Tag Archives: mid-term elections

Showing Up

Mid-Term Elections, Donald Trump, Brad ParscaleWith less than a day to Mid-Term election day polls are narrowing and pundits are coming up with all sorts of reasons why the Democrats will hold the House of Representatives. Most of the pundits – who are pretty universally Democrat-leaning – have conceded that the Republicans will hold the Senate but the House seems to offer the best chance for a Democratic victory. I wrote a month ago that I was not convinced that the House would swing Democrat and I ascribed that to the popularity of President Trump.

After a month of hectic campaigning, I see no reason to revise that thinking. In fact, if anything, the Republicans seem to have been galvanized by the Trump rallies, the Kavanaugh outrage and the poor people in the caravan(s) heading for America’s southern borders.

Early voting is up. Much higher than it usually is for mid-term elections. And in states where people are registered Democrats or Republicans, it appears more registered Republicans are voting early than Democrats.

2016 demonstrated that the polling model – generally and specifically – is badly broken. However, the question is whether the breakage is valanced in any way. The reason why polling is broken is that people are not as willing to answer their phones as they were twenty or even ten years ago and large numbers of people no longer have landlines. Their mobile is their only phone. And you cannot legally autodial cell phones. Ten years ago you could argue that the cell revolution skewed young and therefore young people were likely undersampled. In theory, young people were more likely to support Democrats thus the cell issue was valanced with Democratic Party support underreported.

To compensate for this, polling organizations overweight their samples to try and capture the missing Democratic support. It is a dark art and one which grows increasingly unreliable as more and more people become unreachable or unresponsive to pollsters.

The other huge change in the last decade is the waning of the influence of mass (and hugely liberal) media. Newspapers are in their death throes, network television is fighting for audience with cable and both are being sidelined by everything from Netflix to You-Tube to Facebook. Where people get their news and where they see advertising has profoundly changed.

A decade ago, in a tight race, a Party might make a strategic TV ad buy to haul its candidate across the finish line. Parties are still doing this but it is not at all obvious that races can be swung with a million dollar last-minute ad buy.

So how will the 50 or so House races which matter be decided?

I am pretty certain that many of these races will come down to which party gets out its vote, the good old-fashioned “ground game” with some information age bells and whistles.

Which is the reason I think the best indicator of tomorrow’s result is the surge in early registered Republican voting. The ground game begins long before the election and one of the key strategies is to get your identified voters to the polls as early as possible. The logic being that that reduces the amount of work which has to be done on election day. The Republicans spent a lot of time and a lot of money identifying their supporters in battleground states in the 2016 election. Those lists are fresh and available to candidates and campaigns.

E-Day tactics have not changed much in fifty years. A successful campaign will target its supporters who have not voted and get them to the polls. Phone calls and, even better, door knocks can make a huge difference in the final result. It is hard, not very glamorous, work.

But the Trump machine has done something no mid-term campaign in history has done: it has managed to get its activist core to register themselves as activists. This was the brilliance of the Trump rallies.

I very much doubt that a single mind was changed as Trump rocketed from hanger to hanger with Air Force One doing double duty as the world’s most exclusive stage prop. The rallies were all about affirmation, being part of something, knowing you were not alone. But they were also a brilliant way to collect GOTV data.

To go to a rally you had to register, online, for a ticket. Literally, tens of thousands of hard core Trump supporters registered. Over all I suspect well over a million people willingly gave up their emails and phone number for a chance to get a ticket to the Trumpaloza in their state. Which meant they self-identified as Trump Republicans. And it also gave individual campaigns lists of people who were likely to a) vote early, b) be willing to work on the GOTV effort, c) be ready, willing and able to knock on the doors for the E-Day effort.

Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is data driven. But he also understands that data without action is pointless. The rallies with their registrations have given the Republicans an army in the battlefield states the likes of which the Republicans have never had before.

We’ll see on Tuesday if it is enough to add seats in the Senate and hold the House.

It will depend on who shows up.

Update: Tuesday Afternoon. Reading anecdotal reports on turnout. The general trend seems to be high turnouts – at or better than Presidential – in red areas. Low turnout reported in some blue areas. You have to read a lot of reports to get a decent picture and there will be confirmation bias all over the place; but those trends are what will be needed for a red wave.

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The Coming Trump Majority

For assorted Establishment/elite commentators the fact that Trump is still President is as astonishing as it is annoying. The 25th Amendment, impeachment, Mueller or simply the complete breakdown of the Administration were all more likely than Trump having a week like he had last week. Trade deal, Kavanaugh confirmation, lowest unemployment in 60 or is it 70 years: this can’t be happening but it is.

There are less than 30 days until the mid-term elections for all of the House of Representatives and about a third of the Senate. The MSM, the Establishment commentators and “nice people” generally are talking up “the Blue Wave” where university educated suburban women will rise as one and toss the orange ogre onto the scrap heap of history where he so obviously belongs. Then, with a majority in the House of Representatives, the Democrats will be able to launch impeachment, conduct investigations and ensure the evil which is Trump will be sent to the Senate for a speedy impeachment trial and conviction. All will be right with the world.

The nice suburban ladies, the establishment media and right thinking people everywhere are, I am afraid, going to be in for a bit of a shock.

There is a chance that one or two Republican Senators may be defeated by Democrats, but there is a much better chance that those Republican Senate seats will hold and two or three sitting Democratic Senators will be defeated leaving the Senate at 53-56 Republicans and Trump entirely safe from conviction in a purely political impeachment.

The House is a tougher call. Hundreds of local races, lots of gerrymandering from both sides, polling all over the place with tiny sample sizes and often skewed questions. At the moment the Republicans hold 235 seats, the Democrats 193 seats and there are seven vacancies. That’s a margin of 43 seats so the “Blue Wave” has to take 22 to hold a tiny majority.

Conventional wisdom says that mid-term elections tend to result in a swing away from the sitting President’s party and that alone brings that 22 seat swing inside the realm of possibility. Add to that the President’s unpopularity…but wait, it turns out Trump is not particularly unpopular.

“The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-seven per cent (47%) disapprove.” link

(And for my lefty friends yelling, “But it is Rasmussen.” I note that Rasmussen was a whole lot closer to predicting Trump’s win over Hilly than virtually any other poll.)

However, politics is more than just day to day polling results. It is about momentum, engagement, enthusiasm and the “mood” of the electorate.

Kavanaugh was a huge win for Trump because Trump got the job done and because the Democrats were revealled as a bitter, nasty, bunch of people who were willing to stoop to anything to cling to some sort of power. Even Republican “never Trumpers” were forced to admit that Trump was infinitely better than the Dianne Feinsteins of this world. The nomination and hearings also confirmed that the Hollywood/media/Democratic party nexus was shrill, irrational and really very unpleasant. And, as a bonus, the underhandedness of the Democrats and Trump’s willingness to stand by his nominee cemented the Republican Party behind Trump and behind itself.

Kavanaugh also underlined the collapse of the audience and moral authority of traditional media. There was not even a hint of objectivity in the coverage: Ford just had be telling the truth and if you questioned that you were enabling rape. Which would be fine coming from the mouths of activists, but coming from news anchors and commentators it made millions of essentially open-minded people question why they were watching “this crap”.

Trump understands the collapse of the MSM and uses it ruthlessly. He mocks the media, he tweets over their heads and, perhaps most importantly, he holds rally after rally.

There has never been a President who has been willing to do three to five public events a week, week after week, targetted at the battleground states. No, Trump is not going to do a rally in New York City or LA. Why would he? There are no seats to be won in either city. But he is willing to go out into the red states and rouse the base. He’s relentless. And at every rally he brings home his message of tax cuts, low unemployment, jobs, the return of manufacturing, fair trade, doing right by veterans, restoring America’s place in the world.

The Democrats have nothing to compare: though Bill and Hilly are, apparently, going on a stadium tour with the cheapest seats $60 and the better seats $600. Trump is practising retail politics on a wholesale level and he is simply getting better and better at it.

All which leads me to think there is a better than even chance that Trump will, at least, hold the House. But there is also a very good chance that the generic polling is wrong and that the Trump led Republicans are going to do a lot better than a hold.

The fact is that there are not actually all that many college educated, white, suburban women and those that there are will not vote as a solid block. The travesty of the Kavanaugh hearings and the sheer cynicism of the Democratic Senators – not to mention the cheesy grandstanding of Booker and Harris and the liar Blumenthal – will have alienated more than a few of the suburban ladies. Especially women who have sons.

There are also a lot of non-college educated, non-white, non-suburban people who are actually doing well with Trump. Black unemployment is at an all-time low, Hispanic unemployment is also at an all-time low. These groups historically are in the Democratic Party’s pocket but that can change. If it does change, even a little, there are dozens of Congressional seats which come into play.

Trump likes to win. He has solid political advisors and they like to win. It has occured to the Republican leadership that they do a lot better with Trump’s support than when they oppose him. It has occured to dozens of Republican candidates that Trump’s endorsement moves votes.

For a growing number of Americans, Trump’s policies are beginning to make sense. They have more money in their pocket and their kids have better prospects.

Walking into the mid-term polling station a lot of voters will ask themselves if they want to vote to derail the Trump train or if they want to climb on board.

You’d have to give me odds, but I would not be at all surprised to see the Republican majority in the House get up to 250 seats and, in the Senate, to 56. But, realistically, if that happens it will not be a Republican majority, it will be a Trump majority.

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