Sunday, February 28, 2016

Democrats Reject Progressivism

Yesterday's South Carolina Democratic primary results were shocking to me. I didn't expect Bernie Sanders to win, but the final tally, 74%-26%, is roughly what a some dude candidate can get in any one-on-one primary. People will vote for any name if they don't like the other candidate. I expected Clinton to win 60%-40%, not 74%-26%.

Bernie Sanders lacks charisma or speaking ability. He doesn't personally bring anything to the election other than a progressive platform that could be cut from the dailykos. Bernie Sanders is a generic progressive. You could put any name on the ballot. People are voting on his policies. And Democrats didn't vote for his policies yesterday. Some people will counter that the electorate was heavily African-American and they preferred Hillary Clinton. That's true, but African-Americans are an important part of the Democratic coalition. If they can't be convinced that voting for the progressive is a good idea then it's not a big sell to the Democratic party as a whole.

Certainly Hillary Clinton is running on her goodwill with Democrats. If the alternative to Sanders weren't well known and beloved by the Democratic party Sanders would've done better. But if you're starting a revolution then shouldn't some of those people choose it over the candidate who represents the Democratic party's moderate past. If people don't show up to your revolution then America isn't ready for it.

Barack Obama was the alternative to Hillary Clinton eight years ago and he won the Democratic primaries. Obama was no Sanders. His policy positions weren't all that different than Democrats since Bill Clinton and most of his plans weren't radically different than Clinton's were. In some cases he was to the right of her in the election. Obama won because he was charismatic and a great speaker who inspired the left to dream about the oceans receding and a better future. That a candidate can win based on his own charisma, as opposed to his policies, is nothing new. And Donald Trump is showing that this year.

We'll see more of how Sanders' message resonates on Tuesday and whether he can play outside of progressive White urban areas and college towns. If it doesn't, then even the Democratic party isn't ready for Sanders' progressivism.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Texas is Huge on Super Tuesday

There are a lot of states up for grabs for Republicans on Super Tuesday, but Texas is the prize. Texas has 155 delegates. The rules state that the second place finisher in each of the 36 congressional districts gets a delegate. So a candidate could finish 2nd in every district and take home 36 delegates. Minnesota has only 38 available total. Almost every other state has less than 50.

If a candidate clears 50% statewide or in a congressional district they win all the delegates. A candidate must clear 20% in a congressional district or statewide to get delegates. It seems unlikely that anyone will get 50% statewide, but candidates could get 50% in a district. The amount of delegates available means that the three top candidates must compete in Texas. Rubio might do better in the suburbs and that Cruz might romp in rural districts. One thing to keep in mind, however, that each district has 3 delegates, regardless of the number of Republicans in the district. Thus high density Black and Hispanic Democratic districts have the same number available as heavily Republican districts. While most of these Black and Hispanic voters will vote in the Democratic primary some are Republicans. If Rubio and Cruz aren't taking the delegates in these districts they should just pack it in.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Trump Voter Explained

The Trump voter isn't who you think he or she is. They’re hard to peg. There are, of course, the single issue immigration voters. Outside of them Trump’s voters don't subscribe to a specific ideology on almost any issue. Some are Republicans. Others are Democrats and independents. Many don’t understand what’s right and left and don't want to. They want a President who’ll get things done. Socialized medicine? Fine, as long as it works. Government out of the healthcare industry? Sure, as long as it works. They don’t care about small or big government. They just want a government that works for them. And Trump has told them that the rich are sticking it to them. He knows this because that's what he's been doing. Now he'll be their man, so they'll win. Hitch a ride with the Donald and you too will get the advantages the rich guys get.

They've been lied to by Democrats and Republicans. They like Trump because he says what he means. So they don’t care one way or another about Republican or Democratic policies. In fact, they don't care about the specifics of how Trump is going to win for them, only that he will. They're convinced Trump always wins and that he'll find a way. That makes it pretty much impossible for any other candidate to appeal to them.

Monday, February 22, 2016

New California Registration Report Tells Us Nothing

This article popped up linked in my Twitter feed. The headline is “Republican voter registration tanks in California.” I shuddered. The new registration report must be an awful one for the GOP. It turns out it isn’t. But never let the facts get in the way of a good story. And the media has enjoyed the story that Republicans are tanking in California and have been since 1994 due to the national party’s stance on immigration.

Of course regular readers of this blog know that the Republican started tanking in California since the early 1950s. Democrats have held the majority, and usually 60%+, of the assembly for 52 of the last 56 years and in the senate for 50 of 56. Democrats won 6 of 7 statewide elections in 1974 and have had similar results ever since. The 1994 election was an anomaly.

But I digress. If you compare this registration report to the 2015 report you’ll see that there are 207k less Democrats and 191k less Republicans. Yes, Democratic registration dropped more than Republican registration. Hmm. That’s the opposite of the headline. Other parties/NPP dropped by 61k. So everyone dropped.

That doesn’t mean it’s a good report for Republicans. In fact this report doesn’t tell us much of anything.

California’s voter rolls contain a lot of names that don’t vote. In 2014 the turnout was only 42.2% of registered voters. Some people have interpreted this as being due to voter apathy but there’s another factor at play and that’s that there are a lot of people on the voter rolls who are no longer voters. They’ve either moved or died. I suppose that’s a form of moved since they’d no longer be at the same address.

Some of the county registrars have spent the last year getting rid of people who shouldn’t be registered at their current address. That’s why the numbers drop so much. Democrats aren’t losing 207k voters. They’re losing 207k names on the rolls. They’re people who didn’t vote in 2014 and, thus, weren’t in the pool of possible voters. The real numbers of Republicans, Democrats, and others are even lower than what’s here. If the county registrars were so good at this that they were able to cull all the ineligible names from the lists then we’d have a good idea what the true party registration percentages are.

Eliminating more Democratic names isn’t a negative for Democrats, as these people didn’t leave their party. They weren’t there to begin with at the last election. There are new registrants, but the Secretary of State doesn’t provide a report of new registrants, only an overall report. Since NPP only fell by 34k, the other 27k drop was minor parties, it’s likely that a good share of new registrants were NPP. Of course them having no party preference doesn’t tell us who they favor.

The registrations dropped the most in San Bernardino (-15%), Santa Clara (-9%), San Diego (-9%), Ventura (-8%), and Riverside (-4%) counties. This is probably because those registrars put in more work to figure out what names were no longer eligible voters than other counties did, not because people left those counties.

San Francisco county had a 4% increase in registrations. Don’t expect voting to be there this year. It’s likely that the registrar didn’t bother to cull the lists. If San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties had conduced a purge the way San Bernardino did, and Orange County did a year ago, Democrats would’ve suffered bigger loses than the 207k above. That doesn’t mean Republicans are stronger than the report indicates. We just really don’t know.

This registration report doesn’t tell us who the new registrants are with each party. Thus, this report, like many in the past, doesn’t tell us much of anything about political party strength. Usually the only report that does is the 15 Day Report of Registration taken before the general election. In 2012, the SoS instituted online registration right before the election and Democrats got a much bigger increase than Republicans. Two years ago, however, both parties had only modest increases, indicating the online registration bump Democrats got in 2012 was likely long hanging fruit and that they won’t continue to benefit from it. That report is the only worth paying attention to. Unfortunately, it’ll come out after the November election.

So if you read more stories about how this is a bad report for Republicans, just ignore them. I just spent 750 words telling you there’s nothing to pay attention to. Someone had to tell you the LA Times article was a waste of your time.

Is There an Enthusiasm Gap?

Republicans and some of the media are touting how Republican turnout is way up from 2012, while Democratic turnout is down from 2008. Those are the years each party had their last competitive primaries.


Republicans sure benefitted from an enthusiasm gap in 2010 and 2014. Is there one in 2016? Not necessarily. There's not always a correlation between higher primary turnout and general election turnout. Primary turnout is always lower, sometimes much lower. The subset is sometimes so small that the higher general election turnout can change. We also shouldn't assume that people who vote in a primary are definitely voting that party in the general election. Many primaries allow independent voters or voters to declare their party affiliation the day of the election. They might be attracted to one primary over the other, but not sold on the party.

One of the reasons GOP turnout is up and Democratic turnout is down may be Donald Trump. Trump attracts Democrats and others who don't usually vote in Republican primaries. If Trump is the nominee many of his supporters may vote Republican in the general election, as they'll want Trump to have more of his party in Congress. There may be traditional Republican voters who might not vote Trump in the general election, but if the Republican party can get them to vote they're still likely to vote for the Republican congressmen and senators they always have.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Cruz Voter Explained

The Cruz voter is, in many ways, the flip side of the Sanders voter. They are firmly on the far right, as Sanders' voters are on the far left, and feel that most of America likes their policies and will support them. Like the Sanders' voter they feel betrayed by their party's establishment, although they possess an animosity towards them that the Sanders voter doesn't have. A big difference is that they are asking government to do less not more. It's being debated whether Sanders' plans will bring in the revenue, cost what he says, and accomplish its goals. It's not hard for government to accomplish what the conservatives want. Government can do nothing successfully.

Another big difference is that they want Ted Cruz to fight the Republicans in Washington and revel that Cruz doesn't get along with other elected Republicans. I'm not sure how they expect Cruz to get anything done if no one in his own party wants to work with him. They may feel that these Republicans will stop capitulating to the Democrats if Cruz is in the White House and will rubber stamp his ideas. Like Bernie Sanders' supporters, they believe that all members of their party agree with them but don't have the courage to stand up for those beliefs.

I'm not sure Cruz has the hold on these voters the way Sanders seems to have a hold on the far left, as Cruz's numbers are much smaller. While Sanders is in a one-on-one battle with the Democratic establishment candidate Cruz is still one of six Republicans and he finished third in New Hampshire.

The Sanders Voter Explained

The Clinton campaign and the Democratic establishment have been completely blindsided by a little known uncharismatic septuagenarian who is pretty much just repeating the talking points and ideas from and These voters have no animosity towards Clinton and generally like her. Despite this (moderate) affection a large segment of mostly young voters want no part of what she's selling. Some feel that the Democrats have compromised too much with Republicans and got nothing out of it. Others feel Democrats have sold out to corporate interests and, let's face it, if any Democrat has done that it's the Clintons. She can try to run from the stigma that she made more in one speech to Goldman Sachs than they make in a year. Income inequality is a big concern of theirs and Hillary Clinton is one of those people who are rich. Very very rich. And she made it the wrong way, just talking in front of Wall Streeters. Still others just like what Bernie Sanders is selling. When Clinton tries to sell the same things it feels inauthentic and "me too."

Clinton has tried to push that Sanders can't win a general election. His supporters don't want to hear that. They believe that Sanders' policies would be good for 95% of America. At least 51% will realize that. In most recent polls, Sanders polls as well as she does against Republicans, if not better. Clinton has been selling pragmatism and dealing with the reality that Republicans control the House and Senate. The Sanders' supporters either don't want to accept that or don't care. Those that don't want to accept it are like Sanders. The first group believe that once voters here about Sanders' policies it will start a revolution and districts throughout the country will elect progressive candidates. The second group wants a progressive in the White House. So what if Republicans control everything else. At least they'll have someone fighting for progressive policies who won't cave the way President Obama has. And if Sanders is selling progressivism from the White House he'll win more hearts and minds.

So what if even Democratic economists say Sanders' economic plan doesn't add up. Sanders isn't about reality. He's about what they want government to be. And that's something Clinton can't sell.

Aside: My favorite part is that Sanders assumes the U.S. will save $324 billion a year on prescription drugs when we only spend $305 billion. Not only will the drug companies develop and sell the drugs for free but they'll pay us to take them from them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Latino won the Iowa Caucus or didn't you hear?

Republicans are complaining that the media is barely noticing that Ted Cruz is the first Latino to win a primary or caucus. The MSM points out that neither emphasizes their Latino heritage or issues important to Latinos and, Cruz especially, they're hard liners on immigration. I don't know if this is fair and I don't think Latinos need the MSM proclaiming Ted Cruz is Latino for people to notice he is.

The candidates may suddenly discover their inner Latino, however. Texas votes on March 1 and Florida votes on March 15. There are a lot of Latino votes in these Republican primaries. Latinovote2012 says that Cruz got 35% of the Hispanic vote, better than Romney's 29%. There's no way Cruz is leaving these votes for Rubio. Romney got 40% of the Latino vote in Florida, the same as Connie Mack did. That's an even bigger share of the Republican electorate. Of course, a candidate doesn't win Republican Hispanics the way they win Democratic Hispanics, but you also don't get their votes without some pandering.