Last night Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed Rachel Bitecofer about her accurate prediction of 2018 election results and her current prediction for the 2020 presidential race.
Rachel Bitecofer is assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, where she teaches classes on political behavior, campaigns, elections, and political analysis and conducts survey research on public policy issues and election campaigns. Her work and analysis has been featured in many media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, NPR, and she is a contracted commentator on CBC Radio. Her book, The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election (Palgrave McMillan) is available via Amazon. Her unique election forecasting model accurately predicted Democrats gaining 42 seats 5 months before the 2018 midterms.
Bitecofer has describes her model for the 2018 and 2020 elections at The Judy Ford Center for Public Policy: With 16 Months to go, Negative Partisanship Predicts the 2020 Presidential Election.
In July of 2018, my innovative forecasting model raised eyebrows by predicting some four months before the midterm election that Democrats would pick up 42 seats in the House of Representatives. In hindsight, that may not seem such a bold prediction, but when my forecast was released, election Twitter was still having a robust debate as to whether the Blue Wave would be large enough for Democrats to pick up the 23 seats they needed to take control of the House of Representatives and return the Speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi.
Based on its 2018 performance, my model, and the theory that structures it, seem well poised to tackle the 2020 presidential election – 16 months out. I’ll serve up that result below, but first let’s set the table by reviewing my model’s 2018 forecasting success.
Not only did I predict that they would gain nearly double the seats they needed, but I also identified a specific list of Republican seats Democrats would flip, including some, such as Virginia CD7, that were listed as “Lean Republican” by the majority of race raters at the time. At a time when other analysts coded even the most competitive House races for Democrats as Lean or Tilt Democrat, I identified 13 Republican-held districts as “Will Flips,” 12 as “Likely to Flip,” and 6 as “Lean Democrat.” I also identified a large list of “Toss Ups,” from which I would later identify the remaining “flippers.” In addition, I identified some “long-shot toss-up” districts that could be viable flips under some turnout scenarios. Of the original 25 districts I identified as definitely or highly likely to flip, all but one, Colorado CD3, did so, possibly because the party failed to invest in their nominee there.
What does the model say about 2020?
Barring a shock to the system, Democrats recapture the presidency. The leaking of the Trump campaign’s internal polling has somewhat softened the blow of this forecast, as that polling reaffirms what my model already knew: Trump’s 2016 path to the White House, which was the political equivalent of getting dealt a Royal Flush in poker, is probably not replicable in 2020 with an agitated Democratic electorate. And that is really bad news for Donald Trump because the Blue Wall of the Midwest was then, and is now, the ONLY viable path for Trump to win the White House.
Why is Trump in so much trouble in the Midwest? First, and probably most important, is the profound misunderstanding by, well, almost everyone, as to how he won Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in the first place. Ask anyone, and they will describe Trump’s 2016 Midwestern triumph as a product of white, working class voters swinging away from the Democrats based on the appeal of Trump’s economic populist messaging. Some will point to survey data of disaffected Obama-to-Trump voters and even Sanders-to-Trump voters as evidence that this populist appeal was the decisive factor. And this is sort of true. In Ohio, Trump managed the rare feat of cracking 50%. Elsewhere, that explanation runs into empirical problems when one digs into the data. Start with the numerical fact that Trump “won” Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan with 47.22%, 48.18%, and 47.5% of the vote, respectively, after five times the normal number in those states cast their ballots for an option other than Trump or Clinton. This, combined with the depressed turnout of African Americans (targeted with suppression materials by the Russians) and left-leaning Independents turned off by Clinton (targeted with defection materials by the Russians) allowed Trump to pull off an improbable victory, one that will be hard to replicate in today’s less nitpicky atmosphere. Yet, the media (and the voting public) has turned Trump’s 2016 win into a mythic legend of invincibility. The complacent electorate of 2016, who were convinced Trump would never be president, has been replaced with the terrified electorate of 2020, who are convinced he’s the Terminator and can’t be stopped. Under my model, that distinction is not only important, it is everything.
Last night Bitecofer predicted that the Democratic candidate will win 270 electoral votes. There’s much more interesting analysis at the link above. Read a slightly less technical analysis of Bitecofer’s model by Paul Rosenberg at Salon: Does anyone understand the 2020 race? This scholar nailed the blue wave — here’s her forecast.
Meanwhile, at the moment we are at the mercy of the insane occupant of the White House. Eugene Robinson: Trump is melting down. Again.
Fears of a global recession, greatly exacerbated by Trump’s erratic and self-destructive trade policies, have sent financial markets tumbling. A sharp downturn would close off one of the principal lines of attack the president was hoping to use against his Democratic opponent. He tried it out at a rally in New Hampshire last week: “You have no choice but to vote for me,” he told the crowd, “because your 401(k)’s down the tubes, everything’s gonna be down the tubes” if he loses. “So whether you love me or hate me, you gotta vote for me.”
Fact check: No.
Trump is flailing. He berates his handpicked chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell, for not cutting interest rates fast enough to goose the economy. He practically begs Chinese President Xi Jinping for a meeting to work out a trade deal — any trade deal, apparently — and is met with silence. He threatens more tariffs but then backs down, at least for now. According to published reports, he sees himself as the victim of a conspiracy to exaggerate the growing economic anxiety in order to hurt his chances of winning a second term.
He entertains grandiose, almost Napoleonic fantasies — purchasing Greenland from Denmark in what he calls “a large real estate deal,” perhaps, or imposing a naval blockade to force regime change in Venezuela. He apparently spent much of this past weekend fuming about not getting credit for how his New Hampshire rally broke an attendance record for the arena that had been set by Elton John.
And Trump can’t seem to stop railing against a recent Fox News pollthat showed him losing to four of the leading Democratic contenders. The president seems to consider Fox News his administration’s Ministry of Propaganda — indeed, that is the role the network’s morning-show hosts and prime-time anchors loyally play — but the polling unit is a professional operation. “There’s something going on at Fox, I’ll tell you right now. And I’m not happy with it,” Trump told reporters Sunday . He added a threat, saying that Fox “is making a big mistake” because he is “the one that calls the shots” on next year’s general election debates — the implication being that Fox News might not get to broadcast one of them if it doesn’t toe the party line.
The only thing Robinson leaves out is that Trump’s health is going downhill; his dementia symptoms are getting worse by the day.
Trump’s biggest supporters are nuts too, but they are also very influential on social media. Check out this story at NBC News: Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times.
By the numbers, there is no bigger advocate of President Donald Trump on Facebook than The Epoch Times.
The small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook’s advertising archive — more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns.
Those video ads — in which unidentified spokespeople thumb through a newspaper to praise Trump, peddle conspiracy theories about the “Deep State,” and criticize “fake news” media — strike a familiar tone in the online conservative news ecosystem. The Epoch Times looks like many of the conservative outlets that have gained followings in recent years.
But it isn’t.
Behind the scenes, the media outlet’s ownership and operation is closely tied to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community with the stated goal of taking down China’s government.
It’s that motivation that helped drive the organization toward Trump, according to interviews with former Epoch Times staffers, a move that has been both lucrative and beneficial for its message.
Former practitioners of Falun Gong told NBC News that believers think the world is headed toward a judgment day, where those labeled “communists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sympathetic to the spiritual community will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-communist fight, former Epoch Times employees said.
Click the link the read the rest. We are truly living in the Twilight Zone.
That’s all I have for now. I’ll add some non-crazy links in the comment thread. What stories are you following?
Good Sunday Morning, with Fourth of July coming up I wanted to post some songs that make me think of America…and just a note…they all aren’t meant to be patriotic.
First, I gotta give you the Godfather of Soul! James Brown…Living in America
This next one from John Cougar Mellencamp, Pink Houses for you and me…
One more…Billy Joel’s Allentown.
Okay, now for your morning reads.
This is something I thought only happened in the Gulf of Mexico or an Alaskan waters, but to see the black slime coating the banks of the Yellowstone river, that is just so sad. Ruptured Pipeline Spills Oil Into Yellowstone River – NYTimes.com
Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette, via Associated Press
An ExxonMobil pipeline running under the Yellowstone River in south central Montana ruptured late Friday, spilling crude oil into the river and forcing evacuations.
The pipeline burst about 10 miles west of Billings, coating parts of the Yellowstone River that run past Laurel — a town of about 6,500 people downstream from the rupture — with shiny patches of oil. Precisely how much oil leaked into the river was still unclear. But throughout the day Saturday, cleanup crews in Laurel worked to lessen the impact of the spill, laying down absorbent sheets along the banks of the river to mop up some of the escaped oil, and measuring fumes to determine the health threat.
The leaking pipe has been shut down, and only leaked for about a half an hour according to the article. What a mess…
Boston Boomer sent me this link yesterday, and it gives some insight into a new group in London that is working on getting more women in the boardroom. 30% Club aims to end male domination of business culture | Business | The Observer
Securing a seat at the top table in British business used to involve belonging to the right gentleman’s club and working on your golf handicap with the company chairman. However, at Cass Business School in London on Monday, a new organisation – the “30% Club” – will pledge to throw open the doors of the boardroom to the many talented women who have been locked out for decades.
This reminds me of the recent SCOTUS case about discrimination at Walmart.
She says that can sometimes be because women choose to opt out to pursue caring responsibilities once they have children – but, just as often, it is a rejection of the workplace culture. “It’s to do with organisational cultures that are abrasive for women: they may be very aggressive, they may be macho, there may be micro-inequities,” she says.
Women who have already made it to the top also stress the importance of mentoring promising female staff from the beginning of their careers. Debbie Klein, chief executive of communications group Engine, says: “It’s about how to develop the talent pool so you don’t lose people at the level just below the board.
“It’s about recognising their talent in the first place and saying, ‘we’re really going to nurture that’.”
Amen to that…
This next link was just plain interesting, and very strange…Attack of the Cookie Cutter Shark! | Mother Jones
Ouch. All bite and no bark.
The first ever recorded instance of a human bitten by a cookie cutter shark is described in a paper now online in early view in Pacific Science. An unfortunate human swimmer on a 47.5 kilometer/29.5 mile haul across the Alenuihaha Channel between the Hawaiian islands of Hawai‘i and Maui got nailed twice by this fearsomely ninjalike denizen of the deep, Isistiussp.If you’ve spent any time at sea outside polar waters, chances are you’ve seen the toothwork of this gnarly little predator. It leaves deep round scars on whales, dolphins, tuna, billfishes, squids, and other larger marine life.
(Two cookie cutter shark bites in a pomfret. Credit: PIRO-NOAA Observer Program via Wikimedia Commons.)
As Kramer used to say: Nature, she is a mad scientist… and never more so than with the hunting technique devised by the cookie cutter shark.
Give the article a look-see, very cool.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: Babushkas Are Awesome! | Care2 Causes Anything with Babushkas in the title gets my attention.
A group of elderly women, or “babushkas,” from the village of Buranovo, 600 miles east of Moscow, is totally changing the image of the elderly woman in Russia.
This group of women, mostly in their 70s and 80s, are a musical sensation, reports NPR, charming audiences across Russia. They sing Beatles tunes and songs by iconic Russian rocker Viktor Tsoi. They fly around the country for concerts. They made it to the Russian finals of the Eurovision music contest.
You can watch the Babushkas get their groove on thanks to YouTube!
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: Greenland Norse Knowledge of the North Atlantic Environment – Medievalists.net
Introduction: The arcing Norse expansion across the subpolar North Atlantic ocean traces an inspiring tale of a stoic struggle against the elements. The sequence of accidental discovery, then deliberate exploration and settlement, repeated in turn as Faroe, Iceland, and Greenland were colonised between 825 and 985AD. With each step further west, the difficulty of leading a contemporary Norwegian lifestyle increased. In part, the increasing hardship is linked to the increasing distance from European power, and the dwindling access to essential commodities. Contact with alien native communities is another factor, and it was decisive in obstructing long-term Norse settlements in North America. But at almost every stage, the much colder, more polar, climate in Iceland, Greenland, and eastern Canada dominated the Atlantic Norse decision-making.
Despite the rigours of the climate, the Norse constructed a society in Greenland that endured for nearly 500 years. In total, perhaps 70,000 people lived in the eastern and western settlements in southwest Greenland. Eventually, the farms were abandoned, however, sometime in the mid-to-late 1300s for the western settlement, and sometime in the mid-to-late 1400s for the eastern settlement. The reasons for the disappearance of the Norse settlers has long been debated, and uncontroversial evidence that resolves this issue has not yet been found. What is clear instead is that the Greenland Norse maintained an intimate daily relationship with the North Atlantic environment. Although they did not adopt the native Inuit strategies to survive, the Norse farmed, fished, hunted, and sailed in Greenland with confidence and skill for many generations. Their attitude is presumably reflected in the modern northern Norwegian saying “Vi står han av” (meaning “we stand tall, regardless of stormy weather”; Grete Hovelsrud, pers. comm., 2009).
There is a real cool image of a medieval map of Greenland at the link above, if you find this article interesting, give this other link a peek: Norse Greenland Settlement: Reflections on Climate Change, Trade, and The Contrasting Fates of Human Settlements in the North Atlantic Islands – Medievalists.net
I hope everyone has a safe day tomorrow. Be sure to post some links below, or just tell us what you are doing this long weekend…