Stray 2020 Election Thoughts # 1
Where to begin?
I still hold it as the mark of good political punditry to admit mistakes. I wrote a piece a few months ago boggling at the GOP tactic of shouting "socialism and communism" at every turn. I honestly had no idea to whom this was appealing to.
It was appealing to Cubans in South Florida.
The repetition of the lie was more than enough to win Florida for Trump. Just the hint - no matter how dishonest - that there was a similarity between Biden and Castro is enough. Just look at the voting numbers in Central Florida and it's fairly clear - it was South Florida that didn't turn out or turned out for Trump in terms of raw vote totals. I totally missed that, and the slander should NOT have been as disregarded as just absurd hyperbole.
It's truly stunning how just about every argument upholding the goofy and undemocratic Electoral College is wrong.
Take your pick - but the big noticeable one last night though was the fact seconds after the polls closed in some states, the winners were called. They weren't even real "contests" by any stretch of the imagination. Millions upon millions of votes from both parties... simply didn't matter. If you are a Democrat in Kentucky or a Republican in Massachusetts your vote was as useless as male nipples. So the idea that a national popular vote would make the election about just one or two states? We already have that.
So add my teeny tiny voice to the chorus that the Electoral College needs to go. It's utterly absurd.
I'll have a longer post about polling later, but the things that went wrong did so in entirely predictable ways. Missing from a lot of the dismissal of polls is that they are a mixture of art and science. Analysts are often doing their level best to examine data with a garbage in - garbage out problem. And that's just the tip of the iceberg with our political polling.
There is a very odd question that a lot of smart people haven't solved - where the hell were those hidden Trump voters? It was way more than just a few thousand anti - establishment goons not responding to polls or lying to pollsters. There were millions of missing voices in the polling. How?
We should all be mad at the polling right now (I certainly am), but there's a good faith difficult puzzle out there that just doesn't make a ton of sense.
Speaking of nasty mistakes, it's clear that everyone from the FL Democratic Party to the DNC made entirely predictable mistakes - only some of which were based on a misreading of polling.
At the top of my list is the lack of focus on Trumpian corruption. I think the logic was that Trump's many, many, many scandals hadn't made a dent in his polling, so why bring them up? They were already being hammered on the daily to no effect. The problem with that logic is that it didn't create a clear and necessary contrast. Disagree on policy all day, but the fact that Trump = corrupt and Biden = not corrupt (aside from a silly Russian PsyOp about his son) was important.
I simply don't accept that if this contrast was well presented that a clearer majority wouldn't opt for the very basic "not corrupt" politician. That should have been much clearer and easier. Instead we got iffy nonsense about "affordable" health care.
In keeping with # 2 above - clever political doobley - doos like to pretend that elections hinge on the nuances of various issues - crime, taxes, the environment, etc. But the truth that was made clear last night is that millions of people vote purely on tribal reflex. It literally takes a child molester (Alabama in 2018) to make a few people consider splitting their ticket and voting against their party. That is an intense commitment to a thing.
A huge segment of our elections are just baked into the cake - it's utterly unchangeable. And take your pick of reforms - ranked choice, EC elimination, third parties - this pre - determination is utterly crippling the country. There simply aren't actual "persuadables" out there, and that makes the kabuki of what we call "politics" less than pointless. It doesn't lead anywhere good for anyone.
Television coverage of elections is a pit of despair. What could be an informative (and entertaining) national civics lesson is basically coverage of a sporting event. An event that will literally determine whether people will have healthcare, the environment will be protected and people's marriages will still be legal (!) is treated (with glee!) as if it were a football game.
Add it to the pile of our national embarrassments.