Nobody Won 2016 Election in a Landslide

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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161 Responses

  1. Em Carpenter says:

    This reminds me of a poster I saw once with a story about Somebody, Anybody, Everybody and Nobody. There was an important job to do, and Anybody could have done it. Everybody thought Somebody would do it, but Nobody did it. Moral of the story being, Nobody ended up doing what Anybody could have done.Report

  2. Aaron David says:

    That 44% did vote. They voted “don’t care.” Which is just as valid as going to the polls and voting.

    And approve of the idea or not, Trump won the electoral in a landslide. 20% I believe it was. Even if only three people per state show up, the EC is a way to ensure that this gets dealt with. I agree with you that having more people show up to vote would be a net positive, but the point of the electoral college is not popular politics. It is a way to not have heavy population centers being the vote deciders, but allow the various areas of the nation to have weighted representation. The whole system is designed for a smoothing effect, though that was mucked up with the 17th amendment.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to Aaron David says:

      There’s a difference, I think, between “I don’t care” and “I am so repulsed by the choices I’m given I’m not going to bother.” I admit there have been some local races where any of the candidates would have been equally bad, so it wasn’t worth my hiking down to the courthouse or whatever my polling place is now. (the last several times I voted, I had to vote early because of work schedule issues, and you do that at the courthouse…)Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to fillyjonk says:

        I still think every elected office should include a ‘None of the Above’ option, and if the NOTA gets the largest percentage, it’s a do-over.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Also how many people did not vote because it was made a hassle by Voter ID laws, our punitive tendency to deny ex-felons the franchise, or they were college students and voting is made hard for them too. Or because we insist on holding elections on weekdays.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Seconded. In other developed democracies, voting is considered a basic right. The governments make it easy for people to vote. Many Americans do not consider voting to be a basic right and engage in activities that make it hard to vote. Republican politicians actively rig the game in their favor through any means they can get away with.

          Democratic leaning states make it easy to vote. Not as easy as Europe but they ensure that there are adequate polling stations, near same day registration, voting by mail, etc. New York State has a law that requires employers to give their employees time off to vote during the work day. You aren’t allowed to penalize employees for coming in late or leaving early or taking a slightly longer lunch if they are voting.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Question from ignorance — do European countries require some sort of proof of citizenship somewhere in the process, or just take people’s word for it? Colorado makes it easy to vote — ballots mailed to all registered voters, vote centers where you can register and vote, election day registration. Once you’re in the system, things are pretty easy. ID for the initial registration may be a hurdle, although the list is extensive. In particular, an ID from any institute of higher ed deals largely with the student issue, and a current Medicare/Medicaid card covers most of the eligible elderly.Report

            • J_A in reply to Michael Cain says:


              Question from ignorance — do European countries require some sort of proof of citizenship somewhere in the process, or just take people’s word for it?

              Most European countries -the UK being a noted exception- and all Latin American ones issue a National ID Card that residents carry with them at all times – You present that card at your polling station (you need to register ahead of time to vote, of course, again, using your ID card)

              BTW, in most places I know of, an expired ID card is valid to vote

              In Brazil, people that have volunteered for biometric ID can vote with their fingerprints onlyReport

        • fillyjonk in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          At least in my state we have early voting, so I usually go the Friday before (I almost always have Friday afternoons open even if I don’t have Tuesdays) and take care of it then.

          I know some people agitate for Election Day to be a Federal holiday, but I think that wouldn’t improve voting ANY, because most of us working shlubs would STILL not get the day off, and some people would just take the night before as an excuse to stay out late and then would be “tired, screw voting” the next day.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to fillyjonk says:

        There’s a difference, I think, between “I don’t care” and “I am so repulsed by the choices I’m given I’m not going to bother.”

        Is there, though?
        Because if “repulsed” here, doesn’t result in an active engagement to change things then it seems pretty similar to “the outcome won’t make a material change in my life”.

        I think the newfound passion and enthusiasm for voting since 2016 shows that a whole lot of people suddenly realized that the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party actually means that their faces might get eaten by leopards.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Well, and also if “repulsed” = “despairing”, it often leads to apathy… two sides of the same coin.

          “If the Leopards are going to Eat My Face no matter what, why bother to be engaged anyway?”Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Maribou says:

            Well, true, but how often is that actually the case?

            In this particular example, of the people who are so repulsed by both Clinton and Trump that they despaired of voting, can anyone describe this suffering that they would they have experienced under Clinton?Report

            • Maribou in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              @chip-daniels I was saying their repulsion was the same as their despair, not that it caused it. The repulsion/despair caused the apathy. That’s a nuance though.

              In any case, I was talking about the same suffering they suffered under Obama, Obama, Bush, Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Reagan … how old are these hypothetical people? I could go on.

              There is a high correlation between serious poverty (which is far too common to be waved off as “how often is that actually the case?”, IMO) and non-voting by eligible voters, from the polls I remember, and I think any interpretation of that that doesn’t take despair into account is missing something obvious.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I think this gets us back to the primary system we have in place right now. In WA, our primary ballots have D & R choices, and the first choice is, are you voting in the primary for D or R (can’t primary for both parties). This allows me to have a voice in the primary without having to publicly commit to a party or go to a caucusing location, etc. The more involved it is to participate in primaries, the more likely you are going to get candidates only a committed minority likes.Report

      • atomickristin in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Something that is lost in these kind of maps (IMO) is the reality that in some states, your vote is useless if you’re of the party who won’t win the state. For me, sitting in that red county in Washington, it is pointless to vote for either president or senator because the population of the Seattle area is so huge that it will always carry the day. My vote is pointless, why bother casting it in either direction? If I vote Democrat, they’re going to win without me, if I vote Republican, why bother? You can see the same thing happening in Montana only in the reverse. I don’t think we should get rid of the EC, but it really does affect voter turnout negatively to know that no matter what, your vote is meaningless. Not voting doesn’t always mean you don’t have a preference or that you are apathetic, it sometimes just means that you know it’s useless so why bother.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Aaron David says:

      The Electoral College was a jerry rigged solution because the Founders could not agree on how to elect the President.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Jerry-rigged… or genius!

        I will go with the later.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Aaron David says:

          The electoral college was designed specifically to prevent a populist demagogue from becoming President.

          Abort, Retry, Fail?Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Kolohe says:

            And yet we still got FDR.Report

          • To your point, the founders never envisioned nearly half the populace of eligible voters not participating. Democrats stayed home as well; As Cook has somewhat famously pointed out, if Hillarys gets 77,759 more votes in three counties to win PA, WI, MI-which Obama easily did-the “demagogue overrode the system” is a mute point. The system worked fine, the people selected, either by participating or not, the president.

            The other statistical oddity that relates here is that while Clinton was short of Obama’s 2012 totals but close (65M and change) and Trump picked up 2M+ voters that didn’t come out for Romney, the votes for “all others” went up an eye-popping 5.6M in 2016. Nearly triple the 2012 number.Report

            • J_A in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

              To your point, the founders never envisioned nearly half the populace of eligible voters not participating

              I doubt they envisioned the expansion of the voting franchise either. To the founders The populace of eligible voters meant men (not women) of property. It’s true that “men of property” were a larger fraction of the population in the thirteen states than they had been in Britain at the time (where the yeoman class had been shrinking since the Wars of the Roses). But the principle remained: the voting franchise was a limited fraction of the people.Report

              • Andrew Donaldson in reply to J_A says:

                Fair point. The idea of private property in and of itself was, for that time period, a radical idea. The restriction of the right to vote to property holders was the standard practice in the colonies and carried over after the revolution. Adams and others wanted a restricted vote, many others wanted it expanded. Franklins famous anecdote about the man with the dead mule comes to mind in arguing for a wider franchise. It was a real debate while forming the government post revolution, among other things was the idea that men who had fought in the revolution of all people should be enfranchised to vote in the government they paid for in service and blood whether they had property or not. Its fascinating and important history to read up on. State laws started popping up starting with NJ amending their state constitution in 1807 that did away with property restrictions but also banned women. Women would have to wait another century for suffrage to take hold, for example. Freed slaves sporadically had some voting rights but the vast majority had to wait post-civil war for a consistent voting franchise even in the north, and even then came Jim Crow and further struggle for what should have already been theirs. Contrast that to immigrants in the mid 19th century being drug to vote right of the boats. All part of our messy experiment in a free people self governing.Report

              • J_A in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:


                While fully agreeing with all of the above, I have to quibble with this

                private property in and of itself was, for that time period, a radical idea

                Private property was no novel idea in the XVIII Century. Private property had been codified in law since the Romans, or before. The only novel concept at the time was the Prohibition against Takings (the 5th Amendment). (*)

                (*) Certain (most) countries in Europe had restrictions on what could be owned, for instance, mineral resources belonged to the State (the King) and mine operators had to have a concession and surrender a portion (a royalty) of the gross revenue. The USA does the same with, for instance, radio spectrumReport

              • Andrew Donaldson in reply to J_A says:

                I see where that came off that way let me refine it a bit. You are correct, and there are examples before Rome as well. In the context of the colonies/revolution: As was pointed out earlier, private property ownership was much more common in the colonies than in England itself. It was one of, if not the biggest, differences between the colonies and England proper, where property ownership was mostly the very wealthy and almost always The Crown/politically connected. By the time of the revolution it reached a point where the colonist and the English were practically speaking different languages when it came to “rights” since those in power mostly didn’t have a concept of a multitude of landholders outside a small, elite group. Its a very weird dynamic that those in the colonies, in this way, were exercising more rights “as Englishmen” than the Englishmen themselves. To use a modern term, there was much more political engagement in the colonies. But it started with them owning property, and once the Crown started to notice the growing wealth (and their own debt from wars and such) and came calling for a bigger piece, now you have a disagreement and we know how that went.
                There was a real debate about England’s rights to property, such as taxes and such. To point, I’d have to look the number up(I’m thinking 50Kish) but there was a large migration of loyalist to Canada of those who thought England was still the better way to go.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to Kolohe says:

            Retried and working as intended after the MCSE recommendation of Reboot.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

            That was the sales pitch but not the actual reason. The Federalist Papers are a sales pitch.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Aaron David says:

          Because you got your desired outcome?Report

      • gabriel conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The Electoral College was a jerry rigged solution because the Founders could not agree on how to elect the President.

        There’s probably a different way to phrase that. The EC was what they agreed on, so they, or enough of them, obviously did agree.Report

    • My overriding theory on political matters is more participation is always a better thing for the country as a whole. What is happening, and data like this alludes too, is that when participation goes down you end up with the results being dominated by the most passionate voices. We talk about the two extremes becoming harder and louder, but part of that equation is many people nominally in the middle of them are just checking out of the process all together. Whether that’s out of frustration or just going “pox on both your houses” we tend to focus on the vocal engaged group and not the-and I hate this term but for lack of a better one-“silent” block of voters staying home.Report

      • Murali in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        My overriding theory on political matters is more participation is always a better thing for the country as a whole.

        So you disagree with Jason Brennan and Brian Caplan?Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Murali says:


          I find Bryan Caplan very easy to disagree with.Report

        • Was honestly not familiar with either, so until I read up on them I couldn’t tell you. I’m open to hearing folks out, but would doubt either would change that particular opinion.Report

          • Murali in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            Caplan argues that because each individual vote doesn’t matter, people don’t internalise the costs of voting badly. Therefore people tend to form systematically false views about many issues. For instance people tend to form anti-trade and anti-market biases.This bias tends to disappear as people get more educated and especially converges to the consensus among economists (most of whom vote democrat anyway) when they have a bachelor’s degree in economics. (Though people with any university degree agree with economists more than those with only a high school diploma).

            Brennan argues that ignorant voters wrong others when they vote. People may have a duty to inform themselves and vote accordingly, but they do not have a duty simpliciter to vote. Consider following thought experiment:

            Suppose a jury member’s decision about the guilt of the defendant was determined by the defendant’s race, or sex or by whether the jury member woke up on the right size of the bed that day or because she was drunk. We would think that the defendant was wronged even if the jury member would have come to the same decision if she was sober and not racist or sexist. This is best explained by the thought that such a jury member does not take adequate care when it comes to deciding about other people’s lives. If I can wrong a defendant by deciding about their guilt in a bad way then I can also wrong other members of the public by deciding on what laws (or by proxy, on which lawmakers should have power) in a bad way.Report

            • It’s a fine academic exercise. In reality every person has biases, prejudices, knowledge gaps, etc. so by this logic we would eventually disqualify everyone from the voting franchise. In such a case is it not better to have more participation so those biases are balanced out against a large number of other people? If you take only the self-aware out of the voting pool you are consolidating power to those driven expressly by the motivations you are seeking to remove. I prefer to keep it simple as opposed to over-engineering it: the more participation the better for the country.Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Murali says:

              Caplan’s problem like the problem of many economists is that they think of economics as the ur-science that can solve all problems.

              But economists have a hard time dealing with psychic benefits and other things that can’t be quantified. There is a strictly dollars and cents and transactional nature of economics that is depressing. Economics and money are important but humans aren’t transactional beings. We are social beings with mental and emotional needs. I find that Caplan tends to forget this more than other economics professionals.

              I fully concede that no human can be an expert in all things and we all take short cuts. But I don’t think every voting decisions is bad if it doesn’t meet the Bryan Caplan or Jason Brennan school of approval including on issues of trade.

              I’d like to think I am a fairly educated person. Do you think Caplan or Brennan would give me the franchise if they got a genie wish and could institute their ideal systems of government? My suspicion is that they would deny me the franchise and would find a way to justify it because I don’t follow their hardcore economics and think things like public education, parks, and libraries are a good thing and benefit to society.

              Libertarianism of the kind practiced by Caplan and Brennan still has a smug problem where they think their holy economics makes them the smartest guys in the room.Report

              • This is not an unfair criticism, and especially academically can be applied broadly: the field of specialty tends to funnel all problems into your AOK and then gets pressed through the same small space. Scientist are guilty as well, so are PoliSCi, Analytics, Pysc, whatever field you want to name.
                Plus theirs the issue that to be a “name” expert you have to have a tentpole theory to hang your hat on, regardless of its validity it does have to draw a crowd.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I get the sense that a lot of economists don’t appreciate how much of economics is essentially the study of human behavior, making it much more similar to the social sciences than they admit.Report

              • Murali in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Except I don’t think this is true. The Austrians are extremely explicit about how they are studying human action in its entirety. Leaving aside that they are the crazy uncles in the room, a lot of the rational choice types* do in fact think that they’re studying human behaviour more generally. That’s what they mean when they say markets in everything. They are not talking about monetising everything. Rather they are talking about analysing all or most behaviour as ultimately transactional in one way or another. The reason that this is an important research program is that if successful, it is contiguous with the desire-belief theory of intentional action.

                *which links a lot of people from libertarian-ish guys like Geoffrey Brennan (not Jason Brennan a philosopher who supports anarcho capitalism in the ideal case) to left liberalish guys like Amarya SenReport

              • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Caplan and Brennan are against public libraries?Report

              • Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

                Given that Caplan is a strict minarchist and Brennan has published a book defending anarcho capitalism (at least in the ideal case), they probably are.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Murali says:

                Jeez Louise.

                I suppose the people whose job it is to hold reasonable positions are always going to find themselves outflanked by the nutters.Report

              • Murali in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                You’re conflating two modes of economics. In the first mode, its just a matter of dollars and cents. But in this mode economists generally (with the exception of a few like Gary Becker) don’t think it solves all problems.

                In the second mode, its not necessarily just about dollars and cents. Instead, its all about subjective preferences. These tend to be the rational choice guys. They count psychic costs into the picture. A lot of social science is a) complicated and b) crucial to answering certain policy questions. However, there are c) psychic costs to thinking carefully about many policy questions and d) no psychic benefits to coming to a correct (i.e. supported by the available evidence) rather than wrong answer. d) At the individual level there is no (or so little as to make no difference) material benefit to getting the right answer (though there is immense benefit if everyone gets it right) and there is no material cost to getting it wrong individually (even though everyone getting it wrong would be really bad). Taking the banal claim that people tend, on average to do what they most prefer to do all things (coercion included) considered (and what they most prefer to do can be spelled out into what gives them the most benefits less the costs inclusive of psychic costs and benefits) then the rational choice critique of democracy makes a lot of sense.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Aaron David says:

      I’d say I aggressively did not vote. Probably took a few other votes down with me as well, perhaps not as many as I could have, but some nonetheless.

      Not sure how that get’s reckoned.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Marchmaine says:

        @marchmaine FWIW, I appreciate that you didn’t. I realize you have no reason to need my appreciation, but I think sometimes people (not the author of the OP) are quick to rush to judgment about not voting, when really sometimes it (and the dragging down) are the most moral choice a particular individual can make within the context of their beliefs.

        I expended a fair amount of (gentle, non-hectoring) effort, as someone who is not legally allowed to vote, on convincing people I knew who could not bring themselves to vote for Hillary, that it was better not to vote for President at all, or to go third party. Most of ’em preferred to go ‘no vote’ than third party. Pretending that voting for her was a valid choice for them, even though I would have voted for her if I could have, wouldn’t have done either me or them any good whatsoever.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Maribou says:

          Thanks, appreciate the comment. I keep hoping the realignment bingo will give me a party so I can have an identity again. Its not looking good so far.Report

      • Voting in open elections (as opposed to primaries) is probably in my DNA, so speaking personally, I can’t imagine not voting. Well, I can, assuming certain circumstances, etc. However, I do recuse myself from voting for certain offices/positions on which I don’t have an informed opinion.

        That said, I’m not inclined to hector people for not voting. I also strongly dislike two claims pro-hectoring people bring to the table: 1) the “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain” trope; and 2) “every vote matters” (typically followed by a reference to a hyper-local election won by only a handful of votes, a reference to the 2000 election, or some other improbably close election–I’ve even seen people use it in reference to 1877 which was decided by one electoral college vote, though people who reference it don’t delve into either the political compromise that made that happen or into the difference between an EC vote and a person’s vote).Report

        • Voting in open elections (as opposed to primaries) is probably in my DNA,….

          I have, however, been strongly tempted to start voting in the primaries and may do so in the future.Report

        • J_A in reply to gabriel conroy says:

          However, I do recuse myself from voting for certain offices/positions on which I don’t have an informed opinion.

          I feel a moral duty to vote both in primaries and in open elections, up to the last candidate. Which to mean meant twelve (12) pages of names in the recent TX primary. Which means I have to spend time trying to find out about candidates to dog catcher or probate judge that don’t even bother to put up a web page.

          The concept that the USA is a collection of XVIII towns with a couple of hundred people each in total, and that voters and candidates all knew each other (and all part of the elite class of the community) is something that we should replace quickly in an orderly manner before enough people either switch up completely, abandoning governance to “the swamp” or trash the system in frustration. The latter has happened many times before.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to gabriel conroy says:

          I appreciate that… I try not to hector people for sending false signals via binary choices.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

      Has a 20% edge in the EC ever been considered a landslide before?Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

        Well, 20% in any election by the votes that are counted is pretty much the definition of a landslide. I have heard that about 5% before, can’t remember when though. One thing to note, the popular vote has never been the measure of presidential elections, so when it is trotted out as being this incredible thing, I get kinda skeptical.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

          But the EC is entirely different. It’s bound.

          Trump won; no argument there. But if we never called his victory margin a “landslide” before, why start now?

          Did Obama win landslides?Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

            I am not sure by what you mean by bound, but (and I am not trying to be flip here) but whether or not the EC has ever been called a “landslide” before, or even if I am the only one using that term for it, it still fits the description, insomuch as there is a description for something like this.

            If by bound you refer to the electors being required to vote in a certain way, it still is a landslide, at least in my eyes. The fact that they are required to vote in a way determined by the state doesn’t change that. In ’08 Obama most certainly won in a landslide, in ’12 he didn’t get out of the 5% that is usually the threshold for that term, nor did he regain the house, something that could have been pointed to in making the argument.Report

            • Arguing that Trump won in a landslide is a lot like the Clinton supporters arguing that her three million vote advantage constituted a popular vote landslide. When deciding how close an election was or wasn’t, we don’t look at electoral college percentages any more than we do raw votes count.

              But you have to look at these creative numbers to avoid the obvious: The popular vote of this election was, by historical standards, really close. By historical college standards, the vote was close. In the former case, we look at percentages (You can’t really go lower than 5%) and in the latter case we look at numbers (350 is probably a good cutoff).

              My own standard for closeness of the election is how close the tipping state was. In the case of this election it was Pennsylvania, which Trump won by 1.2%. In the case of the last election it was Colorado, which Obama won by 5.4%. My standard is atypical, though in the closest election of our lifetime most people point to the margin in Florida. In any event, I am fine saying “5%” or “350” though I think both are a bit on the low side.

              The House has no bearing and I have honestly never seen it used as a metric. In two of the most lopsided elections in history Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon each got around 60% of the popular vote and won 49 states and neither took the House.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Will Truman says:

                In the run-up, I used the house as part of what constitutes a mandate, in other words, if the public gives you all three houses, you truly have the mandate to work your agenda. I am using it here in the speculative sense, so if someone said “of course it was a landslide, he carried the house also” I could go with that.

                But that is kinda my point. Landslide and mandate are terms of art, much like “he got hosed in the divorce” “he dumped her” and on and on. The aren’t actual things that happened, but they give the feeling of description.

                Don’t worry, my wife hates it when I do this too.Report

              • The case for a “mandate” here isn’t as weak as the case for a “landslide”, though is still pretty weak (IMO) on account of the margins involved and revealed to be so by their difficulty with multicellular governing after having been electedReport

            • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

              By bound (a term I may be using incorrectly), I mean that there is a finite and defined number of votes available. It is zero-sum. So every EC vote that Trump got is one that Hillary couldn’t get. And vice versa. Then add in that they are bundled.

              Imagine a scenario wherein two candidates were effectively tied in the EC with only California pending. It’s 242 to 241. Candidate X wins California by 5 votes. He takes the EC 297 to 241, 55% to 45%; a 10% margin. Is that a landslide? I can’t think of any reasonable definition wherein that would be the case.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

                Got you. I still think of it as a landslide, as 20% even in a zero-sum election is pretty big. Because even with the zero-sum aspect, a big part of it was where the votes came from. I know not everyone agrees with me, but that isn’t too uncommon.Report

              • Murali in reply to Aaron David says:

                That might not be appropriate for the following reason. Consider the word believe.

                We commonly say that we believe X so long as we are highly but not perfectly confident that X. But exactly how confident we need to be in order to attribute to ourselves belief is dependent on the context. Sometimes it depends on the stakes. If I’m 90% confident that the bank is open tomorrow, I would be more willing to attribute to myself belief that the bank is open tomorrow if nothing really hung on me getting it right. If instead, there was an important bill I had to pay, I would only attribute belief to myself if I was much more certain about it. Sometimes, it is something else about the specific situation. Often when our confidence in a statement is 0.001% we say that we disbelieve the statement. But, whenever we disbelieve a statement, we believe its negation. But when we buy lottery tickets, it does not make sense to say that we believe we won’t win. The threshold for whether we count as believing that we will not win is very very high.

                Contextualism about the word landslide makes sense for similar reasons. When we say X won by a landslide, we imply that X won by an unusually large margin. In many elections 20% is an unusually large margin. Not so for the electoral college. Neither is it so for the Singaporean general election. Normally the PAP wins by about 64-68%. If they win only 60% of the national vote, even if it is a 20% margin, they have underperformed and so cannot be said to have won by a landslide.But if they win 70% then they have won by a landslide.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

                Would a basketball team that won a best-of-7 series 4-2 have won in a landslide? They had a 33% edge.

                What if they won 4-3? They had a 15% edge.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

                If they had been expected to lose, then yes, I would call it a landslide.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

                When did “landslide” become relative to expectations?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

                Wiki describes it thusly:

                “A landslide victory is an electoral victory in a political system, when one candidate or party receives an overwhelming supermajority of the votes or seats in the elected body, thus utterly eliminating the opponents. The winning party has reached more voters than usual, and a landslide victory is often seen in hindsight as a turning point in people’s views on political matters.

                Part of the reason for a landslide victory is sometimes a bandwagon effect, as a significant number of people may decide to vote for the party which is in the lead in the pre-election opinion polls, regardless of its politics.

                The term is borrowed from geology, where a landslide takes almost everything with it on its way.”

                I hate to be pedantic but it seems like now more than ever abusing language has real consequences. Trump’s victory — yes, he won! — does not fit that definition. But calling it such drastically misrepresents the reality of how widespread his support is.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

                There is no issue with being pedantic. It is the language of the internet.

                That said, in my eyes, Trump’s victory meets every one of the qualifications that you list from wiki. The only change that I can see is that we are currently looking at EC votes. That makes no difference to me, does not qualify the victory, because those are the votes we use to select the president.

                Is it something that can be debated? Sure. Does it cast doubt on his support in the manner that votes will be cast? No, not in my eyes. Because the popular vote is not how a president is selected. The US has used the EC to select presidents since 1787. It reflects the republican (small r) system that we have.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

                Trump won 304 electoral votes… 56.5%. Clinton won 227 or 42%. The margin narrows slightly if all delegates were faithful 306 to 232 or 56.8% to 43%.

                Is that an overwhelming supermajority, a vaguely defined term admittedly (common defitions range from 66% to 60% to 55% to “well more than half).

                Please define supermajority as you are using it here. Then, overwhelming.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

                I was under the impression that it was around 20%, but you are right is only by about 13%.

                Again, in my eyes, still a landslide. Was it a supermajority? Don’t know without a set definition, but I think it was. Was it overwhelming? Yes, in my eyes.

                Is it as big a landslide as what @mike-schilling points too? Don’t really care. And I am done with this conversation now.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

                All language is subjective. Cool.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

                Sorry, rough day at work and I was starting to take the office with me.

                But… the fact that you asked me to define specific terms means, by default, that they are subjective. There is no set definition for Supermajority as a number, nor for any other word we are using here. In a system with only 538 total votes, 13% is a supermajority to me. That is a landslide, to me. I take it that you don’t agree, which is more than fine. But yes, those terms are subjective.

                So, please accept my apologies and the fact we are going to have to agree to disagree.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

                No need to apologize. What ticked me was the defining and then redefining of the threshold, as if the goal was calling it a landslide and crafting a definition to fit.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Aaron David says:

                1980: Reagan 489
                1984: Reagan 525
                1988: Bush 426
                1992: Clinton 370
                1996: Clinton 379
                2008: Obama 365
                2012: Obama 332
                2016: Trump 304

                How is 2016 a landslide?Report

  3. fillyjonk says:

    A friend of mine regularly says he wishes we had a “none of the above” option on the ballot. I admit I agree though I’m not sure what would happen if “None” won in a landslide.

    I know I have groaned about “I wish they would go back and get us some better candidates,” especially as regards state politics these days.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to fillyjonk says:

      “I wish we had better candidates” would be a lot more convincing if Hillary Clinton’s critics could offer a more substantial criticism of Hillary Clinton than vague, inchoate feelings. It’s the same with the Democratic Party having nothing to offer besides being anti-Trump even though the Democratic Party is pro-immigrant, pro-women’s rights, continual development of the ACA, pro-free trade, etc. People see what they want to see and not what really exists.Report

      • Maribou in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq “especially as regards state politics these days.”Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Sentence #1 is answered in Sentence #2…

        …at least for some portion of people who either didn’t vote or voted for Trump.Report

      • InMD in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Some see vague, incohate feelings. I see being in politics so long and through enough major paradigm shifts to have alienated a good number of people both to her left and right on some issue or another. Maybe someone who is a really good retail politician could overcome that but thats never been her strength either.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

          The most legitimate criticism of Hillary Clinton was that her foreign policy inclinations were to hawkish. I think selling Trump as a dove was more than a little bit of stretch even before he got to demonstrate his hawkish side as President but there was something to that criticism. The rest always seemed insubstantial. People could never quite express or come up with examples on why Hillary Clinton was bad that didn’t originate in the fever swamps of the Far Right in some way. Even if the critics did not go anywhere near full fever swamp, the distrust of her seemed at least touched by it.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:

            she gave speeches to Goldman at market rate and is a woman.Report

            • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              Goldman is part of it. Stances on crime and trade that made good politics for Democrats in the 90s have become a lot more complicated. The Iraq war vote I think had its role. There are also a lot of perceptions of impropriety around the Clintons (most of which I think are unfair but they exist and have for years). I know the whole #metoo thing hadn’t started yet but the politics of sex are also in flux in ways that I think compromised her ability to rally the female vote like she’d hoped she could.

              I’m not saying every criticism of her is right or fair or that it somehow equates to Trump being a better candidate. But she came with baggage. Lots and lots and lots of it. I don’t think it was ever going to be hand-waived away.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

                I admit that Clinton came across as strict grandparent rather than fun grandparent to many young voters, say anybody bellow 33. Although like Saul, I think a lot of this is from subconsciously absorbing Republican attacks during the 1990s and later. African-Americans still preferred Clinton over Sanders despite her legacy on crime. Also, most of the twenty and early thirty something women I know were enthusiastic Clinton supporters.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to LeeEsq says:

                If there were R attacks, then that is something she has to deal with as a politician. Politics is a full-contact sport, played in the mud. If she can’t handle that, she needs to get out of the game.Report

              • scott the mediocre in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Also, most of the twenty and early thirty something women I know were enthusiastic Clinton supporters.

                Interesting. My older daughter (25) is a 2L at a redacted medium status law school in SoCal (so was early 1L during the last part of the campaign: was poli sci undergrad at one of the SoCal Cal State Univs for the early part of 2016). None of her friends to my knowledge were enthusiastic Clinton supporters, and that includes the 80% or so who were lifetime Democrats*. Several were enthusiastic Bernie supporters – daughter herself was and is an O’Malley fan who was meh on Clinton and conflicted about Bernie.

                *Not a one of the remaining 20%, most of whom were lifetime Republicans – one was even a staffer for Ed Royce, retiring R congressman – voted Trump (or at least admitted to it) the two highest profile ones were vociferous Never Trumpers who have been moving toward independents since).

                But most of my daughter’s friends are somewhat younger than your sample (oldest is around thirty), and come from a different demographic slice than you are probably pulling from. Probably more suburban for one thing.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Are there no others?

            “The Democratic Party is pro-immigrant, pro-women’s rights, continual development of the ACA, pro-free trade, etc.”

            Bracketing the “etc.” and even if we leave it in the preferred framing of Team Red, there are issues there at which people can taking opposing views, no?

            I guess I’m flummoxed by your reduxio ad suffragium.Report

          • scott the mediocre in reply to LeeEsq says:

            People could never quite express or come up with examples on why Hillary Clinton was bad that didn’t originate in the fever swamps of the Far Right in some way.

            Well, let me try (warning: long, verging on rant – skip to the TL;DR if you wish, but if so you are hereby enjoined against claiming that no one could “come up with examples”)

            FTR – my bona fides as a non fever swamp dweller:

            I did vote for HRC, reluctantly, in the 2016 general (I could not imagine anyone being as bad as Trump, and that included Ben Carson and Darrel Castle), and I’ve been fairly consistently Dem for national level offices (Prez, Sen, Congressbeing) since 1984ish (partly because the few times the Rs put up a tolerable candidate was never when the Ds had an atrocious candidate whom I could not stomach). I guess I have been affected by the fever swamps of the far right and just never known it (false consciousness, I suppose). I guess I should take back my contributions to various Democratic candidates – they total less than a thousand bucks, and they wouldn’t want money from a fever swamp listener like me.

            Here in my delusion I foolishly thought I was decidedly cool on Clinton as a candidate for non “originating in the fever swamp” reasons such as:

            1) As noted, she has never met a war she didn’t like. Stupid posturing like “we came, he died” didn’t look any better on her than it did on GWB. I know several people who are hard Dems who like her specifically for the hawkishness (and dislike her on other grounds): fine, but don’t tell me my objections to actually-existing hawkishness are because I have been colonized by the Far Right.

            2) I kept hearing (from her supporters, during the 2016 primaries) about what a great SoS she had been, but never got an answer about what specifically she had done as SoS that was so much better than if say Kerry had been SoS from 1/2009 on.

            2a) In particular, I cannot think of anything positive she contributed to the Libyan CF, although I suspect it would have gone down roughly the same with some other random Dem SoS. No, I don’t mean BENGHAZI!!! which is fever swamp adjacent – I mean the whole stupid break the country into pieces with zero feasible plan for the aftermath (it worked so effin well in Iraq and HRC the wise learned so well from her experience – I grant you the entire idiocy – kinetic military operations and all – ultimately rests on Obama’s shoulders, but again, tell me anything she did to make Libya less fished in the end. Seriously – I would love to believe that Libya wasn’t quite as much a guaranteed failure as I currently think it was.

            3) Minimal public sector executive experience (yes, agreed, she had more than Obama – that was a significant negative on him as far as I was concerned, but that was counterbalanced for me by his other plusses).

            4) I failed (as of 2008) to see anything to be impressed by in her Senate record compared to say oh let’s Barbara Boxer (another Jr Senator from a big and very blue state). Still don’t (n.b not that impressed by Boxer either, even though I reluctantly voted for her more than once, and never for her R opponent, so I considered “better than Boxer” to be a fairly low bar to clear).

            5) I’m generally not that impressed by her choices in operatives, cronies, fixers, and apparatchiks: people at her level, especially people who play the Clinton way, need to have such people, but again I think Obama, or all in all Bill Clinton, chose better. Sidney Blumenthal could not keep himself out of the sleaze even knowing that he was in fact being watched (you think Obama’s operatives weren’t being watched also?).

            6) I generally don’t think her Mark Penn-inspired microtargetting is good politics at the national level, at least not after 2001 or so. Yes, it worked for Bill, particularly post-1994, but she showed no signs obvious to me of having studied when and where it worked, and more importantly when and where it did not work. Not disqualifying as such, but a strike against her, and AFAIK not an argument that originates in the fever swamps of the far right.

            7) I dunno, somebody with her allegedly great capabilities, and who correctly believed the Right was gunning for her could probably have managed two carry two effin portable electronic devices, not so much because it was a crime, but because it was a blunder, and an utterly avoidable blunder.

            7a) After the fact (i.e. in 2017, via the various postmortems) I have learned what a technophobe she is (which turned out to be part of the problem, e.g. her needing Huma to generate hardcopies). Had I known at the time, I would have considered the technophobia a serious strike, for two reasons:

            7a1) Minimal computer literacy is practically tantamount to written literacy at this point. The sheer inefficiency of a very overtasked individual like a President – especially one who is not necessarily a good delegater – is a worrisome indicator. What am I bet that Tim Kaine is capable of printing his own emails when he needs to? (n.b. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bernie couldn’t or can’t either, and that is a negative for him too, although not quite as bad in his case on the hypothesis that President Sanders would be better at delegating).

            7a2) The lack of mental agility that inability or unwillingness to become minimally computer literate bespeaks is a terrible indicator – rigidity of thought process is a serious flaw in a President IMHO (see: GWB).

            thanks in advance for allowing the rant, Maribou: I certainly hope the snark stayed on the correct side of invective – I don’t believe I either speculated on or impugned LeeEsq’s motives for telling me that my thinking was touched by the swamp.

            TL:DR –
            Where is your (LeeEsq’s) positive argument for her?

            (versus better than Bernie which I can sometimes agree with, and better than Trump which I completely concur with other than some multi-move long game where Trump destroys enough of the GOP to make USAian politics better according your LeeEsq value system long term)

            All I hear is “she has the right enemies and she brings out the worst in them, therefore she must be doing something right?”

            Just to reiterate, I thought she was likely to be better than any plausible Republican, but overall worse than a randomly chosen national level centrist Democrat, and certainly not enough better to be worth overcoming all the extra resistance from the right:

            e.g. I would pick Kaine, Biden, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Hickenlooper, O’Malley, Booker, Mark Warner if he would only run, Jay Inslee, Dean or Feingold back in the day, Jerry Brown, Kate Brown, Mark Dayton, Steve Bullock, Adam Schiff, Chris Murphy, Jeanne Shaheen, Ron Wyden, Angus King, over HRC for any imaginable public office,

            partly, I freely admit, over my annoyance about people telling me that her status as a Republican punching bag is somehow a plus. I don’t find the fact that a given politician makes the other side especially irrational (beyond the inevitable level of tribal hostility) to be a particular plus, unless it’s because the said politician is able to usefully leverage that irrational hostility (beyond just for in-group solidarity purposes, which I acknowledge can be leveraged, but that’s harder than it looks).Report

            • Aaron David in reply to scott the mediocre says:


              • scott the mediocre in reply to Aaron David says:

                Thanks, Aaron (I think). I’m far less confident in my evaluation of HRC than I am in my knowledge of mechanisms of phosgene production, but, well, that rant has been waiting to be released for a while now. And “boosh” is as good a response as I could reasonably hope for, although not being a Frisky Dingo fan, I’m probably misinterpreting it.

                Re your preferred outcome in 2016 of Johnson, I dunno: as I said in a different thread, garnering Maribou’s agreement, I was pretty happy with the 2012 version of Johnson but rather unimpressed with the 2016 version. Bill Weld I would have been completely fine with: actually, I think the Northeastern Republican Govs in heavily Democratic states (currently Baker, Hogan, and Scott – I most decidedly do not include LePage who is as Trumpy as anybody) are some of the best politicians around, since the local political demographics force them to work across the aisle (again, I don’t really know what LePage’s problem is other than his suffering from acute, terminal, proleptic Trumpism, but I do appreciate that if Maine had implemented their IRV a little sooner his political career would have stopped in Waterville). Yay downeasters for latter, boo for electing LePage even in a threesome.Report

            • @scott-the-mediocre
              “thanks in advance for allowing the rant, Maribou: I certainly hope the snark stayed on the correct side of invective – I don’t believe I either speculated on or impugned LeeEsq’s motives for telling me that my thinking was touched by the swamp.”

              Oh my goodness, yes. This is a 100 percent fine-from-a-moderation-perspective comment, and before I even saw your aside to me, I was already going to comment as myself-not-from-a-moderation-perspective how much I enjoyed it. Please do not worry. (And if that was a bit of a subtle poke at me for not caring about the ‘touched by the swamp’ stuff, which I would probably deserve – well, figuring out the line between “personal attack” vs “generic feisty comment about a group of people” can be a bit challenging, particularly if I’m at work and multitasking 🙂 ).

              Keep up the good work!Report

              • scott the mediocre in reply to Maribou says:

                And if that was a bit of a subtle poke at me for not caring about the ‘touched by the swamp’ stuff, which I would probably deserve

                Certainly not – I was not poking at you in any way, even in my deepest false consciousness subconscious.

                If you are going to start attempting to police generalized denigrations of outgroups, you had best give up now (or just institute a “no politics” policy). Just keeping it moderately clean between commenters is going to be hard enough (and thanks for trying).Report

      • Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “I wish we had better candidates” became a lot more convincing after Clinton lost to Donald Fishin Trump.Report

        • scott the mediocre in reply to Kolohe says:

          HRC has tended to be a mediocre (hey, nothing wrong with that!) candidate in terms of actually campaigning for votes (as opposed to getting her route largely cleared of intraparty competition before any formal voting occurs, at which she has been reasonably effective). Her fondness for Mark Penn does not serve her well, I don’t think.

          Compare especially 2000 NY Senate where she did OK against Lazio but ran far behind Gore or what a regression would say a Generic Dem like Nita Lowey would have gotten – she certainly tried to overcome the carpetbagger label with all the upstate retail campaigning, and no one could IMHO fairly call her lazy. I haven’t seen enough data to run a 2006 regression, but I note that Schumer’s re-election in 2004, a rather better year for Republicans than 2006, had significantly better margin (71% vs. 64%).

          I actually think her best campaign in terms of vote total versus the total correlation of forces was probably 2008 – yeah, she lost, but she was up against a really gifted campaigner with a highly competent organization (and a more neutral DNC, I think, though how ultimately helpful DWS might have been in 2016 is arguable), whereas:

          1) In the 2016 primaries I’m not sure anyone could have threaded the insider/outsider needle once Sanders got in – O’Malley sort of tried and went nowhere. I can imagine maybe if Biden had gone in early (if Beau had been miraculously cured? But then Joe might have preferred to go all in on Beau’s gubernatorial campaign?) that might have preempted Sanders. I can’t see anybody else with both enough prog-populist cred to preempt Sanders and simultaneously enough establishment cred/organization to beat HRC for the nom.

          In the 2016 general I think she underperformed $Generic_National_Democrat (again, as a campaigner, very much including choice and management of campaign staff, yikes!) – in her defense nobody else really figured out how to run against Trump either, but a credible candidate for Pres would be able to adapt (and beating him in the general was a very different problem than beating him in the Rep primaries).Report

          • In 2004, I was under the impression that Kerry was an awful, awful candidate. I got into a lot of arguments over this sort of thing but I maintain that Gephardt would have won every single state that Kerry won *AND*, on top of that, would have picked up Ohio.

            Kerry was such a bad candidate that the Republicans won seats that they wouldn’t have had a non-awful candidate been running… and that resulted in 2006 being a bigger bloodbath than it would have been otherwise because the Republicans lost the seats that they won on a fluke a mere two years before.

            Obama? Great candidate. Coattails. He was so good that he picked up seats that *NEVER* would have gone for Democrats without him. 2008 was *MAGIC* for the democrats. (He would go on to lose many of those seats in the elections that followed… but, dang, he won them in the first place.)

            2018 will see a return of a number of seats that the Democrats shouldn’t have lost back to them… but 2020 will have to deal with whether or not the Dems can find a good campaigner.

            I’m not confident that they know how to tell a good one from a bad one.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

              It would have been nice if among the 580 million dollars she spent, there would have been someone on the payroll that could have discovered Stormy Daniel.

              Eta – people love to bag on Cohen, but keeping that secret for the bargain basement price of 130k is the deal of this century so far.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

                Good Lord, he’d have picked up New Hampshire too.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                Clinton defeats Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin with the one two punch of Access Hollywood and Stormy Daniels.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

                I guess I can see that happening.

                I can also see that exploding into the largest whataboutism fight we’ve yet seen.

                Interviewers surprising Bill Clinton and asking his opinion of the Stormy Daniels revelation… play it out in your head. “Mrs. Clinton. Do you think that Meliana should be upset with Donald?”

                Oh jeez. I can see nothing changing.

                Well, except New Hampshire.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                Per Shattered, Team Trump was on its heels after Access Hollywood. Team Clinton just need one more haymaker to put it away. (Instead, they got Guccifered)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

                I’m more than happy enough to entertain the hypothetical but we spent 4-5 months being 99% certain that Sam Wang was right. “If only it came out that Trump had an affair with an Adult Actress!” strikes me as being well within tolerance for 2016 (and would have provided ample opportunity for Clinton to shoot herself in the foot multiple times).Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                I was going to comment along these lines but thought it too oblique… but since you’ve opened that line of counter-factuals.

                If one of the goals was to suppress Trump support, I said at the time the democratic play should be on Trust… a lot of folks were not sold that Trump could be trusted to do many of the things he said he would do… so the l’affair Daniels needed to get the accent right, and I’m not sure the Clinton team would have.

                Based on how this has been reported now, I infer it would have been reported thus:

                Stormy Daniels, renowned Porn Star, winner of the 2005 AVN award for Best Screenplay and Supporting Actress in Camp Cuddly Pines Powertool Massacre, plus over a hundred other titles, confirmed having an affair with Donald Trump in 2006.

                Rather than:

                Tonight we are reporting that in 2006, less than 18 months after marrying his third wife, Melania, and only 2 months after the birth of their only child, Donald Trump elected to sleep with another woman. Famously not known for his fidelity during his previous marriages; many are nonetheless shocked at how soon and under what circumstances he betrayed his wife… etc. etc.

                Admittedly, HRC would be in a tighter position than most to walk the line that needed walking, but Trust and Abandonment could have been her themes… not Sexual Assault (access Hollywood), Hypocrisy (Affair), and Salacious (Porn Star) finger pointing.

                Trust and Abandonment and an “I feel your pain, Melania” moment might have moved 80,000 needles.

                But messaging and being attuned to the electorate weren’t “I’m with her” strong points.Report

              • scott the mediocre in reply to Kolohe says:

                And Cohen’s own money too 🙂

                Yeah, oppo seems pretty hit and miss these days. I dunno how much McConnell’s donors spent in the two rounds of Alabama GOP primaries, but they certainly seem to have missed a lot Moore than they found.Report

            • scott the mediocre in reply to Jaybird says:

              Jaybird, I agree that Kerry was a bad candidate. I’m not so sure that Gephardt would have won NH which was pretty elastic at the time (meaning voters who were persuadable in Presidential contests versus just turn out the vote contests) and not known for being especially pro-union at least in statewide Dem politics in that decade. And if you look at the map you will see that trading OH for NH brings the Dems tantalizing close but still losing 268 (or 267) -270 (Kerry won NH by 1.3% and lost OH by 2.1%). But if Gephardt also flipped Iowa (pretty likely conditional on enough swing to win OH) then yes, the Dems win in a squeaker (NM was also closer than OH, but not particularly hospitable Gephardt territory).

              Curious what you thought then and think now of Dean? I think he would have made the best President of the Dems if he somehow got elected, but I don’t know that he could have beaten W, even assuming he could get all the Dem base lined up behind him. He’d have to flip 18 EVs, which just doesn’t seem likely – IA, NM, and NV just get him 17 and 269-269 which get us Four More Years of W via the HoR.

              I agree that neither party seems especially good at choosing a good candidate for Prez unless presented with Obama-grade “magic” (the UK does not seem to be doing so well either). I don’t think the Republicans had a serious candidate who could have beaten Obama either time. I do think Obama might have been beatable with Moar Magic in 2012, but none of the actual candidates had Moar Magic. Had Trump run in 2012 I think he would have lost to Romney in the primaries and to Obama in the general: either way the body politic might have developed a few more antibodies to Trump and Trumpism – kind of like cowpox and smallpox – which would have been a Good Thing.

              The 2020 Dem primaries are going to be fascinating to watch (assuming Trump I is still on his throne, that is). I think it’s premature to guess at what the correlation of forces is going to be – as you said, the 2018 results may give some clues (e.g. the “turn out the base” versus “appeal to the middle” intraparty battles, cf Georgia). But I don’t see any sufficient reason to hope that the Dem primary electorate will be steerable (by the hypothetically wiser and knowledgeable apparatchiks) toward “maximum expected value out of the 2020 elections”.Report

              • I kinda liked Dean. What’shisname… Mark Steyn? Anyway, he called Dean a sane and boring governor who was pretending to be crazy to cater to the college crowd (as opposed to Wes Clark who was batshit insane but pretending to be normal).

                When I did some of my own research, I saw Dean as Yet Another Northeastern Democrat. Sort of like Dukakis but more likable.

                I tell you what, though, his losing the primary was the best damn thing that could have happened to the Democratic Party if you are willing to ignore the White House. That 50-State Thing? That contributed greatly to the massive numbers that they got in 2006 and 2008.


              • Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

                At this point, I definitely consider Obama to be one of the worst thing that happened to the D’s.* He wasn’t very good at politics, though he was a wonderful campaigner. As you put it once, he was lightning in a bottle. But I don’t think the D’s really knew what to do with that. Especially in a year where they had everything sewed up already. So they thought the world had changed when it really hadn’t. So we ended up with a kind of cult of personality around him, when he was, like all men, failable.

                *not his actual career as a president, that is another topic.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Obama really didn’t seem enjoy actual politics very much. He hated getting down in the messaging trenches and doing the retail politics stuff. So he ceded the messaging issue to the GOP and assumed that the substance of his policies, his early bipartisan gestures and moderation would get out to the masses anyhow while he waxed professorial; a pretty bad assumption in hindsight.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to North says:

                I agree in principle… which leads one to wonder whether everyone wouldn’t have been better served by HRC in 2008 and a much more experienced BHO in 2016 (or in 2012 after HRC was impeached he wrote cheekily)Report

              • North in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Yeah that counterfactual writes itself. HRC sallies forth to do what she always loved best- brawling in the trenches with the GOP. Then Obama does his thing in 2016 as the Clintons ride off. Only way it would have happened is time travel though *sigh* God(ess?) damn Mark Penn to hell.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                That is exactly what I mean by not good at politics. But I don’t know that the lightning in a bottle wouldn’t spill before the next go round.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Obama would have done spectacularly well as Veep. His whole above it all, bipartisan, professorial manner would have been perfectly suited to the office. The GOP would have pointed at him while in a knock out brawl with HRC and said “Why didn’t you leftists listen to Obama and be nice??” Meanwhile Obama would have notched both the first African American in both Veep and President slots. The left would have eaten it up with a spoon.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think he was all that bipartisan at any point, as witnessed by his ravenously idiotic “Elections have consequences” speachifying a couple days after he was sworn in. But could be you’re right.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Oh Obama was bipartisan as hell, but in a horribly ineffective way. Obama would look at a situation, look at what the right had previously professed to want and then preemptively gave it to them right off the bat: A significant portion of his stimulus bill was a flipping tax cut (massively ineffective in a recession let along the Great Recession); his starting point for health care reform was the GOP’s previous bargaining position- the Heritage Plan; he actually let himself be held hostage and traded spending caps for a debt limit increase!
                The problem was Obama gave those away for free and he disdained political drudgery and messaging so the right pocketed his offerings and then voted in lockstep against him anyway while simultaneously claiming he was some rabid partisan socialist closet Islamist who offered them nothing.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                But it quickly became apparent that this was little more than lip service. Republicans discovered that most of the stimulus bill had already been written behind closed doors by Nancy Pelosi and David Obey, then chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Obama failed to step in, and almost nothing Republicans suggested to the president was seriously considered by Democrats, let alone incorporated into the legislation.

                Republicans felt used by the president, and disrespected by their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Not a single GOP House lawmaker voted in favor of the stimulus. Whatever political goodwill that existed in the aftermath of the 2008 election was gone less than a week after Obama’s inauguration. The well was poisoned then and there.

                The president followed up his stimulus package victory by moving full steam ahead on a gargantuan health care bill that was eventually passed a year later—again strictly along party lines—with the help of procedural gimmicks and backroom deals.

                It isn’t just me. When he said those words a couple days after he was elected, following it up with all that is talked about above, lip service is about all that can be said for his “bipartisanship”. It was what he campaigned on, it was what he was elected for, but it wasn’t in anything he actually did.

                Maybe they didn’t deserve more than lip service, but the voters quickly took away Obamas toys when this became apparent.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

                Did the stimulus bill contain tax cuts of the type the GOP professed to wanting?Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

                It contained tax cuts, around 1/3 of the stimulus, but they weren’t (if I remember correctly) in the direction the right thought would work best*. Couple that with creating it behind closed doors and an admin that toted itself on bipartisanship looked anything but.

                *I have no idea if they would have been better or worse, but as there was no discussion of those cuts, I think it would be safe to say no one does.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Yes, that is a great example of the spin. Obama gave them what he thought they’d want and what he could tolerate offering preemptivly and once they didnt have to bargain for it the right just pocketted it and pretended it never happened.

                I mean knowing as we do now that the GOP was planning on opposing everything he proposed regardless, it is hard to say for surr the outcome would have been different but the aloof above politics impulse served Obama very poorly.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    The problem here is that nobody contains a lot of different reason. Some people are just turned off by the choices. Others can’t vote because they lost their franchise. Others don’t because we let elections be controlled on a local/state level and this results in some or a lot of areas making some people (minorities and/or the young mainly) jump through flaming rings to vote.Report

  5. Kazzy says:

    How does Nobody’s performance in 2016 compare to past years? It’s hard to draw any real conclusions from a single data point.

    Also, how are “eligible voters” defined? Is there a way to account for previously eligible voters deemed inelgible by “voter fraud” laws?Report

    • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

      @kazzy Nobody has been a very popular candidate for the last several decades at least. Though I find that more discomforting, not less.

      (wikipedia has a list of the percentages for the last couple centuries)Report

      • Its a good point @maribou makes. It applies in polls like “generic ballot” ones that are frequently used currently for the primary, such as X candidate is beaten handily by generic Y party candidate. Of course they poll better because there is no negative. Unknown always polls better than known. It’s why celebrities poll very well, but if they actually run they come down very quickly once they have to actually take positions on things. So like “Nobody” in the post, or “Generic”, they will always have the advantage of not actually having anything bad to say about them, since they don’t exist.Report

    • Andrew Donaldson in reply to Kazzy says:

      The designer of the graphic, Philip Kearney, used the US Census Bureau data for eligible voters and Tom McGovern for the county data. McGovern is very respected and has been used by everyone from The Guardian to Townhall so he is hardly partisan. Alaska he used different data, which for various reasons has to use more localized data. You can find the full rundown of his methodology at the link in the post.
      You would have to be more specific about which “voter fraud” laws you feel deemed some inelible.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        Maybe I’m dense but does “eligible” mean “registered”? Or just people who meet the criteria for eligibility (age, residency, nothing disqualifying, etc.)?Report

        • Andrew Donaldson in reply to Kazzy says:

          No Worries. The Census definition is voting age for eligible. They have all the data broken down in to demos, including age, race, and a dozen other things like residency and comparing native and naturalized voters, etc. FWIW, the total number of people voting was similar to 2012, so other than adjusting for population change the assumption would be the “Nobodies” we are discussing is probably proportionally similar as well.

          You can find all the cross tabs and tables here Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      This is a very good question.

      So I googled voter turnout and ended up at the wikipedia.

      The main thing that I’m noticing is that freakin’ every election in the last 100 years has been somewhere between the high 40’s (lowest is 1924’s 48.9%) and the low 60’s (highest is 1960’s 62.8%) which means that “Nobody” has scored between 37.2% and 51.1% in the last 25 elections. I almost want to say that that means that Nobody has won all of those elections, but I look at stuff like 1952, 1964, and 1984 and wonder if those elections had Nobody come in second.

      But, just looking at the numbers at a glance, Nobody won more than half of those. (And three of them had Nobody win with a majority.)Report

      • North in reply to Jaybird says:

        Times have been too good, I suspect, to jack the turnout up. Not voting strikes me as an indication that the status quos is not bad enpugh for the voter in question to bother voting.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to North says:

          But 1952! 1960!

          (And there was a 5-point drop between 1968 and 1972… and those years were positively crazy.)Report

          • North in reply to Jaybird says:

            1952? 1960? What was going on that was discomforting the masses that much? Really? Like endangering their ability to go about their daily routine more or less at ease. What since WWII has really hammered everyone?Report

  6. scott the mediocre says:

    I wonder what Carbon County UT (fairly red county SE of Salt Lake) had against HRC to swing so much further than 2012 when Favorite Son Romney was the GOP nom?

    Current or former Deseret residents (Will T.), any guesses?Report

    • Rethreaded comment…

      Watching from Colorado… (1) Rural Utah county, less than 8K total votes in either year. The difference was just under 500 votes. (2) My own belief, often stated here, is that Dem presidential candidates from the NE urban corridor do not excite the Dem base outside of that corridor*. (3) Leading up to the election, anticipation of Obama’s designation of the Bears Ears national monument was front and center. The Sagebrush Rebellion is alive and well in a variety of rural areas in the West, despite having largely died in the population-dominant suburbs.

      A couple hundred Dems stayed home because NE urban corridor Dem; a couple hundred Republicans came out because evil Dem plots to close off public lands; 500 vote total swing.

      * I’m still offering my standard bet for the price of a good local micro-brew. It basically says that the Democratic wave in November this year will turn out to be the NE urban corridor and the West (swinging Dem for its own reasons). The Republicans won’t lose, or will lose marginally, in the Midwest and South.Report

      • bayesian in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Thanks, Michael. Yeah, I know Carbon County has only 20kish residents, but I forgot about Bears Ears. Makes sense, and an issue with lots of local valence. Most of the other rural UT counties swung mildly blue on two-party vote 2012 to 2016 – I was looking for what was unique in Carbon.

        NE urban corridor is only a negative for marginal Dem voters in the non-coastal West, I infer, or is it that Trump’s MAGA-ness immunized him from being perceived as the lifetime New Yorker that he is?

        Speaking of microbrew, I would love to see Hickenlooper run 🙂 – I’m sure you can tell me much better than most about his failings, but who would you suggest as a better non coastal elites candidate among the plausibles? Nobody else has enough regional base, I fear (e.g. not Bullock). Actually, I think Hickenlooper would probably be a decent candidate from what I know of him, and his having been burned on the gun issue might lead to some caution on the Dems part, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

        I fear you will turn out to be right about 2018 – and if so (e.g. if the like of Heller and Coffman survive, and Sinema fails) it will be a bad sign for 2020 for national level dem politics.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain says:

        I suspect there will be some Democratic pick ups in the upper Midwest or stays. They already won special elections in Wisconsin at least. This also happened:

        Also I don’t get the NE hate just because it is the Northeast.Report

        • Speaking personally, I would like to be wrong and see some pickups in the Midwest and South. I remain convinced that the Republican Party as represented in DC has lost its collective mind, and will take gains wherever. But I’m not betting that way.

          I don’t particularly “get it” either, but simply state it as an observation. And would predict, here two-and-a-half years before the 2020 elections, that it would be a handicap that any of Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, or Elizabeth Warren would have to deal with, particularly in the Midwest and the South.

          I could speculate on the disinterest, but that’s all it would be.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

        How long must one live in NE corridor to become a coastal elite?Report

        • J_A in reply to Kazzy says:

          I was reading in a different blog how Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and particularly Austin!!! are not part of Texas but are just “coastal elites”. I guess you become a coastal elite once the GDP per capital of your particular census region goes above a certain threshold. I’m sure Minneapolis and Denver qualify as “coastal” too.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

          I lived in New Jersey for ten years and never regarded myself as a coastal elite. Elite, yes, but I worked at Bell Labs and as many people have said, “Most of the engineers at the Labs have an ego problem, and there are no cases where it’s too small.” I never felt like I really belonged there. When we moved to Denver, it was very much like a return to normal.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:


            What I’m getting at is why do we consider Hillary a “NE Corridor Democrat”?

            22 years in Chicago (Born and raised)
            10 in New England (College and law school)
            17 in Arkansas
            12 in DC (First Lady and, later, SoS)
            8 in NY (Senator)

            I’ll confess to not knowing where she’s been living the last few years but let’s assume it’s NY so that adds 4 more years to that total.

            So that means we’ve got 22 years in the actual North East, 34 in what Amtrak dubs the North East Corridor, 22 in Chicago, and 17 in Arkansas.

            So maybe it makes sense to call her a NE Corridor Democrat but, also, maybe not?Report

            • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

              I admit to peculiar standards on the subject. (Not just this subject; I’m out on the lunatic fringe on a variety of things, I suppose.) By the time one has reached my age, I feel it’s fair to ask, “Where have you lived for the last 20 years? That’s where you’re from, where you’re aware of things day-to-day.” Hillary has lived exclusively in the NE urban corridor since early 1993 — 25 years.

              I count members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices as living at the south end of the NE urban corridor. They just happen to visit/vacation back in their home district or state from time to time. If they’ve been in Congress continuously for >20 years, I count them as a NE urban corridor person. As I’ve noted before, it makes me nervous that all but one of the Justices on the Supreme Court are NE urban corridor people (and prior to Gorsuch, all of them, if I’m counting correctly).Report

  7. The only thing I think I disagree with from the OP is the statement that “[n]obody can win a Presidential Election.” I think if there are rules for determining victors and someone meets those rules, then that person has “won.” I know you probably meant something different, like “nobody can win a Presidential Election to a moral certainty,” or some such–if so, I agree with the sentiment.

    I know I’ve mentioned this before, but one thing that worries me by “but Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes” is that that statement implicitly supports the notion that if Trump had won the most votes, he’d somehow be okay. I know that’s not what people mean when they point out Clinton’s popular vote total–they mean that the support for Trump isn’t as decisive or as far-reaching as some of his supporters might think.

    To be clear, the main reason I voted for Clinton in 2016 was to repudiate Trump. At the time, I thought I’d be adding to her victory total, on the hopes that a higher number would serve as a better repudiation. To me, that’s similar reasoning to the reasoning I’m criticizing in my prior paragraph.Report

    • Yes, using “Nobody” was just a device, more than literal term, to raise the point that the graphic raised. You are certainly not alone in voting for Clinton to repudiate Trump. The reserve is definitely true that Trump received a lot of “anti-Hillary” votes separate from himself. One reason I think Trump supporters are so wrong about him having a “Mandate” is they assume every vote for Trump was an enthusiastic one. There was a substantial group that either out of dislike for HRC, or just a protest vote, or as many have said they just wanted send a “F the system” message voted for Trump.

      I remember being in line for that election and the people where debating amongst themselves, still unsure who to vote for even waiting to do so. Couples arguing back and forth, and so on. I’d never seen that at a polling place before. People truly agonized over it, and I include myself in that.Report