FBI Analysis Fingers Russian Spy Agencies For U.S. Election Hacks

Source: HuffPost

Emphasis Mine

The FBI squarely blamed Russian intelligence services on Thursday for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, releasing the most definitive report yet on the issue, including samples of malicious computer code said to have been used in a broad hacking campaign.

Starting in mid-2015, Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, the FSB, emailed a malicious link to more than 1,000 recipients, including U.S. government targets, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a 13-page report co-authored with the Department of Homeland Security. (bit.ly/2iuT8cp)

While the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence had said Russia was behind the hacking in October, the report is the first detailed technical analysis provided by the government and the first official FBI statement.

Russia has consistently denied the hacking allegations.

The FBI issued its report on the same day that President Barack Obama announced a series of retaliatory measures, including the expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence operatives and the sanctioning of the GRU and FSB. The Kremlin denounced the sanctions as unlawful and promised “adequate” retaliation.

According to the FBI report, among the groups compromised by the FSB hacks was the Democratic National Committee, which was again infiltrated in early 2016 by another Russian agency, the military GRU. 

The report largely corroborates earlier findings from private cyber firms, such as CrowdStrike, which probed the hacks at the DNC and elsewhere, and is a preview of a more detailed assessment from the U.S. intelligence community that President Barack Obama ordered completed before he leaves office next month, a source familiar with the matter said.

Much of the information provided in the report is not new, the source said, reflecting the difficulty of publicly attributing cyber attacks without revealing classified sources and methods used by the government.

Some senior Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress have expressed outrage at what they called Russian interference in America’s elections, diverging from their own party’s president-elect. The allegations and sanctions mark a new post-Cold War low in U.S.-Russian ties.

Throughout the raucous campaign, a steady stream of leaked Democratic emails clouded the candidacy of party nominee Hillary Clinton. In the aftermath of her defeat, Democrats have accused Russia. Meantime, Trump, a Republican, has questioned whether Russia was truly at fault and told the Democrats to get over it.

“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in a statement on Thursday.

Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, tapped people seen as friendly to Moscow for administration posts and rejected assessments by intelligence agencies on the hacking.

The FBI said hackers gained access to and stole sensitive information, including internal emails “likely leading to the exfiltration of information from multiple senior party members” and public leaks of that information.

The report did not name hacked organizations or address previous conclusions reached by the Central Intelligence Agency and FBI, according to U.S. officials, that Russia sought to intervene in the election to help Trump defeat Clinton.



The Clintons’ Dominance of Democratic Politics Is Over—And They Will Not Be Remembered Fondly

Self-inflicted wounds, an out-of-touch candidate and a party more concerned about Wall Street than the working class sealed the Clinton campaign’s defeat.

Source: in these times

Author:kathlene Geier

Emphasis Mine

In the aftermath of a political catastrophe as devastating of the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, you’ve got two choices. You can blame the elites or blame the people. I’m gonna go with the elites.

Many liberal journalists, however have taken the opposite view. To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss, they have demanded that we dissolve the people and elect another. The Clintonistas have attempted to pin the blame for this fiasco on the voter groups they detest the most: the white working class, the millennials, and the Left. Clinton supporter Jill Filipovic opined that Hillary was too good for us: “Sorry America, you didn’t deserve her,” she tweeted. Many other Clintonites in the media concurred. To Virginia Heffernan, Hillary Clinton was not just a candidate. Instead, she “is an idea, a world-historical heroine, light itself” who “did everything right in this campaign… She cannot be faulted, criticized, or analyzed for even one more second.”

But outside the pro-Clinton media bubble, ordinary Americans had a far less rosy view of Dear Leader Hillary.

Clinton came within striking distance of winning this thing; that much is clear. Normally, when, like Hillary, you begin your campaign with approval ratings that are already under water, and you’re also running when your own party has held the White House for two consecutive terms, I’d say it would be an uphill climb to victory. On the other hand, Hillary was running against Donald Trump, a man who, at the time of the election, was despised by even more people than she was. Against a normal Republican like McCain or Romney, Hillary probably would have lost decisively. But against Trump, she was the odds-on favorite. The polls were tight but they almost always showed Hillary in the lead. And it ended up being a close, and therefore winnable, election. The margins were close enough that a competently run campaign could and should have put Clinton over the top.

(N.B.: Clinton won the vote 48-46, about where the polls were…)

What we saw instead was gross political malpractice on the part of Democratic Party elites generally and Team Clinton specifically. Yes, factors outside of the campaign’s control, ranging from the Comey letter to racism, sexism, and more, surely contributed to her defeat. But it’s also become clear that a series of fatal miscalculations and spectacular strategic blunders by the party and the Clinton campaign is what ultimately sealed their candidate’s fate.

Here are some of them:

1. This one isn’t so much why-Hillary-lost but why-the-Democrats-lost: the Clintons did the most thorough job of clearing the Democratic primary field of any candidate in modern history. They threw their weight around and made certain that they had endorsements and support from just about every major donor, party official, party organization, and interest group organization (such as labor, reproductive rights groups, environmental groups, etc.).

The Clintons have a history of punishing perceived disloyalty, so it’s easy to see why these groups knuckled under. Every potential candidate stayed out except Bernie, who shocked everyone when what was supposed to be a protest candidacy turned into a major threat. But if the primary process had been open and competitive, we almost certainly would have ended up with a stronger and more popular candidate. I don’t know who that would have been–maybe Elizabeth Warren, maybe Joe Biden, maybe Sherrod Brown, maybe Kirsten Gillibrand, maybe someone else. In any case, the party, and the country, would have been far better off. Democratic Party elites share the blame here, because they never challenged the Clintons’ attempts to ensure a coronation.

2. Clinton also shot herself in the foot by her own arrogant behavior. Setting up the private email server at the State Department, making those buckraking Wall Street speeches, refusing to cut her ties to the Clinton Foundation (and thus avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest)–all of those were Clinton’s freely made choices, and as such they were completely avoidable.

Yes, the email scandal was a load of bunk, but why in the world would she make the stupid decision to set up a private server in the first place, which gratuitously provided endless rounds of  ammunition for her many political enemies? She knew she’d be running for president again, and it’s not like the right hasn’t been hellbent on destroying her for, oh, the past quarter-century or so. It’s worth pointing out that President Obama has had the discipline and smarts to avoid that kind of self-destructive behavior. He and his administration never gave off the faintest whiff of scandal, which is why his enemies were never able to bring him down, try as they might. Seriously, what was Clinton’s excuse here?

Every one of those dangerous misjudgments was a self-inflicted wound that never stopped bleeding, and confirmed the well-founded perception that Clinton was entitled and out of touch. That Clinton never seemed to learn from her past was an ominous sign that her presidency would have been chockful of similar misadventures. After decades of Clinton drama, the public was weary, and no wonder.

3. Relatedly, when Hillary made these foolish decisions, why didn’t the people around her stop her? And that points to another reason why she lost: the mediocrity of her advisers and campaign staff. The Clintons, who seem to prize loyalty over competence, have a long and troubling history of surrounding themselves with extraordinarily unsavory people–sleazeballs and hacks like Mark Penn, Lanny Davis, and Dick Morris, to name just a few. This time around, there weren’t any members of Team Clinton who seemed quite that clownish, so I assumed the personnel decisions were wiser. From the outside, the campaign look professional and competent. But as we’ve been discovering, that perception belied the reality.

4. There is also abundant evidence that Clinton’s campaign royally screwed up its strategy and badly misallocated resources. Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 million votes yet lost key Rust Belt states by razor-thin margins. Clinton’s much-hyped, data-driven get-out-the-vote operation was a shocking failure. Working with outdated voter lists, it mistakenly targeted large numbers of Trump voters. In Michigan, state and local officials “were running at roughly one-tenth the paid canvasser capacity that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) had when he ran for president in 2004.” In states like Ohio, Team Clinton’s efforts neglected traditional Democratic constituencies like African-Americans in favor of targeting far less favorable demographics like upscale Republican women. Clinton did not appear in Wisconsin, a state that she lost, after the primary in April, and neither did Barack or Michelle Obama. One Clinton official admitted that the campaign didn’t do more in some states where they knew were vulnerable because they were too busy playing mind games with Trump: they believed they “could keep Trump away—by acting overly confident about their chances.” Heckuva job, Team Clinton!

5. Theda Skocpol has cited another factor in Clinton’s loss: the Democrats’ lack of organizational infrastructure in non-urban areas. The GOP has a strong organizational base in these regions, including get-out-the-vote efforts run by the Christian right, the NRA, the Koch organizations, and the Republican Party itself. But the Dems have let their own party organizations wither on the vine, and the unions which were once the Democrats’ stronghold in the critical Rust Belt region have declined dramatically. When it comes to getting voters to the polls in rural areas, the Democrats are now at a tremendous structural disadvantage. To be sure, this a party-wide, rather than a Clinton-only, failure. But Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama bear strong responsibility here. Each them served for two terms but showed little interest in building the party.

6. Finally, perhaps most consequential of all was the campaign’s failure to advance a strong economic message. Team Clinton’s central strategy was not to mobilize the base, but to appeal to crossover voters. That irrepressible Clinton instinct to triangulate reared its ugly head one more time, and the result has been a world-historic catastrophe. Clinton’s ads and messaging stressed the Trump’s déclassé boorishness rather than a populist economic message that would have resonated with working class voters of all races. But the votes of Republican college-educated women they were chasing never materialized, while turnout and Clinton’s vote shares among African-Americans, Latinos, millennials, and working class whites were significantly down from Obama’s in 2012. In stroke of bitter poetic justice, the fruits of Clintons’ own long-ago policies came back to haunt them. NAFTA and other Clinton “free” trade deals devastated the Rust Belt and created the ravaged communities and the despair that compelled many working class voters in those areas pull the lever for the despicable Trump.

A post-election report by the pollster Stanley Greenberg confirms that Clinton’s decision to shun a progressive economic appeal was a fatal error. Greenberg found that “polls showed fairly resilient support with white working class women, until the Clinton campaign stopped talking about economic change.” When the Greenberg team tested a Democratic message attacking Trump for his character vs. a message “demanding big economic changes” and attacking Trump for “supporting for trickle-down and protecting corporate special interests,” they found that the economic message “performed dramatically better,” particularly among key voter groups like millennials, white unmarried women and white working class women.

(N.B.: see https://charlog.blog/2016/11/29/the-frame-is-the-name-of-the-game/)

The election is over, and with it, so it is the Clinton’s quarter-century long domination of Democratic politics. And so lately I’ve been thinking about the Clintons’ historical legacy. It’s not a pretty picture. The neoliberal economic policies of Bill Clinton, which Hillary strongly supported–free trade, deregulation, the obsession with deficit reduction–led to soaring levels of economic inequality, flat or declining wages for most Americans, and record low rates of labor participation. The Clinton crime bill ruined countless lives, especially black lives. Welfare “reform” immiserated poor families and led to a dramatic upswing in rates of extreme poverty. Under the watch of Presidents Clinton and Obama, the Democratic party at the state and local level was allowed to slowly die away. Today, the Democratic party as an institution is probably weaker than it’s ever been at any time in its long history. The Democrats now control none of the three branches of government and only 18 governorships and 13 state legislatures.  In the weeks leading up to the election, many political observers were confidently predicting an historic Trump defeat followed by a meltdown of the GOP. But–plot twist!–it’s the Democratic party that has collapsed into a smoking heap of rubble.

Team Clinton repeatedly reassured us that Hillary was the most highly qualified and most hyper-competent person evah! to run for president. They possessed the unshakeable conviction that they, the best and the brightest, could not possibly fail–so much so that on election day, her aides prematurely uncorked the celebratory champagne. So extreme was their recklessness that they actually wanted to run against Trump. Out of the outrageous hubris, complacency, and incompetence of Hillary’s presidential campaign came the Clintons’ horrifying parting gift to America: President Donald Trump. This is where the Clintons led us. Trump’s election, and the nightmare to which America is awakening, is on them. And it is unforgivable.

I suspect that history is not going to look kindly at Bill and Hillary Clinton. No, not very kindly at all.

Never has independent journalism mattered more. Help hold power to account: Subscribe to In These Times magazine, or make a tax-deductible donation to fund this reporting.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and researcher who has written for The Baffler, The Nation and The Washington Monthly.


The Worst False Equivalencies of 2016

Attempts to find “balance” between Trumpism and wholly unrelated phenomena to its left were tone deaf.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Adam Johnson / FAIR

See: http://www.alternet.org/media/worst-false-equivalencies-2016?akid=14990.123424.cgKTTR&rd=1&src=newsletter1068658&t=4

Moyers ; Winship: The Speech Hillary Should Give Before Trump Takes Office

America needs a watchdog, and Hillary needs to make the sales pitch.

Source: AlterNet

Authors: Moyers/Winship: BillMoyers.com

emphasis mine

Imagine that a day or two before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Hillary Clinton, as the candidate who received the greatest number of votes — and after a period of personal reflection and evaluation — addresses the nation.

My Fellow Americans:

On Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. As mandated by our Constitution, he received a majority of the votes in the Electoral College and thus for the next four years will be given the powers and responsibilities of our nation’s chief executive.

But I believe that I, too, have a mandate, one given to me by the 65 million of you who supported me over Donald Trump in the popular vote, some 2.6 million votes more than he received.

If we are to continue as a democracy, for the next four years and beyond, those voices cannot stay silent.

I urge every one of you who voted for me to help express that mandate and make sure our voices are heard. As each of them comes up for re-election, we will field candidates to run against Donald Trump and his friends in Congress and the statehouses, and we will run against them hard. But until then, let us prepare by joining together as a movement and creating the constituency of what will be, in effect, a shadow government — one that will serve to track and respond to every single bad action undertaken by the Trump administration and its monolithic Congress.

This shadow government will forthrightly express its opposition to such actions and not only call them out as the damaging policy they are, but also offer constructive alternatives that we believe will serve and advance the proper agenda for our nation. No proposal or executive action will go unanswered. We’ll even voice support if it’s warranted — but I fear so far there is little evidence that will be the case.

Historically, this follows the British tradition of a shadow government created by the party in opposition that monitors the ruling party and creates greater transparency, encouraging an honest dialogue based on facts and a thorough knowledge of history and policy. Our shadow government will reflect the experience and knowledge of a core group of men and women who understand how policy is made in Washington, but it will also call on the wisdom and experience of elected mayors, state legislators, public servants, activists and organizers who know the needs of our municipalities, counties and states across the country.

I propose that for every Cabinet officer named by Donald Trump and confirmed by the United States Senate, we in the opposition will have a shadow cabinet member who will monitor the work of that department and comment as needed.

Consider one example: President-elect Trump has named Tom Price, a US Representative from Georgia, to be secretary of health and human services. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which now offers health coverage to more than 20 million Americans who have never had it before. Whomever we select as our shadow secretary of health and human services will speak out against repeal — but should Secretary Price recognize reality once he is confirmed and offer changes or alternatives that make sense and do the most good for the people, the shadow secretary will voice support.

What’s more, our opposition will be vocal against any attempt to privatize Medicare, which some leaders of Donald Trump’s party have announced as a major and immediate goal. As a general principle, the shadow secretary would urge that the United States move closer to a single-payer system, a Medicare-for-all health care like those in so many other countries that would be more equitable, save lives and create a healthier, more prosperous society. Does this run contradictory to what I supported during my campaign? Yes, it does. I was on the wrong side of the issue. Most of us are familiar with St. Augustine’s observation that it is human to err; few are aware that he went on to say: “It is devilish to remain willfully in error.”

Our shadow secretary of state and secretary of defense will support America’s interests abroad, remain true to our long-term relationships with NATO members and other allies, and constantly work toward peace. While protecting ourselves from terror, we will continue to be a nation of immigrants that welcomes those who come to us in genuine pursuit of liberty and a fresh start.

Nor will the dog whistles of hatred and prejudice that haunted the campaign and the weeks after go unchallenged. Our shadow department of justice will continue the fight for civil rights and voting rights that the incoming administration threatens to suspend. We will not let discrimination destroy our country.

We will have a shadow secretary of the treasury, a shadow secretary of health and human services, secretary of education and secretary of veterans’ affairs. Each and every Cabinet-level post will have its equivalent, as will the heads of many of the top regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

A shadow version of the Securities and Exchange Commission will speak out against attempts to return Wall Street to the reckless days of speculation and behavior that led up to the terrible financial crash of 2007-08 and the recession that followed. President Obama inherited both and worked hard to lead the recovery. Thanks to the policies of the last several years, President-elect Trump will inherit a thriving economy very different from the one the Republicans left behind in 2004 — and very different from the one he described during his presidential campaign. But I have said to my own friends on Wall Street, whom I came to know as constituents and donors when I served two terms in the Senate, that I now firmly believe that “business as usual” will no longer do. A United States of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase is untenable if prosperity is to reach Main Street instead of hitting a dead end on Wall Street.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is DOA. As candidates, Donald Trump and I agreed on that. Our shadow US trade representative will favor international agreements that continue the flow of goods and services among nations but preserve jobs while generating new ones and protecting our interests. Further, we will monitor transactions like the recent Trump-Pence deal with Carrier, which keeps several hundred jobs in Indiana while still losing hundreds of others to Mexico in exchange for the kind of tax breaks that Donald Trump denounced during his campaign. We’ll tell the truth behind the propaganda and the optics, and work instead toward a healthy, thriving atmosphere for economic growth.

A shadow Federal Communications Commission will oppose media consolidation and resist attempts by a Trump-era FCC to overturn the net neutrality rulings that protect a free and open internet. And a shadow Environmental Protection Agency will make sure that any attempts to pollute clean air and water, to pay off industry with deregulation, will be unable to hide in the shadows away from the public eye.

You get the idea. In doing all of this, we hope to bolster the system of checks and balances essential to our republic — a system that already is being battered by an onslaught of irrational, authoritarian impulses. In the face of the fake news epidemic that infects social media, we’ll make freely available to the press and the public facts and data essential to the functioning of a representative government in which all viewpoints are fairly heard.

We will call out the continuing scourge of money in politics.  Every one of us in politics knows that even as we seek the votes of everyday Americans during our campaigns, once elected it is the big donors who get our ear. I am especially disturbed that President-elect Trump has named as his White House counsel Donald McGahn, a man who has eviscerated campaign finance reform in our nation. We also note that many of his Cabinet choices, including Secretary of the Treasury-designate Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of Education-designate Betsy DeVos have donated or bundled millions for Donald Trump and the Republican PartyAs the Center for Responsive Politics has noted, Ms. De Vos and her family have  given “at least $20.2 million to Republican candidates, party committees, PACs and super PACs” — some of it to senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will vote on her confirmation.

Our shadow government will support the reversal of Citizens United and other court decisions that have flooded politics with rich people’s money. During the recent campaign, I called over and again for reversing Citizens United, and I realize now that my own fundraising among the wealthy compromised my position. Again, I was on the wrong side. Sen. Bernie Sanders was on the right side. He showed all of us that you can mount an effective national campaign with small donations from millions of American citizens. That’s the way we must go. Our shadow government will be dedicated to ending the buying of America by the superrich.

The Washington swamp that Donald Trump has pledged to empty obviously will not be “drained,” given his myriad conflicts of interest, the “kitchen cabinet” of corporate CEOs he has chosen to advise him, and his support of the same old revolving door between corporate America and government. Our shadow government will call out those who spin through that door — including members of Congress from both parties, who pass through it at dizzying speeds to join lobby and legal firms that use their influence to line their pockets and swell the profits of the corporations that hire them.

It’s time to end the crony capitalism that backslaps and pays off its pals as it kicks the working class to the curb. No more bribes in the form of tax cuts for big business. No more backdoor deals — or threats — that briefly generate jobs or only temporarily keep them in America.

Again, I know that some of you are saying that Hillary Clinton has been guilty of many of these things, too. And again I say, to a great degree, yes, it’s true. You know the words of the great American poet Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.” But I want to go deeper than that, and say that when you lose a campaign for the presidency, despite receiving millions more votes than your opponent, you ask yourself: “Where did I go wrong? How was I tone deaf? Why couldn’t I reach the people who doubted me and convince them I was on their side?” I see clearly now that I simply didn’t understand or appreciate the full extent of people’s frustration with how lopsided our political system is in favor of privilege, or how the inequality in our economy has devastated their own lives and their children’s futures. It is the greatest mistake of my political career.

I’d like to think I have learned from this last campaign how and why my party and our nation have gone wrong. It’s the painful lesson of my long career in public service, and I now take to heart the words of historian Mark Mazower, who has said: “The political class has a very impoverished historical memory and as a result it has a very limited imagination. It is by and large made up of people who do not see themselves in politics in order to effect sweeping change and so they tend to operate very incrementally and very technocratically. They’re very suspicious of vision and as a result what fills their brains is party calculation – which of course always occupies politicians but in the past coexisted with bigger things.”

This must end. Our shadow government will be devoted to the vision of bigger things and a better America for all. All of you will be able check our progress. And we will regularly hold hearings around the country to listen to what you have to say, especially in the regions where so much economic hardship and personal loss have resulted in millions of voters sending up a cry for change, no matter the messenger.

In the immediate days to come, we will hammer out the details on how best to choose and organize this watchdog government. I hope you will join with me and offer your thoughts as we identify those who carefully will watch the Donald Trump presidency and report to you his missteps, excesses — and when called for, his successes.

Our eyes are upon you, Donald Trump. As we work to protect and better our country, you will hear from us, loud and clear. We will not be complacent and we will not allow the trampling of our republic to go unchallenged.

Thank you. May God bless — and save — America.

(N.B.: no supernatural powers are in play: we must save ourselves!)

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com.

Michael Winship is the president of the Writers Guild of America, East and senior writer of BillMoyers.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship.


The frame is the name of the game

Why is the Republican candidate leading in the electoral college vote?  Because he won four states in the Great Lakes region: Pennsylvania; Ohio;  Michigan; and Wisconsin, all of which voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.  How did DJT win those states?  By better framing his messages.  In a previous post – https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/education-not-income-predicted-who-would-vote-for-trump/ – it was shown that voters without college degrees – regardless of income levels – supported Trump more than they had supported Romney – and that voters with college degrees – regardless of income levels – supported HRC more than they had supported Obama.  Why?

Trump’s messaging was clear, concise, and well framed (if disingenuous) : you have lost your good paying jobs to undocumented immigrants, people of color, women, and foreigners ( appealing to lower income voters); and your security is threatened by people of color and immigrants (appealing to those with higher incomes).  ” I will take charge and fix these issues”, he said.   While education level and knowledge don’t always correspond, they did here, in the majority: his appeal was effectively anti-elite.  That his frames were racist, misogynist,  and xenophobic makes them despicable, but not ineffective.

I am not clear what Clinton’s message was, except that she was Not DJT, and while she appealed to elites, she did not even get a majority of white women’s votes.  She failed in those states because she failed to frame her messages to appeal to voters who feel they have lost ground.

An earlier post is this blog tracks the decline of the middle class to the decline of labor unions – https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-american-working-class-exactly-parallels-the-rise-and-fall-of-labor-unions/ – and we must frame our messages moving forward that to rebuild the middle class, we must organize and rebuild on the strength of organized labor, and attract the voters HRC lost…

Messaging is a key to winning over voters, and framing is a key to effective messaging – see, for example, “Don’t Think of an Elephant”, by George Lakoff.

N.B.: one of the few positive results of this election has been the exposure of the weakness of the term “midwest”.  More than 30 years ago, I said to a young colleague that we lived in the Great Lakes region, not the ‘midwest’.  He thought and replied: “The midwest consists of the Great Lakes and the Great Plains.”  “And why would you group those two together?”, I replied.

Some pundits are now calling the Great Lakes  the industrial midwest…

Education, Not Income, Predicted Who Would Vote For Trump

Source: 538

Author: Nate Silver

Emphasis Mine

Sometimes statistical analysis is tricky, and sometimes a finding just jumps off the page. Here’s one example of the latter.

I took a list of all 981 U.S. counties1 with 50,000 or more people2 and sorted it by the share of the population3 that had completed at least a four-year college degree. Hillary Clinton improved on President Obama’s 2012 performance in 48 of the country’s 50 most-well-educated counties. And on average, she improved on Obama’s margin of victory in these countries by almost 9 percentage points, even though Obama had done pretty well in them to begin with.

Average 51.4% $77,768k +17.3 +25.9 +8.5
Arlington, VA 72.0 105,120 +39.8 +60.1 +20.3
Alexandria, VA 61.5 87,319 +43.5 +59.0 +15.5
Howard, MD 60.4 110,133 +22.0 +33.5 +11.5
New York, NY 59.3 71,656 +68.8 +77.2 +8.4
Fairfax, VA 59.2 112,102 +20.5 +36.2 +15.7
Boulder, CO 58.2 69,407 +41.8 +48.7 +6.9
Loudoun, VA 58.0 123,966 +4.5 +16.8 +12.3
Montgomery, MD 57.4 98,704 +43.9 +55.6 +11.7
Orange, NC 56.2 57,261 +42.2 +51.0 +8.8
Douglas, CO 55.9 102,626 -25.8 -18.1 +7.7
Hamilton, IN 55.6 84,635 -34.3 -19.6 +14.7
Marin, CA 54.8 91,529 +51.3 +62.8 +11.5
Williamson, TN 54.1 91,743 -46.5 -35.5 +11.0
District of Columbia 53.4 69,235 +83.6 +88.7 +5.1
San Francisco, CA 52.9 78,378 +70.5 +75.7 +5.2
Johnson, KS 52.1 75,017 -17.4 -2.7 +14.7
Albemarle, VA 52.1 67,958 +12.0 +25.0 +13.0
Somerset, NJ 52.0 100,903 +5.6 +12.5 +6.9
Washtenaw, MI 51.8 60,805 +35.9 +41.5 +5.6
Johnson, IA 51.7 54,985 +35.5 +38.2 +2.7
Benton, OR 51.4 49,338 +28.5 +33.8 +5.3
Middlesex, MA 51.3 83,488 +27.1 +38.9 +11.8
Delaware, OH 51.1 91,936 -23.2 -16.1 +7.1
Morris, NJ 50.6 99,142 -10.8 -4.4 +6.4
Tompkins, NY 50.3 52,836 +40.6 +42.1 +1.5
Norfolk, MA 49.9 86,469 +15.2 +31.6 +16.4
Broomfield, CO 49.5 80,430 +6.0 +14.1 +8.1
Douglas, KS 49.4 50,732 +24.6 +32.7 +8.1
Collin, TX 49.4 84,233 -31.5 -17.0 +14.5
Chester, PA 48.8 86,093 -0.2 +9.3 +9.5
Fulton, GA 48.6 56,642 +29.8 +42.1 +12.3
Story, IA 48.5 51,270 +13.8 +12.2 -1.6
Hunterdon, NJ 48.3 106,519 -17.8 -13.8 +4.0
Wake, NC 48.3 66,579 +11.4 +20.5 +9.1
Chittenden, VT 48.0 64,243 +41.6 +47.4 +5.8
Boone, MO 47.7 49,059 +3.1 +5.9 +2.8
Dane, WI 47.6 62,303 +43.5 +48.0 +4.5
Santa Clara, CA 47.3 93,854 +42.9 +52.3 +9.4
Eagle, CO 47.3 73,774 +14.9 +19.9 +5.0
King, WA 47.1 73,035 +40.6 +50.5 +9.9
DuPage, IL 46.7 79,016 +1.1 +14.1 +13.0
Gallatin, MT 46.7 54,298 -5.0 +1.0 +6.0
Ozaukee, WI 46.4 75,643 -30.3 -19.3 +11.0
Hennepin, MN 46.4 65,033 +27.0 +35.3 +8.3
Madison, MS 46.3 63,156 -15.7 -16.0 -0.3
Montgomery, PA 46.2 79,926 +14.3 +21.1 +6.8
James City, VA 46.1 76,705 -12.0 -5.1 +6.9
Bergen, NJ 46.1 83,686 +11.3 +12.0 +0.7
Westchester, NY 46.0 83,422 +25.1 +32.8 +7.7
Durham, NC 45.6 52,038 +52.8 +60.4 +7.6
Clinton’s margin surged in the 50 most-educated counties

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

Although they all have highly educated populations, these counties are otherwise reasonably diverse. The list includes major cities, like San Francisco, and counties that host college towns, like Washtenaw, Michigan, where the University of Michigan is located. It also includes some upper-middle-class, professional counties such as Johnson County, Kansas, which is in the western suburbs of Kansas City. It includes counties in states where Clinton did poorly: She improved over Obama in Delaware County, Ohio, for example — a traditionally Republican stronghold outside Columbus — despite her numbers crashing in Ohio overall. It includes extremely white counties like Chittenden County, Vermont (90 percent non-Hispanic white), and more diverse ones like Fulton County, Georgia, where African-Americans form the plurality of the population. If a county had high education levels, Clinton was almost certain to improve there regardless of the area’s other characteristics.

Now here’s the opposite list: The 50 counties (minimum population of 50,000) where the smallest share of the population has bachelor’s degrees:

Average 13.3% $41,108 -19.3 -30.5 -11.3
Liberty, TX 8.8 47,722 -53.3 -58.0 -4.7
Starr, TX 9.6 25,906 +73.3 +60.1 -13.2
Acadia, LA 9.9 37,684 -49.8 -56.7 -6.9
Apache, AZ 10.1 32,396 +34.3 +36.9 +2.6
Duplin, NC 10.4 34,787 -11.6 -19.2 -7.6
Walker, AL 10.7 36,712 -52.8 -67.5 -14.7
Edgecombe, NC 10.7 33,892 +36.2 +32.2 -4.0
St. Mary, LA 11.1 41,956 -18.8 -27.6 -8.8
DeKalb, AL 11.3 37,977 -54.7 -69.4 -14.7
Anderson, TX 11.3 42,511 -52.1 -58.1 -6.0
McKinley, NM 11.4 29,812 +46.9 +39.5 -7.4
Henry, VA 11.5 34,344 -14.7 -29.2 -14.5
Putnam, FL 11.6 32,714 -24.5 -36.6 -12.2
Darke, OH 11.6 43,323 -44.4 -61.2 -16.8
Halifax, NC 11.9 32,834 +32.3 +26.9 -5.4
Laurel, KY 11.9 35,746 -63.6 -69.1 -5.5
Sampson, NC 12.1 35,731 -10.9 -16.7 -5.8
Maverick, TX 12.1 32,536 +58.1 +55.8 -2.3
Mohave, AZ 12.2 38,456 -42.1 -51.5 -9.4
Blount, AL 12.3 44,409 -73.9 -81.4 -7.5
Robeson, NC 12.4 30,581 +17.4 -4.8 -22.2
Kings, CA 12.5 47,341 -14.9 -17.4 -2.5
Talladega, AL 12.5 35,896 -16.0 -25.5 -9.5
Pike, KY 12.5 32,571 -50.5 -62.7 -12.2
Marion, OH 12.5 42,904 -6.4 -34.4 -28.0
Lea, NM 12.6 55,248 -49.8 -48.3 +1.5
Columbus, NC 12.7 34,597 -7.8 -22.1 -14.3
Terrebonne, LA 12.9 49,932 -41.2 -48.4 -7.2
Wilkes, NC 12.9 32,157 -42.4 -55.2 -12.8
Jackson, AL 12.9 36,874 -41.8 -62.5 -20.7
Le Flore, OK 12.9 35,970 -41.1 -58.7 -17.6
Merced, CA 13.0 43,066 +8.7 +7.9 -0.8
Hawkins, TN 13.0 37,432 -46.9 -63.4 -16.5
Vermilion, LA 13.0 47,344 -52.8 -59.6 -6.8
St. Landry, LA 13.1 33,928 -4.3 -11.9 -7.6
Rockingham, NC 13.1 38,946 -21.1 -30.0 -8.9
Huron, OH 13.1 49,315 -8.3 -36.4 -28.1
Clearfield, PA 13.2 41,510 -28.9 -49.5 -20.6
Tulare, CA 13.3 42,863 -15.0 -16.2 -1.2
Rusk, TX 13.3 46,924 -51.1 -56.6 -5.5
Ashtabula, OH 13.4 40,304 +12.8 -19.0 -31.8
Imperial, CA 13.4 41,772 +32.0 +41.8 +9.7
Bullitt, KY 13.4 56,199 -35.7 -49.8 -14.1
Caldwell, NC 13.4 34,853 -35.5 -50.6 -15.1
Montcalm, MI 13.4 40,739 -8.6 -34.0 -25.4
Madera, CA 13.5 45,490 -17.1 -17.3 -0.2
Dickson, TN 13.5 45,056 -28.4 -45.7 -17.3
Tuscola, MI 13.5 44,017 -10.8 -38.0 -27.2
Pearl River, MS 13.5 40,997 -59.3 -66.7 -7.4
Columbiana, OH 13.6 43,707 -11.8 -41.6 -29.8
Clinton collapsed in the 50 least-educated counties

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News, Alaska Division of Elections

These results are every bit as striking: Clinton lost ground relative to Obama in 47 of the 50 counties — she did an average of 11 percentage points worse, in fact. These are really the places that won Donald Trump the presidency, especially given that a fair number of them are in swing states such as Ohio and North Carolina. He improved on Mitt Romney’s margin by more than 30 points (!) in Ashtabula County, Ohio, for example, an industrial county along Lake Erie that hadn’t voted Republican since 1984.

And this is also a reasonably diverse list of counties. While some of them are poor, a few others — such as Bullitt County, Kentucky, and Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana — have average incomes. There’s also some racial diversity on the list: Starr County, Texas, is 96 percent Hispanic, for example, and Clinton underperformed Obama there (although she still won it by a large margin). Edgecombe County, North Carolina, is 57 percent black and saw a shift toward Trump.

How do we know that education levels drove changes in support — as opposed to income levels, for example? It’s tricky because there’s a fairly strong correlation between income and education.4 Nonetheless, with the whole country to pick from, we can find some places where education levels are high but incomes are average or below average. If education is the key driver of changes in the electorate, we’d expect Clinton to hold steady or gain in these counties. If income matters more, we might see her numbers decline.

As it happens, I grew up in one of these places: Ingham County, Michigan, which is home to Michigan State University and the state capital of Lansing, along with a lot of auto manufacturing jobs (though fewer than there used to be). The university and government jobs attract an educated workforce, but there aren’t a lot of rich people in Ingham County. How did Clinton do there? Just fine. She won it by 28 percentage points, the same as Obama did four years ago, despite her overall decline in Michigan.

And in most places that fit this description, Clinton improved on Obama’s performance. I identified 22 counties5 where at least 35 percent of the population has bachelor’s degrees but the median household income is less than $50,0006 and at least 50 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white (we’ll look at what happened with majority-minority counties in a moment, so hang tight). Clinton improved on Obama’s performance in 18 of the 22 counties, by an average of about 4 percentage points:

Average 40.2% $43,862 +4.8 +8.8 +4.0
Brazos, TX 38.3 39,060 -35.3 -23.6 +11.7
Champaign, IL 42.5 46,680 +7.0 +18.4 +11.4
Clarke, GA 39.3 33,430 +28.8 +38.0 +9.2
Harrisonburg, VA 35.6 38,807 +13.4 +21.9 +8.5
Fayette, KY 40.2 48,667 +1.0 +9.4 +8.4
Riley, KS 45.5 44,522 -12.0 -4.5 +7.5
Davidson, TN 36.5 47,434 +18.6 +26.0 +7.4
Benton, OR 51.4 49,338 +28.5 +33.8 +5.3
Alachua, FL 40.8 42,045 +17.4 +22.6 +5.2
Watauga, NC 38.0 35,491 -3.1 +1.5 +4.6
Monroe, IN 44.2 41,857 +19.1 +23.7 +4.6
Boone, MO 47.7 49,059 +3.1 +5.9 +2.8
Buncombe, NC 35.1 45,642 +12.5 +14.6 +2.1
Montgomery, VA 44.3 44,810 -0.3 +1.3 +1.6
Leon, FL 44.3 46,620 +23.6 +25.1 +1.5
Lafayette, MS 36.9 41,343 -15.3 -14.8 +0.5
New Hanover, NC 37.2 49,582 -4.6 -4.1 +0.5
Payne, OK 36.4 37,637 -28.4 -28.3 +0.1
Ingham, MI 36.5 45,278 +27.8 +27.7 -0.1
Monongalia, WV 38.8 46,166 -9.5 -10.4 -0.9
Tippecanoe, IN 35.2 44,474 -3.6 -5.7 -2.1
Missoula, MT 40.2 47,029 +17.8 +15.7 -2.1
High-education, medium-income white counties shifted to Clinton

Counties shown have a population of at least 50,000. At least 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites, at least 35 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is below $50,000.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

Are these so-called “white working-class” counties? You could argue for it: They’re mostly white, and they have average or below-average incomes. But, of course, “class” is a slippery term, and definitions vary. It is worth noting that many of the counties on the list are home to major colleges or universities, although there are some exceptions. Clinton made substantial gains in Nashville, Tennessee (Davidson County), and modest gains in Asheville, North Carolina (Buncombe County), for instance, and both places have reputations as intellectual and cultural havens but aren’t really college towns.7

There are also some counties where incomes are high but residents aren’t particularly well-educated. Take Suffolk County, New York, for instance, which comprises the eastern three-quarters of Long Island. The median household income there is around $88,000, but only about a third of the population has college degrees (as compared to a national average of around 30 percent). Suffolk County turned into Trump Territory, voting for him by 8 percentage points after Obama had won it by 4 points in 2012. Trump made even larger gains in Staten Island, New York (Richmond County), winning it by 17 points after Obama won it by 3 points in 2012.

Long Island and Staten Island might be peculiar cases because voters there may have a cultural affinity with Trump, who grew up in Queens. Even so, they reveal something about how cultural and educational fault lines can mean more than economic circumstances. Clinton improved over Obama’s performance in suburban Westchester County, New York, for instance, which has broadly similar income levels to Long Island and Staten Island but higher education levels and a different mix of occupations.8 (Staten Island is famous for its large population of police and firefighters, but you’ll meet a lot more journalists who have homes in Westchester.9)

Trump improved on Romney’s performance in 23 of 30 counties where median incomes are $70,000 or higher but less than 35 percent of the population have college degrees and the majority of the population is white. For example, Trump won by a much larger margin than Romney in Calvert County, Maryland, which has some commonalities with Long Island.10 And he substantially improved on Romney’s performance in Chisago County, Sherburne County and Wright County in the Minneapolis exurbs, even though Clinton made major gains in Minneapolis’ Hennepin County. There’s probably some degree of cultural self-sorting at play here. These communities have plenty of nice homes and good schools — they’re not cheap to live in — but they have fewer cultural amenities or pretensions (think big-box retail as opposed to boutiques) than you usually find in nearer-in suburbs and small towns such as those in Westchester County.

Average 30.4% $76,701 -11.0 -15.8 -4.8
Richmond, NY 30.6 74,043 +2.6 -16.8 -19.4
Chisago, MN 21.5 70,223 -12.6 -30.6 -18.0
Sherburne, MN 26.2 73,621 -22.0 -37.1 -15.1
Litchfield, CT 33.7 72,068 -3.6 -16.0 -12.3
Orange, NY 28.6 70,794 +5.7 -6.4 -12.1
Suffolk, NY 33.5 88,323 +3.7 -8.2 -11.9
Wright, MN 27.4 73,085 -21.7 -33.2 -11.5
Gloucester, NJ 28.7 76,213 +10.8 -0.5 -11.3
Calvert, MD 29.3 95,425 -7.5 -18.4 -10.9
Warren, NJ 29.5 70,934 -15.5 -25.6 -10.1
St. Mary’s, MD 29.8 88,190 -14.8 -24.6 -9.8
Sussex, NJ 33.1 87,397 -21.4 -30.2 -8.8
Dutchess, NY 33.4 72,471 +7.5 -1.1 -8.6
Anoka, MN 27.3 70,464 -2.6 -9.7 -7.1
Livingston, MI 33.0 73,694 -23.3 -29.6 -6.3
St. Croix, WI 32.4 70,313 -12.1 -18.4 -6.3
Harford, MD 33.4 81,016 -18.4 -24.5 -6.1
Spotsylvania, VA 28.3 78,505 -11.5 -16.8 -5.3
Fauquier, VA 34.3 92,078 -19.9 -24.7 -4.8
Carroll, MD 32.7 85,532 -32.9 -36.9 -4.0
Chesapeake, VA 29.4 70,176 +1.0 -1.3 -2.3
Ascension, LA 25.8 70,207 -34.3 -36.0 -1.7
Elko, NV 17.5 72,280 -53.2 -54.7 -1.5
Will, IL 32.6 76,142 +5.5 +5.6 +0.1
McHenry, IL 32.2 76,345 -8.8 -8.0 +0.8
Kendall, IL 34.3 83,844 -3.3 -1.5 +1.8
Plymouth, MA 34.0 75,816 +4.2 +10.1 +5.9
Napa, CA 31.9 70,925 +28.7 +35.3 +6.6
Kane, IL 31.8 70,514 +1.1 +9.0 +7.9
Davis, UT 34.6 70,388 -61.9 -22.9 +39.0
High-income, medium-education white counties shifted to Trump

Counties shown have a population of at least 50,000. At least 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites, less than 35 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is above $70,000.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

Education levels are also increasingly dividing majority-minority communities from one another. For example, let’s look at a set of counties that were a sweet spot for the Obama coalition — those that are both diverse and highly educated. In particular, there are 24 counties (minimum population 50,000) in the U.S. where at least 35 percent of the population has college degrees and less than half the population is non-Hispanic white. Obama did really well in these counties in 2012, winning them by an average of 41 percentage points. But Clinton did even better, winning them by 47 points, on average. The only two such counties that Obama had lost, Clinton won: Fort Bend County, Texas, in suburban Houston, which voted for a Democrat for the first time since 1964, and Orange County, California, which hadn’t voted Democratic since 1936.

Average 42.9% 41.9% +41.2 +47.5 +6.3
Fort Bend, TX 42.3 35.5 -6.8 +6.6 +13.4
Fulton, GA 48.6 40.6 +29.8 +42.1 +12.3
Montgomery, MD 57.4 47.4 +43.9 +55.6 +11.7
Orange, CA 37.3 42.9 -6.2 +5.2 +11.4
San Mateo, CA 45.0 41.2 +46.7 +57.2 +10.5
San Diego, CA 35.1 47.5 +7.6 +17.1 +9.5
Santa Clara, CA 47.3 34.1 +42.9 +52.3 +9.4
New York, NY 59.3 47.4 +68.8 +77.2 +8.4
Yolo, CA 38.3 48.8 +34.0 +42.1 +8.1
DeKalb, GA 40.3 29.7 +56.8 +64.7 +7.9
Suffolk, MA 41.0 47.1 +56.7 +64.6 +7.9
Contra Costa, CA 39.4 46.6 +35.2 +42.9 +7.7
Durham, NC 45.6 42.1 +52.8 +60.4 +7.6
Mecklenburg, NC 41.5 49.6 +22.4 +29.9 +7.5
Richmond, VA 35.4 39.7 +57.3 +63.8 +6.5
San Francisco, CA 52.9 41.4 +70.5 +75.7 +5.2
District of Columbia 53.4 35.4 +83.6 +88.7 +5.1
Prince William, VA 38.1 47.0 +16.0 +20.1 +4.1
Alameda, CA 42.1 33.3 +60.7 +64.4 +3.7
Cook, IL 35.3 43.4 +49.4 +53.0 +3.6
Richland, SC 36.2 44.6 +32.0 +32.9 +0.9
Santa Fe, NM 39.9 43.4 +51.1 +50.8 -0.3
Hudson, NJ 36.8 29.6 +56.1 +51.9 -4.2
Middlesex, NJ 40.7 47.0 +27.6 +19.7 -7.9
Highly educated majority-minority counties shifted toward Clinton

Counties on this list have a population of at least 50,000. Less than 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites and at least 35 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

By contrast, Clinton struggled (relatively speaking) in majority-minority communities with lower education levels. Among the 19 majority-minority countries where 15 percent or less of the population has a bachelor’s degree, she won by an average of only 7 percentage points, less than Obama’s 10-point average margin of victory in 2012. We need to be slightly careful here because of the potential ecological fallacy — it’s not clear if minority voters shifted away from Clinton in these counties or if the white voters who live there did. Still, Trump probably gained overall among Latino and black voters compared to Romney, and it’s worth investigating divisions within those communities instead of treating their votes as monolithic.

Average 12.8% 30.3% +10.1 +7.0 -3.1
Robeson, NC 12.4 26.7 +17.4 -4.8 -22.2
Cumberland, NJ 13.8 49.0 +24.2 +5.3 -18.9
Starr, TX 9.6 3.4 +73.3 +60.1 -13.2
McKinley, NM 11.4 10.1 +46.9 +39.5 -7.4
Crittenden, AR 14.6 44.7 +14.9 +8.9 -6.0
Halifax, NC 11.9 39.3 32.3 26.9 -5.4
Edgecombe, NC 10.7 37.2 +36.2 +32.2 -4.0
San Patricio, TX 14.8 41.0 -20.7 -24.0 -3.3
Kings, CA 12.5 34.5 -14.9 -17.4 -2.5
Maverick, TX 12.1 3.1 +58.1 +55.8 -2.3
Tulare, CA 13.3 31.3 -15.0 -16.2 -1.2
Merced, CA 13.0 30.5 +8.7 +7.9 -0.8
Madera, CA 13.5 36.8 -17.1 -17.3 -0.2
Navajo, AZ 14.5 43.0 -7.8 -7.9 -0.1
Lea County, NM 12.6 40.6 -49.8 -48.3 +1.5
Apache, AZ 10.1 19.6 +34.3 +36.9 +2.6
Yuma, AZ 14.0 34.0 -12.6 -5.5 7.1
Ector, TX 14.3 38.3 -48.9 -40.6 +8.3
Imperial, CA 13.4 13.0 +32.0 +41.8 +9.7
Low-education majority-minority counties shifted toward Trump

Counties shown have a population of at least 50,000. Less than 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites and less than 15 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

In short, it appears as though educational levels are the critical factor in predicting shifts in the vote between 2012 and 2016. You can come to that conclusion with a relatively simple analysis, like the one I’ve conducted above, or by using fancier methods. In a regression analysis at the county level, for instance, lower-income counties were no more likely to shift to Trump once you control for education levels.11 And although there’s more work to be done, these conclusions also appear to hold if you examine the data at a more granular level, like by precinct or among individual voters in panel surveys.

But although this finding is clear in a statistical sense, that doesn’t mean the interpretation of it is straightforward. It seems to me that there a number of competing hypotheses that are compatible with this evidence, some of which will be favored by conservatives and some by liberals:

  • Education levels may be a proxy for cultural hegemony. Academia, the news media and the arts and entertainment sectors are increasingly dominated by people with a liberal, multicultural worldview, and jobs in these sectors also almost always require college degrees. Trump’s campaign may have represented a backlash against these cultural elites.
  • Educational attainment may be a better indicator of long-term economic well-being than household incomes. Unionized jobs in the auto industry often pay reasonably well even if they don’t require college degrees, for instance, but they’re also potentially at risk of being shipped overseas or automated.
  • Education levels probably have some relationship with racial resentment, although the causality isn’t clear. The act of having attended college itself may be important, insofar as colleges and universities are often more diverse places than students’ hometowns. There’s more research to be done on how exposure to racial minorities affected white voters. For instance, did white voters who live in counties with large Hispanic populations shift toward Clinton or toward Trump?
  • Education levels have strong relationships with media-consumption habits, which may have been instrumental in deciding people’s votes, especially given the overall decline in trust in the news media.
  • Trump’s approach to the campaign — relying on emotional appeals while glossing over policy details — may have resonated more among people with lower education levels as compared with Clinton’s wonkier and more cerebral approach.

So data like this is really just a starting point for further research into the campaign. Nonetheless, the education gap is carving up the American electorate and toppling political coalitions that had been in place for many years.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.


Blame White Evangelicals For Trump Victory

our long national nightmare begins...
our long national nightmare begins…

Source: Pathos.com

Author: Michael Stone

Emphasis Mine

White conservative Christians propel Donald Trump to the White House.

Five Thirty Eight reports national exit polls show white evangelical voters voted in record high numbers for Donald Trump, 81-16 percent. It is the widest margin for a Republican presidential candidate ever among evangelicals since they have been tracking the numbers.

The Wall Street Journal confirms that more than 80% of white evangelical and born-again Christians voted for Trump. According to national exit polling, a larger percentage of evangelicals backed Trump then backed Mitt Romney, John McCain, or George W. Bush, the GOP candidates in the past three elections.

As for women, more than 75% of white evangelical women voted for Trump, according to the exit polls.

That’s right, more than 75% of white evangelical women voted for Donald Trump. Think about that.

The irony of course is that for all intents and purposes Trump is, at best, a Christian of convenience. Indeed, he is a man that appears to have no convictions, religious or otherwise, and represents everything that Christian morality rejects, at least in theory.

The irony is only compounded by the fact that Hillary Clinton was and is a model Christian. As a lifelong Methodist, Clinton was secure in her faith, and actually tried to practice the best of Christian values, exhibited by the Methodist motto that formed a cornerstone of her campaign and personal philosophy:

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

It is stunning but not surprising to note that the majority of evangelical Christians were happy to support a candidate with a long and well documented history of racism, misogyny, and corruption, a man that brags about being able to sexually assault women with impunity.

Bottom line: Evangelical Christians are shameless hypocrites who reject morality and decency in favor of an immoral, authoritarian, bully.

And now our long national nightmare begins.


FiveThirtyEight’s Prediction Model Is Failing in the Clinton-Trump Race — That’s According to Its Guru, Nate Silver

Trump’s path is precarious and not one other professional election handicapper records the seismic shift in Trump’s chances that FiveThirtyEight does.


Author:Arun Gupta/Raw Story

Emphasis Mine

Telling political junkies to stop checkinfivethirtyeight.com obsessively is likely to be met by the same hollow-eyed stare from a lab rat that spends its day clicking a lever for bumps of cocaine.

(N.B.: that’s me)

The internet venerates the website’s founder, Nate Silver, as “America’s Chief Wizard” after his statistical polling model correctly predicted the results of the 2012 presidential contest in every state and the District of Columbia. But Silver’s fans are freaking out as Trump’s chance of winning has tripled in two weeks.

However, the wild swings toward Trump are more a sign that an orange-furred monkey wrench has jammed FiveThirtyEight’s soothsaying machine than a candidate who is detested by nearly 60 percent of voters is suddenly floating to the top of the 2016 shitshow. Trump can win and possible hacking of the electoral process increase unpredictability, but his path is still precarious and not one other professional election handicapper records the seismic shift in Trump’s chances that FiveThirtyEight does.

To Silver’s credit, he’s cast doubts on his poll-based forecasting this year. He mentions the lag time in how polls react to dramatic news such as the FBI’s email bombshell. He highlighted a survey showing little movement in voter preferences since January 2016. FiveThirtyEight also notes, “Trump supporters are more likely than Clinton voters to make it through the likely voter screens, indicating they are more vocal and enthusiastic in their support.” In other words, it’s likely Comey’s ill-advised letter about Clinton’s emails has depressed pro-Clinton respondents in polling more than it will at the voting booth. On the flip side, after Clinton’s average lead stretched to 7.1 percent in mid-October, this was likely affected by Trump supporters shunning pollsters, particularly after Trump’s rants about a rigged media, rigged polls, and a rigged election.

If you’re hell-bent on checking FiveThirtyEight constantly (as I still do), then it’s worth keeping in mind reasons why a Clinton victory is likelier than Silver’s model predicts.

The main issue is FiveThirtyEight works best when electoral coalitions are well-defined and change slowly as they have been since Bill Clinton was in office. Trump has scrambled all that, however, and analyzing polls cannot account for rapid demographic shifts. Trump’s bastion of working-class white men includes significant numbers of Democrats who’ve crossed over since 2012. But he’s alienated typically Republican college-educated whites and spurred LatinosAsians, and Muslims to mobilize in record numbers to defeat him. And the gender gap is wider than ever, with women favoring Clinton over Trump by an average of 16 points in October polls. The focus on Trump’s working-class support also misses one crucial aspecta majority of the white working class is female, and they began rejecting Trump after the Access Hollywood tape scandal. This overlaps with remarkable geographic shift in which Democrats are quickly gaining ground in Sunbelt states that were a redoubt of Reagan conservatism, while traditional Democratic strongholds are crumbling in Midwest regions that are older, white and working class.

These groups are huge at a national scale, but fine-grained detail disappears in polls of a thousand respondents. FiveThirtyEight apparently doesn’t include polls that could clarify the picture by zeroing in on groups such as Latino voters, who favor Clinton by an astonishing 48-point gap. Most public polls are marked by shoddier methodology that amplify small swings as opposed to internal campaign polling that show more stability.

Two other significant reasons why FiveThirtyEight overestimates Trump’s chances is early voting and get out the vote. More than 35 million Americans have already voted, which is 28 percent of the total vote in 2012. In nearly every battleground state early voting is outpacing last election, meaning Clinton banked millions of votes when her numbers were peaking. One poll of early voters indicates Clinton is ahead by enough 5 points, which is enough to tack on a 1.3 percent advantage in the final election results.

Many of these factors are evident in Nevada. FiveThirtyEight shows Trump neck and neck with Clinton, but Silver says early voting shows a six-point gap favoring Democratic voters. This discrepancy is consistent with FiveThirtyEight’s failure to predict Harry Reid’s 2010 Senate re-election and its underestimate of Obama’s 2012 victory margin. Six years ago Reid edged out Tea Party kook, Sharron Angle, thanks to an extraordinary turnout machine he’s built after more than 30 years in public office. Nevada also has its own election oracle in reporter John Ralston, who correctly called the two races Silver flubbed. Ralston’s dive into 622,000 votes already cast, which already accounts for 61 percent of 2012 totals, bears grim tidings for Trump even in best-case scenarios.

If Trump loses Nevada, Silver says he wins in only 9 percent of scenarios. That’s a far cry from the 35 percent mark Trump just touched. Trump’s campaign looks to be treating Nevada as a lost cause as he eyes richer electoral prizes like Michigan and Wisconsin that are even further out of his grasp. Even if Trump wins Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Arizona, North Carolina, and New Hampshire, he still loses the election. So he needs to wrestle a Midwestern state away from Clinton.

That’s unlikely as Trump is paying the price for outsourcing get-out-the-vote operations. GOTV is warfare through electoral means and requires a command staff, hundreds of offices, tens of thousands of paid staff and volunteers, and coordination both strategic and minute with the campaign. Trump has none of that. A month before the election, FiveThirtyEight counted 2.5 Clinton field offices for every one of Trump’s. His campaign is also plagued by chaotic websites and offices listed in demolished buildings. Field offices can’t be thrown up like lawn signs, and in battleground states a ground game could add as much as three to five points.

Clinton’s GOTV is robust enough to target strongly Democratic but low-propensity voters. Silver points out polls can’t factor this in. For example, one organization in Florida has dispatched 500 paid canvassers to the field for months to activate a pool of 384,000 Latino voters. Trump is also outmuscled by unions spending hundreds of millions of dollars and deploying thousands of full-time canvassers for Democrats. These efforts are yielding dividends among Latinos in Arizona and Asian-Americans in Nevada. And Michigan’s Arab-American and Muslim-American firewall will easily keep Trump at bay there.

Democrats are hand-wringing over declining African-American turnout, and this has put North Carolina and Ohio in peril, but the surge from women, college-educated, and racial minorities from Virginia to Nevada will offset this deficit. Republicans are already embroiled in civil war, which is damaging Trump in Wisconsin and Utah. Democrats are united and feature a stellar array of surrogates on the hustings, such as the Obamas, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and an A-list of celebrities. Donald Trump has the Pharma Bro, an underwear model, a disgraced baseball star, and a felonious “Real Housewife.”

There is also no evidence of “shy” Trump voters that polls allegedly fail to register. And Trump’s attempts to activate whites who normally don’t vote looks to be a dud as well. An analysis of newly registered and “missing” voters favoring Clinton. Even if there is a hidden upsurge for Trump, it’s unlikely to overcome all these obstacles.

Silver cautions as well that the history of presidential elections and scientific polling is so scanty in terms of data that it’s dicey to draw any broad-based conclusions. For instance, conventional wisdom says as goes Ohio, so goes the nation. But Trump looks set to win Ohio and lose the general election, a first in 14 straight presidential races.

(N.B.: not so fast – our ground game may win Ohio)

FiveThirtyEight’s model worked fantastically well when the sailing was smooth, but it is foundering in the violent seas of 2016. The Cook Political Report, the brainchild of  the dean of election forecasting, Charles Cook, observes that despite Clinton’s eleventh-hour woes, “The race has tightened to its ‘natural resting place’ with a 2-4 point lead for Clinton,” while Trump’s “path to 270 electoral votes remains decidedly and almost impossibly narrow.”

The best prediction of how the 2016 campaign ends is likelier to be a metaphor than math: Hillary Clinton’s near-collapse at the September 11 memorial where her entire team mobilized to shield her and carry her over the finish line. And no statistical model can predict a moment like that.

Arun Gupta is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York and has written for dozens of publications including the Washington Post, the Nation, The Progressive, Telesur English, and the Guardian. He is the author of the upcoming Bacon as a Weapon of Mass Destruction: A Junk-Food-Loving Chef’s Inquiry into Taste (The New Press).


I’m With Stupid: The Entire 2016 Election Has Been an Insult to Our Intelligence

Donald Trump isn’t the only one to lie with impunity. Logic, facts and intelligence are the losers in this election.

 Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Source: AlterNet

Author:Sophia A. McClennen / Salon


Comey’s letter and what’s next

Source: HillaryClinton.com

Author: John Podesta

Emphasis Mine

By now, you’ve probably heard some news about a bewildering letter sent to Congressional leaders by the Director of the FBI.

This is all a bit confusing, and much of the reporting has been misleading or downright inaccurate, so I want to take a minute to walk through this. Bear with me!

Here’s the quick backstory: In July, FBI Director James Comey concluded a year-long investigation by deciding not to go forward with any case about Hillary’s emails. It wasn’t even a close call, he said. In his words, “no reasonable prosecutor” would have brought charges.

Yesterday, in a surprise to us all, Comey wrote a very strange letter to Congress that was long on innuendo and short on facts. He said that in a completely separate investigation, the FBI had found some emails that may or may not be related to Hillary, and indeed may or may not be significant at all.

It’s since been reported that these emails may not have even been sent by or to Hillary; that they weren’t withheld by Hillary or the campaign in the earlier investigation; and most or even all of them may be duplicates of emails already in the FBI’s possession.

It’s being reported that Comey sent this letter over the objections of Department of Justice officials who told him that it was inconsistent with longstanding policy of both Democratic and Republican administrations not to take action that might impact an election. It’s an unprecedented intrusion into a close presidential election with 10 days until Election Day.

But by being vague and obfuscating, Comey opened the door to conspiracy theories, Republican attacks against Hillary, and a surge of fundraising for Trump and his team. So this bears repeating:There is no evidence of wrongdoing, no charge of wrongdoing, and no indication that any of this even involves Hillary.

Voters deserve answers.

Comey needs to come clean with the American people about what he found and answer all the questions about why he took this unprecedented step less than two weeks before the election.

Here’s what this changes for you and this campaign: Absolutely nothing.

Trump has spent more than a year trying to bully his way to the presidency. He’s been browbeating the FBI (indeed, many have speculated that Comey took this extraordinary action in part to reduce the pressure on his agency that Trump’s campaign and his Republican Congressional allies has been building up), leading crowds in chants of “lock her up,” and even saying Hillary should be in prison — and if he won, he’d put her there.

The facts be damned — Trump’s always shown a complete disregard for the truth. In spite of there being no new information, he’s already raising money off the bizarre letter (he literally sent a text message asking for money within an hour of the story breaking!) and he’s more fired up than ever on the trail today.

Charles, these are the actions of a desperate man. Trump knows he can’t win on his character, temperament, or his policies. He’s behind, so he’ll cling to whatever he can.

So, no, our strategy doesn’t change. But Charles, our intensity needs to, because we can’t let him get away with this.

Our organizers and volunteers on the ground are rallying behind Hillary in what will be the biggest volunteer weekend of the campaign so far. You need to get her back, too. You need to say you’re not willing to let Trump bully or buy his way into the presidency, and you’re not going to let anything stop us from making history.

There are ten days to go. Let’s buckle down, stay focused, and win this.