Trump’s Electoral College Advantage Growing

He could lose the popular vote by an even larger margin in 2020---and still coast to re-election.

David Wasserman explains how “How Trump could lose by 5 million votes and still win in 2020.”

Democrats’ worst nightmare came true in November 2016 when Hillary Clinton captured 2.9 million more votes than Donald Trump but he still comfortably prevailed in the Electoral College, 306 to 232. As much as they would like to purge that outcome from memory, Democrats would be unwise to write it off as a fluke: In 2020, it’s possible Trump could win 5 million fewer votes than his opponent — and still win a second term.

The nation’s two most populous states, California and Texas, are at the heart of Democrats’ geography problem.

Both behemoths are growing more diverse at a much faster rate than the nation — owing to booming Asian and Latino populations — and are trending toward Democrats. Yet neither blue California nor red Texas would play a pivotal role in a close 2020 election, potentially rendering millions of additional Democratic votes useless.

Over the past four years for which census estimates are available, California’s population of nonwhite voting-age citizens has exploded by 1,585,499, while its number of white voting-age citizens has declined by a net 162,715. The Golden State’s GOP is in free fall: In May 2018, the state’s Republican registrants fell to third place behind “no party preference” voters for the first time. In 2016, Clinton stretched Barack Obama’s 2012 margin from 3 million to 4.2 million votes. But padding that margin by another 1.2 million votes wouldn’t yield the 2020 Democratic nominee a single additional Electoral vote.

Over the same time period, Texas has added a net 1,188,514 nonwhite voting-age citizens and just 200,002 white voting-age citizens. Texas’ economic boom has attracted a diverse, highly professional workforce to burgeoning urban centers of Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio and shifted the state’s politics leftward — especially as GOP votes have begun to “max out” in stagnant rural areas. In 2016, Clinton cut Obama’s 2012 deficit from 1.2 million to just over 800,000. But again, even cutting Trump’s margin by 800,000 wouldn’t yield the 2020 Democratic nominee a single additional Electoral vote.

Democrats’ potential inefficiencies aren’t limited to California and Texas: The list of the nation’s top 15 fastest-diversifying states also includes the sizable yet safely blue states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington and Oregon.

Meanwhile, demographic transformation isn’t nearly as rapid in the narrow band of states that are best-positioned to decide the Electoral College — a factor that seriously aids Trump.

In 2016, Trump’s victory hinged on three Great Lakes states he won by less than a point: Michigan (0.2 percent), Pennsylvania (0.7 percent) and Wisconsin (0.8 percent). All three of these aging, relatively white states have some of the nation’s highest shares of white voters without college degrees — a group trending away from Democrats over the long term. And the nonwhite share of the eligible electorate in each of the three has increased at only a quarter to a half of the rate it has surged in California, Texas and Nevada.

Democrats eagerly point out that they swept Senate and governors’ races in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in 2018. And they flipped two seats in Michigan and four in Pennsylvania on their way to taking back the House.

But Trump could lose Michigan and Pennsylvania and still win the Electoral College, so long as he carries every other place he won in 2016.

Steven Taylor and I have spilled innumerable pixels over the years on why the Electoral College is undemocratic (and nearly as many on why the “We’re a republic, not a democracy” is not a useful rejoinder) and I don’t think we need to rehash those here. But Wasserman points here to one of the sub-issues: the margin of victory in a winner-take-all contest is immaterial. Winning California by one vote or three million counts the same.

Coincidentally, the NYT’s Nate Cohn also wrote about the larger issue today with, “Trump’s Electoral College Edge Could Grow in 2020, Rewarding Polarizing Campaign.” Rather than conjecture about demographics, though, he looks at state-by-state polling and concludes,

The president’s relative advantage in the Electoral College could grow even further in a high-turnout election, which could pad Democratic margins nationwide while doing little to help them in the Northern battleground states.

It is even possible that Mr. Trump could win while losing the national vote by as much as five percentage points.

The methodology, though, is a little suspicious:

The best available evidence on the president’s standing by state comes from the large 2018 election surveys. Their quality is generally high, and unlike most surveys, they have been adjusted to match actual election results, ironing out many potential biases of pre-election polls. Although these surveys are nearly nine months old, the stability of the president’s overall approval ratings means, for our purposes, that they remain a decent measure of the distribution of his support.

That makes some sense, in that the President is so polarizing that he’s extremely unlikely to garner any Democratic crossover and none who currently support him are likely to vote for any Democrat. Still, we’ve seen radical shifts in the popularity of previous Presidents in the sixteen months prior to standing for re-election.

Regardless, here’s what Cohn sees:

(The version at the link is interactive and therefore more useful.)

On the surface, this looks pretty bad for Trump:

By state, the president’s approval rating was beneath 50 percent in states worth 310 electoral votes: the states carried by Hillary Clinton, along with Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona and North Carolina. This is not exactly good news for the president, but not as bad as it typically would be given an approval rating of 45.5 percent. John McCain, for instance, lost states worth 365 electoral votes in 2008 while winning 45.7 percent of the vote.

So, if the 2018 data is predictive, that sounds like a landslide loss. Cohn’s explanation otherwise is rather confusing:

The most important measure of the president’s strength in the Electoral College, relative to the national vote, is the difference between the national vote and the “tipping-point state” — the state most likely to push a candidate over the Electoral College threshold.

Wisconsin was the tipping-point state in 2016, and it seems to hold that distinction now, at least based on the president’s approval rating among 2018 midterm voters.

Over all, the president’s approval rating was 47.1 percent in Wisconsin, above his 45.5 percent nationwide. This implies that the president’s advantage in the Electoral College, at least by his approval rating, is fairly similar to what it was in 2016.

A closer look at the underlying evidence suggests there’s reason to think the president’s ratings could be higher than estimated in the state. The estimates are based on four measures of the president’s standing, and there is one outlier: the Votecast survey, which places the president’s net approval rating at minus 13, or 43.6 percent approval. The other three are in close agreement, placing the president’s rating between 47 percent and 48 percent.

There is an additional piece of evidence, unique to Wisconsin, that’s consistent with a stronger position for the president: the Marquette University poll, which gave Mr. Trump a minus 5 net approval among likely voters in its final poll before the midterms. Over the longer run, the president has averaged a minus 5 net approval among registered voters (not midterm voters) in Marquette polls since October.

In other words, most measures suggest that the president’s rating is higher than 47.1 percent in Wisconsin. If you excluded the Votecast data and added the final Marquette poll, the president’s approval rating would rise to 47.6 percent — or a net 4.2 points higher than his nationwide approval.

It is important to emphasize that it is impossible to nail down the president’s standing in Wisconsin, or any state, with precision. But Wisconsin is the pivotal state in this analysis, and a one-point difference there could potentially be decisive.

One reason that such a small swing in Wisconsin could be so important is that the Democrats do not have an obviously promising alternative if Wisconsin drifts to the right.

Part of the issue is that 50 percent isn’t required, just getting more votes than your opponents. Still, it seems like we’re taking data Cohn has vouched for as the best available and then tinkering around with it to make it more favorable to Trump. If the point is simply to show possibilities, that’s fine. It’s true that it doesn’t take much movement to hand Trump crucial electoral votes. If it’s to highlight probabilities, though, I’m more than a bit skeptical.

This, though, is more persuasive:

In 2016, Florida was that obviously promising alternative: It voted for Mr. Trump by 1.2 percentage points, compared with his 0.8-point victory in Wisconsin.

But all of the measures indicate that Florida has shifted to the right of the nation since 2016, at least among 2018 midterm voters. The president’s approval rating in Florida was essentially even — and by our measure, slightly positive. Republicans narrowly won the Florida fights for Senate and governor, and also the statewide U.S. House vote.

The next tier of Democratic opportunities doesn’t provide an easy backstop to Democratic weakness in Wisconsin either. There’s Arizona, where Democrats had a good midterm cycle, but where the president’s approval rating is plainly stronger than it is nationwide or in Wisconsin. The same is true of Iowa or North Carolina, though the president’s standing in those states is somewhat more uncertain in the absence of an exit poll or a high-profile statewide result.

In the end, these states, particularly Arizona, could prove to be a better opportunity for Democrats than Wisconsin. But at least based on this evidence, it would probably be more a reflection of Democratic weakness in Wisconsin than strength elsewhere.

But, honestly, if the Democrats have a decent shot at Florida or North Carolina, they’re going to win in a landslide.

There’s a whole lot more parsing of state- and even county-level data in the rest of the piece and I commend it to you if you’re interested in a deep dive this far away from the election. The bottom line, though, of both Wasserman and Cohn’s analysis is the degree to which our peculiar institutional arrangement for choosing a President makes it quite plausible that Trump could cruise to re-election even if his national popularity continues to be well underwater.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2020, U.S. Constitution, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Thanks for depressing me just as the weekend is beginning….arrrrrgh

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  2. Jay L Gischer says:

    Well, I think it’s right to not trust approval ratings all that much. At this stage in 2011, Obama’s approval was under 50 percent.

    Yet Trump appears to have a hard ceiling of approval, so maybe that means something. Also, by my math, cutting another 800,000 R votes in Texas looks like it moves those electoral votes into the Blue column, and that’s game over.

    Gaining 799,999 gets you nothing, of course. But Texas is in play, I think.

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  3. Thomas Hilton says:

    Nate Silver is skeptical of Nate Cohn’s conclusions (there’s more back & forth between them; being Twitter, it’s a little hard to untangle, but worth reading).

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  4. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Looks like I’m gonna need to start a “primary residence” relocation company.

    I’ll ask folks from the solid blue states to paper relocate to Florida, or Texas. Each one can get a tiny (tiny tiny) home for mail delivery and mail forwarding.

    Eliminate their primary state sales tax, likely cheaper license plates for their cars as well.

    If we can’t fix the electoral college, I may as well paint that shit blue.

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  5. Raoul says:

    JJ: so you do support ditching the EC?

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  6. Kylopod says:

    @Thomas Hilton: In my experience, in nerdfights involving Silver, he’s usually right.

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  7. Gustopher says:

    Trump achieved a ridiculously narrow path to victory last time. I don’t have a strong sense of whether he will win re-election or not, but I don’t think it will be as close this time.

    I’d say the odds of a 73 year old man dying in the next year and a half are higher than the odds of a repeat. He doesn’t look healthy.

    I do fear what it would do to our country to have a second electoral-victory/popular-loss. Nothing pleasant in the short term, I’d bet.

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  8. Teve says:

    President Trump says he plans to end birthright citizenship with an executive order

    USA today

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  9. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: a normal 73 year old man in the United States can be expected to live on average 11 or 12 more years. But Trump is probably pushing about 285 and has had a shitty diet and snorts Adderall, so maybe Sat Fat to the Rescue!

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    Elsewhere in the New York Times…

    Trump rallied his base in the weeks before the 2018 elections using a similar strategy of racist demagogy. He held events in pivotal states like Wisconsin, fanning fear around the migrant “caravan” and blasting figures like congresswoman Maxine Waters of California as representative of the entire Democratic Party. It didn’t work. Not only did Republicans lose the House, but Democrats won important statewide elections in Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and came within a hair’s breadth of winning the governor’s races in Georgia and Florida.

    Trump galvanized his supporters at the cost of energizing the opposition. But somehow, this has fallen out of political memory, with many observers focused on the president’s base of non-college-educated whites as the only voters who matter. And that includes some prominent Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s opposition to serious and aggressive oversight of the president — up to and including impeachment — is arguably tied to a belief in the singular importance of these voters. They must be catered to, even if it angers and disillusions the Democratic base.

    I don’t think it is fully appreciated how unpopular Hillary Clinton was to so many people, particularly ethnic minorities…for example, this worriment about Wisconsin–if more ethnic minorities in the Milwaukee area had voted, Clinton would easily have won the state…all this focus on those whites without a college degree seems to overlook other important groups who also vote when motivated…again from the article…

    African-Americans are the most heavily Democratic group in the country, with a large presence in many of the most competitive states. Small increases in their participation would have an outsize effect on the electoral landscape. The projections bear that out. Given population growth since the last election, if black turnout and support return to 2012 levels, Democrats win handily, with as much as an estimated 338 electoral votes and a five-point margin in the national popular vote.

    With the right candidate, the Democrats could return to 2012 levels even if Trump incites all the bigots to vote for him…does anyone really disagree with the following?

    Conventional wisdom on 2020 is that Democrats will lose if they can’t get their progressive wing under control. This overstates the leftward swing of the Democratic Party and understates the distance between the center of American politics and the president’s right-wing policies. It also misses another, crucial dynamic — that by trying to court and convert voters who backed Trump, Democrats may sacrifice an opportunity to deepen support among their existing voters, to powerful electoral consequences.

    The press may not have much interest in the broader electorate, but Democratic leaders and strategists, at least, should understand that the anti-Trump coalition is much bigger than the Trump base. If they want to oust the president next November, they should start to take that fact seriously.

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  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Raoul: I think he and Dr. Taylor have both been pretty clear on that. I see the system as broken but believe that a straight popular vote might bring other dysfunctions into play than the ones we have now because of the population distribution. But overall, I’m agnostic on how to fix the problem systemically. The solution to the problem to me is better people both on the ballots and in the booths, so I don’t see a solution in sight.

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  12. Andrew says:

    @An Interested Party:
    Hilary was the worst candidate Democrats have run since Mondale. But, still far, far worse.

    Trump will unify Democrats yes. To get people to vote, the GOTV has to be as strong as Obama’s. If Biden gets the nod, which at this point seems inevitable. He needs Bernie or Warren as his VP.
    Without them or without a Sanders/X ticket, we will have people sit out because “Bernie!”

    Even when laid out in simple terms such as:
    Democrats will fight for the ACA.
    Republicans have abandoned it.

    I am still met by “Biden won’t do anything to fix problems like Bernie!”

    Yeah, but if Trump wins a second term cause your butt sat out over your lack of understanding the magnitude of the 2020 election. I deserve to hit you with a tack hammer, as you are stupid. As we will just repeat 2016 in the Morning electoral. And I will be paying $1000’s for my prescriptions. Rather than $4 for all of them.

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  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: My inclination for a long time has been that the Democrats should simply decide who they are in a generalized sense and run on that. If Democrats as Democrats can’t win, that’s important to know. Maybe more important than all the other noise of the campaign and polling and strategies.

    The follow-up question becomes “who are the Democrats,” of course. Right now, the party looks kind of atomized–particularly relative to the Republicans, who, repulsive as they are, seem to have no identity crisis at all.

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  14. Teve says:

    According to Jon Lovett a lot of the people who voted Democrat in 2012 and then didn’t vote in 2016 were young people and people of color who weren’t particularly enthused by Hillary but didn’t think they had to be because nobody thought Trump had much of a chance.

    Democrats are getting a lot of advice right now to continue throwing their base under the bus in hopes of getting a few of Trump’s All-important white people to switch sides. Screw that. Stand up against Trump’s dumb bullshit racism, reenthuse the base, and win.

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  15. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Democrats are going to look like a disparate coalition because that’s what they are. Republicans are going to look like a united white nationalist movement because that’s what they are.

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  16. Don R says:

    1) By winning in a fluke in 2016 Trump lost his main advantages of voter apathy and polling fatigue
    2) Turnout is likely to skyrocket in 2020, as it did in 2018.
    3) Trump’s base is set in stone, and no one is being swayed by the economy, his mental instability, or his racism.
    All these factors together mean that, if Dems vote Dem, Trump can’t win. Hence the Republican obsession with dividing the Dem base (see their daily hysteria about Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, etc.)

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  17. The EC is an f’ing disgrace.

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  18. An Interested Party says:

    The EC is an f’ing disgrace.

    Even more of a disgrace is that only a constitutional amendment or a constitutional convention can get rid of it, both of which are extremely unlikely…the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact also seems like a nonstarter…what kind of outrage would be generated by the Democrats losing 3 presidential elections in 20 years even though they got the most votes in all three elections…

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  19. Kit says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Looks like I’m gonna need to start a “primary residence” relocation company.

    I think this is a great idea, if probably too late for the upcoming election. Ruthlessly follow the math and make sure to flip one or more Senate seats. Help with voting by mail as well as any and all administrative aspects in all states. If possible, see if campaign contributions could be used–this must be far more cost effective than running another ad on TV. Consider reaching out to Americans living over seas. And plan well enough ahead so that some law cannot be changed at the last moment.

    Today’s system is hopelessly broken and ruthlessly exploited by the Right. The stakes are too high to simply sit back and wait for the promised demographic changes. Count me in if you ever get this off the ground.

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  20. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The EC is an f’ing disgrace.

    Yeah, it’s just not right and its effects are getting worse.

    I have at least a modicum of sympathy for the notion that, given how distinct preferences in major urban centers and rural areas are, there should be some institutional incentive to appeal to both. But, increasingly, the EC is playing out in the opposite manner: the path to victory is to energize your people and depress theirs.

    As @An Interested Party notes and we’ve both pointed out countless times, it’s almost unfathomable we’ll amend the Constitution to fix it. One potential patch is one you’ve proposed for other reasons: significantly increasing the size of the House of Representatives, which would at least correct some of the imbalance in Electoral votes.

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  21. Jen says:

    Considering how narrow Trump’s path was last time, and his persistent refusal to expand his base by a single voter, I’m going to try and remain hopeful that this analysis has holes in it.

    For those noting that approval ratings this far out are not definitive: you are absolutely correct, and I’ll add a reminder that Hillary’s approval rating when she left the Sec. of State’s office was 70%. There is no more flexible data point than that of what people think of public figures on any given day.

    Regarding a relo company: Focus on analysis. Some states with high populations with small tipping points might be tempting, but it could be quicker to dispense a handful of people to several low-population states and eliminate that strip of red down the nation’s center. 🙂

    With a dash of sincerity, we have/had a bit of that sort of effort here in NH. The Free State Project tried to relocate a bunch of libertarian-minded folks here to reinvent our state government. It hasn’t worked out the way they envisioned, but it does mean we have some interesting town meetings in some spots.

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  22. Teve says:

    You can’t be an absentee resident of most states most of the time. Virtual relocation just wouldn’t work, mostly.

    But, has the cost of living in places like California and New York get more and more expensive, and student debt keeps growing, it gets more and more attractive for a large tech company to look elsewhere. Sure, you can get good sushi in San Francisco, but if Salesforce moved 150,000 employees to Madison Wisconsin bc the mayor promised them free fiber optic or something, you’d be able to get good sushi in Madison Wisconsin pretty quickly I think.

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  23. @James Joyner:

    I have at least a modicum of sympathy for the notion that, given how distinct preferences in major urban centers and rural areas are, there should be some institutional incentive to appeal to both.

    The best we could get would be to to have a direct popular vote with a majority requirement (either two rounds or instant run off).

    That would motivate candidates to try and get the most votes.

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  24. And remember: there are rural Democrats and urban Republicans. It isn’t as if the parties are actually oriented in a way that the Reps’ policies are rural-oriented and the Dems’ urban-oriented (at least not in some comprehensive sense).

    Heck, does anyone really think Trump has any really knowledge or interest in pro-rural policies? Soy bean farmers would have been better off with HRC.

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  25. @James Joyner:

    One potential patch is one you’ve proposed for other reasons: significantly increasing the size of the House of Representatives, which would at least correct some of the imbalance in Electoral votes.

    Yes, that is the easiest way (well, easier) to at least tweak the process.

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  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Looks like I’m gonna need to start a “primary residence” relocation company.

    This is actually already a huge trend. People retire. They get a condo in Florida or Arizona. They continue living in their previous home for 182 days a year and spend the rest in their condo or traveling. They declare their primary residences to be in the low tax state but their hearts are still back home. They represent a huge voting block that looks down on the lower income people that surround them and vote against every school budget because, hey, their grand kids go to school in Jersey. Why should they pay to improve schools for the children of Florida Man?

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve:

    But Trump is probably pushing about 285 and has had a shitty diet and snorts Adderall

    Right, and he seems to select his physician not on skill but on willingness to keep the pills flowing as “samples” so there is no prescription. A dope pusher in a suit or a navy uniform is not the best guy to be keeping you healthy.

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  28. Andrew says:

    I get downvoted. Yet, no one wants to argue what about I said was bad.
    Not a even a “Bernie!” supporter rebutting my experiences. Or that they would vote for Biden if Bernie! does not get the nod.
    Or how Biden is being thrusted down our throats, just as Hilary was. However, this was to be a expected. Familiar face, reminder of good times. Someone you could see yourself having a case of beer with…
    This is why I make the argument as simple as possible. Do you or do you not want healthcare?
    That’s what your vote should be centered on.

    Anyone wish to disagree and give me reasons as to why? Or are downvotes you simply scoffing at my logical arguments?

    (Ps I was a tad drunk my original post.)

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  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Granted on both counts–which means that the Democrats may well have the same problem inter party that parliamentary governments have–deciding which partners are the majority and minority members of a coalition and how to balance the two or more competing memberships. From this perspective, Hillary lost at least in part because she didn’t have the support of the whole coalition.

    Which brings a new question to the forefront–what vision of the Democratic Party will hold together the coalition. But that still makes conditions where Democrats need to run as who they are and the national party must as well. It makes no sense to reach out to “independent voters” (what/whoever they are) if portions of the base stay home or vote 3rd party. (This may be related to why “big tent” concepts in the GOP haven’t caught on, too. Can’t make minorities welcome if at heart your party is the racist bigot party.)

    ETA:

    All these factors together mean that, if Dems vote Dem, Trump can’t win.

    Exactly! But now, who are the Dems?

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  30. @Just nutha ignint cracker: But, in a parliamentary government you can give something to your coalition partner (i.e., cabinet portfolios). While yesm you can give the veep slot, the reality is that disaffected voters can go third party (or just stay home) regardless of elite-level deals.

    In other words: coalition building for US parties in the context of presidentialism and plurality elections makes the kind of coalition building you are talking about more difficult (especially in terms of delivering outcomes).

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  31. Put another way: if Bernie Bros could have voted, even in small numbers, for the Bernie Bro Party in the parliament and then that 5% party could have joined forces wit the 45% Democrats to elect HRC PM. The voters would have been motivated to vote pure preferences and then the coalition could be sealed in a context in which deals could be made and enforced.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    n other words: coalition building for US parties in the context of presidentialism and plurality elections makes the kind of coalition building you are talking about more difficult (especially in terms of delivering outcomes).

    I agree. Which is why I wrote.

    Which brings a new question to the forefront–what vision of the Democratic Party will hold together the coalition.

    If the acknowledgement that this is a problem was too oblique for you, I apologize.

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  33. @Just nutha ignint cracker: I am at a loss as to why my comments required a testy response.

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  34. dennis says:

    Your analysis is spot on, Andrew. I don’t know why you’re receiving downvotes. Unless Bernie bros and pinks are dissenting …

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  35. wr says:

    @Andrew: Biden isn’t being “thrusted” down anyone’s throat. Unless you choose to believe in a vast conspiracy to skew polls, he is currently favored by a fairly large, albeit shrinking, group among the Democratic electorate. In some states, at least, his lead comes in great part from the African-American community. His lead will either last, and he’ll win the nomination, or it will continue to shrink, and it won’t.

    You like another candidate better? Great. Go work for her or him. Or donate. Or proselytize online. But don’t whine about how one politician is being “thrusted” on you. If the person you like can’t make his or her own case, they’re going to lose. Period.

    PS — Not a Biden fan here, and I don’t expect him to win the nomination. But I do like to live in reality and not in the Lyndon Larouche-style fantasies of hardcore Bernie-bros.

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  36. Monala says:

    @Andrew: how exactly is Biden being thrust down our throats? The DNC is going out of their way to make sure as many candidates as possible can participate in the debates. The media, while not equally balanced between all the candidates, has at least five it covers fairly regularly, rather than being Biden-centric. So how exactly is he being thrust down our throats?

    Or do you just mean Biden continues to lead in the polls? That’s voters (or potential voters) making that choice. (Just like voters chose Clinton over Sanders by about 4 million votes).

    Look, I don’t want Biden to be the nominee. I think he’s too old, too nostalgic for a bipartisan past that no longer exists, and too gaffe-prone. My choice right now is Warren. But when I see the polls, I recognize that obviously a lot of Democrats don’t agree with me. So my options are to support my preferred candidate, try to get other people to support her, but vote for whomever is the Democratic nominee, without complaining that they were “forced down my throat.”

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  37. Andrew says:

    @wr:

    I may be a bit dramatic as far as the “thrusting.”
    However, being I am a fool and I do watch CNN and MSNBC.
    (Maybe I’m a masochist?)
    Sanders is, yet again, not as covered as the preferred DNC candidates. Whom this time around is Biden. They follow the popularity of the polls, and then make the discussions how that candidate can be Trump, and why he deserves to win the nomination…whom happens to have been Biden. They were even boasting him before he even entered the running.
    I see the Democratic Party making the same mistake as 2016. Not listening to it’s base.
    My vote will have to be about my healthcare. It is not as if I have much of a choice whom I vote for in the general.

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  38. Monala says:

    @Andrew: I’m going to add, your comment really bothers me. I started as pro-Bernie in 2016 (I loved him on Thom Hartmann’s “Brunch with Bernie” segment), and was excited to vote in a caucus for the first time, since in 2008 I lived in a primary state.

    Several things that year turned me off to both Bernie Sanders and caucuses. I got called into work the day of the caucus and couldn’t participate. I learned very quickly how caucuses easily disenfranchise anyone who can’t attend due to work, childcare, or disabilities. My state was one of two that held a non-binding primary several months after the primary. Not only did three times as many people vote in the primary, but Clinton won overwhelmingly, whereas Sanders had won the caucus. Yet none of the primary votes counted. That’s having someone thrust on you.

    As to why I stopped liking Sanders, it was several things. Primarily, it was his NY Daily News interview where he couldn’t give details even about his signature policy, breaking up the banks. But as a black woman, what most offended me was Sanders denigrating Democratic voters in Southern states who voted for Clinton (mostly black voters), labelling them uniformed and conservative, while celebrating the far fewer and far whiter voters in equally red caucus states who voted for him.

    Eta: having read your reply to wr, I have to ask you, who do you believe is the Democratic base? And why? Black voters are the most loyal Democratic voters, and if they’re largely supporting Biden, then that is the base.

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  39. An Interested Party says:

    Sanders is, yet again, not as covered as the preferred DNC candidates.

    Even if that is true, why should be covered as much? He isn’t even a Democrat…perhaps Democrats are smarter than Republicans in that they aren’t going to allow an outsider to take over their party…

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  40. Andrew says:

    @Monala:

    The base are people who want universal healthcare. Wants to tax the corporations. Eliminates safe havens. Free public higher education.
    The moderates are of the same electorate, but the democratic base is far more progressive than the moderate that usually governs. While Obama furthered the Healthcare fight farther than any before him. We need someone who won’t give a darn about Republican input. As they obviously are not interested in governing or using good faith.

    Biden has to make friends. While he may be the highest polling candidate, and with African Americans. I feel neither further Democratic beliefs other than equality.
    The base has been screaming for what I listed since Biden has been in/ went to Washington. Plus some.

    ReplyReply
  41. Andrew says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Because they are news channels. Technically. Not DNC run channels….

    ReplyReply
  42. Andrew says:

    @dennis:
    Thanks.

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  43. @Andrew:

    I see the Democratic Party making the same mistake as 2016. Not listening to it’s base.

    Setting aside other issues in this thread, this strikes me as a weird assertion.

    HRC won more votes in the primary and caucus process than did Sanders. That is about as close to listening the base as you can get. (And Biden is winning the polling right now of Democratic primary voters, i.e., the base).

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  44. Andrew says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Those stories of the DNC messing with Sanders in 2016 helped Hilary. The preferred coverage on the networks, as with Biden. Hilary was also already a household name in 2016, while Bernie was not.
    And while Hilary got more votes, she pooped the bed as far as campaigning. Hence the loss in the electoral. Another DNC mistake.

    As I said I will have to vote for whomever wins the Democratic primary.
    The polls are people who go by name recognition. People they are familiar with. And due to that voters think Biden has the best chance of beating Trump.
    Same things happened in 2016 with Clinton.

    Deja Vu? We still have a lot of time left. It’s going to get really dirty and nasty. Thanks Trump!
    We shall see whom survives till the general.

    Ps. I am a primary voter. I did not get a phone call.

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  45. @Andrew: It struck me at the time as 0% surprising that the DNC favored HRC, Democratic FLOTUS and sitting Democratic Senator over an independent Senator (a decades-long independent) trying to win the Democratic nomination.

    Fundamentally, I just don’t see an argument for ignoring the base when it is the base who votes in the primaries.

    ReplyReply
  46. @Andrew:

    Ps. I am a primary voter. I did not get a phone call.

    That’s not how polling works. Everyone doesn’t get a call.

    ReplyReply
  47. Andrew says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I have never met anyone who actually likes Hilary. I’m not talking just as the nominee.
    She lost to Obama, who was a no one. Except that speech at the convention that vaulted him into the spotlight.
    Bernie, he may not have been as well known. Or even a Democrat. Yet, the DNC still ran a woman who lost to Obama in 08. Still, already having been FLOTUS, and a Senator from New York…

    Hindsight is 20/20 etc.

    I know not everyone gets called for the polls. That was my weak point. I am not the normal primary voter. But, I would not have said Biden. I would have said Harris. Only because she is the female, African American Biden. Maybe even Sanders, as that would be one hell of a battle with Trump.

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  48. Andrew says:

    @Andrew:

    The Republicans did the same with McCain. After he lost the nod to Bush, And he went on to lose to Obama. And Romney, who lost to McCain in 08, then lost to Obama in 12.
    For some reason the runner-up of the previous primary gets the nod. Then goes on to lose the election.

    With the expansion or explosion of social media. Has this caused an old trend to flip to a negative? Wait your turn , pay your dues..
    Will this new trend also include ex-Vice Presidents?

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @Andrew: “The runner-up gets the nod” is much more of a Republican thing than a Democratic thing. It happened with Romney, McCain, Dole, GHWB, and Reagan. The only exceptions in this period have been GWB and Trump. In contrast, the Dems have done this exactly once in this period: with Hillary Clinton. That’s it. The previous nominees (Obama, Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Dukakis, Mondale, Carter) were not the runner-ups in the previous cycle, and most were first-time candidates.

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  50. Andrew says:

    @Kylopod:

    Thank you, I was not aware of that.

    It does help my theory that running the runner-up is not a good idea so far this century. And I am wary Biden is exempt.

    ReplyReply
  51. Kylopod says:

    @Andrew:

    It does help my theory that running the runner-up is not a good idea so far this century.

    Well you’re judging based an awfully small sample size. And using the century as the cut-off line is convenient given that two of the examples on my list (Reagan and GHWB) did in fact win.

    I’d caution against trying to find some easy formula on which types of candidates are more likely or less likely to win–especially since the same candidate could win or lose under different conditions (think Richard Nixon). If Hillary had been the nominee in 2008, I think she’d have easily won. Almost any Democrat would have that year. Republicans didn’t lose that year because they nominated the runner-up from 2000, they lost because the incumbent president from their party was massively unpopular and was presiding over a disastrous war and the worst economic crash since the Depression.

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  52. Gustopher says:

    @Andrew:

    Those stories of the DNC messing with Sanders in 2016 helped Hilary. The preferred coverage on the networks, as with Biden. Hilary was also already a household name in 2016, while Bernie was not.

    Maybe Sanders didn’t hire good people to handle his media? Pete Buttigieg has gone from nowhere to a plausible candidate in large part because he and his team have been great with media, meanwhile Cory Booker and John Hickenlooper are basically nowhere.

    Fun Fact: Cory Booker is also a Rhodes scholar, was a good mayor, plus he ran into burning buildings to save people, and is now a Senator. On paper, he should be doing better than Buttigieg.

    She [Clinton] lost to Obama, who was a no one. Except that speech at the convention that vaulted him into the spotlight.

    You don’t get to make this argument, AND say that Bernie was better than Clinton. I’m not sure the argument holds up at all — different years, different campaigns, etc. — but if you’re going to make it, you have to apply it to Bernie as well.

    And, finally, you (individually) are not the base. You are a small part of the base. As am I, and lots of other people, including the DNC. Biden is supported by a big chunk of the base.

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  53. Jen says:

    Bernie got a metric ton of media last time. Every single online news outlet realized that he was great for clicks.

    The DNC–and the RNC, for that matter–do NOT have the power that people seem to think they do. Political parties: 1) raise money; 2) negotiate debate parameters; 3) support the party nominees after the primaries.

    The DNC’s stupidity in playing around at the margins in 2016 wasn’t the game-changer that Sanders supporters make it out to be. I’d argue that the difference–and the reason that Hillary got more inter-party support was her 30+ YEARS of Democratic fundraising, activism, nurturing personal relationships at the local level, etc. That stuff MATTERS. It matters a lot when you’re running a national campaign. This, frankly, probably contributes to Biden’s lead in part. He has long, long, long standing relationships with party leadership at the local level.

    And, of course Sanders isn’t getting the media attention he received last time. Media coverage divided by two candidates in 2016 is going to be different than media coverage divided by two dozen–or even if we whittle it down to the five prominent candidates–is. Neither the media, nor the DNC, nor the voters owe Sanders anything. He has to earn media coverage, and his repeating the same lines isn’t having the same impact it did last time. Agile candidates assess performance and adjust. Why isn’t he doing that?

    I’m no fan of Biden, but good grief this isn’t some conspiracy to “shove him down our throats.” He’s a known quantity in party circles.

    Finally, *I* don’t just like Hillary Clinton, I admire her. I thought she was an amazingly well-qualified candidate, who had to walk the most ridiculous tightrope ever. Can’t get passionate about an idea or policy or you’ll get labeled “emotional.” Can’t raise your voice or you’re “shrill.” Can’t even get sick, because then you “don’t have the stamina”–but can’t take time off to heal either because then you “aren’t sufficiently committed.” I’ll be honest, the level of double standards for women candidates is a big reason I am so wary about Harris and Warren. I think that if either of them become the nominee we’ll see the same garbage thrown their way.

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  54. wr says:

    @Andrew: So basically,to you the Democratic base is that set of all people who agree with you on all issues. What a surprise.

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  55. Andrew says:

    @Kylopod:

    Yes, it is a very small sample size. When looking at it from the aspect of just elections.
    What I am trying to say is, what if social media and technology in the last 19 years has flipped the traditional process on it’s ear.
    Is it a proven theory, no. But, one that I’ll keep an eye on.

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  56. Andrew says:

    @Gustopher:
    And yes on paper, some can candidates do look better. And some campaigns are better than the others. And that does go along way.
    However , it could also be a that most play the “have a beer card” And I do not want to have a beer with Biden, or Booker. Maybe a lot of people don’t either?

    I was arguing more against Clinton favorability, than for Sanders favorability.
    Yes. Clinton best Trump in the popular vote. Against Trump.

    @Jen:
    And Hilary being around all those years, is a good thing for the Democratic party. All the money raised, fundraisers, meet and greets, favors, must dos’s…All good for the party
    That does not mean Hilary is an electable President.
    ( Herm Edwards coached The Bengal’s for 15 years. Never won a Super Bowl. But, I am sure he did a lot for the city of Cincinnati, though.)

    A@wr:

    Nope. Actually I am saying there is more to the base than just Biden voters.
    Kind of how the governing Democrats have had to deal with such a large tent for a long time? That is not just in Congress.

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  57. Andrew says:

    @Andrew:

    Biden is actually a local person. I live SW of Philadelphia, and just minutes from Delaware.
    Is Biden qualified? Yes. As well as being VP helps that argument. However, I do not see him having the balls to try and NOT care what the Republicans in Congress think or say. Especially if all they do is obstruct and lie, like with Obama.
    Sanders, Warren, Harris, all have a larger sack than Joe. And Joe being a moderate does not help my opinion. Not after the damage in Washington D.C. that Trump and Co. has caused the last three years.

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  58. wr says:

    @Andrew: “I have never met anyone who actually likes Hilary.”

    I have never met anyone who actually likes either Andrew Cuomo or Mike Pence, and yet they are the governor of New York and the VP of the USA, respectively. Our pool of acquaintances is hardly representative of the world outside, anymore than the fact that Trump can get several thousand people chanting for him at a rally means the entire country loves him

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  59. wr says:

    @Andrew: “Yet, the DNC still ran a woman who lost to Obama in 08.”

    The DNC did not run anyone. Our party committees do not choose our nominees. Hillary Clinton chose to run, and she won the primary. You can say, if you want to act like a Bernie-bro-bitch, that the DNC favored her over Bernie, but that is nowhere near “running” her as the candidate.

    Why bother commenting on politics if you can’t even understand this simplest fact about our elections?

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  60. wr says:

    @Andrew: “Nope. Actually I am saying there is more to the base than just Biden voters.”

    Yes. This is why we have primaries.

    ReplyReply
  61. Andrew says:

    @wr:
    You’re funny.

    @Kylopod:

    Oh, I forgot to add.

    The point you made about how in 2008 IF Hilary was the candidate she would have won due to the state of the country.
    Yet, she didn’t get past the primary. A well known, apparently well respected (Jen), having paid her dues in the WH and for the party. A Senator…
    Yet, she lost. Again.

    So. It did not matter how easily the Democratic Party has it in 2008. Hilary still lost.

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  62. @Andrew:

    I have never met anyone who actually likes Hilary.

    This is not the issue.

    You asserted that the DNC made a mistake with HRC and that they didn’t listen to the base.

    I pointed out that the only mechanism for finding out what the base wants is the primary process.

    HRC won the primary.

    The DNC does not control that outcome, the “base” does.

    These are just facts.

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  63. Andrew says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yes, I misspoke when I asserted the DNC did not listen to it’s base. However, when you push an unlikable candidate like Clinton, and treat Sanders as an adversary.
    In PA we had two choice for voting + write in. Sanders or Clinton….not much of a choice for Democratic Party members. And to no surprise Hillary won the PA Democratic primary. Then lost the state to Trump. A state Obama carried twice.

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  64. Kylopod says:

    @Andrew:

    What I am trying to say is, what if social media and technology in the last 19 years has flipped the traditional process on it’s ear.

    In what sense? Are you saying that social media has changed the process of who wins party nominations, explaining the rise of someone like Trump when the GOP had previously gone for the known and familiar within the party (a category that would even apply to Dubya, who despite not having run before was still connected to the past via his family relationship to the most recent GOP president)? I think that’s a reasonable statement.

    But what does that really say about who wins or loses in the general election? There you’ve lost me a bit. Was it social media that enabled Trump to win a presidential election after less social-media-savvy candidates like McCain and Romney failed to do so? Or was it simply the fact that he was facing an exceptionally unpopular opponent after two terms of Democratic rule, whereas McCain was attempting to succeed an unpopular Republican administration, and Romney was attempting to unseat a popular Democratic incumbent? Occam’s Razor.

    Besides, you have to consider another factor in Trump’s rise that does have a long history: his being a celebrity. Whenever celebs run for office, they usually win–and it often strikes people as bizarre when it happens. Remember “Ronald Reagan, the actor?!!!” from Back to the Future? And there are plenty of other examples, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Jesse Ventura to Sonny Bono to Al Franken. But none of those ran for president, and even those celebs who did (Reagan, Fred Thompson, Bill Bradley) had fairly conventional political experience by the time they ran. Trump is in a category of his own as a celeb who just barreled his way into the presidential race with absolutely no prior experience, and utilized his vast name recognition to his advantage. Sure, social media played a big part, but it’s doubtful a non-celeb could have succeeded using the same tactics, and it’s quite possible a less social-media-savvy celeb could have also done it. We’ll never know, because it was never tried before. But we do know that celebs in politics often leads to weird results. Again, Occam’s Razor.

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  65. @Jen:

    The DNC–and the RNC, for that matter–do NOT have the power that people seem to think they do. Political parties: 1) raise money; 2) negotiate debate parameters; 3) support the party nominees after the primaries.

    The DNC’s stupidity in playing around at the margins in 2016 wasn’t the game-changer that Sanders supporters make it out to be

    @wr:

    The DNC did not run anyone. Our party committees do not choose our nominees. Hillary Clinton chose to run, and she won the primary.

    This and this!

    And to repeat myself:

    It struck me at the time as 0% surprising that the DNC favored HRC, Democratic FLOTUS and sitting Democratic Senator over an independent Senator (a decades-long independent) trying to win the Democratic nomination.

    Keeping in mind that if the primary voters had preferred Sanders, whatever support the DNC leadership had in their hearts for HRC would have evaporated in a hot second.

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  66. @Andrew:

    In PA we had two choice for voting + write in. Sanders or Clinton

    That’s because they were the only two candidate left by the time the primary rolled around in April.

    Beyond that: the only other significant (if one can really apply the word) other option was O’Malley.

    You seem to be wishing for a process that did not exist.

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  67. @Andrew: Your argument seems to boil down to two notions:

    1) You would have liked to have had more choices in 2016
    2) The Democrats should have nominated someone “better”

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but those are wishes, not critiques.

    The candidate who ran in 2016 are the ones who ran. The one who won the nomination did win the popular vote, but lost the EC.

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  68. Andrew says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    The Sanders/Clinton argument I can keep splitting if you want?
    Yes, Clinton won the democratic Primaries over Sanders. Who was running as an independent; not well known. And associated with the boogie man cause he wants democratic socialism. Something Hillary did not seem eager to help him out on.

    When people vote in primaries for POTUS, what are the numbers of independents winning more votes than a party candidate? I asking seriously.

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  69. Andrew says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Fair enough. I can gripe about what if’s and why not’s all I want.
    I am not a Bernie! Bro. Or a Biden Bro.
    As I said twice or more. I am forced to vote for whomever wins the democratic nom. this time as my health requires it

    I just think
    1. It’s bull poop that the Democratic Party pushed Clinton. Considering she was the shiniest peanut on the pile, I get it however.
    2. Clinton did win the majority vote, but her cocky, I am owed this ego, Pfft Trump attitude forgot to keep campaigning. And lost the EC. Which adds to her flawed candidacy.

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  70. Andrew says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    More a better class of villain, I mean politician.
    Not a different system.

    ReplyReply
  71. Andrew says:

    @Kylopod:

    Celebrities do often win more, due to fictional stories and name recognition.
    However, what if my theory is simply the ability to tap into the meme? The Dawkins type for Obama.
    And the Troll sort for Trump…
    Maybe McCain and Romney were unable to, or ignorant of? Maybe the same can be said for Hillary?

    ReplyReply
  72. @Andrew:

    When people vote in primaries for POTUS, what are the numbers of independents winning more votes than a party candidate? I asking seriously.

    I do not understand the question.

    ReplyReply
  73. Andrew says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    It was a slightly off-topic question.
    I wanted to know if an Independent candidate ever won over a major party candidate for the POTUS nod.

    I found this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_third_party_and_independent_performances_in_United_States_elections

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  74. James Joyner says:

    @Andrew:

    I wanted to know if an Independent candidate ever won over a major party candidate for the POTUS nod.

    It depends on how you’re defining your terms.

    Washington was technically an independent but pre-dated the party system.

    Does Lincoln count? The Republicans were essentially a third party when he won but his victory sealed the fate of the Whigs, elevating the GOP to major party status.

    Teddy Roosevelt, elected as VP and then POTUS as a Republican, ran for a non-consecutive third term as a Progressive/Bull Moose and came in ahead of the Republican nominee, Taft. But Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the election.

    Nobody since has come even close.

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  75. Hal_10000 says:

    There doesn’t have to be that much thought invested in the electoral-popular split. It’s really just California. Clinton won California by millions of votes; Trump won everywhere else. If Trump beats the popular vote in 2020, it will be for the same reason. The GOP is dead in California (a death now only enhanced by the rules imposing one-party elections).

    You can either see the EC as preventing California from imposing their will on the rest of the country or California being disenfranchised. But that’s what his boils down to.

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  76. wr says:

    @Andrew: “However, what if my theory is simply the ability to tap into the meme? ”

    If I may, I’d like to urge you to slow down and re-read your messages before you post them. I have no idea what it is you’re trying to say here…

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  77. @Andrew: Are you asking about the general election or the primary process?

    James noted the general election trend.

    Since the modern primary process (starting in 1972), I cannot think of a case in which an elected independent (like Sanders) was a major competitor for a mainline (D or R) party’s nomination, let alone one who won the nomination.

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  78. @Hal_10000: The “California” argument is problematic, because “California” is actually made up of Americans (almost 40 million).

    The argument that is was “CA v the rest” only works if you are willing to say things like: the election was really GA, NC, MI, and OH versus the rest (about 40 million citizens in states that went for Trump).

    CA is just, ultimately, a line on the map.

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  79. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Since the modern primary process (starting in 1972), I cannot think of a case in which an elected independent (like Sanders) was a major competitor for a mainline (D or R) party’s nomination, let alone one who won the nomination.

    One marginal example was Lincoln Chafee, originally a Republican Senator who ran successfully for RI governor as an independent in 2010, and switched to the Democratic Party in 2012, before seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 (though getting absolutely no traction).

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  80. @Kylopod: The key there being that when he was elected, it was with a mainline partisan home.

    Same with Ron Paul.

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  81. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Ron Paul, though he was the Libertarian nominee for president in 1988, won office only as a Republican, and outside of his brief L run always identified as a Republican.

    ReplyReply
  82. @Kylopod: Indeed, that was my point: he was only able to be elected as a member of a mainline party, despite flirtations with a third party (ditto Chafee’s flirtation with independent status).

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  83. Monala says:

    @Hal_10000: it’s simply not true that she won California and no where else. Yes, she won California by 3M+ votes, and that equals her popular vote margin. But she also won (counting states where she received a half million or more votes more than Trump): MD by 600k votes; MA by 800k votes; NJ by 500k votes; NY by 1.5m votes; and WA by 500k. That’s nearly 4 million votes right there. And she won 15 other states.

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  84. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The difference is that Chafee was actually elected as an independent, Paul was not.

    ReplyReply
  85. Monala says:

    @Hal_10000: and I missed IL, which she won by 800k, bringing her close to 5m more votes than Trump that she received in non-California states.

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  86. Andrew says:

    @wr:

    meme
    /mēm/
    Learn to pronounce
    noun
    an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.

    Tapped into the meme. As in knowing “Change” or “Yes We Can” will resonate with American society better than “Country First“ or “Reform, prosperity and peace”. Or Hilary’s “Solutions for America!”
    Obama also was one of the first to tap into social media as well, as a GOTV tool. Social media I would argue is part of our culture or system of behavior.

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  87. @Kylopod: My error. I was confusing his political history.

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  88. @Monala: Another fallacy with the “it was just CA” argument is that part of why we focus on CA is sequencing: its votes post late in the process (and because of size, the final count takes longer).

    ReplyReply
  89. Andrew says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Either or, really. I was curious mostly due to the effort major parties take to mute third party candidates. Looking at history, the chances of a third party winning are quite low. It almost verges on anti-Democratic.

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  90. Kylopod says:

    @Andrew: “Meme” may have broader definitions, but nowadays it’s used in a fairly specific way.

    The term of course was coined by Richard Dawkins in the ’70s, where he was using it to conceptualize how traits spread in a population by natural selection, without being restricted to thinking of the traits in terms of more concrete units such as genes.

    But “Internet memes” have only a scant relationship to what Dawkins was describing. I think of them as sort of being brief cultural fads that are repeated in an almost obsessive-compulsive way: early examples were rickrolling, “all your base are belong to us” (anyone remember that?), and the fake subtitles on that German movie about Hitler. Nowadays, memes most often refer to the practice of adding captions to various photos. The alt-right has always been heavy into memes, some of which (such as Pepe the Frog) weren’t originally intended as racist.

    There’s some pre-Internet stuff that in retrospect looks rather meme-like today, such as “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” and before that, “Where’s the beef?”–which Walter Mondale famously used at a debate with Gary Hart. So you could say Mondale was the first candidate to make use of a meme in a presidential campaign.

    On the other hand, I don’t see anything new or meme-like about Obama’s “Change” or “Yes we can”; candidates have been doing that since like forever. Ever heard of “I like Ike” or “Keep cool with Coolidge”?

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  91. Andrew says:

    @Kylopod:
    That’s the “Meme” I was referring to. (But, also the new meaning as well. )

    Slogans are not a new thing I agree, however slogans do mean a whole lot to candidate support. And the more you are able to play to your electorate with your slogan. The more it gets said. Becoming part of the culture through imitation.
    I was born after Ike died. Yet, I know “I Like Ike.”
    Obama also used the new meme, yes.

    I was mainly referring to his ability to tap into the culture we had in 2008, and through speech after speech. He became more and more popular. And with the utilization of new technology and new social media, which is also a traditional meme in our society.
    Am I mistaken in comparing this to Dawkins’ meme?

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  92. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: True enough. I’m not even a registered; still, I’ve received calls for polling data. Normally, if they ask and I tell them that, they thank me for my time and move on, but sometimes they still ask questions.

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  93. Andrew says:

    @Andrew:

    Trump did the same thing as Obama. He just used the “dark side” and the hate of social media. And Russian help.
    While also using modern memes to insult his opponents or support his white base.
    Trump tapped into his base’s culture and behavior. One that surely comes from imitation.

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  94. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andrew: I don’t see where your “major parties mute third parties” thought comes from. Major parties don’t have to “mute” anyone. The prevailing conventional wisdom is “third parties can’t win” (and its corrollary “voting for a third party candidate is only throwing away your vote”). CW does all the muting necessary, and the major parties didn’t invent the CW.

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  95. Andrew says:

    @Kylopod:

    Bear with me hear. You may think I am missing the point of what Dawkins meant by meme.

    If we look at a political parties as organisms. Which they are made up of people. Now, these parties only survive by evolving on their electorates behaviors and society’s culture at the time of elections.
    While none of these values or beliefs or ideas are foundational or “genes” they are adopted by the party through imitation of what society wants at that time.
    The candidates that win or survive are the ones that have adopted these new traits. Or values.

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  96. Andrew says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    “Before Nader’s candidacy in Pennsylvania, the state’s laws regarding independent parties went largely unnoticed. The lack of media attention is sort of baffling, because the state legislation here is totally insane. Pennsylvania law considers any party in which state registration is below 15 percent to be an Independent Party, and, therefore, subject to a different set of rules than Republicans and Democrats. In order to get on the ballot as an independent, per a 1971 state statute, you need to collect enough signatures to total two percent of the highest candidate’s vote in the previous statewide election. In recent elections, that requirement has meant anywhere between 20,000 and 70,000 signatures, compared with just 2,000 total for Democrats and Republicans. If an independent’s signatures are challenged by a major-party candidate—and they usually are—and the independent loses the challenge, the aspiring candidate may be required to pay an opponent’s legal fees associated with that challenge.

    Independent parties also don’t file their signatures until the August before the November election. In statewide races, therefore, such candidates aren’t considered official candidates until then, and often suffer from a lack of media coverage.
    In 2004, the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania challenged Nader’s 51,000 signatures. Reed Smith was able to convince the Supreme Court that “more than 30,000 signatures on his nomination petitions based on technicalities—because signers used a nickname like ‘Bill’ instead of the formal name ‘William,’ for example, or because their current and registered addresses didn’t match“

    https://psmag.com/news/how-states-are-blocking-a-third-party-run

    I wasn’t able to find if PA has reformed this. But, yeah.

    I agree voting Third Party isn’t a good thing. I just do not see why these statutes exist.

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  97. Jen says:

    @Andrew:

    I was curious mostly due to the effort major parties take to mute third party candidates.

    What on earth are you talking about? The major parties don’t expend energy trying to mute third parties. They aren’t happy when third party candidates run, because it makes ascertaining votes harder, and it splits the vote. But they don’t have a choice in the matter.

    It comes down to each state’s process for obtaining ballot access. Indeed, this is likely why SANDERS CHOSE TO RUN AS A DEMOCRAT, rather than staying in his lane and running as an independent. He has perfected this scheme in Vermont. When he runs in that state for Senator, he first runs in the primary as a Democrat, which effectively closes out that lane. After he wins the primary, he switches back to Independent, and runs against the Republican sacrificial lamb.

    He does this so that he won’t have a 3-way race in the general election, and so that there isn’t a prominent Democrat on the ballot with him.

    When he ran for President in 2016, he filed in early states–including NH–as a Democrat. If I’m remembering correctly, either the Secretary of State or the Democratic Party in NH had to bless this process in some way, because the ballot access rules here are such that you have to be a member of the party that you are running in. Sanders ISN’T a Democrat.

    I have no idea what the process is in other states, but running as an Independent is a LOT of hard work. Sometimes to secure ballot access, you have to submit X amount of signatures. This isn’t some DNC plot, for heaven’s sake. It’s a process that has straightforward rules, but you have to follow them for 50 states. It’s a heck of a lot easier to jump on the coattails of an established party, even if that is the Green or Libertarian party.

    The statutes–like the one in Pennsylvania–exist for a lot of reasons, including limiting the number of kooks filing and cluttering up the ballot (sometimes for nefarious purposes). It also keeps the ballot from having 200+ presidential candidates on it.

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  98. Jen says:

    Okay, I read the article…and, their argument seems to be that it’s sneaky and dishonest to require a potential candidate to show he/she has support before appearing on the ballot (signature requirements), and they have an issue with the notarization, and they don’t like the fact that Pennsylvania legislators require Pennsylvanians to be the ones collecting the signatures.

    I personally don’t have any issue with any of those requirements, and the fact that signatures were thrown out because their current address didn’t match their registration address is likewise fine with me–that’s standard.

    If Independents don’t like the law, they can petition a state rep or state senator to introduce a bill to change it.

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  99. The main reason we do not have significant third parties is because any political movement with any possible traction can just win the nomination of one of the mainline parties because access to the primary process is wide open.

    The Tea Party, for example, worked not as a third party, but a faction of the GOP.

    There is no incentive to mount a serious third party effort of a type that would have serious impact on electoral outcomes.

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  100. Andrew says:

    @Jen:
    You are okay with your name being taken off a petition of the candidate you want to vote for, all because you spelled your name Jen instead of Jennifer?
    And 20,000 signatures isn’t something everyone can get. So no, there would not be 200 people on the ballot either.
    Nader had 30,000 invalidated by the legal battle Democrats brought.

    If third parties are such a waste of time. And it’s throwing away your vote, or all the good candidates are with a major party…why continue to fight democracy? Other than the third party taking votes away from a weak candidate of either party. I see no other reason to suppress the inevitable Third Place loser.

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  101. Hal_10000 says:

    @Monala:

    That’s true, but California is where the difference is the most dramatic. Only DC and HI went for Clinton by greater percentages. And I don’t think it’s just “a line on a map”. You’re talking about a state where the GOP has completely fallen apart; so much so that it’s basically a one-party state now. So it’s not so much a “screw California” point I’m making but a point on GOP dysfunction.

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  102. Jen says:

    @Andrew: I’m a little less okay with signatures being thrown out based on nicknames being used, but then again, any time I sign a petition I use my full name–the one on my driver’s license, the one I registered to vote with, etc. I’ve been around this stuff long enough to know that while it doesn’t always happen, you *can* have your signature thrown out for it not matching what is on the official record.

    Third parties act as spoilers in our system. We’d need to have either an alternative form of government (such as a parliamentary system) or a different method of voting (ranked choice) for alternatives to work effectively.

    Maine is nearby, and I saw what happened there when alternatives got popular–they ended up with a governor that very few people liked. That he won with ~38% of the vote–doesn’t that give you pause? You seem to acknowledge that third party voting in our system is generally detrimental, but then argue that it should be made easier for these candidates to get on the ballot. I’m just not swayed at all by that logic.

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  103. Kylopod says:

    @Jen:

    Third parties act as spoilers in our system. We’d need to have either an alternative form of government (such as a parliamentary system) or a different method of voting (ranked choice) for alternatives to work effectively.

    The simplest way to open a system to third parties is proportional representation.

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  104. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “You’re talking about a state where the GOP has completely fallen apart; so much so that it’s basically a one-party state now.”

    And yet somehow you don’t feel the desire to discount Republican votes in Alabama and other southern states…

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  105. @wr:

    And yet somehow you don’t feel the desire to discount Republican votes in Alabama and other southern states…

    I think you mean Democratic.

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  106. @Hal_10000:

    it’s basically a one-party state now.

    I think, btw, that this is a problematic way of looking at it. In 2016 the GOP voted 31% for Trump, which represented over 4 million voters. I think that the way we talk about states as solidly Red or Blue, when all of them are shades of purple, exacerbates misunderstanding about he negative effects of the EC.

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  107. Jen says:

    @Kylopod:

    The simplest way to open a system to third parties is proportional representation.

    Tell me more–how would this address the issue of executive and/or statewide elections (e.g., Governor and President) in which the candidate with the most votes wins either through state provisions or the electoral college, etc.?

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  108. @Jen: In simple terms, the electoral rules to select legislatures tends to drive party system formation more than the rules to elect executives. If we have PR for legislative elections, it is likely that this would spur party development and lead to a multiparty system. This would have follow-on effect for executive elections in terms of candidates running.

    Switching to an absolute majority requirement (via two rounds or instant run-offs) would also likely stimulate third party development.

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  109. restless says:

    @Hal_10000:

    If California is dominated by Democrats, that is, I think, because the Democrats are representing what the public wants.

    California has citizen-drawn districts, so gerrymandering is a bit less, and the top-two-regardless-of-party runoff system just means that if the Republican candidate comes in third in the primary, their message must not have much support.

    I think this method – require 50% of the vote, allow top two to compete if no-one wins in the primary – can go a long way toward better representation.

    While the Federal government can’t dictate how a State runs it elections, can it require that Federal offices be filled by people who represent at least half of the voters of their districts?

    Or – could the Federal government require that a State send Representatives in proportion to the voter demographics of the state?

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  110. Andrew says:

    @Jen:

    In a democratic republic the more choices we have the better our democracy functions. (I blame it on the EC, mostly. )
    My bone to pick is that no party should be able to sue to make it more difficult for competition in an election. As Mr. Taylor said, making elections two rounds or an instant run-off would improve our democracy and encourage third parties. Even so, though I have never voted green or independent, I would rather they be on the ballot as a matter of the principle. A Republic. It’s not my fault the parties run poop candidates. Nor is it the republic’s.
    We need to stop letting our politicians tell us what is good for us. Especially in elections.

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  111. Jen says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Thanks–it’s the absolute majority requirement via runoffs that, to me at least, would make this workable.

    Without that (or ranked-choice) I fear we’d just end up with a lot more Paul LePages and EC-win-but-not-majority-vote Presidents. *That* would be unhealthy for democracy.

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  112. Andrew says:

    @Jen:

    You fear something that’s already happened. With Trump. It’s not a problem in the future, it’s a problem now. And the two party system, with a check on any other competition, caused it…
    But any future bad guys. *That* would be a problem for democracy?

    Alrighty then.

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  113. Jen says:

    @Andrew: Are you deliberately missing my point?

    Yes–it happened with Trump, when sufficient numbers voted for Libertarian/Green party candidates in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. And it happened with Paul LePage the former Gov. of Maine, who won 38% of the vote in either a 4- or 5-way race the first time he was elected, and then won reelection with just over 40% of the vote the second time he was elected in a 3-way race.

    These are textbook examples of third party options having an impact on the outcomes.

    If you honestly cannot see the danger in frequent, repeated elections where individuals are elevated to executive positions without winning the majority of votes cast, then I am not going to bother anymore.

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  114. Andrew says:

    @Jen:
    Nope not missing your point.
    You think it should be a two horse race.
    51% of the vote or more is the only way it will sit with you.

    And I am saying that the current way things are have bred things to be this way. You can’t blame a third party, when propaganda has for years told us voting third party = bad.
    Or the fact that the third party took away too many from X who is Y’s preferred candidate. Y’s preferred candidate should not have to worry about a third party candidate if he/she is the superior choice for that position.
    Some how freedom of choice. Democracy is not that great compared to making sure a weak candidate has a better chance of winning at a higher percentage and less opponents.

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  115. Andrew says:

    @Andrew:
    Also: I would like to add that if the candidate is the superior candidate and honors their position; we would only have to worry about bad politicians only playing/governing to their base. Obama> Trump.

    So even if a candidate wins with 38% of the vote, their character defines how they govern.
    Maine and the U.S. happened to have been shafted.
    Tough luck. Sometimes democracies have to be reminded to pay attention. Fewer choices isn’t going to help our current situation.
    (For POTUS this would only be possible without the EC.)

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  116. Andrew says:

    According to the 2016 census, Maine has 1,056,410 eligible voters. In Maine’s 2014 race. 611,176 total people voted(Wikipedia). Just shy of 58% of the eligible population…,but seeing as it was two years prior to the census I will round that up to 60%.
    Maybe if more people voted, LePage wouldn’t have won?

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