Election Eve Live Blog – 2018

*7:15pm – That’s it for today. Sleep tight. Dream of  election night surges, the hugs of loved ones, the deep exhale of knowing that tomorrow begins the long trek back to balance and sanity.

I recommend getting to bed immediately, because it’s gonna be a loooooong one tomorrow. One more sleep.

*6:34pm – Texas has seen one of the largest increases in early voting. A big question is whether or not that is a result of a surge of new voters or “cannibalization” of regular voters who are just choosing to vote early instead of on election day.

early voting.jpg

*5:00pm – Perhaps the most unusual aspect to this midterm election has been money. Unlike at any time before, the Ds have dramatically outraised the Rs in House races. If there is a surprise in the Ds direction, the money might be pointed to as the sign.

The latest:

Republicans – 43.1% of total – $652.9 mil [ Candidates- $403.6 mil ; Outside Groups- $249.3 mil]

Democrats – 56.9% of total – $851.7 mil  [Candidates- $535.6 mil Outside Groups- $325.1 mil]

In the 2016 race for the House, Rs spent $543 mil and Ds spent $423 mil

*4:45pm – Gerrymandering is designed to help a party win/keep more seats than it otherwise would based on its share of the vote. You know the idea: design districts so that your party has enough of “your kind” of voters to win, but not too many. Too many of your own voters means they are wasted. Instead, spread them out, and jam all your opponents voters into the same districts.

Makes sense.

But that means that many more of your seats are not necessarily sure things in a wave election. Your party may be able to win by about 5% in many seats every election. But if there is a wave and the other party starts over-performing by 6,7, or 8%, then there’s a sharp drop off, with a large number of endangered districts.

The term that’s often used is that a gerrymandered map is “wide but shallow.”

That’s because gerrymandering gives one party more overall seats, but fewer solid/always safe seats. So depending on the size of the D “wave” this election (if there is one), the Rs gerrymandering in certain states may actually help flip more seats that otherwise would be flipped to the Ds.

*4:03pm – Here’s a turnout model released yesterday (US Election Project) based on various factors, especial early voters. Remember, in general, Ds are rooting for highest turnout possible. But it’s not 100% clear that a higher turnout is better for them.


Predicted 2018 turnout: 44.8% (it was 36% in 2014). From a high of 61.5% in MN and a low of 36% in KY. These are guesses, so they may be wildly off.

*3:40pm – Donald Trump essentially secured the presidency because he won over a larger chunk of voters who made up their mind in the last few days. As usually happens, these undecided voters “broke” toward him. Undecideds rarely split up evenly.  If 8% of voters say that are unsure in a race, in the final vote tally, each candidate does not usually get 4% of them. It’s more likely a 6% – 2% or 7% – 1% split. They tend to break toward one candidate.

So when you see polls that show a decent chunk of undecided voters, odds are that one candidate will get a larger share of them, and it could put them over the top if the race is close.

Some are arguing that Ds seem to be gaining (in House races) over these final days. Are undecideds breaking toward them in these last days? For example,

*3:20pm – Early vote figures out of Colorado:

coearly vote

*3:10pm – Early voting lines back in Champaign, IL at the Illini Union (from @MaxNWeiss). University of Illinois students are in a swing district this year, with Congressman Rodney Davis (R) at risk of losing his seat to Betsy Dirkesen Londrigen (D).

FTE gives the Ds about a 28% chance of flipping this seat. She’s an underdog, but it’s in reach in a wave year. To win, Londrigen definitely needs to rack up big margins with high turnout among students.

illini union.jpg

*3:05pm – Perhaps the most high profile race in the country is Texas Senate. Ted Cruz v. Beto O’Rourke. Beto is a sensation, raising more more than any Senate candidate ever. Presidential talk started as soon as his video on NFL players kneeling went viral. But national celebrity is not the same as winning a Texas election.

For awhile now, it was assumed that Beto had little to no chance. All talk was on whether he could prevent getting blown out, keeping a respectable national profile alive.

But, the very last poll of the race, has it tied. Is it really a toss up? No. Cruz is clearly the favorite. But in a wave D election with polls off a few points, it’s not out of the question.

From FiveThirtyEight:


*3:00pm – From CNN, the weather for election day seems to be stormy  in the East:

Every state east of the Mississippi River is likely to see rain at some point when the polls are open on Tuesday, though some states will undoubtedly see more storms and potentially disruptive weather than others.


The old story is that rain is good for Rs and bad for Ds. That’s because R voters historically are more reliable, and Ds count on a higher turnout with votes from the infrequent voter.

However, there is not great data on that ever being the case. And one argument is that it helps whoever is already most motivated to vote, which this year seems to be D voters by a little bit.

*2:50pm – For the super-geeks, here’s the handiest county-by-county 2016 vote count spreadsheet that I could find (from Greg Giroux) . Very easy to navigate. Let’s you browse as comparison for this election or just to kill time. When things get extra tight on election night and the anchors talk about what countries still have outstanding votes, these are the sort of figures that let you know what to expect from those places.

For example, my current locale, Winchester, VA went for Clinton over Trump, 48% – 44%. Hometown of Kankakee Co, IL went for Trump, 53% – 41%

*2:30pm – There are a few high profile election forecast models. They use a range of factors to make their guesses. They heavily rely on polls (obviously) along with fundraising figures and other indicators.

Alternatively, there are a few “political science” forecasts that predict swings from party to party based on big historical trends. These forecasts don’t judge individual races but instead look at broad circumstances, presidential approval, general political climate, etc.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball provided a handy chart of what four of these political science models project:


You’ll notice that these forecasts fit within current poll-based models, ranging from a Democratic gain of 27 to 44 House seats (all of them predict D control of House). They also project a few seat gain for Rs in the Senate.

*2:15pm – Something I should have known earlier but just learned now: Why election day is on a Tuesday in November. As you might expect, it’s because of what life was like at the nation’s founding.

November was picked because it was after harvesting but before the worst of the winter.

Tuesday was picked because it was between worship on Sundays and market days on Wednesdays. Monday was used to travel to the voting site (via horse, obviously).

Fascinating, but does it really make sense today? I’m all for traditions, yet not everything older is better.  We have extra large room for improvement in our current election process.

*2:05pm – Without a Presidential race, it’ll be easier for the “disappointed” side to spin the results tomorrow so they don’t look as bad. The most likely outcome is a D House and an R Senate. But, make no mistake, that is not a “draw.” That is a win for the Ds and would have dramatic effects on what policies could become law in the next two years. That would mark a shift in power from our current status.

Here’s a possible measuring stick for tomorrow to evaluate whether the Ds over-perform or under-perform (from FiveThirtyEight):

expectations 2

*1:45pm – Speaking of odds, the Grandmaster election forecaster, Nate Silver, constantly emphasizes that the range of possibilities is very large. In other words, don’t be too shocked if the Ds don’t win the House. BUT also don’t be too shocked if they win 55 or 60 seats (they need 23). 


*1:25pm – A quick note on odds. It is best to think of the election models as probabilities of winning (not hard absolute guesses on who will win). There is an 85% chance the Ds take the House and an 85% chance Rs keep the Senate. But that means there is a 15% chance the opposite happens in each.

Consider field goal odds as a comparison:

An NFL kicker attempting a 37 yard field goal.

Each team gets one kick. If the Ds make theirs, they win the House. If the Rs make theirs, they win the Senate.

If you were guessing, you’d say that they both will hit. BUT, is it out of the question that one might miss? It could totally happen. You would expect the kicker to make a 37 yarder, but you wouldn’t faint if one missed. Keep that in mind whenever you hear pundits talk tomorrow about what is or is not a longshot.

*1:00pm – One of the final set of polls that we will get before tomorrow…

final polls

*12:55pm – Much ballyhoo about early voting numbers this year. It’s a very real and somewhat startling increase from the last midterm election. BUT, a dash of cold water: 2014 midterms were the lowest turnout in 70 years. That doesn’t necessarily discount the surge this year, but there was a LOT of room for improvement from 2014 anyway.

*12:46pm – A good Andrew Sullivan piece on tomorrow’s stakes:

sullivan summary_LI.jpg

*12:31pm – The ballot initiatives I’ll be watching tomorrow:

(1) Four states will vote on marijuana legalization: North Dakota and Michigan (recreational); Missouri & Utah (medical)

(2) Medicaid expansion is on the ballot in Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, & Utah.

(3) Ohio Drug Laws: All felony nonviolent drug offenses would be reduced to misdemeanors. The idea is to lower the prison population. Fearmongers claim that it will make Ohio a “drug magnet.” I think it is an interesting test point to public opinion on easing drug laws in a swing state.

(4) Louisiana Verdicts: Would ban felony convictions without unanimous jury vote. Louisiana is one of 2 states (Oregon) where you can be found guilty, even if a jury is not unanimous. This law traces back to Jim Crow; it is ridiculous that it’s even in doubt.

(5) Florida Felony Voting: A proposition would restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentence (except those with murder or sex offenses). 1.4 million Americans may have their rights restored.

(6) Abortion-related initiatives are on the ballot in Oregon, West Virginia, and Alabama. With the new SCOUTS makeup, we can expect even more abortion drama than usual in the coming years. States will try to restrict more and more, the laws will be challenged, and those challenges will likely end up in front of the new Nine.

*11:55am Be sure to read the whole thread. This highlights something that will happen a lot over the next 36 hours. A stat pulled out of somewhere that seems good/bad for one side, but the overall impact is far more muddled.

Like in fantasy football, you can cherry pick stats or matchups to make anyone seem liable to score a lot of points. What is left out is often more important than what is mentioned. 

generic ballot.png

*11:50am Hmmm…


*11:45am The final FiveTirtyEight Projections:

House: 87% chance of D control (average gain of 39 seats)

Senate: 84% chance of R control (Rs gain 1 seat)

Governor: Ds gain 8 states (63.5% of population lives in D-held state)

*11:15am More younger voters is almost always a good sign for Ds.

tx early vote.png

*11:10am We must wait until tomorrow evening for real results. Dammit. But what if we want to know right now how things are looking? We have 2 things: (1) Polls/Models ; (2) Early Voting Statistics.

If you are as obsessed with this as I am, you know all about it. But if you are a normal person, you preserved your sanity and devoted attention to other things the last few weeks. So here’s the briefest summary (more detail later):

(1) Polls/Models: Most models have the Ds picking up 25-40 seats in the House, taking control (they need 23). The trend lines over the last week (based on individual polls and generic ballot polls) has been a tick even better for the Ds. In the Senate, the opposite is the case, with most models showing the Rs picking up 1-3 seats and keeping control.

(2) Early Voting: There is significant controversy over whether early voting figures tell us anything. However, for those who believe they are helpful, the #1 storyline is that turnout is UP compared to the last midterm election virtually everywhere. Higher turnout usually is good news for Ds. However, in our hyper polarized environment, some argue that both sides are benefiting and it may not be as much of a boon for Ds as usual. For me, I think the old rule applies here, and big numbers is a cause for optimism for Ds in close races.

*11:05am There is no presidential race, so how should we judge tomorrow? That’s like a newbie sitting down as the season finale of Game of Thrones starts and asking, “So what’s going on?” 

Oh boy, where to begin…

The moon view is that tomorrow reveals how the country feels about its decision to elect Donald Trump two years ago. Was it a good idea? Have his actions/decisions been good or bad for the country?

There are 5 things I’ll be watching tomorrow:

(1) Control of the US House R’s currently control it. Ds need to flip 23 seats to take control. All 435 seats are up, but about 310 of those seats are not in doubt. Instead there are around 115 seats that are “in play.”  Almost everyone agrees that the Ds will gain some seats, but how many? Throughout the night, the biggest thing to track is the number that the Ds are seeming to flip. Is it over or under 23. Current projections: Anywhere from 15 to 60.

(2) Control of the US Senate – Rs currently control it. Ds need to flip 2 seats to take control. Only 35 seats are up, and about 12 are “in play.” More of those in play seats are held by Ds already, so they have far fewer opportunities to flip a seat. Current projections: Anywhere from Ds gaining 2 to Rs gaining 5.

(3) Governor Races – Right now there are 33 R governors and 16 D governors. But Ds are poised to make gains in both total states with a D governor and total population living under a D governor. The highest profile races are in Florida, Georgia, and Kansas.  Current projections: Ds gaining 5 to 10 seats.

(4) State/Local Races – The people who you elect to your statehouse, city council, and county board may actually impact your life more than those at the federal level. The party that wins these statehouses now will be involved in redistricting after the upcoming 2020 census.

(5) Ballot Initiatives  – Legalized marijuana, felony voting rights, and other policies will be decided by voters in states across the country.

*10:50pm – Cool map from Bloomberg showing the most common types of issues campaign ads were shown each area. (3 million ads analyzed). My own district (the top of Virginia) is the dark blue “Anti-Trump.” It makes sense, our sitting Congresswoman is a Republican, but Clinton won this district by 10 points, and we are outside DC where Trump is loathed with the fury of a thousand red giants.

This is also a good reminder that when you hear one pundit or another say that X is the issue that matters. The Democrats path to victory is Y.  They’re almost always oversimplifying to the point of uselessness. Different people care about different things. Winning control of any chamber or statehouse or school board or governor’s mansion requires different strategies.


*9:54amBe sure to take care of yourself, even if your nails are bitten down to nubs.

stress drinking

stress drinking2

7:48am – Christmas Eve is often more special than the big day. It’s the same with vacations. Dreaming of what’s ahead, the building excitement can be more valuable than the live experience. Science backs that up.


The mind can work magic with unlimited potential. Enjoy this day, political/election nerds, because tomorrow might be the beginning of the hangover (or maybe not, who’s to say).

*7:35am –  Antici…

antici GIF

Does It Really Make Sense for a Frustrated Republican to Vote for a Democrat?

We jammed the first political sign of the season into the dirt in our yard. It was for a Republican. City Council. Incumbent. A moderate who has the best interest of the community at heart. We know his opponent too. A first time Democratic candidate inspired to get more active in recent years. We attended a Meet-N-Great for her campaign kickoff. She’s an asset to our neighborhood. 


Bushes (R) and Obamas (D)

We decided to go with our existing representative this time but many friends will go the other way. Winchester, Virginia will be well served no matter who wins the election.

That first sign was for a Republican. The second was for a Democrat for Congress.

If our Republican candidate was running for Congress (instead of City Council), we would not support him this year. The consequences for each office are vastly different.

I urge all those who consider themselves Republicans, conservative, moderates, independent–but who are deeply concerned about the current administration–to vote for a Democrat for Congress on November 6th.

President Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy

D. Eisenhower (R) and J. Kennedy (D)

Some reasons why:

1) The race for Congress is about Donald Trump and his brand of “conservatism.” Full stop. Will the chaos that Trump has brought to the federal government be bolstered or rejected? That’s the point of Nov. 6th.

2) If you are cheering Trump’s tweets and rallies and personality…if you prefer Donald Trump’s party to John McCain’s party, then you can stop reading now. I won’t convince you of anything.

3) A vote for a Republican for Congress is a vote to strengthen Donald Trump’s political capital within the Republican party itself.  The election is just as much a referendum on the two futures within the GOP, as it is the nation as a whole.

4) If the GOP holds Congress, Trump’s conduct is validated. There will be zero check on his control within government or within his party. He’ll have the votes and political capital to squash any Mueller report findings, indictments, or criticisms of his conduct.  

That is terrifying. Not just for liberals or Democrats, but to reasonable Republicans who believe in competence, balance, character, honesty, prudence, accountability, and basic fitness for our treasured office.  

But But But, I sometimes hear from reasonable Republican friends, but the alternative is worse. Look, I don’t like Trump, but he’s doing some good things. But I hate Colin Kaepernick. But at least it’s not socialism.

mccain kerry

J. Kerry (D) and J. McCain (R)

The “Buts” in this case fall far too short:

First, please don’t minimize the costs of having Donald Trump as the Republican that many children will forever identify with the party:  

  • The only President ever implicated by his own attorney in a criminal felony conspiracy under oath (for covering up hush payments to a porn star for an affair shortly after his wife gave birth).
  • Who’s attorney, campaign manager, and national security advisor have already been found guilty of felonies. 
  • A President who calls his own attorney general “mentally retarded. Who insults veterans for being tortured in war if they disagree with him.
  • Who sides with a Russian dictator over our own national security professionals. Who believes that America is morally equivalent to Russia but who considers Canada an enemy. 
  • A President who so obviously, clearly, and without ambiguity makes choices based entirely on his own ego and self-interest.

There is a tremendous cost to that being your guy. And if the GOP keeps Congress, he will forever be your guy. Mini-Mes will sprout up even after he’s gone to fill the void.

The only way forward is a rejection at the ballot box.


J. Boehner (R) and B. Obama (D)

Refusing to enable a son’s drug addiction can be hard, but it’s appropriate. You don’t get to pretend that you’re trying to solve the problem if  you keep slipping him cash and driving him to his dealer.

Second, the “cost” of a Democratic Congress is far lower than frustrated Republicans might suspect:

  • Many of Trump’s current policies are not conservative anyway. Shunning the free-market, imposing tariffs, and a budget that, for the first time ever, projects a permanent $1 trillion annual deficit.
  • Contrary to what you may have heard, Democratic candidates in many districts are reasonable, experienced, hardworking members of the community. You may be surprised that they share many of your own concerns.  Do not fall for scare tactics.
  • Trump will still be President. The Democratic party will not be able to pass anything without bipartisan support. There is also another election in 2 years, when you re-calibrate and make a different decision if necessary.

This is the most important election of a generation. Think carefully.

You do not have to come out of the closet, switch parties, or in any way run up against the public pressures of political tribalism. You can just vote, quietly, for the Democratic candidate, kindling the idea that the Republican party will steer itself back on a more American course. 

I hope you make that choice.

Election Day Live Blog – 2016

*10:22pm – OH just called from Trump. I suspect that FL and NC will be called soon. Once that happens, Trump will be the favorite to win it all. But it wont be officially over. Deep breaths all. I genuinely DO recommend muting your TV. Nothing they say will make you feel better. I’m going to take a break myself to re-group. Starting at 5:30am was a bad idea.

*9:58pm – Clinton takes a tiny lead back in VA with 84% in. Still razor tight, but a sliver of good news for her. The story of her night, if she pulls this out, is thin thin margins in some swing states as well as states she was already expected to win…like VA.

*9:54pm: We have reached the point in the night where we all basically just watch with nails bitten off as results trickle in. The TV folks will try to figure out where the outstanding vote is coming from, which is somewhat helpful. But overall, there is little more to do than wait and wonder. Just know that this is not over yet.

If you find your anxiety out of control, my suggestion is to mute the TV, turn on some soothing soundtrack, grab a glass of wine (or comfort drink of your choice), and catch your breathe. Remember that we will survive any Presidency–even ones that seem catastrophic. You are not alone–there are hundreds of millions of us who will get through it together.

*9:40pm: Right now I think all eyes are on FL, NC, and VA. From the numbers I’ve seen, FL may almost be out of reach for Clinton. VA is looking like she has a chance to squeak by, with 26% still left uncounted, but if she wins it will be razor tight. NC is also a toss up that likely is more likely to go to Trump at this point. If you are a Hilllary supporter, focus now on those VA numbers.  Then keep an eye on the MI numbers.

*9:35pm – I admit that I am finding it harder to make frequent posts, as this thing goes in a way many of us did not expect. However, we could have just called this a near-tie election from the beginning, and this is what we would have expected. It is most shocking now because it is so different than what we expected–not because it is over. We clearly live in a near 50-50 divided country….lets just hope that we can find a little more of our shared humanity after this is over.

*9:25pm –


*9:15pm – Things can get very scary, very quickly if Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina are all called for Trump in short order. Those outcomes are atually now more likely than now. Clinton can still make up the gap, even if she loses those states, but that means she’d need to win most other critical states. If Trump pulls off these upsets in these early states, though, that signals that she might have an uphill battle in those other states.

*9:05pmFiveThirtyEight has updated its model…..Clinton now has a 73% chance of winning. Democrats have a 31% chance of winning the Senate. The momentum with returns is with Trump right now, but that does not mean he’s going to sweep in. It could take just a small win for Clinton in one of these tight states to swing things.

*8:55pm – Trump may be pulling away in FL and NC.  Wow. The VA race is really the shocking one. He may steal that as well. If that happens, so much of what was projected before will need to be re-evaluated.

*8:42pm – Be aware–this may be a very long night. There are far more “Too Close to Call” races now than at the same point last time. If you thought you risk of heart attack ended after the baseball season–think again. nervous the office michael scott panic steve carrell

*8:37pm – Most are now calling that the Republicans will keep the House. That was obviously true even before Election Day. But the tightness in FL and VA is an indicator that Clinton definitely won’t have some surprise massive blowout. The electoral map still is favorable for her. But, overall, this is a stressful time for Clinton supporters.

*8:30pm – Oh boy, this is getting wild. Virginia has just been moved from “Too Early to Call” to “To Close to Call.” That is definitely not what Clinton wanted to hear.

*8:27pm – Trump now up by 65,000 votes in Florida. This state is going to go down to the wire, and against earlier though, he might take it. Remember that Florida was the closest state in 2012 (Obama won it by a hair). No matter what, it likely won’t be officially called until later in the night.

*8:25pm – Todd Young officially wins vs. Evan Bayh. This one hurts for the Democrats, as Bayh formerly held this seat.

*8:21pm – Take this for what it is worth…Trump under-performing in an important county that Romney won big.

*8:20pm – Votecastr has released its final projections in all the states that it was tracking It will be fascinating to check on the accuracy to the final tallies. If it close, then you can bet this sort of experiment will be going on in many future elections…

Estimated votes in Florida as of final update:

Clinton: 4,959,569

Trump: 4,644,007

Estimated votes in Iowa as of final update:

Clinton: 659,498

Trump: 645,935

Estimated votes in Nevada as of final update:

Clinton: 504,108

Trump: 496,633

Estimated votes in New Hampshire as of final update:

Clinton: 311,833

Trump: 289,125

Estimated votes in Ohio as of final update:

Clinton: 2,534,965

Trump: 2,516,534

Estimated votes in Pennsylvania as of final update:

Clinton: 2,557,627

Trump: 2,401,513

Estimated votes in Wisconsin as of final update:

Clinton: 1,366,876

Trump: 1,193,322

*8:10pm – Trump has taken the lead in the raw vote in Florida.  But, there are many MIami-Dade to still come in. This is probably going to be a nail-biter.

*8:08pm – Finally some good news for the Senate Democrats. Early exit polls have Jason Kandor UP in Missouri against incumbent Roy Blunt. If they can win in this state, their chances of getting the Senate back are still alive.

This is a reminder that every state and candidate is very unique. It’s hard to predict a wave election, because there are always many exceptions.

*8:05pm – FL still looks tight and Trump gaining a bit. It honestly could go either way, still. No one can get complacent just yet. Eeek.

*8:04pm – Duckworth win IL Senate seat. That was expected, especially after Kirk’s gaffes at the end.

*8:00pm – More closing – Fl is “Too Close to Call” ; “PA is “Too Early to Call” ; NH is “Too Early to Call” ; MO is “Too early to Call” (Trump leading) — ME is “Too Early to Call (Clinton leading)  — Illinois to Clinton — New Jersey to Clinton — MA to Clinton — TN to Trump — MD to Clinton — AL to Trump — OK to Trump — CT to Clinton –MS to Trump — RI to Clinton — DE to Clinton — DC to Clinton —

All expected. Kinda.  MS and ME as too early to call is somewhat surprising. Also PA is labeled as “Too early” instead of too close, which may mean something.

*7:54pm – Just a reminder–even though at the Presidential level, Clinton has gotten some good news. This thing i far from over. The results in FL are definitely not certain, and if she doesn’t win that, we are talking about a real close election.

*7:50pm – Trump wins SC.  Not surprinsing.  Now we should keep an eye on VA to see how long it takes for VA to be called for Clinton.

*7:42pm – FiveThirtyEight now has it at 55%-45% chance that the Republicans keep control of the Senate. This morning the Democrats had a 50.7% chance on winning it back.

*7:37pm – In more good news for Republicans in the Senate, Marco Rubio is clearly outperforming Trump in FL. This is a result of “ticket splitting” where voters chose not to vote for the Republican at the top of the ticket but DO vote for other Republicans. If this holds elsewhere, the Republicans may sneakily keep complete control of Congress–even if Hillary wins handily.

*7:35pm – Another big Republican Senate win – Rob Portman already called as winner in OH. It was expected, but only a few months ago it was a nailbiter. The Repblican Portman really pulled away at the end.

*7:31pm – I was wrong, NC is actually listed as “Too Early to Call” —as expected OH is “Too Close to Call”

*7:28pm – Early numbers in the Indiana Senate race indicate that the Republican Todd Young may squeak one out against Evan Bayh. That’s encouraging news for Republicans hoping to hold onto the Senate.

*7:25pm – In five minutes there will be poll clsoings in OH and NC. Both will undoubtedly be called “Too Close to Call” at that time. But we may get some exit poll data about how things look. It legitimately could go either way on these…

*7:23pm – The numbers coming in from Florida continually do not look great for Trump…The numbers show Clinton winning by 10% in the Tampa area, which cannot happen if Trump wants to sneak this thing out.

*7:15pm – Yearly reminder: Do Not Panic when you see the percentages of each candidate in some states (like FL) with just a sliver of the vote in. We usually do not know where those votes are coming from. Each state is typically segregated with supporters of one candidate living in the same region. Huge swings can occur if one candidates stronghold come in at a certain time.

*7:12pm – While SC and VA are “too early to call” the exit poll data shows that Trump is leading in SC and Clinton in VA—both are as expected.

*7:08pm – Apparently, exit polls in GA had the race as 48 – 47 for Trump.

*7:06pm – The biggest takeaway of that first batch of calls is that Georgia is “too close to call.” Everything else was expected. The initial indication is that the demographics have changed in the state and those demographics are voting as you’d expect–minorities increasingly voting for Democrats. If that trend holds elsewhere not only will Clinton have a good night…but other Democrats might as well.

*7:04pm – The Virginia regional breakdown is just as expected. Trump is getting killed in “Northern Virginia” — DC Suburbs– and winning big downstate. But very similar to Illinois, the population in the NoVa area dwarfs that of everywhere else.

*7:03pm – “Too Early to Call” in South Carolina.

*7:01pm – “Too Close to Call” in Georgia….”Too Early to Call in Virginia. That is telling. Good signs for Clinton. IN and KY to Trump. Clinton gets VT

*6:59pm Here’s a partial view of Trump’s state.  Yes, that is a “Make America Great Again” hat in a glass case:

*6:56pm Here’s Hillary’s stage for tonight (I haven’t been able to find a photo of Trump’s yet):


*6:53pm With only a few minutes left until the real results start trickling in…there is a lot more of this going on across America:

community praying

*6:41pm As always, when polls close in 20 minutes, expect some states to be called almost immediately. Some southern and midwestern states will go to Trump. Hillary will immediately get some New England states. That trend will continue all night. By the time the Central Time Zone states close, a swatch of them will be called immediately as well, even though we still won’t know the result in states to the east like Florida, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and perhaps Virginia.

But also keep an eye on states that should traditionally go immediately to Trump, like Georgia. The longer that goes undecided the better news for Hillary. Even if she ultimately does not win the state, the fact that it is too close to call for awhile means she’s performing well today overall.

*6:26pm New updated exit polls now suggest some different results on the percentage of Latinos who voted for Trump. Early exits had it at 65%-27% for Hillary. Others suggest it might be closer to 79%-18% for Hillary.  That would represent a significant decrease in Trump performance as compared to Romney in 2012. Just another reason all of these exit polls should be taken with a grain of salt.

*6:18pm This is the largest urban county in Florida that is a Democratic stronghold:

*6:07pm Less than an hour before the first states begin to close their polls. Obviously we will then start getting some hard numbers. These will include the actual votes that are processed and the networks will combine that their exit poll data when making their calls. Also, remember to keep an eye on the number for the early Senate races in those Eastern states–North Carolina and NH.

*5:57pm Update on the Votecastr numbers. An hour and 20 minutes after the last update, Clinton is still up in all 7 swing states, but Ohio is so close that its almost a tie.

*5:55pm It is important to distinguish national exit poll data and swing state exit poll data. Some data indicates no national change in the racial composition of voters nationwide. But, for example, the Florida-specific exit poll data shows a significant increase in the minority vote percentage. And it is the swing states that ultimately matter the most for the presidential election.

*5:50pm Don’t forget that exit polls have been inaccurate in that past, and so if annything scare you so far….deep breaths.

*5:48pm The most surprising exit poll thus far is another positive for Trump—he appears to be slightly overperforming Mitt Romney among Latinos. That is shocking. HOWEVER, that number invovles mostly exit polls of voters in eastern states. Western states, with a large Latino population will come rolling in over the next few hours and can change that number. These exit polls are not “final” but are released on a rolling basis.

*5:42pm Also on the positive side for Trump, contrary to some earlier discussion, some exit polls are suggesting the breakdown between white, black, Latino and, Asian voters may be the same as 2012.

*5:38pm On the positive side for Trump, exit polls suggest the black vote in North Carolina may be down slightlyFor Hillary to win the state, she needs that demographic strong.

*5:34pm – To further clarify, the networks do release some data from their exit polls before the polls close. That is why if you are watching network TV right now, you’re seeing information about those questions. That information is very telling. For example, 54% of actual voters approve of President Obama. The President obviously supports Hillary, and there is a very good chance that the people who approve of Obama will have voted for Hillary. So that 54% is a great number for her. Remember, all of this data is now about actual voters, not “likely” voters or “registered” voters. So the information we get is far more important that the polls on these issues for the past few weeks.

*5:23pm Just to clarfiy, Votecastr is reaching these estimates based on a complex demographic profile for every voter—party registration, age, race, gender,  income level, education level. That information is shown to be very closely-related to actual vote choice. They then match the actual voters throughout election day with their projected vote choice to get those estimates.

This is different from “exit polls” which, while asking for demographic information also ask “Who did you vote for?” The networks who conduct/commission these polls use that exit data when they make their projections–but only after the polls are closed. That is how they “call” a state even though almost no votes are officially counted yet. They very specifically do not release the exit poll data throughout the day. Votecastr intentionally releases it throughout the day.

*4:51pm Votecastr, the live tracking experimental site, is watching 7 swing states. Here is what they think the vote percentages are right now. It is critical to remember that this type of prognostication has never been done before, so there is no way to know its past accuracy. Also, people are still voting, so that even if this is accurate, the election is not over.


*4:30pm In Florida, the state most likely to decide the election, turnout may be the key. According to the most recent reporting, The largest counties, Miami Dade, Broward, Hillsborough have already passed turnout from 2012. In general, these are liberal bastions. But there is also talk of huge growth in traditionally GOP areas of the state, though the scope of that growth isn’t clear.  Eeek.

*4:24pm Wondering when we will actually have a final call on the Presidential race? In 2012, it became official basically at 11pm EST. That was sort of a middle of the road time. If things are razor tight, we won’t know for awhile after that. But if FL, PA and other east coasts state are called early, then we may know sooner.

*4:15pm – The FiveThirtyEight election model finalized this morning. However, they just pointed out a few polls that came in afterward, earlier today. Trump up by 3 in Georgia and Hillary up by 3 in Florida.  Those number may turn out exactly right if the Votecastr and other gossip today hold true.

*3:54pm It turns out that the “live” voter projects are affecting with the stock market. The more positive news throughout the day for Clinton, the higher the stock market. This has been a trend throughout the election as new polls come in. But its surprising to see it affect things on an hourly basis.

*3:44pm Update on the Trump lawsuit case. The judge denied Trump’s request that certain voting machines be “set aside, sequestered, and impounded.”

*3:36pm Remember that Votecastr experiment that is going on this year? They are using demographic exit poll results to see if they predicts the ultimate final tally. Right now, they essentially have Clinton up in every single swing state that is part of the project (FL, IA, NV, NH, OH, PA, and WI). But they are all incredibly close, with Clinton only having any breathing room in FL and WI).  Remember, the vote totals that they have are not actual votes–they are projected votes based on the demographics of actual voters.

*3:35pm Here is another one from 2012. The Hispanic vote is even larger now…and Trump has not exactly positioned himself to earn that vote. They very well may be the difference in Florida and Arizona.

***FROM THE VAULT (2012 Live Blog) – “*10:02pm – Colorado exit polls suggest one of Romney big problems.  He is only getting 25% of the Latino vote.  In comparison, W. Bush got almost double that.  It’s pretty simple: % of Hispanic vote going up every year, % of those voters going to Republicans is going down.  That is not good for winning elections.

*2:51pm Every election is about “two different visions for the city/state/country.” But this year represents the pinnacle of completely different ideas about where the country is headed and where it should head. Obviously we are seeing that in this presidential election, but it is also mirrored in so many down ballot races.

In my city of Winchester, there is a hotly contested mayoral race. Republicans have controlled the office basically forever, but the 3 term incumbent mayor is stepping down. The R nominee this year is a well-known, long-time resident and business owner . The Democratic nominee is a West Virginia native who is has not lived in Winchester for nearly as long—-oh, he’s also gay and black. It will be fascinating to see how this local race–and so many similar ones across the country–play out tonight.

*2:37pm This is becoming the most viral picture of this election day (H/T Drew Whiting):


*2:26pm Turnout reports are “high” in virtually every state. Some seem more robust than others, however. Georgia in particular is speculated to be closing in on a turnout record. GA is almost always reliably Republican, but some polling numbers were very interesting in the past few weeks. It is unclear what the record turnout in that state means, but historically Democrats have always performed better with more voters.

*2:09pm Critical reminder from a wise Twitter voice:

*2:00pm We haven’t yet mentioned the US House of Representative races. There are too many close ones to count, and its almost certain the that Republican Party will retain control. It would take an enormous Democratic wave to make that happen. The most interesting races, however, are those where Republican incumbents in moderate districts are trying to prevent Trump’s unpopularity from taking them down. I happen to live in one of those districts with incumbent Barbara Comstock-R v. LuAnn Bennet-D. My gut says Comstock will eek it out, but its definitely not a lock.

The Cook Report has a nice grid here that outlines the status of each race and the current incumbent party. You’ll notice that there are a lot more Toss Up races that are currently controlled by Republicans. That means that while they will retain control over all, they will probably lose seats.

*1:45pm Not that this should influence your vote one way or another, but Hillary is a Cubs fan. She was born and raised in a Chicago suburb. These pictures are during Game 7 (notice the Cubbie blue jacket)

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(Note: There has already been in-depth analysis of whether her Cub fandom is real. It is. Here’s the story).

*1:19pm We don’t have much hard data on anything just yet. But the main takeaway right now from turnout projects and anecdotes is that Clinton is looking good in Florida…and Trump is doing surprisingly better than expected in Michigan.

*1:16pm We will likely see more Trump lawsuits (or threats of lawsuits) throughout the day.  As a rule of thumb, the more you work to prevent people from voting, the less well things are going.

*1:13pm Excellent/Gag-worthy analysis from the lovely Ann Coulter:

Let’s just ignore the whole “America is a land of immigrants” fact.

*1:09pm –  The fun stuff begins.  The Trump campaign is filing its first lawsuit against the Clark County Registrar’s Office in Nevada.  he claims that they stayed open 2 hours later than the scheduled time.  But, it was always made clear that if you were in line before the closing time, then you’d be given the chance to vote–even if it took 2 hours for everyone in line to vote.

*12:59pm There is another interesting ballot initiative out of Maine. Today they will vote on whether to implement “ranked choice voting” in future elections. Basically, instead of voting for one candidate, you would rank them all. If no candidate gets a majority in the first go-round, the votes of the last place candidate are  reapportioned to whoever was ranked second on that ballot. That continues until one candidate has a majority. This is something that has long been championed by third party candidates as a way to give voters more options. Some also argue that it may make candidates less partisan, because they are also competing for “second place” votes.

(Side note: This is how the Oscars Best Picture contest works)

*12:28pm – FROM THE VAULT (2012 Live Blog) –*7:07pm – EXIT POLLS: CNN suggest VA turnout was 39% Democrat and 33% Republican. If true, that is a great sign for Obama and Tim Kaine – the Senate candidate.”

Look at him now. 4 years later and he may be hours away from being the Vice President-Elect of the United States.

*12:08pm For those in Illinois, Eric Zorn has the best cheat sheet for the key races tonight. There is a Senate race that Tammy Duckworth is expected to win. A very tight Comptroller race with two very impressive candidates, Susana Mendoza and Leslie Munger. And there are many statehouse fights. In my hometown, incumbent Democrat Kate Cloonen is neck and neck with Lindsay Parkhurst. Up in the northern Suburbs, incumbent Republican Michael McAuliffe is in the fight of his career against my classmate at the University of Illinois, and Civic Leadership Program alum, Merry Marwig. For the most up-to-date information on IL races, be sure to check out the Capitol Fax.

*11:58am This is the sort of talk I’ve heard a lot over these first few hours:

*11:28am BTW, the main takeaways from the Votecastr results so far is that: (1) Clinton may be doing well in Florida; (2) Colorado looks very close. Let’s just keep that prediction in mind as we learn more.

*11:13am Just to keep perspective, throughout the day I will be referencing lines from the 2012 election live blog. You’d be amazed how much things change in 4 years. For example, at 2:11pm I wrote: *2:11 – The Results are IN!   The Chicago Bears just moved up two spots to #3 in ESPN’s Power Rankings.  Whew.  We can all breath a sigh of relief now.  Back to the real world everyone. ;)”     

Not quite the same this time around (though they did just have a great win).

*10:50am If you are staring at your computer all day (like me) and want as much data as possible, then the Votecastr tracker is now running. This is the brand new project that is attempting to offer information on who is winning throughout the day, starting now. CLICK HERE to go to the site. But keep everything in context: They are tracking the demographics of the actual voters, not the votes. I’ll likely be sharing some of their most important data throughout the day. Don’t panic if you see something that frightens you. This is basically an experiment that has never been tried, so we don’t know how accurate it will turn out. It’s essentially just more information to either thrill or terrify political junkies.

*10:44am Reminder– even if you (or a friend/family member) haven’t registered, you can still vote (and register on site) if you live in: Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, or Wyoming.  [BTW, more states should allow this.]

*10:35am A friend’s co-worker is wearing this pin today, signifying “shattering the glass ceiling” and “raising the bar.” (H/T Kaylee Gamble).


*10:30am Trump’s larger than life “character” has overshadowed what would otherwise be the most talked about aspect of this election: The United States may elect its first ever female President. We cannot quantify the amount of sweat, tears, stress, worry, and toil of so many pioneers that created this possibility. Regardless of your politics or your vote, hopefully we can take time to celebrate that.


*10:21am Here is the poll closing  map. No “hard” data will be released until then (starting at 7pm EST). However, we will be getting information  from the new  Votecastr project relatively shortly. Overall, a smattering of east coast states close at 7 or 7:30pm, most of the eastern half of country ends at 8pm, 9pm for middle of country, and then 10pm to 1am for the rest. If the race is a clear win for one candidate, we may know relatively soon. If its very tight, it’ll be a late night.


*9:48am Was does/did your precinct look like? Any commentary on your polling place?

*9:43am It looks like most Americans will be dry today. Some research suggests that voter turnout can decrease significantly in areas where there is considerably rain (1% per inch of rain). But that won’t be an issue for many this year. Good news.


*9:24am Take all of these tweets, random anecdotal stuff with a gigantic grain of salt.  Most of us jump on news that we like and ignore the stuff we don’t. But as the day goes on and there are trends like this one indicating huge turnout in Democratic ward, then it might (just might) mean something…

*9:14am Here is a one minute video of the first votes of 2016 in Dixville Notch at midnight. Notice the botched hand-off on vote #1 —that about sums up this election…

*9:04am The other major ballot initiative this year: The Death Penalty. California, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have capitol punishment issues on their ballot. 25% of all death row inmates are in those states–so its a huge deal.

California: Voters will choose between repealing completely, speeding up the process, or neither. Right now, polls show both losing, meaning the status quo would remain.

Oklahoma: The state executes more prisoners per capita than anywhere else. Their ballot initiative is the opposite of repeal—-they are deciding whether to change the state constitution to indicate that it does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. In other words, this is a pro-active step by supporters to prevent a future court decision that bans executions. Wow.

Nebraska: The state repealed the death penalty last year. But supporter of capitol punishment, led by the Governor Pete Ricketts (of the Cubs Ricketts family), got a referendum on the ballot to restore the death penalty. There has been all kinds of controversy on the language on the initiative, because a “No” vote essentially means returning executions to the state. There is no polling on the issue.

*8:49am Do you hate all politicians and don’t really care who wins? If so, maybe you should focus your attention on some of the ballot initiatives across the country. Most notably, five states will vote today on whether or not to legalize recreational use of marijuana: California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine, and Arizona. The latest polls suggest clear wins in CA and MA. It is closer in NV and ME, but the pass vote is slightly ahead. It is a dead heat in AZ.  Even if you don’t live in those states, if all 5 pass, it will send a clear message on where things are going on that issue across the country.

*8:36amFor the record, today is utterly gorgeous here in Northern Virginia. The pictures don’t do it justice, but there is a swath of oranges, reds, and yellows against a bright blue sky behind my personal election headquarters. God is smiling down on Election Day 2016…


*8:21am– Now is a good time to shift gears, because there are many critical elections besides the Presidency. Most notably, the US Senate is going to be a nailbiter, as several races are toss ups. The latest models have the chance of the Democrats taking control at about 50.7%. Barely better than a coin flip. The closest races according to current polling:

  1. New Hampshire: Democrat Maggie Hassan and Kelly Ayotte are nearly tied
  2. Nevada: Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is slightly ahead of Joe Heck
  3. Pennsylvania: Democrat Katie McGinty is slightly ahead of Pat Toomey
  4. Missouri: Republican Roy Blunt is slightly ahead of Jason Kander
  5. North Carolina: Republican Richard Burr is ahead of Deborah Ross
  6. Indiana: Republican Todd Young has pulled ahead of Evan Bayh

You’ll notice that many of these close Senate races are in the states that are closest at the Presidential level. Swing states are swing states–and Senate candidates run statewide. It’s always interesting to see if the lower ballot candidates out-perform their Presidential nominee.  For example, how many people in North Carolina will vote for Democrat Hillary, but then pick the Republican Burr for Senate?

*8:07am The swing state list has shifted over the course of the campaign. My state, Virginia, was once on that list. But recent polling suggests that Hillary should win comfortably here. According to FiveThirtyEight, the three closest states right now are: Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada. Trump needs all of them.

*8:02am Another Florida update/reminder. The early voting numbers suggest that Clinton may already be up by 92,000 votes. If that holds, its an impressive lead compared to the Dem v. Rep early voting breakdown in the past. It’s a positive early sign for her in the state. Realistically, if Trump can’t win Florida, he can’t win the election.

*7:47am This is how the two sides in this election can come together tomorrow morning. Sending “lost dogs” to political rallies with people wearing shirts from the opposing candidate. Impressive political ad from Pedigree:

*7:36am Here are the latest (perhaps last) poll releases. At a very cursory glance, a rough summary shows:  Trump continues lead in Ohio? North Carolina and Pennsylvania are close. Surprisingly, Clinton has a chance, maybe not a huge chance, of winning reliably Republican states like Arizona and Georgia. (NOTE: FiveThirtyEight collected 4,207 state and national polls thus far).

*7:20am Want the best, “insider” information about how the swing states are really looking? The best bet is to follow state reporters (not the big networks or large papers). These folks know the nitty gritty of the state better than anyone and have gut feelings that are far more likely to be accurate. For example, here’s an argument from one who thinks Hillary will win, in a squeaker, in Florida.

*7:15am – 


*7:09am Thinking about taking a picture of your ballot? Make sure that you don’t commit a felony. Here is a state-by-state list indicating whether it is legal or illegal to take photos in the booth or polling place.

For example, Virginia = LEGAL — Illinois = ILLEGAL.   

*7:00am  In year’s past, we had to wait until late afternoon to get any real information on Election Day trends. And we never really got any sense of anything until the polls actually started to close.  But as in so many other ways, THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT. There is a project managed by “Votecastr,” Slate, and Vice  that will use a variety of tools in a first-ever attempt to track the election minute-by-minute on Election Day.

Here’s the gist:

It’s crucial to remember these projections are being made in real time. Even if we were to assume the VoteCastr models are perfect—and we won’t—they can’t tell us who will win a particular state, only who is winning that state at a specific moment in time and who might win if current trends continue. When it comes to who might win, the emphasis should be on might. There are too many unknowns for us to be able say with confidence that what we think is happening in the present will continue to happen in the future. It’s entirely possible, for instance, that Trump voters will be more likely to cast their ballots in the morning and that Clinton voters will be more likely to cast theirs in the evening—or vice versa.”

*6:55am Here is the latest FiveThirtyEight election map forecast. This is Nate Silver’s site, arguably the most respected of all forecasters.


*6:45am Per tradition, a few tiny New Hampshire towns vote immediately at midnight to be the first votes cast and reported on in the country. In Dixville Notch Hillary won 4-2. In Hart’s Location, Hillary also won 17-14 (Romney won there). However, a third New Hampshire city also did the midnight voting, Millsfield, where Trump won handily, 16-4. Overall, that means that Trump currently has a 32-35 vote lead over Clinton.

*6:30am The line in my downtown Winchester, VA polling place was already significant when doors opened. That is my first sliver of evidence that turnout may be pretty darn high this time around—that was expected. Though, we also have a very contested mayoral race here. Early voting lines throughout the week were also enormous across the country.

*5:50am Democracy –  Time for me to vote. As in the primaries, myself, Kyle, and our neighbor Laura Robb will be at our polling place when the doors open. We will all cast our votes, and then Laura and I will walk home nervously pondering what the day will hold. Side note: Laura is an incredibly accomplished educator author for Scholastic

*5:30am Good morning! Merry Christmas political junkies–may your preferred candidates win (unless they are candidates that I do not want to win…in that case, may they lose). Just kidding.

This Is What The Cubs Mean to Me.

The Chicago Cubs are popular. But I am a Cubs fan because I am unpopular.

Ten million stories will be told about this franchise in the next few days. Here’s another short one. It’s mostly about my brother. He’s a better Cubs fan than I am. When I was 7 and he was 10, we had a confrontation. I wanted to go play outside. It was early August  of 1992. The Cubs had a horribly terrible team. We were double digits behind the division lead. But Danny would not play whiffle ball in the backyard until the Cubs game  was over. So I sat next to him and watched us (probably) lose.sub5

Each game matters. Even if you suck. Danny taught me that.

I grew up in a Cubs family. I loved the team but frequently thought, “why are we so bad?” As in all sports–you defend your team. But what could we defend? I grew up to be a paid “arguer”…a lawyer. Cubs fans are basically public defenders. We will represent you, regardless of merit, because of the principle.

We are going to the World Series. To even type that sentence  changes what it means to be a Cubs fan. We may win or lose this series. Eh, who cares. The Cubs represent to me (maybe not you) the purest, kindest, funnest, original-ist, clever-ist, weird-ist group of random people in the  greater Northern Illinois area. We are everybody who isn’t the Prom King. We are everybody else.

I love this team so much I can barely breathe.

Please Think Really, Really Hard Before Saying, “I’m Not Voting, Because I Dislike Both Candidates.”

We have reached peak election-disgust after last night’s debate spectacle. I’m hearing more sighs: “Both candidates are terrible, and so I am not voting.” I understand the exhaustion, frustration, and downright sadness about this cycle. plato

But make no mistake, nothing good is accomplished by not voting based on a general disgust with the campaigns. In fact, this sort of thinking makes things worse, and will result in more awful elections. Not voting means that the actual voters are more and more radical.

I personally believe that Donald Trump is the most unqualified and dangerous candidate in generations. But, even if you disagree with me, still think very, very hard before deciding not to vote.

Here’s why:

The chance of us electing a truly crazy person (Republican or Democrat) increases exponentially the more people who decide, “I don’t like either, so I am not voting.” Winning candidates are elected to office because a majority of voters agree with what they say. That means that who the voters are matters a lot. The candidates will say what the voters want to hear. If more voters believe ridiculous things, then winning candidates are more likely to believe ridiculous things.

quote-in-reality-there-is-no-such-thing-as-not-voting-you-either-vote-by-voting-or-you-vote-david-foster-wallace-41-61-12Many decide not to vote to signify their disgust at the current nominees. But guess what, if you do not vote, that only means the next election may have even worse nominees. Because the candidates reflect the ideas of the voters–not the ideas of the non-voters. If you want your preferences to be more reflected in candidates, DO NOT take yourself out of the voting pool. 

The bottom line: 

  1. One of these two candidates will win.
  2. They have incredibly different ideas on a wide range of policy positions that will affect all of our lives.
  3. They have demonstrated very different temperaments that will determine their response to whatever unknown events the next 4 years hold.
  4. Even if you think one is 98% horrible and the other only 93% horrible, you have a slight idea of which one is better (or not as bad).  You should vote for that one.
  5. Not voting just means you are letting everyone else decide. You are not accomplishing anything positive.

Our American system works because the diverse group of us are able to collectively hobble together decent decisions in the long-run. Leaving the choice up to only the most rabid supporters on either side is disastrous.

Honestly assess each candidate on what they say, do, and propose. Go to the polls on election day and cast a vote for who you think is best (even if only barely). Then reward yourself with ice cream, give a high five to a stranger, and enjoy that amazing fact that you are alive on this tiny speck of dust in the middle of the universe… and, by the grace of god, an American.

Election Hell: Surviving Facebook for the Next 95 Days

If Facebook existed in 1860–a year before an actual civil war that slaughtered  600,000 Americans– the online chatter might resemble what we are seeing now. Two sides swarming in their own bubbles, accusations growing more and more obscene…Liars! Murderer!  Treason! civil war

How in the hell are we going to survive another 95 days of this? And what will happen once one side

The vast majority of our political conversations now take place online–specifically Facebook (with a dash of Twitter). That’s depressing, because Facebook conversations usually suck.

  1. One person shares an article.
  2. Another person reads the headline (who has time to read the whole text).
  3. If the headline says something positive about their candidate they give it a LIKE, and if they are really in the mood, write a comment: “Amen” OR “I agree completely”
  4. If the headline says something mean about their candidate, then they ignore it, block the person, or comment.
  5. That negative comment will typically serve no purpose, leading to a general back-and-forth where each side rants a bit until they’re bored.

The same type of negative comments pop up again and again. Consider this random list of actual comments received on my last blog post re: third party voting this election:

  • The Personal Insult:You seem like a bit of an idiot” [Right to the point]
  • The Personal Insult Plus:Jeez Paul, you pretty much proved to everyone that you’re an idiot. I know it’s been said before but it’s worth repeating. You sir are a simpleton.” [A more complex slur with the underlying assumption that other people agree with them]
  • The Bigoted Slur: “I bet your wrist has enough flapping action to do it (cast a vote for Hillary Clinton)” [We don’t all have limp wrists]
  • The Analogy That Doesn’t Really Work:Experience does not equal qualification. I have experience flying. I am not qualified to pilot.” [What? If you have experience being a pilot, then you may be qualified to be a pilot]
  • The Historian:Sorry this is long, but if you read this I promise you will learn at least one detail you didn’t know along with 99.9% of the country.” [Followed by 2000 word essay with reference to Jefferson, Lincoln, and one ‘fact’ that they never taught you in school]
  • All the Emotions with Exclamation Points: “Tell that to to four dead Americans that were killed in Benghazi!!!!”
  • The Conspiracy Theory:Is it just coincidence that Clinton’s adversaries seem to meet untimely deaths? JFK Jr. was running for the NY US Senate seat filled by Hillary Clinton. He could have run for president and won. What do you know about that?” [I know nothing about that.]
  • Just Read the Internet:Sad that you blockheads must take so many with you. Both party’s have been in the pockets of the banking cartels since before the Civil War. It really takes little effort on the internet to see this.” [Where can I find this internet?]
  • The Office Space:I have thought really, really hard and I will burn this place to the ground before I officespacevote for either one of the major party candidates.”

Political dialogue on Facebook is mostly useless.

It does not have to be.

Empathy and genuine listening is lost online. But, Facebook is not going away, and we must figure out a better approach. If you want to have some impact with a conversation on Facebook, one option is to consider a classic concept known as Rapoport’s Rules:

When trying to engage someone and challenge their argument:

  1. First, re-express the other person’s position, so they know you understand what they are trying to say.
  2. Indicate the areas where you agree, even if only very generally
  3. Let them know if their article or post has made you learn anything or sparked some new thought in you.
  4. Only after that long preamble, offer some criticism that you feel is important.

A hypothetical example: “I appreciate that you are worried about a Trump presidency and believe that a 3rd party vote this election may serve little purpose except helping Trump win. I agree that we must think through the exact consequences of our vote, particular in this unique year. The post made me consider exactly what my ultimate objective should be when voting this time. However, I genuinely believe that having more than 2 options is critical for future elections. While they may not win, there are significant benefits for a 3rd party candidate to show stronger support this election. In some states, achieving 5% of the vote may affect ballot access. With 15% in polling, a candidate may also qualify for debates.  That’s enough for me to continue to support a 3rd party this time around.”

This is all holier-than-thou with a dash of Pollyanna. But, it’s probably the only way to usefully engage with a political adversary on Facebook. Even then, the other person will not suddenly have a change of heart. And if they did, they certainly wouldn’t admit to it on Facebook. BUT, you may still have made two key influences:

  1. Softened the Position–Made them think a little harder before they automatically parroted something next time.
  2. Influenced the Lurker–Changed the mind of the truly undecided person who was reading the exchange but would never comment on the post itself.moon

We are stuck with political drama on Facebook. As awful as it is now…we can still use it for the good. Don’t block all the people who disagree with you. Don’t ignore everything they say. Don’t insult them. Try to honestly engage. We put people on the Moon, a rover on Mars, and flung stuff way past Pluto. We can figure this out.



Think Really, Really Hard Before Voting for a 3rd Party Candidate. Really.

Unlike any major candidate in generations, Donald Trump is temperamentally, emotionally, and intellectually unfit to be President of the United States. He would be an embarrassment and, more importantly, present far too high a risk of precipitating an economic, social, or military catastrophe.younghillary3

If you disagree with that assessment, this post is not for you. It won’t persuade you of anything. Though I reserve the right to try to persuade you at some point before the election (and I hope you feel the same about me).   

But assuming you agree with the lunacy of a President Trump, you are left with 4 options:

  1. Vote for Hillary Clinton
  2. Vote for Gary Johnson – Libertarian party
  3. Vote for Jill Stein – Green party
  4. Not vote

Even among those who would never vote for Trump, I’m increasingly hearing things like:

I hate Trump, but Hillary is just as bad.

We have two terrible options this time.

One is a liar and one is an idiot, so I’m voting for a third party.

younghillary1I cannot state it emphatically enough: Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, under no reasonable assessment is she “just as bad” as Donald Trump.

The demonizing of Clinton reached a peak this week with the Republican convention acting as round-the-clock infomercial promoting the Lucifer-like qualities of Hillary. If a stupendous claim is made enough times, many will believe it–the truth is pliable. Clinton is far from a saint, but the truth about her record bears little resemblance to what Trump allies scream.

Hillary Clinton served as First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State. She received impressive plaudits for her policy acumen, preparation, and willingness to collaborate. Just take the word of many Republicans:

  • I know Hillary, and I think she’d make a great President.” – Donald Trump, 2008
  • Clinton is an intelligent, hard-working professional….the best single choice that President Obama has made [as Secretary of State]. – Newt Gingrich, 2009
  • I think she’s done a fine job [as Secretary of State]. The problem isn’t Hillary Clinton, who’s great. – Condoleeza Rice, 2013
  • Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy. – Jeb Bush, 2013
  • She’s a policy genius. – Mike Huckabee, 2014
  • I know her. I like her. I’ve worked with her.” – John Kasich, 2015
  • She’d make a tremendous President. […] She was extraordinarily resolute, determined and controlled in the wake of the [Benghazi] attack. – General David Petraeus, 2014

Hillary’s political opponents believe that she is highly capable—except when they are trying to beat her in an election. Then she is evil.younghillary4

There is no reason to apologize for supporting Hillary or hedge your bets by saying that both candidates are equally terrible. But, I understand that you may have deep philosophical differences with Clinton and are considering voting for a third party. Please think very hard before actually doing that.

I support third parties and have voted for a few. But this is not the election to cast a presidential vote that way.

  1. The latest polls have the race as a dead heat, with anywhere from 10-20% of voters undecided or thinking about a third party vote.
  2. A swing of even 1 – 2% of third party voters to Trump or Clinton may decide the election.
  3. Clinton’s share of the vote almost always drops in polls where third parties are included–third party candidates are hurting her more than Trump.
  4. Gary Johnson will not be elected President. Jill Stein will not be elected President.
  5. The genuine growth of a third party will be based on actually winning elections at the lower levels and building a base of support locally. Random performance in presidential elections is not the crux of the effort.
  6. Very marginally indicating support for a third party candidate’s agenda is far less important than adding your weight to prevent President Trump.  This year is not normal.younghillary2

The most important outcome in this presidential election is that Donald Trump not become the Most Powerful Person on the Planet. I am not a fatalist. I will not move to Canada if Trump wins. But if this Republican National Convention has taught me anything, it is that I’d forever regret not doing everything in my power to prevent the party of Abraham Lincoln from being smothered into oblivion by a Donald Trump presidency.