Friday, October 21, 2016

The Early Election: Signs Point To Hillary

Many people tend to overlook that these days, voting begins several weeks before "election day."  According to data compiled by political scientist Michael McDonald at, nearly 40% of votes in the 2012 Presidential election were cast before election day.  That total could be eclipsed this year, although some states have curtailed early voting for political reasons.

As of this morning, according to McDonald's data, more than 4 million people have already voted in this election.  With early "in-person" voting starting in more and more states, that figure will go up rapidly over the next few days.

States vary widely in the data they report from the early ballots.  No state, of course, reports on who the early voters cast their ballots for, but some do provide useful demographic information.

Some interesting tidbits from the data so far:

Iowa is a state where Donald Trump has consistently polled favorably.  He holds a 3.7% lead over Hillary in the polling average for that state.  But Iowans have been voting now for quite a few days, and the tilt is heavily Democratic.  So far, 235,000 votes have been cast in Iowa (there were 1.5 million total in the state in 2012).  Of those, 49% are from registered Democrats, and 32% from Republicans.  In contrast, in 2012, 42% of absentee ballots were from Dems, and 32% from Republicans.

Of course, that doesn't mean Hillary is winning or Trump is losing.  The data could (and likely will) change as additional ballots come in.  Also, it may be that traditional blue collar white Democrats in Iowa are voting for Trump.  So, we won't get too excited about the data so far.  But, if I was Trump, I'd be worried--if he loses Iowa, he is likely to go down to a landslide defeat nationally.

North Carolina and Georgia provide a demographic breakdown of their early voting data.  What's interesting here is the gender divide.  In Georgia, 433,000 votes have been cast (3.9 million total votes in 2012).  Of those, 56% are from women and 42% from men.  (Nationally, women make up about 53% of all voters.)

In NC, 221,000 ballots have been cast, of which 55% are from women and 43% men.

Of course, this could just be that women are voting early, and men will catch up at some point.  And it doesn't tell you who they are voting for.

Finally, in Virginia it is noteworthy that early balloting in Democratically strong Northern Virginia is up 56% over 2012.  Virginia is probably a lost cause for Trump anyway--polling has consistently shown a race their that is not close at all.

Trump Lost The Election The Day He Announced His Candidacy

The election is almost here, and barring something very unexpected, Hillary Clinton will be our next President.

That is pretty surprising, given that at the outset of the nomination process a year and a half ago, a generic Republican easily beat Hillary in a hypothetical match-up.

But then Donald Trump threw his hat in the ring.  The very day that Trump made his campaign announcement, he both won the GOP nomination and lost the general election.  As soon as Trump made his now infamous statement about Mexican rapists and criminals, he vaulted to the top of the GOP nomination heap.  Unfortunately, there is a sizable portion of the Republican base that delights in overt immigrant bashing and racism, and by saying it bluntly, Trump made himself the darling of these voters.

At the same time (and I said it to a friend at the time, while sitting in Trump's golf club in Sterling, Va.), he lost the general election, even to a candidate as unpopular as Hillary.  Bigotry is not a popular position in the US, and, thankfully, the larger electorate will generally shy away from a candidate who expresses himself or herself in a bigoted way.

It's too bad, because our country could use a vigorous debate on POLICY issues, rather than personality.  We benefit from such debate, as it often helps us to get to a moderate, middle ground position that is usually better for the large majority of citizens.  (This is the what our founders envisaged, with their system of checks and balances.)

As one example, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (a fairly conservative Republican), recently had the courage and intellectual honesty to defend free trade--which neither Trump nor Clinton will do, although Clinton probably favors free trade.  Free trade provides our country with numerous benefits, including lower cost (not quality) goods, and vigorous markets for our exports.  The idea that we are somehow going to go back to being an industrial manufacturing economy is pretty ludicrous.  Moreover, we wouldn't want to.  Manufacturing jobs are increasingly becoming automated; we are better off that our economy has already moved on.

In any event, let's hope the Republican Party can right its ship.  I fear otherwise--Trump has basically written a playbook for future campaigns. If you want to distinguish yourself in a large field of Republicans, be a bigot (and try to mask it by saying you're just not being "politically correct").

Perhaps a new, centrist conservative party will emerge--one that embraces fiscal and economic conservatism, libertarianism, AND ethnic, religious and sexual diversity.