then.)
posted by gimonca at 11:04 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


On the subject of hot takes, Nate Silver also called people "sheeple" for worrying if Trump is going to cede power peacefully. And then Trump basically came out later that same day and said he wasn't going to.

The actual tweet:
It seems like the mood among some of the blue-checkmarks here has drifted a bit too liberally from "there's a plausible chance of some very bad outcomes" (true) to "Trump is fersure going to steal the election and you're all sheeple for thinking otherwise".

Which was then followed by an acknowledgement of Trump's threats once he made them and then actual nuance - catastrophizing about Trump stealing the election can actually result in people making decisions that reduce the chance that Biden wins the election.
posted by Superilla at 11:06 AM on October 7 [16 favorites]


Following up on azpenguin, AZ also is one of many states that have a way to track your ballot. Go to my.arizona.vote/absenteetracker.aspx , and you can look up your status. My ballot hasn't been sent yet (today is the first day counties can send ballots, so that's not so surprising).

There's also a permanent early voter status, which you can sign up for until Oct 23; that's all the last day to request a one-time absentee ballot. (But I do hope people are doing it earlier this year; requesting a ballot that close to the election strikes me as pretty scary).
posted by nat at 11:09 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Hot take? No one has any clue as to what the next 6 months will reveal.
posted by Harry Caul at 11:13 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


And for non-AZ people, there's also a list of similar websites to check your ballot status for other states here:
https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-track-your-absentee-ballot-by-state

They can't alphabetize (Arizona is before Arkansas, folks -- well, maybe they're going by two-letter abbreviation), but otherwise seem to have correct site links.
posted by nat at 11:13 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Come on, North Carolina. You can do this. You used to be cool!!
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:18 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


The new Quinnipiac polls for Florida, Iowa, and Pennsylvania are out, conducted from October 1–5, so past the debate and past COVID hospitalization. Overall, all good numbers for Biden, but on issues, Trump still beats Biden on the economy in every poll. His failure to negotiate a stimulus should be a major talking point, especially if McConnell manages to get the Senate in session for the Barrett vote.
posted by gladly at 11:23 AM on October 7


Among the GOP’s donor base in business and finance, the incentive structure is increasingly geared towards hanging onto levers of power that could check a Democratic administration—even if it means cutting bait when it comes to the White House. One top Republican lobbyist, for instance, said that corporate clients have become increasingly invested in trying to retain GOP control of the Senate for fear of the tax legislation that could originate from a Nancy Pelosi-run House and find its way to Biden’s desk.

“Divided government is good for most donors and most of corporate America,” the lobbyist stressed.


And so the cycle begins again.

Daily Beast on the GOP donor class' cutting of the bait.
posted by Harry Caul at 11:23 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


If Trump takes TX, FL, NC, OH, GA, ME and IA, Biden still wins if he takes PA (Biden currently polling at +6.4), AZ (+4.5), MI (+7.6), MN (+9.4) and then only ONE of WI, NV, NH, or NE.

I'm in New Hampshire, and Biden is not losing New Hampshire. He's led by comfortable margins this whole time, and our Democratic incumbents for national office do as well (I do expect our incumbent Republican governor to win, but that's New Hampshire for you). Also, and not that this is dispositive, but here in relatively conservative Hampton, the Biden signs have sprouted like weeds over the past two weeks.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:23 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


538 currently has the odds of Biden winning in a landslide as more than twice as likely as the President winning at all, which is a nice feeling.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:30 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


Overall, all good numbers for Biden,

Bit of an understatement. 11-point lead in Florida, 13-point lead in Pennsylvania, 5-point lead in Iowa (both for Biden and for the democratic Senate candidate). Very nice to see.
posted by saturday_morning at 11:32 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I voted early yesterday in person here in Iowa. It took an hour to get through the drive through voting, but all in all it was organized and safe we had no issues, which was a relief. Just chilled with a podcast until we were handed our ballots. The wildest thing was seeing Kanye on the ballot.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:41 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


The only possible good side to things being up in the air for a while after Nov 3 could be.. the longer it takes to ( hopefully) declare Biden the winner the less time trump will have to pardon all criminals and wreck the country on his way out. Maybe?
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:47 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


Gimme your hot takes!

Take courage from polls—all is not lost, it would appear—but remember how confident the good guys were in 2016. The Republicans know a thousand dirty tricks and they aren't ashamed to use them.
posted by pracowity at 11:49 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


The Republicans know a thousand dirty tricks and they aren't ashamed to use them.

And they're also no longer under a consent decree to not use them...
posted by Naberius at 11:53 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Most elections, a close margin is good enough. Here, I want the widest margin possible. Not just to serve as a buffer against shenanigans, but as a repudiation of Trump and what he represents.

If the polls show Biden winning in a landslide? Vote anyway. If Trump supporters don't bother to turn out, that's fine with me. There are always people who change their minds and pretend they never rooted for the loser. But if those people are going to go whichever way the wind blows, I want it to be crystal clear which way America's going.

There is no predicted margin wide enough to discourage me from voting.
posted by explosion at 11:54 AM on October 7 [49 favorites]


At this moment, Republicans control 26 state delegations for the purposes of the contingent election, which is the bare minimum needed to win. Pennsylvania is likely to flip in this context, Michigan might as well, some smaller states might flip (Montana, possibly even Alaska).

A majority of the 50 states is required, so a 24-23 vote by delegation (for example) would be "no decision"......and throw the question of who's president further down the presidential succession process.


Right now in the 538 forecast, if all seats are assigned to the most likely winner, there are 26 state delegations where a Republican majority is forecast, and 22 where a Democratic majority is forecast. Pennsylvania is projected to flip from tied to D, but Minnesota and Michigan (both Democratic majority today) would go to 50/50 split delegations. In MN, incumbent (D) Collin Peterson in the 7th is only 26% likely to win, and MI would be 50/50 today except Justin Amash in MI-3 left the Republican party but is not standing for reelection, and his district is likely to go R (about 70%; the Republican in MI-7 has about the same chance of being reelected).

On the positive side, AK and MT have only one race each, with the Democratic challenger having a reasonable chance, around 1 in 4 in both cases. There are also potential flips in Florida, if the Dems pick up FL-15 (~20% chance), and in North Carolina, if they win both NC-8 and NC-11 (both in the mid 20s).

So there's a reasonable possibility, perhaps around 25%, that the Democrats could hold the majority of state delegations, assuming all reps vote along party lines.

But the problem is that currently the Presidential forecast, polling, etc, suggest that Biden is likely to win pretty substantially, and the cases where these state delegations matter because the electoral college is tied are scenarios where Trump has a relatively pretty good night -- which could be change in public opinion over the next month, turnout, polling error, hijinx, whatever. If Trump is having a good night, then the congressional Democrats will - almost by definition in this partisan climate - be having a bad night.

If there are 11 scenarios numbered in order of how well the Democrats do from 0 to 10 where 0 would have a Trump win and 10 a Biden landslide, the scenario where the electoral college is possibly tied is 2, but the scenarios where the Democrats win the most state delegations are 10, 9, usually 8 and sometimes 7. So a tie will almost certainly go to the Republicans.
posted by Superilla at 12:04 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Is there any way the Supreme Court can affect/impact the counting of these early votes?
posted by asra at 12:05 PM on October 7


There is no predicted margin wide enough to discourage me from voting.

Even if you absolutely knew your vote wasn't needed, "Fuck that guy" would be the reason to vote against him.
posted by emjaybee at 12:24 PM on October 7 [21 favorites]


Is there any way the Supreme Court can affect/impact the counting of these early votes?

They already have: SCOTUS Sides With S.C. To Reinstate Witness Signature Mandate For Absentee Ballots .
posted by Mitheral at 12:31 PM on October 7 [6 favorites]


Shades of John Edwards. Of course his opponent, Thom Tillis, is the worst and I wouldn't vote for him. But I'll be thinking "meh" as I vote for Cunningham, and it's possible he might even still drop out. FFS. I'm also worried that his "aw shucks native son" appeal to a conservative state just popped like a balloon due to the keeping-up-appearances morality that dominates here.

A little late responding to this, but...come the fuck on. No shades of John Edwards (who had a lengthy affair, producing a child, betraying his wife who was being treated for breast cancer and using campaign funds to do so!).

Cunningham's "sexts" are things like "I wish I could roll over and kiss you right now" and other frankly wholesome expressions of affection. And the object of these texts is not in a problematic power imbalance w/r/t Cunningham, and there seems to be enthusiastic consent from both of the adult participants. If anything, it makes me like Cunningham more, because he was seeming a little bland before (and truly, do we know what's going on in his marriage, or even that his wife considers this a problem? we don't.) Cunningham has zero point zero zero reason to drop out of the race over this.

Also of note is that this news "broke" within 24 hours of Tillis' positive Covid diagnosis. It stinks of something extra-sketchy. But at any rate, nobody I know is budging on their support of Cunningham over it.
posted by knotty knots at 12:41 PM on October 7 [7 favorites]


I voted early on the first day here in Indianapolis. Arriving just after lunchtime, I saw the line stretching around the block of the City-County Building where early voting was held.

Despite the crowd, the line moved quickly, the crowd was almost entirely masked, and people were in good spirits. It was a beautiful sunny day, and volunteers distributed bottled water. I was inside in about two hours (having heard about the long line on social media, I'd brought a book), where lines denoted six-foot spacing and many voting machines were in use. Voting itself took less than 15 minutes.

I've been waiting almost four years to cast that vote, and it was a pleasure.
posted by Gelatin at 12:43 PM on October 7 [11 favorites]


Republican legal shenanigans worry me less than the very real possibility of violence on/near election day. I would put down money that there's going to be at least one election-related shooting before this is over. There are going to be armed Trump "fraud protection" goons showing up at polling places.
posted by star gentle uterus at 12:45 PM on October 7 [5 favorites]


(and truly, do we know what's going on in his marriage, or even that his wife considers this a problem? we don't.)

IMO this is going a little far in defending a guy who, at the very least, made an extremely stupid decision from a PR standpoint. What, you can't hold off on texting your adorable sweet nothings while running to unseat one of the vilest politicians in Congress? Show some discretion dude.

All that being said, I'd be happily voting for him if I lived back home, and goddamn I hope he wins.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:51 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]




I operate by assuming all politicians are in some way massively flawed personally, display poor judgment or even ill intent in part of their lives, or else have repellent views I do not endorse, like many of the other wonderful people I have gotten to know in other capacities over the course of a long life. I vote not by looking for a hero but by weighing the probabilities and picking the most likely outcome that I least hate. I used to have the luxury of single-issue voting but that's when both choices are roughly equivalent.

I have already voted early by mail (actually by dropping the ballot off at City Hall) in Philadelphia and should just stop looking at the polls because it's making me too anxious. It doesn't help that though I personally addressed over two hundred postcards to voters for Indivisible PA and have done my bit for voter registration and other GOTV efforts, my spouse and I keep getting texts, calls, postcards, flyers, letters, and emails from other people encouraging me to vote, because multiple organizations are not necessarily coordinating with each other.
posted by Peach at 1:13 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]


This 538 article had some polling numbers on the issues. The issues are ranked by how many people thought the issue was mos timportant, and show proportion of people who think biden v trump is better on each one. Biden's up on 4 of the top 5, and the economy is the one where he trails. The bottom of the list is where Trump is ahead; it kinda shows the inability to craft a convincing story around the election.

(Notably, 'stable, basically functional government' was not one of the major issues listed.)
posted by kaibutsu at 1:16 PM on October 7


538's 2016 presidential prediction

Thanks, mecran01, I find it helpful to remember that. I'm trying to keep that 2016 memory in my head as I do my volunteer shifts. Now's the time to push, and then the poll that matters will happen (or I guess, then the fight will turn to getting things counted, and then to having the delegates chosen actually reflect the results, etc.)

And for what it's worth, here's Nate Silver in the final 538 podcast before 2016:

"My theory is that it’s more plausible for Trump to win Pennsylvania and some other rust belt states like Michigan than people infer, and that there are these kind of sophomoric arguments like, “Oh, well, she’s been ahead in all the polls.” But that doesn’t really matter much if you happen to be one point ahead or two points ahead and it’s close..."

Hopefully not again!
posted by tarshish bound at 1:28 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


Have seen comments in here about being a voter in a blue state and it "not really mattering". I am reminded of a conversation I had with someone in the bar where I was watching the 2008 election outcomes - he was obsessively checking all the Senate and House races as well, and getting excited about any Dem advance. At one point I told him that one particular race had always been in the bag for the Dems anyway.

"You don't get it," he said. "I don't just want the GOP to lose. I want them to lose by a god-damn landslide."

Let's make them lose by a god-damn landslide.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on October 7 [30 favorites]


It is SO frustrating that the goalposts have been so successfully gerrymandered off the field that we actually feel that our only path to victory is a landslide. It should be enough just to fucking win. But no. He won’t go if we “just” win. So we have to work harder.
posted by wabbittwax at 1:45 PM on October 7 [8 favorites]


538's 2016 presidential prediction

Clinton predicted landslide margin << Biden predicted landslide margin
posted by Going To Maine at 1:48 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


11-point lead in Florida [for Biden]

538 has it at +4.6 which is not enough for me, even if the recent direction is positive (it was less than +2.0 pre-debate) I just don't... trust Florida. Or the Supreme Court for that matter.
posted by gwint at 1:48 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]


It is SO frustrating that the goalposts have been so successfully gerrymandered off the field that we actually feel that our only path to victory is a landslide. It should be enough just to fucking win. But no. He won’t go if we “just” win. So we have to work harder.

Whether that's true or not, I don't care. I want a landslide to teach the fascists that this country is ours, not theirs. That we are the majority and we have the right to run this country how we see fit. To have every downticket Republican that Trump takes down with him to inglorious defeat kick themselves for hitching their fortunes to his failure train.

We aren't playing defense here, we're playing offense. I am not the only one who has waited four years to cast this vote, and as necessary a victory as 2018 was, I want to run up the score. I want the Republicans to have to check their worst instincts out of fear of what a roused electorate will do their their priorities and their political fortunes. I want ousted Republican politicians to wonder who knows where the bodies are buried and fear then coming forward, which as a result of this landslide they inexorably will.

I want the so-called "liberal media" to finally realize that we are the voice of Real America and that Republicans and the straight white angry ignorant men they represent are not the default.

And last but not least I want a landslide to deal Trump a humiliating narcissistic injury as every social media post the next day reads "Trump: You're Fired!"
posted by Gelatin at 2:05 PM on October 7 [38 favorites]


To take a pretty typical example, in mid September for Florida, Monmouth University's poll (one of the polls rated A+ by fivethiryeight) had Clinton 46% and Trump 41% for a 5 point lead.

But those two numbers only add up to 87%. A lot of voters were undecided and quite a few were saying they planned to vote for Gary Johnson. In the end Clinton got just under 48%, Trump got 49%.


This is what frightens me. That 2016 Florida poll wasn't even close to reality, and that is what we are dealing with again. . The 538 poll above for 2016 was 55/45. Not even close either. And listing base stats is one thing, but 538 is very much also making predictions, and they weren't close either. They should bias towards Trump winning it again, but it's 51/49 Biden.

And all the close states are like that.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:07 PM on October 7


So I have nothing national of value to add, you all are great. So here's some info a little local:

"As of Sept. 23, the rejection rate for mail-in ballots (in NC) submitted by Black voters was about 3 percent, nearly three times as high as the rejection rate for white voters", which is a pattern from 2018 elections that's being repeated

And in Richmond, one of the largest liberal areas in VA, the Dept of Elections issued a notice for everyone to check the status of their ballot, because at least 6 mail boxes were broken into and stolen from.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:15 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Philip Bump at The Washington Post: “Even if state polls are underestimating Trump as much as they did in 2016, Biden is in position to win” (October 7):
On Tuesday, we looked at how the national polling landscape is more favorable to Biden now than it was to Clinton in 2016. But it’s worth noting that the state landscape is similarly stronger for the Democratic candidate this year. In fact, as of writing, if the polls are as wrong in 2020 as they were in 2016, Biden would win the presidency, anyway.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:16 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


One thing to remember about 2016 vs. 2020 - in 2016, people were treating a Clinton win as pretty much a certainty, and there felt like there wasn't as much urgency to vote. This year... well, look at the ballot returns already. People aren't screwing around this time. Clinton was not a very popular candidate, and there were a lot of undecideds who decided to go for the outsider. So while Clinton won the national popular vote, she didn't win in the places that tipped the election, and it was very very very close in those states. Things are different now. We know who Trump is. We know how he governs. He can't appeal to the "what have you got to lose?" mentality anymore. We're looking at a stolen Supreme Court and a lot of people have been hurt by Trump.

Put simply, while nothing is guaranteed, no one is taking it lightly this time.
posted by azpenguin at 2:21 PM on October 7 [10 favorites]


I was coming back in to say pretty much exactly what Gelatin just said above, so I'll just link to it and say "this".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:13 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


I honestly hope Biden is not relying on needing FL's electoral votes. I can't believe he will win here with DeSantis as our governor. The Republicans will do whatever they have to, legal or not, to give those votes to Trump.
posted by wittgenstein at 3:13 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Nate Silver betrayed me

Never tell me the odds!
posted by swift at 3:17 PM on October 7


Doing overseas voting, it’s been a bit fraught. There is mail between Japan and America, but no registered mail, no two day air, just surface. The embassy in Tokyo has a drop box on weekdays during business hours. It’s outside, no need to go through embassy security. I was planning to go there, but stopped in a post office just to check about EMS or similar airmail options, and the very nice post office woman explained to me that they can’t offer services like that because, essentially, the USPS can’t be relied on to hold up their end of the deal, and can’t guarantee delivery. She told me that, even in the last week of September, there was no way to guarantee mail would arrive by November.

She was very kind, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was pity in her voice, as she was essentially explaining that America’s postal system had essentially fallen apart.

For anyone else in Japan (and I’m reasonably sure other countries) you can mail your ballot to the embassy, to Citizens Services. Just make sure to put your whole ballot and official envelope *into another envelope* for mailing it to the embassy.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:21 PM on October 7 [6 favorites]


I would put down money that there's going to be at least one election-related shooting before this is over.

There have been a number of comments worrying about violence on election day, so I'm popping in to remind people that this is the United States. There will be gun violence on election day, because there's gun violence every day, because that's what we do here.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:51 PM on October 7 [13 favorites]


There is mail between Japan and America, but no registered mail, no two day air, just surface

I guess you can't use private mail services? I don't know about for regular people, but DHL seems to be doing fine despite the pandemic. Amazon Japan gets stuff here incredibly fast (whereas I have a FedEx package from the UK which has been stuck for 4 months).
posted by thefoxgod at 3:58 PM on October 7


There will be gun violence on election day, because there's gun violence every day

Yeah, several LA polling places were closed for a while on the 2016 election due to a shooting, but it turned out to be unrelated. Just a normal, everyday shooting....
posted by thefoxgod at 4:00 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


It is SO frustrating that the goalposts have been so successfully gerrymandered off the field that we actually feel that our only path to victory is a landslide

This NYT op-ed from September spells it out and has been on my mind a lot lately:
Mr. Silver’s analysis is bracing. If Mr. Biden wins by five percentage points or more — if he beats Donald Trump by more than seven million votes — he’s a virtual shoo-in. If he wins 4.5 million more votes than the president? He’s still got a three-in-four chance to be president.

Anything less, however, and Mr. Biden’s odds drop like a rock. A mere three million-vote Biden victory? A second Trump term suddenly becomes more likely than not. If Mr. Biden’s margin drops to 1.5 million — about the populations of Rhode Island and Wyoming combined — forget about it. The chance of a Biden presidency in that scenario is less than one in 10.
posted by trig at 4:23 PM on October 7 [6 favorites]


luv too have 2 million surplus voters in CA.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:27 PM on October 7


Let's make them lose by a god-damn landslide.

For me the act of voting will serve as a big fuck-you to 2020 in general. I need catharsis. This must end.

I don't know how anyone could feel apathetic about this election, but I live in a bubble.
posted by swift at 4:28 PM on October 7 [5 favorites]


I am glad that the polls say Biden is doing well in PA. But, I'm not trusting the polls. I'm effing GOING TO THE POLLS. If Biden loses PA it will not be my fault.
posted by which_chick at 4:42 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


As I pointed out a previous election thread, Silver was only slightly less wrong than everyone else. 538 gave Clinton 71% odds, vs 85% (NYT), 89% (PredictWise), 90% (Slate), 92% (DailyKos), 98% (HuffPo), and 99% (Wang). If any of these predictions actually provided error bars, I don't think any of the ones below 90% would be statistically distinguishable. And on top of that, the 538 prediction was quite volatile, with an 86% Clinton probability just two weeks before the election. So they were all pretty wrong, and Silver only marginally less so.
posted by chortly at 4:55 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Is anyone else nervous about the outcome of the election?
posted by Marticus at 4:58 PM on October 7 [13 favorites]


Indubitably.
posted by caphector at 5:10 PM on October 7


I have so much trauma from election night last time that I'm not letting myself believe in good outcomes. Not for a long time. Maybe if I finally see Biden inaugurated I will believe we have a chance at coming out of the darkness. Maybe.
posted by JenMarie at 5:39 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I'm just praying he doesn't have a private email server that he didn't send any classified communications through.
posted by piyushnz at 5:42 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


> "So they were all pretty wrong, and Silver only marginally less so."

Someone who says something has a 71% chance of happening is not "wrong" when that thing does not happen. Or an 85% chance or a 95% chance, for that matter. I don't really understand what you even mean by that.
posted by kyrademon at 7:07 PM on October 7 [15 favorites]


As I pointed out a previous election thread, Silver was only slightly less wrong than everyone else. 538 gave Clinton 71% odds, vs 85% (NYT), 89% (PredictWise), 90% (Slate), 92% (DailyKos), 98% (HuffPo), and 99% (Wang). [...] And on top of that, the 538 prediction was quite volatile, with an 86% Clinton probability just two weeks before the election. So they were all pretty wrong, and Silver only marginally less so.

So 538 said that the thing that happened was twice as likely to happen as the NYT did, 3 times as likely to happen as Slate did, and 30 times more likely to happen than obviously-wrong-even-at-the-time Sam Wang, but that's "only slightly less wrong"?

And on top of that, were you around in 2016? I get that in light of the past 4 years it seems less so, but the 2016 election was a pretty goddamn volatile one. Remember the time the FBI director announced an investigation into one party's candidate based on the most covered story of the campaign 10 days before the election?
posted by Superilla at 7:30 PM on October 7 [5 favorites]


My neighbor voted for me today! What a great feeling.
posted by Oyéah at 8:10 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Someone who says something has a 71% chance of happening is not "wrong" when that thing does not happen. Or an 85% chance or a 95% chance, for that matter. I don't really understand what you even mean by that.

So no one was wrong? That's fine too. Maybe being on the wrong side of 50% is meaningful when predicting a binary event, or maybe you just want to use raw Brier scores, both are fine. Either they were all wrong or none of them was wrong, but in any case most of them were statistically indistinguishable from each other. Any of those interpretations is fine, I am only arguing with the oft-promulgated idea that 538 was meaningfully different from most of the other modelers.
posted by chortly at 8:50 PM on October 7


The fact that some folks are referring to the 538 model as a "prediction" makes me weep for the future. It's not a prediction any more than me saying that there is a 1/6 chance of rolling a 6 on a regular die is a prediction.
posted by Justinian at 9:00 PM on October 7 [10 favorites]


So no one was wrong? That's fine too. Maybe being on the wrong side of 50% is meaningful when predicting a binary event, or maybe you just want to use raw Brier scores, both are fine. Either they were all wrong or none of them was wrong, but in any case most of them were statistically indistinguishable from each other. Any of those interpretations is fine, I am only arguing with the oft-promulgated idea that 538 was meaningfully different from most of the other modelers.

So the Brier score, which has a range from 0 (perfect prediction) to 1 (worst possible prediction) is 0.50 for 538 assuming that predicting a presidential election is a binary event. For the second best prediction, it's 0.72, and for Sam Wang, it's 0.98. If a gap between 0.5 and 0.72 on a scale that goes from 0 to 1 is indistinguishable to you, much less between 0.5 and 0.98, then I don't know what to say; I don't think you'll ever be happy with anything involving probabilities.
posted by Superilla at 9:21 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]


> The Senate is the key pivot point. Without a Senate majority the Biden administration will be hamstrung and there will be no hope of expanding the Supreme Court.

> we're playing offense

some races where you might be able to help turn the tide and 'run up the score':
Factbox: Control of U.S. Senate at play in 10 key competitive races - "Here is a look at eight races where Senate Republican incumbents are locked in highly competitive contests against Democratic challengers, and two where Democrats are on the ropes..."
posted by kliuless at 9:56 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


The fact that some folks are referring to the 538 model as a "prediction" makes me weep for the future. It's not a prediction any more than me saying that there is a 1/6 chance of rolling a 6 on a regular die is a prediction.

I think the 538 people might disagree with that. Claiming that there is a 1/6 chance of getting a 6 is a kind of prediction: it means that, if you roll the die 100 times, around 17 of those rolls will be a 6. Silver et. al occasionally go through fairly careful calibration validations to show that the predicted probabilities they assign for various outcomes (which they often colloquially refer to as their predictions) actually match the true percentage of times those outcomes eventuate. The only difference here is that for presidential predictions there isn't enough repeated data to calibrate, plus people (including Silver) often focus on point probabilities rather than probability intervals, which leads to pointless fights about small differences in continuous numbers, eg...

So the Brier score, which has a range from 0 (perfect prediction) to 1 (worst possible prediction) is 0.50 for 538 assuming that predicting a presidential election is a binary event. For the second best prediction, it's 0.72, and for Sam Wang, it's 0.98. If a gap between 0.5 and 0.72 on a scale that goes from 0 to 1 is indistinguishable to you, much less between 0.5 and 0.98, then I don't know what to say; I don't think you'll ever be happy with anything involving probabilities.

Yeah, the relevant scores are 0 (dead wrong), 0.25 (random), 0.50 (538), 0.72 (NYT), 0.79, etc. But to determine meaningful differences we at least need to know the uncertainties on those scores, in just the same way that we can't say that two polls are different unless we know their confidence intervals, and that's something we don't have but which I would expect to be large enough that there's no significant difference among the sub-90% predictions. I'm not sure why you're so fighty on this though? I teach statistics and have published on prediction-making, Brier scores, etc, so I'm pretty happy with things involving probabilities as it happens.
posted by chortly at 10:00 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


I think the 538 people might disagree with that.

As you say, they will (correctly to my view) argue that if they have said someone has an 80% chance of winning, that person will win roughly 80% of the time. But if Biden were at 80% in their model on 11/3 and you said to Nate Silver "so you're predicting that Joe Biden will win!" he would facepalm hard. That number is not a prediction that Joe Biden will win, it's their estimate of how often you would expect Joe Biden to win an election held under the current conditions and with current polling. Eliding the difference between those things is a big problem.

You can use models to make predictions but a model is not in and of itself a prediction.
posted by Justinian at 10:20 PM on October 7 [8 favorites]


Claiming that there is a 1/6 chance of getting a 6 is a kind of prediction: it means that, if you roll the die 100 times, around 17 of those rolls will be a 6.

I think I made my comment too roundabout. The simpler response is that you're right, except we're not looking at 100 trials we're talking about one trial; the one on election day. It's not a prediction of the result of that one trial, only a model of what they believe would happen over a large number of trials.
posted by Justinian at 10:22 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]


around 17 of those rolls will are likely to be a 6 - averaged over n number of rolls. Right?

Open to correction on the above, but isn't there some sort of rule about predicting singular complex events? There should be.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:26 PM on October 7


Someone who says something has a 71% chance of happening is not "wrong" when that thing does not happen. Or an 85% chance or a 95% chance, for that matter. I don't really understand what you even mean by that.

At the risk of arguing with myself, I do think it's reasonable to say a lot of the modelers in 2016 got it wrong; Sam Wang is the prime example (and has admitted it). Not because Trump won, but because the model made incorrect assumptions (which were not present in 538's model). The key insight that Silver et al had was that polling errors are not independent events. They are correlated demographically and thus regionally. I never paid much attention to any of the other modelers so I don't know who else made the same mistake (NYT?) but as it turns out it was fairly egregious.
posted by Justinian at 10:38 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Piping in from overseas early ballot voting. Minnesota is pretty effective at getting ballots sent out via email. Printout and carefully complete the ballot. The usual method was to take the sealed ballots and letter of eligibility to the local US embassy or consulate. I do not trust the State Department to forward, in a timely manner, overseas ballots. So easy to add friction to the process and invalidate thousands of ballots. The husband and I express mailed our ballots separately to Hennepin County with full tracking. $66 dollars to ensure our votes get counted in a state which is NOT willfully doing voter suppression.
posted by jadepearl at 11:06 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


They are correlated demographically and thus regionally. I never paid much attention to any of the other modelers so I don't know who else made the same mistake (NYT?) but as it turns out it was fairly egregious.

I believe a number of the other modelers also did this, since it's quite common -- eg, all of the tens of thousands of people working in finance and stocks simulate correlated shocks every day. As for what counts as a "prediction," this verges on Bayesian vs frequentist squabbles, but all I can say is that I think even most statisticians would be ok with calling "85% chance of rain tomorrow" a prediction, as well as "85 out of 100 days like tomorrow will feature rain" or "I am 85% sure it will rain frogs tomorrow and only tomorrow." I don't think there's much harm in using "prediction" casually to encompass some mix of the model, the estimated probabilities, and the potential outcomes; the real harm was of course in other people interpreting 72% or 85% as definite. (And, more arguably, in judging the 72% model meaningfully more successful than the 85% model based on a single outcome.)
posted by chortly at 11:59 PM on October 7


Overseas report: Washington state.

It explicitly says on the return envelope that ballots can be scanned and returned by email. Of course the ballot is some weird format that isn't condusive to home flatbed scanning, but the resolution of smartphone scanning apps is fine. You need to scan the coversheet first to preserve anonymity (yeah, right) and there's a lot of trust in the county commissioner there (and we were burned once when they admitted to not counting mail-in ballots in 2000, until the Senate race required a recount). Given the shambles that is the USPS nowadays, though, this seems to be the least-bad option. I got a confirmation email from the elections office, so fingers crossed.
posted by St. Oops at 1:14 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Open to correction on the above, but isn't there some sort of rule about predicting singular complex events? There should be.

I expect you might be thinking of the difference in regression output between a confidence interval (what range are we 95% confident the average effect of putting 1 ton of fertilizer on a crop will fall in? ans: yield goes up 3 +/- 0.4 units) vs a prediction interval (what range are we 95% confident that the next observation of putting 1 ton of fertilizer on a crop will fall in? ans: 3 +/- 0.8 units).
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:33 AM on October 8


I thought the argument of chaos theory and cellular automata, also black swans, etc. was that there are systems that are intrinsically non predictable. But if you were trying to improve your calculation and saw that ESPN-538 did better than NYTimes in one instance of an election, that's still worth investigating if it was a blip/noise or not.
posted by polymodus at 4:45 AM on October 8


So no one was wrong?

No, there is no way to tell who was wrong. You'd need to re-run the 2016 election again while tweaking every variable slightly. Do that enough times to generate a sizable pile of data so that you can see in what percentage of those 2016 elections each candidate won. Whatever percentage that works out to be is the "correct" answer.

Same as if I handed you a coin and told you it was a fair coin. Then you track the results of 100,000 coin flips. If it turns out that it came up heads 60,000 times and tails 40,000 times, then I was wrong and it was not a fair coin.

So now let's say you need to flip a coin and have it come up heads to win a prize. Sam Wang told you* that it's not a fair coin and, in fact, the odds skew in your favor, by a LOT! You have a 98% chance of flipping heads according to Nate. So, concluding that you've got this prize all wrapped up for yourself, you never flipped the damn coin.

*Not you in particular, but in a general sense. I'm sure everyone here that could vote, did. So really your problem is with all the people that never bothered to flip the damn coin.
posted by VTX at 7:00 AM on October 8


No, there is no way to tell who was wrong. You'd need to re-run the 2016 election again while tweaking every variable slightly.

But that's impossible, and it's not the same thing as flipping a coin or rolling a die, I'm not sure why people keep saying it is. It doesn't matter whose die it is, or what firm tells you the stats, or what day it is, the results of a rolling any particular number is still 1/6.

Political polling is giving you some 'faux' precision that is completely untestable, and treating it like it is a scientific outcome. Also, it's not like they did just run one poll and got it 'wrong', tons of polling firms did the same poll, at many different times, apparently with slightly different data sets and got slightly different wrong answers. Speaking of the Presidential election, they are also providing stats for each state, and to get the presidency wrong that means many of the state predictions were also wrong.

Not only that, they are applying faux-precision of the posted number when (going back to the Monmouth Poll - example of H49/T42 from 2016) the 95% confidence interval is actually includes the set of (46H/47T), a Trump victory. And then it wasn't even right - Trump got 49%, a value outside the 95% confidence interval.

So please stop saying political polling is like rolling dice or Russian Roulette. It's not. It's like comparing a subset of every game of Russian roulette being played in the US, and then trying to predict the outcome based on a roll of a 6 shooter. Some games are being played with a six-shooter, where the outcome is 1/6. But some are being played with a glock, changing the odds to 1/30. Some are being played with a musket, changing the odds to 1/1.

Same as if I handed you a coin and told you it was a fair coin. Then you track the results of 100,000 coin flips. If it turns out that it came up heads 60,000 times and tails 40,000 times, then I was wrong and it was not a fair coin.

This is also wrong. In repeatable statistics, that data set is essentially infinite, and expecting a run of 60,000 heads in a row would be included in potential infinite outcomes. Which is why predictions have to be bounded and 'fair' has to be determined by the players, not the set of outcomes.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:38 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


In terms of “calibration” (do 70%-projected forecasts happen about 70% of the time?) How Good are FiveThirtyEight Forecasts?

They project the result for every state, so there are a decent number of data points; they don’t just make a single presidential projection every 4 years.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:46 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Rather than imagining re-running the same election multiple times, you can think about the probabilistic models as just telling you how often the polls are wrong. We know that polls never exactly predict the final result, but also that they usually come within a certain margin of it. We can use historical data to estimate the chance that the current polls are off by an amount that would cause them to predict the wrong winner.

There are a complications, like how to estimate the distribution of errors (especially at the tails where you have less empirical data), and how to account for correlation of errors in different polls. FiveThirtyEight uses very fat-tailed distributions (meaning their model places more weight on rare-but-large surprises), and assumes more correlation than some models (meaning it considers systemic errors like in 2016 to be fairly likely).

But ultimately, the forecasts are just based on knowing that eight-point polling errors are less common than four-point errors. Right now, Trump needs the polls to be wrong by five to ten points in several different states. Polling-based models are telling us that in October of a presidential election year, polls can be wrong in the way that Trump needs, and that the required degree of polling error happens maybe one in six times (FiveThirtyEight) or one in ten times (Economist).

It doesn't tell you who will win, but it tells you whether the polls are sending a weaker or stronger signal about the final result.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:30 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


and that the required degree of polling error happens maybe one in six times (FiveThirtyEight)

Though note that much of this is due to the fact that the election is in 4 weeks rather than today. If the polls remain unchanged between now and election day their model would spit out a number in the 95-96 range.
posted by Justinian at 9:27 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]




Said Republican senator is among those infected with COVID-19 by President Super-Spreader.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:58 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Rather than imagining re-running the same election multiple times, you can think about the probabilistic models as just telling you how often the polls are wrong. We know that polls never exactly predict the final result, but also that they usually come within a certain margin of it. We can use historical data to estimate the chance that the current polls are off by an amount that would cause them to predict the wrong winner.

Part of the problem with that is in thinking of polls and elections as having some kind of constant that is being repeatedly measured rather than being a collection of shifting elements that change over time, including in response to the awareness of being measured. Treating all elections as being alike has issues since they aren't all the same.

Being able to predict the outcome of Reagan vs Mondale, or whatever long term Senate incumbent against a newcomer opponent of the party that is generally disfavored is not the same as predicting a more unstable match of challengers. The continuing changes in how we both get our information and how we communicate in an era where that is changing rapidly and how we engage with polls destabilizes continuity between eras, making for lots of supposition over what does and doesn't matter in ways that aren't entirely scientific, in the sense of relying on best guesses rather than impersonal data alone.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:06 AM on October 8


Note that Senator Lee is referencing (without citing) Federalist 10, which justifies the (small r) republican over the (small d) democratic form of government.

Lee is using the language of the Founders to justify the Republican's anti-(both small and large D) democratic actions.
posted by Gelatin at 11:09 AM on October 8 [8 favorites]


That 2016 Florida poll wasn't even close to reality, and that is what we are dealing with again. . The 538 poll above for 2016 was 55/45. Not even close either

Here's the 538 forecast for Florida, along with polls.

I am either misreading your point or you are very badly understanding what 538 did. They didn't give a "poll" at 538 that was 55/45, they said the state was 55% likely to go for Clinton, with the most likely margin a 0.5% lead. So basically they were saying it was a tossup and would be close--which was correct, with Trump winning by 1.2%.

The highly rated polls listed there within 2 weeks of the election range from Trump +4 to Clinton +3, in terms of raw values. The election didn't reveal some fundamental breakdown in polling data.


Not only that, they are applying faux-precision of the posted number when (going back to the Monmouth Poll - example of H49/T42 from 2016) the 95% confidence interval is actually includes the set of (46H/47T), a Trump victory. And then it wasn't even right - Trump got 49%, a value outside the 95% confidence interval.

AFAIK every individual poll's confidence interval is simply the textbook sampling error for a sample of that size. Technically the only prediction is what you'd get if you ran the same poll with the same methodology at the same time.

The 538 crowd doesn't directly apply this (with "faux precision" or otherwise) in any particularly meaningful way. They benchmark and weight polls based on other factors to reflect their "confidence." They also try gauge the odds, based on historical data, that polls individually or collectively are flat out wrong. Plus the odds of a shift in actual opinion, again based on historical data.

The approach you seem to be describing was used by the bozos who announced90 % or more confidence. By election day, a lot of 538's 1-in-3 chance for Trump was precisely "How confident should we be in polling firms?"
posted by mark k at 11:34 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Going through 538's state polls is raising my spirit.

These are "swing" states as defined by last presidential election:

Arizona: Biden up by 4.3
Colorado: Biden up by 13
Florida: Biden up by 4.7
Georgia (not really a swing state, went to Trump by 5.1): Biden by 1.2
Iowa: Biden by 1.0
Maine: Biden by 15.
Nevada: Biden by 6.7.
New Hampshire: Biden by 9.9.
New Mexico: Biden by 13.7
North Carolina: Biden by 2.6.
Ohio: Biden by 0.8
Pennsylvania: Biden by 7.0
Texas (not really a swing state, went to Trump by 9.0): Trump by 1.0
Virginia: Biden by 12.3
Wisconsin: Biden by 7.0

I believe Georgia and Texas are good enough at voter suppression as to secure Trump wins. Trump could easily overtake the narrow margins in Iowa and Ohio. But damn, that still leaves a big tide swarming against him.

What Trump's sickness did was made people look at Trump. And when people look at Trump, most people really don't like him.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:48 AM on October 8 [7 favorites]


My anxiety isn't going to stop until Trump's numbers are in the 27% Keyes Factor zone. Ten points is bullshit.
posted by mikelieman at 12:08 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


I wonder what Amy Coney Barrett will have to say about 45's "miracle cure" relying on "a human cell line once derived from fetal tissue"?

I don't wonder about most of the pro-life vote, because they tend to carve out convenient exceptions about life beginning at conception when (e.g.) they decide they want IVF, or their hero's new mistress falls pregnant.

But Barrett's convictions appear to stem arise from someplace deeper.
posted by armeowda at 12:26 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


I just finished phone banking tonight for the local Democratic Party (I am in Ohio), and of the neutral to positive live conversations I had, around half had already returned their ballots. Our ballots only went out two days ago.
posted by mostly vowels at 5:34 PM on October 8 [7 favorites]


But Barrett's convictions appear to stem arise from someplace deeper.

Trump has a long track record of nominating people who pledge personal loyalty to him, if you want to find Barret's convictions, check the bottom of your shoe. Integrity is not a concept related to the people in his orbit.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:16 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


In Missouri, for 2020 elections there is a slightly confusing set of options:

- Vote in person on election day.
- Mail in voting. Must be notarized and must be received before election day.
- Absentee voting, either mailed in or dropped off at an Election Board office. Must be notarized unless you have a disability, COVID or are in a COVID risk category.
- Absentee voting in person at an Election Board office.

I requested an absentee ballot by mail, which comes with a tracking number and a website to check the status. I filled it in, but then personally took it to the election office (where they stamped the front and had me sign it again). My tracking number still shows as "not received" but I wonder if the tracking no longer applies since I dropped it off in person.
posted by Foosnark at 4:58 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


The requirement that votes be notarized in Missouri is outrageous. What a huge pain in the ass. I imagine the notary isn't free, either. Missouri also tried a seriously repressive voter ID law but that got struck down, although there's still a voter ID requirement in place. All around Missouri really doesn't want people voting, does it?

Marc Elias and Democracy Docket are part of a lawsuit against Missouri about the notary requirement. I don't know what the status is though, it's getting awfully late to have an impact for 2020.
posted by Nelson at 7:02 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]


All around Missouri really doesn't want people voting, does it?

It's an arms race between Republican voter suppression and Democratic GOTV, with the result being a complicated mess of bullshit (like the difference between "mail-in ballots" and "absentee ballots" that are mailed in).

From the MO Secretary of State site:

"State law requires absentee ballots to be notarized for free. However, SB 631 did not authorize free notarization for mail-in ballots. As a result, to assist Missouri voters find a notary public to notarize their absentee or mail-in ballot envelopes at no cost, the Secretary of State’s Office is compiling a list of notaries who have volunteered to provide this service at no charge. The 2020 Notary List will be updated as additional notaries are added."
posted by Foosnark at 7:55 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]


His last pardon will be to pardon himself for selling last minute pardons.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:27 AM on October 9


Senate Democrats are SMASHING fundraising precedents (CNN, via MSN)
Between July 1 and September 30, Democrat Theresa Greenfield raised almost $29 million for her race this fall against Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. That's not only more than Ernst's 2014 Democratic challenger, Bruce Braley, spent ($12 million) in the entire 2014 race, it's more than Braley and Ernst spent (just more than $24 million) in that race.

And it's not just Iowa.

... the overflowing amounts of money available for Democratic Senate candidates also speak to something even more important when it comes to analyzing the coming election: The party's base is beyond fired up about the prospects not just of beating President Donald Trump, but also of retaking the Senate majority.

... And the Democratic base is, judging from donations to Senate candidates around the country, absolutely off-the-charts engaged and excited about this election.
Democratic voters may not be wildly enthusiastic about Biden specifically, but they seem to be wildly enthusiastic about supporting a whole bunch of Democratic candidates this year.
posted by kristi at 12:57 PM on October 9 [10 favorites]


I. "The prospect of armed guards outside election sites alarmed election officials in the state:" Former Special Forces sought by business group to guard polling sites in Minnesota, company says (Washington Post, Oct. 9, 2020; Seattle Times reprint) A private security company is recruiting a “large contingent” of former U.S. military Special Operations personnel to guard polling sites in Minnesota on Election Day as part of an effort “to make sure that the Antifas don’t try to destroy the election sites,” according to the chairman of the company.

The recruiting effort is being done by Atlas Aegis, a private security company based in Tennessee that was formed last year and is run by U.S. military veterans, including people with Special Operations experience, according to its website. The company posted a message through a defense industry jobs site this week calling for former Special Operations forces to staff “security positions in Minnesota during the November Election and beyond to protect election polls, local businesses and residences from looting and destruction.”

Anthony Caudle, the chairman and co-founder of Atlas Aegis, declined to name the Minnesota client, describing the client as a “consortium of business owners and concerned citizens.” The "consortium hired another unnamed firm as the prime contractor that is licensed in Minnesota, and Caudle’s company is responsible for staffing the security guards, he said. He declined to say where in Minnesota the guards would operate or how many intend to be out on Election Day."
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:02 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


II. Freed by Court Ruling, Republicans Step Up Effort to Patrol Voting (NYT, May 18, 2020) ... Besides the national party and Mr. Trump’s campaign strategists, conservative advocacy groups are joining lawsuits, recruiting poll monitors and mounting media campaigns of their own. Leading them is a new and well-funded organization, the Honest Elections Project, formed by Leonard Leo, a prolific fund-raiser, advocate of a conservative judiciary and confidant of Mr. Trump.

[NBC coverage-lite on June 8, which mentions the recruiting and patrolling but not the leading organization.]

Revealed: conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network (The Guardian, May 27, 2020) [The Honest Elections Project] announced it was spending $250,000 in advertisements in April, warning against voting by mail and accusing Democrats of cheating. It facilitated letters to election officials in Colorado, Florida and Michigan, using misleading data to accuse jurisdictions of having bloated voter rolls and threatening legal action. Calling voter suppression a “myth”, it has also been extremely active in the courts, filing briefs in favor of voting restrictions in Nevada, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among other places, at times represented by lawyers from the same firm that represents Trump. By having a hand in both voting litigation and the judges on the federal bench, this network could create a system where conservative donors have an avenue to both oppose voting rights and appoint judges to back that effort.

Despite appearing to be a free-standing new operation, the Honest Elections Project is just a legal alias for the Judicial Education Project, a well-financed nonprofit connected to a powerful network of dark money conservative groups, according to business records reviewed by the Guardian and OpenSecrets. For nearly a decade, the organization has been almost entirely funded by DonorsTrust, known as a “dark money ATM” backed by the Koch network and other prominent conservative donors, according to data tracked by OpenSecrets. In 2018, more than 99% of the Judicial Education Project’s funding came from a single $7.8m donation from DonorsTrust. The Judicial Education Project is also closely linked to Leonard Leo, one of the most powerful people in Washington who has shaped Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the federal judiciary with conservative judges.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:12 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


III. Multiple aliases, and legal maneuvering:

In December, the Judicial Education Project formally changed its legal name to The 85 Fund, a group Leo backed to funnel “tens of millions” of dollars into conservative causes, according to Axios. The Honest Elections Project is merely a fictitious name – an alias – the fund legally adopted in February. The change was nearly indiscernible because The 85 Fund registered two other legal aliases on the same day, including the Judicial Education Project, its old name. The legal maneuver allows it to operate under four different names with little public disclosure that it is the same group.

The Judicial Education Project is closely aligned with the Judicial Crisis Network, a group with unmatched influence in recent years in shaping the federal judiciary. The Judicial Crisis Network spearheaded the campaigns to get Gorsuch and Kavanaugh confirmed to the US supreme court, spending millions of dollars in each instance. It has also spent significantly on critical state supreme court races across the country.

The Republican Party Emerges From Decades of Court Supervision (The Atlantic, January 9, 2018) After being bound by a consent decree for 35 years, the Republican National Committee is now free to continue its “ballot security” campaign.

The Heritage Foundation's legendary Leonard Leo, who stepped aside from the day-to-day running of the organization months ago to manage CRC Advisors, the fund fueling this frenzy of activity. [RIP previous funding organ for conservative political nonprofit groups, the Wellspring Committee, 2008 - 2018/2019.]
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:28 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]


@marceelias:
Federal Court BLOCKS Gov. Abbott's order limiting counties to only one mail-in ballot drop-off location per county.
This is huge. The order had previously restricted, for example, Harris County with a population of 4+ million to a single ballot drop off box.
posted by Mitheral at 7:26 PM on October 9 [15 favorites]


^U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman said [Abbott's] order placed an unacceptable burden on the voting rights of elderly and disabled Texans, a group likely to request an absentee ballot. “By limiting ballot return centers to one per county, older and disabled voters living in Texas’s largest and most populous counties must travel further distances to more crowded ballot return centers where they would be at an increased risk of being infected by the coronavirus in order to exercise their right to vote and have it counted,” Pitman said.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:13 PM on October 9 [8 favorites]


*still waiting*

Our county's ballots were mailed out on Tuesday. We haven't gotten them yet. I am not amused.
posted by Dashy at 7:47 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]






Biden now has the biggest consistent polling lead in presidential history since Gallup's (first!) polling of Roosevelt/Landon in 1936. And only Roosevelt and Biden also were polling above 50%. fingers crossed on fast counting election night.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:52 AM on October 12 [8 favorites]


Likely doesn't need elaboration, but: California Republicans have set up their own illegal, fake ballot drop-boxes to further derail and delegitimize the election.

Another article on this.
posted by Lonnrot at 11:55 AM on October 12 [7 favorites]


georgetown's law school put out a guide about voter intimidation, broken down by state due to differing laws, that might be of interest to posters itt.

their primary worry, it seems, is that armed people will show up to polling places and intimidate voters. but i read a politico article today about how the RNC's ban on having poll watchers was recently rescinded and they've had tens of thousands of people sign up to be poll watchers.

i think less dramatic forms (than armed goons) of political intimidation will be more prevalent, but it never hurts to know your rights, just so you're ready no matter what form this bullshit takes
posted by davedave at 10:02 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


We're planning to go to Pennsylvania to watch the 'poll watchers', so I looked up PA in davedave's link:
Pennsylvania Constitution: The Pennsylvania Constitution forbids a standing army to operate without the consent of the state legislature, and mandates that “the military shall in all cases and at all times be in strict subordination to the civil power.”

This sounds good to me, but I wonder what happens if the PA legislature, which is doing what it can to to throw PA to Trump, consents to allow a 'standing army' to operate.
posted by MtDewd at 8:19 AM on October 13


@chucklindell In a late-night ruling, the 5th Circuit Court UPHOLDS Gov. Abbott order that limits counties to 1 mail-in ballot drop-off location. 3-judge panel, all Trump nominees, says Abbott in fact expanded access to voting by allowing drop-offs before election day.
Statesman article on reinstated 1 drop box per county order.
Critics noted that the closed locations were in counties that are strongly Democratic or trending that way — Travis, El Paso and, in the Houston area, Harris and Fort Bend.

posted by Mitheral at 9:08 AM on October 13 [4 favorites]


the 5th Circuit Court UPHOLDS Gov. Abbott order that limits counties to 1 mail-in ballot drop-off location. 3-judge panel, all Trump nominees, says Abbott in fact expanded access to voting by allowing drop-offs before election day.

To be fair, at least they are consistent. Both Loving County (population 169) and Harris County (population 4,700,000) each get one ballot drop box.

And no, those population numbers aren't typos.
posted by JackFlash at 9:53 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


Classic Equality vs. Equity.
posted by Mitheral at 12:54 PM on October 13 [5 favorites]


Be aware that the Republicans are trying things like this:
The California Republican Party has admitted responsibility for placing more than 50 deceptively labeled “official” drop boxes for mail-in ballots in Los Angeles, Fresno and Orange Counties — an action that state officials said was illegal and could lead to voter fraud.

The dark gray metal boxes have been popping up over the past two weeks near churches, gun shops and Republican Party offices, mostly in conservative areas of a deep-blue state, affixed with a white paper label identifying them as either an “Official Ballot Drop off Box” or a “Ballot Drop Box.”

To the average voter, they are virtually indistinguishable from drop-off sites sanctioned by the state, which are governed by strict regulations intended to prevent the partisan manipulation of ballots.
California Republican Party Admits It Placed Misleading Ballot Boxes Around State
posted by Catblack at 1:02 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]


Not just trying, but doing and will continue to do:
Hector Barajas, a spokesman for the California Republican Party, said the party would continue to distribute the boxes, without adding any label identifying them explicitly as Republican ballot drops.

Mr. Barajas — who disclosed that Republicans were responsible for the boxes only after being bombarded by questions by reporters on Monday — said the party’s actions were legal because state law did not restrict “ballot harvesting,” a practice that allows a third party to collect voters’ completed ballots.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:22 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


I am sick and tired of the DNC playing chess against a team playing thermo-nuclear war. Their idea of winning is making things fair. Which is nice if you live in a society of people who behave, uphold convention, and follow the rules. That is not the world we live in any longer and the stakes are too high. I want to see massive gerrymandering, a supreme court with 15 members, three new states, free public healthcare, free college and wiping out student debt, a new amendment which guarantees every single citizen the right the vote unimpeded and without reservation (with the the federal government has a duty to make sure that happens. full stop), and not just lifetime jail sentences for those who have betrayed out country, but full on public capital punishment for those found guilty of treason when this is all over (and there are easily a few). We only get to keep the nice things we have if we fight for it hard. And this nightmare we have had for the last four years can never, ever happen again.
posted by Manic Pixie Hollow at 1:41 PM on October 13 [9 favorites]


To be clear, while the California Republican Party’s fake drop-boxes are illegal and should be stopped, they aren’t as bad as they might sound. They are placing them in conservative areas and sending email blasts encouraging Republican voters to use them. They appear to be using them to boost early voting for Republicans, not to suppress or tamper with Democratic votes.

There are legal and proper ways for parties to make voting easier by collecting ballots and submitting them on behalf of voters. There are requirements to properly inform voters and to maintain a chain of custody, which these drop boxes don’t meet, and they should absolutely be shut down. However, I still don’t find them nearly as concerning as voter suppression tactics like the Republican “poll watchers,” or actual ballot tampering like the cases in North Carolina in 2016 and 2018.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:00 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


They appear to be using them to boost early voting for Republicans, not to suppress or tamper with Democratic votes.

Alternatively, to have ready-made examples of disputed conduct, allowing election results to be brought before the courts. If they can get results before a Supreme Court with three Trump justices, they know it's game over and they've won.
posted by acb at 3:39 PM on October 13 [6 favorites]


One of the reasons besides the on going Trump shitshow that wildly record setting early voting numbers are being set is many people, blacks especially, know their votes were stolen last time and they are doing everything they can to prevent that this time. 97% of Travis County eligible voters have registered.

@michaelharriot on suppression actions past and present. [Threaded]
posted by Mitheral at 5:37 PM on October 13 [7 favorites]


I second the "ready-made examples of disputed conduct" on the drop boxes. At this point, always ascribe the absolute worst case scenario of bad intentions to GOP actions, and even then you probably are not thinking low enough.
posted by Manic Pixie Hollow at 9:28 AM on October 14 [9 favorites]


Not a single comment here about the debates, huh? Are people talking about that anywhere on the site?
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:19 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]


Ok then.
posted by tiny frying pan at 3:14 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


There's a tiiiiiny bit of discussion at the bottom of the last debate thread.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:26 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


At this point, what's left to say? There is only doing now.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:08 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


Thought I'd ask if there was discussion I was missing. It's clear now I was not.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:02 PM on October 16


So is this where we get to laugh at what a giant loser Trump was in the TV ratings? How humiliating for him.
posted by Nelson at 5:44 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


Michael McDonald’s US Elections Project has now counted 26 million ballots cast in early/mail voting. That's about 19% of the total turnout in the 2016 election. (A few states have already received about 40% of their 2016 turnout!) In states where party registration data is available, the early ballots so far tilt heavily toward registered Democrats.

With the polls looking so favorable, my main worries about this election were that Democratic turnout would underperform, or that another last-minute scandal would scare swing voters away from Biden. The early turnout numbers have calmed my fears about lack of enthusiasm on the Democratic side, and they could also help mitigate any further October surprises. (Also, while the media are still not perfect, they seem to have learned some lessons from 2016 and are being much more careful about amplifying faux scandals.)

Here in Washington state, we just received our ballots. One of the drop boxes in my neighborhood filled up early today, and voters lined up and waited for election workers to come and empty it. (The boxes hold about 5,000 ballots each.)
posted by mbrubeck at 3:18 PM on October 17 [4 favorites]


Interesting data point in Berkeley, California- went to mail something this morning and the mailboxes in front of the post office were completely full, stuffed to the brim. Went to a second mailbox down the block, also stuffed to the brim. Finally found a third mailbox in the neighborhood that had space for new mail.
posted by ishmael at 4:12 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


It seems Trump has said at a rally that he may leave the US if he looses. I saw it as an off-hand remark in this article about a new golf course, the other sources I can find by googling are either pay-walled or tabloids, but it seems legit enough.
I try to not go too far down the trumpologist path, but to me that sounds like they are beginning to plan for loosing, and that they are scared that a Biden administration may start a real investigation into all of their crimes. After all, Kamala Harris has promised as much.
posted by mumimor at 10:55 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


^ Well, one dare not hope too specifically, but I've said to friends and family for a while now that Trump may very well leave the White House for Moscow under cover of night if/when he loses. I've kind of been thinking that might be the healthiest option for the American people, culturally speaking, too: the body only starts healing once infection has been successfully eliminated; otherwise, the immune system is just fighting infection.

Trump losing and sticking around, even through criminal investigations and trials, would be like a patient not finishing a course of antibiotics--if any of the infection remains, it continues to do damage and will again spread. He'll keep spewing toxic shit through social media, inciting the very worst among us to greater action and harm. But if he tucks tail and runs, while he can still obviously post online from anywhere, he's no longer among us or of us, and that might be the one thing that would really make his followers sit down and shut the fuck up, by finally, unequivocally demonstrating that DJT is only, and has only ever been, about himself.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:38 AM on October 18 [4 favorites]


(n.b.: this idea does not mean that I think criminal investigations and trials should not occur--they absolutely must. We may even need some version of a truth & reconciliation process, depending upon how heinous the detailed reality of the past four years actually is, once we start finding that out.)
posted by LooseFilter at 8:41 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]


Trump might disappear like a thief in the night, and boy what an indictment of the whole Republican party that would be. But Trumpism isn't going away. The 40% of true believers in their white supremacist, misogynist, grifting piece of shit will still be here in America. And the 0.3%ers will still be organizing their fascist plots against governors, etc.

We are in for a very bad time even if the Democrats sweep every part of this election. America has a sickness deep inside it; Trump isn't the cause of the infection, he's just one particularly visible pustule.

(What I hope for, practically, is the Democrats lead a series of structural reforms on the scale of post-Watergate that make all the various corruptions Trump employed impossible. We relied for two centuries on norms and decency. Apparently that's not good enough. Also I want actual criminal penalties for the monsters who decided stealing children at the border was a good policy.)
posted by Nelson at 9:14 AM on October 18 [16 favorites]


He won't leave the country, just like Rush Limbaugh didn't leave when Obama won a second term. These evil fucks just say stuff.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:20 AM on October 18 [3 favorites]


Policy vs. personality: Undecideds torn as election nears (AP, Oct. 18, 2020) Amanda Jaronowski is torn. The lifelong Republican from suburban Cleveland supports President Donald Trump’s policies and fears her business could be gutted if Democrat Joe Biden is elected. But she abhors Trump personally, leaving her on the fence about who will get her vote. It’s a “moral dilemma,” Jaronowski said as she paced her home one recent evening after pouring a glass of sauvignon blanc. “It would be so easy for him to win my vote if he could just be a decent human being,” she had said earlier during a focus group session. [...]

Longtime Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who has been running focus groups with undecided voters throughout the election, including one Thursday night that included Jaronowski, sees a common refrain among many of the undecideds. “They’re judging on two completely different attributes and they can’t decide which is more important to them,” he said. “They don’t like Trump as a person, but they don’t feel badly about his administration or his policies. They really like Joe Biden as a person, but they are so nervous about what he’s going to do if he were elected. And so they can’t figure out which is more important to them.”

It's three weeks to Election Day, and I'm more curious than ever about these Bizarro-world 'undecideds.' For this article, AP talked with the focus-group businesswoman; a Kansas-born, pro-second Amendment minister; a 2016 third-party voter in Illinois; an Arkansas man seriously considering "Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate" in his solidly red state; and a Virginia woman convinced a Biden win means additional coronavirus-related strictures and "unnecessary economic pain." This last person "said that while Trump 'hasn’t done anything spectacular' in his first term, he also has not 'made the country worse'" -- and she has a long-suffering old friend who repeatedly and heroically "raises concerns about Trump’s embrace of QAnon, an unfounded conspiracy theory, and argues that white supremacy is on the rise under the president".

I'd thought, well, current Administration policies = dying and dead customers, that's got to harm Jaronowski's almighty bottom line? Turns out, that's not her specific concern: She and her husband own a consumer debt-buying company and fear that a President Biden could cancel that debt, which amounts to tens of millions of dollars. (Eight photographs, all women -- including a second, Illinois undecided not quoted by AP -- accompany this article; Jaronowski provided two pictures to run with this less-than-flattering piece.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:18 PM on October 18 [6 favorites]


Well that was so much bizarro world shit in one comment, I feel tired wheeeeew.
posted by tiny frying pan at 3:36 PM on October 18


The undecideds have one thing in common. They only ask themselves, "What's in it for me?"
posted by tiny frying pan at 3:51 PM on October 18 [10 favorites]


She and her husband own a consumer debt-buying company and fear that a President Biden could cancel that debt, which amounts to tens of millions of dollars.

Oh, my goodness. That would make a great ad. "Usurers are afraid of Joe Biden."

Has Biden even said anything about cancelling non-student debt? Is she just afraid because she knows deep down how messed up her "industry" is?

Anyway, please let Biden do a debt Jubilee* and make a few other financially-populist moves while he's at it. He can't fix covid in a country full of deniers and saboteurs, and it will take ages to improve the economy. But he can try to instill the message once and for all that voting Democratic is, has been, and will continue to be the right move for your pocketbook if you're not a millionaire.

*Wrap it in enough religious terms and maybe even Fox won't be able to yell too stridently
posted by trig at 1:04 AM on October 19 [6 favorites]


In a year of political anger, undecided voters inspire a special kind of scorn
The humorist David Sedaris, considering the psychology of the undecided voter, once envisioned a scenario on an airplane. A flight attendant comes through the cabin offering passengers a choice of two meals: chicken, or a ”platter of s--- with bits of broken glass in it.”

“To be undecided in this election,” he wrote, “is to pause​ for a moment and then ask how the chick​en is cooked.”
Kudos to the WP for going blue in the lead graf.
posted by gwint at 7:56 AM on October 19 [7 favorites]


Well, one dare not hope too specifically, but I've said to friends and family for a while now that Trump may very well leave the White House for Moscow under cover of night if/when he loses.

If he does, can someone please be the catalyst to make manifest the vision I had in this comment?


Trump might disappear like a thief in the night, and boy what an indictment of the whole Republican party that would be. But Trumpism isn't going away. The 40% of true believers in their white supremacist, misogynist, grifting piece of shit will still be here in America. And the 0.3%ers will still be organizing their fascist plots against governors, etc.

Maybe, maybe not. Trump abandoning the country might be the thing that turns a critical mass against him.

I am weirdly reminded of the Rev. Ian Paisley and what I understand was the fallout concerning his reaction to the Good Friday Agreement to scale back tensions in Northern Ireland. Paisley was a loyalist politician and religious leader, and one of the most bigoted anti-Catholic fucks ever to stand on two legs (when Leon Uris was writing Trinity and needed some sermons for a turn-of-the-century Protestant minister, he turned to sermons by Ian Paisley).

Paisley campaigned hard against the Good Friday agreement, but the agreement passed, with 72% voting yes and 28% voting no. But Paisley threw an actual victory parade, crowing that "they thought we would only get a 25% no vote but we got a whole three more percentage points! We're victorious!" Several of his usual loons were celebrating with him, but apparently that was the point at which many of his followers woke up and realized "wait....this dude is kind of batshit crazy." And his support took a serious nose dive after that and he was sort of shuffled into this agricultural committee position for the remaining couple of years in Parliament before he dropped out altogether.

I think if Trump bails it will lose him some followers. Not all, but maybe...enough.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:33 AM on October 19 [3 favorites]


Folks, they're only following Trump because he's the guy in front of the parade. Trump is a symptom of the cancer that is the Republican party. When Trump is gone, they'll find another person to stand in front of the parade.

The "leader" is white supremacy.
posted by mikelieman at 2:59 PM on October 19 [10 favorites]


The next ringleader at the front of the parade might well be Tom Cotton.
posted by Nelson at 3:22 PM on October 19 [2 favorites]


Man... the vacuum of dignity and competence Trump has created in this country is so profound, and it's driven up the contrast level so high, that Obama's eloquence and presidential poise very nearly manage to make Biden look bad in the course of giving speeches that are all about what a great guy Biden is.
posted by XMLicious at 2:39 PM on October 21 [1 favorite]


A YouTube video for the uncles: Stephen Fry speaks a public information short
posted by mumimor at 7:05 AM on October 22


On the 538 Election Forecast, one of the "sample of 100 outcomes" right now shows Biden with a gobsmacking 530 electoral votes, and Trump winning only Wyoming and... Vermont. Vermont!? I uploaded a screengrab for lulz.
posted by oulipian at 7:24 AM on October 25 [1 favorite]


I would be happy with a moderate Electoral College victory and a Senate majority, but I don't think such a thing is possible. Roll on landslide.

In other news, Michael McDonald of the US Elections Project says nearly 60 million people have already voted; and Texas is just shy of 80% of its 2016 vote total – with 9 days left to go! These voters aren't going to disappear; this election will be a watershed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:55 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


On the 538 Election Forecast, one of the "sample of 100 outcomes" right now shows Biden with a gobsmacking 530 electoral votes, and Trump winning only Wyoming and... Vermont. Vermont!? I uploaded a screengrab for lulz.

I've been throwing out "538-0" for months. It is my dream, so it's nice to see something close get a 1% chance.
posted by rhizome at 2:27 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


And this chart for early voting in some states by 18-29s is heartening.
posted by rhizome at 2:32 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


it's nice to see something close get a 1% chance.

538's "100 outcomes" are a sample drawn from simulating the election 40,000 times, so it's definitely much less than 1%. But not, apparently, outside the realm of (simulated) possibility.
posted by oulipian at 3:38 PM on October 25 [2 favorites]


Did anyone watch the famous 60 MINUTES episode with the Trump and Biden interviews tonight?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 PM on October 25 [1 favorite]


I did. It went about how you'd predict. Trump (all | excerpts) revealed nothing more than the personality and antagonism we've grown to expect. Not even a morsel of his health plan...save perhaps that he's waiting to see if the Supes kill Obamacare, which I don't think I'd heard before that. Pence was anodyne, Biden was avuncular, Kamala was fairly sharp.
posted by rhizome at 9:03 PM on October 25


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