Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 6/23/2020

Update: I wrote yesterday about Gabriel Sherman reporting that Brad Parscale was leaving the Trump campaign. Multiple reporters tonight are reporting there is no evidence of this.

The president continues to claim that the rising number of US Covid-19 cases is due to increased testing. This is a lie. As White House staff scrambled to say he was “just kidding” when he said he ordered testing to slow down, the president today said, “I don’t kid.” Kayleigh McEnany then said he was using sarcasm, but not kidding. I will continue to point out that Trump publicly and openly said he didn’t want a cruise ship carrying infected Americans to dock in the US because it would make the numbers go up and make him look bad. He does not care about how many people contract or die from the disease. He only cares about how it makes him look. The Trump administration is currently looking to end federal funding for testing sites in some of the worst-hit states.

At a rally tonight, the president twice used “Kung Flu” to refer to Covid-19. In March, Weijia Jiang said a White House staffer used the term in front of her. Kellyanne Conway scoffed at the idea anyone in the White House would say such a thing and said it was a “very offensive” term. The president has now used it publicly three times.

Members of the Trump family are seeking a TRO against Mary Trump who is publishing a book about her uncle Donald. Mary Trump was a primary source on the New York Times piece detailing fraudulent and illegal business activities from Donald Trump.

In an often repeated lie, Trump says that 1.5 million people voted illegally in California in 2016. He also went on a rant about mail-in voting repeating his baseless claims that foreign countries will file ballots and people in the streets will be robbing postal carriers. Several members of the Trump administration have frequently voted by mail including but not limited to Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Bill Barr, Kayleigh McEnany, and Mike Pence.

Trump Jr. tonight repeated his lie that Joe Biden is a pedophile.

Aaron Zelinsky was a prosecutor on the Roger Stone case before being forced out by the Department of Justice. Tomorrow, he will be testifying in the House that the pressure to alter the government’s sentencing recommendation was solely due to political pressure and Trump’s relationship with Stone. Another whistleblower, John Elias, will be testifying that the DoJ investigation of companies in the marijuana industry was driven by AG Barr’s animus towards the industry. Elias will also be testifying that the antitrust investigation into California automakers came about as a response to Trump tweeting his disdain for their emissions standards.


Information Bubbles

Breaking form here as I wanted to discuss the primary.

I’m a Texan for those who don’t know me, with a mostly liberal friends circle. I noticed something downright bizarre in 2014 – several of my friends said Wendy Davis would be elected governor. This wasn’t the typical political bravado. They were claiming that not only would Davis beat Greg Abbott, but that it wouldn’t be close.

Wendy Davis lost the election by over twenty points.

What happened? Why the certainty of a victory? Was the polling wrong?

Nope. The belief that Wendy Davis would win wasn’t based on evidence. It came from an information bubble. (You’ll find the term more commonly called a filter bubble, but I don’t like the way that sounds).

Simply put, this is a bias all of us have. (I’m actually referring to the combination of a few biases here, but let’s keep it simple.) To put it simply, we tend to self separate into like groups. Your coworkers, your friends, and your family are going to tend to share groupings with you – race, income, values. Obviously there is variation there, but it holds in general. This affects the sorts of information sources you have and technology has exacerbated the problem. The algorithms know what sort of information you want to see and therefore show you that news while shunting other information.

In short, we end up in information silos – surrounded by things we agree with and lacking contact with things we don’t. This happens to ALL of us, but I’m directing this piece to the reaction to Super Tuesday I’ve seen from Sanders supporters.

I saw several things being said. “Biden can’t win because he won’t turn out numbers at the polls.” “Sanders is going to energize young voters and is therefore the better candidate.” “Sanders is better at coalition building.” Like those who thought Wendy Davis was going to walk into the Texas governor’s mansion, none of these ideas are based in the data. Let’s take a brief look at how people voted last week.

There’s a focus on who “wins” each state but as the Democrats don’t have a winner take all system, “winning” a state doesn’t mean much if it’s a narrow victory. If you narrowly win a large state but your opponent has blowout victories in small states, they’re going to pull ahead of you.

Sanders was ahead in four of the fourteen super Tuesday states. Some of these are still counting right now, but as of now, he’s ahead in California by 8%, Colorado by 12%, Utah by 16%, and Vermont by 29%. Vermont only has 16 delegates. 29 in Utah, Colorado with 67, and the crown jewel of Super Tuesday, California, has 415 delegates. This means Sanders picked up moderately more delegates in California and Colorado compared to Biden.

But that isn’t the entire story in those states. In 2016, Sanders had 2.4 million primary votes in California. With 88% of the vote in, he’s at 1.2 million votes this year. (It’s difficult to compare Colorado and Utah numbers as they had a caucus in 2016 and “normal” voting in 2020.) Sanders is still likely to win California, but not by a large margin and with fewer votes than he had 4 years ago. The energized turnout the Sanders campaign touts as a reason to elect him did not happen.

Now let’s look at Biden. Biden is currently leading in 10 of the 14 Super Tuesday states, but more importantly, he’s leading most of those by WIDE margins. He’s leading Alabama (52 delegates) by 47%, Arkansas (31 delegates) by 18%, Maine (24 delegates) by 2%, Massachusetts (91 delegates) by 7%, Minnesota (75 delegates) by 9%, North Carolina (110 delegates) by 19%, Oklahoma (37 delegates) by 14%, Tennessee (64 delegates) by 17%, Texas (228 delegates) by 5%, and Virginia (99 delegates) by 30%.

Winning those medium sized states by large margins is worth more than winning California by a smaller margin. Despite California’s size, Biden had a net delegate increase in Virginia which offsets Sander’s net delegate increase in California.

But let’s look at turnout again. Every state Biden won saw increased turnout except for Oklahoma (ignoring states that had a caucus in 2016). Here’s how many more people voted this year than 2016: Alabama +50, 000, Arkansas +11,000, Massachusetts +200,000, NC +200,0000, Oklahoma -30,000, Tennessee +145,000, TX +600,0000, VA +517,000.

The states Biden won on Tuesday mostly saw MASSIVE gains in turnout. The argument that he can’t turn out voters is not evidence based.

So what about subgroups – did Sanders turn out his base demographics and get other demos to vote for him?

The answer is no with one exception – Sanders has done VERY well with Hispanic voters. I’ve not researched why that’s the case but he absolutely deserves credit for that. The percentage of Hispanics he won is much higher than it was in 2016.

The problem is the youth vote and the African American vote.

The argument for Sanders’s electability hinges on young people being energized and turning out in large numbers. Political scientists have been skeptical of this as youth turnout is traditionally awful. The political scientists were right.

Sanders EASILY won the youth vote, but there comparatively weren’t many of them. None of the Super Tuesday states exceeded 20% of the voters falling into the youngest demo. In North Carolina which saw a 17% surge in turnout, youth turnout DROPPED by 9%. There were states that saw increases but they were moderate. Simply put, young people continued to not vote, which is typical of all election cycles.

Now for African Americans, Biden blew Sanders out of the water. These are the margins by which Biden won the African American vote last week as compared to Sanders (not every state has data) : AL +62%, CA +17%, MA +9%, MN +4%, NC +45%, TN +38%, VA +52%. Those numbers do see a dramatic shift when broken down by age, but that runs into the same problem Sanders has in general – young African Americans largely did not vote. Older African Americans did turn out and they overwhelmingly turned out for Biden – in increased numbers from 2016.

There are still paths for Sanders to win but they’re increasingly unlikely and may close tonight depending on his performance in Michigan and Washington.

But the arguments that Sanders will turn out voters and can form broad coalitions simply are not supported by data. Neither are the arguments that Biden can’t increase turnout and can’t form a broad coalition. Biden has successfully done both while expending relatively few resources. Sanders simply has not.

There isn’t blame here. If your cohort groups are mostly Sanders supporters, you are naturally going to extrapolate that into a wider popularity. Several journalists have been shocked by the overwhelming support Biden is receiving from southern African Americans. Their surprise is for a simple reason – they don’t interact with Southern African Americans much. (I’m excluding Texas from “southern” here. We are our own thing.)

Sanders needed to make inroads with groups like these in order to win the nomination. He hasn’t. He needed to see an increase in youth voters. He hasn’t. I’ve seen lots of posts about inspiration, rally attendance, etc… but none of those things matter at all when they don’t translate to votes.

(All information was taken from the Washington Post and New York Times 2012 and 2016 primary pages)