Archive for October, 2018

Is Trump on the midterm ballot?

October 31, 2018

Of course, he is …. presidents always are.

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Interesting analysis by Pew which asked people:

Will your vote (in the midterms) be a vote FOR the president, AGAINST the president, or isn’t the president not much of a factor?

Here’s what they found:

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Let’s drill down on the numbers…

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Liar, liar … pants on fire.

October 30, 2018

What’s worse, lots of inconsequential lies … or a a couple of consequential ones?

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As a Catholic kid, I was taught about the difference between venial sins and mortal ones.

The former are naughty-naughty  … destining you to a few years in a holding tank before admittance to perpetual bliss in heaven.

The latter – mortal sins – are bad-bad … guaranteeing you that you’ll get banished to the fires of hell.

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That lesson comes to mind when former President Obama adopts his trademarked holier-than-thou persona and  lambasts current President Trump as a congenital liar.

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More from Obama’s “I’m back” tour …

October 29, 2018

Another theme of former President Obama’s “I’m back” speeches is that there’s a racial divide and that Trump rhetoric is fueling it.

Hard to dispute either of those points.

But, Obama also ballyhoos that things weren’t that way when he served as self-proclaimed Uniter-in-Chief.

That’s where the facts belie the storyline.

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Source

Lets drill down…

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Uh-oh: The end of Florida as a tax haven?

October 26, 2018

A lot of friends have packed up and moved to Florida.

Some say it’s because of the winter weather.

Most concede that it’s because of the favorable state tax structure.

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Andrew Gillum is a far  left progressive … even to the left of Bernie Sanders.

He advocates extensive government spending on social programs … think: Medicare for all and expansion of Medicaid.

His campaign is built around the “power of free”.

It’s relatively silent on the details of paying for the freebies.

So it surprises me is that I haven’t heard any chatter about the inevitable rise in taxes if Gillum gets elected governor.

Maybe, the FL legislature will still be controlled by the GOP … containing any tax increases in the short-run.

But, eventually the tax piper will need to be paid if the majority of Floridians vote for big spending.

All of which raises the question: what happens when a tax haven turns Blue.

Uh-oh.

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Does anything about this photo strike you as odd?

October 25, 2018

Below is a picture of the caravan that’s moving from Honduras and Guatemala to the thru Mexico to the U.S. border.

Does anything in the photo strike you as odd?

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Let me rephrase the question…

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Some people just shouldn’t vote!

October 24, 2018

Sometimes (often?) I scratch my head and wonder whether “one man, one vote” makes sense.

Polls routinely reveal that a majority of Americans have marginal knowledge of government, politics, and political issues.

Try this: ask folks to explain the difference between the Federal deficit and the Federal debt … ask them where the money that funds, say unemployment benefits, comes from.

Jason Brennan is a rare breed … a libertarian prof at MSB.

His research is at the nexus of ethics and politics.

He has written an insightful book called The Ethics of Voting

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The essence of Jason’s argument is that all adult citizens have the right to vote … but that they shouldn’t exercise that right unless they are informed, rational, and aiming for the common good.

Let’s drill down on that conclusion…

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Should all people vote … or, just those who are “informed”?

October 23, 2018

Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder whether “one man, one vote” makes sense.

Polls routinely reveal that a majority of Americans have marginal knowledge of government, politics, and political issues.

All citizens should be allowed to vote.

But, should these uninformed citizens vote?

YouGov.com conducted a survey that queried people’s opinions on  that specific issue.

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Overall, it was a split vote … with a slight plurality (46%) saying that all citizens should vote and 42% saying that only the well-informed should vote.

The results are more interesting if you drill down to the poll’s “internals”:

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Maybe there is a political middle…

October 22, 2018

In the old days it was called the “silent majority”
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Last , we reprised a post: America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

That analysis ended in 2014 … showing a double-humped distribution that had been separating over the past decade or so.

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New data is now available, so let’s advance the picture to 2017

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Source: WaPo analysis of Pew data

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The humps have spread further apart … indicating sharper polarization.

The peaks are higher … especially the one on the left,

Also, note the vanishing middle (the dark blue on the graphic).

Now, let’s drill down another level…

 

 

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A Never-Trumper asks: Is it too late to get one of those red hats?

October 19, 2018

We previously posted results of a Rasmussen survey that showed 64% of Republicans are “very angry” about the way that Kavanaugh was treated … and practically all of them are more likely to vote in the midterms than they previously were.

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Today, let’s provide some human context to the numbers…

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About that “blue wave” that’s coming …

October 18, 2018

Post-Kavanaugh, momentum seems to have shifted.

A few weeks ago, most pollsters predicted that Dems would win a Congressional majority and that they stood a shot at taking the Senate.

That picture seems to have changed … quite a bit.

RealClearPolitics is a down-the middle source that reports several polls-of-polls.

One tracks Congressional races, slotting them as likely Dem, likely GOP or toss-ups.

It takes 218 seats to control the Congress (which has 435 representatives).

A couple of weeks ago, RCP was reporting 206 seats as likely Dem, 191 likely GOP and 38 toss-ups.

Now, the RCP recap is Dems 206 and GOP 199 … with  30 toss-ups.

The Dem “hard” advantage has narrowed from 15 seats to 7 … with most of the GOP gain coming from the toss-ups (note the near mirror image of the GOP and toss-up lines).

 

What’s going on?

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Gallup: GOP favorability up, ties Dems

October 17, 2018

Last week, we reported Gallup findings that Americans satisfaction with the way they are being governed jumped 10 points in the past year …. and that 72% of Republicans are satisfied with the way the Trump administration is governing.

See Gallup: Satisfaction with governance increasing…

Predictably, the “satisfaction with governance” seems to be influencing the way that people view the Dem and GOP parties.

Gallup periodically surveys party favorability.

Their most recent poll was conducted during September during the run-up to the Kavanaugh hearings.

It’s headline conclusion:

In the past year, the GOP has erased an 8 point favorability disadvantage and now edges out the Dems by a point … that’s a 9 point swing.

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Let’s drill down on those numbers…

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Here’s a way to get your kid into a better college…

October 16, 2018

Instead of submitting SAT scores, take an ancestry-DNA test.

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Call it the “Elizabeth Warren Method”.

The Senator used DMA testing to  “prove” that she is at least 1/10th of 1% Native American and she stands behind the legitimacy of her claiming minority status for academic standing ….

Tech note: The DNA testers inferred from Warren’s lab sample that she  has some Native American DNA tracing back 6 to 10 generations (i.e. hundreds of years).  “Inferred” because they don’t have enough certified Indian DNA in their data base to ascertain Indian  ancestry.  So, they “project” off of South American DNA that they assume mimics Native Americans.  Said differently, 1/10th of 1% is probably overstated … with a very wide margin of error.  In mathspeak, the result is not statistically different from zero.

Math note: 6 to 10 generations ago translates to between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Indian blood … 1/1,024 = .0009765 ~.001 ~ 1/10th of 1%That’s about a big toe nail’s worth of Indian blood

A veritable  Pandora’s has been opened.…

As previously reported, some colleges are no longer requiring (or accepting) SAT & ACT scores

See University of Chicago drops SAT / ACT scores … say, what?

The action is a thinly veiled move  to “diversify” the student body by throttling the number of high scoring Asian-American admissions.

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I’m not a big fan of the commercial DNA testing done by ancestry sites.

But, they may be a tool for getting kids into better colleges.

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Shocker: Hearings stoked anger and likely voter turnout.

October 15, 2018

And, advantage seems to go to GOP.
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In a prior post, we reported an NPR survey finding that  Dem’s enthusiasm advantage has evaporated.

There’s some directional support for that conclusion from a recent Rasmussen poll.

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Let’s drill down….

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Specifically:

62% of vote-eligible Republicans say that they’re more likely to vote in the midterms because of the Kavanaugh controversies.

The 62% compares to 54% for Dems and 48% for Independents.

Arguably, the GOP and Dem numbers are a wash.

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64% of likely Republicans voters are “very angry” about the Senate’s treatment of Kavanaugh

Less than half (48%) of Dems are “very angry” about the Senate’s treatment of Dr. Ford.

I’d call 64% to 48% statistically significant.

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Rasmussen’s conclusion:

“Republicans are madder about the Kavanaugh controversy than Democrats are and more determined to vote in the upcoming elections because of it.”

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Technical note: Rasmussen is often disparaged by pollsters because it’s a robocall survey. 

But, in 2016, its method was one that early-captured the “hidden” Trump voters … in part because the method doesn’t require admitting a controversial opinion to human pollsters.

So, I often refer to Rasmussen for clues … but, wouldn’t bet the house on its specific findings.

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How reliable is your memory?

October 12, 2018

Simple answer: not very … it’s subject to gaps, distortions and falsehoods.
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The Kavanaugh-Ford imbroglio really piqued my interest in brainworks, memory and psychotherapy.

Studying up on the topics, I stumbled upon a 2013 TED Talk by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus – a research psychologist specializing in memory.  Her specific areas of interest are the effects of trauma and therapeutic memory reconstruction.

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click to view

Trust me, the entire 15 minute talk which has been viewed by almost 4 million people and is loaded with evidence and examples – is engaging and educational.  Well worth watching!

For now, here are some key snippets from the talk…

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Gallup: Satisfaction with governance increasing…

October 11, 2018

According to a recent Gallup poll, American’s satisfaction with the way they are being governed has bumped up by 10 points in the past year (the green line below).

38% now say they’re satisfied with the way they are being governed.

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Let’s drill down on those numbers…

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Everybody has an opinion on Dr. Ford’s allegations; some are hyperventilating.

October 10, 2018

But, how well informed are the opinions?
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In a previous post, we presented a post-testimony survey finding  that only 37% of respondents thought that Kavanaugh should be confirmed.

That is, until they were informed that Dr. Ford’s accusations could not be corroborated by anyone … not  even her “lifetime” best friend.

When so informed, jumped to about 60% said that he should be confirmed.

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See Poll: So, should Kavanaugh be confirmed or not?

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But, some recent polls indicate that a majority still say that Kavanaugh shouldn’t have been confirmed.

How to square that circle?

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America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

October 9, 2018

The Kavanaugh circus and former President Obama’s return to the campaign trail reminded me of an interesting analysis that NBC’s Chuck Todd did a couple of years ago.

So, let’s flashback:

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It’s no secret that American politics has become increasingly – and maybe, irreversibly – polarized.

Of course, Obama lays blame on Trump and his band of ignorant deplorables.

Let’s look at some inconvenient facts from Todd’s analysis…

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As Meet the Press host Chuck Todd puts it:

Polarization is no longer just polluting the system — it’s paralyzing it.

The deepening divide between the right and the left has largely hollowed out the center of American politics.

Gone are the politicians who once occupied the large “middle” and the voters who once gravitated to them.

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The Pew Research Center has tracked party identity and ideology for decades.

One way they do it is by scoring the Republicans and Democrats on a 10-item scale of political values.

Based on the latest Pew data (from 2014), here’s where we stand:

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What the chart means …

Democrats cluster to the left, Republicans cluster to the right.

There is less than 10% in each party leaning ideologically to the left (or right) of the other party’s median.

That’s where we are.

How did we get here?

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The politics of the Supreme Court…

October 8, 2018

Now that Kavanaugh is confirmed, let’s take another look at ideological balance on the SCOTUS.
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Let’s put things in context…

Political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn developed  a measure to calibrate how liberal or conservative SCOTUS justices are … based on their rulings.

As near as I can tell, the measure is uncontested by either ideology.

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Source

First, let’s pull some takeaways from the chart…

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If you’re serious about the Kavanaugh decision, read Sen. Collin’s speech…

October 7, 2018

Don’t just rely on biased summaries from your usual cable news favorites.
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Read the text   View the speech

For my right-leaning friends, the speech gives you most of what you need to fend off your left-leaning friends.

For my left-leaning friends, the speech matter-of-factly provides context and Collins’ legal reasoning behind her conclusions on both Ford’s accusations and Kavanaugh’s likely judicial rulings.

In the final analysis,  this polarizing bruhaha really centered on abortion rights and Rowe vs. Wade, here’s an extract of what Collins argued on those specific  questions…

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Why won’t Ford’s lawyers turn over the polygraph details and therapist notes?

October 5, 2018

And, do they really want the FBI to interview her?
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“Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford,  responded Wednesday to Grassley’s request for notes from Ford’s therapy sessions and recordings of a lie detector test she took related to her allegation that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her during a high school party in the 1980s.” source

 

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Let’s unpack that offer (demand?)…

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NPR: vast majority of Dems have high confidence in the FBI

October 5, 2018

Or, at least they did before yesterday.
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Yesterday, we reported an NPR survey indicating that the Dem’s enthusiasm advantage has evaporated.

Buried in the survey’s “internals”, but not reported in the headlined story, was an interesting question:

“Do you have a great deal of confidence, quite a lot, not very much confidence, or no confidence at all in The FBI?”

For the total sample, 59% said “great deal” or “quite a bit”;  36% said “not very much” or “no confidence”; 5% were “unsure.

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Survey Results

Drilling down, the results get more interesting…

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Poll: So, should Kavanaugh be confirmed or not?

October 4, 2018

Former Clinton strategist Mark Penn took an interesting analytical cut at survey results from Harvard’s Center for American Politics Studies CAPS.

Penn’s overall conclusion:

“The testimony of Ford and Kavanaugh had a powerful but not decisive effect on the public.”

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         Source: CAPS data; Penn analysis

Let’s drill down on the data logic…

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NPR: Dem’s enthusiasm advantage has evaporated.

October 4, 2018

“Kavanaugh Effect” awakening GOP voters.
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Interesting study conducted by NPR

Prior to the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings, 78% of  Dems considered the midterm elections to be very important.

The obvious underlying force: adversity to President Trump.

Only 68% of GOP considered the midterms to be very important.

Chalk that up to midterm complacency and confidence that all folks would appreciate that the economy is doing quite well.

That’s a 10 point gap in a proxy measure of voter enthusiasm and likelihood of turning out to vote.

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Survey Results

Recent events have closed that gap…

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What’s up with Dr. Ford’s parents?

October 3, 2018

They may be able to break the case.
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I’ve read a couple of reports that Dr. Ford’s parents are on the FBI interview list.

Assuming that the reports are true and that  they cooperate, I think that might provide some important information.

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Among the aspects of Dr. Ford’s testimony that struck me as very odd was that her parents didn’t show up to lend support.

Kavanaugh’s parents were prominent.

Every parent that I’ve chatted with has said they’d be there to show support for their son or daughter.

But, not Dr. Ford’s parents.

And, when Rachel Mitchell asked who, other than her lawyers, had  had been advising her, Dr. Ford answered “My beach friends.”

Say, what?

Following up, Mitchell asked if she had sought advice from her parents.

Dr. Ford answered emphatically: “NO !”

Why is that?

 

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She lied! Under oath, about polygraphs…

October 3, 2018

Dr. Ford fell into in a perjury trap.
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Overnight, several sources, including the WSJ, broke a fact-laden story that Dr. Fox lied under oath when queried about polygraph tests.

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In the Senate hearing, Prosecutor Mitchell asked a series of questions about polygraphs: Did anyone coach you before your’s? As a psychology prof, have you studied up on polygraphs? Have you ever coached anyone on how to take a polygraph?

Ford answered “no” to all 3 questions. Mitchell nonchalantly said “OK, let’s move on”

At the time, I thought the “have you coached” question seemed a bit odd.

Turns out that mild mannered Mitchell may have set a perjury trap … either because she knew the answer or because it was a standard protocol question …. regardless,Dr. Ford took the bait.

Here’s the story…

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Here’s a gut-check question for you …

October 2, 2018

Let’s personalize the issue-of-the-day.

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Consider this scenario…

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Psst: Somebody wasn’t sold on Dr. Ford’s testimony.

October 1, 2018

Rachel Mitchell apparently didn’t drink the kool-aid
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Remember Rachel Mitchell?

She’s the multi-decade experienced sex crimes prosecutor who interviewed Dr. Ford during last week’s Kavanaugh hearing.

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She was, at the moment, a fright to the right (boring, too slow, no knockout punches) and darling of the left.  After all, she oft referred to Dr. Fox as a victim and seemed to be buying Ford’s story.

But, Ms. Mitchell has issued her final report and the table has been turned…

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I journeyed to Happy Valley…

October 1, 2018

… and, I found traditional American values alive and well in the Heartland.
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I temporarily broke my news cycle addiction by trekking to the Ohio State – Penn State football game in State College, PA (aka. “Happy Valley”).

State College is in Pennsylvania farm country, secluded enough from the hustle & bustle of neighboring East Coast cities to legitimately claim its decades-old nickname.

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Here are some highlights from my trip in Happy Valley,,,

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