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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Impact of Redistricting

David A. Lieb reports at AP
The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It’s designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.
The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.
Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.
The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one.
...
The AP’s findings are similar to recent ones from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which used three statistical tests to analyze the 2012-2016 congressional elections. Its report found a persistent Republican advantage and “clear evidence that aggressive gerrymandering is distorting the nation’s congressional maps,” posing a “threat to democracy.” The Brennan Center did not analyze state legislative elections.
The AP’s analysis was based on a formula developed by University of Chicago law professor Nick Stephanopoulos and Eric McGhee, a researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Their mathematical model was cited last fall as “corroborative evidence” by a federal appeals court panel that struck down Wisconsin’s state Assembly districts as an intentional partisan gerrymander in violation of Democratic voters’ rights to representation.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Leftward on the Left Coast

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the Sanders candidacy and the liberal drift of the Democratic Party.

George Skelton, no right-winger, writes at The Los Angeles Times:
Democrats in the state Legislature are walking a tightrope, seemingly oblivious to potential danger.
First, they raised gas taxes and vehicle fees. Then the Senate passed a ridiculously costly universal healthcare plan. Now, the Legislature is getting close to helping undocumented criminals avoid deportation.
How far left can the majority party careen, even in deep blue California, before Republicans start benefiting at the ballot box?
Patrick McGreevy reports at The Los Angeles Times:
A majority of California voters oppose the state's recently passed gas tax and vehicle fee increases that will pay for state roads and expand mass transit, according to a poll released Friday.
About 58% of registered voters surveyed said they oppose the increases that were recently approved by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown, according to the IGS Poll, a survey by the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. About 35% said they support the new taxes and fees.

...
A large majority of respondents who identified themselves as strongly liberal said they support the change.
But overall, they poll found, the new law is opposed by big majorities of Republicans and no-party-preference respondents, political conservatives and moderates, members of all major races and ethnic groups, men, women, and people over 30.

Friday, June 23, 2017

In August, They Knew Putin Backed Trump

Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous report at The Washington Post:
Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

The White House debated various options to punish Russia, but facing obstacles and potential risks, it ultimately failed to exact a heavy toll on the Kremlin for its election interference.

Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Trump Voters

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House.

  • This analysis finds five unique clusters of Trump voters: American Preservationists (20%), Staunch Conservatives (31%), Anti-Elites (19%), Free Marketeers (25%), and the Disengaged (5%)
  • There is no such thing as “one kind of Trump voter” who voted for him for one single reason. Many voted with enthusiasm for Trump while others held their noses and voted against Hillary Clinton.
  • Trump voters hold very different views on a wide variety of issues including immigration, race, American identity, moral traditionalism, trade, and economics.
  • Four issues distinguish Trump voters from non-Trump voters: attitudes toward Hillary Clinton, evaluations of the economy, views about illegal immigration, and views about Muslim immigration.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Special House Elections

Republicans won a high-profile special House election in Georgia, as well as a lower-profile race in South Carolina.  The latter was surprisingly close. David Wasserman writes:
The divergent results in GA-06 and SC-05 prove saturation-level campaigns can backfire on the party with a baseline enthusiasm advantage—in this case, Democrats. The GA-06 election drew over 259,000 voters—an all-time turnout record for a stand-alone special election and an amazing 49,000 more than participated in the 2014 midterm in GA-06. The crush of attention motivated GOP voters who might have otherwise stayed home, helping Handel to victory.

Credit must be given to the NRCC and the House GOP leadership-allied Congressional Leadership Fund, who did more with less and ran straightforward, but effective ads to buttress Handel's imperfect campaign and neutralize Ossoff's enormous advantage on the airwaves. Trump's approval rating in GA-06 was still mired in the low 40s by this week, but the GOP was still able to compound and capitalize on serious Ossoff fatigue.

By contrast, SC-05 drew fewer than 88,000 voters despite its similar population. Norman, the Republican nominee, had just emerged from a tight runoff with critical backing from the Club for Growth, but had alienated some of the district's chamber of commerce types. Meanwhile, Parnell benefited from a base of highly motivated Democrats, including a modest and low-profile DCCC effort to turn out African-American voters.
...
Although it's true Democrats have agonizingly yet to capture a red district, they have outperformed their "generic" share of the vote significantly in every contest. Measured against the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI), Democrats have outperformed the partisan lean of their districts by an average of eight points in the past five elections...
If Democrats were to outperform their "generic" share by eight points across the board in November 2018, they would pick up 80 seats. Of course, that won't happen because Republican incumbents will be tougher to dislodge than special election nominees. But these results fit a pattern that should still worry GOP incumbents everywhere, regardless of Trump's national approval rating and the outcome of the healthcare debate in Congress.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What Divides the Parties

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House.

Lee Drutman analyzes survey data at the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group:
  • The primary conflict structuring the two parties involves questions of national identity, race, and morality, while the traditional conflict over economics, though still important, is less divisive now than it used to be. This has the potential to reshape the party coalitions.
  • By making questions of national identity more salient, Donald Trump succeeded in winning over “populists” (socially conservative, economically liberal voters) who had previously voted for Democrats.
  • Among populists who voted for Obama, Clinton did terribly. She held onto only 6 in 10 of these voters (59 percent). Trump picked up 27 percent of these voters, and the remaining 14 percent didn’t vote for either major party candidate.
  • To the extent that the Democratic Party is divided, these divisions are more about faith in the political system and general disaffection than they are about issue positions.
  • By contrast, Republican voters are more clearly split. For the most part, Trump and Cruz supporters look fairly similar, though Cruz supporters are considerably more conservative on moral issues, and notably less concerned about inequality and the social safety net, and more pro- free trade. Kasich supporters are the true moderates, caught in between the two parties on almost every issue, both economic and social.
  • In both parties, the donor class is both more conservative on economic issues and more liberal on social issues, as compared to the rest of the party
  • Democrats may be pressured to move further left on identity issues, given that both younger voters and the party’s donor class are quite far to the left on identity issues. If so, American politics would become further polarized along questions of culture and identity.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Rural-Urban Divide

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House.

Jose A. DelReal and Scott Clement report at The Washington Post:
The political divide between rural and urban America is more cultural than it is economic, rooted in rural residents’ deep misgivings about the nation’s rapidly changing demographics, their sense that Christianity is under siege and their perception that the federal government caters most to the needs of people in big cities, according to a wide-ranging poll that examines cultural attitudes across the United States.
The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey of nearly 1,700 Americans — including more than 1,000 adults living in rural areas and small towns — finds deep-seated kinship in rural America, coupled with a stark sense of estrangement from people who live in urban areas. Nearly 7 in 10 rural residents say their values differ from people who live in big cities, including about 4 in 10 who say their values are “very different.”
That divide is felt more extensively in rural America than in cities: About half of urban residents say their values differ from rural people, with about 20 percent of urbanites saying rural values are “very different.”