Lincoln…The Know-Nothings…Trump

There is an old Trump Tweet for everything these days.  Twitter users share those archived messages with glee each week.

I’m proposing a corollary: There is an old Lincoln quote for everything these days.

Consider this one, written to his best friend Joseph Speed in the early 1850s. This was inked as a private citizen, without any clear political future. That he would be President of the United States less than a decade later was laughable. He was sitting alone in his office, watching the growth of a nativist political party, and worrying for his country…

“Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’ When it comes to this, I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty–Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”



Photo Credit: <a href=””>dustinbattfilm</a&gt; Flickr via <a href=””>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Something We Can All Agree On – We Want to Stay Alive

I’m naive, but I still believe that most Americans agree on many basic things. We’ve forgotten that recently, because we voted for different people in November. But we can figure this out together.

The only thing about politics that truly matters are the actual policies that are enacted. The rest is noise.

No policy impacts you and I more than healthcare–by definition, it is life and death. Please give serious thought to the Republican healthcare bill that is inching closer to becoming law.    Senate Tax 2

Do not be fooled by the nonsense talking points that you’ll hear about this legislation. It is downright disgraceful:

1) No, you will not be getting a tax break–unless you are already wealthy. This proposal calls for massive tax cuts (almost $1 trillion), but it will go to the richest among us. 

2) No, you will not get better coverage for less money. Some premiums may go down–but only for those who are young without any health issues. Even then, your insurance will cover fewer things and may have a higher deductible.

3) Yes, many Americans will be completely screwed. If you are older, have existing health problems, or disabled you will receive worse insurance (if any at all) and pay much more.

Some believe that it is not the government’s job to ensure everyone has access to healthcare. It’s their political philosophy. That is why they have no problem giving money to the wealthiest and cutting support to the sickest and poorest.   

If you disagree with that principle, please be vocal, oppose this bill, and demand accountability–no matter who you voted for in November.

Being Right Doesn’t Matter in Right Now. Winning Does.

It seems like we are getting closer to a knock-out. Left jab lands. Right hooks connects. Trump is reeling and feeling woozy on the ropes. It’s only a matter of time until he collapses in the ring, and victory is proclaimed. Right? Not quite.

Politics isn’t boxing. Those of us outraged, saddened, disgusted, terrified, and embarrassed by the current administration need to land many more punches before this national nightmare is over.machiavelli

Everything hinges on Congress. Democrats are united in opposition, but Republicans control both chambers. In other words, Republican members of the House and Senate matter most. We have two options:

  • Option #1: We vote and give Democrats control of Congress.
  • Option #2: Enough Republicans stand up to Trump’s nonsense and, if appropriate, force him out of office.

ossofOf course, we cannot vote again until November of 2018. That is almost 20 months from now. Can we make it that long? For perspective, Trump has only been President for 4 months. Option #1 is slow.

Right now, we need to focus on Option #2. But what can any of us do to influence Republicans?  As much as we’d like to appeal to their reason, sense of principle, and putting country first—-that doesn’t do much. Members of Congress will respond to one thing: keeping their seat. They must believe that they have a better chance at keeping their seat if they stand up to Trump.

The traditional advocacy actions help on that front: Calling their office on controversial bills; Showing up at town halls; Participating in marches. But Republican members of Congress can discount those efforts. After all, there was a mountain of anger at Trump before November, and yet Republicans still won seats. Why is the anger different now? 

quistWe have to demonstrate that it’s different now. Literally show them that the anger translates into votes. Give them an example of a Democrat winning a seat that Republicans used to hold, and the game changes.

It can be done as early as next week.

Two special Congressional elections are on the way.  Absolutely nothing will be watched more closely by wavering Republicans than the outcome of those races. Much more attention needs to be focused on them.

May 25th – Montana Special Election –  You can donate to Rob Quist, the D candidate here

June 20th – Georgia Special Election – Donate to Jon Ossof, the D candidate here

Winning these elections, and/or making them as close as possible, is the single most important thing we can do right now to steer our national ship away from the iceberg. As you watch all the new developments related to Comey’s memos and Russia– keep your eye on these dates. Donate, call, and do everything you can–big or small–to influence these races.

Spread the word.

Get It Out of My Head. Please Make It Stop

I cannot write political blog posts anymore. The same internal dialogue makes me start–then stop–writing articles, Facebook updates, comments, and Tweets.

Am I alone in this? Please help.

Here’s a typical thought train:

I can’t even with this guy on Facebook. He has no idea how hypocritical he is. Every day he has pro-Trump posts. And now he shares something about bald eagles being killed by lead poisoning. What the hell?wth

Does he not realize that Trump’s pick for the EPA wants to dismantle as many environmental protections as possible?

Wait, let me google Scott Pruitt again…Ok, yea, he’s terrible on this. Certainly no champion of helping bald eagles dealing with lead.

Typical Trump voter, so hypocritical. Maybe I should write a blog post on all the hypocrisy we’ve seen so far.  Never mind. That is the least original idea ever. Like the world needs more writing on Trump being a liar and hypocrite. Real out-of-the-box thinking, Paul. Sheesh.

Anyway, I’m going to comment on this Facebook post. Someone should say something. It can’t go unchecked. If no one calls him on it, the guy will go through the whole day without realizing how terrible his opinions are. You can’t be a Trump voter AND get to pretend like you are the new Jack Hanna. Wait, maybe a good post would be discussing the tragic irony of how the symbols of our nation are literally dropping dead. Eh…forget it. No one wants to read that. This isn’t a freshman English assignment. Political blog posts about symbolism?  Get your head in the game.

But I am responding to this Facebook thing. Even if I don’t change this guy’s mind (I won’t), the quiet lurkers will notice. Maybe it will have an effect. Too many Trump voters have no idea what the President is actually doing. Policy-wise, I mean. 

That’s the root of the problem, isn’t it? That Trump supporters don’t really know the details of things. They assume he’ll support policies that will personally help them. They ignore the crazy and give him the benefit of the doubt on every-god-damn-thing.  Crap, that is exactly the critique used against people who “worshiped” Obama. Stop it Paul, that is a false equivalency.  

All this thinking is a little high and mighty of me, isn’t it…like I’m so smart and clearly wiser than these fools. Am I just as hypocritical?  I say I love animals, but I eat meat. Lots of it.thinking5

I know how this guy will respond on Facebook, though. He’ll say that just because he supports Trump doesn’t mean he supports everything the administration says or does. Great, tell that to the bald eagles.

Or he will try to find something bad about Hillary Clinton and then say, ‘so you must support that too, right?’ 

Or maybe he’ll play it really understated and use the ‘lets give him a chance’ line.

I’ll have to go into the specifics about exactly what Pruitt plans to do with the EPA. Honestly, I’ll need to research that. The only thing I can remember right now is that he is a climate change skeptic (or should I say ‘denier?’), and I think he sued the EPA while in Oklahoma. Something like that. 

Is that hypocritical of me, that I don’t really know the details off the top of my head and am kind of assuming?  At least I’m willing to look it up, and I know the gist–Pruitt is terrible for the environment, right?

I’m sure Trump voters do that same thing though–a quick google search, find an article, and then spit it back out. Ugh. Am I falling into the same trap?  No no. Don’t be silly. Don’t forget the one thousand other awful things Trump has said and done. Keep perspective. But that is probably what Trump voters told themselves during the election- ‘That may be true, but don’t forget all the other terrible things about Hillary.’ 

thinking6You know what, never mind. It’s not worth it. I only see this guy a couple of times a year. I don’t have time for back-and-forth comments all day. He shares a lot of baseball posts too. Move on. Remember, life isn’t politics…

Wait. What are you talking about? Paul, don’t be a moron. Now is not the time for silence.  Silence only normalizes this horror show of a presidency. Speak boldly and confidently, rise up and……  


20 minute internal dialogue. Nothing accomplished. Repeat 5x a day.

Is this how Trump wins?

I’m Usually Not the Marching Type, But…

Donald Trump is President of the United States today. Tomorrow I will join fellow citizens in marching on our National Mall in Washington DC. 

You may be joining me in DC. You may be rallying in a different city. You may be rooting along from your living room. OR…you may be saddened and confused that people would do something like this.women10

You could be thinking…

Get over it already! He won. Move on.

I can’t stand people who protest. You’re just lucky there are brave men and women who allow you the privilege.

We all need to come together and support the President. We are all Americans.

I respect that 63 million people voted for Donald Trump. He was certified as our next President by the electoral college. A rally will not change that.  But please don’t misunderstand what is going on. The marches are not an attack on our country; they are a validation of what makes it great.

women20(1)  The right to assemble was enshrined by the Founders–a tool for those who do not have official power. It’s a demonstration of solidarity…
We are still here and will not go away.

(2)  Exercising that right is especially critical now–at a time when a single party controls the Presidency, House of Representatives, and Senate. That same party controls 68% of state legislatures and 62% of Governor’s offices. This is the most power in the hands of a one group since the Civil War.

(3)  But there is a disconnect. Because, the current President lost the popular vote by 2.8 million votes. That is a 5x bigger defeat than when George W. Bush lost it in 2000.

(4) One side’s ability to enact dramatic alterations to society has never been higher. Yet that power is completely out of proportion to the public’s indicated desire for it.


The election…this year…is not normal.

I have been thrown on my heels since November 9th–growing further aghast at the conduct and temperament demonstrated by the man holding our most treasured office…

  • Defending a foreign despot over our own American intelligence officials
  • Threats to punish journalists who challenge him
  • Incoherent late night rants about TV shows and celebrities
  • Refusal to eliminate or even reveal personal business conflicts
  • Cabinet nominations that no reasonable person can claim represent the “best and brightest”

Millions disagree with me–you may be one of them. But I hope we can come together on at least one idea: We only sharpen our ideas when we are forced to defend them against those who disagree. 

Tomorrow, your Facebook feed may be filled with tired, one-liners. Please think before following along….


No, if you see one picture of someone doing something stupid that does not represent everyone who is marching. Do KKK Trump supporters represent you?

No, we are not out of touch “liberal elites” from big cities. Some live in cities. Some don’t. Some are rich. Some are poor. Some aren’t even that liberal. We don’t agree on everything. But we do agree on many big things: like fairness, kindness, and competency. 

No, we are not snowflakes who need participation trophies. We’re folks who refuse to stay silent when we think we can make a difference. 


I am not joining this march in spite of being an American, but because I am. Democracy is not just the right to vote. It is an ongoing commitment to pay attention to your community, understand how issues align with your values, and put those values to action.

We are still here. We are paying attention. We will not go away.

The Morning After Pill

It happened. We are stunned. Little sleep. Mind wandering. Worry. Fear. Anger. Shock.

I did not know what to do this morning. Eventually I decided to write a short task list for myself. They are reminders for right now as well as the next four years. I want to share that list, in case it is helpful to anyone else…

Right Now:

  1. Take time to mourn, seethe, sigh, and worry. You don’t have to pretend not to feel those emotions. younghillaryfinal
  2. Lean on the friends and family who share in your disgust, dismay, and sadness. They will be with you no matter what the future holds.
  3. Remember that a majority of the country does not despise you or condone the awful rhetoric of the President-Elect. Hillary Clinton received more overall votes.
  4. Take a moment to honor the strength, resilience, and intelligence of Hillary Clinton. Her legacy must not be the nonsense that was spouted about her during this campaign.
  5. Remember that politics is not the purpose of your life. What you decide to do each morning to maximize your happiness is on you.
  6. Make a list of the things that make you smile. Do some of those today, tomorrow, and the day after that.
  7. Meditate on our place in the universe. We are evolved creatures on a tiny speck of dust in the middle of a galaxy of unimaginable size. How astonishing that we are even here to feel these emotions.


Over the Next Four Years:

  1. Detox from politics for a time, but do not retreat from public engagement. The time to stand strong for your principles is when things seem darkest. It could be our finest hour.
  2. Challenge every policy that you disagree with, and fight for what is right in the next four years. But don’t wish the new President to fail out of spite.americafinal
  3. If the new President or Congress is proposing something that you honestly agree with, voice support. We can be the example of compromise, even if others cannot.
  4. Cultivate your values in the local political system. Your life may be far more affected by the mayor, city council, and school board. You can make immediate change there.
  5. Try to find shared humanity with those who support the new President. Dogs, flowers, scary movies, baseball, grandchildren. If you want less division in the country, lead by example.
  6. Never forget: Life is not about “Winning.” It is about Thriving in your own way, and helping others do the same.

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.


hillary-gun-3You are on a Red Line train in Chicago as it pulls up to the Addison stop. Wrigley Field is almost an arm’s reach away. A thousand people wearing Cubbie blue shirts and hats cram onto the car. You immediately hear chatter from them:

“That home plate umpire was unfair.”

“He was way off on those calls, particularly in the 7th”

You didn’t watch a single pitch, but you already know the outcome: The Cubs lost. Because you don’t make excuses immediately after you win.

Anyone who has ever watched a baseball game knows who “won” the first Presidential debate. Within minutes of walking offstage, Donald Trump and his surrogates were making excuses about the previous 90 minutes–to explain a poor performance. By the next day, however, the excuses were transforming into obnoxious conspiracy theories.

A Timeline of Trump Responses to the Debate:

  1. Lester Holt, the moderator, asked him “unfair questions.”hillary-parkinsons
  2. He could have been more aggressive, but he held back because he is a gentleman.
  3. He had microphone problems: “They gave me a defective mic…I wonder if that was on purpose? It was much lower [volume] than hers.”      …Then things shifted to the nutty…
  4. Hillary had  an earpiece to get secret information.
  5. Actually, that wasn’t an earpiece, it was a device used by people to quell the effects of Parkinson’s disease…which she might or might not have.
  6. Lester Holt gave Hillary all of the questions ahead of time.
  7. Maybe he didn’t, but they had a secret scratching code where Hillary indicated what she wanted Holt to do by itching her face 5 times in a row.
  8. But seriously, a majority of the country thinks Trump won except, “Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton’s [debate performance].”

Those phrases in quotes aren’t from random Trump supporters wearing tinfoil hats. They are the candidate’s own words.

If you actually believe those arguments, you are probably not reading this. And if you are, I am definitely not persuading you. I mean, Hillary likely paid me to write the post.

Luckily, this post is not directed at those who share articles about secret scratch signals and Parkinson’s devices. Instead, it is directed at the 10% of voters who are legitimately unsure how to cast their vote this year (or whether to cast one at all). Please do not buy into the nonsense conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton. You shouldn’t believe conspiracy theories about Donald Trump, either.

hillary-killerConspiracy theories are groundless. They are not useful for getting a true picture of the world. But they do have some use. They are helpful in understanding the character of those who promote them. Reasonable, intelligent, honest individuals do not make absurd claims of others to rile a crowd. These conspiracy theories should give you pause….not about Hillary, but about Donald Trump.

They are a sign of weakness. Why isn’t there an endless stream of popular conspiracy theories about Trump? Because there is no need.  Listening to what he says, how he acts, and what he proposes on a daily basis is plenty of fodder for seriously questioning his judgement.

The same is not true for Hillary. You can challenge her proposals, but she does not present herself to the world on a daily basis in a way that a reasonable person would think: “she has a terrible lack of judgment; she is spouting nonsense.” You can disagree with her without believing that she worships Satan (yes, that claim has been made). To discredit her, a campaign must make up wild theories of phantom illnesses, mass voter deception, or murder. This is in the hope that those insinuations drown out her actual words. Because her actual words and conduct on the campaign stand up as Presidential. Her opponent’s do not.

The bottom line:

  1. This is an extremely close election–either Trump or Clinton could win.hillary-murder-3
  2. Voters should evaluate candidates on their own words, actions, and proposals that have factual backing.
  3. Continuous negative campaigning and promotion of outrageous conspiracy theories is proven to decrease turnout.
  4. Trump wants lower turnout–it’s his only path to victory. The awful insinuations will continue.
  5. A third-party will not win this election.
  6. If you evaluate the two main candidates honestly–without pre-judgement–and find Hillary Clinton to show more competence, intelligence, and understanding for the office of President than Donald Trump–vote for her.


Photo Credit: Main image- Cover of “My Turn” a book by Doug Henwood