November 2018, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Four Northeast Republican Governors Ran For Re-Election; Four Northeast Republican Governors Won:  Specifically, Phil Scott in Vermont, Chris Sununu in New Hampshire, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, and Larry Hogan in Maryland.

(In Maine, Republican Paul LePage could not run because of term limits; Democrat Janet Mills won the election to replace him.  In Connecticut, Republican Bob Stefanowski came within less than two points of defeating Democrat Ned Lamont.)

In national elections, New Hampshire is a swing state; Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maryland are solidly Democratic.  This was not a good year for Republicans, but these four men won re-election, anyway.

Their successes deserve more attention, especially this year, than they will get.
- 6:18 PM, 8 November 2018   [link]

Too Interesting not to share.
A 69-year-old man asks to be declared 49, claiming age is as fluid as gender
A Dutch judge is thinking about the man's request.
- 1:22 PM, 8 November 2018   [link]

Today's Daily New Yorker Cartoon made me smile.

Which happens less often than I would like.
- 9:21 AM, 8 November 2018   [link]

Washington Defeats A Sneaky Carbon Tax:  There isn't much good news in election results here in Washington state, but we did, apparently, defeat a sneaky tax on greenhouse gas emissions, usually called a "carbon tax".

And you can be grateful that we did, because the defeat makes it less likely that your state will have to decide on a similar proposal.

(I plan to have more on this in later posts, but thought you might appreciate a bit of good news after last night.

- 3:50 PM, 7 November 2018   [link]

"Massive Midterm"  That's the headline on the lead story in today's USAToday.

Unfortunately, since the votes are still being counted, they can't tell us how high the turnout was, other than the vague "could be the highest turnout in decades for a midterm election".

Still, their general point is right; the turnout was high for a midterm, and we'll know just how high in a few days.

(In Washington state, not all the votes are even in.  A ballot is legal here, if it is postmarked on election day.)
- 10:16 AM, 7 November 2018   [link]

Here Are The Predictions I Made in October:.
As I said last week, the Democrats will win the House, the Republicans the Senate.

To which I should add, probably.

The FiveThirtyEight estimate on the House seems a little high to me; they currently give the Democrats an 85 percent chance of winning with an expected net gain of 39 seats.  I'd be happier with a probability of 80-82 percent, and a net gain of 35 seats.

FiveThirtyEight is giving the Republicans an 82 percent chance of winning the Senate, with an expected net gain of 0.6 seats  I'd be happier with a probability of 75-80 percent, and a net gain of 2-3 seats.
(When they finish counting, I'll post these predictions again.)
- 9:50 AM, 7 November 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me chuckle.
- 8:27 AM, 7 November 2018   [link]

One More Possible Bad Outcome:  The odds are against it, but it is possible that the Democrats will win a large majority of the popular vote for the House — but just fail to win a majority of seats.

Such a result would lack democratic legitimacy for many, perhaps most, voters.

Democrats would complain bitterly, with some* justice, that they had been robbed of their victory by Republican gerrymandering after the 2010 census.

(*Some, because there is Democratic gerrymandering, too, and because Democrats often wish to set up "majority-minority" districts, reserved for Hispanic or black candidates.  By concentrating their strongest supporters in a few districts, they make it easier for Republicans to win the other districts.  During Obama's presidency, the Democrats also made it harder on themselves by neglecting rural areas.)
- 1:26 PM, 6 November 2018   [link]

If Trump Loses The House Today, As Seems Likely, How Will He Take It?  Badly, says Jeff Greenfield, compared to other presidents.

Greenfield thinks Trump is "biologically incapable of acknowledging error" — and I haven't seen any evidence against that conclusion.

So Trump will blame other people, probably many other people, and some of his followers will believe him, just as some of Nancy Pelosi's followers think she was a good Speaker and an effective party leader.
- 11:44 AM, 6 November 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me laugh out loud.
- 7:07 AM, 6 November 2018   [link]

Larry Sabato's Election Forecasts:  Sabato calls his forecasts "Our best guesses for Tuesday", which seems honest enough.
Our ratings changes leave 229 seats at least leaning to the Democrats and 206 at least leaning to the Republicans, so we are expecting the Democrats to pick up more than 30 seats (our precise ratings now show Democrats netting 34 seats in the House, 11 more than the 23 they need).  We have long cautioned against assuming the House was a done deal for the Democrats, and we don’t think readers should be stunned if things go haywire for Democrats tomorrow night.
. . .
Because of the bad map Democrats faced this year, the GOP picking up seats always seemed like a possibility, even a strong possibility.  Our final ratings reaffirm this potential; we have 52 Senate seats at least leaning to the Republicans, and 48 at least leaning to the Democrats.  If that happened, the GOP would net a seat.
Those are closer to my feelings about the likely outcomes than the FiveThirtyEight predictions.  And way closer than what I would make if I believed that Rasmussen poll.
- 3:57 PM, 5 November 2018   [link]

That Rasmussen Poll looks like an outlier.

Tomorrow the company will look brilliant — or foolish.

(For the record:  At one time I thought Rasmussen was doing interesting work with their automated polls, but I now treat their results with great caution.)
- 1:56 PM, 5 November 2018   [link]

You Won't Hear Dick Tuck's Concession Speech Tomorrow Night:  But some candidates will think it.
The people have spoken, the bastards.
(Mo Udall said almost the same thing, later.)
- 1:05 PM, 5 November 2018   [link]

Indian Hunters Shot The Man-Killing Tiger:  And Calvin Klein's "Obsession" probably helped lure her to where they could shoot her.
The man-eating tigress that terrorized the jungles of central India for two years has been shot and killed, but not without putting up a fight.

A forest ranger on Friday fired a tranquilizing dart into the side of the six-year-old big cat, believed to have slain 13 villagers, but she charged at his open-air patrol vehicle and a hunter shot her with a single, fatal bullet to the belly.
The villagers are happy — and we should be, too.
- 7:37 PM, 4 November 2018   [link]

Harry Enten's Election Forecast:  Enten, a good election analyst, hedges, too.
House forecast: Democrats will win 226 seats (and the House majority) while Republicans will win just 209 seats.  A Democratic win of 203 seats and 262 seats is within the margin of error.

Senate forecast: Republicans will hold 52 seats (and maintain control of the Senate) next Congress while Democrats will hold just 48.  Anything between Republicans holding 48 seats and 56 seats is within the margin of error.
(Quibble:  Since the Republicans now have 51 seats, Enten is saying they will gain one, net.)

I like that combination of precision with very wide error margins; it's a clever way to hedge.
- 6:53 PM, 4 November 2018   [link]

Sean Trende Is Hedging His Bets:  Trende — who is a fine elections analyst — has three articles posted at Real Clear Politics; the first complains, justly, that prediction is especially hard this year, the second explains how the Republicans might keep their House majority, and the third explains how the Democrats might win a big majority in the House.

To some extent, I sympathize with with Trende.  In 2016, many forecasters were fooled by some bad state polls.  (The better national polls were actually pretty close; after all, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote by 2.1 percent, about what they had been predicting.)

Once burned, twice shy.

If anything, I think it more likely that pollsters and forecast rs are over compensating for the mistakes they made in 2016, that they are putting the odds on a Republican victory a little too high.

(It's my impression that weather forecasters do something similar; if they miss a big storm, they will over predict nasty weather for a while.)

One thing almost every forecaster and pollster agrees on:  Democrats will win the popular vote for the House, easily.  My current guess is that their margin will be about 8 percent.  It isn't entirely coincidental that the number is between the current generic poll average at Real Clear (7.5%) and the FiveThirtyEight vote estimate (8.8%).

(Sean Trend)
- 3:21 PM, 3 November 2018   [link]

Compromises Are Important in marriages.
- 1:48 PM, 3 November 2018   [link]

"How Often Are Innocent Persons Convicted?"  Law Professor Paul Cassell has an estimate.
In a new law review article, I try to provide a realistic estimate of the rate.  I come up with tentative range of somewhere between 0.016% and 0.062% -- well below the figure of 1% to 4% that is often cited as the conventional wisdom.
If he is right, that strikes me as pretty good, considering the courts are run by fallible human beings.

(It would also be interesting to know how many guilty people are acquitted.

Paul Cassell)
- 1:02 PM, 2 November 2018   [link]

The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" Cartoon made me laugh out loud.
- 11:20 AM, 2 November 2018   [link]

The Andy Rubin Protest:  Before lunch, I went up to the local Google headquarters to see the walkout.

It turns out that many Google employees, here and elsewhere, don't think this settlement was entirely fair:
On October 31, 2014, he [Rubin] left Google after nine years at the company to start an incubator for hardware startups.[12][13][14][15]   While the departure was presented to the media as an amicable one where Rubin would spend more time on philanthropy and start-ups, according to media reports in 2017 and 2018, CEO Larry Page personally asked for Rubin's resignation after a sexual harassment claim against Rubin was found to be credible.[16]  Rubin disputed these reports and denied wrongdoing.[17]   The incident, among others, led to protests from Google's employee workforce in 2018 over Rubin reportedly receiving a $90 million "exit package" to expedite his separation from the company; Google responded by sending a memo to employees saying no employees dismissed due to sexual harassment concerns in the previous two years had received such deals.[18]
(This week's protests were triggered by this New York Times article, which has some interesting details.)

I just stayed for the first ten or fifteen minutes, long enough to get a look at the crowd.  As anyone who has known techies would expect, they were not experienced protesters.  It looked to me as if there were more women than men there, which shouldn't surprise anyone, considering the issue.
- 3:27 PM, 1 November 2018   [link]

Lawyers May Not Like the current "Pepper . . . and Salt" cartoon.
- 8:15 AM, 1 November 2018   [link]