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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sanders and the Media

What about Bernie Sanders? The Tyndall Report analyzed major-network campaign coverage in 2015. In over 1,000 minutes of national broadcast television airtime devoted to all the campaigns, Donald Trump received 327 minutes, or close to one-third of all the campaign coverage. Bernie Sanders received just 20 minutes. Hillary Clinton got 121 minutes of campaign coverage, six times the amount Sanders received. “ABC World News Tonight” aired 81 minutes of reports on Donald Trump, compared with just 20 seconds for Sanders.
I asked Sanders what he did to warrant a full 20 seconds of coverage on ABC, and he threw his head back, laughing out loud. “We had the misfortune of actually trying to talk about the problems facing America and providing real solutions,” he said, offering his take on the media’s failure. “Trump was tweeting out about how ugly or horrible or disgusting or terrible his opponents were, in really ugly terms. Perfect for the media. That is a great 12-second sound bite. But to talk about why the middle class is in decline or why we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality can’t be done in 12 seconds. And second of all, it’s not something that they are, frankly, terribly interested in.” While the media may not have been interested in Sanders’ message, the voters were. Despite the media blackout, Sanders won 23 primary contests and 46 percent of the pledged Democratic delegates.
At the Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center, Thomas Patterson wrote:
The media’s obsession with Trump during the primaries meant that the Republican race was afforded far more coverage than the Democratic race, even though it lasted five weeks longer. The Republican contest got 63 percent of the total coverage between January 1 and June 7, compared with the Democrats’ 37 percent—a margin of more than three to two.
Sanders in particular struggled to get the media’s attention. Over the course of the primary season, Sanders received only two-thirds of the coverage afforded Clinton. Sanders’ coverage trailed Clinton’s in every week of the primary season. Relative to Trump, Sanders was truly a poor cousin. He received less than half of the coverage afforded Trump. Sanders received even slightly less coverage than Cruz, despite the fact that Cruz quit the race and dropped off the media’s radar screen five weeks before the final contests. For her part, Clinton got slightly less than three-fourths of the press attention given to Trump. Nevertheless, she was, except for Trump, the most heavily covered candidate during the primary period.
Coverage Tone. Our earlier study found that, in 2015, Sanders received the most positive coverage of any of the presidential contenders. That pattern carried into the primaries. During the period from January 1 to June 7, positive news statements about Sanders outpaced negative ones by 54 percent to 46 percent (see Figure 2). In fact, Sanders was the only candidate during the primary period to receive a positive balance of coverage. The other candidates’ coverage tilted negative, though in varying degrees. Clinton’s coverage was 53 percent negative to 47 percent positive, which, though unfavorable on balance, was markedly better than her 2015 coverage when she received by far the most negative coverage of any candidate. During that year-long period, two-thirds (69 percent to 31 percent) of what was reported about Clinton was negative in tone.

Friday, December 2, 2016


Simon Greenhill writes at The Daily Californian:
In stark contrast to Republicans’ sweep of the presidency and Congress on Nov. 8, California Democrats clinched two-thirds supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature Monday night.

The Associated Press called Democrat Josh Newman’s win for state Senate District 29 over Republican Ling Ling Chang when provisional and absentee ballots gave Newman a lead of more than 2,400 votes.
With Newman’s election, Democrats will control 27 of the 40 state Senate seats. Democrats also control 55 of the 80 state Assembly seats, gaining three seats in this year’s election.

A supermajority gives Democrats the ability overturn a governor’s veto, pass tax laws and put constitutional amendments to the ballot — all without bipartisan support. Split between liberals and centrists, however, the Democratic party’s dominance in California is more symbolic than actionable.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ranking the Runners Up

A recent post noted that Trump's share of the electoral vote ranks 46th of the 58 presidential elections back to Washington.  What about the losers?  This table ranks the first runner-up in each election since 1804.  (I exclude the first four elections, in which it is possible to identify the winner, but the concept of "loser" is more problematic.  Before the 12th Amendment, each elector cast two votes, with the assumption that the second-ranking candidate would be vice president.  This system blew up with the tie of 1800.)

Clinton did pretty well, 8th among the 54 runners up.

Party designations:
D - Democratic
R - Republican
F - Federalist
W -Whig
NR - National Republican
DR - Democrat-Republican
P - Progressive

  1. 1876        Samuel J. Tilden (D)             49.86%
  2. 2000        Al Gore (D)                          49.44%
  3. 1916        Charles E. Hughes (R)         47.83%
  4. 2004        John Kerry (D)                     46.65%
  5. 1884        James G. Blaine (R)             45.39%
  6. 1976        Gerald R. Ford (R)               44.61%
  7. 1848        Lewis Cass (D)                     43.79%
  8. 2016        Hillary Clinton (D)             43.12%
  9. 1880        Winfield S. Hancock (D)      42.01%
  10. 1888        Grover Cleveland (D)           41.90%
  11. 1812        DeWitt Clinton (F)                41.01%
  12. 1960        Richard Nixon (R)                40.78%
  13. 1896        William J. Bryan (D)             39.37%
  14. 1856        John C. Fremont (R )            38.51%
  15. 2012        Mitt Romney (R )                  38.29%
  16. 1844        Henry Clay (W)                    38.18%
  17. 1824        Andrew Jackson (D-R)         37.93%
  18. 1948        Thomas E. Dewey (R)          35.59%
  19. 1968        Hubert Humphrey (D)          35.50%
  20. 1900        William J. Bryan (D)             34.68%
  21. 1908        William J. Bryan (D)             33.54%
  22. 1892        Benjamin Harrison (R)          32.66%
  23. 2008        John McCain (R )                 32.16%
  24. 1828        John Quincy Adams (NR)    31.80%
  25. 1992        George H.W. Bush (R)         31.23%
  26. 1996        Bob Dole (R)                        29.55%
  27. 1904        Alton B. Parker (D)               29.41%
  28. 1868        Horatio Seymour (D)            27.21%
  29. 1808        Charles C. Pinckney (F)        26.86%
  30. 1924        John W. Davis (D)                25.61%
  31. 1836        William Henry Harrison (W) 24.83%
  32. 1920        James M. Cox (D)                 23.92%
  33. 1860        John C. Breckinridge (SD)    23.76%
  34. 1988        Michael Dukakis (D)             20.63%
  35. 1840        Martin Van Buren (D)           20.41%
  36. 1944        Thomas Dewey (R )              18.64%
  37. 1832        Henry Clay (NR)                  17.13%
  38. 1952        Adlai E. Stevenson (D)         16.76%
  39. 1912        Theodore Roosevelt (P)        16.57%
  40. 1928        Alfred E. Smith (D)              16.38%
  41. 1816        Rufus King (F)                      15.67%
  42. 1940        Wendell Willkie (R )             15.44%
  43. 1852        Winfield Scott (W)                14.19%
  44. 1956        Adlai E. Stevenson (D)         13.75%
  45. 1872        Thomas Hendricks (D)         11.93%
  46. 1932        Herbert C. Hoover (R )         11.11%
  47. 1964        Barry M. Goldwater (R )        9.67%
  48. 1980        Jimmy Carter (D)                   9.11%
  49. 1864        George B. McClellan (D)       9.01%
  50. 1804        Charles C. Pinckney (F)         7.95%
  51. 1972        George S. McGovern (D)       3.16%
  52. 1984        Walter F. Mondale (D)           2.42%
  53. 1936        Alfred M. Landon (R)           1.51%
  54. 1820        John Quincy Adams (DR  )    0.43%

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Digital Don

MARK ZUCKERBERG IS trying hard to convince voters that Facebook had no nefarious role in this election. But according to President-elect Donald Trump’s digital director Brad Parscale, the social media giant was massively influential—not because it was tipping the scales with fake news, but because it helped generate the bulk of the campaign’s $250 million in online fundraising.

“Our biggest incubator that allowed us to generate that money was Facebook,” says Parscale, who has been working for the campaign since before Trump officially announced his candidacy a year and a half ago. Over the course of the election cycle, Trump’s campaign funneled $90 million to Parscale’s San Antonio-based firm, most of which went toward digital advertising. And Parscale says more of that ad money went to Facebook than to any other platform.

“Facebook and Twitter were the reason we won this thing,” he says. “Twitter for Mr. Trump. And Facebook for fundraising.”
Facebook proved to be a powerful way for Trump’s team to hone the campaign’s message with the kind of enormous sample sizes you can’t get with traditional polling. “They have an advantage of a platform that has users that are conditioned to click and engage and give you feedback,” says Gary Coby, director of advertising at the Republican National Committee, who worked on Trump’s campaign. “Their platform’s built to inform you about what people like and dislike.”
Social media was Trump’s primary communication channel. It wasn’t a platform for broadcasting pre-planned messages but for interacting with supporters and starting new conversations—however controversial those conversations often were. Bleeker says one of the biggest lessons he’s learned from this election cycle is that social media is increasingly going to be part of any candidate’s so-called “earned media strategy”—that is, the coverage a candidate gets for free in the press. The President-elect has shown he can turn a news cycle in 140 characters or less; in a recent 60 Minutes interview, he said he plans to continue using Twitter as president.

McKenzie Funk writes at The New York Times:

Do you panic easily? Do you often feel blue? Do you have a sharp tongue? Do you get chores done right away? Do you believe in the importance of art?
If ever you’ve answered questions like these on one of the free personality quizzes floating around Facebook, you’ll have learned what’s known as your Ocean score: How you rate according to the big five psychological traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. You may also be responsible the next time America is shocked by an election upset.

For several years, a data firm eventually hired by the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, has been using Facebook as a tool to build psychological profiles that represent some 230 million adult Americans. A spinoff of a British consulting company and sometime-defense contractor known for its counterterrorism “psy ops” work in Afghanistan, the firm does so by seeding the social network with personality quizzes. Respondents — by now hundreds of thousands of us, mostly female and mostly young but enough male and older for the firm to make inferences about others with similar behaviors and demographics — get a free look at their Ocean scores. Cambridge Analytica also gets a look at their scores and, thanks to Facebook, gains access to their profiles and real names.
One recent advertising product on Facebook is the so-called “dark post”: A newsfeed message seen by no one aside from the users being targeted. With the help of Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Trump’s digital team used dark posts to serve different ads to different potential voters, aiming to push the exact right buttons for the exact right people at the exact right times.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trump's Victory Ranks 46 of 58 in Electoral College Share

Presidential Election Winners, Ranked by Percentage of Electoral Vote
  1. 1792          George Washington                100%
  2. 1789          George Washington                100%
  3. 1820          James Monroe                         99.57%
  4. 1936          Franklin D. Roosevelt             98.49%
  5. 1984          Ronald Reagan                       97.58%
  6. 1972          Richard Nixon                         96.65%
  7. 1804          Thomas Jefferson                    92.05%
  8. 1864          Abraham Lincoln                    90.99%
  9. 1980          Ronald Reagan                       90.89%
  10. 1964          Lyndon B. Johnson                 90.33%
  11. 1932          Franklin D. Roosevelt             88.89%
  12. 1956          Dwight D. Eisenhower           86.06%
  13. 1852          Franklin Pierce                        85.81%
  14. 1940          Franklin D. Roosevelt             84.56%
  15. 1816          James Monroe                         84.33%
  16. 1928          Herbert Hoover                       83.62%
  17. 1952          Dwight D. Eisenhower           83.24%
  18. 1872          Ulysses S. Grant                     81.95%
  19. 1912          Woodrow Wilson                    81.92%
  20. 1944          Franklin D. Roosevelt             81.36%
  21. 1840          William Henry Harrison          79.59%
  22. 1988          George H. W. Bush                79.18%
  23. 1832          Andrew Jackson                     76.57%
  24. 1920          Warren G. Harding                 76.08%
  25. 1868          Ulysses S. Grant                     72.79%
  26. 1924          Calvin Coolidge                      71.94%
  27. 1904          Theodore Roosevelt                70.59%
  28. 1996          Bill Clinton                             70.45%
  29. 1808          James Madison                        69.71%
  30. 1992          Bill Clinton                             68.77%
  31. 1828          Andrew Jackson                     68.20%
  32. 2008          Barack Obama                        67.84%
  33. 1908          William Howard Taft              66.46%
  34. 1900          William McKinley                   65.32%
  35. 1892          Grover Cleveland                    62.39%
  36. 1844          James K. Polk                         61.82%
  37. 2012          Barack Obama                         61.71%
  38. 1896          William McKinley                   60.63%
  39. 1860          Abraham Lincoln                    59.41%
  40. 1812          James Madison                        58.99%
  41. 1856          James Buchanan                      58.78%
  42. 1888          Benjamin Harrison                  58.10%
  43. 1880          James A. Garfield                   57.99%
  44. 1836          Martin Van Buren                   57.82%
  45. 1948          Harry S. Truman                     57.06%
  46. 2016          Donald Trump                       56.88%
  47. 1960          John F. Kennedy                     56.42%
  48. 1848          Zachary Taylor                        56.21%
  49. 1968          Richard Nixon                          55.95%
  50. 1976          Jimmy Carter                           55.20%
  51. 1884          Grover Cleveland                    54.61%
  52. 2004          George W. Bush                     53.16%
  53. 1800          Thomas Jefferson                    52.90% (tie with Burr, went to House)
  54. 1916          Woodrow Wilson                    52.17%
  55. 1796          John Adams                            51.45%
  56. 2000          George W. Bush                     50.37%
  57. 1876          Rutherford B. Hayes              50.14%
  58. 1824          John Quincy Adams               32.18% (draw, went to House)

Stuffing the Ballot Box in California

President-elect Donald Trump not only alleged widespread national voter fraud in a series of messages posted on Twitter on Sunday, but took the time in one tweet to target the ballots cast in California as an example of the problem.
Trump called the fraud “serious” in the state, along with Virginia and New Hampshire, and blamed media “bias” for the lack of coverage the allegations have received.
It was the first time the president-elect has specifically voiced concerns about voting in California. The tweet came in the wake of several days of criticism from both Trump and his advisors over an effort by the Green Party to force a recount of votes cast in Wisconsin and possibly Michigan and Pennsylvania.
From California Secretary of State Alex Padilla:
"It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him. His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a President-elect."
Might there be random cases of improper voting in California and elsewhere?  Yes, and when the authorities discover them, they should investigate.  But it makes no sense to suggest massive fraud in California.  First, there is no evidence for the claim.  Second, it would not even make sense to commit such fraud. Before the election, Clinton was on track to win the state by a huge margin.  Why on earth would anyone risk a felony prosecution to pad her margin in a state that she was going to carry anyway?

(Trump aide tried to rationalize his false claim by pointing to a 2014 essay in The Washington Post, but a headnote to the article points out that subsequent analysis has discredited it.)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

State Legislative Gains for the GOP

Nicole Narea and Alex Shephard write at The New Republic:
Look past the GOP takeover of Washington, however, and the outlook for Democrats is even more alarming. In November, the party lost control of state legislatures in Iowa, Minnesota, and Kentucky. The state senate in Connecticut, which had been firmly blue, is now evenly split. Republicans ousted Democratic governors in Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont. All told, Democrats surrendered about 30 seats in state legislatures. They now hold majorities in just 31 of the country’s 98 legislative bodies, and only 15 of the nation’s governors are Democrats.
The losses in November are part of a sharp and unprecedented decline for the party at the state level. Since Obama took office eight years ago, Democrats have lost over 800 seats in state legislatures. For the first time in history, they do not control a single legislative chamber in the South. Overall, the party is now at its weakest point at the state level since 1920.
The GOP takeover of state governments was no accident. In 2010, Republicans poured $30 million into state races—three times more than Democrats— as part of a deliberate strategy to control the once-in-a-decade process of congressional redistricting. As a result, Republicans picked up 675 legislative seats and gained control of twelve state legislatures. In 2014, the GOP spent another $38 million on state races and picked up ten more legislatures.
Republicans have been deliberately building their advantage at the state level since 1994, when they took control of 15 state legislatures. Groups like the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council and the State Policy Network began using state legislatures as laboratories for conservative ideas, funneling policy proposals from Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” to state lawmakers. With their first majority in Congress in 40 years, Republicans in Washington could also dictate public policy in a host of states: For the first time in history, as conservative Democrats defected to the GOP, more than half of Southern legislatures tilted red.
“As recently as the early 1990s, the South was very competitive between parties, if not favoring Democrats,” says Boris Shor, a professor of political science at the University of Houston. “But since the landslide of ’94, Republican voting in state legislatures has become a function of what is happening in Congress and the presidency.”
Stephen Wolf writes at Daily Kos:
After the Civil War, federal troops occupied the defeated South and helped enforce civil rights laws, enabling Republicans to win power in many Southern states thanks to the overwhelming votes of newly enfranchised black men. While they controlled many former rebel states during Reconstruction, other Southern states like Kentucky that hadn’t seceded stubbornly resisted the Republican Party. After Reconstruction ended and those troops withdrew, white-supremacist reactionary Democrats retook power in nearly every Southern state, and even the modern pro-civil rights party held every Southern state legislative chamber as recently as 1992.
While the two parties’ voter coalitions and their positions on civil rights have changed massively in the last century and a half, one thing remained constant: Republicans had never held every Southern legislature at once. That streak ended in 2016, when Republicans won control over the Kentucky state House for the first election since 1920, giving them control of both chambers at once there for the first time in state history. Democrats had lost power in Kentucky during part of the Civil War, when pro-Confederate forces tried to form a rival secessionist government, but it was to the Unionists instead of the Republicans.
With Kentucky, Republicans now control both legislative chambers in every Southern state, roughly those that span from the Virginias to Texas. Although the Census Bureau still defines the Democratic-controlled ex-slave states of Delaware and Maryland as Southern, their cultural affinities have drifted much closer to the Northeast in the post-World War II era. Donald Trump won all of these Southern states except Virginia, while Republicans have also aggressively gerrymandered the vast majority of their state legislatures. However, Kentucky’s lower chamber was a rare Democratic-drawn map, helping the party cling to power until 2016.