Friday, November 9, 2018

Victory Margins for Indiana GOP Congressional Candidates Fall in 2018

Normally a political analyst would not compare a presidential election to a mid-term because they have dramatically different turnouts.  Tuesday's mid-term turnout rivaled that of a presidential election, so a comparison is possible so I decided to look at Indiana's congressional races 2016 v. 2018.  Here is a table with the information I gathered:

Winning 2018 Candidate
2016 Winning Margin
2018 Winning Margin
GOP Vote Margin Decline
Visclosky (D)
N/A (No R candidate)
Walorski (R)
Banks  (R)
Baird  (R)
Brooks  (R)
G. Pence (R)
Carson (D)
Buschon (R)
Hollingsworth (R)

The smallest GOP decline came in the mostly rural 9th Congressional district located in the southern part of the state.  The fact Hollingsworth held onto that district by approximately the same margin as 2016 despite having a well-funded challenger who was constantly on television is significant. 

Congressman Jim Banks saw his margin trimmed the most, losing 18.3% on his winning margin in CD 3.  However, he still won CD 3 by nearly 30 points so that district is far from being competitive.

In CD 2, Republican Jackie Walorski saw her winning margin trimmed from 22.3% to 9.6% . While that seems close, Walorski pre-Trump has experienced closer races in the north central Hoosier district.

As I predicted, CD 5, the central Indiana district held by Republican Susan Brooks, was significantly closer in 2018 than 2016.  Brooks’ 2016 winning margin in the Indianapolis suburban district was nearly cut in half.  With just a 13.4% winning margin on Tuesday, continued GOP weakening in the northern Indianapolis suburbs could put the district into play.

In the one Indiana Democratic congressional district with an available comparison, the 7th District based entirely in Indianapolis, the Republican losing margin increased from 24.3% to 29.8%. 

What undoubtedly has allowed Hoosier Republican members of Congress to avoid the fate of many of their losing colleagues is that every Republican district in Indiana has a substantial amount of rural area in it.  Further, instead of using the Indianapolis’ suburbs to create a single congressional district, several congressional districts were drawn to cut into the Indianapolis suburbs.   The result is that GOP congressional incumbents avoided the election night loss experienced by many of their colleagues.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Republicans On Track to Lose 35 U.S. House Seats, Worst GOP Mid-Term Election Result Since Watergate

No doubt President Trump and his delusional band of supporters woke up Wednesday morning thinking the President had "won" his first mid-term.  Certainly the GOP picking up as many as 3 seats in the U.S. Senate is something for Republicans to celebrate.  And Trump especially deserves credit for apparent GOP Senate and Governor wins (the races may be subject to a recount) in Florida, the only remaining swing state where Trump remains popular.

But back in the real world, the GOP in 2018 had an extremely favorable Senate map.  The Republican
Party should have been expected to oust Democrats in the several ruby red states that the party did win.  Notably GOP Senate challengers lost two heavily Republicans states - Montana and West Virginia - where Trumpism triumphed in 2016 but failed two years later.

In the U.S. House, Republicans, at last count, have lost 30 seats to the Democrats.  Twelve more congressional districts are still out.  Republicans are projected to lose as many as 35 seats when the counting is all done.  That would top the 32 seats lost by Republicans in President George W. Bush's second midterm in 2006.  In 1974, in the aftermath of Watergate, the Republicans lost 48 seats.

In state legislatures, the Democrats on Tuesday won over 300 Republican-held seats.  (During President Obama's eight year tenure, over 1,000 state legislative seats switched from Democrat to Republican control.  Trump is well on the way of matching that should he be elected to two terms.) Democrats claim the party has taken control of the Colorado Senate, the New York Senate, the Maine Senate, the Minnesota House and both legislative chambers in New Hampshire. The Democrats now have a majority of State Attorneys General.  The Democrats wrested control of the Governor's office from Republicans in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin.  While the Democratic gubernatorial candidates polled ahead, albeit slightly, in Ohio, Florida and Georgia, losses in those races did not offset the very good night the Democrats had in other governor races.

Several of my fellow Republicans have been sounding the alarm about the long term damage Trump is doing to the Republican Party, i.e. that he is narrowing the GOP's appeal as he drives young people, women, college graduates, and minorities away from the Party of Lincoln.   That will only get worse as shifting demographics continue to deemphasize the Trump's political base, i.e. less educated white voters.  Certainly the 2018 election results proved our fears about what Trump is doing to the GOP is real.  Will the Trumpers finally wake up to that reality?  I am going out a limb (not) and say "no."

Monday, November 5, 2018

Expect the Unexpected on Election Day

In high school I played baseball with someone who would always warn that in the sport you should "expect the unexpected."  I have never forgotten that phrase.   It didn't make much sense,...but now, decades later, I find it the perfect admonition for what to look forward to in assessing the results of the 2018 midterm elections.

Never before have I seen more races well within the polling margin of error (MOE), even how the media misdefines that term.  To correct a misconception repeated constantly by the media, MOE does not relate to the difference between two candidates' poll numbers.   Rather, MOE is a statistical error range which applies to both candidates' poll numbers.  So a 4 point statistical margin of error actually creates a 8 point, not a 4 point, potential swing.  Nonetheless, MOE is not the major problem with the polls compared with tomorrow's results.  The major problem is the sample taken by the pollsters.  It is extremely challenging for pollsters to create a polling model which matches turnout.  This is particularly true in this election in which it appears we will have heavy turnout by both parties, a rarity in the history of mid-term elections.  But I digress.

Let's make a few predictions anyway, starting with the easy ones.  Only 1/3 of U.S. Senators are up every 2 years and this election cycle the Democrats are faced with a terrible map as the party is defending scores of Democratic seats in Republican states.  I think the most likely scenario is that the GOP picks up 1-2 Senate seats, thus retaining control of that body.  Democrats are slight favorites to pick up Republican Senate seats in Nevada and Arizona.  Clearly the Democratic incumbent is going to lose North Dakota.  Incumbent Bill Nelson probably will eek out a very close election win in Florida due to the popularity of the Democratic nominee for Governor Andrew Gillum.  Republicans have an excellent shot at winning in Missouri and Montana.  I think Donnelly will narrowly survive in Indiana due to modest Republican margins in the Indianapolis suburban doughnut counties.  As far as getting a Democratic Senate majority, the party need to run the table successfully defending the party's incumbents in heavily Republican states, while scoring an upset in Tennessee or Texas.  Those states are probably too Republican for the Democrats to win this cycle.  The untold story is that without building up a big margin in the Senate in 2018 when the map is very favorable, the GOP will almost lose the Senate in 2020 when the map is not as favorable.

In the House, it seems highly likely that the Democrats will finish the night with a majority.  The million dollar question is the number of seats the Democrats will gain.  To gain a majority, the Democrats need a pickup of 23 seats..  I think 30-35 seats would be a good, conservative prediction and the one I'm going with.   Indiana incumbent members of Congress will likely win, though the margins in the 2nd and 9th districts could well be in the single digits.  I'm also keeping an eye on the 5th district which includes the northern Indianapolis suburbs.  I think anti-Trump sentiment in wealthy, highly educated Hamilton County is likely to keep incumbent Republican Susan Brooks numbers down, resulting in a much closer race than in previous elections.

What has nbot gotten the coverage this year, but which, going into redistricting following the 2020 census, is more important than control of the U.S. Congress, are the Governor races.  The Democrats are poised to wrest seize control of Governor mansions in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida.  They also have a shot at winning Georgia.  Although those states have Republican legislatures, having a Democrat governor would even the field when it comes to redistricting.

In Indiana, I expect the GOP to lose several seats in the Indiana House and a few in the Indiana Senate.  (I think Mike Delph loses to J.D. Ford in one of those races.)  Both houses of the Indiana legislature are likely to keep large Republican majoritiess.

The statewide races in Indiana, will go Republican, but by reduced margins from what is normal for mid-term elections.

While one should expect the unexpected, tomorrow, there is one thing that is certain as death and taxes:   Donald Trump will claim the outcome, regardless of the result, is a great personal victory for him and any electoral failure is the fault of someone else.  And you can bet too that his Kool-Aid drinking supporters will buy that spin.  Of course, they should not.  Donald Trump has repeatedly said the 2018 midterm is a referendum on him.  If he, in the midst of a soaring economy, loses the House, that should send a message to Republicans everywhere that hate-based politics known as Trumpism is sinking the Republican Party.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Will the Mid-Term Results Finally Cause Republicans to Wake Up to Trump's Electoral Weakness?

To hear President Trump and his his followers tell the story of the 2016 election, Trump proved a champion vote-getter and political messenger, a one-of-a-kind politician whose coattails propelled Republican candidates up and down the ballot to victory.  Trump won his soaring victory with the support of numerous Democrats crossing over to vote Republican for the first time.    Trump is as great a politician as great as Ronald Reagan, they declare, and some suggest even better.  
Pres. Ronald Reagan

Shockingly, the supposedly anti-Trump mainstream media has simply accepted this narrative as true. But the 2016 election results reflect a far different story.

In 2016, 241 Republicans won seats in the United States house. In how many of those districts did Trump run better than the GOP candidates?  24.  In other words, in over 90% of congressional districts, the winning Republican congressional candidates was more popular than Donald Trump. 

Hillary Clinton was, by far, the most unpopular candidate the Democrats ever nominated.  Yet Trump managed to lose the popular vote to her by over 3 million votes.  While Trump won the Electoral College, if just 39,000 votes in three states were switched we'd be talking about President Hillary Clinton facing her first mid-term election.

When Reagan won his landslide victories in 1980 and 1984, he did far better than Donald Trump in running ahead of winning GOP congressional districts..  In 1980, in a three way presidential race (John Anderson ran as an independent and garnered 6.6% of the popular vote), he led 38 of the winning GOP candidates at the polls.  In 1984, Reagan ran ahead of 59 GOP congressional candidates who won their district.

Trump was not a popular Republican on Election Day 2016 and he is even more unpopular today, entering his first mid-term with the lowest favorability rating of any President at this point.  Trump did not lead Republicans to victory in 2016.  He road on the coattails of the popularity of Republicanism and, even more so, the unpopularity of the liberalism of the Democratic Party.  For more popular GOP candidates to tie themselves to an unpopular President spouting racism and hatred, someone deeply hurting the Republican brand with millennials, educated voters and non-whites, is incredibly foolish.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Death of Two Asylum-Seeking Saudi Arabian Women in New York: Murder or Suicide?

You be the judge.  New York Times reports:
A person strolling through Riverside Park last Wednesday afternoon spotted something jarring on the riverbank and called the police. 
There, below a small pier that juts out from the park at 68th Street, lay the bodies of two young women, bound together by duct tape at their waists and ankles. They had not been in the water long, the police said. Clad in similar black leggings and black jackets with fur trim, their bodies bore no obvious signs of trauma. 
By Friday, detectives had learned the women were sisters from Saudi Arabia who lived in Fairfax, Va. 
Rotana Farea was 22; Tala Farea was 16. They had a history of going missing, and they had recently requested asylum in the United States, the police said. 
But beyond that, the circumstances of their deaths have remained a mystery. Investigators have struggled to piece together how two young women from a city more than 250 miles away turned up along Manhattan’s Hudson River shoreline.
A medical examination revealed the sisters had water in their lungs which is an indication that they were alive when they went into the water.  New York Police Department told the media that there is "nothing to suggest ...foul play" was involved and that the women likely committed suicide.  One working theory is that they jumped off the George Washington bridge as part of a suicide pact.  
Suicide by drowning is rare. The body's instinct for survival usually takes over during the long suffocating process involved in drowning.  Very few people who commit suicide want the additonal suffering involved in drowning to end their lives.
No evidence of foul play?  Hmm, how about they were tied together with duct tape?  Do the crack NYPD investigators believe they tied themselves together at water's edge then jumped into the water? And how exactly did they tie themselves together?  Wouldn't there have to be a third person involved?