Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How Many People Were Turned Away in Wisconsin?

17,000 People in Wisconsin didn't vote due to voter ID! 9,000 were turned away!

That's what the Washington Post is trumpeting today. If you look at the underlying data it's really questionable.

The first flaw in this is that 17,000 people didn't say the lack of voter ID deterred them from voting and 9,000 didn't say they were turned away. The researchers cherrypicked 2,300 people in the two lowest income counties in Wisconsin. Most surveys require people to be randomly selected. These weren't. They were picked because they expected certain results from them. They received only 293 surveys back in the mail. This should be a giant red flag. The people returning the questionnaire were self-selecting. They can't be proven to be representative of any larger group because of that. No serious survey would allow the respondents to be self-selecting. There's also the problem with the sample size being only 293. This is too small a sample to use.

African-Americans returned 35 surveys. Of these, 9 said they were deterred. Yes, you read that right. If only 35 people responded, the results are useless. The sample is so small that the results should be thrown out.

Of course people can say anything they want in a survey months later. The respondents could give any answer they wanted. It isn't verifiable. People can decide to vote or not vote for any number of reasons. Did a lack of voter ID come into play. Unless I'm missing something the researchers didn't verify these people lacked ID. They were only chosen because they didn't vote.

I'm actually surprised that only 11.2% of the respondents said they were deterred. Why return the survey if you aren't going to answer the key question yes?

About 6 percent of nonvoters said they tried to vote but weren’t allowed to. They claim that's 9,000 people in those two counties. This is a far easier number to verify. These people say they actually went to the voter table and were turned away. The state actually counted the number of people who showed up without proper ID and that number statewide was under 600. Of those, under 100 of their votes were disqualified. (There was an article earlier this year where the state gave out these numbers. I Googled and can't find it now) The Wisconsin Elections Commission could be lying, although that'd certainly be a huge scandal. This isn't a partisan entity but one that everyone trusts to count the vote.

Monday, September 25, 2017

California Governor Positioning Continues

As I mentioned a few months ago California could see a Gavin Newsom-Antonio Villaraigosa top two next November. Newsom is locking up progressives. If Villaraigosa wants to be Newsom, and first finish top two, he needs to position himself close enough to the center to win centrist and right leaning voters but not alienate that many Democrats.

Villaraigosa has an issue where he can do that. He has long fought with teachers' unions, something no progressive would ever do. And it's a great issue to veer away from Democratic orthodoxy. In the private sector unions are pitted against big "evil" corporations that don't care about their workers, only profits. Customers have little to no allegiance to the corporation and aren't really hurt if the union wins concessions.

Teachers' unions are up against the government. That's not some evil faceless corporation. That's you and me. The "customers" aren't car buyers or hotel guests. They're our kids. We might not side with hotel guests over hotel workers but we're going to side with our kids if we feel that what's good for the teachers isn't the best choice for our kids. Teachers' unions push that everything they want is what's best for the kids, but their needs, higher pay, job security, don't necessarily coincide with what's best for the kids.

Even a union representative will admit that.
“I don’t think he saw it as being anti-union in any way, but being sensitive to kids like he was, and for us to block the kinds of reforms he was supporting was doing a disservice to those kids,” said Pechthalt. “I would disagree with him but I don’t think it necessarily came from a bad place.”
Democrats and teachers' unions have painted Antonio Villaraigosa as anti-union and not sufficiently progressive. They'll do so in the gubernatorial election. That's normally a death knell to Democrats in elections but it actually is a benefit for Villaraigosa. He isn't going to win votes as the progressive champion. If Villaraigosa is to win votes from progressives it'll be with progressives who might see him as more competent or want a Latino governor.

Neel Kashkari was an unknown running against a California legend and spent very little money. He still got 40% of the gubernatorial vote. If Villaraigosa were to get 80% of the Kashkari vote he'd need to get about 30% of the Jerry Brown vote to win. Villaraigosa would need to position himself well. He needs to turn union support for Newsom into Newsom being in the pocket of special interests and being anti-student. He'll be criticized for Republicans supporting him. He needs to say, "they're Californians too and I want to be the governor for all Californians."

Top two would enable the more centrist candidate to win the election.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Are the Signs There for Democrats?

Democrats are encouraged about their prospects in congressional races in 2018. Is the year starting to skew Democratic?

There are a lot of Democratic Candidates Running
I’ve never seen anything correlating the number of Democratic candidates running and Democratic success. Darrell Issa is more likely to lose if he has seven Democrats running against him instead of two. It's certainly helpful if they challenge more Republicans than less, but that really wasn't the problem for Democrats in the past. Democrats had candidates in all but one of the Clinton districts a Republican congressional candidate won.

Fundraising is going well especially with grassroots progressive groups
Fundraising has never been a problem for Democrats and they seem to taut their fundraising advantage every cycle. There's evidence that a candidate needs to spend above a certain threshold for the voters to take him or her seriously, but after that's achieved spending isn't always an indicator of success. Democrats heavily outspent Republicans in the GA-6 race and they didn't win that. They didn't lose CA-49 in 2016 for lack of spending. They spent a lot.

Republican retirements are high
This is seen as an indicator for two reasons. First, these congressmen must know more than we do and that's why they're retiring. Second, open seats are much easier to flip. The problem here is that Republican retirements aren't all that high. Here are the numbers since 2006:

2006: 18R, 9D
2008: 27R, 6D
2010: 20R, 17D
2012: 19R, 22D
2014: 25R, 16D
2016: 25R, 18D
2018: 17R, 8D

What we see here is that Republicans have had higher retirement numbers in good Republican years and lower ones in good Democratic years. This year could be an all time high for Republicans but only 10 of the 17 Republican retirees are running for another office. in 2014 only 11 of the 25 retirees ran for another office. Generally, congressmen running for another office announce earlier to get an earlier start on campaigning. So right now 7 Republicans are actually retiring, compared to 14 in 2014. There were 20 retirements in 2016. I see no reason to think we'll get closer to the 20 than the 14 and Republicans actually did well with the 20 retirements last year.

While you may be hearing Republicans in competitive districts are retiring, that doesn't appear to be the case. Only 2 of the Republicans in a Clinton district is retiring. Donald Trump won Charlie Dent's PA-15 and Dave Trott's MI-11. Those could be competitive districts but they aren't going too be competitive solely on Donald Trump's unpopularity.

The Generic Ballot is Good for Democrats
This is true and the Democrats are better off with a good generic ballot than a bad one. The Democrats led for most of the 2014 and 2016 cycles, however, and lost the congressional vote each time. Polling seems to have had a tougher time finding Republican voters than it has in the fast. So this could be good for Democrats but it might not be.

2018 should be a good year for Democrats but I see nothing yet to tell me it definitely will be.