Monday, September 19, 2016

Polls Mislead Now As In 2012?

Setting aside all the fireworks ginned up by commentators, there's a question more fundamental than the strange appearance of this year's election campaign: At this point in an election, how good are the polls in predicting the actual outcome?

This week everybody started to jump up and down because the polls showed Trump "closing the gap" in the national popular vote. Worse, it also appears he's catching up in some of the key swing states that will decide the electoral college, the vote that actually hands over the keys to the White House.

Yet I still persist in saying Trump will lose in spite of the new round of polls. See: Ignore the "Tightening". Trump Still Can't Win.

Today I've done some more checking and found more support for my conclusion. I remembered 2012 as a nail-biter right up until election night. That memory is corroborated by this roller coaster bit of a polling chart from 2012, covering the last 8 weeks of the campaign.  2012 - General Election: Romney vs. Obama | RealClearPolitics

As the above chart shows, right about now (mid-September) in 2012, Romney took a great leap upward in the polls and caught Obama. Then he nose-dived again, then subsequently lunged upwards to catch and pass Obama, then down again, then a bit later bounced up again briefly so as to catch him one more time near the end. Then finally Romney chased Obama in in vain in one final spike upward by the two just as the campaign ended, Obama finally leaving him in the dust.

In other words, it's possible that what we have witnessed this week is just the first of several yet-to-come up-and-down spikes by Trump. In 2012 the first set of spikes was attributed to the two nominating conventions, which were late that year, the GOP being in the last week of August and the Democrats in the first week of September. This year the conventions were much earlier. Maybe the early September spikes in both years are more due to the fact that a lot of people just don't pay attention until the first whiff of autumn.

Whatever the reason for the spiking, the homestretch polls of 2012 show that perhaps we are in for several more "closing the gap" episodes by the GOP candidate.

What about the last gap? (Or should I call it "the last gasp"?) The one on election night?

In 2012 Romney didn't even come close to closing that gap. Instead it widened into a chasm! Romney got only 206 electoral college votes to Obama's 352. Not even close!

Were the last 8 weeks of the 2012 campaign an aberration, a one-time only failure of projections based on polling?  It doesn't seem to be. Let's look at the scorecard for the projections in 2008. Keep in mind that Obama beat John McCain in 2008 by a whopping 365 to 173 in the electoral college vote. Nevertheless, at this point in September 2008, the electoral college projection was woefully wrong compared to the eventual outcome. Based on the averaging of polls in mid-September 2008, RealClear Politics gave John McCain 216 electoral college votes to Obama's projected 202. That's a miss that was a mile.

These wildly wrong projections aren't due to bad polling, although RealClearPolitics includes some second-rate pollsters in its averaging. It's more likely just very hard to project an election outcome even just six weeks or a month ahead of Election Day. The would-be voters who pay the least attention until these closing weeks are also less commited to their initial choice. They may swing and sway quite a bit during the last weeks before the election.

That's especially likely this year with a mercurial personality like Trump on the loose.  And he is definitely on the loose. For a couple of weeks he's been reined in by new campaign management, but this weekend he has suggested Hillary Clinton's Secret Service protectors be disarmed. Is he suggesting someone shoot Hilary Clinton?

One would think a lot of Republican suburban housewives would flinch away from this latest  hooligan remark.  If they do, that might reverse the recent gains Trump's made, much of which has been attributed to disaffected GOP voters getting more comfortable with him during the recent weeks he's toned down the raucous rhetoric.

Supposedly we'll know more in another couple of weeks as to whether this recent Trump spike means anything. Analyst Nate Silver has a piece in "538" on why it's too soon to tell:
Election Update: Democrats Should Panic … If The Polls Still Look Like This In A Week

Nate Silver may be right and that a week or two will give us the clear picture, but I'm not sure. The little chart from 2012 shows the GOP candidate Romney still dancing up and down the walls after that first big jump, with the up and down repeating until Obama finally pulls away at the very last moment, leaving Romney to continue counting his cars and tying his dogs to the car roofs.

Next time, I'll take a look at what may be the actual state of the states. i.e. what's swinging in the swing states.

Meantime, relax. We have a ways to go. Probably a number of ups and downs.

So give the fingernails a rest.


ALSO Chris Cillizza of W. Post   Don't look now: Donald Trump has all the momentum in the 2016 ...  (but buried near the end) "The electoral map still heavily favours Clinton unless Trump can find a way to make Pennsylvania competitive, a task that has so far proved elusive. Trump still must win states like Ohio, Florida and North Carolina, which, even with his recent surge factored in, remain no better than toss ups today."

Friday, September 16, 2016

Ignore the "Tightening". Trump Still Can't Win.

Some of my friends are in a panic over the media reports that the race for the White House is "tightening".   So even though I'm still recuperating from bronchitis, I took a few minutes to post this on my FB page, and I thought I should also share it with you.

............SHOULD I EAT MY HAT?..........
Those who know me, know I wear hats. But even though I have a lot of hats, I'm not eating any yet. In spite of the so-called "tightening" of the election race in the national polling, I still don't see how Trump can win the 270 necessary in electoral college votes. Nor does the new polling show him in a projected "tie" with Clinton in the electoral college, and that's where it counts! For all the gains in the national polling, he's picked up only 10 votes in the electoral college projections when he needed an additional 116 to win. She still leads him by almost a projected 50, with 166 still up for grabs, most of which traditionally lean Demcratic.  And he still hasn't passed Romney's pathetic final total of only 206. He still has a long, long way to go. My hats are safe for now! So hold on to yours! Here's my recent blog on this: 

Here's the final result in the 2012 election in terms of electoral votes. I think it tells us who will win in 2016. Final Electoral Ma...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cancel the Campaigns? Trump Can't Win.

Time for the basics! We actually know who will win in November!

Here's the final result in the 2012 election in terms of electoral votes 332 Democratic v. 206 GOP. I think it tells us who will win in 2016. You can see a map of these totals at the end of this column or check it out at RealClearPolitics Final Electoral Map

To determine how 2016 will turn out, let's do a comparison. Immediately below is a recent projection from RealClearPolitics of how the campaigns are doing now in the electoral college, the gray being considered "toss-ups".  Note that Hillary Clinton is projected to now have 209 electoral college votes to Donald Trump's possible 159. RCP Electoral Map

We tend to forget that the all-controlling number in the presidential race is not the popular vote but the 270 electoral college votes needed to get the key to the White House.

We also forget that Romney won only 206 electoral votes in 2012.

Further we seem to ignore that at present, despite Hillary Clinton's inadequacies and mistakes as a candidate, she is presently tromping Trump in the electoral college projections, with an estimated 55 lead over his 154 and with 175 "toss-up" states. Judging by history she's bound to get some of those 175, the most likely ones being Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, Iowa, and New Hampshire. They are usually Democratic states, and Hillary did well in almost all of them in the primaries. That would give her 278 electoral college votes, eight more than she needs.

Arithmetic controls politics. Trump has to garner an additional 52 electoral votes beyond the present projections to merely equal Romney's losing number of 206 in 2012. Beyond that he has to get an additional 64 electoral votes to hit the magic 270. Thus he needs to win a total of 116 more electoral votes than he is now projected as likely to get.

116! That's a hellofa lot of electoral college votes of the remaining 159 "toss-ups".

Can he do it? Consider Mitt Romney and his loss in 2012, i.e. why would voters in a bunch of states decide to vote for Trump when they had previously rejected Romney? What was there about Romney that would make Trump more palatable in states Romney lost? Is Trump the Putin-style "strong man" the voters in those states longed for in 2012, and therefore voted for Obama rather than the pathetic Romney? Not likely. Those who like the "autocratic" style of politician usually despise black people. They wouldn't have voted for Obama in 2012. They don't account for Romney's loss and therefore can't drag Trump over the line.

Maybe Trump has hidden voters in states that rejected Romney, ones who have stayed home all these decades, the mythical multitudes that will "someday" appear at the polls when a candidate is far-right enough, or populist enough, or crazy enough to inspire them.

Sorry, I can't believe in people who have never voted. I know such people. Their lives are a mess and they take no responsibility for that fact. Many hardly know there's a campaign on. Others aren't willing to bother to do anything about their situation. Others flaunt their non-participation because that proves they are above it all.

Let's make it easier for Trump. Let's give him the four states in 2012 that went for Romney but are now considered "toss-ups" (though in my view three shouldn't be but are truly GOP). Let's give Trump Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, and also North Carolina, this last because it's traditionally Southern though veering Democratic of late. That gives him an additional 53 electoral college votes. Still a long way to Tipperary! It's not even half of his projected electoral deficit.

So where on this map of the 2012 final count does Trump win enough states that Romney couldn't win?

I double-dare you to identify them!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Biggest News Story in History

NOTE: Phyllis Schlafly, the arch-foe of women's rights, died this week. She and others tried to stop women escaping the subjugation of countless millennia. This is a story of that Great Escape. I wrote it two years ago and reprint it now to mark the passing of that warped woman and all others who stood in our way. No one can stop us. We are and ever shall be free and equal.

It's a beautiful June day in 1957 and I'm in the elegant office of Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times. I turned twenty-one just a couple of days ago, and I'm in New York City as a winner of Mademoiselle magazine's Guest Editor competition for college seniors. I am now interviewing the most powerful man in America, the man who largely decides what we know and how we think. 

"Where are your women reporters?" I ask him.
The poor man has none. A few women writing "women's" stuff but no women reporters. He walks me all over the Times building to show off the Women's Pages (recipes, gardening, fashion, society news and weddings). He points out the small empty office of a woman on the editorial board. Perhaps as a distraction he even takes me three floors below the main building into the cavernous basement where the presses clamor and groan. No women reporters anywhere.
"I can't hire a woman reporter," he explains, "because I'd have to send you to cover a dock strike where it might get violent. Or what if you find a body on a sidewalk? You'd have to go into the pockets for the wallet and ID."
It was 1957. Dead bodies and possible violence were absolute barriers against the presence of women in journalism. Women were the weaker sex and must be cosseted and protected. Except when giving birth or bandaging the dreadfully wounded just behind the front lines of war. How odd that women were strong enough for these painful and bloody tasks but nothing else. Of course the Sulzberger-style reasons for barring women were nonsense. With few exceptions, however, they had kept us from the world of action beyond doing laundry since time immemorial.
Besides being weak and tender, we women were also deemed nitwits. There was many a laugh on the radio or in the cartoons about women drivers, women who couldn't manage money, women and their silly hats. But we were deemed smart enough to teach children -  the most important of all jobs except parenting  -  or be secretaries to very important men. Or save the desperately ill. Nursing, teaching, secretarial. Those were our allotted career paths. And naturally these "women's jobs" paid the lowest wages, and men told the underpaid women what to do.
None of this was supposed to bother us because women shouldn't have careers or even jobs outside the home. We were supposed to marry. Married women didn't work. Single women over twenty-five were "old-maids" and ridiculed as such.  All of society, and especially my mother, recited this litany over and over.
"Take typing," my father had said when I entered high school in 1949. "You'll never be a writer. You’ll be a secretary. Writing is a man's job. And it's a man's world." But I didn't take typing because I didn't want to be tempted to give up and take a secretarial job. I was going to find work as a writer and neither my father in 1949 nor a fatherly Sulzberger in 1957 was going to stop me. 
To a great extent, however, my father was right. Returning from New York in 1957 to Los Angeles, I began beating against the brick wall. "You are exactly what we want for this job," said the head of the news department of KTLA-TV, "but we don't hire women. That's the policy."  There it was. Right out in the open. It was true in many lines of work besides journalism -  law, medicine, dentistry, trucking, pharmacy, construction, college teaching, chemistry, finance, management, public office. Every door shut. No women! Half of the population was openly and legally discriminating against the other half. Half the population was depriving the other half of money, stature, dignity. As we had been for most of history, women were deemed less than fully human. 
It wasn't just the jobs. I finally got a part-time journalism job on a little weekly paper for a while before marrying. But I kept bruising my shoulders knocking down other walls. As late as the mid-1970’s women were denied the very basics of life in America. As an appointee in Gov. Jerry Brown's first administration, I was one of the first four women ever to hold a non-clerical job in all of California state government. But in due course, my husband said, "Quit the job." Wives obeyed. I had sworn obedience. And then eight weeks after I obeyed, he left.
There I was, out of work, out of money, on my own with six kids, the youngest an epileptic. I had to rush that little boy to the ER frequently, but the insurance industry didn't want to give me car insurance. The policy had been in my husband's name, then the standard practice. Although I had been driving for twenty-five years and never had a ticket or an accident, I was effectively barred from rushing a convulsing child to the hospital because I didn't exist in their company records. 
Nor could I get credit. My husband often hadn't collected payment for his consulting work, so my paychecks from the state of California had gone to pay off the resulting credit card debt and all the other bills. But my pay stubs and cancelled checks for all those bills meant nothing. The credit record was in the man's name, as was standard practice then. Reality didn't count, just one's gender.
All this wasn't just my personal misfortune. These hardships fell like an axe on many thousands of women in 1975 when California became the first state to adopt no-fault divorce. The moment no-fault divorce was enacted in California, half the marriages in my county went to the divorce courts. In the next county the rate was 75%. The vast majority of the filings were by men, newly relieved by the law of any obligations except inadequate child support. Women in their 40s and 50s and even older were left destitute. Beyond employment age or with no employment record or training, no longer covered by a husband's health insurance or car insurance, and denied credit, tens of thousands of women were thrown into destitution. The destitution then began killing them.
By 1977 the print media reported that the rate of hospitalization for serious illness was soaring among divorced mothers. And so was the death rate. All of this was attributed to rising stress and diminished resources. Sadly, this story had no bounce. I read it but apparently no one else did. Certainly no one came riding to our aid. 
Two of my friends died during this period. One was the mother of four children. As a nurse she had supported her husband while he went to med school and got established as a doctor.  Once established, he unestablished her as his wife the minute no-fault kicked in. Then he wore her down with an unending battle over every bit of money and every possession. She got pneumonia, and this former nurse, recently the wife of a doctor, died of lack of medical care. Why hadn't she found a job? There was no licensed child care in those days, and no hospitals wanted to employ a woman as burdened as she. Her name was Misty and she was only thirty-nine. 
Jackie died on a Monday morning in the office where she worked for a pittance as a secretary. Her heart just gave out. At age thirty-five. She had literally worried herself to death about money and how to meet expenses for her fifteen-year-old son. She asked me to help her get an extension on some medical bill for him. She stood there in tears, twisting her hands together. The bill was $286. I told her I would just give her the money to pay it. I actually couldn't afford to but  -  oh God  -  I'm glad I gave her that money. Within a week she was dead.
Equality wasn't about being a big shot. It was about survival. Supposedly we women were too weak to lift a wallet from a dead man's pocket, but it was okay for us to be strong-armed by male-dominated divorce courts into the hard knocks of penury and then early death.  Under the new divorce laws the judges had the discretion to give minimal child support, deny spousal support, and order the family home sold immediately so the husband could get his share even though the wife and kids were then out on the streets.
Obviously there would have to be changes on the bench and in the laws. So I went to law school even though I was the single parent of six children. My epileptic son went to a new co-op pre-school right on the campus.Thus I could readily be called out of exams and classes when he was convulsing. It happened a lot, being called out of class for him. But I didn't mind. Not at all. I also had to work while in law school. And yet somehow I graduated with honors. 
Ironically, by the time I graduated from law school, male lawyers were already making a big difference for women in the divorce courts. Not all men are bad guys by any means. Plus Gov. Jerry Brown had appointed a woman as Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.  Things were getting better. So I wasn't needed in the divorce courts. Instead I chose to teach law and run a law clinic for indigent clients. I gave up higher pay in order to be home by 4 p.m. for my kids. We had to live frugally, but we managed.
We survived those dark days, my kids and I, while we women worked to change the anti-women laws and practices and “raise consciousness”. As part of that effort I a wrote book called “Women of the West” under my married name of Dorothy Gray, the first book about the serious contribution and admirable courage of women on the Western frontier. It is still in print all these decades later, still a testimony to those 19th century women who rose to great challenges and found freedom, setting an example for women in those 20th century decades of change and for the future. 
Amazingly the dark ages for women had begun to end in my own lifetime. I saw the beginning of the end. For the very first time in the history of western civilization, women were being recognized legally and in many other ways as fully human and fully equal.
Of course we are not really over the bridge entirely. But we are on the way and we will get there.  Because we are not only changing society but we ourselves have changed. When I entered politics in the late 1960s and did door-to-door work, many women said at the door, "I always vote the way my husband tells me to."  Today that’s laughable.
So there, Arthur Hays Sulzberger! You had it all wrong, Mr. Powerful Man of Journalism. In fact, you missed the beginning of the biggest news story of perhaps all time. When that very young woman asked you that question in June 1957 she was announcing a revolution, the greatest revolution in human history.  And you missed the story! 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Trump Enslaves 14-year-old Models

Donald Trump's campaign isn't funny any more. This man has been abusing children.

Two days ago "Mother Jones" broke the story that Donald Trump has preyed upon under-age girls as young as 14, keeping them in virtual slavery. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and reporters at USA Today and some other media have also published the story of Trump operating a modeling agency which coached the immigrant girls in breaking federal law by working as models without work permits. His agency then stole their wages. The report is based on the claims of four models who worked for his agency. 

His agency "boarded" these girls in tiny one-bedroom apartments, providing bunk beds for between five and eleven girls all at one time in each apartment, charging each girl over $1600 a month. That's enough for each girl to have had her own studio apartment! Trump was therefore making an outrageous profit on the ignorance and timidity of these youngsters who didn't know how to cope on their own with the big city. And let's not kid ourselves. It was Trump who personally pocketed the girls' money. He owns 85% of the agency.

He took the rent money out of their earnings before the girls saw a cent of what had been paid by magazines and other users of the photographs.  He also docked the girls for "services" his agency provided, such as makeup, hairdos, etc. These services were apparently also at exorbitant rates.

Most of the girls had virtually no money after Trump did all this withholding. He had stolen their wages. He had stolen from children!

He did it in a modern-day version of what the coal mining companies used to do to the miners. These poor guys would come to America, desperate for jobs, and have to live in the company's housing and buy everything at the company store. Typically their wages never stretched to cover the jacked-up prices they were paying for the housing and food. The resulting debt kept them in bondage to the mining companies.

A beloved singer of the 1950s, Tennessee Ernie Ford, immortalized their plight in the song "Sixteen Tons" with the recurring line, "Saint Peter, don't ya call me cuz I can't go; I owe my soul to the company store."

The miners were held in virtual slavery, provided with only bare sustenance and unable to leave their jobs.  This was a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits slavery, as well as being a violation of human decency. In due course, unions were formed and though suffering physical beatings and even deaths, they persisted and finally could stop these company abuses. State laws were subsequently enacted to forbid such abuses.

So why is Donald Trump able to get away with these "slavery" practices in the 21st Century?

Isn't this child abuse?

And why has there been no general outcry in the two days since the story broke? Where's the New York Times on this one?  The Associated Press? NBC Nightly News? CBS?

Where's the New York State Attorney General with an investigation? As the GOP presidential nominee, is Donald Trump above the law?

And here's another question:  Is this Trump modeling agency still in business and still committing these outrages?

Everybody who is thinking of staying home on election day or voting for a third party because they don't like Hillary had better stop considering their preferences and think about fourteen-year-old girls at the mercy of Donald Trump. To fail to vote against him is to be an enabler of his despicable ruthlessness by letting it go unpunished.

Trump must not be tolerated. We voters can't bring him to court as a criminal but we sure as hell can repudiate him overwhelmingly at the polls. That wouldn't just "make America great again", but it would make it a more decent place.

And that's far more important!

Monday, August 29, 2016

"Dream When You're Feeling Blue". Oh, Yeah, Baby!

Increasingly Trump is making Republicans leaders see blue. You get my meaning?

Here's a useful gift from the NY Times, an article listing most of the awful things Trump has said and showing which GOP stalwarts left him at each comment. Keep it handy for friends who are vacillating. I think you could also make this into some kind of board game for Christmas presents! It's a truly nifty piece of work from the Times: At Least 110 Republican Leaders Won’t Vote for Donald Trump. Here’s When They Reached Their Breaking Point.   

Please note that, to their credit, these GOP leaders aren't just running from Trump because of the threat he is sinking the ticket. Note for example the correlation between his outrageousness and their lap for the exits, e.g. a large number left when he refused to denounce David Duke and the KuKluxKlan. With African Americans voting overwhelmingly Democratic, these GOP left Trump because it was the morally correct thing to do, not because they were trying to protect a pro-GOP black vote. There isn't any.

As for Trump being a threat to the GOP ticket, apparently stars are beginning to dance in the eyes of Nancy Pelosi. This is also from the NY Times:
"While Democrats have sought publicly to temper expectations that they could win the House, in private meetings they are laying out ways to expand their battle plan to fight for more seats. And their donors appear increasingly motivated: Last month, the House Democratic campaign raised $12 million while House Republicans raised just $4.6 million, a remarkable disparity given that the party in control usually dominates fund-raising.....Ms. Pelosi [had] highlighted an academic study that suggested the majority might be within reach." "While Democrats have sought publicly to temper expectations that they could win the House, in private meetings they are laying out ways to expand their battle plan to fight for more seats. And their donors appear increasingly motivated: Last month, the House Democratic campaign raised $12 million while House Republicans raised just $4.6 million, a remarkable disparity given that the party in control usually dominates fund-raising. Ms. Pelosi ... highlighted an academic study that suggested the majority might be within reach."Democrats See Opening in Traditional G.O.P. Bastions

As the old song so aptly says, "Dream when you're feeling blue, Dream and it may come true".  

But how could it actually happen? Didn't redistricting after the 2010 census lock in GOP control of the House? Theoretically, yes. But even a registration majority can be oversome if enough GOP stay home, vote third party, or switch to Hillary because Trump is so repulsive. Normally Republicans voters are exetremly loyal to their party and are high performing, unlike Democrats who have to be dragged to the polls and often switch to a GOP candidate who talks the talk. In fact, a district is not considered Democratic unless more that 60% of the voters are registered Democratic. Even a 60% district is squishy. So now we shall have a chance to see exactly how squishy GOP districts can get. If ever a presidential candidate has pushed his down-ballot cohorts into wobblyland, this is it. We shall possibly see a real testing of the percentage GOP registration that is necessary to secure a sure win for a GOP House candidate.

As the old curse says, "May you live in interesting times."

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hitler Attacks Ann Coulter: She Trusted Donald Trump!

(UPDATE: The title change reflects that I've added a hilarious video about Hitler hearing Trump has dumped his plan for deportation.You'll love the video. It's at the end of this post so I can trick you into reading to the end!)

Some days start out so great that you are glad to get out of bed. Such be today.

Word has come that Ann Coulter is having "apoplexy" thanks to Donald Trump.

Why, you ask?

Ostensibly because he's reversed himself on his signature campaign promise to deport the 11 million non-documented workers in this country.

Poor Ann. She has just written a book stating that "the only unforgivable sin Mr. Trump could commit would be to shift on immigration."

Which he has just done. Hence her apoplexy. (That's one of those words like Eyg...Egypt... that's hard to spell but irreplaceable.) 

May I be suspicious —as a writer — of the real cause of Ms. Coulter's rage? I truly think it's not because Trump has reversed himself on his key position but because he's absolutely ruined the debut of her new book.

The title of which is ..... get ready for this!....."In Trump We Trust."

I can well imagine how upset a writer would be to have her brand new book made trash by its subject. For doing this trashing to Coulter, I could just hug Donald Trump if I wasn't afraid of his hair. 

For more about Trump's gymnastics on the deportation issue, check out my posting of 4 days ago that beat the NY Times by two days:  Trump's Newest Big Mistake, and It Is Yuuuge

Have a happy day. I sure am!  And now WATCH THIS wherein Hitler hears that Trump has reversed himself on deportation. "Ann Coulter" is in it too!