(almost) post election comments on nov 5, 2020

Around 10pm on Tuesday night, a number of friends on Facebook noted that if Biden were to win Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska’s 2nd district, he’d reach 270 electoral votes. Since then, I stopped thinking about who would win and more about take home points.

First, the national polls did as good as usual. In the Real Clear Politics average of polls with four candidates, Biden had 50.6%, Trump 43% and 3rd parties had 2.6%. The popular vote as of late Thursday? Biden has 50.47%, Trump 47.8%, Jorgenson had 1.15% and Hawkins had .23%. The message here is simple: undecideds moved to Trump, or finally admitted to voting for Trump, and some 3rd party people moved to Trump or admitted that they weren’t really going 3rd party. I’ll also note that this result – Biden exceeding 50% – is consistent for a challenger running during a recession.

Second, the state level polls were mixed. Some states were simply way off while others did well. The RCP poll average for Ohio was about 6% off – way beyond the margin of error. Similarly, Wisconsin was supposed to have a Biden win of +6% . The polls in Michigan and Pennsylvania were actually close to the final, or nearly final, results. If you know polling, this is expected. State polling is ususally less accurate than national polling. I haven’t seen any way so far to fix the problems that state level pollsters tend to have.

It is also worth noting people’s emotions. For me, this was not an emotional roller coaster. Rather, it was like watching a normal election in very, very slow motion. If you understand that all those mail in ballots tilt Democrats, then you’d guess that Biden had the stronger position. Nothing shocking given the recession and pandemic, but just really, really slow.

Third, the real big surprise is that Democrats lost ground in the House and didn’t get much traction in the Senate. This may seem puzzling from one point of view – presidential winners (sometimes) have coat tails. But perhaps it is less surprising from the view that the election might have been a referendum on Trump and people were happy with the status quo. Another possibility is that the emergence of a strong progressivism a la Sanders simply has limited mileage in competitive districts. In other words, people may be happy to dump Trump but pulling the trigger for Sanders and AOC might be one step too far.

Finally, I’ll note that some policy issues I favor did well. Decriminalization of narcotics made headway and that it is something civil libertarians, abolitionists, and progressives should see as a big gain. Also, as a sign of improving toleration, a number of LGBT candidates did well and won their races. If you have additional insights, put it in the comments!

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Written by fabiorojas

November 6, 2020 at 1:04 am

Posted in uncategorized

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