Archive for March, 2020

What you need to know about the IHME Model…

March 31, 2020

This is the model on which the Coronavirus Task Force has most relied.

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According to the WSJ and other sources:

White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx said its assessment of how the pandemic would unfold closely mirrors the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the so-called Murray Model.

An early-on Murray Model’s ‘most likely’ forecast was 83,967 COVID-related deaths during this epidemic cycle … with the 95% confidence interval ranging from  38,242 to 162,106.

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Underlying that forecast, the Murray Model estimates that Daily New Deaths (DNDs — the number that we’ve been tracking) will  peak at about 2,200 in mid to late April.

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Here are some of the key components and assumptions in the Murray Model…

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March 31: COVID Tracker

March 31, 2020

Total Deaths to Date Worldometer

3,173 Yesterday (March 30)
2,592  March 29
2,229  March 28
1,704  March 27
1.301  March 26
1.036  March 25
  784  March 24

Daily New Deaths Worldometer

581  Yesterday (March 30)
363   March 29)
525    March 28
403    March 27
268    March 26
252    March 25
225    March 24

Daily New Deaths UP

  • Prior day appears to be an outlier … probably the result of missed reporting deadlines

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State-by-State Data

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Do ventilated COVID patients recover or die?

March 30, 2020

Ultimate Medical Hackathon: How Fast Can We Design And Deploy An ...

Medical data modelers are indicating the need for tens-of-thousands (or hundreds-of-thousands) of ventilators.

Gov. Cuomo has understandably been clamoring for 40,000 ventilators … just for New York.

Ventilators are being redeployed from hospitals in low virus-infected areaa to the nation’s hot spots.

President Trump has emptied the national stockpile of ventilators,  enlisted corporate volunteers (e.g. Ford, GE) to produce ventilators and activated the DPA to get GM into the ventilator business.

Innovative med-tech companies  and university researchers are making ventilators using 3-D copiers.  Researchers at the University of Minnesota have designed a basic  MacGyver-like ventilator that is being prototype produced.

Sounds like a reasonable medical priority  … and impressive multi-sourced response.  I’m all in for going full throttle on ventilators.

That said, I’m curious …

The implied underlying assumption is that ventilators will save a lot of lives.

Is that a valid assumption?

(more…)

March 30: COVID Tracker <= UPDATE

March 30, 2020

As I indicated on this morning’s update, the Daily Death statistics seemed to be too good to be true. Apparently, some states were later than usual reporting.  The GOOD NEWS: Daily New Deaths did drop in NY and ROC (Rest of the Country). One day doesn’t make a trend, but it’s a nice number to report.

Total Deaths to Date  Worldometer
2,592 Yesterday (March 29) 
2,229  March 28
1,704  March 27
1.301  March 26
1.036  March 25
   784  March 24

Daily New Deaths  Worldometer
363  Yesterday (March 29)
525   March 28
403   March 27
268   March 26
252   March 25
225   March 24

Daily New Deaths DOWN
Updated Worldometer data 

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State-by-State Data

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The plural of “anecdotes” isn’t “data” … or is it?

March 30, 2020

Sometimes, anecdotes are sufficient to inform decisions.  Hydroxychloroquine may be one of those cases.
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In my business analytics course, I used to preach the conventional wisdom that “anecdotes aren’t data” … and “make decisions based on data, not anecdotes”.

Those are good principles, but they don’t always hold.

And, when I was operating in the real world, I didn’t always follow them.

More often than not, business decisions must be made despite incomplete and sometimes conflicting data.

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March 30: COVID Tracker

March 30, 2020

Total Deaths to Date  Worldometer
2,489  Today
2,229  March 29
1,704  March 28
1.301  March 27
1.036  March 26
   784  March 25

Daily New Deaths  Worldometer
265  Today
525   March 29
403   March 28
268   March 27
252   March 26
225   March 25

Daily New Deaths DOWN
Too good to be true? Reporting?

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State-by-State Data

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2015: Bill Gates warned that we’re not ready for the next epidemic …

March 29, 2020

In a 2015 TED talk, Gates hit the nail on the head, but his warning wasn’t heeded:

Today the greatest risk of global catastrophe is a highly infectious virus rather than a war.

Not missiles, but microbes.

We’ve invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents.

But we’ve invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic.

We’re not ready for the next epidemic.

More transcript excerpts below, or
click to view the TED talk

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Here are some transcript snippets from the talk …

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Dr. Birx (and a majority of Americans) approve of Trump’s handling of coronavirus crisis

March 29, 2020

Last week, White House coronavirus response coordinator (and media-certified truth-teller) Dr. Deborah Birx praised President Donald Trump’s attentiveness and ability to analyze and integrate data, linking his capacity to do so with his business background.

Asked her perspective on Trump’s performance both with the public and “behind the scenes”, Dr. Birx responded in an interview:

He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data.

And I think his ability to analyze and integrate data, that comes out of his long history in business, [has] really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues.

Because, in the end, data is data, and he understands its importance.

And that all comes from the president seeing the data and then really directing these policies and the guidelines that go out to the American people.

Not bad for a guy who the media tags to be anti-science (and stupid).

And, based on the latest polls, the public seems to agree with Dr. Birx, not the media.

Here’s the data…

(more…)

March 29: COVID Tracker

March 29, 2020

Total Deaths to Date  Worldometer
2,229  Today
1,704  March 28
1.301  March 27
1.036  March 26
   784  March 25

Daily New Deaths  Worldometer
525  Today
403   March 28
268   March 27
252   March 26
225   March 25

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State-by-State Data
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In 2005, scientists bet that the next pandemic wouldn’t be a coronavirus …

March 28, 2020

They dropped the ball on development of test kits, vaccines and, oh yeah, testing of hydroxychloroquine.
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Christine Dolan is a former Political Director for CNN and is now an Investigative Journalist, for a site called Just the News.

Her latest piece caught my eye:

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Here’s Dolan’s top line:

Since the COVID-19 pandemic burst upon the world, scientists have been scrambling to conduct clinical tests on possible treatments, both old and new, like HIV cocktails, remdesivir, and anti-malaria drugs.

Their answers are weeks or months away, even as the disease spreads and claims more lives now.

But it didn’t have to be this way, experts say.

Government and private scientists could have taken the lessons and promising indicators gathered from prior coronavirus outbreaks dating to 2002 and turned them into clinical trials for the medicines that showed the most hope.

But instead the scientific world bet that the next big pandemic would emanate from a more traditional flu and not a coronavirus like Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

That bet proved wrong in 2020.

Here’s the scoop…

(more…)

March 28 – COVID Tracker

March 28, 2020

Total Deaths to Date  Worldometer
1,704
  Today
1.301  March 27
1.036  March 26
   784  March 25

Daily New Deaths  Worldometer
403  Today
268   March 27
252   March 26
225   March 25

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State-by-State Data

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About that forecast of 2 million coronavirus deaths in the US…

March 27, 2020

During yesterday’s press conference, Dr. Deborah Birx opened with remarks about a study that was generated doomsday headlines of over 2 million covid-related deaths in the U.S.

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Dr. Brix says “This is really quite important” so let’s drill down…

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March 27: COVID Tracker

March 27, 2020

Worldometer Daily Top Line

1.301 Total Deaths to Date – Today
1.036  Total Deaths to Date – Yesterday
   784  Total Deaths to Date – 2 Days Ago

  268  Daily New Deaths – Today
  
252  Daily New Deaths – Yesterday
   225  Daily New Deaths – 2 Days Ago

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State-by-State Data

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Giddy-up: Vatican offers fast passes into heaven…

March 26, 2020

Or, you can call them “stay-out-of-hell (nearly) free cards”
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Headline, Vatican City:

Pope forgives sins of those impacted by coronavirus.

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There are some conditions that must be met.

Do you qualify?

(more…)

March 26: COVID Tracker

March 26, 2020

Worldometer Daily Top Line

1.036 Total Deaths to Date – Today
   784  Total Deaths to Date – Yesterday

  252  Daily New Deaths – Today
  225   Daily New Deaths – Yesterday

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State-by-State Data

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Media pounds away, but majority of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the crisis.

March 25, 2020

According to the latest 5 polls reported by RCP, a majority of Americans (53.6%) approve of Pres. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.

Gallup’s most recent number pegs the number at 60%.

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Bottom line:  the public opinion hasn’t been  substantially swayed by the grenades that CNN, MSNBC, etc., have lobbed at him.

Here are some examples…

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March 25: COVID Tracker

March 25, 2020

Worldometer Daily Top Line

784 Total Deaths to Date

225 Daily New Deaths – Today
140  Daily New Deaths – Yesterday

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State-by-State Data

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Pelosi’s coronavirus prescription…

March 24, 2020

Senator Tom Cotton’s provides a summary of Pelosi’s 1,400 page counter-proposal to save us from this terrible pandemic.

It’s ‘must-see TV” … well worth 5 minutes.

click to view 5-minute CSPAN video clip

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Items covered:

  • Bailing out the USPS
  • Corporate board diversity targets
  • Early & same day voting
  • National minimum wage
  • Enhanced retirement benefits for newspaper employees
  • Allowing Fed employees to do union work “on the clock” and get paid (by taxpayers) for it.
  • Bail out funds to cities (whether impacted by coronavirus or not)

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The power of anecdotes…

March 24, 2020

Trump & Cuomo have jumped aboard the Hydroxychloroquine train, spurred on by pop-docs like Dr. Oz.

Dr. Fauci is “hesitant” because there haven’t been scientifically-pure randomized controlled clinical studies …  just “anecdotal evidence”.

Memo to Dr. Fauci: Don’t underestimate the “power of anecdotes” in shaping decision-making and public opinion.

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In my Business Analytics course, I had students read a couple of excerpts from a book called Think Twice: The Power of Counter-intuition by Michael Mauboussin.

In a chapter called “The Outside View” the author reports findings from a medical study that investigated the relative importance of hard data and anecdotal evidence when patients select from among treatment options for serious health conditions.

Patients were given the hard scientific data about a treatment‘s success rates and an anecdote about a case history.

Some anecdotes were positive (the treatment was a success), some were negative (the treatment failed or had complications), and some were neutral (neither a clear success nor a dramatic failure).

Below is an extract of the study’s results summarizing the percentage of respondents selecting a treatment given the hard data on its success rate and a related anecdote of a specific case’s outcome.

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Let’s drill down …

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March 24: COVID Tracker

March 24, 2020

Worldometer Daily Top Line

582 Total Deaths to Date

140 Daily New Deaths

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JHU Daily Top Line

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Finally, legit reasons for testing…

March 23, 2020

For a couple of weeks, I’ve been asking:

Since doctors say that  the treatment for symptomatic patients is the same whether a patient tests positive or negative for coronavirus, why all the fuss over test kits?

Over the weekend, I finally gleaned answers to my question.

Note: I use “gleaned” since no “experts” seem willing to explicitly say so

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1. Patients who present as symptomatic — but test negative — can be sent home to sleep off the flu rather than being admitted to a scarce hospital bed.

The consensus seems to be that roughly 90% of symptomatic patients who are tested are negative for coronavirus.

For them, self-quarantine is sufficient.

It makes sense that they be tested off-site (say, in a drive-thru testing site … and kept clear of doctors’ offices and hospitals.

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2. Healthcare personnel who treat coronavirus-infected patients need periodic testing to protect themselves and others.

By definition, these heroes of the fight are constantly exposed.

If they get infected, they deserve the benefit of immediate care …  and, should be isolated

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That said, we need to ID the hidden carriers — the asymptomatics who are infected.  That calls for a broadscale, rapid test.

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Monday: Sharp increase in new deaths.

March 23, 2020

458 Total Deaths to Date  Worldometer

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Daily New Deaths: Sharp increase +117
Worldometer

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JHU Daily Top Line

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Sunday: Daily COVID-19 Tracker

March 22, 2020

348 Total Deaths to Date  Worldometer

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U.S. Hot Spots  JHU

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Daily New Deaths: Slight Decline; NY +20
Worldometer

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Hydroxychloroquine: NY to start “clinical test” …

March 21, 2020

Kudos to Cuomo for nudging the Feds
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You’ve probably heard some chatter about  Hydroxychloroquine.

Hydroxychloroquine is a decades old anti-malaria drug that some researchers  are advocating for “repurposing” to attack COVID-19.

Here’s what you need to know

(more…)

How will we know when we’ve turned the COVID-19 corner?

March 21, 2020

Here’s the COVID-19 number that I’m watching.
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Cutting to the chase, I’ve concluded that the most reliable number being reported is the number of COVID-19 related “Daily New Deaths”.

According to Worldometers – the best data aggregation site that I’ve found so far – there have been 275 COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. so far.

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That chart looks exponentially ominous … but remember that we’re looking at relatively small numbers.

Note: Over 60% of the fatalities are clustered in 3 states WA, NY, CA — with half of those in Washington.

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So, I think it’s more useful to look at “Daily New Deaths” …. if that number keeps going up then, by definition, we haven’t turned the corner.

When that number starts trending down then, by definition, we have turned the corner.

Here’s what Worldometers is reporting on “Daily New Deaths” for the past 3 days: 41, 57, 49.

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Don’t get too excited about yesterday’s drop in fatalities … again, keep in mind that we’re dealing with small numbers.

In the unlikely case that the number stays around 50, then it’s time to celebrate.

Keep in mind that during flu season, we rack up about 250 flu-related deaths per day.

Bottom line: If you want to know if we’re starting to turn the corner, keep your eye on the number of COVID-19 related “Daily New Deaths”.

Choose the level of aggregation based on your specific interest … world, nation or state.

Note: I’ll be focusing on the U.S. national number … and the national number less the 3 state hot spots.

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Why “Daily New Deaths”?

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Was South Korea’s COVID success really attributable to testing?

March 20, 2020

Testing — which wasn’t as “mass” as headlined — is only part of the story. 
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It’s indisputable that South Korea has done a masterful job attacking COVID-19.

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How did they do it?

Practically all of the punditry has centered on SoKo’s fast-to-market and aggressive testing procedures.

For example, Time says: “Countries (such as Korea) that have flattened the curve made testing widely and freely available, using innovative approaches like mass drive-thru test centers.”

Forbes said: “South Korea’s cumulative curve has indeed flattened somewhat. That’s primarily due to the government moving swiftly to ensure free and widespread public testing for COVID-19.

The implication: If the US just had more test kits and pop-up testing stations, we’d be able to get this outbreak under control pronto.

But, there’s way more to the story  … SoKo also took strong enforcement actions based on the test results. 

Here’s the story….

(more…)

WSJ: “New” strategy narrows testing focus.

March 19, 2020

Headline in the WSJ today:

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In summary:

The current plan of attack emphasizes social distancing as the primary method to contain the new coronavirus, a shift away from its recent focus on widespread testing as a containment tool.

We don’t want people to focus on testing as a big magic bullet.

Diagnostics are important,  but shouldn’t be the main emphasis. Social distancing is more important to containing community spread of the virus.

The priorities:

Testing will prioritize seniors aged 65 and older, front-line health care workers and patients hospitalized with symptoms

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Let’s dig a little deeper…

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WSJ: “It’s Dangerous to Test Only the Sick”

March 18, 2020

Earlier this week, we posted Let’s make COVID testing actionable, providing a decision matrix and arguing that asymptomatic people (boxes A and C below) should be tested to determine if they are “hidden carriers” who should be quarantined.

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Complementing our post, the WSJ published a piece arguing that “It’s Dangerous to Test Only the Sick

Its punch line: Random sampling is essential to learn the truth about virus spread and deadliness.

Let’s drill down on that…

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Does anything on this map strike you as odd…

March 17, 2020

Last night, when the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map was flashed on the screen, something caught my eye.

The red dots visualize the prevalence of COVID-19 in each geographic area.

Take a look… what do you see?

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Let’s zoom in….

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Let’s make COVID testing actionable…

March 16, 2020

Seriously, who should get priority for COVID testing?

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COVID-19 testing has been getting a lot of attention recently since availability of test kits has been late and slow.

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  • TV pundit-doctors complain that they can’t get tests done on their patients.
  • Some people are anxious to know if they have been infected.
  • Scientists are dismayed that they don’t have enough data to accurately calibrate the problem.

The current answer: Google-enabled pop-up, drive-thru testing stations for people who have COVID symptoms (and want to be tested).

My question: Is that the right answer?

I think not…

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California: “Isolate the elderly and chronically ill”

March 16, 2020

Governor Newsom flips the COVID-19 paradigm
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The focused scientific advisories — at least until this weekend — have been for people  infected (or believed to be infected) by the coronavirus  but not requiring hospitalization to self-quarantine by isolating themselves at home for 14 days.

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The game started to change during last Friday’s Federal COVID Task Force press conference.

Eldercare facilities were directed to put a moratorium on visitors and try to get all personnel tested.

Then, last night, Governor Newsom  directed California seniors and people with chronic diseases (e.g. heart and respiratory diseases, diabetics and asthmatics)  or compromised immune systems to self-quarantine during the coronavirus crisis.

Perhaps, for the first time ever, I agree agree with Gov. Newsom on something.

Let’s dive a little deeper…

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Flattening the COVID-19 curve…

March 15, 2020

Practically every time Dr. Fauci — the CDC’s undisputed truth teller — speaks, he references “flattening the curve”.

Graphically, here’s what he talking about…

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Source: The Lancet

Let’s drill down on the chart…

(more…)

Update: This coronavirus thing is getting personal…

March 13, 2020

And, raises some interesting questions.
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Welp, my next week’s trip to Spring Training has been cancelled.

So have the grandkids sports events for the weekend.

All fair in the social distancing game, I guess.

And, just heard that the grandkids schools will be closed for 2 weeks starting next Monday.

Nitpicking, the latter raises a question: if closing the schools is crucial, why wait until Monday? 

Or, since children are reportedly the least susceptible to coronavirus, why are schools closing at all?

And, here’s a bigger question…

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Why I’m still optimistic that we’ll get thru this coronavirus thing…

March 12, 2020

I’m not a scientist or a doctor … so, these may be famous last words, but I’m not panicky over the coronavirus.

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Here’s why…

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Correlation doesn’t prove causation, but…

March 11, 2020

The WSJ mapped the incidence of coronavirus.
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Channeling data from Johns Hopkins, the WSJ reports that — as of Tuesday night, March 10 — the U.S. has 1,025 confirmed cases of corona virus … and, 25 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths … 23 of which occurred in the Seattle area nursing home.

Below is a geographical visualization of the confirmed cases.

Note the concentrations (i.e. the big bubbles) in Washington State, California and NY/NJ/NE.

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Now, mentally juxtapose that map onto this one which displays the state-by-state results of the 2016 presidential election.

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See any pattern?

Of course, we’re dealing with small numbers and, again, correlation doesn’t prove causation.

That said, the coronavirus concentrations might be explained by the urban population densities in Washington, California and NY/NJ/NE … or, it might just be that those locations are ports-of-entry for foreign travelers … with Wash & Cali being primary entry points for  travelers coming from virus- originating Asian countries..

Or, it could be related to public health conditions in the locales … think homeless rates and poop in the streets of SF / LA /Seattle.

Or, it might be that folks living in fly-over country are healthier stock.

Draw your own conclusion.

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It’s Trump’s economy now…

March 10, 2020

From the Babylon Bee

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MARTHA’S VINEYARD, MA — From his seaside mansion, former president Barack Obama announced today that he is formally passing ownership of the stock market and economy on to President Trump.

“All the gains were mine — Trump didn’t build that — but this crash is all on Trump,” Obama said as he admired the ocean, which will consume his home in fewer than twelve years.

“My responsibility for the great economic gains in this country ended the moment the stocks started to tank this morning.”

The former president said that he does reserve the right to reverse his stance and reclaim credit for any economic gains realized after the market turns around, whenever that may be.

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Trump: “Maybe I shoulda been a doctor”

March 9, 2020

Let’s start the week on a high note.

Last week, President Trump visited the CDC in Atlanta.

Answering reporters’ questions, he felt the need to substantiate his credentials to be overseeing the COVID-19 response.

His answer — paraphrased above — is classic Trump … this 1-minute video is a ‘must see’.

For skeptics:  His Uncle John Trump was a professor at the MIT,  a recipient of U.S. President Reagan’s National Medal of Science and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.  Uncle John was noted for developing rotational radiation therapy. He was the paternal uncle of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States. Source

Logical inference: This science stuff is just in his genes.

Case closed.

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P.S. But, I’m not ready to have the guy operate on me.

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The day the music died for Sen. Warren ….

March 6, 2020

Welp, she called it a day … declaring some victory of sorts and pulling out of the presidential race.

She insinuates gender bias, some pundits opine that she was totally inauthentic – having been caught in a couple of whoppers, and some say that her policy ideas were just too radical for mainstream America.

In my opinion, the demise of Warren’s campaign can be traced to a single incident that went viral…

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Bloomberg takes American Samoa !

March 4, 2020

DJT nailed the main Super Tuesday takeaways in 2 Tweets ….

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My observation: Bloomberg’s 1st debate was like the curtain being pulled back in the Wizard of Oz … a self-inflicted wound that neutralized hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising.

My question: Will a humiliated Bloomberg continue to pour money behind Biden, Congressional Dem candidates and his causes – which obviously didn’t resonate with voters … or, will he take his wallet back home and sulk?

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My observation: Rather than drop out before yesterday’s vote (ala Pete, Amy, and Beto), Warren stayed in.  Doing so, she demonstrated that her “higher purpose” of supporting the “Progressive cause” was a bunch of BS. Her vote totals — while meager — would have shifted a couple  of states towards Bernie … or at least narrowed Biden’s delegate lead.

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Final take: Trump versus Biden will be fun to watch … especially since the Bernie Bros will stay home.

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The importance of Congressional races…

March 3, 2020

During the last Dem debate, Mike Bloomberg claimed that his election generosity “bought” the Dems a majority in Congress.

Obviously, the GOP would like like to regain a Congressional majority to stop the constant stream of heretofore fruitless investigations that Pelosi & Schiff have instigated.

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But, for the GOP. the stakes may be even higher than that.

Keeping the White House may depend on winning the Congress….

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Bloomberg’s possible path to the Oval Office…

March 2, 2020

Short answer: via  a 3rd party run.
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Many pundits are speculating that Bloomberg’s only chance of winning the White House is to buy-off a sufficient number of “super delegates” at a brokered Democratic Convention.

I disagree.

In fact, if that were to happen,  I think that Trump would prevail in a head-to-head match-up.

My take: Sanders’ supporters will be irate if Bernie enters the convention with a statistically significant plurality of delegates but is denied the nomination because of the Dems’ backroom “Stop Bernie” dealing.

Bernie’s Bros won’t shift their passionate support to Mini Mike … they’ll either stay home or cast Trump votes in protest.

So, the way I see it,  Bloomberg has only one long-shot path to the White House: run as an independent.

It’s a wild scenario, but here’s my logic…

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First, I expect that Bernie will be the Dems’ nominee for president.

A reluctant Dem establishment will be left with no choice.

My bet: Head-to-head, Trump the capitalist would beat Sanders the socialist.

But …

What if Bloomberg – after failing to secure the Dem nomination – declares as a 3rd party candidate?

No chance that Bloomberg would beat Trump head-to-head …. and no chance that he’d win 270 electoral votes in a 3-way contest.

But …

What if Bloomberg were to win a state or two (think: New York, New Jersey) … just enough to stop Trump (and Sanders) short of 270?

Well, then the election gets tossed to the Congress.

In a nutshell: Congress gets to elect the President from among the top 3 candidates (based on their earned electoral votes).

Each state’s delegation gets one vote.

Assume that the Dems had the majority of “members” in a majority of state delegations.

Note: While the Dems currently hold a majority in Congress, the GOP currently has a majority of state delegations.

If all the Dem’s state delegations cast “establishment” votes instead of “socialism” votes … i.e. they vote Bloomberg over Sanders … then Bloomberg is elected … even though he won a minimal number of electoral votes in the general election.

Of course, all hell would break loose … and American democracy would never be the same … but Bloomberg would be the President-elect.

A remote happening … but possible.

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