Saturday, July 30, 2016

Political Analysis

I found most of this through Slate but only got interested in writing about it when I found the Reuters/Real Clear Politics slide show that breaks down the results of their most recent survey of adult voters.  I found myself wondering how I'd answer some of these questions, and here we go.

It should be noted that a national-level poll like the one I linked above is essentially meaningless in the current political climate.  The election will be decided on a state-by-state basis in the Electoral College, winner-take-all per state.  This type of system typically favors Republicans--it was intentionally designed to give lesser populated "farm" states an out-sized voice in politics in order to prevent all power from devolving to a few highly populated urban areas--but the design is not working exactly like that in 2016.  New York and California lean heavily Democratic while Texas leans heavily Republican.  This leaves Florida and a few other, only comparatively large, states as the key "swing" states, and here we are.  Whoever wins Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania is going to win overall.  This has nothing to do with farms and does not particularly favor the Republican Party in 2016.

First though, I was surprised to see that The Donald's feelings got hurt by Michael Bloomberg's speech to the DNC.  Why?  Because Bloomberg has been anti-Trump for months, and in fact, gave anti-Trumpism as his reason for refusing to mount an independent bid for the presidency as far back as February and March.  Bloomberg himself is not now and never has been a Clinton fan, but he said what a lot of Republicans have said about Donald Trump, and this led him to endorse Sec. Clinton.  This hurt feelings, which is ironic in a man who delights in hurting the feelings of others.  Alas.  Among other things, The Donald said that Bloomberg was a "terrible" mayor, that his third term was a disaster, and, well...

Which is funny MOSTLY because of the look of disdain on Bloomberg's face when he realizes that he has to shake Trump's hand in public.

For the record, Bloomberg is worth $40B, four times what Trump claims to be worth and roughly thirteen times what independent analysts have calculated Trump's net worth to be.  He's also three times more popular in New York, especially in New York City.  Long time readers of this blog will know that Bloomberg was my personal candidate, that I very much pined for a Bloomberg independent run, but as with everything else in this election cycle, I was destined for disappointment.

So.  Real Clear Politics surveyed 2,157 adults at a national level, which I agree is a decent sized sample, but as I said, it's a meaningless sample without a geographic basis for discussing who's going to win where.  This is therefore more of a "how are you feeling" poll, and it's in this spirit that we'll answer the questions.

 -- Page 3: Political Affiliation.  A lot of "independents" in this poll.  Will that translate to votes for Johnson or Stein?  I'm guessing no.

 -- Page 5: "Right Track/Wrong Track".  I hate this question because it forces over-simplification.  America is doing fine, it is by any measure the best place to live in the world right now, but saying that we're "on the right track" is tough in a country that manifestly has problems it needs to confront.  Almost everyone therefore agrees that we're on the "wrong track", but without context, I don't know what this tells us.

Seriously, if you say we're on the "wrong track," please consider where else you think you might have it better.  If your answer is anything other than "Australia," you probably need to spend a little more time reading the international financial press.

 -- Page 6: Main Problem Facing America.  Top answers: Economy and terrorism.  European terrorism?  I'll accept that as within the framework of this answer but note that we're doing a fuckload better than France or Europe generally right now.  Not exemplary, but much, much better.

My answer is the general lack of understanding of the basic requirements of citizenship and community, which I suppose has to fall under the heading "morality," though it almost certainly means something different than what the actual "morality" people mean when they give that as their answer.  Honorable mentions from me include "energy issues" and "war," by which I mean Russian aggression in Europe and the basically unsettled nature of our doctrine in the Middle East.  Also, China in the South China Sea.  Maybe North Korea's development of medium-range ICBMs.  That is scary as Hell from an irrational actor.

Bottom line, there is a lot of shit going on in the world, and much of it needs to be confronted with hard-headed deterrence, and here we are in a nation that is losing the stomach for that sort of thing.  This is not a positive development long-term.  Deterrence and clear international language are the things that prevent global annihilation.

 -- Page 8: "Do you approve of the president?"  He's about 50/50 with the audience, and that's about where I am, as well.  I "lean towards approve" in that he is a sane and principled guy with whom I've had any number of important policy differences.  Compared to our current candidates, he is head-and-shoulders above them.

 -- Page 10: "Trump v. Clinton, head-to-head."  An irrelevant poll without the 3rd parties included.  Clinton is up seven points, and if there were exactly two choices, I'd vote that way, too.

 -- Page 12: "Trump v. Clinton, 3rd parties included."  Our main actors are tied at 37%, with Johnson at 5% and Stein at 1%.  Traditionalist Republicans therefore appear to be between 6% and 10% of the total population (ouch!).  This bodes ill for long term sanity.

Personally, I think I am still undecided.  I support Chris Murphy (D) as my senator from Connecticut but don't love our House Rep, who is well left of both Murphy and my personal viewpoint.  Bloomberg is also still my man, and his endorsement on Clinton meant something to me.  Not sure what I'm actually going to do just yet, but a good showing from the third parties, especially this year when the Libertarians are running on a platform of Common Sense, might change the country's future in ways that we badly need.

At this point, we can only hope Johnson and Stein will be included in the national debates.

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