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Point Of My Head: Blue Wave or Ripple?

Posted By: ThomasB.Fagan
Date: Thursday, 24-May-2018 23:35:45


After a very accurate call for Congress in 2014 (I nailed the Senate and was only three off on net numbers in the House), I took 2016 off because I frankly did not like the smell of the ongoing contest. On the Dem side , early on, the fix was already in. Therefore, I could not trust the media reports on the ground. I thought I had a good hold on the GOP side. I anticipated a Bush/Walker death match with Rubio an outlier maneuvering for VP on a Walker ticket. Trump's eruption precipitated Walker's quick fall and upset usual voting patterns so badly I could not get a fix on emerging tides. When the struggle boiled down to a Barnumesque amateur and the most corrupt and incompetent campaigner in history, with the sideshow of the largest third party vote in twenty years, I took out my notepad and went back to poly sci school.

At the end, it turns out I would have been fairly prescient. Although my guy (Gary Johnson) fell off precipitously, I was pretty sure Trump would take back Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa from the 2112 Obama tally, and thus the Oval office. Should have publicly written that down somewhere. So it goes...

Now that the last cataclysm has shaken out, I view 2018 and notice the pro-left MSM has not learned an iota. I read repeated analyses of how a blue wave is building. You'd think the stink of Hillary's political corpse would caution these media activists from again embarrassing themselves, but apparently they are intent on illustrating the axiom which described pre-revolutionary French monarchists: they are like elephants; they never learn and never forget.

The evidence backing the wave presumption falls into overlapping categories. (1) Trump will be unpopular because of his (a) bilious personality, (b) pre-presidential infidelity, (c) criminal behavior/corruption unearthed by the Mueller and other probes; (2) the Democrat base is motivated because of outrage over Trump behavior and policies and the Republican base is depressed and split because of complacency among the activists and melancholy infesting the moderates; (3) the demographic tide of history will continue to lower the influence of old white straight males and lift the voices of young, non-white, gay and trans, females. (4) special elections and off year results show a Democrat comeback (5) national non-presidential elections almost always deliver a rebuke of the party holding the White House.

Let us examine the suppositions, and let us assume neutral luck on both sides. That is, let us assume absurdities coming out of the mouths of Trump and his fervent critics (e.g. Maxine Walters, Samantha Bee, et al) continue to annoy the general population no more than presently. Also, let us assume there is no uncontrollable and unforeseen development (a pro-democracy coup in North Korea/Melania Trump filing for divorce, etc.) which would swing large swaths of electors one way or the other. Politically, let us assume that the professionals who actually make a living projecting elections are correct, and that all tilt/lean/likely voters go as predicted and the tossups divide 50-50.

As for (1) above, people who like Trump either like his personality or are willing to overlook because of policy agreements. Traditional Catholics and evangelicals illustrate this. Also, I am reminded of a TV special I saw on the day of the 2016 election. The reporter was at a large bar talking to voters. At a table of Trump supporters, one middle aged lady (she looked like a body double of Rosanne Barr) was asked about Trump's "pussy" comment. She laughed and said "That's just how people talk. You should hear the girls at my beauty parlor." Then, the reporter went to a table of Clinton supporters and spoke with two women, both of whom expressed alarm at a possible Trump ascension. However, it turned out neither had voted. One was from out of state and had neglected to post an absentee ballot. The other was an non-citizen immigrant. I think of that scene often when I view MSM types expressing bewilderment about Trump's win. Trump's common touch and Hillary supporter complacency go a long way toward summing it up. The average voter also finds the MSM's shock (shock!) at Trump's alleged cheating with a stripper hypocritical. When middle class women and young volunteers accused Bill Clinton, the MSM publicized his defenders' slurs about them being "sluts and nuts". Campaign manager James Carville famously commented "Yuh drag a hundred dollah bill though a trailuh park, it's amazin' what ya can catch." Now, an acknowledged nutty slut is making an obvious play to revitalize her flagging "career" with self-serving and unproven allegations, and MSM can't shake the vapors. Before, it was "if Hillary doesn't mind, why should anyone else?" Now, it's 24/7 saturation.
Stormy might have legs, but this story doesn't. Mueller's probe has only unearthed proof of Hillary's campaign paying for smears and the FBI's unethical criminality. At this rate, the Mueller probe may well single-handedly create a Trump 2020 landslide.

The (2) motivation of the left base does exist, though it seems to be tearing the Dem party apart rather than building a wave. Recent primaries have indicated Democrats may very well be lurching left and adopting unpalatable positions while the Republicans have quashed extremist contenders. This comes under the "Remains to be seen" heading, but recent polls have shown relatively even intentions to vote among both parties. If Dems are counting on turnout to create wins, there is no current indication they will succeed.

(3) Demographics are changing, as they always do. However, statistics are subject to interpretation. African-Americans, for example, comprise about 12.5% of the population, almost exactly the same per centage they held in the 1900 census. In fact, the 2010 census showed a drop from the 14% African-Americans counted in the 2000 census. The decrease in Anglo and African-American numbers come almost solely from latino immigration, legal and illegal. This is why the illegal immigrant issue carries such import for both major parties. Data indicate 80% of the children from illegals legalized in the 1986 amnesty vote Democrat. Preventing any new amnesties, preventing further illegal waves, and removing current violators are therefore Republican priorities. Increasing the influx, and protecting present illegals, are Democrat priorities. What creates a racial identity also can be vague. Legally, you are the race you say you are. 1960s legislation eliminated any legal testing of whatever a person calls himself, racially. It's pretty much now what religion is: you are what you claim to be. With inter-marraige becoming more common, distinctions blur. This is pronounced in the union of Anglos and white hispanics. When the father is Anglo and the mother is latina in a committed relationship, over 50% of the offspring identify as white. If these children later marry or have a multi-year relationship with another Anglo, 93% of their offspring identify as white. If the rapid increase in latino immigration can be abated, or mollified, Democrat dreams of a "majority-minority" America by the 2040s may be delayed indefinitely. Even within demographic groups, loyalties change. One third of "Negroes" voted for Nixon as late as 1960. Since then, the only time a Democrat won a presidential race with no significant third party vote (i.e. less than 8% total) when getting less than 91% of the African-American vote was in 1976, when James Carter ran as a southerner and to the right of Gerald Ford, who was perhaps the most contemporary liberal Republican nominated since Theodore Roosevelt. Obama got 93% and 91% of the black vote, respectively, in 2008 and 2012. In each of those races, African-American participation was over 60%. These were rates over 10% higher than ever before, and the only two times black participation was higher than white. In 2016, Hillary's share of the black vote fell below 88% and African-American participation fell to 58%, below that of whites. Al Gore got 91% of the black vote and lost. John Kerry received 89% and lost. This is why Kanye West's apostasy has caused such consternation on the left. Black males are obviously a targeted demographic for Trump. He held Hillary to 83% last time. If jobs continue to increase, if African-American unemployment continues to drop, if urban entry level jobs continue to get taken by illegal latinos, Trump's message of "what do you have to lose?" may resonate. These shifts have happened before. African-Americans once were the staunchest of Republicans (remember Lincoln?) until the 1930s. Catholics and union households, once, even recently, ardently Democrat, were both carried by Trump. Suburban women have slid left the last 50 years. If Trump can secure 18 to 20% of black males for the GOP, this would drop the ceiling for the black vote to Democrats to maybe 87%. If African-American participation returns to the about 55% level held before 2008, the arithmetic for Dems becomes algebraic. Midterms are even greater a hurdle. When Obama wasn't heading the ticket in 2010 and 2014, black participation plunged below 41%. You remember how those two cycles played out.

The other members of the so-called "ascending" majority also don't project as anticipated. Even with Trump vilified, he outpolled Romney among latinos. Nearly 40% of latino males voted for him. The other racial/societal groups are tiny. Asians also give over a third of their vote to the GOP. Homosexuals are genetically locked in to about a maximum of 3% of the vote. Even some of them, now that most blatant discriminations have been banned, prefer Republican economics to Democrat boilerplate socialism.

(4) Special and off-year elections are like tea leaf reading. They make for interesting, albeit vague, narrations but historically have a tangential relationship to future occurrences. Much hoopla greeted the Democrat victories in Virginia and New Jersey in 2017. However, the vote totals closely tracked the presidential vote the previous year. People who voted for Hillary voted for Democrats the next year. As for the congressional and state legislative turnovers or close calls, the data are slim and anecdotal. Conor Lamb was a very talented candidate running in a conservative Democrat district and an as a conservative Democrat. His opponent was mediocre. Unless the Democrats name a hundred candidates who repudiate the party platform, and fund them at the level Lamb was supported, it's hard to see much momentum building. Democrats will also be outspent in congressional races this year. Lamb himself is no better than a coin flip to win in November. As for the Senate result in Alabama, the Republicans ran an idiot. 'Nuf sed. The elder party has expended huge resources and energy to gain the small symbols they currently tout. They've been running a marathon at a sprint. Hard to maintain that pace for five more months. I hear the ghost of Richard Nixon whispering his sagest electoral advice: "Don't peak too soon."

(5) So now we get to actual numbers. On what real surveys and expert analysis are projections of a blue wave surfing? It is not the number of seats a party needs which is most relevant; it's the per centage loss by the majority. Dems need a gain of 23, or need to reduce the GOP by 9.6% of their present holdings. Since 1912, the House has been set at 435 seats. How has the minority party done since then when the majority also held the presidency?

There have been 18 such contests. The average gain has been 38.6 seats. So far, so good for the left. The mean, however, falls at a 31 and 46 split. That is, the eighth largest shift was 46 and the ninth was 31. This trend is fading, though, mostly because of the elimination of the party lever. Now, ticket splitting is common. In the last nine times these conditions applied, the average was 28.1 and the mean was 28. Still not bad for Dems. In those nine, what was the majority per centage loss, and did the House change hands?

Exactly, these comprise 1950/gain of 28/majority % loss of 11.0/majority same; 1954/18/loss of 8.1%/majority change; 1962/2/1.9% loss/same: 1966/47/15.9% loss/same; 1978/15/5.1% loss/same; 1994/56/21.7% loss/change; 2002/majority gained 7/ 3.1% gain/same; 2006/31/12.8% loss/change; 2010/63/24.6% loss/ change.

So 5 of these come in above the 9.6% cutoff. The average gain is 10.6%, nearly exactly what the Dems need. The mean is 1950's 11%. Looks like a pretty close to a 50-50 chance, based on history, that Dems will prevail. Until you look at latest surveys. I keep hearing that polls and projections show a likely left sweep. So I looked at the most recent projections from four of the most prominent prognosticators: ReaClearPolitics, Sabato, Cook, and Inside Elections. It gets interesting.

I am assuming neutral luck. Therefore, leaners and likely go as forecast and tossups are split.

RealClearPolitics has 174 safe D seats (all Dem), 12 likely (including 3 current GOP) and 9 lean Dem (including 3 current GOP) for a total of 195.
Republicans lead in 172 safe seats (all GOP), 18 likely (1 Dem), and 16 leaners (all GOP) for a sum of 206.

Tossups are 30 GOP, 4 Dem. If we assume no shift either way from this point and split the tossups evenly, the next House will have 223 Republicans and 212 Democrats, a gain of 18 from 2016 and a per centage loss of 7.5 for the GOP. This would be in line with the 1954 election, but without a control change.

Sabato's Crystal Ball has 180 safe Dem (1 GOP), 11 likely (1 GOP), 7 leaners (4 GOP) for a sum of 198.
Republicans have 157 safe (1 D), 34 likely (all GOP), and 21 leaners (all GOP) for a tally of 212.

Tossups are 23 GOP, 2 Dem. An even split comes out GOP winning 224.5 to 210.5, pretty close to RCP's.

Charlie Cook has 179 solid Dem (all D), 12 likely (2 GOP), and 7 lean (4 GOP) coming in at 198.
GOP racks up 155 safe (all R), 30 likely (1 D), 27 leaners (all R) for a sum of 212.

Tossups are 23 GOP, 2 Dem. An even split would be the same as Sabato.

Inside Elections has 184 safe D seats (all Dem), 7 Likely Dem (2 GOP), 2 leaners (1 GOP) and 9 Tilt Dem (7 GOP) for a lead in 202.
GOP garners 183 (all R), 20 likely (1 D), lean 10 (all R), and 14 Tilt (all R) advantage 227.

Tossups are 2 D, 4, R. Even split comes out GOP 230, Dems 205. A bit right optimistic I'd say.

Interesting thing about this "blue wave" talk. MSM doesn't seem to want to look at hard numbers, but quote the analysts on the news. Here's the funny part. Larry Sabato is always ready to be on MSM, but never conservative media. And he's running around right now claiming it's likely the Dems will take the House, despite the fact that his own numbers above belie that. This is the guy who announced on election night 2016 that his final call was Clinton 322-216, despite RCP predicting Clinton 272-266. Larry was only off by 6 states. Charlie Cook, on his website RIGHT NOW projects that "we" predict the Democrats will gain 20-40 seats even though his own numbers, given even luck, have the Dems gaining 16 maximum. From this we can deduce one of three things: (1) Cook has some inside news (somehow missed by all the high level political experts) which will definitely swing numerous voters left; (2) Cook has some statistical knowledge which set the lie to his published numbers which he is unable to quantify but he believes justifies moving 5 to 25 seats toward the liberals. If this is true, than Cook is an incompetent statistician, which nobody has heretofore accused him of being; (3) Cook is a Democrat partisan who knows MSM pays to hear how Dems will sweep, despite his own published projections. This is like the lady on the corner who says "I'm personally chaste. I never mess around unless I'm paid". We can either believe Charlie's words or his numbers. We can't believe both. This is such a reminder of 2016. Trump's late surge in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were obvious. Florida and North Carolina were obviously leaning Trump. Ohio and Iowa were treated as cliffhangers (Trump won by 8 and 11, respectively). I can see election night 2018 in my front view mirror now. Tons of MSM types sputtering "what happened?" when the House comes in 225 to 210 GOP and the Senate lands at 55-45 the same way. Hint, there's a sci-fi Asimov character called "The Mule". Look him up.

So, what's the bottom line? Let's take the five "wave" arguments outlined above and give a grade. (1) Trump's personality, previous behavior, and the Mueller investigation. The skinney: if you tolerated Trump before, you will now, and Mueller is dissolving by the day. Advantage: Tilt GOP. (2) Democrat enthusiasm and Republican malaise. The GOP seems disciplined and is delivering candidates suitable to their districts. The Dems are in a blood tussle which has resulted in analysts downgrading elder party chances in four districts last week alone because of the base preferring lefties to moderates. Advantage: Lean GOP. (3) Demographic tide. Over the long term, who knows? Over the short term we know that the voters Dems count on do not turn out midterm. Plus, they're all stuffed into urban enclaves already massively left. The Dems need suburbanites (you know, the ones busily paying off their debt with the tax cuts and who are ecstatic their kids all got summer jobs because the unemployment rate is below 4% and ICE grabbed all the illegals hogging the service jobs). There is some small erosion left among suburban married women, so I'm willing to give the Dems an: Advantage Neutral on this. (4) Special and Off-Year Elections. As I noted above, nothing particularly unusual so far. GOP did blow a couple 6 inch putts, but seem to have evened their keel. Still, taking results so far fairly, I must acknowledge the left has outperformed. Advantage: Lean Dem. (5) Historical swing. A strong D argument, but it must be noted the GOP has outperformed in off years compared to the Dems for 70 years. The rebuke of Eisenhower (1954), Nixon (1970). Reagan (1982) and Bushes One and Two (1990 and 2002) were mild compared to the blastings absorbed by Truman (1946), Johnson (1966), Clinton (1994) and Obama (2010). Second term mids seem to even out, so I willing accept the GOP may be humbled in Trump's second midterm (2022). For now, the left tide seems mild, but real. Advantage: Tilt Dem.

Bottom Line: again, given even luck (which never happens) I project a Dem gain of 14-19 in the House. That is, GOP will hold with between a 227-208 and a 222-213 majority. Overall, I give Pelosi's Party a generous 40% chance of taking the lower chamber. I will be back in a couple months to restart my old ElectLine projections of all contested House seats. Until then, please regularly follow RumorMillNews. Ciao.


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