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Majority Supports Independent Counsel To Investigate Ties Between Russia, Trump Campaign

Trump Russia

A new poll shows that most Americans support the appointment of an Independent Counsel to investigate allegations of Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 elections as well as the alleged contact between Trump campaign officials and representatives of the Russian government:

A majority of voters support appointing a special prosecutor to investigate alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign staff and the Russian government, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted in the immediate wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from any related investigations.

Fifty-six percent of registered voters support appointing a special prosecutor, a far greater share than the 30 percent who oppose an independent counsel investigating the matter. Thirteen percent of voters don’t have an opinion.

Three out of four Democratic voters support a special prosecutor, compared to 39 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents.

The poll was conducted last Thursday through Monday and went into the field just hours after Sessions announced he wouldn’t take part in any investigation into the Trump campaign. At a press conference at the Justice Department last Thursday, Sessions admitted meeting twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Because those meetings occurred as part of his duties as a then-senator from Alabama, according to Sessions, he didn’t mislead his colleagues when he said he had no interactions with Russian government officials while serving as a Trump campaign “surrogate.”

The controversy over Sessions’ January testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee appears to have been slow to filter down to the public, and many are still undecided on the matter. But early opinion suggests more voters believe Sessions wasn’t forthcoming with the committee. Only 29 percent of voters think Sessions was truthful, while 38 percent believe he wasn’t. But nearly a third, 32 percent, say they don’t know if Sessions told the truth.

Overall, voters are split on whether any Russian involvement influenced the results of last year’s presidential election: 41 percent think it did, while 42 percent believe it didn’t. Another 17 percent aren’t sure. It breaks largely on partisan lines, with 69 percent of Democratic voters saying the Russians influenced the voting, and 71 percent of Republicans saying they didn’t. Independents are also divided, with 35 percent saying Russia influenced the results, and 40 percent saying it didn’t.

Currently, of course, the investigation, the nature of which is unknown since neither the Justice Department nor the F.B.I. are commenting publicly on the matter, is being handled by the Bureau and by career employees of the Justice Department. Additionally, the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions means that supervision of the investigation has fallen to Dana Boente, who previously served as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia before being named Acting Attorney General by President Trump after Sally Yates was dismissed due to the controversy over Trump initial Muslim immigration ban. Since Sessions took office at the beginning of February, Boente has served as Deputy Attorney General and will most likely remain in that position until President Trump’s nominee Rod Rosenstein, who has served as United States Attorney for Maryland since 2005, is confirmed by the Senate.  Since there is no longer an Office of Independent Counsel thanks to the fact that Congress allowed the law authorizing the office to lapse in no small part due to the perceived excesses of investigations launched under the law, responsibility to request and appoint such an “independent counsel” would fall to either Boente or Rosenstein. The last time the Justice Department took this step in a high-profile case was when Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to investigate the leaks regarding Valerie Plame’s status as a covert CIA agent, which was a serious violation of the law.

As things stand, I’m not sure whether an independent counsel is necessary in this case or not. The argument in favor of such an appointment are, of course, obvious. It has been alleged that the Russian government, either on its own or working together with international hackers who may or may not have known they were essentially working as agents of the Russians, sought to use hacked information from the Democratic National Committee and other sources to influence the outcome of the election. As I have said repeatedly for months now, this is a serious allegation that needs to be investigated thoroughly, both by Congress so that the American public is aware of what if anything happened in 2016 and by law enforcement so it can be determined if any laws were broken and what steps we can take to prevent something like this from happening in the future. It’s also been alleged that employees and associates of one of the two major candidates for President had both long-standing business ties to Russia and contacts with Russian government officials both before and after Election Day. While these contacts aren’t necessarily unusual, they do raise eyebrows given the other allegations against Russia and the fact that the candidate in question, Donald Trump, has long been unusually obsequious toward Vladimir Putin. The fact that Trump is now President rightfully calls into question the possibility that a Justice Department investigation will be tainted by political considerations, so there is definitely an argument in favor of appointment an ostensibly apolitical outsider, such as a long-serving career Justice Department attorney.

At the same time, it’s worth recognizing that there are downsides to an “independent counsel” that ought to be taken into consideration before getting fully behind the idea. Both in the Starr investigation and others that were authorized under the old law that authorized the creation of an Office of Independent Counsel that was wholly independent of the Justice Department, there are numerous examples of the excesses that can be committed when a Federal prosecutor with an unlimited budget and essentially nobody looking over his shoulder is given authority to investigate or target specific individuals. Starr, for example, was initially only supposed to be investigating the Clinton’s business dealings surrounding the land deal known as Whitewater but, slowly but surely, that investigation expanded to the point where it resulted in the impeachment of a President who a lie about receiving oral sex from a young intern in the White House. Indeed, Starr’s final report concentrated more on the sexual misconduct allegations against President Clinton than it did on the initial reason he was appointed, which turned out to fruitless when it came to finding any criminal or civil wrongdoing by the President, First Lady, or anyone in the White House. There were similar excesses with respect to Iran/Contra Independent Counsel Laurence Walsh and others, and even Patrick Fitzgerald, who was appointed by the Justice Department after the law lapsed was never able to convict anyone for illegally leaking Plame’s identity as a covert agent. These are excesses that the late Justice Scalia presciently warned of in his dissent in Morrison v. Olsen, the 1988 Supreme Court case that upheld the constitutionality of the Independent Counsel statute. Because of those excesses, we ought to be careful before taking this step, although it may become necessary depending on where the investigation eventually leads.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Munchtheterriblebox says:

    but we should be careful before taking this step.

    Why? Wouldn’t want zero caught up in the drag net?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

  2. al-Alameda says:

    Indeed, Starr’s final report concentrated more on the sexual misconduct allegations against President Clinton than it did on the initial reason he was appointed, which turned out to fruitless when it came to finding any criminal or civil wrongdoing by the President, First Lady, or anyone in the White House.

    Kenneth Starr did more to discredit the term “independent” counsel than any one else could have.

    Frankly, after (1) 5+ years of Ken Starr fishing for whatever he wanted about the Clintons, and (2) the recent 4+ years of Representatives Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz running constant repetitive multiple congressional investigations in an effort to take Hillary Clinton down, I’ll be shocked if there is a congressional or Justice Department investigation of Russia-Trump.

    Unless more damaging disclosures come to light nothing is going to happen. It needs to get a lot more appalling, enough so that more Republicans peel off to support an investigation.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  3. Lit3Bolt says:

    They didn’t expect to win.

    This was all about a disinformation campaign, orchestrated by Russia, to kneecap the coming Clinton Presidency. Allegations from the e-mail server leaking classified info, horrible stories of botched risotto recipes, Donna Brazile passing questions on the sly to the Clinton campaign. Benghazi, e-mails, all of these things would dog the Clinton Administration for the next four years, limiting her effectiveness.

    However, the week after the Access Hollywood tape, Steve Schmidt and Frank Luntz were both confidently predicting a 400+ EC victory for Clinton. The Senate was possibly lost for Rs, the House was suddenly in play. The Wikileaks stories barely made a dent as Trump gave ghastly debate performances.

    Then Comey dropped his letter.

    What were Comey’s intentions? I think a library of books could be written about that, but my simple assumption is that, like a good partisan Republican, Comey wanted to tip the scales away from Clinton. Comey has history with the Clintons, and has investigated them twice now. I think it’s safe to assume there is a degree of personal animus. Maybe the Clinton juggernaut couldn’t be stopped, but it could be thwarted and the Republican Senate and House preserved.

    Then the election results came in. Whoopsie!

    So now Trump, one of the most corrupt businessmen ever, is now our most corrupt President ever. The guy has more ties to the Mafia than a spider’s web. He’s failed in nearly every business he’s started, beyond the value of his own personal “brand” which I’m sure relies on fuzzy goodwill accounting. He’s been neck deep in shady deals with foreign nationals, which is to say he’s a decent New York and Florida realtor.

    And now there’s strong circumstantial evidence he coordinated with the Russians on the hacks of the DNC and the Clinton Campaign, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs obvious enough for the most shallow of internet sleuths (me). It also doesn’t help that there are public statements and Tweets from Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, and Trump himself suggesting they knew about the forthcoming e-mail dumps from Wikileaks. How would the Russians know what to leak? How would they time it for the election? Someone had to advise them on that.

    Wikileaks has proven itself to be extremely able to hack US targets and allies, but strangely inept or incurious at hacking Russian targets. It’s also disturbing that Julian Assange personally blames Hillary Clinton for his confinement, and that any allies of Wikileaks accuse anyone of questioning their motives or “Neo-McCarthyism.”

    So here is where hyper-partisanship has gotten us. Our election has been hacked, not by voting machines or ballot boxes, but by our media and social networks. And now half the country is willing to defend Trump, and by extension, Putin and Russia, to the death because they can never, ever admit they were wrong and liberals were right.

    This is a tainted election and a tainted Presidency. And anyone defending it, even in the slightest, is putting themselves on the wrong side of history, and on the side of Vladimir Putin.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 44 Thumb down 1

  4. rachel says:

    @al-Alameda:

    Frankly, after (1) 5+ years of Ken Starr fishing for whatever he wanted about the Clintons, and (2) the recent 4+ years of Representatives Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz running constant repetitive multiple congressional investigations in an effort to take Hillary Clinton down, I’ll be shocked if there is a congressional or Justice Department investigation of Russia-Trump.

    Besides that, if or when the Republican Congress ever does bow to public opinion in this matter, that’s the day they can forget Boss Tweet signing any bills they manage to put in front of him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  5. MarkedMan says:

    So it turns out that Trump did meet with at least one Russian, the Ambassador, during the campaign, despite repeatedly and emphatically asserting that he had “zero” contact. I would be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that he will admit this, explain that it wasn’t a lie but that for some reason this doesn’t count. And that, really, really this is all there is this time. And by the way, the FBI sent a death squad to Mar a Lago to assasinate the family dog.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  6. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I’ll agree this is tricky.
    Typically I’d say let the FBI et al do their job, and then decide how to proceed.
    On one hand Comey clearly intended to influence the election and Justice is run by Trump sycophants. I’m not sure we can count on a legitimate investigation.
    On the other hand, as we saw with Ken Starr, an Independent Counsel can be a license to chase down every rabbit hole and waste time and money. That would likely be counter-productive.
    But ultimately, where there is smoke, and more smoke, and more smoke, and more smoke…it’s pretty damn likely there is a fire.
    We owe it to everyone who has given their lives establishing and protecting our democracy to get to the bottom of this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  7. @Lit3Bolt:

    Then Comey dropped his letter.

    Comey supplemented his testimony to Congress regarding the email investigation because he was legally obligated to do so.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 31

  8. cian says:

    Investigate away, the damage has been done and the Russians are celebrating. They set out not to use Trump as some kind of sleeper agent, rather they saw what the rest of the world saw, that a Trump presidency would likely wreck American democracy and its institutions. I’m guessing they never thought in their wildest dreams it would all work out so well.

    Good job, republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    because he was legally obligated to do so.

    Oh c’mon…he was NOT obligated to report to Congress with absolutely no information about an investigation that had not even started within days of an election. And the ultimate results of the investigation bear that out. If anything prudence obligated him to get further into the process before creating a situation ripe for mis-interpretation.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  10. Bob@Youngstown says:

    A majority of voters support appointing a special prosecutor ….

    Hollow point. When did Congress or the President care that a majority of the voters supported something?

    As to your concern that it is unknowable where an independent investigation might lead: Should the American citizens have confidence that their President is free of any criminal activity?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: not until he knew whether there actually was new information. He got spooked and played.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. JohnMcC says:

    We were attacked. After Pearl Harbor there was a commission of investigation (the Roberts Commission). After JFK was killed there was a commission. After Sept 11th there was a commission.

    A special prosecutor/independent counsel is not nearly enough. Suggesting this is equivalent to White Water is just nuts. What are we thinking?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  13. Pete S says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Hollow point. When did Congress or the President care that a majority of the voters supported something?

    Hell, a majority of voters didn’t want Trump to be president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Bullpuckey. The law may require notification, but was there a time limit before the elecection? I seem to recall DOJ said don’t send it. And it sure as hell did not dictate the content. An honest letter would have read something along the lines of – an unrelated investigation gave us possesion of a laptop which appears to have copies of a small number of emails to, from, or cced to or from Hillary Clinton. These are almost certainly emails we’ve seen from other sources and contain nothing new, but per statute I am notifying you of this trivia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  15. MarkedMan says:

    Doug, even after all this you are stretching to come up with some kind of innocent reason why Comey interfered in the election to benefit Donald Trump. Twice. (And lest anyone think that is still in dispute, take a look at this. It shows Trump benefitting by 11 points in Engagement Labs’ flash daily net favoribility poll and Clinton declining by 17points, immediately following Comey’s interference. )

    The best reason I can think of is that Comey assumed Trump was going to lose anyway, so putting his thumb on the scales was a safe way to ingratiate himself with the Republican financiers who would stand him in good stead when he stepped down. The worst is that he has been coopted by the Russians through blackmail or bribery or a combination.

    Since all the Republicans involved, including Comey, are doing everything they can to block a meaningful investigation, it makes it more likely that the worst is true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  16. James Pearce says:

    Re: The Comey letter. Hindsight is 20/20, but a better candidate and a stronger campaign would have survived it.

    –Wait, wait —

    (Putting on goggles) Alright, now throw your tomatoes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  17. KM says:

    @James Pearce :

    *sigh* Hindsight is 20/20. If you just had infused more blood into your body, you’d survive the blood loss from a stabbing.

    Comey straight up played political games with an “investigation” and stabbed her. He thought she’d survive the blood loss. Funny thing about getting stabbed – it tends to be fatal, especially when timed right. Doesn’t matter how strong you are if you start hemorrhaging and are too late to stop it. Timing is everything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  18. al-Alameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Comey supplemented his testimony to Congress regarding the email investigation because he was legally obligated to do so.

    Comey’s sly editorializing did damage to Hillary:

    Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

    Gee, ‘no clear evidence of intent to violate laws, but very careless’ had the desired effect among the “Lock her up!” crowd. Then, just to make sure she was going down, that second investigation in the last month finished her off.

    James Comey, whether he intended to or not, and he’s not unintelligent, influenced the election. He’ll be in every important/relevant 2016 election post-mortem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  19. JohnMcC says:

    @KM: I don’t doubt you are correct. IF – Ms Clinton had been a stronger candidate she would be President.

    And IF my mother had wheels she’d be a tea cart.

    Did you have a point to that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    Comey straight up played political games with an “investigation” and stabbed her.

    I don’t know if that’s true. Trump’s leading chants of “Lock her up” and Comey was the one playing political games?

    Just follow the logic: The “grab her by the…whereever” tape didn’t hurt Trump’s chances, but the Comey letter killed Clinton’s? That makes no sense. Maybe the Comey letter didn’t change very many minds at all?

    The letter basically absolved Clinton of any wrong-doing and if it under-mined her rationale for running, it might be because she barely mentioned it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  21. DrDaveT says:

    I wonder whether Sally Yates wishes she had held her nose long enough to head up this investigation…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: No Doug, he was not legally obligated to insert himself into an election. Justice dept officials both current and past from all sides of the political spectrum have all said Comey should have kept his mouth shut.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  23. KM says:

    @James Pearce :

    Just follow the logic: The “grab her by the…whereever” tape didn’t hurt Trump’s chances, but the Comey letter killed Clinton’s? That makes no sense. Maybe the Comey letter didn’t change very many minds at all?

    Using Trump as a logic barometer is one of the reasons this whole conversation always verges into navel gazing. Logic does not exist in the same room as him – it’s like a law of nature. Nothing seems to effect Trump’s cult-like following when any other candidate would have been utterly trashed by something like his tapes. Seriously, name someone else who would survive that. Reality TV has made him somewhat teflon in that he’s so outrageous it just gets written off by many as “That’s Trump. I hate it but I’ll vote for him”.

    On the other hand, a letter like Comey’s would have definitely effected any other candidate by causing a drop no matter how “strong” a campaign game they had. It was a complete lie in the vein of then-current controversy so people naturally thought “oh here we go AGAIN”. She’s not a TV character and thus is expected to act like real people would. It wouldn’t have changed minds unless they were willing to be changed…. and the GOP keep priming that pump for Comey to bring them the water. It wasn’t an instant kill but it was a fatal wound. In other words, Trump got a pass for living in an alternate reality and Hillary got slammed for living in this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “Trump’s leading chants of “Lock her up” and Comey was the one playing political games?”

    Hint — one of them was running for political office. The other one holds a position which is supposed to be apolitical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  25. KM says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Did you have a point to that?

    Yes. The point was *any* candidate would have taken a hit. People like to say Hillary was weak but Sanders, Cruz, Jeb or any of them would have suffered if the FBI said “hey we’re investigating into this alleged illegal activity” to Congress days before the vote. The fact that they followed with “JK we got nothing” wouldn’t take away the impression of impropriety that would linger to the booths. Considering the razor thing margins he won in places to turn some states, it means there were definitely people in play that decided to “give him a chance”. She is not unique in this aspect since that’s what selling a narrative is all about. And as a reality TV star, Trump certainly knows how to sell a narrative.

    Most people who get stabbed die from it. You need luck and/or good medical care to survive. Why in the world you’d act like someone’s weak when they just got knifed is beyond me. Hillary had weak ground game but this part was not her being a weak candidate. It was a deliberate play on a trumped up issue used to cynically drive voters to the more corrupt candidate. If the Russia connection turns out to be true, then it gets even worse when you consider it was the equivalent of a hit. She was not an ideal candidate but the damage Comey did would have happened to anyone the FBI decided to exert negative influence over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. al-Alameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    The letter basically absolved Clinton of any wrong-doing and if it under-mined her rationale for running, it might be because she barely mentioned it.

    Maybe it’s just me but ….
    “extremely careless … etcetera ” does not seem to me to be very absolving:

    from Comey’s statement: … Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

    Perhaps, after 8 years of full-on obstruction of a Democratic president, just enough people were ready for the candidate of change – Donald Trump – even though people knew he was a real estate developer, salesman, con man.

    Hillary was a weakened candidate going into the campaign season. Ultimately 25 years of constant investigations, plus Comey’s two shoves forcing her toward the cliff, finally had the desired hate-Hillary effect – she lost the Electoral College. Even a weakened Hillary Clinton received 3 million more votes than Trump, amazing.

    A significant minority of America voters rewarded the Republican Party for mal-governance, and gave them the keys to the entire government, and I don’t blame Hillary for this result.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    On the other hand, a letter like Comey’s would have definitely effected any other candidate

    I’m not so sure about that. I’m pretty sure partisans from both sides were unmoved by Comey’s letter. (I know it didn’t move me.)

    Also:

    She’s not a TV character and thus is expected to act like real people would.

    She’s been a “character on TV” since I was in junior high, though, and we’d have to go back even further to get to her “real people” days. Now I’m not saying she’s “just like” Trump, a celebrity or anything like that, but we’re no longer talking about Clinton in terms of potential.

    @Moosebreath:

    The other one holds a position which is supposed to be apolitical.

    Yes, and they were apolitically investigating the private server, which had become a political hot button.

    @al-Alameda:

    Hillary was a weakened candidate going into the campaign season. Ultimately 25 years of constant investigations plus Comey’s two shoves force toward the cliff,

    You said it probably better than I can. Hillary was a weakened candidate. 25 years of constant investigations had more effect than Comey’s actions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  28. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m pretty sure partisans from both sides were unmoved by Comey’s letter. (I know it didn’t move me.)

    Come on, James, you’re moving the bar. The question isn’t “was everyone moved” — it’s “were enough people moved to change the outcome?”.

    Are you seriously going to argue that the 100,000 or so votes needed to shift the outcome were all of them completely unaffected by Comey’s actions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  29. JohnMcC says:

    @KM: I bet we really agree. Here’s my take on the ‘Hillary was a weak candidate’ business:

    She had been part of the Bill Clinton administration which was after all one of only two in our history to be impeached. She’d led the health-care-reform fight and been defeated in that. She’d impressed much of the ‘heartland’ that she was/is a feminist but much of the ‘coastal elites’ considered her a ‘neo-liberal’. So she had virtually no chance to increase her share of the vote above what she started with.

    And while I do not doubt in any way that she is as brilliant as she is often described as being, she is not strong on the improvisational skills that make a strong candidate. I compare her very unfavorably to – say – either JFK or RFK, to Gene McCarthy or Bernie or even (bless his heart) Hubert Humphrey. She reminded me of Michael Dukakis.

    And it seems to me a remarkable tautology that our friend James Pierce said that if she’d been a stronger candidate she’d have won despite Mr Comey’s interference. Pause and think about that. If hydrogen weren’t flammable, the Hindenberg wouldn’t have been destroyed. If the Titanic had been equipped with better water-tight bulkheads she wouldn’t have sunk. If my mother had wheels she’d be a tea cart. Very near the top of the list of stupid things to say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  30. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “Yes, and they were apolitically investigating the private server, which had become a political hot button.”

    And they “apolitically” released a statement saying they were going to investigate before actually doing the investigation or even knowing whether they had received any new information in a very public manner less than 2 weeks before the election. C’mon, you are smarter than this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. KM says:

    @JohnMcC”

    So she had virtually no chance to increase her share of the vote above what she started with.

    I somewhat agree with this statement in that her portion of potential crossover voters would be substantially less then previous candidates but disagree with the “what she started with”. Had Trump not been in play (the “lets give him a chance” but otherwise sane Republicans and Independents) wouldn’t have jumped ship for the likes of Cruz. Her negatives were plenty but balanced out by the sheer fact that her opponents’ negatives were worse. It was just piss poor luck the final challenger ended up being the one guy who’s negatives are so numerous they net out to a positive for his devotees.

    Very near the top of the list of stupid things to say.

    Ah, I misunderstood you then – I thought your post was in support of the statement. I find it endless fascinating that people keep coming with with reasons Hillary lost and all coming to down to some perceived flaw instead of the simple fact that she ran against the campaign where normality didn’t apply. The onus is consistently being put on her: “if she wasn’t weak”, “if she did X”, “Comey’s letter did so much damage because” instead of realizing there were two separate sets of rules in play (reality and Trumpland) that heavily favored him…. because reality is a harsh mistress indeed.

    Two people jump out of a plane, one with a parachute and one with none. None-guy is dead, right? Nope! Turns out gravity, the thing that makes everyone go splat, works differently for him so he’s just gonna float on down causally. Meanwhile, *you* go splat because you’re too busy have a WTF moment to pull the cord on a jump you’ve done dozens of times before. Just because gravity’s taking a vacay for him doesn’t mean you suddenly got the privilege. At your funeral, everyone starts commenting on how weak you must have been to not safely arrive at the ground before the other guy because come on, he didn’t have a parachute!! Clearly the problem was you, not the gravity-defying idiot you had the bad luck to jump with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Are you seriously going to argue that the 100,000 or so votes needed to shift the outcome were all of them completely unaffected by Comey’s actions?

    No, but I do believe very few people changed their minds due to the Comey letter.

    @JohnMcC:

    If my mother had wheels she’d be a tea cart. Very near the top of the list of stupid things to say.

    Where does “If Comey hadn’t interfered with the election, Hillary would have won” fit in on the list?

    @Moosebreath:

    C’mon, you are smarter than this.

    I’m too smart to think the FBI was doing anything than covering their ass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  33. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    there were two separate sets of rules in play

    Just curious…have you seen anything about this?

    I mean, it may be tempting to say there were two separate rule sets, but I think there was just the on set, and Hillary didn’t lost because she was playing by a different set of rules, she lost because she was playing poorly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce: Yes, it’s time Dems realized that they must run brilliant, charismatic, pure as the driven snow candidates every time while the Rs can run Trump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    two separate rule sets

    What I mean by that isn’t gender bias but pure and utter divorce from political reality. Whether or not she was playing poorly, Hillary was playing a game called *Running for President*. Trump was playing *Drum Up the Ratings for Reality TV*. One game requires sobriety for a serious job, the other requires being outrageous to get your face some publicity. Funny story: it turns out a lot of the public thought the voting game was *Reality TV* too based off comments were seeing now about how they didn’t really believe he’d do the stupid things he said he was going to do (aka take their healthcare). They liked he was repugnant because he was interesting and different and like them. Haven’t you ever seen the viewer polls for Reality TVs shows? The asshole never gets voted off the island.

    Hillary did a decent job of playing *Running for President* and would very likely have won if that’s what the game ended up being. To cite TV Tropes, she’s Wrong Genre Savvy. However, she was absolute crap at *Drum Up the Ratings* so it didn’t pan out for her with voters who decided to change the channel for some juicy asshattery.

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  36. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08:

    Yes, it’s time Dems realized that they must run brilliant, charismatic, pure as the driven snow candidates every time while the Rs can run Trump.

    You don’t have to do “pure as the driven snow” candidates, but would it hurt to do brilliant and charismatic?

    At this point in my life though, unless it’s wandering around the wilderness thinking about where they went wrong and how they can do better, I don’t really care what the Dems do.

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  37. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    Hillary was playing a game called *Running for President*. Trump was playing *Drum Up the Ratings for Reality TV*.

    No, they were both playing the same game: “Say bad stuff about my opponent in hopes of getting elected.”

    Trump was better at it.

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  38. JohnMcC says:

    @James Pearce: “Where does ‘if Comey hadn’t interfered with the election, Hillary would have won’ fit on the list (of stupid remarks)?”

    Ask those folks who study elections what they think. Or like Sec Pruitt, are you smarter than those damn scientists?

    http://www.election.princeton.edu/2016/12/10/the-comey-effect

    OK, I am such a dunce that I can’t make the link work. Obviously you know how to google the Princeton Election Consortium ‘the Comey effect’.

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  39. James Pearce says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Ask those folks who study elections what they think.

    I googled it. Strong correlation….but you know the old saw.

    Let’s put it this way:

    Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate. How weak was she? 10 days before Voting Day, a letter from the FBI was released absolving her of criminal activity….and it cost her the election.

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  40. KM says:

    @James Pearce:
    Let’s put it this way: everyone lost to Trump. Remember the “deep bench”. Are you contending they were all incredibly weak that Donald freaking Trump could just cruise to victory? If not, why? Most of them got taken out by sheer mockery – Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, etc. Trump won not on policy or even ideas but by being a dick and channeling America’s dickishness. Yes, he’s better at it because he wasn’t trying to be a politician on the trail, he was trying to be an asshole.

    You can continue your fantasy that Hillary was some insanely weak candidate that weirdly managed to survive her own primary against Feel the Bern fervor instead of acknowledging that Trump won because he got a pass from his own party on things that would have killed any other candidate. He won by some bare bones margins so she cannot have been as weak as you claim or else he’d have that landslide he loves to lie about.

    a letter from the FBI was released absolving her of criminal activity

    No no no, that came after the whole “we think we found something else, lets look” 10+ days before the election. The letter only exists because the FBI decided to butt in and had to stir up sh^t. Don’t act like Comey did her a favor by sending her a note proclaiming she was innocent. He had to since he started the rumor there was more problems in the first place and then got asked for details.

    You don’t get to start a house fire, show up afterwards with a tiny bucket of water and then claim the house was too flammable to be safe. The fire only started because someone malicious started it. Of course she was innocent, but it doesn’t matter to people who believe smear jobs in the first place.

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  41. Matthew Bernius says:

    @JohnMcC:
    > Ask those folks who study elections what they think. Or like Sec Pruitt, are you smarter than those damn scientists?
    >
    > http://www.election.princeton.edu/2016/12/10/the-comey-effect

    No offense, but Sam Wang is by his own admission *not a political scientist* or specifically trained in a field of science related to the study of elections. His PhD is in neuroscience. He’s a self admitted hobbyist with a deep interest in polling and statistics. Our own Steven Taylor can definitely speak to the key differences.

    This is akin to listening to someone like well known climate change denier Freeman Dyson on climate change. Sure Dyson won a nobel prize, but his field of study has nothing to do with climatology.

    Sam Wang is a smart guy, but the limits of those smarts (and his experience with political analysis) were demonstrated this past cycle.

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  42. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    You can continue your fantasy that Hillary was some insanely weak candidate

    Oh, it’s not a fantasy. Last November was going to determine whether she was going to go down in history as a “good candidate” or a “bad candidate.”

    I mean, we need to stop thinking of Hillary in terms of potential, considering what she can do or would do, were she to attain some higher office. We know what she’s going to do: run a crap campaign that will probably lose.

    Imperfect metaphor alert: She’s not the man you’re going to marry because he might be a good father. She’s the man you divorce because he beats the kids.

    (And hey, if you have a different opinion, cool!)

    instead of acknowledging that Trump won because he got a pass from his own party on things that would have killed any other candidate.

    I don’t believe that “would have killed any other candidate” stuff anymore. I don’t believe in the nobility of man anymore, and I’m wondering why I ever did.

    I believe in violence and cunning. I believe that if we really want to live in a liberal society, then that will need to be defended vigorously with violence and cunning.. I’m not sure we need to get into “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” territory, but a liberal society is not spontaneous. It doesn’t just happen, even if you’re virtuous.

    In fact, virtue may not even much of a factor.

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  43. JohnMcC says:

    @Matthew Bernius: Conceded. There were several analyses that had generally the same finding. PEC popped up first when I looked. And just for the heck of it I’ll also contend the Dr Wang does indeed “study” elections and that ‘strong correlation’ is pretty much the basis for reasonable people to draw reasonable, working conclusions. There are a few who refuse to make any conclusions but I wouldn’t call them ‘reasonable’ people.

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