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Trends in the 2017 Special Elections

It has been a couple days since the GA-6 and SC-5 election results, and there are other things in the news now, but I have still been frustrated by a lot of the spin about these races. Specifically, I’ve heard both Republicans and Democrats framing everything about how the Democrats have now lost four in a row, they are showing they can’t win, they are in trouble, they have to change their approach entirely to ever hope to win, etc. Republicans are of course crowing about their victories, but I’ve also heard Sanders-wing Democrats trying to make a case about how the results show that their wing of the party does better and the more centrist Democrats are doomed. Most of this is nonsense. As is my wont, I made a chart showing another way to look at things.

Now, to be fair, history has shown that drawing ANY conclusion from House special elections is dangerous. Special elections are special. And it is a long way until the 2018 elections still. The world in November 2018 is going to look a lot different than the world in June 2017. And we only have four data points. So take ANY conclusion based on this data with a huge grain of salt.

A bunch of the analysis I’ve seen has compared the House special election results to the 2016 PRESIDENTIAL results too. Huh? Why would you do that? Apples and oranges. Compare House races to House races instead. Now, even there, there are critical differences. Presence or absence of incumbents for instance. Lower turn out in special elections. All sorts of things. But at least compare the same kind of race.

In any case, when you do compare congressional race to congressional race, here are the numbers for the four special elections that had a Republican running against a Democrat. (I’m ignoring here the special election in California’s 34th that had two Democrats running against each other.)

  • Kansas’s 4th
    • 2016: Democrat 29.6%, Republican 60.7% -> Margin 31.1%
    • 2017: Democrat 45.7%, Republican 52.5% -> Margin 6.8%
    • Shift: 24.3% more Democratic
  • Montana’s At-Large
    • 2016: Democrat 40.5%, Republican 56.2% -> Margin 15.7%
    • 2017: Democrat 44.1%, Republican 50.2% -> Margin 6.1%
    • Shift: 9.6% more Democratic
  • Georgia’s 6th (numbers as of election night)
    • 2016: Democrat 38.3%, Republican 61.7% -> Margin 23.4%
    • 2017: Democrat 48.1%, Republican 51.9% -> Margin 3.8%
    • Shift: 19.6% more Democratic
  • South Carolina’s 5th (numbers as of election night)
    • 2016: Democrat 38.7%, Republican 59.2% -> Margin 20.5%
    • 2017: Democrat 47.9%, Republican 51.1% -> Margin 3.2%
    • Shift: 17.3% more Democratic

These shifts are large. 9.6% to 24.3% more Democratic depending on the district. The average of these four is a 17.7% move toward the Democrats.

Now, in real life, there are lots of factors in Congressional races. In real life districts will do all sorts of different things in 2018. But lets look at a simplified model for a minute. What if all 435 districts got 17.7% bluer? We get the chart below.

The blue line shows the election margins in all 435 districts based on the 2016 results, ordered from the most Democratic district to the most Republican district. Republican districts are positive, Democratic districts are negative. The place where the line crosses the X-axis is the number of Democrats in the House, currently 194. It takes 218 to control the House.

The red dots are the four special elections we have had. They are displaced downward from the blue line since the Democrats did better in the special elections than they did in 2016. The amount they are shifted downward represents the shift in the margin from 2016 to 2017.

The orange line is where we would be if all districts moved like the average of these four special elections. Again, we know this won’t happen exactly for any number of reasons, but this is to illustrate the degree of shift these four special elections represent.

With this amount of movement in the margins on the individual races, you end up with a 55 seat swing in the House, resulting in a Congress with 249 Democrats to 186 Republicans. That would be a substantial majority.

But you don’t even need that 17.7% shift. A 12.5% shift would be enough to just barely squeak by with a 218 seat majority. So, no, a Montana At-Large sized 9.5% shift would not be enough to give the Democrats the majority. But if they match the shift in any of the other three districts, the Democrats win the House.

Now, that may not happen. There are lots of reasons why that may not happen. But all the comments about how because they lost these four races the Democrats are doomed, or that they have to change their whole strategy to win, or that the Democratic brand is toxic, or anything of the sort… those takes are all just ridiculous on their face. What we’ve seen in these four races are massive movements toward the Democrats compared to just seven months ago… enough to show that a 12.5% movement, which might have seemed out of reach right after the November elections, is actually well within reach.

If Republicans want to protect themselves, they need to recognize the danger, and CHANGE their approach, and start defending their close districts differently, not just keep saying that “the Democrats keep losing!”. What the Republicans are doing is NOT working. Yes, they held these seats, but all these races were much closer than they “should have been”, and they had to put in a lot of resources to hold things even there. What they are doing is NOT working. Yes, the “Ha! Ha! We won!” act is fun, and it is nice to win and gloat about it, but if they are serious about holding the House, they need to be realistic about this as well.

Meanwhile, if Democrats want to capitalize on the trends, they need to be confident and be proud of these huge gains, not get paralyzed by self doubt and calls to change everything just because a 20% shift wasn’t quite enough to win Georgia’s 6th. It was a 20% shift!! That is HUGE! The fact that these districts went from places where Democrats lost by 16% to 31% to districts that Democrats lost by 3% to 7% shows that they should be pushing and competing hard in any district they lost by less than 25%, maybe even 30%. KS-4 showed it is possible for them to generate moves that size. They should attempt it.

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Uninhabited Atoll

This week on Curmudgeon’s Corner, Sam and Ivan talk about the Baseball shooting in Virginia and the related issues about the tone of our political discourse these days. Of course they can’t forget the Trump scandal developments of the week too. In between they squeeze in some talk about healthcare, Puerto Rican statehood, the great butter shortage, and a few other things. But most importantly, a very rare but special gift from Ivan. Tune in to hear what it is!

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Show Details:

Recorded 2017-06-15
Length this week – 1:25:11

  • (0:00:15-0:32:27) But first
    • Agenda
    • Healthcare Own Goal?
    • Not visiting the White House
    • Puerto Rican statehood
    • iTunes U: Lord of the Rings I
    • Weekend Plans
    • But first at the but end?
  • (0:33:07-1:04:34) Baseball Shooting
    • Butter shortage
    • The shooting
    • Heated rhetoric
    • What do you do?
    • Partisan differences?
    • The Trump Wing vs Mainstream R’s
    • Any changes?
    • Trump influence in Europe
    • Polling
  • (1:06:34-1:24:51) Trump Scandals
    • Obstruction investigation
    • Self inflicted wounds
    • Sleepy Ivan
    • Talking points
    • Sleepy Ivan 2
    • Expanding investigations
    • Attacking the investigators
    • Investigative duty

 

The Curmudgeon’s Corner theme music is generously provided by Ray Lynch.

Our intro is “The Oh of Pleasure” (Amazon MP3 link)

Our outro is “Celestial Soda Pop” (Amazon MP3 link)

Both are from the album “Deep Breakfast” (iTunes link)

Please buy his music and support his GoFundMe.

Brandy is running for office!

For those who don’t already know…  My wife Brandy is running for local office! Specifically, she is running for Snohomish County Fire District 1, Commissioner Position 3. Check out her candidate statement on her temporary campaign website. (She’s working on a more complete site, I quickly threw that one together for her as a starter site to have something up right away.)

This is a non-partisan position. There are five candidates in the primaries. The top two move on to the general election. The incumbent is David Chan, who got into trouble a few months ago for some comments about Mexicans he made during an official meeting.

Ever since the 2016 election… actually before, but it accelerated afterwards… Brandy has been increasingly engaged politically, and looking for places to make a difference. She’s been connecting with all sorts of people locally, and was urged by several to run for this position. It is her first run, but she is learning quickly. Win or lose, I’m pretty sure she intends to be actively engaged in things going forward.

If you are in the local area and want to know more or to help out, let me (or her) know!

I guess this means we’ll be investing in lawn signs and such soon… :-)

electbrandydonaghy.org

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Take A Hammer To It

On Curmudgeon’s Corner this week, Sam and Ivan dissect the Comey hearings and related issues, but there is a lot more too! They cover the Reality Winner case, Qatar, the UK Elections, WWDC, the lottery, Sam’s new couch, and that isn’t even all!

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Show Details:

Recorded 2017-06-10
Length this week – 1:55:41

  • (0:02:04-0:27:35) But First
    • Agenda
    • New Couch
    • Projector Screen
  • (0:28:11-1:11:41) Trump/Russia/Comey
    • Liar!
    • Vindicated?
    • Russian Interference
    • Misrepresentation
    • Sessions
    • Comey/Clinton
    • Standing up to Trump
    • The Admirals
    • Trump Defense
    • Reality Winner
    • Russian Spearfishing
    • Obliviousness
  • (1:12:44-1:44:07) International
    • Qatar
    • Trump Staff
    • Merkel on trusting America
    • Kabul Bombing
    • China/Ivanka
    • UK Election Results
    • Paris Agreement Feedback
    • French Special Forces
    • Trump and NATO
  • (1:45:16-1:55:15) WWDC
    • Video Autoplay
    • Optimized iMessage Storage
    • iOS Control Center
    • Live Pictures
    • Do not disturb while driving
    • Augmented Reality
    • iPad features
    • Home Pod
    • Lottery

 

The Curmudgeon’s Corner theme music is generously provided by Ray Lynch.

Our intro is “The Oh of Pleasure” (Amazon MP3 link)

Our outro is “Celestial Soda Pop” (Amazon MP3 link)

Both are from the album “Deep Breakfast” (iTunes link)

Please buy his music and support his GoFundMe.

Duck Dash 2017

We did the Duck Dash today… it was fun. :-)

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Punching Customers

This week on Curmudgeon’s Corner, Sam and Ivan do indeed talk about Trump/Russia. But they also talk about a lot of other things. On the newsy side, they talk about the Paris Agreement, special elections, the healthcare bill, the Portland attacks, Clinton’s latest comment about the elections, potential 2020 candidates, Kathy Griffin, and of course covfefe. In other sorts of topics they hit on kids developing accents, the perils of fast food, Plume wifi, and taking big life jumps. All good stuff!

Click below to listen and subscribe!

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Show Details:

Recorded 2017-06-01
Length this week – 1:52:57

  • (0:00:12-0:34:13) But First
    • Agenda
    • Ivan Vacation Accents
    • Fast Food Travails
    • Plume WiFi
    • Big Life Jumps
  • (0:34:49-1:02:00) Trump/Russia
    • Returning the compounds
    • Aligned Interests
    • Liking dictators
    • Not a global community?
    • Investigative progress
    • Just dumb
    • Comey testifying
    • Trump tweets
  • (1:03:20-1:52:37) Other Stuff
    • Covfefe
    • Kathy Griffin
    • Paris Agreement
    • Special Elections
    • Healthcare bill
    • Portland Attack
    • Clinton comments
    • Trump worst case
    • 2020 Candidates

 

The Curmudgeon’s Corner theme music is generously provided by Ray Lynch.

Our intro is “The Oh of Pleasure” (Amazon MP3 link)

Our outro is “Celestial Soda Pop” (Amazon MP3 link)

Both are from the album “Deep Breakfast” (iTunes link)

Please buy his music and support his GoFundMe.

May 2017 Update: A look at Trump favorability vs job approval

Back in March I took a look comparing Trump’s favorability rating (% saying they have a favorable opinion minus % saying they have an unfavorable opinion) to his net job approval (% approving of his job performance minus % disapproving of his job performance). This was interesting because these two ways of measuring Trump’s popularity were not really moving together.

I’ve updated those charts through today. (Once again using pollster.com data for the smoothed trends.) Here is what we have:

Net job approval is much more volatile than favorability rating. This makes sense. People are basically answering, “How do I think Trump is doing RIGHT NOW?” vs “How do I like Trump overall?”. Both have been trending down… down meaning worse for Trump… with the job approval swings looking much more impressive than the slow gradual decline for favorability.

I actually think the favorability number is the more critical one to look at though. Job approval going down just means Trump had a bad week or two. It can easily bounce back if the next week goes better. Favorability going down though probably means people who voted for Trump are actually losing faith in him. They are not just saying he didn’t do great recently, they are saying they no longer like him. Big difference. And that has been slowly heading down since the beginning of February, and seems to have accelerated since the second half of April.

Favorability swings can be reversed too of course, it just seems harder to move than job approval. Having said that, these charts are extended back before the election for a reason. Note the huge swing upward in Trump’s favorability that started a couple weeks before the election and peaked in December. That was a big move in Trump’s direction. A big part of that was just an election bump and people “giving him a chance”, or giving him a boost simply for being President Elect. But it just shows that the right events can move things a lot pretty quickly.

And it shows that Trump has still not come anywhere close to losing all of the additional people who started thinking more favorably about him during that time period. Some of them, sure, but he is still looking a lot better now than he was right before the election. To all the folks hoping for Congressional Republicans to turn on Trump, I’m thinking you have to see the blue line above break the October low before you start seeing any of that sort of thing happen.

But we shall see. :-)

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Facepalms and Headdesks

On this week’s Curmudgeon’s Corner, guest host Jenn joins Sam to talk about the latest developments in the Trump/Russia saga, as well as Trump’s big overseas trip. Those are the big topics, and there is lots to talk about there, but they also touch on Jenn’s love of the Bay Area, healthcare for women, the Manchester attack, ransomware, electronics on planes, and something Sam’s wife is doing. Oh, and another WotD update too.

Click below to listen and subscribe!

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Show Details:

Recorded 2017-05-27
Length this week – 1:36:06

  • (0:00:13-0:10:22) But First
    • Ivan Out
    • Agenda
    • The Bay Area
    • WotD Update
    • Brandy running
  • (0:11:00-0:51:04) Trump/Russia
    • Note taking apps
    • Just Stupidity?
    • Lack of Trust
    • More on Kushner
    • Trump fatigue
    • Nixon comparison
    • Republicans Afraid?
    • Draining the swamp
    • Follow the money
    • Collusion? Or just alignment?
    • Other Russia stuff
  • (0:52:24-1:08:02) Trump Trip
    • Success?
    • Trump and Melania
    • The non-stories
    • Body Language
    • Language Deterioration
    • Saudi Policy
    • NATO Policy
  • (1:09:10-1:35:45) Lightning Round
    • Hotel Lounge
    • Healthcare for Women
    • Search for new FBI Director
    • Manchester
    • Ransomware attack
    • Electronics on planes

 

The Curmudgeon’s Corner theme music is generously provided by Ray Lynch.

Our intro is “The Oh of Pleasure” (Amazon MP3 link)

Our outro is “Celestial Soda Pop” (Amazon MP3 link)

Both are from the album “Deep Breakfast” (iTunes link)

Please buy his music and support his GoFundMe.

Curmudgeon’s Corner: The Russia Trump Hour

This week on Curmudgeon’s Corner Sam and Ivan talk about… well… could it be anything else? Almost the whole show is on the many Trump-Russia developments from the last week. Developments in the Mike Flynn story. Trump talking about tapping conversations. Trump meets with Russians and says things that get him in trouble. Reports on Trump-Comey conversations. The Special Counsel. The continuing investigation. Talk of Impeachment and the 25th amendment. Basically all Trump this week. Except for a Wiki of the Day update.

Click below to listen and subscribe!

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Show Details:

Recorded 2017-05-20
Length this week – 1:57:21

  • (0:00:54-0:14:08) But First
    • All Trump
    • Things not covered
    • Negative news tone
    • Wiki of the Day update
    • Alex interlude
  • (0:14:56-0:45:31) Trump-Russia Part 1
    • Ignored warnings about Flynn
    • Trump tapes?
    • Trump meeting with Russians
    • Trump is a moron
    • Fox effect
  • (0:46:36-1:25:09) Trump-Russia Part 2
    • Taking notes at meetings
    • Trump/Comey meetings
    • Coverup vs Crime
    • Special Council
    • Follow the money
    • McCarthy/Ryan on Trump/Russia
    • Kushner is a person of interest
    • Trump still likes Flynn
    • Russians bragging about Flynn
    • Who Trump people trust
  • (1:25:50-1:57:01) Removal Options
    • No President Hatch
    • Impeachment Route
    • 25th Amendment Route
    • What next?

 

The Curmudgeon’s Corner theme music is generously provided by Ray Lynch.

Our intro is “The Oh of Pleasure” (Amazon MP3 link)

Our outro is “Celestial Soda Pop” (Amazon MP3 link)

Both are from the album “Deep Breakfast” (iTunes link)

Please buy his music and support his GoFundMe.

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Digging A Hole

On this week’s Curmudgeon’s Corner Sam and Ivan spend most of their time on all of the events surrounding Donald Trump firing James Comey. That really is enough for a whole show! But they also talk a bit about bitcoin, Wiki of the Day, the travel ban court cases, and they respond to a listener’s comments on the healthcare debate. Then Sam’s son Alex comes to shut down the show.

Click below to listen and subscribe!

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 1-Click Subscribe in iTunes
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Download MP3 File
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Show Details:

Recorded 2017-05-12
Length this week – 1:34:54

  • (0:00:15-0:21:11) But First
    • The Big News
    • Agenda
    • Digital Hoarding
    • Bitcoin
    • Wiki of the Day
  • (0:22:54-1:04:36) Crazy Trump of the Week
    • Comey Firing Logistics
    • Win-Win Scenario?
    • Trump’s Reason(s)
    • Trump’s surrogates
    • Trump’s NBC Interview
    • FBI Reaction
    • Investigation Next Steps
    • Trump making it worse
    • Reactions
  • (1:06:35-1:34:33) Immigration and Healthcare
    • Travel Ban Arguments
    • Our response to Bruce on Healthcare

 

The Curmudgeon’s Corner theme music is generously provided by Ray Lynch.

Our intro is “The Oh of Pleasure” (Amazon MP3 link)

Our outro is “Celestial Soda Pop” (Amazon MP3 link)

Both are from the album “Deep Breakfast” (iTunes link)

Please buy his music and support his GoFundMe.