Category Archives: #hillaryclinton

Preference Cascade

A few months ago I wrote that I believed that the American Presidential election would be a landslide but I was unsure which side of the mountain was coming down. Wiki-leaks hurt Hillary by exposing the sheer cynicism and routine corruption of Clintonland; but Trump talked about groping women a decade ago so the big guns of the media ignored Wikileaks and concentrated fire on Trump’s sex life.

But today the first boulder of the landslide came crashing down the mountain:

The FBI will investigate whether additional classified material is contained in emails sent using Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was sectretary of state, FBI director James Comey informed Congressional leaders Friday.

The announcement appears to restart the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s server, which previously ended in July with no charges. The explosive announcement, coming less than two weeks before the presidential election, could reshape a campaign in that Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had been leading in public polls.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Comey said that the FBI had, in connection with an “unrelated case,” recently “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.”

Comey wrote that he had been briefed on the new material Thursday. “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation,” he wrote. washington post

Two weeks to election day the FBI re-opens its investigation into Hilly. That is something the MSM cannot suppress and it is something that the average voter can take onboard.

Politically the minutia of Wiki-Leaks was gaining traction but, realistically, probably too slowly to reverse Hilly’s momentum. Trump – contrary to the consensus polling – was, in my view keeping the election close. But he was not able to break through and start running up the score in the states he needs to win. The FBI re-opening its investigation will knock the HRC campaign back on its heels. Now Trump’s far greater positive appeal has a chance to create a genuine landslide.


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Political Landscapes

To make accurate models you need data. Lots of data. Building a model of the American electorate – whether for polling, advertising buys, or for Get Out the Vote efforts – is an exercise in Big Data with huge reams of the stuff being processed by very smart people. As I mentioned in the comments in my last piece, the polling in this election has not “herded” so much as clumped. The preferred MSM narrative has Hilly ahead by quite a bit and is based on a set of polls which are aggregated at The “outliers” to this – USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times “Daybreak” , IBD/TIPP and Rasmussen – consensus position has the race tied or Trump a bit ahead.

Plenty of ink has been spilt trying to explain the clumping as an artefact of the differing methodologies used by the different polling operations: the different samples, different weightings, different measurement techniques. I suspect there is useful information to be gleaned from this sort of comparison but not enough to actually explain what is causing the clumping. For that you need to look at a larger picture.

If you are building a model you have to make some basic assumptions and the most important of these is about what relationship the present has to the past. Put another way, one question you have to ask is how closely the electorate you are looking at right now resembles the electorate of, in this case 2012 and 2008. What’s the same, what’s changed?

Eight years ago America was in the throes of what turned out to be a huge economic crisis. It was offered the chance to elect its first black President. The word Millennial was just entering the lexicon. The iPhone had arrived the year before. So had Netflix as a streaming service.

A few numbers

Traditional media was hanging on in 2008. Newspapers still had readers, advertisers and staff. But that changed a lot in the eight intervening years.  The three big TV networks saw their viewership decline. In fact, overall television watching dropped.

Along with declining “reach” mainstream media also saw trust in media drop to new lows in the last eight years. Only 32% of people surveyed by Gallup September 2016 said they great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in mass media as compared to 43% in 2008. (Actually, only 7% said they had a great deal of trust.)

The number of people of “prime working age” in work in the US – a measure which discounts things like retirement and immigration – was at 78.8% in September 2008 and very nearly the same at 78.0 in September 2016. But during that period it dipped to 75.0 in the aftermath of the 2008 crash.

In the second quarter of 2016 homeownership fell to 62.9% down from 68.1% in 2008. 

And, one more number: there are now more Millennials than Boomers.

Competing Landscapes

The raw material for modelling is the same, those numbers and hundreds of other time series: so how can you have the variance implied by the poll clumping?

If the data was just the data there should be very little variation. But, in fact, each of the data sets I’m citing and many, many others, represent actual human experience. If you owned a house in 2008 and lost it in the housing crisis, you have a particular sort of experience. If you had a job in 2008, lost it in 2010 and have only recently re-entered the labour force you have had a particular sort of experience. If you are a Millennial rather than a Boomer, your lived experience is very, very different. The job you lost in 2009 may have been your first and only job. The job the Boomer lost maybe the very last job he’ll ever have. As a Millennial the job you lost in 2009 may have been your first and only job. The job the Boomer lost maybe the very last job he’ll ever have.

Polls tend to work by adjusting their samples to reflect demographics and an estimate of a given demographic’s propensity to actually vote. On a toy model basis, you can think of it as a layer cake with each layer representing an age cohort. So, for example, if you look at younger voters 18-29 you might find that 90% of them support Hilly and 10% Trump. If there are 100 of these voters in your sample of 500 a simple projection would suggest 90 votes for Hilly, 10 for Trump. The problem is that it is difficult to know how many of those younger voters will actually go out and vote. As a rule of thumb the older you are the more likely you are to vote so now you have to estimate voting propensity.

There are two ways to get a sense of voting propensity: ask the people in your sample or look at the behaviour of people the same age but in the last couple of elections.

And now the landscape begins to shift. In 2008, nearly 50% of voters aged 18-29 voted. In 2012, 40% voted. In both elections, the youth vote was heavily pro-Obama. If you were designing a poll at this point, what sort of weighting would make sense for youth voters? Making that call will change the landscape your poll will reflect. If you want your poll to tilt Hilly you can believe that the prospect of the first woman President of the United States will be as motivating as Obama was and assign a voting propensity of 40-50%; alternatively, if you don’t see many signs of Hillary catching fire among younger voters, you can set the propensity number at 30% and create a tie or a slight Trump lead.

(The results of this are even more dramatic if you look at the black vote and turnout. In 2008 black turnout was 69.1%, 2012, 67.4% with Obama taking well over 90%. Will the nice white lady achieve anything like these numbers?)

One the other side of the ledger, the turnouts of the less educated have been low for the last two elections. 52% in 2008 and a little less than 50 in 2012. There is room for improvement. Now, as any educated person will tell you, often at length, Trump draws a lot of support in the less educated cohorts. But that support is easily discounted because these people (the deplorables and their ilk) barely show up to vote.

Build your model on the basis that lower education people’s participation in 2016 will be similar to 2008 and 20012 and you will produce a result in line with the consensus view. But if you think that the tens of thousands people who show up for Trump’s rallies might just show up to vote, you will have a model tending towards the LA Times view of things.

Pick Your Landscape

If you, like me, cannot stand Hillary and think she belongs in prison, you are going to tend towards a view of the landscape in which the black vote collapses and the idiocracy figures out how the calendar works and shows up in all their bumpkin splendour. If you think Trump is a giant orange racist/groper/fascist, the Millennials will all serenely leave the coffee houses where they serve in honour of their women’s studies degrees and student debt and nobly vote for Hilly despite really wanting Bernie. Black people will embrace Hilly and give Obama a great send off by voting for the nice white lady.

What will determine the actual political landscape is who actually shows up to vote on November 8th. The danger which the consensus poses to Hillary is that her own, not terrifically enthusiastic supporters, may assume the election is in the bag and binge watch Orange is the New Black, on Netflix, on their smartphone. Because, after Trump’s measured performance in last night’s debate, the wind has gone out of the “literally Hitler” sails. Voting against Trump is no longer quite like hiding Anne Frank in your attic.

For Trump the last three weeks of campaigning are all about getting his people, his deplorables to believe, against all past experience that their votes matter. His rallies, his Tweet fights, his advertising all have to pound home the message that ordinary people’s votes matter.

And then, of course, there are those “events” which are beyond the candidates and the pollster’s control.

Final thought:

Gallup Poll, Oct 26, 1980, Two Weeks Before Election:



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I admit I wanted Trump to thump Hilly tonight. I wanted him to call her out on lying to the FBI, to Congress, to the American People. I wanted him to hit her on the corruption infecting the Clinton Foundation. I wanted him to nail her on her campaign paying professional agitators to disrupt Trump rallies.

Now, he did all that but not the way I wanted him to. No roundhouse punches, no swinging for the fences, instead Trump played to win. Which made for dull television but, I think, may have locked it up for him.

I wrote a couple of days ago that if Trump could go for the father/grandfather thing, look sane and competent, he’d pull the votes he needed. That was the route he took tonight.

Hilly was in there fighting. But she wandered off her own points. Extolled the Clinton Foundation, rambled on while both the very good moderator, Chris Wallace and Trump tried to get a word in edgewise. Tried to own the minutes like she was the challenger rather than the gal with the big poll numbers.

Trump leaned back. He made his points but he managed to project a sense of self-assurance I had not seen before.

I think he won on points but, unlike the first and second debates, he seemed easy in himself. Some of the annoying swagger was gone. He let Hilly run on about her set pieces without letting her get under his skin. If anything he was a bit too mellow, a bit too measured. He was running up points but he was not fist pumping every time he scored one.

Hillary certainly scored sufficient points that the MSM will be able to tout the debate as a Hilly win. But, if she had scored no points at all, the MSM would score it exactly the same way.

For Trump tonight was largely about showing the undecided voters that they have nothing to fear in a Trump Presidency. I think he did that. Draining the hysteria was job #1, scoring points, which he did well, was a distant second.

Hillary now retreats to her bunker – although she now has some event scheduled between now and the end of the month – and Trump keeps his show on the road.

The other thing which happened tonight is that Chris Wallace ensured that he would be struck off the party lists of all sorts of establishment types. He brought up Wikileaks, he brought up the Veritas videos, he asked about Hilly giving a quarter of a million dollar speech. He asked Trump some tough questions too, but it was refreshing to see a degree of even-handedness. And it put Wikileaks and Veritas and Hilly’s speeches into play.

Trump had a great night, Hilly had an OK night, but the final three weeks are going to be more about her corruption than Trump’s buffoonery. Which means that, net, Hilly got killed.

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Whoever wins, a very large part of the electorate–perhaps more than a third–will believe that the government lacks legitimacy. We have not had circumstances like this since the Civil War. If Trump loses, his voters will blame a corrupt oligarchy and its allied media for electing a criminal to the White House; if Clinton loses, the minority constituencies of the Democratic Party will respond as if the Klu Klux Klan had taken over Washington. There has never been anything like this in the past century and a half of American history, and it is thankless to predict the outcome. Nonetheless I will: Trump will crush it. Clinton, the major media, the pollsters, and the mainstream Republican Party have badly misread the insurrectionist mood of the electorate.

David “Spengler” Goldman

The whole Goldman piece is worth a read.

Goldman is about the last person one would expect to foresee a Trump victory. He is smart, connected, deeply Jewish and very much at the intelligent patrician end of the vast right wing conspiracy. But Goldman understands that this election is a referendum on whether or not the American People are willing to put up with another four years of corruption on both sides of the aisle or if they are willing to “drain the swamp”.

Goldman sense that the Americans have had enough.

I think he’s right. But I have ben disappointed before.

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Events, dear boy, events

At the top of my blog I have the possibly apocryphal quotation from Harold Macmillian on what might blow a government off course. “Events, my dear boy, events.” reflects the reality of political life. Nothing stays constant. Stuff comes up.

The American Presidential Election of 2016 has been surprisingly “event” free. Obviously, the nomination of Trump would count as an event but other than that? Well I would count Comely taking the dive on the Clinton emails as game changing but, and it is an important caveat, it is not clear if the “dive” will hold until election day. (The Trump tape and the subsequent parade of outraged damsels is not so much an event as a media mugging skillfully executed. A master class in the time honoured American political tradition of mud slinging.)

At this point, a game changing event has to be simple. Black and white. As long as Hilly can run a grey goo sort of campaign and spend most of her time away from a supine press, she has a good chance of winning. As that is exactly what she seems to be doing, changing the game means that the “event” has to cut Trump’s way bigly.

That valancing rules out a number of events which no one wants to see. A serious international confrontation with the Russians or the Chinese for example. For all of Obama’s cyber sword rattling (and how dumb is that?), a real confrontation would tend to freeze the game and with it the chances of a Trump victory.

Similarly, an international terror attack somewhere not in the US, regardless of casualty numbers, would be a push.  Neither campaign would be affected to any great degree. And I would add things like the fall of Aleppo or Mosul to that category. At this stage, the American political campaign is really about America rather than the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, a domestic terror attack on a significant scale could have a significant impact if it was immediately clear that it was Islamically inspired. Even more so, if the perpetrators were refugees or recent immigrants. No one could wish for such a thing but it would certainly push Trump’s hardline message forward and knock the faux outrage of the ladies brigade off the front page for plenty of news cycles.

A full-on financial crisis – similar to 2008 – would certainly be an event. If Trump was smart enough to avoid suspending his campaign while it was going on. At the moment the US stock market is at historic highs and that usually means a sell-off is imminent. But that is not the stuff of financial nightmares. The more likely trigger is the possible collapse of Germany’s biggest bank, Deutsche Bank. The arguments rage in the financial press as to whether Deutsche Bank is “too big to fail” but banking itself is about confidence and when that confidence goes things can go pear-shaped very fast. Given Deutsche’s exposure to a huge portfolio of derivatives, even a solid rumour of its demise could be a huge downward shock to markets worldwide.

The American electorate is still shaking off the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. If there is a full on financial shock between now and Election Day and the parallel to 2008 is drawn, the thought of a President who will extend the Obama economic policies will be pretty unappealing. A financial crisis might not boost voter enthusiasm for Trump but it would reduce any excitement about voting for Hilly. Low Dem turnout is an actual threat to any lead Hilly might have.

The final event is interesting because it requires a decision on the part of only two or three people. But they are specific people. For anyone paying attention, it is pretty clear that the FBI investigation of the Hilly emails and server was fixed from the go. Comely stood up at his press conference and gave a list of particulars which would have served to indict virtually anyone who had done what Hilly and her associates had done. Subsequently, we have learned that along with the violations of the law implicit in running her basement server, Clinton and her associates actively worked to obstruct justice and disobey subpoenas.  But Comely took a dive and the FBI conducted what appears to be a “friends and family” style non-investigation.

At this point, there are plenty of rumours floating around that senior FBI people are very unhappy that Comely took his dive. But to be a game-changing event, to destroy HRC, at least one or two of these people have to come forward and detail their concerns. Rumours don’t create events.

Ultimately, elections are won and lost because one narrative beats another. Trump’s narrative – that Clinton and the political/media elite she both serves and controls is corrupt – has been an easy sell to 35-40% of the electorate. The evidence, in detail, is deeply persuasive if you are paying even a bit of attention. However, so far as I can see, Trump has not been able to close that sale with the 4 or 5% of the electorate he needs to win.

The Clinton campaign is brilliant at providing salacious, decades old, allegations to feed the celebrity-obsessed media and obscure her conduct. Hilly and her people have used every trick in the book to avoid dealing with her lawlessness, her lying and her deep corruption. And because that corruption is complicated it is difficult for ordinary people to really figure out what is going on.

Were an FBI agent or two to step forward with their apparently real concerns as to the conduct of the Hilly investigation and the failure to file charges, the smoke Hilly has been blowing would clear in an instant and the real question in this election would become apparent:

Do Americans want to elect a criminal as their President?

It would be an event.



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Pinch Hitter

Imagine you were advising Hilly. She is sitting on a slim lead but even going full slime on Trump she is not generating much enthusiasm. She can’t really do press conferences because things like her total lack of recall in written answers to questions about her emails will come up. So what do you do?

Well, first off you pull her off the trail. The problem is that when people see Hilly they leave a bit underwhelmed. She is not terrifically likeable. The Clinton campaign knows this and she has nothing public scheduled until the debate on the 19th.

You could send Bill on the road – which the HRC campaign is doing – but the problem is that people keep showing up at his events and calling him a rapist. Not a good look.

But you have to do something.

Between now and the 25 of October Hilly has one scheduled event, the debate.

So, how about putting the very popular, not unattractive, Michelle Obama out there to shill for Hill?

At the moment MO is not scheduled for much but I expect that will change rather quickly as the HRC campaign realizes that the slime just sort of drips off Trump. And realizes that the Wikileaks are just going to keep coming. And realizes that there is every possibility that one or more disgruntled G-Men are going to void their NDAs and rat out the faux FBI “investigation” of Hilly’s server and subsequent obstruction of justice. All of which will hit in the critical last two weeks of October.

Putting Mrs. Obama out on the road might shore up black support – and get African Americans to actually vote. It also might light a fire under all those college educated women Hilly needs to win.

Worth a shot and Michelle can then pretty much have the Dem nomination in 2020 when Hilly is carried out of the White House for the last time.


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Post Debate

Scanning around the internet the Trump supporters seem to be saying “Our guy won.” and the Hilly supporters are going with “Our gal didn’t lose.”

I thought Trump won on points. Much more polished than he was in the first debate and more willing to take the shots he needed to. I also think he spiked the grope gun.

What Trump did not do is knock Hilly out. She was still standing at the end of the debate which enabled her media supporters to claim “no loss, undefeated” and go back to attacking Trump.

A few days ago, Scott Adams suggested that if nothing came up between now and the election Hilly would win. He went on to say that the livelihood of nothing coming up was precisely zero. Coming out of the debate I think that is a pretty solid analysis. Trump won this debate and defused the grope tape. Hilly held her ground. If she continues to do no better than hold her ground I suspect she will win.

Trump needs to do, and be seen to do, at least two things: first, keep doing his rallies and try to expand them. A lot of people have to see that it is ok to vote for Trump. While there are plenty of people who will stay home rather than vote for Hilly, that will not win Trump the election. He has to make voting for him attractive enough to get people out to the polls.

The second thing Trump has to do is underline the reality of Hilly’s criminal conduct. He made a good start in the debate but it needs to be hammered home.

The fact is that there will almost certainly be another damaging revelation about Trump in the next four weeks. Possibly before the next debate. Trump needs to be prepared to pivot whatever that revelation is back onto Hilly’s criminal activity.

At the same time, it is a pretty good bet that there will be a few revelations about Hilly in that same time frame. While Hilly can rely on the MSM to bury most of them, there are likely to be one or two stories even the MSM can’t kill.

A couple of senior serving FBI agents resigning in protest over the handling of the criminal investigation of Clinton would be tough to ignore.

Trump needs to be ready to jump on this sort of thing. Jump in a focused, precise, damning way. He showed much more discipline in this last debate. Whether that discipline will last is a whole other question.

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A very vulgar man

I can’t imagine it comes as any surprise that Donald Trump said rude, arrogant things eleven years ago. I rather suspect he said rude, arrogant, things last week.

The nice girls are shocked. Appalled. But the nice girls were not exactly Trump’s core support. The establishment Republicans are clutching their pearls and lamenting that, somehow, Trump has hijacked the Republican Party and it really shouldn’t be allowed. The National Review has pretty much collapsed into hysterical tears.

I suspect the whole thing will, having been pumped up ahead of tomorrow’s debate and in the wake of the revelations that Hilly is happy to admit she has policies for public consumption and policies she actually believes in private, be forgotten when the debate performances come in.

At this point Trump goes into the debate as the underdog. His last debate performance was panned, he’s on tape sounding like a reality TV star and his poll numbers are dropping. If he actually loses tomorrow he is likely finished. But the concept of “actually losing” involves really being savaged by Hilly and the moderators. Basically being KO’d. That could happen but it is unlikely.

More likely is that he fights even or wins on points. Winning on points, of course, means that he does not make any fatal errors for the media to pounce on.

The other alternative, and one which would be a surprise, is that Trump pays serious attention and just mauls Hilly. He has plenty of ammunition, the problem last time was his lack of focus. If he hits her on trade, immigration, jobs, Benghazi, lying to Congress, lying to the FBI, destroying evidence and obstructing justice and keeps hitting her he could very easily pull out a win.

The pussy remarks, in many ways, inoculate a lot of voters to Trump’s essential vulgarity. He is not a gentleman by any stretch of the imagination. But they also serve to remind the great American electorate of Hilly’s husband actual acts and her willingness to stand by and defend the sexual brutalism of Bill Clinton.

The electorate which is paying attention will assume that the pussy tape was fed to a willing media by the Clinton camp. It was a low and effective blow. But it essentially frees Trump from any gentlemanly constraints in putting Hilly on the mat. If he can.

The chance Trump has tomorrow is to demonstrate that he really is the tough SOB he has projected himself as. Does he have the capacity to knock Hilly down and then, while she is metaphorically lying on the ground, put the boots in so she simply cannot get back up? A technical knock out is useless in a street fight; you need to put your opponent down so they don’t come back at you.

I am not sure Trump is that tough. And I am not sure he is skilful enough to use the ammunition thirty years of Clinton corruption has put at his disposal. If he isn’t he will lose the debate and, likely, the election. But, the pussy tape gives him the social licence to fight hard and just as dirty as he wants.

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Turkish Muslim “Hispanic”

You have to go to a British paper at this point to get the nationality and religion of the Cascade mall shooter.

And, of course, the motive is “unclear” and terrorism is not suspected.

Motive is likely important here: if this bastard was just going to the mall to shoot a girl who wouldn’t date him and a few random strangers, it will all be ok and nothing to do with Islam or immigration. If, on the other hand, it turns out that the creep was doing it for ISIS or was self-radicallized, the gently, gently media will go with the mentally deranged, lone wolf, narrative.

Anything to avoid asking if Arcan Cetin was a worthwhile person to have allowed into the US. Because: racist, Islamophobic and very bad indeed. Besides, his Twitter and Facebook accounts suggest he’s a Hilly support so no point in looking too closely.

But, and it is a big but, it also works as a boy meets girl, gets bounced by girl and goes in and kills her story. I am not sure that is much consolation.

Update: You can see this guy’s FaceBook timeline here

Apparently in high school ROTC. No sign at all of Islam or radicalization as far as I can see.

Update #2: Ooopsie…now his Facebook page is closed:



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Pro-Wrestling hits the Presidential Debates

The Clinton campaign thought they were being clever inviting billionaire loud mouth Mark Cuban to sit in the front row of Monday’s debate and what? Glower? Heckle?

It is a fatal mistake to try to out reality TV the master of reality TV.

Trump has invited Bill Clinton’s ex-mistress Gennifer Flowers to the debate and she’s accepted.

When it comes to throwing chairs the Clinton people are rank amateurs. I mean Trump is actually in the WWE Hall of Fame. He’ll put Flowers in the front row and she won’t have to say a thing.

And the best part is that it is pretty clear that the Clinton people started the race to the bottom.

Now, for real fun, I bet Monica Lewinsky might be available Monday night.

Beer, popcorn, big screen TV…I am looking forward to a deplorable evening of fun.

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