Update: James Surowiecki on What the Press Missed About Trump’s Win

I posted yesterday on James Surowiecki’s contention that Trump’s success with non-college whites was predictable, but that Trump’s better-than-expected success with college-educated whites is what the press missed. SeeJames Surowiecki on What the Press Missed About Trump’s Win.

Surowiecki makes a few follow-up remarks to his tweet-stream of yesterday. First, Surowiecki is not saying that college makes whites more liberal: “I’m actually not saying anything about education making people liberals. I understand why college-ed. whites voted for Romney.” (6:03 PM – 5 Jan 2017.) On the contrary, he contends that “I don’t agree with them [Romney voters]. But I can see why they did it. Romney was a rational, experienced politician who would protect their interests.” (6:06 PM – 5 Jan 2017.)

It’s Trump’s better than expected showing with college-educated voters that surprises Surowiecki: “Trump is irrational, has no experience, ran an avowedly racist and nativist campaign and acted horribly toward women” (6:08 PM – 5 Jan 2017) “[s]o yes, I did assume that would make him much less popular with college-ed voters, who have a lot invested in keeping the system stable.” (6:09 PM – 5 Jan 2017.)

But Surowiecki acknowledges that some college-educated communities did abandon Trump, and Trump fared poorly with them as the press expected: “This seems exactly right. In places like Westchester and Fairfield County, Boston suburbs, college-ed whites did abandon Trump.” (6:54 PM – 5 Jan 2017.)

Surowiecki’s tweets from yesterday seem right to me: (1) Trump did predictably well with non-college whites, (2) college-educated voters aren’t necessarily more liberal, but they are stability-oriented, even so (3) Trump did better than expected with college-educated white voters, but (4) still did (predictably) poorly in some college-educated white communities (e.g.,Westchester and Fairfield County, Boston suburbs).

There are no local data to show how college-educated whites (here I mean those already graduated) in the Whitewater area voted. It’s an interesting question: did they vote for Trump in relatively-low numbers like college-educated whites in the suburban areas Surowiecki lists, or did college-educated whites in this area vote for Trump in greater-than-expected numbers?

I’ve written before that Whitewater seems a community divided by college and non-college educated residents.  See, One Degree of Separation. They are, though, perhaps not so divided in their votes (or as different as they might wish to think) this last election.

James Surowiecki on What the Press Missed About Trump’s Win

James Surowiecki of The New Yorker has a nineteen-tweet string on what the press missed about Trump’s win. The string starts at 10:22 AM – 5 Jan 2017 and ends at 10:48 AM – 5 Jan 2017.

It’s worth reading in full, but here are Surowiecki’s 5 key tweets:

Kevin Drum on Trump and the End of Reconstruction 

Blogging at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum – like many of us, of whatever politics – seems uncertain about the consequences of a Trump Administration.  (In fairness, much has happened in a short time, and it’s hard to make sense of it all.)

Still, Drum’s thinking has shifted significantly over the last few days, in ways he no doubt sees.  His 11.9 day-after post, Things We Can Count on In the Next Two Years belies his 11.10 post, The United States Is Not About to Spiral Into Fascism and Tryanny

Two days after the election, Drum writes to reassure, contending that Trump will be no different, no worse, than 

say, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would be. Beyond that, though, he’s less conservative on the policy front. The reason Trump is uniquely bad is mostly symbolic: he’s willfully ignorant; he’s vindictive; he’s a demagogue willing to appeal loudly and proudly to racial animus; and he has the attention span of a small child. He’d be an embarrassment to any country, let alone the most powerful country in the world.

Isn’t that bad enough? There’s no need to pretend we’re about to spiral into a fascist nightmare or a financial collapse. We have not embraced tyranny. The United States is a very big battleship, even for Donald Trump.

One day earlier (that is, one day after the election), Drum sees a different prospect for America under Trump:

Since I have the Reconstruction era on my mind right now, it’s hard to avoid the obvious comparison. Reconstruction lasted about eight years, and then was dismantled almost completely. Barack Obama’s presidency lasted eight years and will now be dismantled almost completely. I will withhold my opinion for now on the obvious reason for this similarity.

There lies Drum’s – and our – problem. If a Trump era is anything like the end of Reconstruction was for millions of black Americans at that time, then there is every reason to be extremely concerned. Generations – indeed, during roughly a century of history – went by before millions received the rights the Constitution granted them.

There’s no need to belabor a point that Drum knows, and about which he is sympathetic. The problem for this country is that a politics like the end of Reconstruction was for blacks would be devastating for millions our fellow citizens. When one reaches the need for an analogy between our time and the decades after 1877, one has already arrived at a moment of crisis for huge numbers.

So, is Drum’s initial concern (by way analogy) on 11.9 justified, or is a Trump Administration likely to be little different from how a Cruz or Rubio Administration might have been (as Drum wrote on 11.10)?

Few during these last months thought that Trump, Cruz, and Rubio were much alike; there’s no reason to think they were. A populist politics of Trump’s kind will push as far as it can, making Drum’s initial concerns more probable than his subsequent reassurances.

Marquette Law Poll Results (Final 2016 Election Edition)

The final 2016 Marquette Law School poll results are out, and here key findings from the 10.26.16 to 10.31.16 poll (the full results are available online).

Clinton-Trump, Among LV:

Johnson-Stein, Among LV:

Feingold-Johnson, Among LV:

Anderson for Senate, Among LV:

Pres. Obama Approval:

Gov. Walker Approval:

Key Takeaway:

A few quick points:

  • The Marquette Poll has been reliable these last few elections.
  • The key takeaways seem reasonable to me (regarding Wisconsin).
  • Third party candidates typically fade, and this poll reflects that development.
  • Finally, the presidential race is so divisive, and coverage of it so impossible to avoid, that one finds local matters (even important ones) relatively unnoticed by comparison.
  • There are important local races, including a school referendum for Whitewater, but I’ve come to think that in this presidential year, downballot contests will be a matter of (1) level turnout driven by the national race, and (2) the particular composition of that turnout.   That’s caused me to put off until after the election some discussions that I wanted (and originally planned) to post before November 8th.
  • Intense national coverage seems, to me, to obsure everything else.  Better an extended analysis in a quieter time.  One can be patient; there’s all the time in the world.

Where Libertarians Stand on the Presidential Race

Libertarians have a political philosophy, and may also be members of a political party using that same name.  For those of us who are both ideologically libertarian and members of the national party (as I am), the statement yesterday from Libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld (a former Republican governor of Massachusetts), summaries nicely our views on the 2016 presidential race.

I’ve reproduced Gov. Weld’s full statement below, and I’d not quibble with a single word of it:

“It is a privilege and an honor to participate in this year’s national election campaign. I am grateful to Governor Gary Johnson for the opportunity to do so. Under Governor Johnson’s leadership the Libertarian Party has made great strides in this election cycle. Gary and I will carry our message of fiscal responsibility, social inclusion, and smaller government through November 8, and I hope that this election cycle will secure for the Libertarian Party a permanent place in our national political dialogue.

“We are making strides toward breaking the two party monopoly, and America will be stronger when we do, but given the position of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the deck is still stacked against even a credible third party ticket with two proven former Governors.

“Against that backdrop, I would like to address myself to all those in the electorate who remain torn between two so-called major party candidates whom they cannot enthusiastically support. I’m speaking particularly to those Republicans who feel that our President should exhibit commonly accepted standards of decency and discipline.

“I would not have stepped out of the swirl of the campaign to make this statement if I did not fear for our country, as I do.

“A President of the United States operates every day under a great deal of pressure — from all sides, and in furtherance of many different agendas. With that pressure comes constant criticism.

“After careful observation and reflection, I have come to believe that Donald Trump, if elected President of the United States, would not be able to stand up to this pressure and this criticism without becoming unhinged and unable to perform competently the duties of his office.

“Mr. Trump has some charisma and panache, and intellectual quickness. These qualities can be entertaining. Yet more than charisma, more even than intellectual ability, is required of a serious candidate for this country’s highest office. A serious candidate for the Presidency of the United States must be stable, and Donald Trump is not stable.

“Throughout this campaign, Mr. Trump has demonstrated an inability to handle criticism or blame well. His first instinct is to lash out at others. When challenged, he often responds as a child might. He makes a sour face, he calls people by insulting names, he waves his arms, he impatiently interrupts. Most families would not allow their children to remain at the dinner table if they behaved as Mr. Trump does. He has not exhibited the self-control, the discipline, or the emotional depth necessary to function credibly as a President of the United States.

“From the beginning of his campaign, Mr. Trump has conjured up enemies. First it was eleven million criminals in our midst, all bent on obtaining the benefits of citizenship, at our expense. Over time, the enemies became any trading partner of the United States. He says they are nothing but foreigners seeking to threaten our livelihoods. Now we have reached the point where his idea of America’s enemies includes almost anyone who talks or looks different from him. The goal of the Trump campaign, from the outset, has been to stir up envy, resentment, and group hatred.

“This is the worst of American politics. I fear for our cohesion as a nation, and for our place in the world, if this man who is unwilling to say he will abide by the result of our national election becomes our President.

“This great nation has weathered policy differences throughout our history, and we will do so again. Not in my lifetime, though, has there been a candidate for President who actually makes me fear for the ultimate well-being of the country, a candidate who might in fact put at risk the solid foundation of America that allows us to endure even ill-advised policies and the normal ebb and flow of politics.

“In the final days of this very close race, every citizen must be aware of the power and responsibility of each individual vote. This is not the time to cast a jocular or feel-good vote for a man whom you may have briefly found entertaining. Donald Trump should not, cannot, and must not be elected President of the United States.”


Marquette Law Poll Results (Early October ’16 Edition)

The early October Marquette Law School poll results are out, and here are two key findings from the 10.6.16 to 10.9.16 poll (the full results will be available online later this afternoon).

Clinton-Trump-Johnson-Stein, Among LV:

Feingold-Johnson-Anderson, Among LV:


I’ve posted observations from Stuart Stevens, a GOP consultant and writer not affiliated with any presidential candidate this year.

Here’s another, after last night’s debate:

Preparation is hard, and much harder and longer than mere presentation. Consider an extemporaneous speaker: anyone who speaks well and at length without notes only does so based on considerable, prior reading, listening, and rumination. A person may require many, many hours of reading (that’s an understatement) before even a minute of speaking competently on a subject.

Sometimes one will hear that talented people don’t need this kind of preparation. On the contrary, it’s talented people who know its importance and perhaps profit most from it.

Almost all of that earlier reading, listening, and rumination will occur in private settings, far removed from a public forum.

It’s not glamorous work, but it is (or should be) enjoyable, enriching, and perhaps even practically rewarding.

Nationally and locally, there are a large number of policy presentations that reveal only a weak grasp of the underlying issues, and an obvious lack of thorough preparation. (I think PowerPoint often allows weak presenters to hide behind a few, ill-considered bullet points.)

These presentations aren’t flimsy because their presenters aren’t smart (most people in a community are very sharp); these presentations are flimsy because their presenters are misdirected in their focus or lazy in their work.

Marquette Law Poll Results (Mid-September ’16 Edition)

The mid-September Marquette Law School poll results are out, and here are a few key findings from the 9.15.16 to 9.18.16 poll (the full results will be available online later this afternoon).

Clinton-Trump, Among LV:

Clinton-Trump-Johnson-Stein, Among LV:

Feingold-Johnson, Among LV:

Feingold-Johnson-Anderson, Among LV:

Polls, Polls, Polls

In the weeks ahead, we’re sure to hear about dramatic results! or shocking details! from presidential or statewide polls. 

Over at FiveThirtyEight, they’ve 13 Tips For Reading General Election Polls Like A Pro.

All thirteen are instructive, but tips 1 and 2 are especially useful guidelines:

  1. Beware of polls tagged “bombshells” or “stunners.” Any poll described thusly is likely to be an outlier, and outlier polls are usually wrong. Remember those American Research Group polls that had Republican John Kasich climbing rapidly in primary after primary? They were pretty much all wrong; stunners usually are. That said, sometimes they’re right, such as the Des Moines Register poll that projected a large Joni Ernst victory in the 2014 Iowa Senate race, when other polls showed a tighter race. So don’t dismiss outliers, either.
  2. Instead, take an average. I don’t just say this because it’s what we do at FiveThirtyEight. I say it because aggregating polls, especially in general elections, is the method that leads to the most accurate projection of the eventual result most often. Put simply, it’s the best measure of the state of the race….

The full list of tips is well worth heeding. There’s no need to be buffeted about by sketchy surveys and dodgy data; these two months will have their share of both.

Marquette Law Poll Results (Late August Edition)

The latest Marquette Law School poll results are out, and here are a few key findings from the 8.25.16 to 8.28.16 poll (the full results will be available online later this afternoon).

Clinton-Trump, Among LV:

Clinton-Trump-Johnson-Stein, Among RV:

Feingold-Johnson, Among LV:

Feingold-Johnson-Anderson, Among LV:

Latest Marquette Law Poll Results 

The latest Marquette Law School poll results are out, and here are a few key findings from the 8.4.16 to 8.7.16 poll (the full results will be available online later this afternoon).  Occasionally, I’ve heard some Democrats complain about pollster Charles Franklin (notably Ed Garvey among them), but Franklin’s surveys have had a generally good reputation. 

Clinton-Trump, Among LV:

Clinton-Trump-Johnson-Stein, Among LV:

Feingold-Johnson, Among LV:

Feingold-Johnson-Anderson, Among LV:

Johnson-Weld 2016

Occasionally, someone will ask me how I’ll be voting this fall. I’m a libertarian, from an old libertarian family, and it’s an easy choice for me: Johnson-Weld 2016.

Here’s a video in which Gov. Johnson and Gov. Weld introduce themselves. They offer America a principled alternative, and would assure us a government, among other things, without private email servers or (worse) a repulsive wall-builder. Govs. Johnson & Weld would be a good choice in any season; they’re an excellent choice this year.

GOP in MKE: Tonight at the Milwaukee Theatre

POLITICO has answers to likely questions about tonight’s debate: Everything you need to know about Tuesday’s Republican debate.

Here are the two important answers about the main debate (an undercard debate will begin at 6 PM CST):

When and how long is the debate?
The prime-time debate will last two hours and begins at 9 Eastern time [8 CST]. There are a few changes to the format: Candidates will not make opening statements, but they will have more time to make arguments. For an initial answer to a question, they get 90 seconds, in addition to 60 seconds for rebuttals. There will be short closing statements at the end of the debate.

How can I watch the debate?
It will air on Fox Business Network and be streamed for free on foxbusiness.com. No cable subscription is necessary. To capitalize on the ratings surges from earlier debates, FBN is also widening access to the channel for its pay-TV partners such as DirecTV. This will allow viewers who normally can’t access the network a chance to tune into the debate.

Last Night’s GOP Debate

I’m not a major-party voter, but like millions I have watched the GOP presidential debates (and will watch the Democrats’ debates, too).  There’s a lot to learn from watching the candidates, for all the showiness, the pre-debate theatrics, etc.

The key point about all these encounters is that they are intra-party affairs – it’s a debate among those of the same general view.  If one GOP candidate does poorly, there’s another GOP candidate likely to gain. Success or failure of some in this setting is not a repudiation of a party teachings; it’s simply a reallocation of support among relatively like-minded candidates.

That brings us to Gov. Walker: conservatism is everywhere in the national GOP, but his candidacy as a conservative has been a disappointment.

Over at NBC News, Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann have a story entitled, Winners and Losers from Last Night’s Debate. I think their assessments are spot-on.

Here’s their assessment of Gov. Walker:

Scott Walker: He had a good first 10 minutes with his “apprentice” line. But he faded after that. It was like the football team that immediately delivered on the trick play it had been practicing, but then showed little else for the rest of the game.

It seems that Scott Walker knows it was not a good night, from post-debate remarks quoted in the Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker needed a breakout performance in Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate, but he had a problem:

In the three-hour forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, he was asked just three questions.

“Short of tackling someone, I don’t know what more I could have done,” Walker told reporters after the debate. “I aggressively interrupted (CNN moderator) Jake Tapper a bunch of times along the way and short of an absolute brawl, I don’t know what more one could do.”

One makes one’s own opportunities.  That means, in this case, speaking more, and speaking in sharp exchanges with rivals within the same party.

That didn’t happen at the first debate; it didn’t happen in the second.

Candidates are responsible for their own campaigns, of course, but it’s worth repeating that Wisconsin’s press has not prepared her candidates for the kind of exchanges that other major-party candidates handle often and easily.