Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 45: "Pirates, Deplorables, and Emails: Welcome to 2016" (October 30, 2016)

Dear Readers,

The election is approaching very rapidly. I’m going to help you make sense of everything.

Days until General Election: 9

Not Again...
For the gazillionth time, the lead story this news cycle is emails. In the FBI probe of ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner over explicit messages he sent to various women, they found emails his wife, Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, had sent to Clinton. The worst part is, we know very little about what is in them. The main things we know are that something bad might be in them, FBI Director James Comey did some fishy stuff, and the swing this has over the race is small. Not small enough to be ignored, but still small.

What’s in the emails?

In short: we don’t know. Comey and the FBI haven’t made much of a statement. For all we know, the emails could have been previously reviewed by the FBI already.

What did James Comey do wrong?

“Attorney General Loretta Lynch wanted Comey to follow DOJ protocols and traditions and not reveal the discovery of new emails that might be pertinent to Clinton’s case.” - Huffington Post

It was an error for Comey to release this information, although Comey justified it by saying he needed to update Congress since he had said the investigation was completed. It’s also been alleged that he only informed Congressional Republicans, and Congressional Democrats learned about the letter from a tweet sent by Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

What effect will it have?

According to a YouGov poll of voters in battleground states, it makes 21% of undecided voters less likely to support Clinton, which is a non-negligible effect, but it could be balanced out by a potential development the Clinton campaign has on Trump.

So what actually happened?

From what I can discern, James Comey found some new emails regarding Hillary in his investigation of Anthony Weiner, and decided to inform Congress that the investigation might have to be re-opened. Any motives he might have had, significance of this move, or effects on the race have yet to be determined.

NOTE: Updates from this will continue to come out, so don’t expect this to be perfectly up to date

Deplorables: Just Another Week with Trump Supporters

During a routine chant of “U-S-A!” at a Trump rally in Phoenix, a Trump supporter turned around to shout “Jew-S-A” at the press, while displaying an anti-Semitic hand gesture. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway agreed to call the anti-Semitic protestor “deplorable”. Later, an analytics firm found that 35,5% of Trump supporters on Twitter also followed one of 10 selected white supremacist accounts.

The Truth Behind Trump’s VP Choice

Back in July, when Donald Trump decided to choose his vice president, he decided on Mike Pence - or did he? New research from the New York Post finds that he initially sent an offer to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but was forced to rescind when under pressure from his then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Manafort told Trump that the campaign plane was malfunctioning (it wasn’t), causing Trump to hear Pence’s pitch one last time. By some coincidence, Trump wound up choosing Pence.

Weekly Predictions:
Electoral Votes: Clinton 352, Trump 186
Popular Vote: Clinton +5
Senate: Democrats 51, Republicans 49

This Week In World Elections
Iceland: The Icelandic parliamentary elections were held yesterday. The Progressive Party fell from first to fourth place, as the Independence party wound up with the most seats easily. Notably, the Pirate Party wound up in third place, gaining 7 seats to wind up with 10. Containing 7 parties, the election was chaotic.

Thanks for reading! As usual, comments are welcome!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Week 44: "Early Voting" (October 23, 2016)

Dear Readers,

The election is approaching very rapidly. I’m going to help you make sense of everything.

Days until General Election: 16

The Third Presidential Debate
The third debate was remarkably uneventful. The three main takeaways were all in things that Donald Trump sais. First, he referred to illegal immigrants as “bad hombres.” (Watch Jeffrey Lord try to defend them here, I promise you it's worth it). Then, he called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman.”  But lastly, and most importantly, when asked if he would accept the results of the election, Trump said “I’ll keep you in suspense.” Now, I’m not going to get into a whole debate about whether this is okay (Jeff Lord’s response was to cite Al Gore, laughably). Point is, we are a democracy. In a democracy, the losers go home and don’t complain. If Trump threatens that, then we can no longer be a democracy, plain and simple.

Early Voting Overview
According to some statistics, 30% of votes in the election will be cast through early voting, whether it is done by mail or through in-person early voting. Many states’ early voting has begun, at least in some capacity, and we have some data from those - 5 million votes have been cast already. I’ll go through that, and compare it to 2012 numbers when I can:

Nevada: In-person voting started yesterday. Turnout in Clark County (home of Las Vegas) is up considerably over 2012, as well as turnour in Washoe County (home of Reno). Those numbers, showing high turnout in urban areas, appear to be good for the Democrats.

Florida: Hispanic turnout is up from 9% in 2012 to 12%, a good sign for Clinton,

North Carolina: Votes by Democrats are decently up, and votes by Republicans are considerably down. This is good news for the Democrats.

Ohio: There are mixed messages from ballot requests there. Some numbers in big Democratic counties are up, but others are down.

Wisconsin: The counties containing Madison and Milwaukee make up 29% of ballots so far. They made up just 26% in 2012. Meanwhile, the heavily GOP Milwaukee suburbs make up 12.3%, the same as in 2012.

Virginia: Turnout is up substantially in heavily Democratic Northern Virginia and even in other places.

Weekly Predictions:
Electoral Votes: Clinton 352, Trump 186
Popular Vote: Clinton +8
Senate: Democrats 51, Republicans 49

This Week In World Elections
Montenegro: The Democratic Party of Socialists coasted to a victory here. They gained 5 seats to increase their margin over the Democratic Front to 18 seats. Milo Đukanović should continue to be Prime Minister

Thanks for reading! As usual, comments are welcome!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week 43: "Well, It's Called Racial Profiling" (October 16, 2016)

Dear Readers,

This week has been completely crazy. I’m going to help you make sense of it.

Days until General Election: 23

Trump Supporters Endorse Racism, Riots, and Hell, Even a Coup
“If [Hillary Clinton]’s in office, I hope we can start a coup.” Or so said a Donald Trump supporter at an Ohio rally. He continued, “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country.” This is just one of the plethora of recent events involving Trump supporters calling for violence or revolution. Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee said it was “pitchforks and torches time”, and a Trump supporter left a swastika on the media table at a rally.
Trump himself has been accusing the media, including Saturday Night Live (“Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!”), of rigging the election. His supporters have been buying into that, and that’s really bad. Another Trump supporters describes himself as a “precinct watcher:” he says, “I’ll look for . . . well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American.” Trump supporters intimidating voters based on their race and claiming the election is rigged against them could mean actual widespread violence come November 9th, which is an awful thing to consider.
Thankfully, we always have Mike Pence to say “we will absolutely accept the result of the election.”

Trump’s Accusers
Since the video of Trump bragging about sexual assault surfaced last week, eleven women have accused Trump of touching them inappropriately. Again, I don’t enjoy talking about this, so I’ll let you all read this good article from the Daily Beast. Say what you will about the truth of these people, but there’s a very low chance all eleven of them -  including his former wife - would be lying. In a normal election, this would completely disqualify Trump from being allowed to stand as a candidate, but of course it’s less damaging for Trump.
Evan McMullin? What?
Evan McMullin, famous for having low name recognition and being an obscure punchline among political nerds such as myself, has been found at 20% in three consecutive Utah polls. With the endorsement of Governor Gary Herbert and/or Mitt Romney, it’s not unthinkable to see him coming in second or even winning Utah polls, which are basically showing a three (or four)-way race at this point. When he announced his candidacy, it was clear McMullin was making a ploy for Utah and only Utah. And his bizarre strategy could work, leaving him as the first third-party candidate to win a state since George Wallace in 1968, and the first to win an electoral vote since John Ewards in 2004.

Weekly Predictions:
Electoral Votes: Clinton 357, Trump 181
Popular Vote: Clinton +7
Senate: Democrats 51, Republicans 49

This Week In World Elections
Lithuania: The Lithuanian Parliamentary election was won by the Homeland Union, a Christian party, who overperformed the polls. The leading Social Democratic party was expected to win, but fell to third place in a disappointing finish, behind the Lithuanian Peasants and Greens Union, who before the election held one seat. We do not yet know seat totals, since the second round of single-member constituency seats has not yet occurred.

Thanks for reading! As usual, comments are welcome!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 42: "A Party In Distress" (October 10, 2016)

Dear Readers,

Two debates, a leaked tape, and a party in distress. What a week it’s been. Remember, all newsletters (and more) are available at
Days until General Election: 30

The VP Debate

The vice presidential debate on Tuesday featured Who’s-It and What’s-His-Face - sorry, I meant Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. The consensus was that Pence won, and I’m not going to dispute that. Kaine was very aggressive, interrupting Pence constantly, while Pence stayed calm, even if a lot of what he said was completely false. Trump received next to no bump from the debate, of course, because few people actually watched it. There were no memorable moments, so the media quickly moved on to other things.

The 2nd Presidential Debate

Trump and Clinton may have been the two candidates in Sunday’s Town Hall debate, but the real winner was Ken Bone. Joking aside, the CNN snap poll showed Clinton winning by only slightly less than it said she won the first debate, and Trump looked uncomfortable. A reverse of last time, the first 20 minutes seemed to be a train wreck for him, but he seemed more reasonable by the end. While the debate may have been good for Clinton, it’s also a refreshing change in the news cycle for Trump, given that...

Trump’s Todd Akin Moment

In 2012, Claire McCaskill was behind in Senate polls to challenger Todd Akin, until he made a controversial statement about rape and watched his party abandon him and his poll numbers fall. Well, Trump finally had his Todd Akin moment, and it looks as if he will lose ground in the polls just as Akin did.
The moment came when a tape of backstage chatter with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush from 2005 was released. In the tape, Trump brags about committing sexual assault, and then says “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” The actual contents of the tape are vulgar and horrible and I don’t want to write them out here (this article does a much more in-depth job), but the consequences faced were great.
Already, Sen. John McCain (AZ), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT), Rep. Joe Heck (NV), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (NH), Sen. John Thune (SD), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Sen. Cory Gardner (CO), Sen. Rob Portman (OH), Gov. Gary Herbert (UT), and Gov. Bob Bentley (AL), noted for having an extramarital affair with a staffer while in office last year and not resigning, as well as many other GOP officials, have rescinded their endorsements. Speaker Paul Ryan denied Trump’s request to appear with him at a rally, Gov. John Kasich (OH) called on other Republicans to drop their endorsements, and plenty more have offered condemnations without actually de-endorsing him. Whether Republicans are operating only because this statement is terrible, or whether they see Trump collapsing otherwise and found this a good excuse is up to debate, but both are certainly factors. The few polls taken over the weekend see Trump slipping big, and downballot Republicans might need to bail out on Trump if they want to have a chance. Either way, the polling is about to get very ugly for Team Trump and only time will tell how long that lasts.

Weekly Predictions:
I’m going to remain conservative on the impact of the Trump tape for now until we have more data
Electoral Votes: Clinton 342, Trump 196 (
Senate: Democrats 52, Republicans 48

This Week In World Elections
Georgia: The Georgian Dream Party and United National Movement both got vastly more of the vote than all the other minor parties, with the Georgian Dream getting 49% and the UNM getting 27%. It was very disappointing for all the minor parties, who had hoped to break through but none received more than 6% of the vote.

Morocco: In the Moroccan parliamentary election, the Justice and Development Party, currently ruling, gained 18 seats to maintain their top spot, but the Authenticity and Modernity party doubled their seat count, gaining 55, to become a formidable challenger to the JDP. There was some worry about fraud, according to King Mohammed VI, but it doesn’t seem as if that impacted the election greatly.

Thanks for reading! As usual, comments are welcome!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Week 41: "That Makes Me Smart" (October 2, 2016)

Dear Readers,

The great chaos that is the 2016 election season keeps hurtling at us, and I’ll help you make sense of it all. Remember, all newsletters (and more) are available at
Days until General Election: 37
Days until VP Debate: 2
Days until 2nd Presidential Debate: 7

First off, try out this

Recap of the Flaming Trapeze Duel of 2016

Our major story of the night is the debate. After many months of waiting for this day, 85 million people got to watch Hillary Clinton soundly defeat Donald Trump (or so says most of the electorate). Donald Trump provided great moments as saying “That’s called business” when being questioned on the housing collapse, and denying he said climate change was a hoax, when there are recording disputing that fact. Clinton didn’t let Trump interrupt and interject like some of the Republican Candidates did. Clinton has risen 1-2 points in the polls since then, so anybody claiming Trump actually won is wrong. Lester Holt has come under fire for being biased, and it’s partially justified, but it’s nothing compared to Matt Lauer.

How to Run a “Successful Business”

Step 1: Lose a billion dollars
Step 2: Don’t pay federal income taxes for 20 years
Step 3: Run for president
Step 4: We’ll find out in 37 days

The truth about Trump’s taxes has finally been revealed. In 1995, Trump lost $916 million, thanks to horrible mismanagement of multiple businesses, such as the collapse of three casinos and a failed airline, and as a result of that hasn’t paid income taxes since. So, when Trump said “that makes me smart” as to why he possibly hadn’t paid taxes, he was right. He’s made millions in non-taxable income thanks to an odd loophole and remarkable failings as a businessman. Does this mean he would make good deals for America? Of course not. The American budget is not a Ponzi scheme, the World Bank not a loophole. Trump may be smart at not paying, but if elected, he will make us all pay.

Trump Stays Up All Night to Tweet Nasty Things About Former Miss Universe Winner

Trump came under fire at the debate about his dealings with Alicia Machado, a Venezuelan actress who won the first Miss Universe pageant held by Trump. At the time, he called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.” So, instead of apologizing, he stayed up until 2:30 to tweet the following:

“Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an "angel" without checking her past, which is terrible!”
“Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con.”
“Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?”

As a response, Hillary Clinton tweeted at 3 AM the following morning about national service: “It's 3:20am. As good a time as any to tweet about national service.”

Flashback to February: Clinton Insults Sanders Supporters

Donald Trump is having a field day with this soundbite: "Some are new to politics completely. They're children of the Great Recession. And they are living in their parents' basement." Obviously referring to Sanders supporters, Clinton said these not-so-kind words at a fundraiser with very rich donors in mid-February. Sanders’ reaction to this has been mixed, both calling them “correct” and being mildly disturbed. Trump has “asked” Sanders to rescind his endorsement, but this is far from the biggest bombshell of the day.

Final Senate Preview

Senator Patty Murray won the blanket primary (members of all parties listed on one ballot) with 54% of the vote, and her opposition, Chris Vance, has only served as a State Representative,

Rating: Safe D

Ron Johnson, the incumbent, and former Senator Russ Feingold are locked in a rematch of 2010. Feingold has led, usually by a decent margin, in every poll taken so far, and Republicans have basically given up on this race.

Rating: Likely D

Seat Count

This Week In World Elections

Colombia: A peace deal with the Farc, a very large communist rebel group, was rejected in a referendum by Colombian voters. The vote was decided by only 63,000 and was disappointing to some. The Colombian president will have to negotiate a new deal, even though he’s already spent 4 years negotiating this one.

Hungary: Hungarian voters have voted to reject the EU’s migrant quota level by a large margin. 98% of people voted against it. However, less than 50% turnout was achieved, so the vote is nullified. The president remarked that there would be “legal consequences”, even if the vote was declared invalid.

Georgia: The ruling Georgian Dream party is expected to win a plurality in the parliamentary elections next week, but how much they will win is unknown. The vote has expanded from 3 parties last election to 8 this time, leading to a lot of uncertainty.

Thanks for reading! As usual, comments are welcome!