Home / General / The Electology.org poll, part 1/3: how could Trump have won?

The Electology.org poll, part 1/3: how could Trump have won?

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I’m Jameson Quinn, a grad student in statistics at Harvard and a board member of the Center for Election Science, aka electology.org, a nonprofit that advocates for voting method reform. In these capacities, I’ve recently been analyzing a poll that the CES did in the last week before the election. (Some of you may have heard about that from a little bird in the comment sections here recently.)

I think there’s a lot of interesting lessons to be learned from this poll, so I’m going to be writing a series of three guest posts here. In this first installment, I’ll look at what it can teach us about the nature of the Clinton and Trump coalitions; in the second, I’ll discuss other candidates and hypothetical candidates, particularly Sanders; and in the last, I’ll look at what it teaches us about voting systems.

Before I start, I should say a few words about myself. Some of you perhaps know that I’m a regular reader here; and though I’ll say no more about that, it probably won’t surprise people to hear that I have a personal position on pretty much every one of the issues I’ll be discussing. I volunteered and voted for Hillary over Trump; earlier, for Bernie over Hillary; and when it comes to voting systems, I’m literally one of the biggest geeks and deeply committed to the idea of voting reform. But in writing this, I’ll try to keep my personal opinions out of the spotlight, and focus on what the data tells me.

Here’s what I think this data shows about the Hillary/Trump race:

  • It’s not that Clinton underperformed on election night; rather, Trump overperformed. This could be last-minute deciders (the Comey effect?), or it could be “shy Tories” who were always for Trump but were embarrassed to admit it.
  • Focusing on Trump’s bigotry seems to have been a strategic mistake. The data only tells me what did happen, not what might have happened, but it seems to me to suggest that the demographics that could be convinced by this argument already were, and that this argument didn’t make big inroads with Republican-leaners including women and pretty much any ethnic/racial category besides African-Americans.
  • It really looks to me as if vote suppression in Mississippi worked.
  • Controlling for a wide array of demographic factors, unlikely voters still had 1.25 times higher odds of supporting Clinton than likely voters. So if a certain demographic subgroup voted 50/50, the members of that subgroup who didn’t vote were likely split around 55/45 for Clinton. Gah! Looking on the bright side, at least there’s plenty of room for improvement on that score. This is after correcting for things like age, race, income, and education. Though in all honesty much or all of it may be a leftover effect of the bits of those aspects which escaped my coarse categorizations, it still emphasizes how important it is to improve this. I mean, it may be fruitless to hope that people making $26K start voting as much as those making $80K, but it is not crazy to hope that we can get them up to the level of somebody making $38K.

We were really lucky to get a data set of this high quality. Our pollster was GfK research, a market research firm. They have done a lot of work building up randomly-sampled panel from across the whole US, including giving tablets and internet access to the ones who didn’t already have that, so that they wouldn’t have to rely on phone polling. (I know that somebody in comments is going to complain that giving people internet access may change their behavior, but I’ll take that slight bias over the 93% nonresponse rate of a phone poll any day.) In this manner, they got an over 50% response rate; trust me, for polls these days, that is excellent. The total sample size was over 2000 respondents.

My primary tool in analyzing this data set is what Andrew Gelman calls Mr. P: Multilevel Regression and Poststratification. Stripped of (most of) the statistical jargon, this is actually a pretty simple idea. First, you use the polling data to make a model to predict what percentage of each given kind of person will respond to each binary choice. Then, you use demographic information about how many of each kind of person lives in each state to simulate how the full state population would choose. I’ll say some more about how Mr. P works in the “below-the-fold” part of this post.

But for now, the important thing is that I was able to model the simultaneous effects of 6 different demographic characteristics – age, gender, income, race/ethnicity, and state;region (divided into 4, 2, 4, 5, and 51;6 categories, respectively). I also included the three biggest interaction effects between any two of those characteristics (grouping states into regions), which were: gender by income, ethnicity by education, and region by income. I included group-level predictors for the states based on the 2012 Obama/Romney percentage and on the total third party vote percentage for 2000 and 2012 combined; this allowed my model to focus on learning what was new about 2016, without needing to learn what was already known about the political landscape. I also included a term in the model for “likely voters” according to GfK.

Then, in order to project this model’s results down to each state and up to the country as a whole, I assumed that the 2012 turnout percentages by gender, ethnicity, and state would hold constant. This assumption let me predict the turnout for each state to within 5%, except for the following states: MS (real turnout was 15% lower than what I predicted!!!); DC and HI (real turnout was 5-7% lower); WV, NE, PA, VT (real turnout was 5-7% higher); and AK, FL, NH (real turnout was around 10% higher).

So that’s the first lesson of this data set: in Mississippi, voter suppression worked:

clintonmodel_pure

My simplistic model of voter turnout overestimated in MS by 15% of eligible voters; and my (unrelated) sophisticated model of voter behavior overestimated Clinton’s votes there by 12% of eligible voters. I’m not an expert in what happened there, but that’s two separate pieces of evidence that something is rotten in Mississippi. If my model is right, there are over 150K missing Clinton votes in that state alone — quite possibly, more than twice the combined margin she lost by in WI, MI, and PA.

A similar graph for Trump also shows some interesting things:

trumpmodel_pure

First off, you can see the “pink” states, the ones I classed as “West” (AK, ID, IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY), are all above the rest; for some reason, people in those states were particularly reluctant to reveal their Trump preferences to pollsters. You can see in the earlier graph that the pink states fall below the rest, meaning that people there seemed to have claimed to support Clinton when they didn’t; I also noticed that people in those states were more likely to refuse to state a 2-way preference. In the model whose parameters I give below, I artificially reweighted the respondents from this region (4/3 for Trump voters, 2/3 for Clinton voters, and 1 for the rest) to get the model to line up better with reality.

Second, even aside from those states (which, after all, are generally low in population), my model underestimated Trump support pretty consistently across most states, whether red or blue, and of various ethnic makeups. Obviously it’s impossible to know what really caused this mismatch. But it’s consistent with two different familiar stories. It could be that some voters broke late towards Trump, perhaps because Comey’s statements (although note that this poll was after the “retraction”.) Or it could be “shy Tories”, people who supported Trump but did not say so to pollsters. In either case, though, it’s tough to explain how generally even this effect seems to have been across the board.

But aside from the “Western” states, the model did not correspondingly underestimate Clinton support. Clinton didn’t, as a whole, fail to get Democratic voters; it’s Trump who got extra voters.

Third, it was absolutely criminal that the Clinton team didn’t see Wisconsin coming, and at least do some polling there. According to my model, Wisconsin could have been a lot worse. (The Utah outlier is less of a surprise, and easier to explain.)

Now we come to the parameters of the model. And the one that immediately leaps out is race/ethnicity. All these numbers are in log-odds-ratios, which means if the difference between group A and group B is 3.2, you google “exp(3.2)” to find that group A has 25 times lower odds of voting for Clinton; for instance, if an individual from group B had 10:1 odds (91%), then an otherwise-similar person from group A would have 1:2.5 odds (28%). Not that I have anything against group A, mind you; some of my best friends are group A. So anyway, here’s the ethnic effect sizes:

White, Non-Hispanic    

-1.16

Black, Non-Hispanic      

2.07

Other, Non-Hispanic    

-0.775

Hispanic                          

0.395

2+ Races, Non-Hispanic

-0.458

Depressing. Black people are the only largely sane ones in the country; Hispanics are a bit over half sane; and everyone else is crazy, with White folks running the asylum.

Region is the next most important. The raw effects there are pretty much what you’d expect; slightly more interesting are the parameters after including 2012 as a predictor. This measures two things: swing since 2012, and, perhaps more importantly, the extent to which regional differences do not merely reflect demographics. By this measure, “Appalachia” (really, the region where a plurality report “American” ancestry, including AR and OK) is actually not as conservative as the South (a relative difference of 0.32 log-odds units) or the rust belt and “West” (relatively, 0,26 log-odds units). Meanwhile, the Southwest and West Coast are more liberal than you’d expect (by .39 and .25 units relative to Appalachia, respectively). Finally, the Northeast stood alongside Appalachia, with relatively little effect of region as opposed to demographics; though of course these two are very different in their leanings, that can mostly be explained by demographics alone.

Next most important is education. On this dimension, the middle two categories go to Trump, while the extremes go to Clinton:

Less than high school

0.102

High school  

 -0.175

Some college

-0.316

Bachelors degree or higher  

0.430

Next, is gender, with a total effect size of only 0.51. That means that for an otherwise-similar woman and man, the woman has only 1.67 times the odds of voting Clinton versus Trump.

Next is age. Much has been said about this, but in fact, it seems to me that a lot of the apparent age gap is really an ethnic gap, so in a model that controls for ethnicity, the age gap is relatively small:

18-24

0.299

25-44

-0.041

45-64

-0.056

65-

-0.167

(The 18-24 group seems to stand out there, but you can’t really trust the parameters this kind of model gives to such a thin sliver of the population).

And finally, income. As with education, this dimension sags in the middle, with the 25K-50K bracket being the most Trumped-up:

Under $24,999

 0.339

$25,000-$49,999

-0.130

$50,000-$74,999

-0.016

$75,000 or more

-0.127

The gender by income interaction is also worth mentioning; for the 25K-50K bracket, the gender gap is about twice its average size, while it’s about half its average for the other brackets. (Since we’re working in log-odds units, “twice” means the square of the odds ratio, and “half” means the square root).

Once I had this model, I did a residual analysis, to see if any of the demographic or opinion variables I’d left out had significant further impact. Things like marital status, household size, and home ownership correlated, but weakly; my model already accounted for most of what you could learn from those things. Among Hispanics, Spanish fluency had an impact, but that’s to be expected. The notable finding there was that “my family is falling behind financially” had only about 60% of the correlation with insufficiently-Trumped-up predictions as “the US economy is going in the wrong direction”. So yes, “economic anxiety” does correlate with Trump support above and beyond what you’d expect from the demographic factors already listed, but that’s more true when such “anxiety” is generalized than when it’s personal.

….

More information on how “Mr. P” works. For instance, say the question were whether a person wears a hat. This model is built by assuming that each aspect of a person’s identity will have a certain impact on the odds; so if overall, 25% of people wear hats (1:3 odds), and college graduates have twice the odds, then 40% of them would (2:3 odds). To avoid overfitting to small sample sizes, the math tries to ensure that the effects of different groups along a given dimension — say, of the different income groupings — have impacts of similar magnitudes, grouped around zero. So if the survey data suggests that the income categories below 75K don’t impact hat-wearing much, but that there’s a huge effect starting at 75K, the model will suspect that that latter effect is partly a sampling artifact, and so scale it down some.

So such a model might say that x% of Hispanic women in California with some college making over 75K do so, while y% of non-Hispanic White men in Texas with a college degree making over 25-50K will do so. We simply multiply those percentages by the number of actual people in each category to get the simulated total number of hat-wearers for each state and for the country as a whole.

As a statistician, I feel bad about putting these numbers out without specifying a margin of error / confidence interval. But it turns out that the tool I used doesn’t do this calculation for me, so I have to hand-code an add-on for that. I’ll get that done eventually, but in the meantime, a back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the margin of error is definitely below 6%.

Final note: this poll cost almost $10,000 for electology, and the analysis behind these three posts took significant unpaid work and expertise too. If you think this is worth it, consider donating to electology.org to help us support better voting methods in the US and around the world.

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  • sibusisodan

    This is awesome. I’ll probably understand some of it by my third read-through…

  • I don’t really have much relevant to add (I did see polling data that had a wildly different take on how the $25-50k income group voted, but it was preliminary polling so this may well be more accurate), but I just wanted to say that this is a really good post and you should feel good.

  • BartletForGallifrey

    Black people are the only largely sane ones in the country;

    My joking suggestion that we take the vote away from white people and men for a few decades to make up for the pre-15th and pre-19th portions of American history gets less jokey by the day.

    • delazeur

      As a white man, I would be okay with that.

      • ThrottleJockey

        Upside: Instead of standing around in line, you could be home having a pizza & beer.

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          The sad part of this joke is that white people don’t generally have to wait in line that long.

          • BartletForGallifrey

            Only time I’ve ever waited more than five minutes was when I early absentee voted in Brooklyn, with a notably more diverse crowd than my usual suburban locale.

        • Linnaeus

          In Washington, we don’t wait in line at all.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        To be clear, I’m not black, so when I suggest that, I’m disenfranchising myself as well. It’s a fair sacrifice.

        • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

          To be clear, I’m not black

          Ohh, that was pretty clear.

          • BartletForGallifrey

            Pardon?

            • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

              To borrow a line from Jeff Foxworthy: if you post on LGM, you might be a liberal white guy.

              • BartletForGallifrey

                Sorry, I’m definitely not one of those, and the second is still up in the air.

                • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

                  Sorry, I’m definitely not one of those

                  Well that is interesting. Which one of those are you definitely not?

                  Liberal

                  White

                  Male

                  In any event, my point still stands. LGM is a bubble.

                • She’s a woman, and, now that the Loser President is ascendant, she’s not white. The whiteness of Jews in America has always been conditional, and since neo-Nazis are coming out of the woodwork, it’s likely been revoked.

                  (For what it’s worth, the same applies for me, although my gender identity is… more complicated. I also identify as anarchist/socialist more readily than liberal.)

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  She’s a woman, and, now that the Loser President is ascendant, she’s not white.

                  Come to think of it, my Liberal Card may be taken away by the white guys who are upset that I want to give them less power.

                  BBNNS, will you be sharing your demographics now?

    • LeeEsq

      I don’t find jokes like this funny. It conforms too much with the worst suspicions that people have about liberals and adds nothings to the discourse.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        I don’t find jokes like this funny. It conforms too much with the worst suspicions that people have about liberals and adds nothings to the discourse.

        I find very little funny anymore, and since apparently the other side is willing to disenfranchise people in order to win, maybe we fucking should too. All of our precious principles aren’t going to do jack fucking shit if we’re never in power.

        Men got to vote all on their lonesome for over 130 years. White men, for over 80. White people and their identity politics are still the majority. In the interest of fairness, give just black women and just women our turn. Consider it reparations.

        The very structure of our country is designed to benefit white people and particularly white men. I’ll damn well joke, or not, that we should spend some time with those groups not getting a say if I want to. Maybe a few cycles without them would begin to fix the unfathomable damage they’ve done.

        • Origami Isopod

          Thank you.

          Personally, I’m sick of tone trolls crying about comments on liberal blogs that “make liberals look bad.” The people who’d be offended by them don’t read liberal blogs, and the RWNM generally doesn’t pay attention to liberal blogs.

          More importantly, I come here to talk with like-minded people, and I’m not going to silence myself because some whinging centrist might get upset with what I say.

          • BartletForGallifrey

            This comes to mind.

        • While I would probably support it, I don’t know if removing the franchise from white people/men would ever be doable. But I’m coming to think that maybe the principle of “one person, one vote” is worth re-evaluating. That already doesn’t happen; rich people get disproportionate control over our political process. So, it seems, do old people, white people, and men. It might be worth considering the idea that people with more to lose should get more of a say in the running of the country. Since young people have more to lose from climate change than old people, young people’s voice in what to do about it should be more consequential. Since racial minorities have more to lose from authoritarian policing than non-Hispanic white people do, racial minorities’ voice about what to do about it should be more consequential. Since women have more to lose from the rollback of reproductive rights than men do, their voice about reproductive issues should be more consequential. Since poor people have more to lose from austerity programs than the rich do, their voice about social welfare should be more consequential. Since LGBT people have more to lose from discriminatory policies than cis/hetero people do, their voice about their rights should be more consequential. And so on. The disabled, the mentally ill, the sick, religious minorities, you can go on about all the people who are marginalised in society and are underrepresented in democratic outcomes.

          So yes, maybe the principle of “one person, one vote” is outdated. I’m fine rethinking it. Maybe the young’s votes should count more than the old’s. Maybe women’s votes should count more than men’s. Maybe racial minorities’ votes should count more than racial majorities’. The list goes on and on. Democracy isn’t necessarily a protection against authoritarian abuse of the marginalised if the majority votes for authoritarian policies. If the people who have the most to lose are given a stronger control in the stake of the outcome, maybe this lessens the possibility of it occurring.

          I don’t think we’ll be able to get this enacted anytime soon, mind you. But the right has spent so much time shifting the Overton window with ridiculous ideas that maybe it’s time to push back in the opposite direction.

          • BartletForGallifrey

            I would rather make sure everyone truly can vote, but I am interested in your thoughts and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

            • Presumably we could work on both at the same time. Also thanks.

              • Ronan

                How could you work on making sure everyone got to vote AND taking the vote away from certain groups, at the same time?

                • It’s not taking the vote away from certain groups; it’s making marginalised members of society’s votes count more than others’. I thought I was very clear about that. We already have a system that overvalues the votes of rich people (in the form of campaign finance contributions) as well as of white people (by making it disproportionately difficult for minorities and students to vote in many places), not to mention overvaluing the votes of people who live in swing states/small states, so it’s not as if anyone can argue that our system actually gives equal representation to all members of society in the first place. Might as well push back in the opposite direction.

                • Ronan

                  Weighting votes so one has more power than another is definitionally taking votes away from some.

                • gmack

                  Weighting votes so one has more power than another is definitionally taking votes away from some.

                  So are you opposed to the electoral college, then?* ‘Cause our current system quite clearly takes votes away from some.

                  *I don’t mean this to sound necessarily snarky. It’s actually a genuine question, and at the very least, the EC’s disproportionate counting of votes should be taken into account whenever anyone talks about vote weighting.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  So are you opposed to the electoral college, then?

                  “Yes.” -Literally everyone sane

                • Our system, as it currently stands, means that only citizens of a few states usually even get meaningful votes for president. (Citizens of certain territories don’t get any sort of votes at all, which is important to remember.)

                  I am fine if you say that my proposal suggests decreasing the power of a given person’s vote, but it doesn’t mean they have no vote whatsoever. It just means that some people’s votes are more consequential than others. However, as I have repeatedly pointed out, that is already the case. Republicans have successfully pushed the Overton window to the point where it is accepted as normal that rich people have disproportionate influence over the system, that minority and student neighbourhoods have hours-long lines to vote, and the list goes on. I don’t expect my proposal to be enacted as policy, at least not in my lifetime. But we’ve been trying simply standing up for old-fashioned liberalism and it hasn’t been working very well. Perhaps it’s time to try something different.

                  And yeah, fuck the Electoral College.

                • Ronan

                  “So are you opposed to the electoral college, then?”

                  Yes. (Et a: with the caveat I’m not American and based on what I know about it. It seems inexcusable on a number of levels)

                  Beyond that, I think it’s more problematic to weight votes specifically on ethnicity/race/gender as is being implied here. Or on the individual level, that one person’s vote explicitly counts for less than another. Do you (also not snarky) think this distinction is reasonable ? I’m open to convincing that weighting votes per states as per the EC is comparable to the sort of individual/group weighting CL favours, but my instinctive reaction is that CLs,position is morally more problematic.

                • Ronan

                  I rewrote part of that as it sounded snarky and short, which wasn’t my intent

                • I’m not actually proposing weighting people’s votes on those things, however. I am using them as a proxy for the level of marginalisation a given citizen faces in society. Thus a rich person’s vote would count less than a poor person’s, and for the additional layers of oppression a person suffers from, they get more representation.

                  Naturally, this is an extremely difficult thing to quantify. It’s probably impossible to do it in an objective fashion. I also don’t actually expect this ever to become public policy. I’m proposing it as a counter to the Republicans’ voter suppression efforts. They have successfully shifted the Overton window to the right by continually making arguments that sound ludicrous to the majority of people for over 50 years. After 50 years of those arguments, they no longer sound crazy to many people. We haven’t done the same back.

                  I’m used to having political positions that are in no danger of being adopted by the majority. That doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is the continual shifting of acceptable discourse to the right. There has to be some counter to that, and what we’ve been doing obviously isn’t working.

                • Ronan

                  I’m happy to leave the practicalities of it aside, as having the ability to do this would mean that the problems you want to solve wouldn’t exist (ie the rich giving up power or marginalised black communities getting more voting rights than the majority, wouldn’t be realistically implementable in a context where the rich had power and minorities were explicitly being disenfranchised) So it’s a non starter from that position. The context you might be able to implement these changes in is one where the power disparities are much less. But then the need doesn’t exist (to the same extent)
                  So on a purely normative or moral basis….I don’t have any clear or sophisticated reason for why each individual vote should be equal. I’m genuinely open to be convinced (though I’m not at the minute)

                • To be clear, I don’t seriously expect this suggestion to be enacted, and as you’ve said, by the time it becomes feasible, it may be less necessary. The right has been making ridiculous propositions and shifting the Overton window with them for decades. We haven’t done the same, and now we have Trump. I’m honestly going to be shocked if we even have elections in 2020, and if we do, they won’t be fair (2016’s also almost certainly wasn’t). Simply complaining about the violations of minorities’ rights to vote hasn’t worked. We need to try something else.

          • LeeEsq

            I’d like to point that divided electorates with different competencies and weights have always favored rightest politics rather than leftist politics whenever actually applied. This is what happened in Late Apartheid South Africa, French Algeria, and the different European countries before World War I that divided the electorate based on how much taxes were paid. You also have the general failure of Lebanon’s attempt at dividing the electorate and government based on religion.

            Your also assuming that giving minority voices greater say in their own competency will also lead to the more liberal or left solution without much evidence. Look at the differences of opinion between ThrottleJockey and Drexciya on the issue of crime on this blog. I suspect that ThrottleJockey is more representative of African-American political opinions than Drexciya. There are many women who are also very conservative on issues of reproductive rights.

            The way to get the most liberal or leftist policies enacted is through having the most universal and simplest electoral system possible and not through overly complicated schemes.

            • BartletForGallifrey

              Your also assuming that giving minority voices greater say in their own competency will also lead to the more liberal or left solution without much evidence.

              Except the evidence of “black people always vote for the Democrat in numbers higher than any other group”.

              • LeeEsq

                That isn’t enough evidence though. The Democratic Party is a big tent party even though the differences in belief have decreased. If CassandraLeo’s plan is put into practice than their will be more incentive for African-Americans and other groups given increased competency in certain areas to express differences in opinion. On this blog we have at least two African-Americans with a relatively law and order approach to crime. Most of us are well to the Left of most Democratic voters let alone the average American.

                • If that happens, we can deal with it later. Furthermore, my proposal, which I’m admittedly not finished fleshing out because I’ve only really been seriously entertaining it since the election, depends upon people being systematic victims of oppression in order to receive increased representation. If we come to such a point where African-Americans are no longer systematically discriminated against by law enforcement/redlining/whatever, perhaps their share of representation will decrease.

                  In any case, racial minorities now overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. They didn’t turn out as much for Clinton, but that’s to be expected when the first black president is no longer on the ballot.

                • sharonT

                  Well, I don’t comment a lot, but I’m a pretty consistent lurker and you’ll have to put me in the camp of African Americans who are very sceptical of the Old-Law-and-Order-Crack-Some-Heads Policing.

                  I personally think TJ is representative of TJ. We all come to these issues with our own experiences and biases.

              • Ronan

                You’d just split the black vote between the cool people and assholes because the republicans would have to stop being racist to get elected. You’re back to square one, in fact prob worse when all the whites get allowed to vote again (as u have the natural reactionaries + all the cool whites pissed off at being disenfranchised who go conservative) add in the new African American reactionary faction and you’ve a recipe for electoral oblivion

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  By that time, whites are a minority.

                • Ronan

                  You might have a good plan here. I’m just playing devils advocate.

                • LeeEsq

                  Anglo Protestant Americans considered the Southern and Eastern European immigrants that poured into the United States as quasi-white as best during the early years of the 20th century. To maintain a white majority, the definition of white was expanded. A similar process can and according to some people I know is happening with Hispanic Americans and Asian-Americans.

                • Given the explicitly racist segment about the Chinese that aired on Fox News just a few months ago, you have a lot more faith in the benevolence of white people than I do. Not to mention the fact that Trump won (for a certain definition of “won”) on a platform of explicit racism against Hispanics.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Not to mention the fact that Trump won (for a certain definition of “won”) on a platform of explicit racism against Hispanics.

                  And Muslims. (And blacks, though not really more than the usual Republican.) (And Jews, though I can’t imagine the “sheriff’s star” swung any votes.)

                • 100% true, though I was responding specifically to the mention of Hispanics and Asian-Americans.

          • Murc

            But I’m coming to think that maybe the principle of “one person, one vote” is worth re-evaluating.

            No. Never. This is antithetical to over two and a half centuries of liberal thought, and any attempt to implement such a system would be subject to immediate capture and abuse that would make it massively worse than “one person, one vote.” Sitting around and deciding which demographics are legitimate political actors and which are not is vile authoritarian bullshit and should be rejected in all its forms.

            Christ on a bike. We’re supposed to be the group concerned with human dignity and individual rights, here.

            • LeeEsq

              Thank you. Liberal idea like universal suffrage with one person, one vote, rule of law with due process and equal protection of law, and civil liberties are important for preventing arbitrary rule and authoritarianism. The leftist authoritarian states have been just as frightening and oppressive as the rightest authoritarian states. The ends do not justify the means.

            • BartletForGallifrey

              We’re supposed to be the group concerned with human dignity and individual rights, here.

              Great. How’s that working out for us? We can’t do a damn thing for human dignity if we don’t have power.

              My stance after this election is that we take power any goddamn way we can get it, because they will.

              • Murc

                Great. How’s that working out for us? We can’t do a damn thing for human dignity if we don’t have power.

                Except you’re specifically talking about using political power to disenfranchise people on specifically racial and ethnic grounds.

                That’s super fucking evil. The fact that the Republicans have clutched this evil to their chests doesn’t mean we should as well, on account of how we’re supposed to be better than them.

                My stance after this election is that we take power any goddamn way we can get it,

                Your stance is wrong, and to be opposed.

                • As I’ve already said, we don’t have “one person, one vote” in this country. It is disproportionately difficult for minorities and young people to vote, particularly post-Shelby County. Rich people are given disproportionate influence over our political system. Eliminate those and we’ll talk about going back to “one person, one vote”. We don’t have them now.

                  And frankly, if we aren’t in power, we can’t do a damn thing to stop the country from sliding into right-wing dictatorship, which is absolutely what, left to their own devices, the current Republican Party will establish. I consider that a far more pressing concern.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  You go ahead and oppose it then, Murc.

                  Sorry, but the principle of “beat the fucking Nazis” trumps every other damn principle I may have.

                • Murc

                  As I’ve already said, we don’t have “one person, one vote” in this country. It is disproportionately difficult for minorities and young people to vote, particularly post-Shelby County. Rich people are given disproportionate influence over our political system. Eliminate those and we’ll talk about going back to “one person, one vote”. We don’t have them now.

                  If we had the political power to rectify the obvious gross injustices you point out, we wouldn’t need to engage in mass disenfranchisement even were it morally justified. (It is not.)

                  And frankly, if we aren’t in power, we can’t do a damn thing to stop the country from sliding into right-wing dictatorship, which is absolutely what, left to their own devices, the current Republican Party will establish. I consider that a far more pressing concern.

                  In a practical sense, yes, this is a far more pressing concern. That doesn’t actually make “we should consider mass racial and ethnic based disenfranchisement” a correct position to take, tho.

                  Sorry, but the principle of “beat the fucking Nazis” trumps every other damn principle I may have.

                  You will never beat them by emulating them.

                • I’m shocked that I even need to point this out, but we do not have the political power to rectify those injustices. Not only do we not have them now, but we have never had them, even with a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress. (To be fair, we did not have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate for much of Obama’s presidency, but I don’t really see how that counters my argument. If anything, it supports it by pointing out just how difficult obtaining such power is in our system.)

                  Bartlet and I are not not proposing emulating the Nazis, and I take offence to the accusation. If someone proposes a revolution, are they proposing emulating Robespierre? Certainly not. Regardless, there are some cases where the use of force is legitimate. Certainly, when the National Guard intervened to protect students who were being bused into public schools, that was a legitimate and justifiable use of state power, even if it was over the objections of many of the people who lived there.

                  If the majority votes to curtail the rights of the minority, that is “democratic”. It is not, however, remotely ethically justifiable. The horrendous approximation of “one person, one vote” we have in this country has led to the point where a literal fascist is about to become the president of the United States and the Republicans’ arguments for voter suppression are in danger of being accepted into mainstream discourse. They got there by drilling them into their voters’ heads for decades. If we refrain from proposing anything more than “one person, one vote, but for real, you guys” in opposition, the Overton window shifts to the right. Maybe you’re okay with that. As a Jewish transgender person, I am not.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  You will never beat them by emulating them.

                  You’re talking to two Jews, who are currently facing antisemitism the likes of which the United States has never seen, you fucking asshole.

                • Murc

                  Bartlet and I are not not proposing emulating the Nazis, and I take offence to the accusation.

                  You’re proposing that there are ethnic and/or racial groups in the US whose political participation in the governance of the US are illegitimate and should be made so explicitly along those lines. This is not emulative of the Nazis specifically, of course, but of ethno-authoritarian groups in many contexts, including that of the modern Republican Party.

                  Regardless, there are some cases where the use of force is legitimate. Certainly, when the National Guard intervened to protect students who were being bused into public schools, that was a legitimate and justifiable use of state power, even if it was over the objections of many of the people who lived there.

                  This, of course, is absolutely true.

                  If the majority votes to curtail the rights of the minority, that is “democratic”.

                  I would actually argue that it is not; you cannot have a functioning democracy in which civic rights are significantly curtailed. It meets the narrow technical definition, but not an actually useful definition.

                  If we refrain from proposing anything more than “one person, one vote, but for real, you guys” in opposition, the Overton window shifts to the right.

                  Controlling the debate is always important, but I don’t see how “our opponents have proposed something wildly unethical and illiberal, so we’ll propose something wildly unethical and illberal just in the opposite direction in a vain attempt to keep the political center somewhere healthy” is a plan with even a remote chance of having the outcome you want.

                  You’re talking to two Jews, who are currently facing antisemitism the likes of which the United States has never seen, you fucking asshole.

                  Your ethnic status has no bearing on the moral rightness or not of proposing that it would be a good idea to disenfranchise mass numbers of people based on their own ethnic or racial status.

                • You’re proposing that there are ethnic and/or racial groups in the US whose political participation in the governance of the US are illegitimate and should be made so explicitly along those lines. This is not emulative of the Nazis specifically, of course, but of ethno-authoritarian groups in many contexts, including that of the modern Republican Party.

                  This is not true. I am proposing that there are groups in the United States whose political representation is disproportionate (specifically, Christians, white people, cis people, straight people, rich people, and males, to name a few). There is a significant difference here. The Republicans are arguing for removing power from people who already have substantially less than the average person. I am proposing precisely the opposite. I am proposing reducing (not eliminating; there is a substantial difference) power for people who have disproportionately more. This already occurs to a certain extent in many societies considered perfectly liberal and tolerant of human rights with policies such as progressive taxation and affirmative action. You argue that the franchise is sacred and should not be disrespected in any fashion. I take issue with this, because, again, we currently have President-Elect Donald Trump, and I legitimately do not feel safe in my own country anymore.

                  I would actually argue that it is not; you cannot have a functioning democracy in which civic rights are significantly curtailed. It meets the narrow technical definition, but not an actually useful definition.

                  I agree that it is not a useful definition. Unfortunately, many people in this country do not share it, and if they did, the outcome of this election would have looked substantially different, because Trump explicitly ran on exactly these kinds of policies.

                  Controlling the debate is always important, but I don’t see how “our opponents have proposed something wildly unethical and illiberal, so we’ll propose something wildly unethical and illberal just in the opposite direction in a vain attempt to keep the political center somewhere healthy” is a plan with even a remote chance of having the outcome you want.

                  Again, I disagree that is unethical. What we have now has resulted in wildly unethical and illiberal outcomes. We have been trying to resist this using twentieth-century liberalism. It has not worked. If anything, continuing to use the same tactics that have led us here is unethical. I am open to persuasion on what other tactics should be adopted. I am not open to persuasion on my conviction that continuing to do the same thing is not going to win elections for us, particularly after Republicans have gutted the remainder of the Voting Rights Act. We need to think bigger. Frankly, keeping minorities and women from being overtly persecuted is a much, much larger concern to me than any philosophical principles. My ethics are broadly (though not solely) consequentialist, and appeals to intellectual ideals are not remotely convincing against actually existing human suffering.

                  Your ethnic status has no bearing on the moral rightness or not of proposing that it would be a good idea to disenfranchise mass numbers of people based on their own ethnic or racial status.

                  Perhaps not, but it does make your flagrant violation of Godwin’s Law particularly reprehensible, and you shouldn’t be doubling down on it after being called out for it. Save that shit for people like Donald Trump or fuck off. Frankly, both Bartlet and I deserve an apology.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Your ethnic status has no bearing on the moral rightness or not of proposing that it would be a good idea to disenfranchise mass numbers of people based on their own ethnic or racial status.

                  No, Murc, comparing people whose families were murdered by Nazis–particularly in a time when Nazis are showing up left and right in the United States/White House–to them is an asshole move, and you know it.

                  Ideally, as I noted, everyone would get an equal vote. That’s not happening now, and it’s not going to happen, so if I have to pick between the current situation or disenfranchising people who have been disenfranchising everyone else for 230 years, I’ll pick the latter without a single regret.

                • Murc

                  This is not true.

                  Oh? So when you said:

                  While I would probably support it, I don’t know if removing the franchise from white people/men would ever be doable.

                  You weren’t to be taken seriously in this support?

                  Good to know.

                  I am proposing that there are groups in the United States whose political representation is disproportionate (specifically, Christians, white people, cis people, straight people, rich people, and males, to name a few).

                  This is true, yes.

                  I am proposing reducing (not eliminating; there is a substantial difference) power for people who have disproportionately more.

                  It would seem to me this reduction is best accomplished by an expansion of their rights, rather than the curtailment of those of others.

                  This already occurs to a certain extent in many societies considered perfectly liberal and tolerant of human rights with policies such as progressive taxation and affirmative action.

                  Neither of which involve stripping anyone of their right to participate in the political process on explicitly ethnic or racial grounds.

                  You argue that the franchise is sacred and should not be disrespected in any fashion.

                  I absolutely do, yes.

                  Again, I disagree that is unethical. What we have now has resulted in wildly unethical and illiberal outcomes.

                  This happens. It happens a lot in any functioning democracy. We put up with it because, as yet, nobody has really found a workable alternative.

                  We have been trying to resist this using twentieth-century liberalism. It has not worked.

                  So of course the solution is to trot out twentieth-century authoritarian leftism, whose track record is even worse.

                  My ethics are broadly (though not solely) consequentialist, and appeals to intellectual ideals are not remotely convincing against actually existing human suffering.

                  Consequentialist ethics, even if I agreed with them (which I do not, because they’re terrifying in the form I usually see them espoused) should lead to a sound and massive rejection of anything even remotely resembling authoritarian leftism, then. Because nearly every single time they’ve been tried on a large scale, the result has been terror, horror, and death, followed either by a complete implosion or by a very rapid transition to authoritarian rightism.

                  This would seem to indicate that the impulse towards anything that even smacks of authoritarian leftism should be strongly resisted.

                  Frankly, both Bartlet and I deserve an apology.

                  You guys opened the “maybe we should consider authoritarianism, actually restrict the franchise on openly racial and ethnic grounds” bottle, and you want me to apologize?

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  You guys opened the “maybe we should consider authoritarianism, actually restrict the franchise on openly racial and ethnic grounds” bottle, and you want me to apologize?

                  Us: Muse on theoretical, never-gonna-happen ways to make the country less fucked up and white supremacist.
                  You: Compare us to the people who actually irl killed our families and are actually currently painting swastikas all over New York.

                  Both sides!

                • Oh? So when you said:

                  While I would probably support it, I don’t know if removing the franchise from white people/men would ever be doable.

                  You weren’t to be taken seriously in this support?

                  Good to know.

                  Only in the “I think the outcomes for the country would be better in at least the short term if this happened right now” sense. Since it’s not going to happen right now, and since it would require massive changes to society to the point where it’s questionable that it would ever be beneficial once those changes had happened, I can’t imagine a case where it would have a serious chance of becoming official policy in which I would seriously support it.

                  It would seem to me this reduction is best accomplished by an expansion of their rights, rather than the curtailment of those of others.

                  We’ve been trying this for decades and, again, it hasn’t worked. In any case, giving, say, black people two votes to white people’s one because they are oppressed could easily be read as expanding their rights, the same way progressive taxation can easily be read as expanding the rights of poor people.

                  Neither of which involve stripping anyone of their right to participate in the political process on explicitly ethnic or racial grounds.

                  As I have not argued for this as a serious policy proposal, this is entirely irrelevant.

                  This happens. It happens a lot in any functioning democracy. We put up with it because, as yet, nobody has really found a workable alternative.

                  I disagree that the United States is, in any sense, a “functioning democracy”. It arguably has not been for decades, and certainly is not today.

                  So of course the solution is to trot out twentieth-century authoritarian leftism, whose track record is even worse.

                  If you think this is my argument, then you are seriously misunderstanding it. I am not in any fashion arguing for authoritarianism as a general policy. I am simply saying there are some cases where uses of force that contradict the will of the masses are entirely justifiable. Again, see my example of the National Guard defending busing. This is largely what I have in mind. Insofar as I think the use of force is justified, it is only where it protects people who can’t defend themselves.

                  Consequentialist ethics, even if I agreed with them (which I do not, because they’re terrifying in the form I usually see them espoused) should lead to a sound and massive rejection of anything even remotely resembling authoritarian leftism, then. Because nearly every single time they’ve been tried on a large scale, the result has been terror, horror, and death, followed either by a complete implosion or by a very rapid transition to authoritarian rightism.

                  I’m not sure what form of consequentialist ethics you generally see espoused. I tend to espouse the form that both the ends and the means are both important; indeed, it is often difficult to separate them, because the ends often influence the means and vice versa. This is why, while I dislike the use of force in general, I am not always opposed to it when it benefits the economically or socially marginalised. My ethics could perhaps be better described as “virtue-consequentialist”, but that’s not a 100% accurate description either. In general, my stance is that both entirely relying on utilitarianism and entirely relying on deontology to determine ethics can lead to catastrophic consequences.

                  You guys opened the “maybe we should consider authoritarianism, actually restrict the franchise on openly racial and ethnic grounds” bottle, and you want me to apologize?

                  Considering that entertaining the idea of not allowing the most privileged members of society to vote is not remotely comparable to killing six million Jews, yes, she and I fucking well do deserve an apology.

              • Right. I think it’s entirely defensible that Castro came down hard on counterrevolutionaries, because we all have seen what happened to democracies in Latin America over the same time period. In ordinary circumstances I loathe authoritarianism, but sometimes the only way to counter authoritarianism is through force, which can mean that you have to fight authoritarianism with authoritarianism. I’m saying this as a person who’s identified as anarchist for over a decade, mind you, but the reason Anarchist Catalonia didn’t survive the Spanish Civil War is because they didn’t have the resources to maintain their independence. Liberal democracy doesn’t mean a damn thing if you can’t keep it liberal, and universal suffrage has been the exception in this country’s history rather than the rule. The much-vaunted checks and balances didn’t do anything to stop Jim Crow or the Trail of Tears or the internment of Japanese-Americans. Our system is fragile at the best of times. We are legitimately running the risk of turning into 1933 Weimar Germany as we speak. That calls for desperate measures.

                I’m Jewish and transgender (although for reasons I won’t bore you with I still pass as cisgender and likely will continue to do so until things improve substantially). I would still have preferred to live under Castro’s Cuba than I would under Pinochet’s Chile, just as I am glad that Hitler got taken out of power before Stalin did.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Yeah, also what CassandraLeo said. (PS, CL, do you have preferred pronouns?)

                • Not really. Singular “they” is probably ideal but I’m not really bothered by any of them except linguistic abominations like “xe” and so forth, and that’s an aesthetic rather than personal objection. “It” is the only one that actually offends me, for obvious reasons.

                • Murc

                  In ordinary circumstances I loathe authoritarianism, but sometimes the only way to counter authoritarianism is through force, which can mean that you have to fight authoritarianism with authoritarianism.

                  This has never, ever actually worked. Anywhere.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  I’m not really bothered by any of them except linguistic abominations like “xe” and so forth, and that’s an aesthetic rather than personal objection

                  As a cislady, I never feel comfortable saying that, but thank Christ someone NB did.

                • LeeEsq

                  You don’t get to commit human rights and civil liberties abuses because you heart is in the right place. Despicable people have human rights to even if that means liberals gets kicked in the ass frequently. You don’t protect human rights by abusing them like Murc said.

                  Pinochet’s Chile did better when it came to economics and the standard of living though. Chile is a wealthy country and Cuba is very poor. Its also a democracy. Even if America did not place an embargo on Cuba, Cuba would still be very poor and not a democracy.

                • This has never, ever actually worked. Anywhere.

                  Strange that you think this, because as far as I’m aware, Raul Castro is still in power, while many democratic socialists in Latin America got overthrown by U.S.-backed coups. Neither he nor Fidel are/were anywhere near saints, but women and racial minorities do seem to be better off under them than they were under Batista.

                  Again, I’m not saying Castro was even a decent person, much less someone to be emulated. But I’d take him over Pinochet – or, probably, Trump – any day.

                  e: The “Miracle of Chile” was bullshit; the economy crashed in the ’80s. Some people became very, very rich, but the majority of people suffered greatly.

                  I also don’t see how giving oppressed people more influence over the direction of the country is a violation of anyone’s human rights. As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, we already give some people disproportionate representation. Hardly anyone makes a serious argument that this is a violation of human rights. Perhaps they should, but it isn’t happening now.

                • LeeEsq

                  Shorter Cassandra Leo, authoritarian illiberal human rights abusing pseudo-monarchies are perfectly fine as long as you can cast them as vaguely leftist.

                • That is not remotely what I said, but nice try. It’s more that “given the choice between an authoritarian leftist who actually stands up for the rights of some of the dispossessed and an authoritarian rightist who doesn’t give a shit about any of them, I’m going to take the leftist”. You might not have noticed, but an authoritarian rightist who ran on a platform of explicit white supremacy and sexism is currently the president-elect of the United States. As a gender-nonbinary Jewish person, I can’t afford principles like “authoritarianism is always to be resisted”. There are more important principles in my life right now, such as “making sure I don’t get lynched by white supremacists/cisnormative zealots”.

                • Murc

                  Strange that you think this, because as far as I’m aware, Raul Castro is still in power, while many democratic socialists in Latin America got overthrown by U.S.-backed coups.

                  Are we now defining “working” as “allows a group to maintain their grip on power?”

                  That’s a remarkably low standard to hew to. By this standard, Russia has a working government. So does China.

                  I was using “working” to mean “results in a free and just society.”

                  Neither he nor Fidel are/were anywhere near saints, but women and racial minorities do seem to be better off under them than they were under Batista.

                  “Better than Batista” is not good enough and justifies nothing.

                  I also don’t see how giving oppressed people more influence over the direction of the country is a violation of anyone’s human rights.

                  Stripping the franchise from someone based on their ethnic or racial status is absolutely a violation of their human rights. Giving some people explicitly a better franchise based on their ethnic or racial status might or might not fit the definition, but I would be inclined to say it is as well.

                  It’s more that “given the choice between an authoritarian leftist who actually stands up for the rights of some of the dispossessed and an authoritarian rightist who doesn’t give a shit about any of them, I’m going to take the leftist”.

                  This is a false choice. There have not ever been authoritarian leftists who have actually done this. At best, you’ve gotten authoritarian leftists who have very briefly made some nods in that direction before setting about busily creating new, massive swathes of dispossessed people.

                • Are we now defining “working” as “allows a group to maintain their grip on power?”

                  That’s a remarkably low standard to hew to. By this standard, Russia has a working government. So does China.

                  I was using “working” to mean “results in a free and just society.

                  That is not the sole definition I’m working off of, no. That does not change the fact that, had Castro been replaced by a Pinochet-style dictator, the lot of women and minorities would almost certainly have gotten worse. (And a Pinochet-style dictator is almost certainly the only sort of person who could have replaced him.)

                  “Prevents things from getting worse than they are” is a fairly useful definition of what I am going for. To be fair, it is difficult to define precisely, because Castro’s policies may have “worked” for poor women while obviously not “working” for LGBT people. Again, I am saying this as a gender-non-binary person. But I don’t hold any illusions that Castro would’ve treated me worse than Batista or Pinochet would’ve. And, like it or not, those are the choices I would’ve faced as a Cuban with my identity being otherwise identical. It’s horrifying that the world political system is such that these could be someone’s choices. And yet, here we are. Donald Trump is the President-Elect of the United States. I am Jewish and LGBT, and I no longer feel safe. As a result, many principles feel entirely arbitrary right now. The main principle that matters to me is “standing up for people who are marginalised by the system”. Everything else is secondary.

                  “Better than Batista” is not good enough and justifies nothing.

                  It isn’t good enough; I agree. And yet it’s what the Cubans had to work with in the 1960s. We have seen what happened in places like Nicaragua and Chile. It’s no small miracle that Hugo Chávez wasn’t overthrown in 2002 or whenever; if it had been twenty years earlier, he probably would have been. (He was no saint, either, mind you, but he was at least democratically elected.)

                  Democracy is nice if you can keep it. World history indicates that many places have not been able to keep it. This is not even limited to Latin America; our history of interference with democratic countries goes back at least to Mossadegh in Iran in 1953. Frankly, I’m legitimately concerned that we’re not going to keep our democracy. I will be entirely unsurprised if there are no elections in 2020. The elections we had this year certainly weren’t free or fair, and the future ones will be worse. The disenfranchisement of minorities and students on multiple levels has already been well documented, and very few people (and no one in the mainstream media) seems to care. I think you’re thoroughly underestimating just how bad things already are here.

                  Stripping the franchise from someone based on their ethnic or racial status is absolutely a violation of their human rights.

                  If I had been proposing doing this, I would consider this to be a relevant argument. In any case, we already do this. Citizens of Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere get reduced or no representation for national offices, despite being full United States citizens.

                  Giving some people explicitly a better franchise based on their ethnic or racial status might or might not fit the definition, but I would be inclined to say it is as well.

                  You’re entitled to your opinion, of course. I just don’t think attempting to redress the balance of power by increasing the amount of power of people who currently have less is on any level comparable to what the Republicans have been doing, which is reducing the power of people who already have less. They are, in fact, the exact opposite acts.

                  This is a false choice. There have not ever been authoritarian leftists who have actually done this. At best, you’ve gotten authoritarian leftists who have very briefly made some nods in that direction before setting about busily creating new, massive swathes of dispossessed people.

                  I guess Castro never sent out doctors to Africa or fought against apartheid, then. Apartheid lasted for decades after he came into power. That does not qualify as “very brief”. Certainly, he disenfranchised some members of his society. I never claimed he didn’t. I question whether he disenfranchised more people than Batista did, or than Pinochet did, or than Trump will. And, quite frankly, I’m not terribly concerned about his “disenfranchisement” of the rich of his country or people who explicitly tried to overthrow him. It’s not as if we didn’t have COINTELPRO, or as if Nixon didn’t completely decimate the Socialist Workers’ Party. It’s not as if we didn’t disenfranchise hundreds of millions of citizens of other democratic countries by overthrowing their governments throughout the decades since WWII. When you look at it in this fashion, do we even have a legitimate claim to our government’s being less authoritarian than Castro’s?

                  My point is this: there’s authoritarianism and there’s authoritarianism. I’m not concerned with the use of power in and of itself. What I’m more concerned with is who benefits from it, and who most needs to benefit from it. It is highly unclear to me that our current system spreads the maximum benefit around to the maximum number of people. What concerns me most right now is that people are legitimately concerned that their personal safety could be violated by their own government. It’s difficult for me to care much about Enlightenment-era arguments for democratic values in light of that. Democracy is certainly nice, and in general I support it where it is viable, but it’s not the only thing needed to protect people’s freedom or well-being, and if those things vanish, democracy alone won’t suffice. Not even a well-written Constitution will suffice; you need the right people enforcing its values to even ensure that it is upheld.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  The main principle that matters to me is “standing up for people who are marginalised by the system”. Everything else is secondary.

                  This is the correct and appropriate stance for the next–god willing–four years.

                • MilitantlyAardvark

                  http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/mencken.htm

                  I have spoken hitherto of the possibility that democracy may be a self-limiting disease, like measles. It is, perhaps, something more: it is self-devouring. One cannot observe it objectively without being impressed by its curious distrust of itself—its apparently ineradicable tendency to abandon its whole philosophy at the first sign of strain. I need not point to what happens invariably in democratic states when the national safety is menaced. All the great tribunes of democracy, on such occasions, convert themselves, by a process as simple as taking a deep breath, into despots of an almost fabulous ferocity. Lincoln, Roosevelt and Wilson come instantly to mind: Jackson and Cleveland are in the background, waiting to be recalled. Nor is this process confined to times of alarm and terror: it is going on day in and day out. Democracy always seems bent upon killing the thing it theoretically loves. I have rehearsed some of its operations against liberty, the very cornerstone of its political metaphysic. It not only wars upon the thing itself; it even wars upon mere academic advocacy of it. I offer the spectacle of Americans jailed for reading the Bill of Rights as perhaps the most gaudily humorous ever witnessed in the modern world. Try to imagine monarchy jailing subjects for maintaining the divine right of Kings! Or Christianity damning a believer for arguing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God! This last, perhaps, has been done: anything is possible in that direction. But under democracy the remotest and most fantastic possibility is a common-place of every day. All the axioms resolve themselves into thundering paradoxes, many amounting to downright contradictions in terms. The mob is competent to rule the rest of us—but it must be rigorously policed itself. There is a government, not of men, but of laws – but men are set upon benches to decide finally what the law is and may be. The highest function of the citizen is to serve the state – but the first assumption that meets him, when he essays to discharge it, is an assumption of his disingenuousness and dishonour. Is that assumption commonly sound? Then the farce only grows the more glorious.

                • David Allan Poe

                  Pinochet’s Chile did better when it came to economics and the standard of living though. Chile is a wealthy country and Cuba is very poor. Its also a democracy. Even if America did not place an embargo on Cuba, Cuba would still be very poor and not a democracy.

                  As someone whose political awakening began driving past miles of Santiago shantytowns at the age of eleven, might I gently suggest that this is a bunch of horseshit?

            • gmack

              Thing one: Go read Lani Guinier’s Tyranny of the Majority (her work would be a useful framework for having this discussion, at the very least).

              Thing two: See my response to Ronan above; if we’re going to go apeshit over weighting some people’s votes more than others, then why aren’t we going apeshit over the electoral college? It seems to me, in other words, that we’re already doing the thing that’s gotten you exercised about violations of the “fundamental principles of liberalism.”

              • BartletForGallifrey

                Why aren’t we going apeshit over the electoral college?

                Some of us have been for at least, oh, 16 years?

                • gmack

                  Yes, I know. It’s just that so far in this conversation that particular elephant in the room hadn’t been mentioned, and I think that’s interesting. I think it’s a bit of status quo bias, in which a proposal to weight votes is a Grave Threat to Liberal Values, but in which the current system that does the same thing (in a far less defensible way) is not discussed at all.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Oh, I just assumed that we all agree it’s undemocratic white supremacist trash.

                • Murc

                  Oh, I just assumed that we all agree it’s undemocratic white supremacist trash.

                  Indeed. I, like Bartlet, had assumed consensus on this point.

              • LeeEsq

                Nearly everybody on this blog hates the Electoral College and is apeshit over it. Most of us are already aware that the tyranny of the majority is a bad thing. The people who wrote the Constitution were also aware of this. Thats why American politics take a counter-majoritarian form.

                When your talking about minority rights you need to define what it means to be a minority. People of color are minorities but so are wealthy people. During the early 20th century, a lot of the opposition to taxing wealthy people was based on the idea that the unhealthy majority had no right to the property of wealthy people and the income tax was majority rule over a minority.

                • To me, a significant portion of the definition I’m working with depends upon “suffers existentially threatening marginalisation in society”. Women are marginalised because violating their reproductive rights, as is now often the case, can literally threaten their lives. The poor are marginalised because if they don’t get paid, they don’t eat. And so on. Racial minorities are marginalised because of police violence and other factors. There is literally nothing that marginalises rich people in any existential fashion. “Has to pay a slightly higher marginal income tax rate” is not in any fashion existentially threatening marginalisation.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  I have to say, this discussion has led me to the conclusion that, to riff off another saying, Principles are for white people.

                  I keep seeing conversations along these lines:
                  White person: “Guns are bad and we should never have guns.”
                  POC [newly including Jews!]: “Okay well the KKK is a thing again so maybe actually we should!”

                  White person: “We must fetishize Pure Democracy & never use dirty tricks.”
                  POC: “Okay well the other side is and they’re the KKK so maybe actually we should!”

                  White guy: “We must respect the office of the President, on principle!”
                  POC/white woman: “Go fuck yourself.”

                  It’s all well and good to have high-minded ideals and to want to be better than the other guys and whatnot, but when it’s your life, or your kids’ lives, on the line, those principles become a lot less important.

                  And yeah, sure, theoretically principles should stay principles no matter what, and I’m sure everyone who holds them would totally stand strong in the face of danger, but…that ain’t how it works. If I feel unsafe as a Jew, I damn well will move to Israel, no matter what I think about Bibi. If a black woman feels unsafe with the KKK marching, she damn well can buy a gun, no matter how much she abhors them.

                  And if keeping the alt-right from taking over America requires us to play dirty, we damn well should. Our principles aren’t worth shit if we don’t put the principles of protecting the marginalized and stopping the Nazis ahead of everything else.

                  ETA: That was supposed to be a general response; not sure how it ended up here.

                • Murc

                  White guy: “We must respect the office of the President, on principle!”

                  This one, I must confess, always puzzles me.

                  The office of the President is an abstraction. It doesn’t actually, you know, exist, and cannot care one bit if I respect it or not.

                  The person who occupies that office at any given time doesn’t actually need me to respect them. They have immense political power at their fingertips and can exercise it regardless of whether I demonstrate respect for them or not. Indeed, large parts of the apparatus of our government are set up to ensure that I can demonstrate just as much disrespect toward that person as I like, and not only will the state not do anything about it, the state will actively protect my right to do so.

                  It is of course possible that these people mean “well, you should recognize that the office of the Presidency still wields legitimate civic power even if the person doing that wielding is loathsome” but I don’t think anyone actually disputes that case? I mean, we wouldn’t be freaking out if Trump weren’t going to be wielding civic power. Kinda why we’re mad.

          • Nick056

            The problem with abandoning one person, one vote in favor of allowing voting power to accrue to folks who have more to lose, is that it’s trivially true that folks with more property, more money, and more potential future earnings have “more to lose” by pretty much every pecuniary measure. Steve Bannon already thinks like this. Better to fight against voter suppression than weigh votes by how much you have to lose.

            However, we should fight hard to redo the House and bring proportional representation to the people who deserve it. DC should get its vote, and the difference between the states of CA and WY should fully reflect the difference in population. Simply restoring proportional power even on a geographic basis makes this a winnable right.

            • If you define “more to lose” as “material possessions”, you are correct. However, that is already how our system works. Thanks to our absurd campaign finance laws – which, I might point out, are opposed even by an overwhelming majority of Republican voters – the richest people already get disproportionate influence over our elections.

              If you define “more to lose” as “life being literally in danger”, on the other hand, that changes substantially. I favour the latter interpretation.

              • Nick056

                I’m not really arguing the philosophy of what you’re saying. I’ve joked that we should have a one question voting test, “Was Barack Obama born in the US?” If you answer yes, you vote. But that was a joke. More seriously I’m so opposed to what you’re saying as a serious proposition that I can’t really use strong enough language to convey my disapproval.

                But as a tactical concern, opening up “one person one vote” is far more likely to lead to restrictions on the franchise that hurt Democrats than help them. But, again, advocacy for restricting the franchise ultimately based on personal characteristics and protected class status is totally repugnant to me, so, there you go.

                • “One person, one vote” has already been overturned. Insofar as the presidency is concerned, it never even existed, and even with Congress, people living in D.C. or the territories are excluded. Insofar as we ever had it, that horse went out of the barn with Citizens United, and jumped the fence with Shelby County. I’d love to get back to even that point, but we’re not going to do that by simply arguing that we don’t have equal representation in this country. We’ve already been doing that, and no one is listening.

                • Nick056

                  One person one vote has not been explicitly discarded based on ethno-political loyalties, which is what you propose. It’s absolutely the case that states are crafting laws designed to achieve that purpose; however, as in NC, those laws can get struck down precisely because we do still honor one person, one vote. You are contemplating an explicit and total abrogation of the 14th amendment to create a minority-ruled ethno-state based on present political affinities, in which a plurality if not straight majority of Americans would be disenfranchised. As policy.

                  Murc is right. As a joke, I get this. As a serious idea, it’s frightening and disturbing.

                • Again, “one person, one vote” never existed in this country. Beyond Citizens United and Shelby County, citizens of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Washington, D.C., and other places have never had full voting rights, despite being full American citizens. Those places are also mostly not majority non-Hispanic white. This strikes me as somewhat less than coincidental.

                  Jonathan Swift was not seriously proposing eating Irish babies. Sometimes you have to make extreme arguments to point out the ludicrousness of the actually existing system. Again, the right has been doing their version of this for decades, and we now have an overt sexist and white supremacist about to enter the White House. That, to me, is far more alarming than the idea that marginalised people should be given increased representation in our electoral system – which, again, has never been an example of “one person, one vote”.

                • Nick056

                  we liberals have always been in favor of moving closer to one person, one vote — you are advocating moving further away deliberately and based largely on ethnicity. Sorry if I fail to see the Swiftian insights there, but if this isn’t something you actually would want to see, I have no brief. Like I said, as a joke I get it.

                  In terms of how far we are from one person one vote as a present reality, I agree we fall short, but the various means by which conservatives limit the franchise always involve some way of justifying the limitation without a direct assault on one person, one vote, or certainly an admission of ethnic motivations. To that extent, one person one vote is part of our civic religion and the apostates need to present convoluted reasons for attacking the consensus viewpoint. You are apparently arguing that we should simply do away with it in favor of a “most to lose” principle. This is a tactical error and pretty morally terrible.

                • I thought I was very clear in my initial post that a large part of the reason I’ve been arguing for this proposal has been to shift the Overton window. To be honest, as I’ve also acknowledged in a response to Ronan above, if it ever comes to the point where it might have a realistic chance of becoming official policy, the rights of the marginalised very well could have improved to the point where the policy would not even have much of an effect, because the level of marginalisation in society would already have decreased enough to the point where it might not make a tremendous difference.

                  Right now, I’m proposing this policy mostly for the purpose of being a gadfly, much in the same way I propose anarchism. I know that I’m never going to live to see anarchy in my lifetime, but considering what anarchy, as proposed by anarchists, would actually be like helps to challenge one’s assumptions about power and human nature by entirely questioning the foundations upon which our society has been constructed. Questioning the assumptions underlying representative democracy can have the same effect.

                  Most people don’t even think about how voting rights are affected by the distribution of power. By forcing people to consider a world where some groups are given more representation than others, perhaps they can be led around to seeing that, in fact, this already happens, and perhaps we could push back in the opposite direction. After all, the right has been making ridiculous arguments for decades, and the Overton window has shifted to the point where Donald Trump is now the President-Elect. Simply standing on principle hasn’t helped stop him. This is why I’m proposing completely off-the-wall ideas that I know won’t have a chance in hell of becoming official policy right now. The right has adopted tactics that have proven remarkably successful. Perhaps it’s time to emulate them not in content but in form.

                • Nick056

                  I do think that was quite implicit in your initial post. As I said, if the Overton window moves away from one person one vote as at least the official religion if not reality, it will do so in the direction of the wealthy and the propertied. I think such thought experiments are more likely to cause a reversion rather than anything a reasonable person would view as progress.

                  And, you know, in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Sixteen, “I am going to propose a fascist solution to the problems of democracy, but it’s only a joke fam!” Is, you know, sort of unfunny.

                • Again, it already has been abandoned. The electoral suppression in 2016 has been well-documented, and yet Trump is still considered a legitimate electoral winner. We’ve been trying to highlight the abuses inherent in the voting system for decades, and not only has it not been covered at all, but it has in fact gotten substantially worse.

                  As I’ve mentioned, opposing authoritarianism for its own sake isn’t as important as opposing violent marginalisation of the oppressed. If it takes authoritarian measures to keep violent white supremacists out of power, I’m ok with that, because they already are basically in power. Abandoning “one person, one vote” as our official stance is nowhere near as authoritarian as anything Donald Trump has proposed, in any case. I despise Netanyahu and Israel’s government in general, but if things ever got to such a state where I didn’t think there were anywhere else safe on the planet for Jews, I’d still move there. Principles don’t mean shit if you get murdered. Or, for that matter, if your house sinks under a metre of seawater, which is probably going to happen to me in fifty years at the latest now.

                • Nick056

                  Trump is considered the legitimate winner because he is the legitimate winner. Yes, the electoral college is terrible both in theory and practice and it allows a few thousand votes in the upper Midwest to count for more than all the votes in California. But those are the rules, and he won under those rules. It’s worth noting — actually it’s worth screaming until one is entirely hoarse — that there is no evidence voter suppression won Trump the election, and if you are proposing schemes that would tear apart the 14th amendment to deny votes based on race, and doing so because you believe Trump stole the election, then you are proposing an authoritarian and discriminatory change to the franchise based on an unsubstantiated pretext.

                  If you want to abolish the EC, I’m with you. If you want to pursue discriminatory voting systems, well, I know a woman who would’ve made a wonderful president, and I believe she had a basket for such ideas.

                • Trump is considered the legitimate winner because he is the legitimate winner.

                  Only if you accept closure of polling places in minority and student neighbourhoods and other flagrantly discriminatory policies as legitimate. Some people had to wait in line for hours to vote. These people tended to be disproportionately students or minorities. You may consider that a legitimate election. My standards are higher than that.

                  There have been plenty of other irregularities observed with the election, as well, and many of them have yet to be adequately explained. (The potential of absentee ballot fraud after the theft of voter data in IL and AZ, strange totals from voting machines, the list goes on.) Clinton’s margin of loss in several states was within five digits. The idea that voter suppression couldn’t have had an influence on those outcomes requires far more evidence than a flat assertion that it couldn’t have.

                  I believe I have made it clear that I am not proposing that anyone have their votes restricted. What I am proposing is that we don’t currently have a “one person, one vote” system, and pretending that we do is not just offensive to the people marginalised by it, but destructive to our own cause. If you want to compare that to Republican voter suppression efforts, it is still (for the time being) a free country, but if that’s how you’re reading my proposal, you’ve severely misunderstood what it is and why I’m making it. It’s a response to unequal distribution of power by attempting to give people who have less power more of it, in the same way that progressive taxation and affirmative action are. The Republicans are doing the exact opposite: trying to take away power from people who already have very little.

                • Nick056

                  I’m sorry but I don’t have time for the arguments that this election was stolen. The fundamentals predicted a close race, leaning toward Trump victory: John Sides said a fundamentals-based prediction had the election as a toss-up. Lichtman’s Keys to the White House predicted just enough factors were favorable to Trump to result in a Trump victory. So the outcome was consistent with predictions rooted in political science. Also, while people spent the entire election cringing at 538, Silver always gave Trump a decent chance to win. So an excellent polling-based prediction was more favorable to Clinton than the fundamentals but still allowed that Trump had a very good shot at winning. Then you have election law expert Rick Hasen who has repeatedly opined that there is insufficient evidence to suggest the election was stolen through suppression. Then you have the fact that the most prominent attempt to argue for vote hacking based on irregulatories at different machines fell apart.

                  You’ll get no disagreement from me that voter suppression has an effect on vote totals, and that it is a crime against voters and against the Constitution. But if you want to talk about high standards, my standards for accepting that an election was stolen are fairly high, and there’s just nothing there. The outcomes in the decisive states are just in line with trends from elsewhere in other states that remained blue, like NH. Democrats would have had a fairer fight without ID laws in place in Wisconsin, for example, but they wasn’t dispositive. The voters were. And saying that “the election wasn’t” stolen requires more than a flat out assertion gets it precisely backward. You have to start from the assumption it wasn’t stolen and show it was.

                  As far as what you’re proposing here, you’re talking about instituting explicit ethnic-political voting preferences on the basis that a) those groups have more to lose and b) the (unproven) assertion that Trump stole the election. I’m pretty clear on that.

                • So, just to be clear, you’re saying there was no chance that the hours-long lines at many polling places in minority neighbourhoods caused enough people to abandon the idea of voting to swing the election. Really. You’re saying that there was no chance that people who were disproportionately likely to need to go to work or attend class were prohibitively inconvenienced by this to the point where they couldn’t vote, and that this didn’t happen in large enough numbers to have potentially influenced the election results.

                  You’re also saying that there is no chance that the many, many experts warning that our voting machines were susceptible to tampering had a point, and the fact that a crucial voting machine company in FL got hacked was just coincidental, and that the discrepancies that have been observed between outcomes in places where machines were used and places where they were not must be attributable to some other factor. The fact that five of nine machines that have been used in one of the recounts evidently have tampered seals is also irrelevant.

                  You’re saying that there’s no chance that the disproportionate increase in absentee ballots in several crucial swing states has nothing to do with the theft of voter data in AZ and IL.

                  You’re saying that it’s coincidental that minority turnout in the first post-Shelby County election was down, and that Trump would have “won” without it.

                  To name a few.

                  I’m not saying the election was definitely stolen, but Christ, dismissing it as even a possibility when the margin of votes in PA, WI, and MI combined numbers in five digits is absurd. Trump spent the entire election talking about a rigged system, and he has a lengthy habit of accusing others of doing things he himself is guilty of. Dismissing even the possibility that he was doing this here as well strikes me as absurdly credulous.

                  I’m fine with saying, “‘One person, one vote’ would be an ideal system. We don’t have anything close to that, so since our system is currently rigged in favour of rich/white/male/cis/hetero/etc. people, we propose to move it in the opposite direction”. We’ve been pretty clearly standing up for “one person, one vote” for decades. The result has been the erosion of the principle, to the extent that it ever existed (spoiler: it never existed in this country). If you have another proposal for how to counteract this, I’m all ears. All I’ve been hearing is that it’s not democratic, which – again – I am not convinced is a strong argument in an environment which literal Nazis have been politically empowered.

                • Nick056

                  You’re in conspiracy theory territory here. What I am suggesting is that everyone involved in voting rights is deeply concerned about suppression, and that virtually nobody involved in this area believes there is sufficient evidence to suggest any of the states’s results turned on voter suppression. That is a fact.

                  There’s a lot that’s wrong or misleading in what you’ve written, such as the fact that Shelby County isn’t relevant to the northern states that wound up being decisive, and even in NC its effect is murky because the Circuit Court tossed the voter supprsssion law in July of this year. Besides which, close totals in PA, WI, or MI aren’t proof of anything — there was a huge swing for Trump in a variety of states, and in those states it was enough to put him over the top. PA and MI didn’t have new suppression laws in effect. There’s no evidence of hacking. We’re to believe they’re stolen anyway?

                  The other night I listened to Josh Green give a long interview about the Trump data operation. It gave him a 7% chance of winning — until mid-October. The numbers began to show that the electorate was much older and whiter than even their model predicted, and they re-cooked their model, and the whiteness of the electorate in those states still appears to have surpassed the model. That’s the story here. As Nate Cohn put it, working class whites voted in a bloc. And it seems Obama may have won more of their votes in 2012 than people realized — the 2012 exits, and what they implied about the future of voting, could be wrong. Reps hadn’t maxed out the white vote, because there were “missing” voters and ones who had voted Obama but switched to Trump. And to the extent that rural voters have an easier experience voting than city residents, that’s a problem (dealt with it myself). But it’s not stealing the election and it doesn’t make Trump’s win illegitimate.

              • There are plenty of states with close results where minority turnout was down that weren’t in the South. I singled out MI, WI, and PA because they were the closest, but they’re hardly the only ones.

                Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Several security experts have noted that sufficiently competently engineered malware can erase all traces of its existence.

                You are simply dismissing the possibility that long lines could have been decisive enough to swing any of the states without providing any evidence for why, particularly when combined with elements like WI’s voter ID law or the shenanigans in NC and elsewhere.

                I believe it has been well established that the Republican Party explicitly disregarded court orders in at least one state, but has not paid a price for doing so. I no longer have the link handy, and am probably heading off to bed soon. If I have time to respond tomorrow (I very well might not), and some resourceful other poster hasn’t already provided it, I’ll see if I can find it.

                e: oof, this was meant to be a reply to Nick’s comment directly above, not whatever comment it actually posted in response to.

                • Nick056

                  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Several security experts have noted that sufficiently competently engineered malware can erase all traces of its existence.

                  I can do little better than quote Josh Marshall here:

                  1. Always be extremely skeptical of your theories which purport to explain why something you really did not want to happen in fact did not happen.

                  2. Something being possible in theory does not constitute any evidence that it happened. This is the downfall of so many ‘vote fraud’ conspiracy theories.

                  […]

                  The biggest doubt I have about these claims in general (i.e., not just the 2016 cycle) is thinking through the logistics. You need a lot of people to be involved. The criminal penalties are really high. When lots of people are involved things tend to leak out and people get caught. All of these conditions make widespread tampering not only difficult but highly risky. But of course none of those things apply to manipulation by a foreign state. They have high levels of technical knowledge and they don’t need to worry about getting prosecuted. That doesn’t mean this happened. I just put this out there because it’s the one thing that makes 2016 different – and different in a significant way – from other cycles. We don’t need to speculate that someone was trying to influence/tamper with the electoral process. They were.

                  It’s not that I can’t conceive of the idea that a mix of long lines, attacks on early voting, and voter ID laws (all applied in a prejudicial fashion) could drive down the Dem vote to the point where it has an effect on the outcome. It’s certainly possible in theory. But Trump won 306 votes. He would need to have “stolen” 37 votes in the EC to not be the legitimate winner here. That’s not like 2000. It’s not even 2004. And because each state conducts a separate election, you need separate theories for how the vote was stolen in those elections to really be convincing. Citing Shelby doesn’t explain anything in the north. Citing voter ID or other changes in election procedure doesn’t explain PA or MI, which had no new vote suppression laws this year, for example. Most crucially you need something very different in states that flipped — especially by large margins — and in the absence of that mechanism, the claim fails and the most obvious answer is simply people voted Trump.

                • That would be a credible explanation if I were convinced that there were actually likely to be penalties for such a thing happening. I’m not convinced that there would be. We don’t even know for certain that the people who could have interfered with the election were necessarily American citizens. It wouldn’t be unthinkable that foreign spies could have planted malware; we’ve certainly destabilised our share of countries’ democracies in the past. For all we know, if malware was placed on voting machines, the people who planted it were long gone well before the election happened. As for dismissing the possibility of absentee ballot fraud, again, this falls apart when one considers that the people responsible for it may very well never have even entered the country.

                  It’s certainly possible that a coalition of Republican governors conspired to throw the election, but that’s not necessary to have happened for the election to have been thrown. It’s also not necessary for a large number of people to have been involved. If I understand the technology correctly, several districts’ voting machines were set up so ineptly that they could all be infected at a single checkpoint. That would not require a large conspiracy to accomplish.

                  I’m not saying the election results are definitely illegitimate, or even that they probably are. But people are making the exact opposite argument when we have substantial evidence that previous election results in this country may have already not been legitimate, without consequence. If anything, this makes the likelihood that people would be willing to repeat that course of action, because there were no adverse consequences the last time(s) that happened.

                  And, again, as far as I’m aware, several states in the north also had absurdly long lines, so the lack of explicit new voter suppression attempts isn’t necessarily proof that turnout wasn’t depressed there in other ways.

                  (I should also point out that Anonymous claimed credit for preventing the 2012 election for being stolen. While there has never been clear proof that this occurred, they have not made any announcement to that effect this time around that I am aware of.)

          • Taylor

            You accomplish this by having the people you want to enfranchise more (youth? females? non-whites?) move to rural states. That’s the way this country is set up.

            Maybe Obama was on to something with enabling lesbian couples to farm.

            • BartletForGallifrey

              I’ve suggested that we simply move a few thousand progressives from Oklahoma and Idaho to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in 2019.

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                Wouldn’t it be easier to allow conservatives to er… self-deport?

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  They don’t seem to be doing so, sadly.

                • los

                  Self-deport? (Self-depart?)

                  Moar Guns.

      • aturner339

        I just find the tacit acknowledgment that the worst fears whites have concerning democrats so not involve trade deals and trans bathrooms but a loss of political dominance interesting. We could have spent days arguing in a straightforward manner about the centrality of economic anxiety were it not for a joke which pointed out the greatest sensitivity in a single sentence.

        • UncleEbeneezer

          I just find the tacit acknowledgment that the worst fears whites have concerning democrats so not involve trade deals and trans bathrooms but a loss of political dominance interesting.

          And how! I got into it on FB the other day with an older, ex-hippie. I suggested that maybe it’s time the Dem party got serious about inclusivity in our priorities, start increasing minority representation at all levels, because it is not only a real way to differentiate us from the GOP, would have long-term advantages as our population becomes less and less White and is also the right thing to do from a moral standpoint considering how many times we have thrown our base under the bus in order to (maybe) win the next election. He was outraged. You would think I had demanded he sell his first born into slavery rather than suggesting that we start handing the keys over to marginalized people.

      • Snuff curry

        I don’t find jokes like this funny.

        Nobody asked, nobody cares, and your incessant sea-lioning has already been noted.

        • LeeEsq

          Ef off. .

          • Snuff curry

            Tone! Tone! Tone!

    • Ramon A. Clef

      Wouldn’t work. We’re all 1/16 Cherokee when it’s convenient.

      • LeeEsq

        You would also end up in a very big argument on whether Jews or Asian-Americans should count as white.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          Have either group ever not been counted as white for voting purposes?

          • LeeEsq

            The fantasy of removing White Americans for the voting roles for a certain time is based on the idea that people of color vote for the Democratic Party and liberal politicians more. After African-Americans, Jews are the second most loyal group in the United States to the Democratic Party. Seventy five percent of American Jews usually end voting Democratic. Thats more than Hispanic Americans. Asian Americans are going to be pissed if they find they are classified as white or of color depending upon political opportunity.

            • BartletForGallifrey

              After African-Americans, Jews are the second most loyal group in the United States to the Democratic Party.

              I’m well aware of that, thank you. But since the justification I was giving was not “who votes most Democratic” but “who has historically dealt with decades/centuries of not being allowed to vote,” that’s irrelevant.

          • Jameson Quinn

            Most people, including my analysis above, divide into 4 or 5 categories, with Asian-American (and not Hispanic) separate from White (and not Hispanic). Hispanic generally overrides either one.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        We’re all 1/16 Cherokee when it’s convenient.

        And until somebody Siouxs us…

        • BiloSagdiyev

          You think that’s Pawnee? I have no Ute for such silliness.

    • Davis

      I’ve always believed that, in general, blacks pay closer attention to politics because, for them, elections really do have consequences. This is why the conservative claim that blacks are on the Democratic plantation is doubly insulting, implying that they lack agency, too simple-minded to see where their interests lie.

      • los

        (This is an aging thread, but also I didn’t see it on Dec 4)

        conservative claim that blacks are on the Democratic plantation … too simple-minded to see where their interests lie

        The meme is braindead, since
        1. Democratic party is GOP’s primary political opposition.
        2. During recent decades, conservatives coalesced in, and dominate the GOP
        3. Conservatism is authoritarian by conservatism’s own (read between the lines) definition.
        4. Authoritarians inarguably pursue slavery.
        5. Plantations were the US historical “hotspot” of slavery.

        Only cognitively disabled persons would need any sort of explanation…

  • Breadbaker

    Both Theda Skocpol’s thesis that Trump had awesome GOTV efforts not from his campaign, but from evangelical groups, the NRA, etc. who cared far more for his positions on their issues than his personal morality, and the one that I and others have noted, that Hillary’s ads using Trump’s words worked just as much as Trump ads to the Trump-curious as Hillary ads to the truly perplexed are entirely consistent with this data. Very well presented (if I can understand statistics, it’s very well presented; I’m still not sure how I passed statistics in my sophomore year of college).

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      I have wondered how much of an impact Clinton talking about junking the Hyde Amendment might have had with evangelicals. I thought at the time that it was one of those things that are better done suddenly and silently rather than thrown out publicly for the mob to savage.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        Scalia dying and throwing SCOTUS potentially to the left may have also played a role (assist: McConnell). Evangelicals turned out in gigundo numbers for a man whose grasp of the Good Word is on par with Ken from A Fish Called Wanda’s grasp of Buddhism.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          *cough* Otto, not Ken.

  • dougok

    Great post (though I can’t understand a lot of it).

    Does the income measure control for ethnicity (as you say the age measure that precedes it does)? I’ve been frustrated by not being able to find out how poorer whites voted compared to wealthier ones. The exit polls I’ve seen address ethnicity and education but not ethnicity and income.

    • Jameson Quinn

      Yes, the income controls for ethnicity. There may be an income by ethnicity interaction, which would be the thing that answered your question; but if there is, I have reason to believe (but not be 100% sure) that it’s smaller than the interactions I included.

      One of the interactions I included was education by race. Here are those numbers:

      White, Non-Hispanic:Less than high school -0.12986294
      White, Non-Hispanic:High school -0.16964817
      White, Non-Hispanic:Some college 0.08779778
      White, Non-Hispanic:Bachelors degree or higher 0.16362562
      Black, Non-Hispanic:Less than high school -0.01798078
      Black, Non-Hispanic:High school 0.26092702
      Black, Non-Hispanic:Some college -0.05500804
      Black, Non-Hispanic:Bachelors degree or higher -0.10188864
      Other, Non-Hispanic:Less than high school 0.05459549
      Other, Non-Hispanic:High school -0.01016236
      Other, Non-Hispanic:Some college -0.06100430
      Other, Non-Hispanic:Bachelors degree or higher -0.01561443
      Hispanic:Less than high school 0.11717612
      Hispanic:High school -0.07257121
      Hispanic:Some college 0.05389639
      Hispanic:Bachelors degree or higher -0.08208433
      2+ Races, Non-Hispanic:Less than high school -0.01616213
      2+ Races, Non-Hispanic:High school -0.02181870
      2+ Races, Non-Hispanic:Some college -0.04964407
      2+ Races, Non-Hispanic:Bachelors degree or higher 0.06860471

      Basically, you should ignore any numbers less than about 0.06. (I don’t have standard errors right now, let me see if I get a rough estimate, I’ll come back with that)

      • ThrottleJockey

        Thanks Jameson for the in depth analysis…I’ve been hungry for a detailed statistical look at the race. I look forward to reading it in depth after the Steelers get through spanking the Giants.

        PS–What do these numbers here represent–correlations, slope, etc? And which way does the +/- work–Trump or Clinton?

        • Jameson Quinn

          + is Clinton. All of these are log odds ratios, as explained in the post.

      • Jameson Quinn

        Turns out the standard errors on those are around .05 for the White categories, and .07 for the other categories. Which means that only the White numbers and the Black:HS number are “significantly” (that is, believably) different from 0.

        • Jameson Quinn

          I guess that “reliably” would be a better jargon-free version of “significantly”. Problem is, “reliably” means something else in jargon.

      • Jameson Quinn

        If you really want all the interaction terms, here’s the other two:

        (Intercept)
        Appalachia:Under $24,999 0.053336549
        Appalachia:$25,000-$49,999 -0.162305771
        Appalachia:$50,000-$74,999 -0.021613550
        Appalachia:$75,000 or more 0.157109729
        NE:Under $24,999 0.130617476
        NE:$25,000-$49,999 0.051016315
        NE:$50,000-$74,999 0.021977290
        NE:$75,000 or more -0.210164766
        Rust:Under $24,999 0.132499755
        Rust:$25,000-$49,999 -0.171372736
        Rust:$50,000-$74,999 -0.328560686
        Rust:$75,000 or more 0.354847032
        South:Under $24,999 -0.036312061
        South:$25,000-$49,999 0.075344691
        South:$50,000-$74,999 0.094264408
        South:$75,000 or more -0.112794257
        SW:Under $24,999 -0.147453441
        SW:$25,000-$49,999 0.006608593
        SW:$50,000-$74,999 0.186063082
        SW:$75,000 or more -0.086028336
        WC:Under $24,999 -0.230691101
        WC:$25,000-$49,999 0.055385415
        WC:$50,000-$74,999 0.126735804
        WC:$75,000 or more 0.028511340
        West:Under $24,999 0.112107938
        West:$25,000-$49,999 0.139886562
        West:$50,000-$74,999 -0.079534884
        West:$75,000 or more -0.136766657

        $`PPGENDER:wtinc4`
        (Intercept)
        Male:Under $24,999 0.26502331
        Male:$25,000-$49,999 -0.30620986
        Male:$50,000-$74,999 0.13613065
        Male:$75,000 or more 0.07177076
        Female:Under $24,999 -0.04848754
        Female:$25,000-$49,999 0.22274439
        Female:$50,000-$74,999 -0.14639372
        Female:$75,000 or more -0.15291790

      • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

        So according to these stats, less educated whites (high school, less than high school) broke for Trump. And more educated whites (some college, bachelors) broke for Hillary. That seems to fit the narrative.

        But what about these stats:
        The only black group that voted Clinton was the averagely educated (high school). Both the over and the under, in terms of education, went Trump

        And Hispanics were even more bizarre. Less than high school and some college both voted for Trump, but high school degree and college degree both voted for Clinton.

        • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

          So I just saw this post:

          Turns out the standard errors on those are around .05 for the White categories, and .07 for the other categories. Which means that only the White numbers and the Black:HS number are “significantly” (that is, believably) different from 0.

          Explains why the numbers mentioned above seem odd — because it is all (except for the white, and that one random black, categories) total bullshit! Thanks for wasting everyone’s time. Looking forward to 2 and 3 of 3.

          • Jameson Quinn

            A couple of points.

            These interaction effects are on top of the base effects for each group. Since the base effects are that White voters were hugely for Clinton and Black voters were hugely for Trump, the ethnicity by education numbers are just slight modifications to that overall pattern.

            Second, while the errors are such that only the few categories mentioned are reliably different from 0 (that is, with a probability of over 95%*), the other ones are not “total bullshit”. It is a continuum; since most of these values are between 1 and 2 standard errors away from zero, their probability of being bullshit/dangerously wrong (that is, of having the wrong sign) is between 3% and 15%, which isn’t highly reliable but isn’t nothing either.

            *I’m saying that based on a frequentist p value of 0.5, which would usually be a horrible mistake. Frequentist p values do not mean that the null has a probability of 0.05, but that in a world where the null was true, seeing the data that you saw has a probability of 0.05; which is a subtly, but crucially, different statement. For instance, if a 20-year-old male has a really high prostate specific antigen level, they might have a really low p-value for being cancer-free, while simultaneously being more likely than not to be cancer-free simply because of their age. The reason I can use a p-value as a probability in this case is because the kind of hierarchical model that I used is not just a frequentist statistical tool, but it also corresponds to a certain not-unreasonable Bayesian prior; in other words, because the math I used avoids overfitting to the data.

            If you don’t understand any of that, don’t worry about it.

            • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

              If you don’t understand any of that, don’t worry about it.

              Touche! I went over the top in calling your post “total bullshit” and you responded in kind. But we still have the fact that your stats are off-the-charts weird. How do we explain the fact that blacks and hispanics voted in the bizarro world way that they did? The easiest answer is this:

              Which means that only the White numbers and the Black:HS number are “significantly” (that is, believably) different from 0.

              • (Don’t) Say My Nym

                Again, you have to add the interaction numbers on top of the base numbers for ethnicity alone. Black, bachelor’s would mean 2.07 for Black, and .43 for bachelor’s, before you subtract the possible .1 for the interaction. The interaction is dwarfed.

  • Dave W.

    I assume that either the signs or the directions of the log-odds ratios are reversed, so that a 2.07 for Black, non-hispanic voters means they are 7.9 times *more* likely to vote for Clinton than a random voter, and a difference of 3.23 between the log-odds of Black, non-hispanic vs. White, non-hispanic means that a Black voter is 25.27 times more likely to vote for Clinton than an equivalent White voter. That last seems a bit extreme (since Clinton’s white support was higher than 28%), but maybe her black support was enough higher than 91% that it works out.

    • Jameson Quinn

      Note also that the numbers are for differences when all other dimensions are equal. For instance, if a lot of Blacks were in the $25K-$50K income group, an otherwise Trump-y demographic, that would counterbalance the pure racial effect somewhat.

  • Karen24

    Off-topic, but the Corps of Engineers denied the easement for DAPL so it has to be re-routed, at least per CNN.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      Sadly, a victory that lasts until Jan 20 probably.

  • econoclast

    Is the data for this public? I’d be interested in taking a look for myself.

    • Jameson Quinn

      I think we’re going to let out all the data that it would take to reproduce this analysis, except the residuals part. But that’s not definite yet. We certainly have to anonymize the data some before we could let it out, because exact ages, devices, household members by age, and zip codes would be too revealing of exact people.

  • sonamib

    The notable finding there was that “my family is falling behind financially” had only about 60% of the correlation with insufficiently-Trumped-up predictions as “the US economy is going in the wrong direction”. So yes, “economic anxiety” does correlate with Trump support above and beyond what you’d expect from the demographic factors already listed, but that’s more true when such “anxiety” is generalized than when it’s personal.

    Unless I’m reading this wrong, you didn’t provide the size of this correlation (or the corresponding log-odds ratio). I’m curious to know what is the size of this pure “economic anxiety” effect, so I can compare it to the others.

    Edit: Great post, btw.

    • Jameson Quinn

      This is a correlation with a residual, so it’s not in the same units as the log odds ratio. I really don’t know what kind scale it implies, except by comparison with other residual correlations. I guess you could think in terms of r²… so, fine, let me dig up the numbers.

      • Jameson Quinn

        Oh wow. The multiple r² for GETAHEAD is 0.015; for NATECON, it’s 0.15, ten times higher.

        I think that settles that. Feelings about personal economic situation isn’t really a big factor, once you control for income category and education category and the rest.

        • sonamib

          Thanks for digging up the numbers. If I’m understanding correctly,

          GETAHEAD == “my family is falling behind financially”

          and

          NATECON = “the US economy is going in the wrong direction”*

          right?

          So the personal economic anxiety is pretty much swamped by a more abstract concern about the national economy. This might be a hint that for a lot of the pollees, this economic concern is code for something else. Or it might be a hint that even economically secure people don’t feel like they’ll stay that way forever.

          • Jameson Quinn

            Right.

          • sonamib

            As I mentioned in another thread, my Internet connection is godawful at the moment, so don’t be surprised if I take tens of minutes to reply with a short comment, or if I don’t reply at all in the middle of a conversation (it’s probably because I closed my web browser in frustration).

          • MilitantlyAardvark

            Could it be that people transfer personal economic anxiety to national economic anxiety as a way of avoiding personal responsibility for “failure” in their own eyes? If “the system is rigged”, so to speak, you can’t be blamed for not getting ahead as the Protestant-Capitalist Work Ethnic says you should.

          • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

            Apparently, early analysis of Trump voters may back this up; it showed they earned more on the median than HRC voters, but lived more in economically declining areas.

            • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

              I saw an article that said exactly this. A large chunk of Trump voters aren’t, themselves, hurting economically, but they were likely to know a lot of people who where, and voted accordingly.

              • Jackov

                At least for the post-industrial Midwest there are the routine labor outsourcing/automation and the economic distress/foreclosure arguments floating around.

                It might also tie into the polarization of whites (or at least rural whites) hypothesis. Some limited previous research suggested higher income whites vote more Republican than their income would suggest when they live near pockets of poverty. Most of the counties where this “overvote” happened were in the rural South, Texas or near a reservation. The anecdotal evidence after the KY gubernatorial election kinda pointed in this direction as well.

                In 2012, there were a ton of counties in the deep South, TX, the Plains and Mountain West where Obama received less than 20% of the white vote but only seven counties like that across PA, OH, MI, IN, IL (5/7) IA, WI and MN. While I have not seen a map for this year, we do know many 60-40 counties moved to 70+ so I would not be surprised if the total of <20% counties doubled across the BigTen states.

                • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

                  Some limited previous research suggested higher income whites vote more Republican than their income would suggest when they live near pockets of poverty.

                  I thought being rich and white was a suggestion that you would vote Republican?

            • dougok

              Trump voters earn more, but they are also whiter, yes? Do poor whites vote for Trump less than middle class whites do?

              • sonamib

                Note : here Jameson Quinn tried to isolate as much as possible each effect from the other ones. So the “economic anxiety” effect presented is already controlled for race, gender, etc. Suppose you already know that someone is a white male. How much more likely is he to vote for Trump if you now learn that this white male is also economically anxious? That’s the question the figures given above are answering.

                • Jameson Quinn

                  Right. Even more to the point: suppose you already knew that somebody was a white male, in the $50K-75K income bracket, with some college but no Bachelors, in a Great Lakes/ “Rust Belt” state, in the 25-44 age bracket.

                  Also, the residuals analysis is done using a linear model, which has demonstrably false distributional assumptions. That’s because my computer is already a bit slow to do the generalized linear model that deals with the original 6 dimensions and 3 interactions; adding every possible extra dimension on top of that would not be feasible. So the numbers I give for GETAHEAD and NATECON are kind of quick-and-dirty estimates; suggestive and interesting, but not to be relied upon too strongly.

                • sonamib

                  Thanks for the further clarifications.

          • Richard Gadsden

            This goes with the anecdotal evidence that the strongest Trump supporters are the relatively well-off in communities that are doing very badly.

            If all your neighbours are struggling, but you aren’t, then you probably voted Trump.

            My interpretation is that people who aren’t personally reliant on the welfare state – who aren’t claiming SS-disability, or Medicaid, or using subsidies on the PPACA exchanges – but who have heard the Trump rhetoric about bringing back jobs; they don’t personally have anything to lose from the GOP program, but they believe that Trump will help their neighbours.

  • Jameson Quinn

    If somebody who knows more about what happened with voting in MS could explain it to me, I’d appreciate it.

    • mbxxxxxx

      I have no expertise, per se, but I do live in Mississippi and was struck by the low turnout here relative to 2012. I looked at county level data and it looks to me like a lot of black folks simply stayed home. In my county, Hinds, HRC won 3 to 1. Obama won Hinds Co. 4 to 1. Trump’s numbers were up some relative to Romney, but not as much as HRC’s were down relative to Obama.

      I don’t believe it had much to do with intentional suppression, we do have a voter ID law but my sense is that it has not been a big problem. I do not believe that there were ever any non-liberal white Obama voters in MS — nor do I believe there were a lot of MS liberal white Obama voters who either stayed home or voted Trump. It looks to me like the black vote was depressed by complacency or just a lack of enthusiasm. Our off year elections have abysmal turnout — sometimes below 30%. HRC didn’t, maybe couldn’t, have the juice Obama had.

      • Jameson Quinn

        That makes sense, thanks.

        Still, it’s interesting that MS stands out. I guess maybe in NC, SC, and Georgia, there was a strong GOTV operation, and in AL there just wasn’t as much latent potential for Clinton, so MS is the exception there.

      • sharonT

        I did read about Alabama closing a number of rural DMV offices after they passed a voter ID bill in 2015. Did the same thing happen in Mississippi?

  • CrunchyFrog

    Thank you for this. I read this post and have started thinking on it, but will wait for all three of your posts before writing anything substantive.

  • Gee Suss

    This is awesome. One question: NC looks like it fit your Clinton model. Wouldn’t you expect their vote suppression efforts to have had an impact?

    • Jameson Quinn

      Guess that it wasn’t a much bigger deal on net than in 2012. Perhaps people organized enough to overcome it.

  • Gee Suss

    Perhaps a nitpick. In the section I quote below, you’re using “liberal” and “conservative” as proxies Clinton and Trump, respectively, correct? I think you’re overstating regions being more liberal or conservative based on presidential pick. You may be right, but if I’m reading the evidence right, you really should be saying that (for example) Appalachia was slightly less likely to vote for Trump.

    By this measure, “Appalachia” (really, the region where a plurality report “American” ancestry, including AR and OK) is actually not as conservative as the South (a relative difference of 0.32 log-odds units) or the rust belt and “West” (relatively, 0,26 log-odds units). Meanwhile, the Southwest and West Coast are more liberal than you’d expect (by .39 and .25 units relative to Appalachia, respectively). Finally, the Northeast stood alongside Appalachia, with relatively little effect of region as opposed to demographics; though of course these two are very different in their leanings, that can mostly be explained by demographics alone.

    • Jameson Quinn

      Good point.

  • NewishLawyer

    Are you implying that the Democrats could win MS but for voter suppression? I think of MS as being as red as California or Mass is blue and that the chance for the Democratic Party to win a state-wide election is a snowball’s chance in hell.

    I can see how voter oppression/suppression can effect races in sates like Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina but MS seems too red.

    Another thing that has been bugging me about a lot of the post-election analysis is that it seems to treat HRC and the Dems as if they lost in a landslide instead of losing by razor-thin margins in three states. It seems that no matter who you read, the map is being treated like Reagan’s stomping on Mondale in 1984 and the Democratic Party needs to commit to ultra-change. Shouldn’t a razor thin defeat imply some tinkering around the edges should be sufficient for better performance?

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      Shouldn’t a razor thin defeat imply some tinkering around the edges should be sufficient for better performance?

      What if razor thin defeats are the best that the Clinton/DNC model of winning elections can offer?

      • NewishLawyer

        Fair point but I also think there is a danger in over-analyzing and over-reacting/correcting.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          One thing that troubles me about the post-defeat analysis is the obvious eagerness by some, at least, of the Clinton diehards to rule out any attempts at rethinking how the Democrats go about building their coalition and winning votes. A case in point is the disgraceful attacks on Bernie Sanders when he suggested that we need to take economic issues more seriously and make a better case to the voters, rather than simply finding candidates who fit the “right” identity politics profile and assuming that this will do all the necessary work. Somehow that was spun into Sanders demanding that we fling minority voters overboard and try and find our own Steve Bannon – and yet Bernie had said nothing of the kind. I don’t know whether Sanders has identified the right approach or not – but I do believe that the Democrats need desperately to listen to a full range of voices before they set their course.

          The case for a radical analysis of what Democrats are selling and how they are selling it isn’t just necessitated by the latest defeat. It’s necessitated by the disastrous loss of political power at every level of the system. State houses, House seats, Senate seats – the party has lost all of those in alarming numbers over the last 8 years. How can staying the course with minor tweaks possibly be the smart play here?

          • NewishLawyer

            That’s true.

            I am an inbetweener on the identity politics vs. Bernie Sanders way issue. I do think that the Sanders faction does often come across as wanting to throw racial identities out the window. On the other hand, I am getting increasingly dismayed about how lock step the identity politics faction can be and how the slightest misstep or disagreement gets heaps of scorn but on a person.

            Most of the Bernie Sanders die-hards I know are not members of the working class. They are often a kind of private-school radical that I find rather off-putting at times.

            All of political infighting is becoming more and more like the Battle of the Somme to me and it makes me want to just check out. I see a lot of net political fighting (whether right v. left or left v. left) as being screaming matches of “I am right. You are wrong. What? You only agree with 87 percent of what I am saying! You are a shitbag traitor!!!”)

            There is also something about the Internet which causes people to interpret all statements in maximum bad faith which is disheartening.

            • MilitantlyAardvark

              I do agree that there are Sanders “supporters” who do more to harm his cause than anything the GOP could dream up. Likewise, there are the Clintonistas who think that she was a great candidate and the voters are all stupid, mean racists for rejecting her. Neither of those factions are going to help us find a way forward, because they are more interested in “winning” the past, regardless of the cost to the future.

              I think some of the responsibility for the toxicity of these screaming matches falls on the people hosting them. If you run a blog, surely it’s possible to set some standards on this without putting free speech to the sword.

              That said, I doubt that the screamers really want to debate policy or rhetoric. Some people just want a fight online to feel better about themselves for whatever reason. It’s much easier to yell “Traitor!” at someone who is basically an ally than to admit that maybe, just maybe a decent number of the voters had reasonably cogent motivations for rejecting our party and our candidate.

              Until we take a hard look at ourselves and our party, we aren’t going to go anywhere in the long term against a resurgent hard right, even if they do screw up in the short term, as I strongly expect them to do.

              • LeeEsq

                Seconded.

              • I think this is where we bring out the Judean People’s Front quotes. Sadly, still as relevant as they’ve ever been.

          • LeeEsq

            This isn’t really inconsistent with worrying about over-analyzing the election though. Based on how Hillary Clinton lost to Trump, razor thin losses in three key electoral states and the fact that the Democratic Party picked up Senate and House Seats, the reason that Hillary Clinton loss was that she was just not the politician you would nominate to oppose Trump. It didn’t even need to be about gender. Maybe Elizabeth Warren or Kristen Gillibrand could have won.

            • Jameson Quinn

              Problem is, both things can be true. Clinton opposition and Trump support clearly drew energy from sexism and racism, but that doesn’t mean those voters would never have voted for a woman or for a Black person. In fact, some of them already had voted for a Black person.

              • LeeEsq

                True.

            • MilitantlyAardvark

              Yes, but what about the ongoing disaster at state and local level? How much worse must it get before we conclude that we’ve been flying blind in the wrong direction? We shouldn’t let the small margins in the latest debacle distract us from the brutal reality of Democratic defeats throughout America. Until we find a way to address those, winning the White House will only enable us to cling on to the status quo – which isn’t going to get us anywhere except another disaster like Trump in short order.

              • LeeEsq

                My basic conclusion on the ongoing disaster of state and local level politics is that many young liberals hate electoral politics and think it makes them dumb and icky. The preference is either for wonky policy work , protest politics, or working for an NGO. Those allow for greater purity. Actually running for office means compromise and having to deal with a lot of boring and unsexy issues like whether you should line main street with maple or oak trees. Baby boomers also seem to have a greater old over the Democratic Party than the Republican Party and aren’t letting go.

                • MilitantlyAardvark

                  So you think it’s hopeless and we can’t win?

                  (I must admit that I find the idea of choosing trees to line the streets rather congenial, but I am obviously just a freak.)

                • LeeEsq

                  I don’t think its hopeless but I think that liberals and leftists are going to have to start getting a lot more comfortable with electoral politics over protest politics or wonky think-tank work. I have no idea how your going to get young or middle aged liberals to run for local and state offices though. The Democratic Party needs to be better organized and maybe even go back to some machine politics.

                • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

                  Local elections aren’t sexy, in that “vote for the first black / woman President” way. In a more charitable interpretation, the time ha$$le & energy cost for a lot of people to vote is significant, so the typical
                  municipal / school board election doesn’t always justify turning out.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Local elections aren’t sexy, in that “vote for the first black / woman President” way.

                  It turns out the latter is not only not sexy but an actual turnoff to some parts of the Left.

                • LeeEsq

                  The issues at the state and local level tend to be a lot less sexy to. On the Federal level you get to argue about rights, economic inequality, peace, and war. These things exist on the state and local level but it never seems to be quite the same as fighting nationally or internationally for all sides. I suspect one reason why many very technocratic issues like transportation infrastructure get cast in social justice terms is to make them more sexy.

                • Ronan

                  I don’t really get what your evidence for “liberals are too eager to go into ,NGOs, policy etc” and not work at the state level is? Is there a difficulty with recruiting candidates and staff at that level ? Or is it the quality?

                • Ellie1789

                  Yes, there does seem to be a real problem recruiting good Democratic candidates, at least in the thinly populated parts of the red/purple Midwest/West. It is a source of constant lamentation among Dems in my state.

                  No idea if there’s any serious study of this, but I’ve always figured that social geography plays a role here, as it does nationally. That is, energetic, liberally-inclined young people tend to leave (often conservative) rural areas for the big city where they can find the economic opportunities and social and cultural amenities they want. In thinly populated states, this can mean leaving small towns for the handful of in-state urban centers, concentrating all the potential D candidates in a couple of jurisdictions where you get bottlenecks in the candidate pipeline (especially with older party cadres unwilling to step aside, as LeeEsq suggests) and abandoning the counties to the wing-nuts. Or it can mean leaving the state for a regional/national metropolis (NYC, Chicago, SF, etc), taking them out of the local and state-level pipeline altogether.

                  In either case, the end result is that there are few localities where Dems have a realistic chance of winning office and therefore can attract quality candidates to run. After all, who wants to pour their political energies into getting their a$$ handed to them over and over again by the anti-abortion, pro-gun crowd? Presumably most people who would be good candidates are also good enough to prefer doing something else with their time! But in those places where Dems can expect to win, there aren’t enough offices to go around. So unless state parties are actively working to develop candidates outside the usual pipeline, whether through self-imposed term limits for local office-holders or some mechanism other than actually holding office, the pool gets very shallow, very fast.

                • LeeEsq

                  The places where Democratic and Democratic leaning voters tend to live also have fewer elected positions because of higher population densities. A lot of the work gets done by civil servants instead. This creates fewer entry level elected positions that could lead to higher level elected positions.

                • Ronan

                  Thanks ellie. Yeah, I could see how that’s a problem, but it seems a broader one than Lee’s “everyone wants to do something sexy like ngo/policy work or activism.”
                  There’s probably going to be problems for the dems with younger, more educated, more liberal people congregating in urban areas(hell, Lee is a new York based lawyer, not a small town peanut farmer running for local council)but the problem seems more deepseated than Lee’s moralizing.

    • BartletForGallifrey

      My understanding of Mississippi is that it would be purple if felon disenfranchisement were off the table, and will eventually enpurplen anyway due to demographics.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        I , for one, welcome the enpurplening!

    • Jameson Quinn

      I’m not saying that MS would flip at the presidential level if it weren’t for voter suppression; just that it seems to have had notably more voter suppression in 2016 than in 2012, and that bears looking at for it’s own sake.

      • los

        Roughly the same reason to support auditing all of the “discrepancy” states.

    • Tracy Lightcap

      I’m going to reply to a lot of what’s above by making pair of observations.

      First, it’s hard to get people to change an election strategy that won. Remember, Clinton won the election; Trump won the electoral college. The difference isn’t in the total number of votes, as Jameson points out, but in their distribution, a very different question. Clinton actually did pretty well and, if the Comey letter hadn’t been released, probably would have won, albeit closely.

      Second, a lot of this analysis is off, imho. The Democrats are losing in rural areas because of an institutional deficit, not a lack of policy emphasis. A few years back in Diminished Democracy, Theda Skocpol identified the problem. The old civic organizations and unions that held a lot of Americans together and gave the Democrats an even chance in organizational terms in rural areas are now gone. The only organizations with political reach left are the churches and, at least in rural areas in the South and Mountain West, these tend to be good organizing venues for the Republicans. This is partially counteracted by the increasing numbers of urban, non-secular, educated voters, but only partially. You can’t change this dynamic by changing your policy emphasis; it will take a long time to switch it around. Getting the unions back on their feet – the biggest mistake of the Obama administration was not trying to do this – is the first step.

      Finally, thanks to Jameson for this analysis. I look forward to reading the subsequent posts.

    • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

      Shouldn’t a razor thin defeat imply some tinkering around the edges should be sufficient for better performance?

      Five states that voted Obama were flipped to Trump. And three groups of voters caused that:
      1. People who voted for Obama, but couldn’t be arsed to vote for Clinton.
      2. People who couldn’t be couldn’t be arsed to vote for Romney, but did show up to pull the lever for Trump.
      3. Actual swing voters. People who voted for Obama in 2012 and then voted for Trump in 2016.
      This tiny group of people is all that actually matters.

      • Six.

        FL, IA, OH, PA, MI, WI

        • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

          Oops. I forgot about Iowa. It’s kind of surprising that they are a swing state actually.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        Are you saying only group 3 matters?

        • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

          No, of course not. But looking back at my post, I can see how you read it that way. If we want the Dem candidate to win in 2020, we need to energize 1, suppress 2, and flip 3. All of them make up the “tiny group” of voters that I was referencing.

          • BartletForGallifrey

            :thumbsup:

      • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

        And an important point to add — you only need to flip 2 or 3 of the six swing states to flip the electoral college, so the group of voters we are talking about is even tinier than it seems.

  • sonamib

    Last remark :

    First off, you can see the “pink” states, the ones I classed as “West” (AK, ID, IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY), are all above the rest; for some reason, people in those states were particularly reluctant to reveal their Trump preferences to pollsters. You can see in the earlier graph that the pink states fall below the rest, meaning that people there seemed to have claimed to support Clinton when they didn’t

    I’m really not seeing this in the two plots; in fact, I’m seeing the opposite. In pink states, the actual Trump vote is less than the predicted Trump vote, and the actual Clinton vote is more than the predicted one. Are you sure you didn’t mix up the plots, or the axis labels?

    Or maybe I’m completely blind, tbf I only see a modest tendency in either direction. In the first plot (Clinton) I see AK and MN “up there” while in the second one (Trump) I see KS, MN and ID “down there”.

    [And I wanted to congratulate you once again for this comprehensive analysis of the election. This was a very interesting read.]

    • Jameson Quinn

      Oh crap. I posted the wrong graphs; the one after reweighting. I had the right graphs in the post as I was editing it, but then when Scott asked me to resend the image files, I grabbed the wrong ones.

      I’ve emailed Scott to ask him to fix this but if he’s not around, maybe I should repost this on Medium or something. I’ll work it out…

      OK, here.

      • sonamib

        Ok, best of luck in fixing this!

        • Jameson Quinn

          Good catch, by the way.

          The correct graphs are at the link just above.

          • sonamib

            Just checked them, and the pink state trend you describe in the OP is crystal clear there. Glad to know I’m not blind!

            • Jameson Quinn

              Thanks, Scott, for fixing this!

            • los

              Aren’t most of these…
              AK, ID, KS, MO, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY red?
              with only…
              IA, purple?
              MN, blue?

              Were the Lips-Sealed people in redstates pretending to be nevertrumpers?

  • NewishLawyer

    Semi-OT, Rortybomb goes back and looks at Trump’s speeches to determine why we won by just enough:

    https://medium.com/@rortybomb/learning-from-trump-in-retrospect-dce431b23ed0#.7g0bj8ase

    It’s the first and most consistent thing he discusses. It’s implied it is a specific kind of job, a white, male, bread-winning manufacturing job. He doesn’t discuss “the economy” and how it could work for all, he doesn’t talk about inequality, he doesn’t talk about automation and service work; he makes it clear you will have a high-paying manufacturing job when he is President.

    So what? Much of the Democratic platform is based on pushing through the fact that this political economy was anachronistic decades ago. As Daniel Rodgers writes, “Many of the economic planks in the Democratic Party program were not pitched” for Trump voters, who sensed the platform reflected that “that the culture wars had finally come home.” Family leave, child allowances, and universal pre-K acknowledge that we need to look beyond male breadwinners as the core economic unit. Fight for $15 is about turning service work into a decent, secure, working-class life. Efforts to try and disentangle commodities like health-care and retirement from employment run into the hope that employment would be sufficient to provide them. Voters won’t want to hear this.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      That’s an extremely interesting analysis – as one would expect from Mike Konczal. Thank you!

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      I recall the NAFTA debate and Gore (?) explicitly making the point that America was inevitably transitioning from manufacturing to a service economy.

      My concept of masculinity/ adulthood / parenthood is that if your lose your job, you just sort of buck
      up and pay the goddamn bills / feed the mouths however it takes. A lot of guys seem like they have to pay the bills the *right* way, otherwise their worth is in question.

      • Linnaeus

        A lot of guys seem like they have to pay the bills the *right* way, otherwise their worth is in question.

        There’s probably some of that going on, but I don’t think that explains the whole phenomenon.

        It’s within living memory for a lot of folks when one could do an industrial job (broadly speaking) and support a family and even a bit more on those wages. But those jobs are less and less available now, and what’s replaced them in many areas of the country are jobs that pay much less. I agree that one has to do what one can, but our transition to the brave new service economy has not really been paid for. We’ve decided that if you can’t “adapt”, well that’s just your fault for living the wrong area/being too stupid to learn something new/being too proud/etc. In that light, I can’t always blame someone for preferring the devil they know (employment-wise) over the devil they don’t know.

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          I do recall the Clinton administration being very blase about those displaced by NAFTA – “we’ll just retrain them!”

          That said, when Republicans gripe about people on welfare/ Medicaid/ disability feeling “entitled” to something, I just want to laugh.

      • LeeEsq

        America transitioned into a service economy long before NAFTA. Even at the height of American manufacturing, more people worked in services according to an Yglesias article from years ago. I think that many men believe that they have to pay the bills with a properly masculine job because of a combination of entrenched gender stereotypes that sometimes get enforced by people who don’t mean to and the fact that many men really like producing physical things or working in some sort craft or strength driver job rather than being a nurse or elementary school teacher.

        • Linnaeus

          I’m aware of when the transition began. Furthermore, I don’t deny that there are some (assumed) gender norms at work here. But even if every economically displaced man is entirely open to whatever job is available, that does not mean that “just become a nurse or teacher” is a solution to the problem. The person in question may not have the skills necessary to do the new jobs (and retraining has been woefully inadequate), the jobs into which they are supposed to transition may not be sufficiently available in their communities, those jobs may not pay very well, etc.

          • This is a major reason the Democrats have been proposing making retraining for new jobs more affordable for people whose jobs have been obsoleted by technological advancement. Since the media preferred to talk about emails, this was, of course, never covered.

            • Linnaeus

              Oh, I agree that the media coverage (or, rather, the lack thereof) was bullshit. More affordable retraining is a step in the right direction. It should have started sooner, and more is needed, but it’s way better than what the Republicans want to do, and the poor media coverage of that was a travesty.

      • NewishLawyer

        Also to Lennaeus.

        I think it is a bit of both. Manufacturing/Masculine jobs are being replaced at a fast clip by jobs/sectors that have traditionally employed women. These range from service/retail/customer call center to stuff like home health aide, teacher’s aide, or being a nurses’ aide. A lot of these jobs don’t pay as highly as Linnaeus noted.

        But I also think there is a bit of a culture war element. A lot of guys don’t want to do that kind of work because it is not considered manly and it could also be true that a lot of women in red-states or with conservative-leanings don’t want their husbands to take those jobs either.

        The people I’ve seen argue that men should be fine taking “women’s work” are usually college-educated liberals with professional jobs who are almost certainly not dating men in pink economy jobs because of assortative mating. You don’t see many female professionals with husbands in pink-economy jobs. At best you might see a lawyer or doctor married to a professor.

  • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

    I’ll say some more about how Mr. P works in the “below-the-fold” part of this post.

    Just FYI — you actually wrote this well below-the-fold. It may be some kind of issue with the website.

    • Jameson Quinn

      yeah. No big deal.

  • Gary K

    Black people are the only largely sane ones in the country

    Dave Chappelle was proving this in his post-election SNL monologue.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      That monologue’s Walking Dead skit made me realize how much we could have used Silky Johnston in the past year.

  • Rusty SpikeFist

    Focusing on Trump’s bigotry seems to have been a strategic mistake. The data only tells me what did happen, not what might have happened, but it seems to me to suggest that the demographics that could be convinced by this argument already were, and that this argument didn’t make big inroads with Republican-leaners including women and pretty much any ethnic/racial category besides African-Americans.

    duhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, ya think?

  • Linnaeus

    I actually was able to understand most of this post, which is more to Jameson Quinn’s credit as a writer than to my intelligence, and it makes me regret that a statistics course was not required for my major (in science, even!).

  • Drexciya

    BartletForGallifrey and CassandraLeo. Not going to say anything to get y’all into another debate, but just know I’m smiling at my fellow comrades. The only other person here I’ve seen seriously suggest that is shah8, I think.

    I would only reiterate, for the record, that there’s a restitutional basis for a kind of super-suffrage set aside for demographics that have been historically denied it for long stretches. Vaunted liberal principles remain relatively dishonest about the effects of unchecked concentration of the ability to determine the political trajectory of the country and when combined with how conditional, limited and dangerous suffrage has historically been for certain demographics, just giving us “one man, one vote” after some men have had centuries to determine the institutional arrangement of the country/apportionment of its taxes doesn’t actually yield equality. Any proposal for reparations should sincerely consider the need for the expansion of political power, to compensate for the political power that was denied for centuries and to challenge the systemic logic that makes black voters easily disenfranchised and just as easily disregarded while subjecting us to herrenvolk democracies in the south (and soon, in much of the rest of America). I’m darkly fascinated by an understanding of “equality” that presents that necessity as a moral and political non-starter.

    • Thanks; it’s appreciated for sure.

    • BartletForGallifrey

      This is maybe the best compliment I’ve ever gotten.

      Funnily enough, I started off saying that as a joking/ironic thing, but the more people challenged it and others popped in, the more I think maybe not. No amount of money and affirmative action is going to make up for slavery and Jim Crow. Political power really should be a part of the package. Maybe quotas in legislatures?

      • Yes, all of this. I, too, started thinking of it mostly jokingly – after 538 posted that “how the election would turn out if only women voted” graphic, mostly. But the more that I’ve thought about it, the more seriously I’ve begun considering it, particularly after the election. And it’s not just limited to America, either. Brexit was also a case of the old screwing over the young, and people who didn’t even know immigrants screwing over people who did. I’ve long held that the people who will be most affected by decisions should get the largest say in them – it’s one of the reasons anarchism has appealed to me for as long as it has. But our electoral system doesn’t reflect that at all (much less our economic system, which is, of course, even worse about it). I’ve given up expecting anarchy to occur in my lifetime, but I certainly think it’s time to have a long and serious conversation about how decisions are made in this country, because what we have now has failed an awful lot of people in some extremely alarming ways, and they’re getting more alarming every day.

      • Ellie1789

        This is interesting. Legislative quotas seem more promising than “restitutional super-suffrage.” Despite the appeal of the latter on basic fairness grounds, the mechanisms that would be required to implement it are scary. Basically, there would have to be some way to identify those who qualify for such super-suffrage and that opens the potential for some very bad things.

        The problem with legislative quotas, though, is that the only examples I can think of are in parliamentary systems that have some degree of proportional representation. This makes it possible to apportion representation in variable ways that winner-take-all and single-member systems can’t accommodate.

        So the 2000 French gender parity law requires parties have equal numbers of male and female candidates on electoral lists, with balance throughout the list to prevent women being relegated to the bottom. It’s been of mixed success; female representation has gone up but is still far from 50% because parties who don’t want to fully comply just pay the fines.

        Despite its flaws (enforcement could be better), a system like this that focuses on representation among candidates, rather than among voters, might avoid some of the worst problems that seem to come out of quota systems that reserve a given number or proportion of seats for different groups.

        Ethnic quotas were a common feature of colonial legislatures, such as they were, usually in the form of separate electoral colleges and reserved seats that were designed to limit the political influence of the colonized majority. (I think someone already pointed this out above.) Ethnic quotas also turn up in post-conflict regimes, such as Bosnia or post-invasion Iran, which has ethno-sectarian quotas as well as gender quotas. Belgium has them too for the three linguistic groups. In a number of these cases, reserving seats has actually reinforced ethnic stratification and paralyzed government.

        • Ronan

          Yeah, this seems to be a problem in a number of the consociational pol systems set up in ethnically divided post conflict countries, that they reinforce divisions and paralyze politics.I actually have more sympathy for them, from what I know, as they apoear to me to primarily just reflect political reality and societal divisions
          , and work quite well considering the alternatives.

      • Ronan

        Right,we’ve a lot of examples of how divided countries develop power sharing political institutions, or overrepresent minority groups in the political system so they have disproportionate influence . I think people were reacting to the mechanism you both were looking to do it through (making each individual vote More or less important than another) I think there are probably other institutional changes that would have got the same results with less fight back.

        • Ronan

          Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy your (bart and Leo’s) arguments above. I got there was a bit of hyperbole for effect.

        • sonamib

          Right,we’ve a lot of examples of how divided countries develop power sharing political institutions, or overrepresent minority groups in the political system so they have disproportionate influence .

          I resemble that remark ;)

        • BartletForGallifrey

          I think there are probably other institutional changes that would have got the same results with less fight back.

          I would have gone with “hysteria,” but you’re clearly a more charitable person than I.

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