Category Archives: Democrats

Real Constitutionalists and Grumpy Spouses

Another fine day of canvassing for my local candidates.

One conversation:

“Hi, I’m Clif. I’m with the Democrats.” (That’s me speaking.)

“Democrats? Oh, no. I’m a constitutionalist. I believe in the Constitution.”

“Oh, great! Same here!”

“No, I’m a real constitutionalist.”

“Yeah? Me too.”

And we go back and forth like that for about 45 minutes.

Kidding! She just said, “Uh huh. Right. Bye.” and closed the door.



My Beloved Legislative District “LD17”


Another convo:

“Hi, I’m Clif. I’m with the Democrats.”

Roughly 50-year-old male answers the door:
“The Democrats?”

He literally thumbs his nose at me. Which I thought was pretty funny.

Thing is, I was looking for a female voter at that house. I can’t tell you how many times I get a grumpy spouse who doesn’t like Democrats or doesn’t like being bothered, but then I ask for their spouse and find their spouse extremely receptive.

I remember one of my first times canvassing this happened. The spouse answered and was like, “We don’t want any.”

His partner overhears and says, “Who is it?”

“The Democrats.”

“Get out of here!” she tells the spouse, literally pushing him out of the doorway. Then she signed whatever petitions I had and complained about ol’ President Pussygrab.


Another convo:

“Hi, I’m Clif. I’m with the Democrats. I’m out collecting signatures for two candidates who are running for the state Senate and House in our district.”

“The Democrats? Oh my god. Where do I sign?”

“Haha! Yeah, I talk to people all the time who are so happy to find that there are others of us out there.”

“Yeah, my friend said to me the other day, ‘You ever feel like the white speck in the potting soil?’ I was like, ‘Yeah!'”

I tell her that there are more white specks than she probably realizes. (Not my analogy, folks!) Actually, most people I speak to don’t realize that the state is almost equally split between people who lean Republican and people who lean Democratic.

Of course, that varies from district to district. I’m kinda lucky in that I’m in a purple district with great candidates who have a real shot at winning.

Sagan, 22, “Peddling Without a License”

The fall of 1956 temporarily separated Lynn and Carl. Sagan began work at the University of Chicago’s astronomy school in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. This is the home of the Yerkes Observatory. Completed in 1897, the forty-inch Yerkes refractor was housed in a brick-and-terra-cotta domed building. It was by then a storied relic.

Williams Bay had a population of barely 1,000. For city-bred Sagan, it presented a culture shock. For the first time in his life, Sagan encountered anti-Semitism. He also ran into trouble with the law. He attempted to raise funds for the Democratic Party, asking householders for a dollar each. As Sagan told it,

I spent all morning going door to door. And I got the most amazing responses: “The what party?” or “Shh! the master will hear!” or “Wait right here, young fellow, and I’ll get my shotgun.” Finally I was arrested by the sheriff, who had had innumerable complaints, on the grounds of peddling without a license. They figured I was peddling receipts at a dollar each. And I was remanded to the custody of the observatory director, who I don’t think understood anything about it, but just said to me, “Be a good boy.”

—From the bio Carl Sagan, 1999, by William Poundstone

“Everything’s gay, gay, gay now.”

More fun this evening chatting with Chandler voters.

The first person I talk to comes out guns blazing. I don’t even knock on his door. He just pops out with a “Hey there!”

“Hey, I’m Clif. I’m with the Democrats. I’m collecting signatures for some local candidates.”

“I used to be a Democrat,” he says, “back when they were conservative. Now they’re for the homosexuals and abortion, and they’re against God.”

I say, “Well, you know, I’m not a big fan of abortion, but I think the Democrats have it right. Number one, strangely enough, making more restrictive abortion laws doesn’t actually reduce the rate of abortion.* It’s like Barry Goldwater said: ‘It’s always been around, and it always will be.’* Things we know that help reduce the rate of abortion, though, like increased access to birth control and sex ed are things Democrats are generally for.”*

“Well, that’s true,” he says, “and that’s why I’m not strictly for one side or the other. But, I don’t know why everything has to be gay, gay, gay now. You can’t turn on the TV these days without homosexuals in everything. You know, I believe in the Bible, and the Bible makes it totally clear that homosexuality is wrong. Take Sodom and Gomorrah: God sends angels down to Lot, and the wicked men of the city try to have sex with them. Lot offers them his daughters — now that part’s terrible — but the men want the angels.”

I say, “Yeah, but I would point out that there are different ways to interpret these things. There are people out there who believe — I’m sure — just as strongly in God and the Bible who don’t think homosexuality is bad. In that verse you mentioned, for instance, they might say that God’s problem with the wicked men was not that they were homosexuals but that they wanted to rape strangers. Maybe God is just against people who want to rape other people.”*

He says, “Yeah, there are a lot of people out there who want to distort the truth. They try to call people like me an extremist just because I’ve been married to my wife for 52 years.”

I say, “Well, I wouldn’t call you that. I would just say that I have gay friends myself who I care for a lot. They’re people who I think suffered because they grew up around people who told them that they were bad. They couldn’t change this ‘bad’ thing about themselves, so it made them deeply unhappy. I think that’s terrible.”

He then tells me a bizarre story about a handsome nephew who he says was turned gay by his mom and sisters who would dress him up like a girl, in dresses and makeup. I let that one go. I liked that the guy called his nephew “a real head-turner,” though.

This was like a 20-minute conversation that I won’t recount all of here. It turns out that the guy doesn’t like Jeff Flake because Flake’s nephew apparently … neglected some dogs? The guy doesn’t like McCain because McCain is responsible for the shoddy condition of the VA apparently.

He talks about how you can’t have the Bible in schools anymore, but you can have the “yin yang.” I kinda regret not finding out what the “yin yang” is ….

Trump, though. There’s somethin’ about that Trump guy. He says, “Trump’s a guy who can’t be bought ’cause he’s already a billionaire.”

As I almost always do when I hear Trump’s name, I begin to vomit uncontrollably. No, I’m kidding. I just vomit in my mind. The mind vomit helps to cloud the mental image of Trump.

This ex-Democrat then says, “And the Mueller investigation — the Democrats are just dragging it out. It’s just a waste of taxpayer money.”

I start to say, “Well, the Republicans spent a lot of taxpayer money to investigate Hillary….”

He jumps in: “Well, it’s been good talking to you.”

Then, he kinda cocks an eye and says, “Good night and … God bless.”

“Thanks for talking to me!” I say. “Have a good one!”

One convert at a time.

2014 State Per Capita CO2 Emissions vs Party Lean

Do people in red-leaning or blue-leaning states have a bigger carbon footprint?

Just looking at data from the Energy Information Administration from 2014, it looks like red states do produce more CO2 per capita:

 

I wanted to better quantify this, though, so I ran the data through a Pearson correlation calculator.* Here’s the dataset in case you’d like to check my work:

And, here are the results:

As you can see, mathematically, as the proportion of a state that was Republican or leaned Republican in 2014 went up, so did the state’s per capita CO2 emissions. The value of R is 0.549, a moderate positive correlation. R2: 0.3014.


For the sake of thoroughness, I performed the same calculation for the Democrats. Here’s that dataset:

Here’s the resultant graph:

The value of R is -0.5593, a moderate negative correlation. R2: 0.3128.

2016 State Per Capita GDP vs Democratic Lean

How well do states perform economically that have populations leaning Democrat or Republican? To try to answer this question, I took data from Gallup for 2016* to determine political leaning and compared it to data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis for state per capita GPD* using a Pearson correlation calculation.*


State Per Capita GDP vs Percent of States Identifying as Democrat or Lean Democrat

From the resulting graph, one might expect a slight positive correlation, and one would be right. The value of R is 0.462. Although technically a positive correlation, the relationship between the variables is weak. The value of R2, the coefficient of determination, is 0.2134.

* * *

For the sake of thoroughness, we can perform the same test for percentage of states that lean Republican:


State Per Capita GDP vs Percent of States Identifying as Rep or Lean Rep

From the resulting graph, one might expect a slight negative correlation, and this is what we find. The value of R is -0.4692. Although technically a negative correlation, the relationship between the variables is weak. The value of R2, the coefficient of determination, is 0.2201.

* * *

What, if anything does this prove? Primarily, it doesn’t appear that either Republicans or Democrats can strongly boast of improving the economy if that metric is based on per capita income. However, if one side did want to make the claim to being better for the economy, the analysis appears to support the Democrats. These results are similar to those I found in another Pearson correlation I performed using Gallup data in comparison to unemployment figures.

Using Voter Registration to Predict Votes for President

Updated March 17th, 2017

In mid-2014, Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy helpfully published a listing of all then-available data on state voter registration:


I was curious to what degree this info could be used to retroactively predict the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.

If you quickly glance at their list, you might wonder where Alabama is. Well, Alabama doesn’t require party registration (as the chart title suggests). The same is true of Mississippi and of Georgia. Due to these omissions, you might think that this undertaking already doesn’t make much sense. There are still 31 states listed, though, so it could still be an interesting exercise.

So, how do we go about figuring out prediction rate? My solution was to first figure out the differences between percentages of registered Republicans and Democrats in each state. For example, the difference here in Arizona is 29.5% Democrat vs 34.8% Republican for a roughly 5 percentage point Republican advantage. Ultimately, Trump won the state by 3.6 percentage points. So, not too bad for Arizona.

I then performed that calculation for all 31 states that require voter registration compared to the Clinton/Trump outcome by state. The results are here:

The states where registration is most predictive:
NJ — 1.0 percentage point difference (ppd)
AZ — 1.6 ppd
AK — 1.7 ppd
ME — 1.9 ppd

And where it’s least predictive:
OK — 38.0 ppd
LA — 39.4 ppd
KY — 45.1 ppd
WV — 63.7 ppd

Some of these numbers are obviously incredibly high. Why? Well, look at Democratic registration in some of these states that are obviously red states:

State — Dem — GOP
OK — 44.7% — 43.2%
LA — 47.4% — 27.8%
KY — 53.9% — 38.5%
WV — 50.3% — 28.8%

I’m tempted to think that this has something to do with the Dixiecrats.

But if we look at states Dixiecrat chief Strom Thurmond won in 1948, only Louisiana tracks with that hypothesis:
State — Percentage of Vote Won
MS — 87.2%
AL — 79.8%
SC — 72%
LA — 49.1%.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Louisiana is the only state of those four that requires party registration.

On the other hand, Thurmond hugely lost those other states with unexpectedly high Democratic registration, getting…
under 1% of the vote in Oklahoma (Truman won the state with 63%),
under 1% in West Virginia (Truman won the state with 57%), and
1.3% in Kentucky (Truman also won with 57%).

Putting aside for now an explanation for why some of these states have unexpectedly high Democratic registration, what are we left with?

Well, even with the outliers, this method is 71% predictive with a mean state predictive score of 12.8. Not bad but not great. And if we remove those four biggest outliers, we get a more respectable 81.5% predictiveness with a mean state predictive score of 7.8. A little better but of questionable usefulness.

Regardless of that dubious utility, I maintain that the exercise was interesting in itself. Perhaps residents of some of these outlier states will stumble across this info and throw in their two cents for an explanation. Is it that they all have a lot of old timers who never bothered to change registration because cross-party voting isn’t a problem in those states? Is there some other reason?

Keep in mind too that California’s result was 15 percentage points different from expectation based on voter registration. How come? I don’t know. Feel free to chime in if you think you know.

Arizona Voter Registration 1924-2016

Updated February 20th, 2017

Overview:

  • Democratic registration has fallen from 40% in 1998 to 30% in 2016
  • Republican registration has fallen from 45% in 1998 to 35% in 2016
  • Independent registration has risen from 14% in 1998 to 34% in 2016
  • Greens have ranged between .13% and .20%
  • Libertarians have ranged between .58% and .87%

     

    View in Google Docs.


    From AZCentral.com:

    Independents: Cans and can’ts

    • Can vote in partisan primaries but must select either a Democratic or Republican ballot and stick with it.
    • Can’t jump between parties. Even if on the permanent early-voting list, must let elections officials know each election cycle which ballot they want.
    • Can’t vote in the Presidential Preference Election.

Liberal Cannibalization Update

First, let’s get this out of the way: Congress has a low approval rating. Why? The main reason is partisan gridlock.

So what would happen, as a congressperson, if you voted in such a way that you might be perceived as less partisan? It might go something like this:

The Intercept: “Fourteen senate Democrats joined all but one Senate Republican in confirming Rep. Mike Pompeo as the new CIA director on Monday evening, failing a crucial first test of whether Democrats would present a united front to defend human rights and civil liberties in the Trump era.”

Common Dreams: “With Help from Dems, Torture Supporter Pompeo Confirmed for CIA Chief”

A bit of reality (not mentioned in either of the above articles) from Vice:

Democrats do not have many tools at their disposal other than delays. Even if Democrats embraced a strategy of unified resistance, the 52 Republicans don’t need any of the 48 Democratic votes to confirm all of Trump’s nominees. In 2013, Democrats changed the rules requiring a 60-vote majority for such confirmations to only needing a simple majority.

The article goes on to say how much many liberal activists love Kirsten Gillibrand for not bending to the will of Trump. Of course liberals should vote for her in 2020 if she’s the candidate. If left-leaning people want to take back the government, though, they need to vote for the most liberal candidate who can get elected, even if that’s someone they don’t agree with 100% (which, face it, isn’t possible). Moreover, they should focus their criticisms on that person’s opponent rather than on the candidate (at least until that candidate is elected).

From Elizabeth Warren on why she voted to confirm Ben Carson: 

Can we count on Dr. Carson to keep [his] promises? I don’t know. People are right to be skeptical; I am. But a man who makes written promises gives us a toehold on accountability. If President Trump goes to his second choice, I don’t think we will get another HUD nominee who will even make these promises – much less follow through on them.

From Vox:

There’s also the strong institutional pull for Democrats to follow historical precedent and let the president choose his Cabinet nominees. In its history, the Senate has only voted down nine presidential Cabinet nominees, according to Josh Huder, a congressional scholar at Georgetown. Almost all of President Obama’s picks sailed through in 2009 without much resistance. And that was at a time when Republicans in the minority could still filibuster them — meaning they could have blocked them, but didn’t.

It may be helpful to revisit a bit more of the Intercept/Common Dreams thinking that helped elect Trump. Here’s Jill Stein on October 12th last year:

It is now Hillary Clinton that wants to start an air war with Russia over Syria by calling for a no fly zone. We have 2000 nuclear missiles on hairtrigger alert. They are saying we are closer to a nuclear war than we have ever been. Under Hillary Clinton, we could slide into nuclear war very quickly from her declared policy in Syria. I sure won’t sleep well at night if Donald Trump is elected, but I sure won’t sleep well at night if Hillary Clinton elected. We have another choice other than these two candidates who are both promoting lethal policies. On the issue of war and nuclear weapons, it is actually Hillary’s policies which are much scarier than Donald Trump who does not want to go to war with Russia.

As a reminder, if everyone who voted for Stein had instead voted for Hillary, Hillary would have won the election:

Yes, it’s possible (probable?) that those Stein voters would have stayed home and not voted at all, but this doesn’t change the fact that they still failed to vote for the most liberal candidate who actually had a chance of winning.

By allowing differing degrees of ideological commitment to divide them, left-leaning people helped invite in a president who hopes to do everything in his power to undo or undermine decades of global diplomatic progress as well as environmental and energy progress.

Hillary advocated for a no-fly zone to help ameliorate what António Guterres, the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees called, “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.”

Why do you think Stein left that part out? Yeah, I don’t know either. And where on earth would she have gotten that terrifying idea? Tough to say for sure, but maybe it came from Russian ultra-nationalist and Putin ally Vladimir Zhirinovsky who said the same thing she said the same day she said it.

Just to sum that message up briefly: “Don’t elect the candidate who wants to stop us from killing thousands of children and other civilians and displacing millions of people. If you do, you’re going to start a nuclear war with us.”

Sounds like something a bully would say, right? Well, it convinced Jill Stein apparently. Stein, being extraordinarily highly ideologically aligned with Bernie could have recognized the stakes of the election as Bernie did:

Perhaps the worst offense that one can level at Obama was his use of drones. Obama used drones a lot. And civilians were killed. Drones will probably continue to be used. Is this justified? It’s difficult to say. The individual cases appear to be classified. So it must come down to whether or not we trust Obama. Is he the type of person who would sign off on drone strikes likely to kill civilians just for the hell of it? I would submit that no sane person would do so.

So I’m inclined to take him at his word:

As commander-in-chief, I must weigh these heartbreaking tragedies against the alternatives. To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties—not just in our cities at home and facilities abroad, but also in the very places — like Sana’a and Kabul and Mogadishu — where terrorists seek a foothold. Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.

Cory Booker Admonished by True Libs

Summary of outrage:
Cory Booker, potential Democratic candidate for president in 2020, did a bit of grandstanding recently at the confirmation hearing of Jeff Sessions. Many libs/progressives were like, “Yeah!”
Then the True Libs piped up and said, “Nope. This guy’s nothing more than a Big Pharma shill who voted to take down Bernie’s bill that would have saved the world from high drug prices by allowing us to legally get drugs from Canada.” (Booker, incidentally, is a “Left Liberal” by voting record.)

Key points of Vox’s defense of Booker:
1. Senators generally vote based on their state’s interests rather than national sentiment. (Maybe because they want to keep their jobs.)
2. A decrease in local news coverage nationwide has led to increasing focus on national issues.
3. Because NJ has a major pharma and Wall Street presence, their politicians are going to appear “in the pockets” of those industries to a greater degree than reps from states without those influences.
-Not mentioned in the article is the fact that 97.5% of his contributions from “Wall Street” are from individuals who just work for financial firms. (This was true of Hillary too. Detractors seemed unaware or unfazed by this fact.)

Other points possibly worth consideration:
-A 2007 report from the Journal of Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management notes that “Canadians oppose legalization of reimportation in the US as it could exacerbate the problem of medication shortage in Canada.” The same report notes, “While these drugs are manufactured in the US, the storage and packaging conditions in countries where drugs were exported cannot be monitored by the FDA.”

Consumer Reports has a great and very detailed study on the prescription drugs issue. They do advocate for “limited importation of drugs from legitimate Canadian and European sources,” but there’s not a lot of detail on what “limited” or “legitimate” mean. They also say that the government should:
-Set a limit on out-of-pocket costs.
-Approve more generic versions of common drugs.
-Use government’s existing “march-in” rights: If there is a problem with the public’s access to a drug (a supply shortage or an exorbitant price), and if a drug was developed using taxpayer money, the Department of Health and Human Services has the right to force the company to allow another manufacturer to make generic versions that are cheaper for the consumer.