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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Party Composition

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the demographic divides of the 2016 campaign.

Pew has analyzed party affiliation data from 2017.
Record share of college graduates align with Democrats. Voters who have completed college make up a third of all registered voters. And a majority of all voters with at least a four-year college degree (58%) now identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, the highest share dating back to 1992. Just 36% affiliate with the Republican Party or lean toward the GOP. The much larger group of voters who do not have a four-year degree is more evenly divided in partisan affiliation. And voters with no college experience have been moving toward the GOP: 47% identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, up from 42% in 2014.
Continued racial divisions in partisan identification. About half of white voters (51%) identify with the GOP or lean Republican, while 43% identify as Democrats or lean Democratic. These figures are little changed from recent years. By contrast, African American voters continue to affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic by an overwhelming margin (84% Democrat to 8% Republican). Hispanic voters align with the Democrats by greater than two-to-one (63% to 28%), while Asian American voters also largely identify as Democrats or lean Democratic (65% Democrat, 27% Republican).
Larger differences among whites by education. Most white voters with at least a four-year college degree (53%) affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic; 42% identify as Republicans or lean Republican. As recently as two years ago, leaned partisan identification among white college graduates was split (47% Democrat, 47% Republican). Majorities of white voters with some college experience but who do not have a degree (55%) and those with no college experience (58%) continue to identify as Republicans or lean Republican.
Millennials, especially Millennial women, tilt more Democratic. As noted in our recent report on generations and politics, Millennial voters are more likely than older generations to affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic. Nearly six-in-ten Millennials (59%) affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic, compared with about half of Gen Xers and Boomers (48% each) and 43% of voters in the Silent Generation. A growing majority of Millennial women (70%) affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic; four years ago, 56% of Millennial women did so. About half of Millennial men (49%) align with the Democratic Party, little changed in recent years. The gender gap in leaned party identification among Millennials is wider than among older generations.

Democrats are rapidly shifting left.  Republicans have long been on the right.

As we note in the book, non-college whites once accounted for a majority of  Democrats.  Now they are only one-third:

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Trump Calls Putin

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

Carol D. Leonnig, David Nakamura and Josh Dawsey at WP:
President Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers Tuesday when he congratulated Russian President Vladi­mir Putin on his reelection — including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” according to officials familiar with the call.
Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow.

 Former CIA Director John Brennan says it is possible the Russians 'have something' on the president, and he also believes the country's future is in jeopardy as Trump 'continues his antics.'

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Trump

"The monstrosity of this, reaching Smiley through a thickening wall of spiritual exhaustion, left him momentarily speechless." 
-- John LeCarre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy -- based loosely on the story of the Cambridge Five.

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign

Emma Graham-Harrison and Carole Cadwalladr at The Guardian:
Senior executives from the firm at the heart of Facebook’s data breach boasted of playing a key role in bringing Donald Trump to power and said they used “unattributable and untrackable” advertising to support their clients in elections, according to an undercover expose.
In secretly recorded conversations, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix, claimed he had met Trump “many times”, while another senior member of staff said the firm was behind the “defeat crooked Hillary” advertising campaign.
“We just put information into the bloodstream of the internet and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again over time to watch it take shape,” said the executive. “And so this stuff infiltrates the online community, but with no branding, so it’s unattributable, untrackable.”
Caught on camera by an undercover team from Channel 4 News, Nix was also dismissive of Democrats on the House intelligence committee, who had questioned him over Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.
Senior managers then appeared to suggest that in their work for US clients, there was planned division of work between official campaigns and unaffiliated “political action groups”.
That could be considered coordination – which is not allowed under US election law. The firm has denied any wrongdoing
 “We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting. We ran all the digital campaign, the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy,” he told reporters who were posing as potential clients from Sri Lanka.
The company’s head of data, Alex Tayler, added: “When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3m votes but won the electoral college vote that’s down to the data and the research.
“You did your rallies in the right locations, you moved more people out in those key swing states on election day. That’s how he won the election.”
Daniel Drezner at WP:
And then, over the weekend, this Guardian story about Cambridge Analytica came over the transom, and it is pretty bonkers. It would appear that Cambridge Analytica, a firm that did data analytics work for the Trump campaign, illegally harvested Facebook data so as to develop its influence techniques. The article contains this sentence: “Dr Kogan — who later changed his name to Dr Spectre, but has subsequently changed it back to Dr Kogan — is still a faculty member at Cambridge University, a senior research associate.” Oh, and of course, Russians are involved on the periphery.

The first story was enough to send Facebook’s stock in the United Kingdom down six points. And then, on Sunday, part II of the story broke, and hoo, boy, Cambridge Analytica is gonna be in big trouble:
The company at the centre of the Facebook data breach boasted of using honey traps, fake news campaigns and operations with ex-spies to swing election campaigns around the world, a new investigation reveals.
Executives from Cambridge Analytica spoke to undercover reporters from Channel 4 News about the dark arts used by the company to help clients, which included entrapping rival candidates in fake bribery stings and hiring prostitutes to seduce them.
In one exchange, the company chief executive, Alexander Nix, is recorded telling reporters: “It sounds a dreadful thing to say, but these are things that don’t necessarily need to be true as long as they’re believed.”
What I want to do, but can’t, is dismiss the whole story as another conspiracy. In a world in which this administration is hemorrhaging scandal after scandal, commentators need to rethink what constitutes a fair deal. And I hate having to think like that.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

"I Am the Storm"

Cambridge Analytica and Russia

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign

Issie Lapowsky at Wired:
CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA, A data analysis firm that worked on President Trump's 2016 campaign, and its related company, Strategic Communications Laboratories, pilfered data on 50 million Facebook users and secretly kept it, according to two reports in The New York Times and The Guardian. The apparent misuse of Facebook data—and the social media giant's failure to police it—leave both companies with plenty still to answer for.
Facebook has suspended both Cambridge and SCL while it investigates whether both companies retained Facebook user data that had been provided by third-party researcher Aleksandr Kogan of the company Global Science Research, a violation of Facebook's terms. The suspensions were announced just hours before The New York Times and The Guardian published stories Saturday morning describing how Cambridge Analytica harvested data on 50 million US Facebook users, a number far larger than the 270,000 accounts Facebook initially cited. Facebook says it knew about the breach, but had received legally binding guarantees from the company that all of the data was deleted
Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison at The Guardian:
Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who orchestrated the harvesting of Facebook data, had previously unreported ties to a Russian university, including a teaching position and grants for research into the social media network, the Observer has discovered. Cambridge Analytica, the data firm he worked with – which funded the project to turn tens of millions of Facebook profiles into a unique political weapon – also attracted interest from a key Russian firm with links to the Kremlin.
Energy firm Lukoil, which is now on the US sanctions list and has been used as a vehicle of government influence, saw a presentation on the firm’s work in 2014. It began with a focus on voter suppression in Nigeria, and Cambridge Analytica also discussed “micro-targeting” individuals on social media during elections. 
Kogan, a lecturer who worked with Cambridge Analytica on building up the database of US voters then at the heart of the company’s plans, said he had not had any connection to the Lukoil pitch.
But while he was helping turn Facebook profiles into a political tool he was also an associate professor at St Petersburg State University, taking Russian government grants to fund other research into social media. “Stress, health, and psychological wellbeing in social networks: cross-cultural investigation” was the title of one piece of research. Online posts showed Kogan lecturing in Russian. One talk was called: “New methods of communication as an effective political instrument”.
Cambridge University said academics are allowed to take on outside work but are expected to inform their head of institution, a rule Kogan had complied with. “We understand that Dr Kogan informed his head of department of discussions with St Petersburg University regarding a collaboration; it was understood that this work and any associated grants would be in a private capacity,” a spokesman said.
Apart from that, Kogan appears to have largely kept the work private. Colleagues said they had not heard about the post in St Petersburg. “I am very surprised by that. No one knew,” one academic who asked not to be named told the Observer. Russia is not mentioned in a 10-page CV Kogan posted on a university website in 2015. The CV lists undergraduate prizes and grants of a few thousand dollars and links to dozens of media interviews. 
Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison at The Guardian:
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


  In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of scandal.

Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, on his firing by Trump:
Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey. The release of this report was accelerated only after my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that I would corroborate former Director Comey's accounts of his discussions with the President. The OIG's focus on me and this report became a part of an unprecedented effort by the Administration, driven by the President himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn. The accelerated release of the report, and the punitive actions taken in response, make sense only when viewed through this lens. Thursday's comments from the White House are just the latest example of this.
This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of this Administration's ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel's work.
I have always prided myself on serving my country with distinction and integrity, and I always encouraged those around me to do the same. Just ask them. To have my career end in this way, and to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the midst of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair. But it will not erase the important work I was privileged to be a part of, the results of which will in the end be revealed for the country to see.
I have unfailing faith in the men and women of the FBI and I am confident that their efforts to seek justice will not be deterred.

Friday, March 16, 2018

DGA Plagiarizes McCaskill (and She's Probably Fine with That)

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.

Natasha Korecki and Daniel Strauss at Politico:
The Democratic Governors Association is planning to launch an ad calling Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's right-wing challenger "too conservative" for the state — an apparent move to boost state Rep. Jeanne Ives in her campaign's final days.
The ad, which is slated to begin airing on broadcast and cable TV in the state Friday, begins with a question: "When is a conservative leader too conservative for Illinois?"

But it quickly evolves into a list of Ives' conservative positions, presenting them in a way that could be appealing to some Republican primary voters.

The strategy is more reminiscent of the Missouri Senate primary in 2012, when Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill paid for ads calling then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) — whom she viewed as her weakest possible opponent — "too conservative" for the state.
"Using the guidance of my campaign staff and consultants, we came up with the idea for a 'dog whistle' ad, a message that was pitched in such a way that it would be heard only by a certain group of people," McCaskill wrote later in her memoir. "I told my team we needed to put Akin’s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad — and then, using reverse psychology, tell voters not to vote for him. And we needed to run the hell out of that ad."

Team of Grifters

 In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of scandal.   An update on his team of grifters.

Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis at WP:
Revelations about repeated use of chartered airplanes forced the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in September. More recently, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has continued to wrestle with the fallout of news that taxpayers covered the expenses for his wife during a 10-day trip to Europe last year — and more recently that his chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to justify the payments.

Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has faced public criticism and the scrutiny of government investigators for his own frequent first-class travels and for other expenditures he made using public funding. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that records showed a soundproof phone booth installed in Pruitt’s office cost $43,000 — $18,000 more than previously disclosed.

At the Interior Department, Secretary Ryan Zinke has faced inquiries about his travel practices, and last fall an official in the agency’s inspector general office wrote that Zinke had failed to properly document his trips since taking office.

And at HUD, public records released this week detail how [Secretary Ben] Carson’s wife was closely involved in the redecorating of his office at the agency, including the purchase of a $31,561 dining set.
Graham Lanktree at Newsweek:
Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, has argued that he never took a private jet, because the planes he travelled on had propellers. He made the bizarre statement Tuesday as he faced questions in Congress about his spending of taxpayer dollars for a series of chartered flights.

“I never took a private jet anywhere,” Zinke told Sen. Maria Cantwell, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, when she pressed him about three flights, including a $12,375 flight he made last spring from Las Vegas to Kalispell near his hometown in Montana.

Zinke pointed out that the plane, a Beechcraft King Air 200 owned by oil and gas executives, and the aircraft used during the other two flights, didn’t have jet engines but were driven by propellers.
Jon Swaine at The Guardian:
He said he was a multimillionaire – an international property developer with a plan to fix America’s cities through radical privatization. He felt that Donald Trump’s administration was where he was meant to work.

“It was a natural fit,” Naved Jafry said in an interview. Citing connections across the military, business and academia, he said: “I bring, and draw on, experiences from different areas of knowledge, like a polymath.”

Jafry was contracted to work for Trump’s housing and urban development department (Hud). His government email signature said his title was senior adviser. Jafry said he used his role to advocate for “microcities”, where managers privately set their own laws and taxes away from central government control.

But those plans are now stalled. Jafry, 38, said he had resigned from his position with Hud after the Guardian asked him to explain multiple allegations of fraud as well as exaggerations in his biography.

Jafry, who has also been known by Jafari and Jafri, apologised for inflating his military record but denied making other false claims. He said he resigned because the Guardian’s questions tarnished his reputation inside Hud.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Third-Party Spoilers

Daniel Marans at HuffPost:
Until Tuesday night, Drew Gray Miller, the Libertarian candidate for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, was treated like an afterthought by Democrats, Republicans and most news outlets.

Then the election results came in. Miller had received 0.6 percent of the vote ― accounting for far more than the 0.2 percentage point lead Democrat Conor Lamb ended up holding over Republican Rick Saccone at the end of the night. (Lamb has declared victory, but Saccone is challenging the results.)

Suddenly Miller was the man of the hour, as pundits discovered that Miller’s candidacy might have cost Saccone the race.

When CNN finally flashed Miller’s photo on screen, his 20-person election watch party at Fat Head’s Saloon erupted in cheers. They high-fived one another and took selfies in front of the TV as the party took a rowdier turn. 
At the Independent Record in Helena, Holly K. Michaels reports:
As the clock was running out for candidates to get their name on the ballot for what’s expected to be a hotly contested U.S. Senate race, Tim Adams — a man previously paid by the state Republican Party and who donated to Republican candidates as recently as 2016 — filed to run as a member of the Green Party.

The Green Party was only approved to appear on Montana ballots Monday morning, just hours before the 5 p.m. filing deadline. Six people filed under the party's banner for state legislative and federal races, including Adams, the former Republican operative.

But some question whether Adams, who is running for the U.S. Senate, is really a Green Party member or got into the race to siphon votes away from Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat seeking re-election to a third term.

“Tim Adams is no Green Party candidate,” David Parker, an associate professor of political science at Montana State University, said Tuesday. “He has a long history of conservative activism. It’s curious that he has announced a candidacy and it’s curious that it happened on the last day.”
In 2012, an outside group, Montana Hunters and Anglers, backed Libertarian Senate candidate Dan Cox, apparently with the intent of siphoning votes from Republican Denny Rehberg. The trick worked: Cox's vote exceeded Tester's margin.

It is not all fun and games.  In 2016, the Russians helped Green Party candidate Jill Stein in hopes f bringing down Clinton.  Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti at NYT:
The scope of the operation was sweeping. The Russians assumed their fake identities to communicate with campaign volunteers for Mr. Trump and grass-roots groups supporting his candidacy. They bought pro-Trump and anti-Clinton political advertisements on Facebook and other social media. They used an Instagram account to try to suppress turnout of minority voters and campaign for Ms. Stein, the Green Party candidate.
Weeks before the election, the Russians ratcheted up social media activity aimed at dampening support for Mrs. Clinton.
In mid-October, Woke Blacks, an Instagram account run by the Internet Research Agency, carried the message “hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”
Then, just days before Americans went to the polls, another Instagram account controlled by the Russians — called Blacktivist — urged its followers to “choose peace” and vote for Ms. Stein, who was expected to siphon support from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.
“Trust me,” the message read, “it’s not a wasted vote.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The 2006 Playbook

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race

The last time Democrats took over the House from the GOP was 2006.  The head of the DCCC was Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois.  Aiding him was Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who led DCCC's "Red to Blue" program.

In The Thumpin', Naftali Bendavid described their approach:
Emanuel had one criterion for candidates: he wanted people who could win. That may sound obvious, but it's not. Many Democrats did not believe in recruiting candidates who were so conservative they were pale reflections of Republicans. In the past, candidates who opposed abortion, for example, had not been welcome in the party. In 2005, many Democratic activists wanted only staunchly anti-war candidates. That was not Emanuel's approach. "This is not a theoretical exercise," Van Hollen said. “The goal is to win this thing. In dealing with candidates, we don't have an ideological purity test. If you believe in the basic gut principles of the Democratic Party-opportunity, fairness for all—we're not going to hold people to a litmus test on a checklist of issues that different interest groups may have an interest in." That reflected a change taking place throughout the party, but Emanuel's approach earned him hostility from the party's liberal wing.

Lamb's Victory and the GOP's Defeat

Lloyd Green at The Guardian:
Trump had won the 18th congressional district by 20 points, more than John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012. The last time a Democrat represented the district was more than 15 years ago. Nestled in the Keystone State’s south-west corner, outside of Pittsburgh, this wasn’t just Trump Country. Rather, it was also a reliably and irregularly shaped deep red patch, one that voted Republican in each of the last five presidential elections.
Yet, low unemployment and Republican-backed tax cuts were not enough to divert the electorate’s attention from Trump and his constant chaos. All of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Pac money couldn’t buy a different outcome. Saccone’s defeat was more than a wake-up call; it was a four-alarm fire.
The Democrats had prevailed in a district that is virtually monochromatic; nearly 96% of its voters are white. Lamb triumphed by peeling off working-class votes, and making serious inroads in Republican strongholds as election night maps showed. According to pre-election day polling, college graduates and women probably hauled Lamb across the finish line.

Having witnessed all this, the Republicans should be scared – and they already are. One survey shows that in the 23 congressional districts won by Hillary Clinton but held by a Republican, only two incumbents said that they would be happy to have Trump’s support, and one of them is California’s Dana Rohrabacher, the congressman who actually met face-to-face with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Reid Wilson at The Hill:
Some observers said the Obama voters who registered their disapproval with Democrats when Obama wasn't on the ballot are the same voters now registering displeasure with Trump and the GOP.
“I think part of the Obama coalition and part of the Trump coalition are the same people — largely non-college voters who feel like they aren't sharing in the economic success of our country, and they're eager for change,” said one Democratic strategist intimately involved in House races during the Obama years.
“In 2008, they voted for Obama as a change agent, and they bought into the hope and optimism he conveyed. In 2016, they voted for Trump, many of them holding their nose, because they thought maybe electing someone who was outside the political system would shake things up and bring them a better future. That isn’t happening for them.”

Lamb and a Blue Wave

Conor Lamb has apparently won a very narrow victory over Rick Saccone in the special election in PA18.

As I pointed out on Monday, the federal special election held before Pennsylvania 18 showed Republicans in a poor position. In the average of seven special elections before this one, Democrats were outperforming their partisan baseline (based off the previous two presidential results in the district) by 16 percentage points. In Pennsylvania 18, Lamb, the Democrat, outperformed it by 22 percentage points -- a little better than average and essentially matching what they did in the Kansas 4 special election in April 2017.
If the past relationship between special election results and the midterm results holds in 2018, Democrats are in a strong position to take back the House in 2018.
I collected data on each president's approval rating at this point before each midterm election in Gallup surveys since 1946. Trump's 39% approval rating at this point projects that the Republicans will lose the House popular vote by 10 points. (There's a fairly wide margin of error in this estimate given that we are still have a lot time before the midterm.)
If the 10-point estimate is right on, Republicans will probably have a net loss of between 30 and 40 seats. That is far more than the net 23 seats they need to lose (if Lamb wins) for them to lose the House.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's approach to governing.

Zack Beauchamp at Vox:
Shortly after President Donald Trump ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and tapped CIA Director Mike Pompeo to take his place, State Department spokesperson Steve Goldstein issued a statement on the firing that’s frankly astonishing. It undercut the White House so aggressively that Goldstein was reportedly fired shortly after it went out.
Goldstein confirmed that Tillerson was fired, a rarity in a Washington where “resigns to spend more time with his family” is the norm. But the statement goes further than that, revealing that Trump did not inform Tillerson of the reason for his firing or even speak to the secretary personally before dismissing him.
I’ve been in Washington covering foreign policy and politics for nearly a decade now.
I’ve never seen anything like this statement. Here’s the full text, as emailed to reporters:
The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security. He will miss his colleagues at the the [sic] Department of State and the foreign ministers he has worked with throughout the world.
The Secretary did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling.
We wish Secretary Designate Pompeo well.
Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
John McEntee, who has served as President Trump’s personal assistant since Mr. Trump won the presidency, was forced out of his position and escorted from the White House on Monday after his security clearance was revoked, officials with knowledge of the incident said.
But Mr. McEntee will remain in the president’s orbit despite his abrupt departure from the White House. Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign announced Tuesday that Mr. McEntee has been named Senior Adviser for Campaign Operations, putting him in a position to remain as a close aide during the next several years.
The campaign’s decision underscores Mr. Trump’s tolerance for — and often encouragement of — dueling centers of power around him. And it highlights the extent to which the re-election campaign has already become a landing pad for former Trump associates who have left the White House but remain loyal to the president.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Missing Obama Voters

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the demographics of the 2016 election.

Sean McElwee and colleagues at NYT:
Our analysis shows that while 9 percent of Obama 2012 voters went for Mr. Trump in 2016, 7 percent — that’s more than four million missing voters — stayed home. Three percent voted for a third-party candidate.
To explore the characteristics and attitudes of these voters, we used data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a large survey with a sample of more than 64,000 adults. We grouped all 2012 voters into one of five categories, three of which we focus on in this essay: Obama-to-Trump, Obama-to-nonvoter and Obama-to-Clinton. (We used validated voter turnout data rather than self-reported turnout, which tends to overstate actual voter participation and which one of us used in a preliminary analysis.)
So who were the Obama-to-nonvoters? Fifty-one percent were people of color, compared with 16 percent of Obama-to-Trump voters and 34 percent of Obama-to-Clinton voters. Twenty-three percent of Obama-to-nonvoters were under 30, compared with 11 percent of Obama-to-Trump voters and 10 percent of Obama-to-Clinton voters. More than 60 percent of Obama-to-nonvoters make less than $50,000 a year, compared with 45 percent of Obama-to-Clinton voters and 52 percent of Obama-to-Trump voters.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Titles of Nobility Amendment Could Strip Trump of Citizenship and the Presidency

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of scandal.  He faces credible accusations that he has accepted emoluments from foreign governments.  Under a proposed constitutional amendment, such behavior would not only cost him the presidency, it would strip him of his American citizenship.

At NPR, Ronald Elving writes of the "zombie amendments," proposed constitutional amendments that never won ratification by 3/4 of the states but, because they have no expiration date, are not exactly dead.
1. The oldest is the Titles of Nobility Amendment, first sent to the states in 1810 on the verge of the second war with Great Britain (to be known as the War of 1812). It provided that any American citizen who accepted or received any title of nobility from a foreign power (or accepted any gift from such a power without the consent of Congress) would forfeit his or her American citizenship.
This amendment came close to ratification, with a dozen states giving thumbs-up within two years. But there were 17 states as of 1803, so the Anti-Title Amendment fell short. No states have since joined in, but in the absence of an expiration clause, this amendment remains technically available.
The Titles of Nobility Amendment reads as follows:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America
in Congress assembled (two-thirds of both Houses concurring), That the following section be submitted to the legislatures of the several states, which, when ratified by the
legislatures of three fourths of the states, shall be valid and binding, as a part of the
constitution of the United States.
If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of
nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any
present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king,
prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States,
and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Campaign Finance Historical Background

From the Campaign Finance Institute:
Did you know . . .
  • That Donald Trump raised more money from small donors than Barack Obama – more than Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton combined?
  • That independent spending in congressional elections by non-party groups was nearly 14 times as high in 2016 as 2008, the last election before Citizens United?
  • That more than half of the “non-party” independent spending in 2016 House elections was by two Super PACs closely identified with the party leaders in Congress?
  • That the Democratic Party raised more money in 2016 than ever before? Or,
  • That successful challengers normally spend less than the incumbents they beat?
All this material and much more is in a new 83-page publication just released by the Campaign Finance Institute, “CFI’s Guide to Money in Federal Elections – 2016 in Historical Context.” The authors are Michael J. Malbin (CFI’s Executive Director and a Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY) and Brendan Glavin (CFI’s Data and Systems Manager).

The publication is loaded with historical tables, with many going back decades. It is divided into four main sections on presidential elections, congressional elections, political parties, and independent spending. Each section includes historical tables that go through 2016, preceded by essays that interpret the tables and put them in context.

This will be exactly the reference many politics-watchers will need to put the next election’s money-in-politics news into perspective. You can download or view a copy of the full publication here. Any of the tables included in the report can be downloaded as Excel files by using links located under each. Many present the information in inflation-adjusted dollars. Where they do, the downloaded versions include a separate tab with the dollar figures before adjustment. Feel free to use or republish the tables, but please credit CFI when you do.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Ethics Friday

 In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of scandal
President Donald Trump is upset with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders over her responses Wednesday regarding his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, a source close to the White House tells CNN.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, filed suit against Trump this week alleging he hadn't signed a nondisclosure agreement that would have prevented her from discussing their alleged sexual affair.

On Wednesday, Sanders told reporters that the arbitration was won "in the President's favor." The statement is an admission that the nondisclosure agreement exists, and that it directly involves the President. It is the first time the White House has admitted the President was involved in any way with Daniels.
"POTUS is very unhappy," the source said. "Sarah gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday."
President Donald Trump's personal attorney used his Trump Organization email while arranging to transfer money into an account at a Manhattan bank before he wired $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence.
The lawyer, Michael Cohen, also regularly used the same email account during 2016 negotiations with the actress — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — before she signed a nondisclosure agreement, a source familiar with the discussions told NBC News.
And Clifford's attorney at the time addressed correspondence to Cohen in his capacity at the Trump Organization and as "Special Counsel to Donald J. Trump," the source said.
AP reports:
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says she’s spoken with President Donald Trump about a federal watchdog’s finding that she violated a federal law that bars government officials from using their positions to influence political campaigns.
But Conway isn’t providing details about the conversation.
It’s up to Trump to decide how — and whether — Conway is punished.
She said during a Fox appearance that she’s “not going to comment on this at all.”
When asked if no punishment was given, Conway said: “I didn’t say that.”
The Office of Special Counsel, which is unrelated to Robert Mueller’s office, says Conway violated the law twice last year when she spoke out in support of the GOP Senate nominee in Alabama, Roy Moore, and against Moore’s Democratic rival, Doug Jones.
Also at AP, Michael Biesecker and Matthew Daly report:
The Interior Department is spending nearly $139,000 to upgrade three sets of double doors in the office of Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Zinke was not aware of the contract for the work prior to a request about it from The Associated Press, spokeswoman Heather Swift said. The project was planned by career facilities and security officials as part of the decade-long modernization of the historic building erected in 1936 a few blocks from the White House, she said.

“The secretary was not aware of this contract but agrees that this is a lot of money for demo, install, materials and labor,” Swift said Thursday in an emailed statement. “Between regulations that require historic preservation and outdated government procurement rules, the costs for everything from pencils to printing to doors is astronomical. This is a perfect example of why the secretary believes we need to reform procurement processes.”

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Satan, Lucifer, and HUD

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss the odd people surrounding Trump.
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.
-- Machiavelli
A senior adviser at the Department of Housing and Urban Development spread a false conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign chairman took part in a Satanic ritual, a CNN KFile review of his tweets show.
John Gibbs is a former conservative commentator who initially joined the HUD as the director for Strong Cities and Strong Communities, a program aimed at spurring economic development at the local level.
In August of 2017, Gibbs, a political appointee, transitioned to the role of senior adviser, working in the office of the assistant secretary for community planning and development. In his current role, Gibbs is tasked with developing and implementing efforts aimed at increasing economic development programs for low-income people.
On Twitter, Gibbs made multiple references to a conspiracy theory started by far-right bloggers claiming Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta took part in a Satanic ritual. Tweets from Gibbs, archived on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, show him promoting the conspiracy four times between October 31 and November 5 of 2016, using the hashtag #SpiritCooking. The hashtag originated from an email of Podesta's released by WikiLeaks, which members of the far-right claimed, without evidence, that Podesta was involved in a Satanic ritual that involved bodily fluids.

The claim has repeatedly been debunked.
He fit right in at HUD.  Secretary Ben Carson once riffed on his own version of the theme. During the 2016 GOP convention, Tina Nguyen wrote in Vanity Fair:
Dr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon-turned-presidential candidate-turned-perpetually confused Trump surrogate, returned to the political arena Tuesday night with a bizarre six-minute speech at the Republican National Convention in which he first railed against the dangers of political correctness, and then, as if to prove his point, linked Hillary Clinton to Lucifer himself.
“Now, one of the things that I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes, her mentors was Saul Alinsky,” said Carson, departing from his prepared remarks that were sent to the press ahead of time. “And her senior thesis was about Saul Alinsky. This was someone she greatly admired. And let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky. So he wrote a book called Rules for Radicals. It acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom.”
Carson, a prominent figure in the evangelical community, went on: “Now think about that,” he said. “This is our nation where our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, talks about certain inalienable rights that come from our creator; a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are one nation under God. This is a nation where every coin in our pockets and every bill in our wallet says ‘In God We Trust.’ So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?”
Carson, whose anti-Lucifer position cannot be denied, won a rapturous response from what remained of the Republican crowd in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. “Think about that,” he admonished, once again.

Evil Empire, 35 Years Later

In  Defying the Odds, we explain that Trump has renounced the conservatism of Ronald Reagan.

Thirty-five years ago today, President Reagan gave the famous "Evil Empire" speech, in which he addressed the fallacy of "moral equivalence."
... I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.
And on February 7 of last year, Trump had this exchange with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: He is a killer though. Putin is a killer.
TRUMP: There are a lot of killers. Do you think our country is so innocent? Do you think our country is so innocent?
O'REILLY: I don't know of any government leaders that are killers in America.
TRUMP: Take a look at what we have done too. We've made a lot of mistakes. I've been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.
O'REILLY: Yes. Mistakes are different then --