Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

The Clinton Veep Shuffle

May 26th, 2016 No comments
Elizabeth Warren

Could she be the one?

It looks increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton will wrap up the nomination in about two weeks when New Jersey and California vote. I guess something crazy could still happen, and all the superdelegates could suddenly overturn the popular vote and back Sanders. It’s been that kind of a year. But barring that, Hillary Clinton and her team have a huge question looming, and that is who to pick as a running mate.

Clinton has two salient examples she’ll no doubt be referencing: Al Gore and Joe Biden. At the time, Al Gore was a bold pick for Bill Clinton: young, southern, and a rising star, just like Bill. Hillary encouraged this “double down” strategy over the more traditional balancing of the ticket. It worked – they won a decisive victory. However, Gore later created friction when his own ambitions set him at odds with his president. Joe Biden was the opposite in many ways. He complemented Obama’s strengths and weaknesses, and was someone that Obama knew he could work with.

I believe Hillary’s search for a VP will ultimately hinge on six major factors. To illustrate, I have made the beautiful Venn diagram below. By the way, if anyone from the Clinton campaign is reading this, you should probably pay me. I spent approximately forever on this:

Clinton Veep Venn












The names on here are almost all ones I’ve heard floated, plus a couple I found myself. Sadly for Hillary, nobody fits all six categories. Also, these are obviously my own subjective conclusions based on my own research. Others may disagree, for example, about whether Tim Kaine would be an effective attack dog, or whether I should count Wisconsin as a swing state. That being said, I think it reveals some interesting things!

For starters, Elizabeth Warren has probably gotten the most press as a potential VP pick, and you can see that is for good reason. She hits three major circles: Appeals to Liberals, Key Demographic, and Good Attack Dog. In fact, all of the most-speculated-about people are at the intersection of three or four categories. Although Sherrod Brown (Senator of Ohio), Tim Kaine (Senator of Virginia), and Tom Perez (former Labor Secretary) are not as well known nationally, they have received a lot of buzz recently. Cory Booker (Senator of New Jersey) is another strong pick occupying a similar space to Warren.

Tim Kaine

Citizen Kaine?

Sherrod Brown and Tim Kaine are the only names hitting four circles that I’ve also heard “sources” confirm are on the short list. So those are good bets! Interestingly, I’ve not read many articles suggesting Deval Patrick (former Massachusetts Governor), even though he is a well-known Clinton supporter and hits just as many categories. Could be a surprise pick?

But let us not be too hasty to assume all circles are equal. It’s very possible that Team Clinton may value the energy and symbolism the first all-female ticket would bring, or the first major ticket with a Latino. That would increase the weight of the yellow circle and tilt things away from all the white guys to the bottom right of the diagram.

Although… let’s talk about those white guys. If Hillary decides that she really just wants to nail down a big swing state, the choices are pretty much white guys: Tim Kaine (Virginia), Mark Warner (Virginia), Terry McAuliffe (Virginia), Bill Nelson (Florida), and Sherrod Brown (Ohio). Sherrod Brown stands out as the only swing-stater that would also excite progressives. Interestingly, I’ve not heard much about Ken Salazar (Labor Secretary before Tom Perez), even though he’s a prominent Latino politician and from a swing state (Colorado). Granted, Colorado is not as big as the other states mentioned, but… could be a surprise pick?

Thomas Perez

Perez: one letter away from Prez?

Well, that about covers who should be on the short list, but the diagram also reveals who is probably overrated! I’m going to say it, because it needs to be said: I don’t think we’re going to see a Clinton-Sanders ticket. That’s because Sanders doesn’t bring anything to the ticket that Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t also bring. This analysis has also got me wondering why Julián Castro (Secretary of HUD), Terry McAuliffe (Governor of Virginia), and John Hickenlooper (Governor of Colorado) keep getting mentioned in articles I find. I have nothing against them, but I don’t see what they bring over other options. Kirsten Gillibrand presents an additional issue. Gillibrand and HRC would probably get along well, but since you’re not allowed to have a running mate from the same state, and Gillibrand is currently Senator of New York, Clinton would probably have to change her state of residence fairly soon, which… well it just gets tricky.

Lastly, there’s one more consideration, and I could’ve tried to make a seventh circle in the Venn diagram for this, but I’m not a masochist. Harry Reid (and probably others) are pleading with the Clinton campaign to not choose a senator who would get replaced by a Republican. If a Senate seat goes vacant, the state’s governor gets to appoint a replacement. If Clinton wants to increase the chances of Dems regaining the majority, that’s bad news for certain prospective senators: Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin, Amy Klobuchar, and Bill Nelson. Ironically, some of the most exciting progressive choices come from states with Republican governors.

It might be a good year to be Tim Kaine or Tom Perez.

Categories: Democrats, Elections, Hillary Clinton Tags:

Could Trump Actually Win?

March 22nd, 2016 No comments

Modified from photo by Gage SkidmoreIt’s a question that’s kept me up at night: could Trump actually become President? Assuming a Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton general election contest (Sanders supporters, just roll with me here), could Trump pick up so many disaffected working class white voters that he wins? That’s the scenario that I keep reading about: Trump could boost turnout from his base of whites without a college degree, and become competitive in places like Ohio and Wisconsin.

Then I discovered that Nate Silver’s site, FiveThirtyEight, has actually put together a simulator that lets you see how changes in turnout and voter preference would affect the election, starting with Obama vs. Romney 2012 as a baseline. It divides the electorate into some pretty broad groups (college-educated white, non-college-educated white, black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian/other), but it still offers some interesting insights. And I found it addictingly fun to play with…

So anyway, could Trump win? I wanted to see how the aforementioned nightmare scenario would actually play out. I gave Mr. Trump the most charitable possibilities I could think of for each group. I started with the premise that he somehow pulls off a “white miracle” and not only attracts Reagan-levels of the non-college-educated white vote to the GOP, but also boosts that group’s turnout to unprecedented heights, matching college-educated turnout for the first time in polling history!

Next, as we know, his rhetoric and temperament have appalled many “establishment” Republicans, and folks with college degrees in general. So I moved the college-educated white vote a tiny bit towards the Democratic side, but also reduced its turnout a couple points (figuring some Republicans and maybe young Sanders supporters stay home): probably a best-case scenario for Trump. I don’t think there’s a way to avoid the non-white vote sliding towards Hillary Clinton in this scenario, after all the things Trump has said. But I only shifted it a bit and only moved turnout up a tiny amount: maybe fear of Trump is not that much stronger than having an inspirational black candidate like Obama? I don’t know, but again, this is supposed to represent the most charitable scenario for Mr. Trump.

When all of that is entered in, here is what we get:

Trump Scenario 1

The results surprised me! It may be hard to read, but Clinton wins with 294 electoral votes to 244. Even with unfathomable record-breaking support from his base, it only takes a small shift among other groups for Trump to still lose. Why does this happen, even with Trump picking up places like Ohio and (usually true-blue) Wisconsin? The reason, I found, is that states like Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada have all gotten more diverse and more college-educated on average. Playing on racist and xenophobic fears just doesn’t cut it in those places.

And that was supposed to be the good scenario for Trump! Here’s a more (in my eyes) likely scenario, where Trump makes some gains with the non-college-educated white vote, but turns off all of the other groups just as much, if not a little more, and a lot of college-educated Republicans choose Clinton or stay home:

Trump Scenario 2

In this scenario, Clinton wins Texas, and even states like Mississippi and Alaska are within reach.

In conclusion, the Trump victory scenario that I keep hearing about is really far-fetched. And that’s without even factoring in all the negative ads that will run against him for the next several months, a potentially divisive convention fight, conservative plans for a third-party ticket, and a poll showing nearly 25% of Republicans would choose Clinton over Trump. So, I’m not going to tell you to stop fearing or fighting Trump, because he’s still frightening and still hurting the country. But I can tell you, I’m definitely going to sleep a little better at night.

PS: I was thinking about posting possibilities for other match-ups, like if Sanders or Cruz somehow grabbed the nomination, but that would be a lot of screenshots. Feel free to try out your own scenarios with the simulator!

The 2016 GOP Contenders in 60 Seconds

July 18th, 2015 No comments

Many friends have approached me, saying, “I’d like to know what to expect from the ridiculous number of Republicans running for president, but without having to listen to any of them or think about them for too long. Don’t you have a blog where you could post something like that?”

Yes, many friends. Yes indeed.

Here are all the major Republican candidates that have announced or are expected to announce, plus my opinion of their chances of winning, and one strength and one weakness for each one.


Jeb BushJeb Bush
Chances: Slim
Strength: Last Name
Weakness: Last Name (Also: Boring)

Marco RubioMarco Rubio
Chances: Slim
Strength: Young Charismatic Latino
Weakness: Inexperience

Mike HuckabeeMike Huckabee
Chances: Slim
Strength: Culture Warrior
Weakness: Non-Culture Issues

Scott WalkerScott Walker
Chances: Slim
Strength: Koch Brothers’ Chosen Boy
Weakness: Campaigning

Rand PaulRand Paul
Chances: Very Slim
Strength: Cult Following
Weakness: Pro-Marijuana, Pro-Civil Liberties

Rick SantorumRick Santorum
Chances: Very Slim
Strength: Homophobia
Weakness: Being a Smug Prick

Rick PerryRick Perry
Chances: Very Slim
Strength: Looks Smarter in Glasses
Weakness: Still Dumb as a Boot

Chris ChristieChris Christie
Chances: Very Slim
Strength: Loud and Blunt
Weakness: Well-Publicized Scandal

Lindsey GrahamLindsey Graham
Chances: Nope
Strength: Foreign Policy Experience
Weakness: Girl’s Name

Ted CruzTed Cruz
Chances: No
Strength: Occasionally Taken Seriously
Weakness: Always Looks Like a Muppet About to Cry

Donald TrumpDonald Trump
Chances: Dear God No No No
Strength: Name Recognition
Weakness: Everything Else

Ben CarsonBen Carson
Chances: No
Strength: Black Political Outsider
Weakness: Black Political Outsider

Bobby JindalBobby Jindal
Chances: Nope
Strength: Nope
Weakness: Nope

John KasichJohn Kasich
Chances: Nope
Strength: From Ohio
Weakness: Who?

George PatakiGeorge Pataki
Chances: No Sir
Strength: He Used to be a Governor?
Weakness: He Wasn’t Even That Good

Carly FiorinaCarly Fiorina
Chances: Haha, No
Strength: Only Woman
Weakness: Spotty Business Record, No Political Record


Is it over yet?

No. Donald Trump is still a real person.