Open threads at the Open Thread tab every Sunday and Wednesday

Tuesday Shouldn’t Change The Narrative

538 predicts Hillary has a 65% chance of winning the election to Trump’s 35%. New York Times says it’s more like 84% Hillary and 16% Trump. Both sites agree both candidates will get somewhere between 40% and 50% of the popular vote, and that Hillary seems to lead Trump by 3%. The smart money is on Hillary, but at this point either major candidate could win.

Lots of things can happen tomorrow. Maybe it rains in Philadelphia, that city’s racially diverse and left-leaning voters stay home, and Pennsylvania goes for Trump, winning him the election. Maybe there’s a really good get-out-the-vote campaign among Hispanics, and Florida ends up being Trump 48 Hillary 52 instead of the projected Trump 52 Hillary 48. Maybe the Department of Agriculture announces that Hillary is under investigation for bringing exotic weevil species into the US, and the population turns against her en masse.

And someone is going to confuse this kind of stuff with deep insight into the state of the country.

In June 2016, Jon Wiener of The Nation wrote Relax, Donald Trump Can’t Win, about how the media is incentivized to make races look competitive but an understanding of political fundamentals proved that there was no way for Trump to actually make it.

On the other hand, a few days ago Scott Adams reiterated his long-standing prediction of a 98% chance Trump wins in a landslide.

I’m worried that one of these two things will happen on Wednesday:

Either Hillary wins, and everybody agrees that Jon Wiener and various other people like him were right, that the fundamentals made a Trump win impossible, that Trump was a random clown who never had a chance anyway, that the people who warned us to beware of Trump were crying wolf, that this proves that nationalism is a spent force in politics, et cetera.

Or Trump wins, and everybody agrees that Scott Adams was a genius, that Wiener was an idiot, that Trump is a brilliant “master persuader”, that this proves that the 21st century will be a century of renewed nationalist power, that the white working class is sexist, that elites need to realize the precariousness of their position within a democratic system, or whatever.

Imagine that the deciding factor really is a rainstorm in Philadelphia. There was a rainstorm in Philly, therefore nationalism is one of the great motivating forces in human affairs? It was a clear sunny day in Philly, therefore nationalism doesn’t matter anymore? The difference between nationalism being all-powerful and irrelevant is whether there was a cold front over the mid-Atlantic region?

But with a race this close, any deciding factor is going to be about as random as a rainstorm over Philadelphia. Maybe the pollsters made some kind of big mistake and missed shy Trump voters, and the vote goes Trump 47% Hillary 45% instead of the predicted Hillary 47% Trump 45%. So what? The difference between a proof of nationalism’s vigor versus proof its impotence is which candidate gets 47% vs. 45%? Really?

If a Trump victory tomorrow would convince you that X is true, I suggest that you believe X is true regardless of whether or not Trump wins, because Trump’s victory almost certainly will depend more on noise than on X. If a Hillary victory tomorrow would convince you that Y is true, I suggest that you believe Y is true regardless of whether or not Hillary wins, for the same reason. If there’s some Z that you will believe only if Trump wins but not if Hillary wins, then I suggest you seriously reconsider what thought process has led you to decide that you will flip your views on politics and society depending on whether or not there’s a rainstorm or a 2% polling error or whatever.

Instead, I suggest people precommit to their views on politics and society now. We live in a country and a world where Hillary can be at about 47% and Trump at about 45%. This is pretty much all you need to know. It suggests that a lot of people are willing to support a nationalist candidate, and a lot of other people really hate that candidate. It suggests that political fundamentals are totally compatible with a situation where either Trump or Hillary could win based on noise in the electoral process.

(unless the polls are totally wrong and one candidate somehow wins in a 20 percentage point landslide or something)

It also suggests that both Wiener and Adams were wrong to be so confident in their respective predictions. If either one is right, it will be mostly by luck. Wiener tells us to “relax” because Trump can never win, and maybe Trump doesn’t win, but the fact is that even if Trump loses we were one Hillary gaffe away from the opposite result and shouldn’t have relaxed at all. Adams says there’s been a 98% chance of a Trump win since last year, but the polls make it look a lot like Trump only has a chance at all because of the total coincidence of Hillary getting hit by a new FBI investigation two weeks before Election Day.

I already count both Wiener and Adams as having been proven wrong regardless of what happens tomorrow. Any further praise or condemnation launched at one or the other after the election is just interpreting noise, or at least a signal so subtle that it might as well be.

If both Wiener’s extreme pro-Hillary prediction and Adams’ extreme pro-Trump prediction are bad, what would a good prediction look like? In January of this year, I predicted that, conditional on Trump winning the Republican primary, he would have a 20% chance of winning the election. Well, Trump won the Republican primary. And today, the day before the election, the prediction markets give Trump’s chance of winning as 17.9%.

If Trump wins anyway, I’ll have egg on my face and it’ll look bad when I grade my prediction accuracy next year. But I don’t think I would fundamentally update the way I think about America or the way I make predictions. No prediction can account for every rainstorm. I think I got the fundamentals right, and if I end up losing on noise I can at least take solace in knowing that is soon to be the least of our problems.

EDIT: I agree the election results can obviously change the future! Maybe if Trump wins he’ll enact nationalistic policy that will make people more nationalist. But the results shouldn’t change our interpretation of existing trends.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

953 Responses to Tuesday Shouldn’t Change The Narrative

  1. wintermute92 says:

    This is a really good point to remember, and I appreciate that you made it shortly before the election, when it can do a lot more good than yelling at everyone in two days when they’ve already made the mistake.

    I would also extend your closing point about pundits and pollsters. While we’re remembering that the absolutists like Adams are already wrong, we should remember that the proper statisticians aren’t exactly wrong if their predicted result isn’t what we see. Predicting a 65% chance and getting the 35% outcome is not shocking, or proof of incompetence. Consistently making such errors is a point of concern, but the likes of Nate Silver have excellent track records and should probably be extended the benefit of the doubt for one error.

    • shakeddown says:

      Actually it’s a bit worse than that – Nate Silver has a track record of underestimating his own precision. His explanation for that is that he’s only had a few elections so far, and that if he makes mistakes he’s likely to have a whole bunch of them at once.

    • xXxanonxXx says:

      Taking that into account, CFAR has said Drew Linzer’s model performs better than Silver’s, and he’s predicting it at 88% for Hillary. Of course, 12% should still be an appallingly high number for people who seem to think Trump would appoint David Duke as the Secretary of Defense.

      http://elections.dailykos.com/app/elections/2016/office/president

    • geekethics says:

      I object to framing giving a 35% probability to an event that happens as an “error”. The game is to name the probability, not the outcome. 35% outcomes should happen 35% of the time, not more, not less. Any single event is neither a success or a failure of that.

      • Virbie says:

        TL;DR: There’s a sense of the word “error” which behaves nicely on all points of the spectrum from 0-100 to 100-0, and it’s in pretty common usage (especially around this comment board).

        I don’t think this usage is incorrect at all. There’s a statistical sense of the word error which just means (to over-simplify a little) “the degree to which the model diverges from the real-world data”. This definition aligns with colloquial usage of error (a model with 100% probability on the correct candidate would have zero error) and additionally behaves nicely in line with common usage of “error” on all the points in-between from “100% certain and right” to “100% certain and wrong” (the only two cases in which there’s an unambiguous claim to the prediction being “an error”, in the colloquial sense).

        As you’d expect, assessing the value of a predicted probability is only useful on multiple guesses, and measuring error (in the statistical sense) is how you do that.

      • robryk says:

        Is your perfect US election model one that always says that both candidates have 50% chance of winning[*]? It is very well calibrated, yet in my opinion is completely useless.

        [*] Please assume that third-party candidates don’t exist for a while.

  2. SUT says:

    I suggest that you believe X is true regardless of whether or not Trump wins

    Maybe the rationalists can. But the only way a large portion of Hillary’s 47% can believe a Republican candidate could work in their interest is if he is actually elected and they live through a well run (and lucky) administration. This is the current generations “RonaldReagan-Republicans” – he didn’t ignite the cold war, he didn’t make the poor into dog food, even though these were prophecies by the VIP’s on the left. And if Trump wins, and he doesn’t invade Poland, ordinary people will update their beliefs away from “a mirthless technocrat is the responsible vote”

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I just meant if the mere fact of Trump being elected would make you believe X, not if various things that happen during a hypothetical Trump administration would make you believe it.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Okay, but let’s look at it from the perspective of Republican Party strategy. For years, the dominant narrative has been that the mighty Hispanic tidal wave of voters who care about nothing in this world more than amnesty for their Hispanic compadres, so the GOP must offer amnesty. Sure the GOP will lose on each amnesty on average, but they’ll make up for it on volume!

        A few dissidents have offered a counter-strategy of getting more whites, especially in the Great Lakes region to vote Republican or just turn out to vote.

        This idea has mostly been dismissed as inconceivable.

        But on Tuesday, it worked.

    • Reasoner says:

      I think you are actually understating your argument. People align themselves with whichever faction is powerful. It’s similar to the way the fan base of a sports team grows when it wins a lot of games. “Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.”

      If Trump wins, it will be common knowledge that politicians can win with alt-right support. If Trump loses, it will be common knowledge that they can’t. It doesn’t matter whether these assertions are currently true if common knowledge of this sort is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Shifts in the Overton window matter more in the long run than the result of a pre-Election Day public opinion snapshot.

      I’m a little disappointed Scott didn’t see this, because Trump’s rise is itself a great case study in how to shift the Overton window by creating common knowledge. The private knowledge that Trump made in to common knowledge is the fact that the average American doesn’t trust the media and is sick of political correctness. The media didn’t talk about either of those facts much. But they did talk about Trump’s poll numbers, and that created common knowledge.

  3. Deiseach says:

    But with a race this close, any deciding factor is going to be about as random as a rainstorm over Philadelphia.

    That is what is so fascinating to me: that seemingly it has become this close. I don’t know if it really will turn out Trump 45% versus Hillary 47%, I have a feeling it may not be quite that close.

    But that Trump is (a) a candidate (b) a credibly threatening candidate, and not there under “and Evan MacMullin has a better chance of becoming president than him” is the interesting thing.

    How did all the pundits miss this?

    Either they didn’t believe their warnings of “The only thing standing between America and the Apocalypse is the President being a Democrat” and so all the “Republicans are racists, sexists, bigots, homophobes” was only ritual and they thought things would continue to be business as usual, because even the Republicans weren’t that bad, or they totally stuck their heads in the sand and thought the arc of justice and the right side of history were dependably left-liberal and the few redneck holdouts would all die off and leave the future to be all rainbows and glitter.

    The question to be answered is not “Do you really think 2% either way makes a statement about the nation?” but “All along everyone was saying this guy was the joke candidate, up until today when everyone is running around panicking about getting the vote out because by some freak chance he just might win – how the hell did you get this so badly wrong? It’s like seeing an approaching meteor and maintaining, right up until it hits your front porch, that all it is is a burned-out firework”.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I didn’t get the impression the press universally believed Trump had no chance.

      I thought they (correctly imho) assumed he would do worse than a Generic Republican Candidate, but that nothing was certain.

      • Deiseach says:

        Well, my impression of it was – and I haven’t been exhaustively following coverage, so this is a very general one – that first it was “No way he’s going to be selected, the Republicans dislike him, this is just a stunt”. Then it was “Oh crap, he got the nomination. Well, okay, but he’s blown all his money on running his campaign and he’s going to have to drop out now because he just doesn’t have the backing“.

        Then the dismay set in about how it was unthinkable that this scandal-ridden etc etc etc could possibly be within touching distance of the presidency, surely Hillary would sweep up all the Republicans who couldn’t stand him and the otherwise non-committed? (This is when the circular firing squads about voting for Sanders started up).

        I do think the electoral college results will probably run two-thirds in Hillary’s favour, as seems to be the prediction, but there is a lot of hysteria still out there about “unless you all turn out tomorrow and vote for Hillary, this lunatic could win. Third party voting, write in votes, these will all split the vote and hand him victory”. (Sample Tweet: “Clinton just promised to end conversion therapy. Trump VP funds it. Your vote is literally life or death for LGBTQ youth” reblogged with a plea to “Please get out there and vote!”, the implication being if you don’t vote for Hillary, you are responsible for dead gay teenagers).

        The popular vote will probably be a lot closer and it’s going to be intriguing to see how this is interpreted after the election. Half the nation is irredeemable and we must crush the thoughtcrime now or else it will spring up like a weed, or time for reconciliation and ingathering and helping these poor benighted idiots to see the true path?

        • The Nybbler says:

          The popular vote will probably be a lot closer and it’s going to be intriguing to see how this is interpreted after the election. Half the nation is irredeemable and we must crush the thoughtcrime now or else it will spring up like a weed, or time for reconciliation and ingathering and helping these poor benighted idiots to see the true path?

          That’s not seriously in question. It’s going to be “half the country is irredeemable and must be crushed” if Hillary wins.

          • Lexington says:

            This is the sixth Presidential election I’ve been politically cognizant for, and (probably) the fourth to go the Democrat’s way. In every single one , I’ve heard thsee kinds of claims, but they never come through. At this point, it’s pretty clear that this is either complete paranoia, or so far down the list of Democratic priorities, it’s not going to be an issue.

          • Schmendrick says:

            …or just that the “crushing” is slow-rolling, and primarily composed of heaping increasing amounts of cultural disdain and opprobrium upon the losing tribe, and pushing their core values outside of the Overton Window.

          • Lexington says:

            Yes, if the last eight years of Fox News, Glen Beck, the Tea Party, Birtherism, overwhelming Republican Congressional victories and a Presidential campaign highlighted by the rise of anti-Semitism and white nationalism have proven anything, it’s that the right has been completely shut out of American political discourse. God help those poor, voiceless bastards.

          • onyomi says:

            I think the issue isn’t that one side or the other has no voice, but that they are increasingly talking past one another.

          • Schmendrick says:

            You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone argue that the existence of separate spaces built by and for a minority is prima facie evidence that they are not being marginalized.

            “Yes, the existence of BET, WorldStarHipHop, and Jet magazine show that the African-American community is in no way marginalized by American discourse.”

      • vV_Vv says:

        I thought they (correctly imho) assumed he would do worse than a Generic Republican Candidate

        Correctly?

        John McCain and Mitt Romney were generic republican candidates, and they did poorly against Barack Obama (Nate Silver had Obama vs Romney at 91% vs 9% right before the election). Why would you expect yet another generic Republican candidate to do better?

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          It depends on how much better a candidate than Clinton you think Obama is.

          • shakeddown says:

            Also on the economy – especially in mcCain’s case, the economy had just collapsed under republican leadership, which put a generic republican at a huge disadvantage. In This case, economic indicators are (according to 538) fairly neutral.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Agreed on the economy.

    • Alsadius says:

      The Republican primary was genuinely hard to call this year, because the field was probably the most high-powered, crowded, and confusing in the history of primary elections. Him coming up the middle to win was a shocker, but once he got the nomination…well, either party can win in any given year if things go their way enough during the campaign. I’ve been telling people all year that it’s not over yet and not to pop the champagne too soon.

      As for why they kept saying Trump had no chance, a few things come to mind. One, people use confirmation bias to judge probability when it comes to politics. The unskewed polls movement is awful here, but it’s true of everyone. We all want to think that good outcomes are more likely, because after all, people have to come to their senses in the end(right?). Two, people live in thick partisan bubbles these days. Many genuinely can’t even understand the opposition anymore. Failing to understand the logic of a position makes judging that position fairly a harder task. And three, it’s a pundit’s job to tell their readers mostly what they want to hear – pundits are not graded on accuracy, and few even remember these predictions after the fact.

      • Eponymous says:

        Him coming up the middle to win was a shocker, but once he got the nomination…well, either party can win in any given year if things go their way enough during the campaign.

        Isn’t that really scary? I mean, you’re basically saying that if someone has the support of ~40% of the primary electorate of one party, which is only ~20% of the country (actually much less, since not everyone votes in primaries), they have about a 50/50 chance of winning the general.

        That means a very marginally appealing candidate can win a divided field and then rely on partisan loyalty to get a majority.

        • MugaSofer says:

          I think both candidates proved that.

        • Alsadius says:

          I didn’t say a 50/50 of winning the general. For example, in early 2008(before the financial crisis got ugly, but after it was clear McCain would be the nominee), I made a bet putting 25% odds on a Republican re-election. They had bad momentum from Iraq and Bush fatigue, but it was still winnable until the economy imploded and Bush got the blame.

          But yes, there’s some truth to that.

    • beleester says:

      The pundits have been taking him seriously since he won the primaries. The poll-watchers have been taking him somewhat less seriously, but to be fair, Trump’s polls have looked as bad as Romney’s for most of the campaign, and Romney was supposed to be the baseline for “Completely unexciting Republican.”

      If there’s a lesson to be taken from this, it’s that people really, really don’t want to split their party. For all the talk of “Bernie or Bust”, Bernie voters fell in behind Clinton faster than Clinton supporters did Obama. For all the talk of “NeverTrump Republicans,” this final shift in the polls is mostly due to Republicans “coming home” – shifting from third parties to Trump.

    • cassander says:

      >How did all the pundits miss this?

      They forgot that a rock with D or R by its name is going to get a minimum of around 40%, even if it’s covered in offensive graffiti.

      • Deiseach says:

        I do have to wonder if all the people guffawing at “Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer” are finding the joke quite as funny now, or would they prefer Trump to Cruz anyway?

        • Jordan D. says:

          Obviously I can’t speak for everyone but… maybe? I preferred Trump to Cruz during the R. primary, and the only thing which might have shifted me the other way is worry that Pence might have inordinate power through Trump, and I’m not sure whether I like Cruz or Pence less.

  4. Mark says:

    If I make a prediction that something is 98% likely to happen, and it happens, that can only count as a point in my favour as a predictor.

    Obviously, it wouldn’t mean that much if it was a one off. But I think if we dismiss high probability predictions on the basis that we don’t understand (or trust) the methodology, we’re no longer using evidence to assess predictors.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I agree that in a formal situation, like where you have a hundred predictions to work with, this is true.

      But suppose I flip a fair coin and say “99.99% chance this will land hands, I will bet my $10,000 to your $1 that it does”, and someone takes the bet, and then it lands heads, and I win $1.

      Does that increase or decrease your respect for my intelligence?

      • Mark says:

        Yeah sure – it’d probably increase the subjective probability that you were badly misguided by more than it increases my confidence that you can predict coin tosses.

        But, I kind of feel like that’s a *bad* thing – isn’t that giving too much credence to our model of a predictive model? I think I’d prefer to be more open minded – the cost of dismissing a true but weird fact is greater than the cost of reserving judgement until the assertion is tested.

        • Almoturg says:

          I guess it depends on how much you trust polls. If you consider pre-election polls to be analogous to flipping the coin (or an outwardly similar coin from the same production batch) a few hundred times and getting the expected 50% heads it makes sense. But if polls are fundamentally different from actual votes (and the difference is not described by the error bars) then your position might make more sense.

      • onyomi says:

        But a fair coin is, by definition, one which lands on head 50% of the time and tails 50% of the time. The 2016 election is nothing like that in that no one knows its true “shape.” It is possible that a super-intelligent AI capable of aggregating and accurately weighing data orders of magnitude greater than we are capable of could predict the election to 98% accuracy (I guess it could predict a coin toss, too, if it could measure e. g. air resistance, the strength of the toss, etc).

        It seems to me that your real objection isn’t that the election can’t possibly be predicted with such accuracy, but that Adams and Weiner aren’t super-intelligent AIs–that is, as flawed humans with limited synthesizing ability and access to knowledge, there is no way they can defensibly be so confident (which is true).

        • Scott Alexander says:

          So imagine that I predict the Lions will win the Sports Bowl with 99.99% probability. In fact, the game ends tied, and by ancient tradition it’s settled by a coin flip. The coin flip lands in the Lions’ favor and I turn out to be right.

          Here it seems that I made a prediction which I thought was based on the Lions’ skill as a team. Then I learned a new useful fact – that it would be decided on a coin flip and the real chance was 50%. Then I learned a fact coming from unpredictable random noise – that the Lions did indeed win.

          In the same way, imagine that, based on political and economic fundamentals, I predicted in January a 99% chance Trump would win. In fact, on the night before election day Trump has a 20% chance of winning. Then there’s a rainstorm in Philadelphia and Trump does indeed win.

          Again, I feel like the last point at which I should update on useful information was the 20%, and that’s the correct thing to predict, and my 99% prediction was overconfident. After that it all gets drowned out by random noise.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            So imagine that I predict the Lions will win the Sports Bowl

            You were going for a joke but it messes up catching your meaning significantly. Are you talking about a random game of football, or are you talking about the Lions winning the Super Bowl when they have never even appeared in one? If you predict that they will win the Super Bowl at the start of the season with 99.9% accuracy and they show up and it really comes down to a coin flip, you are much better than anyone else at making predictions.

          • Mark says:

            Though, in fact, Scott Adams doesn’t believe in reality. (He does believe that an application of the scientific method can reveal the limitations of science.)

            unlike rational people, I don’t see the world as an objective truth. I see it as a movie I am writing as I go. So I wrote some scenes in which I get rich and famous and develop six-pack abs.

            So, the rain, or whichever details, don’t really matter to Adams. His original term for “master persuaders” was “master wizards”. Perhaps the rain was decisive because Trump’s supporters were more motivated to go and vote?
            Persuaders get things done and it is magic.

          • onyomi says:

            Well, but you could still correctly and justifiably predict a 99.99% chance of Lions victory even if there is a chance of the game being decided by a platonic 50-50 coin toss. In this case, the probability of the game being decided by such a coin toss would have to be less than 1 in 20,000. Of course, this also depends on all other factors, like the weather, either having no effect or being entirely predictable; hence the need for e. g. a perfect weather predicting and peoples’-reactions-to-weather predicting AI.

          • Deiseach says:

            So imagine that I predict the Lions will win the Sports Bowl with 99.99% probability.

            Ireland beat the All Blacks on Sunday, 5th November, ending a 111 year losing streak against this particular rugby team. Liverpool are currently top of the English Premier League. The Cubs won the World Series.

            I don’t know who the Lions are, but going by this, don’t rule them out 🙂

          • hlynkacg says:

            As if we needed any more evidence that this truly is truly the end of days… 😉

          • Eponymous says:

            Right. If we’re trying to infer your skill as a forecaster, and we know your reasoning in making a prediction, then we can decide to give you a lower score when your prediction is right for the wrong reason.

            Formally, if you predicted high probability of A because you estimated high p(B) and high p(A|B), and then (A,~B) happens, then you didn’t do well even though you were right about A.

            Why? Because your prediction contained information about both A and B. You assigned high probability to (A,B), and low probability to (A,~B), and so when (A,~B) happens you don’t get to claim a win because A happened! You assigned low probability to the event that occurred, full stop.

            Of course, you can “win” by luck if you happened to take actions that depended only on whether A occurred, and not on B. Like betting on game, for example.

            (Obligatory Simpsons’ reference: Lisa is genius football predictor. Homer wins bets all season based on her picks. At end of year, she’s mad at him, and gives him a prediction that will occur only if she loves him. Game comes down to a late field goal. It’s….good! Lisa looks at the TV and says, “I thought I loved him.”

            Of course, clearly her original prediction was only saying “I’m 50/50 on loving you, dad.”)

      • electrace says:

        You’re basic point is right, but there’s a couple differences here.

        The first is that we know how the probability of a coin flip. The second is that coin flips actually are binary. The electoral college isn’t.

        How do you simulate a probability distribution with coin flips? Through the Central Limit Theorem!

        Let’s say you bet that over 500 heads would result after flipping the coin 1000 times, and were willing to place the same bet ($10,000 to $1).

        Using a coin (not necessarily a fair one), let’s say the result ends up at 520. You should be pretty sure that the coin is fair, or nearly fair, and so you would conclude that the 10,000:1 bet was not a good decision, and not to repeat it (but maybe repeat it at 1:1 odds, because it might be a tiny bit weighted towards heads).

        If the result ends up at 999 heads, then you should be pretty certain that the coin is not fair, and be much more comfortable with your 10,000:1 bet.

        So, if Adams bets you 10,000:1 to on a Trump victory, and Trump wins by 10 electoral votes, he should be very wary about making the same bet again, because the probability that Trump would win by only 10 electoral votes if he actually had a 99.999% chance to win is extremely low.

        In other words, it’s about the probability distribution, not the binary result.

      • philh says:

        It makes me guess that you know something I don’t about the coin or the coin flip.

        In Scott Adams’ case, I don’t think he knows something all the other pundits don’t, so his prediction decreases my respect for his intelligence. If Trump wins, my respect will go back up a bit (because it’s more likely that he did know something), but the net effect is still negative.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          You can’t know something special about a coin flip. That’s the whole point.

          If Trump wins because of a rainstorm, then I’ll give you credit for predicting it if and only if you’re a meteorologist or consulted weather records or something. Otherwise you got lucky. Likewise, if Trump wins by 20 votes, there’s no way you were smart enough to know how people would vote down to the last twenty individuals, so if you win, you got lucky. The only case in which I would give people credit for their predictions is if they came true for reasons correlated with why that person predicted them.

          • a non mouse says:

            You can’t know something special about a coin flip. That’s the whole point.

            What a perfect segue into what Nicholas Nassim Taleb calls “IYI” – intellectual yet idiot. The exact example he chose to illustrate this was an unfair coin. The IYI never considers this possibility, just applies the theory of probability – fifty heads in a row? a hundred? – sure, it happens – the IYI knows that each flip is an independent trial and a run of fifty or a hundred heads isn’t impossible. The IYI is proud he knows to avoid the gambler’s fallacy and holds on to the fact that the flips are independent trials.

            The polls that showed Hillary up 15+ points weren’t fair coins coming up heads thirty times in a row – they were propaganda. Nate Silver’s predictions were propaganda.

            Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both still lead Trump in the endorsement primary on 528. Nate Silver in August gave Donald Trump a 2% chance of winning the nomination – I had it as a near certainty unless he was blatantly cheated out of it (and didn’t give a probabilistic estimate of the cheating occurring because it’s unknowable – it would have to be a decision made by a small number of particular people).

            Past that Nate Silver’s election model is garbage – for a summary as to why check here:

            https://twitter.com/nntaleb/status/762048739334885380

            [Taleb summary]Basically Nate Silver is taking a weighted average of polls and not giving any kind of estimate of the probability of the outcome of the election. [My view] But, garbage in, garbage out if polling results are your data set and others see polls as a propaganda opportunity.

          • jimmy says:

            >You can’t know something special about a coin flip. That’s the whole point.

            How many correct predictions would it take to make you doubt this? Or to doubt that the coin was actually fair? It shouldn’t be infinite.

            If someone says “X will happen because Y” and X happens because Z, then yes, they don’t get credit because their actual prediction was incorrect. However, the fact that X happened isn’t enough – you still have to prove that it didn’t happen because Y. And if they only said “X will happen” then their prediction was still correct even if you *think* they did it because they believed Y would lead to X – you have to show that what they meant was “because Y” first.

            It’s easy to construct hypotheticals where we can know with pretty good confidence that it is not Y that did it (pull a coin out of your pocket, Trump by 20 votes, etc), but we should still never *assume* that our attribution of causes is correct to the confidence we have on the outcome itself. While I don’t think it’s an actual player here or that Adams or the other guy were justified in any high confidence, I sure wouldn’t want to be sloppy and not note this, because time and time again I hear people saying “but you predicted X would happen because Y but it happened because Z!” when no I didn’t you just don’t understand my models or what actually happened!

            Separately, there’s the distinction between what someone *says* their confidence is and what is shown by their actions. What would think about someone who says that they can predict football games winners right 99.9999% of the time, got 90 out of 100 right on “could go either way” games, and made a ton of money by betting at odds of 9:1 or better?

          • John Colanduoni says:

            There’s a reason he said one coin flip, and you’ve both completely ignored it. The situations you’re talking about are analagous to the same person making the same sort of 99% prediction of the correct candidate for multiple elections. We can perhaps argue about exactly how many flips map to Scott Adams’ prediction, but I’m not buying 50 or 100. The probability of it being an accident in Scott Alexander’s example is 0.50, while 50 coin flips gives us 0.000000000000000089.

          • jimmy says:

            And there’s a reason we both ignored it – it doesn’t matta.

            The point isn’t that calling one election is equivalent to calling tens of coin flips, the point is that he called one right and for all you know he might call the next right. And the next and the next and the next. No one is saying that you should already believe that Scott Adams has been proven to be a reliable predictor (hah!), but that you haven’t actually *seen* him be wrong yet and until then you’re running on the unqualified assumption that the coin is fair. It’s an assumption, not an uncontestable fact, and it needs to be marked as such because assumptions can be wrong.

          • eucalculia says:

            >You can’t know something special about a coin flip. That’s the whole point.

            If you let me flip the coin, I’m definitely willing to bet at 50% odds on the outcome.

        • Fahundo says:

          the point is that he called one right

          Adams? He predicted a landslide. In what sense is losing the popular vote a landslide?

      • schoolthought says:

        Scott, your hypothetical presupposes knowledge of a static, known, unchanging, distribution. Does this map to reality?

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      While the headline results — who wins — is binary, we have more data. We can see how close the actual outcome was.

      If Trump ekes out a win by a just a few thousand votes or so, that 98% confidence interval was stupid.

      Adams deserves some status for correctly calling Trump winning the primary, which lots of people forget was widely considered impossible. But Adams has been hedging his bets by 1) saying he didn’t anticipate the media attack on Trump, which is incredibly stupid, because of course they would do that, and 2) he didn’t anticipate the Access Hollywood tapes, which I give him a little bit more credit for, but that’s part of the problem when predicting a completely untested candidate will have a 98% win.

      • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

        In general I agree, but Adams could claim (or maybe already did, I don’t follow him) that the polls were biased in favor of Clinton because some respondents did not dare to voice their support for Trump.

        • lvlln says:

          That’s actually exactly what Adams has been claiming for months. He calls it the “shy Trump supporter effect,” IIRC.

          My guess is that he vastly overestimated/overstated how much effect this would have. Not sure if it’s actual self-serving self-deception or just him putting on a performance in an effort to “persuade.”

      • Mark says:

        I think that if he’s using “magic” to make this prediction, we have no way of analysing the method. If we can’t analyse the method we can’t criticise him for not taking certain facts into consideration.
        If I can successfully predict something without reference to certain pieces of information/evidence, you can’t use the fact that I ignored those pieces of information as a criticism of my model (or my magic). It’s irrelevant.

        • John Colanduoni says:

          We may not be able to analyze magic from the outside, but if someone named Yoda lifts an X-Wing out of a swamp in front of me without any obvious apparatus, I’m going to start looking for something. Not that I have any faith in Scott Adams’ magic, but that would change if he made enough impressive predictions (though it of course would probably not actually end up being “magic”).

      • simon says:

        I don’t think it’s accurate to say that he said he didn’t anticipate the media attack. As I recall, he said he didn’t anticipate the strength of the social media attack (rather than mainstream media) and a supposed improvement in Clinton’s campaign due to “Godzilla” (Robert Cialdini) allegedly assisting Clinton.

  5. MugaSofer says:

    It’s my understanding that rainstorms are very unlikely to decide the race.

    538 base their uncertainty on, as you put it:

    Maybe the pollsters made some kind of big mistake and missed shy Trump voters, and the vote goes Trump 47% Hillary 45% instead of the predicted Hillary 47% Trump 45%.

    Of course, they also predict an equal likelihood of polling errors in Clinton’s favour, so she does better than predicted. This seems logical; if there was a reliable way to detect these sort of correlated biases in polls, pollsters would use them.

    But what if they’re wrong? What if we could have predicted a large polling error in Trump’s favour? Lots of people are predicting it, after all. Shouldn’t we at least update toward their reasoning for making that prediction being correct?

    I’m not a Trump voter, but I did recently decide that I was no longer endorsing Clinton, either. About a week later, I admitted such on Tumblr. I felt really, irrationally worried about admitting to not being maximally partisan on this issue. And I’m a naturally contrarian person, who was just admitting to thinking “they’re both really terrible, people should probably focus on protesting”, to the sort of nice people who follow me on Tumblr

    This makes me feel like the people who say there are a lot of people who like Trump but are afraid to admit it might be right.

    How much worse must it feel to admit you support what people are calling the “pro-rape candidate” and a literal nazi? Polling errors based on social desirability bias are a well-known thing, and Trump is running on being un-PC and socially undesirable.

    On the other hand, if there’s a sizable polling error in the other direction and it turns out Clinton is 6 or 10 points ahead, it starts to look like Trump never had a chance. Maybe because throwing money at turnout programs is really effective, or maybe because Trump was picking up lots of lizardman troll votes in every poll, or maybe because of election fraud (seriously, that Project Veritas video, holy $@#!&.)

    That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have lots of supporters! But it does make me more confident in the system’s ability to defend against accidentally electing random famous people. Exerting exactly enough influence to win by a decent margin isn’t necessarily incompetence, is it?

    If he wins, it’s pretty strong evidence that – insofar as there is a “conspiracy” against Trump – they’re pretty weak and not able to reliably swing elections. Again, not a total rewrite of your view of the world (unless you believe in such an all-powerful conspiracy,) but a useful point of data – especially given lots of Trump supporters believe it is rigged, and Trump has made that part of his platform!

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      You raise very good reasons to be suspicious of polls. However:

      Absentee ballots and early voting have their own skew, and that skew changes from election to election, but so far Trump is trailing Romney’s performance. These are actual real votes. Not conclusive proof, of course, but we’re stacking even more things up on the “how many things need to go wrong at once for Clinton to lose” pile.

      • These are actual real votes.

        No, they’re not. How people voted is not known until Election Night.

        The “results” from early voting are based on the idea that (in a state where people are registered by party) X-number of registered Republicans and Y-number of registered Democrats cast early ballots.

        You can make some general predictions based on that information, but even then, there’s a wide range of probability as to how people voted in any specific race.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Put a different way, they are actual real turn out.

          And the turn out among minorities in early voting, especially Hispanics, is far and away better than 2012 in some crucial states, like Florida where Hispanic early turnout is up 86% over 2012.

          I don’t think any of the models assume a big increase in Hispanic turnout.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Like I said in the post, if your argument is that the polls are systematically wrong, then I agree you deserve credit if you’re right.

      Anything other than the polls being systematically wrong is screened out by the polls, leaving just noise.

      • MugaSofer says:

        Isn’t everyone who claims to know better than the polls arguing the polls are predictably, systematically wrong? Y’know, by definition?

        Anything other than the polls being systematically wrong is screened out by the polls, leaving just noise.

        The thing is, most of that noise is in the polls, not in reality.

        Anyone arguing that Trump has 90% of the vote will be just as wrong if he barely wins as someone who claims he has 10%. They don’t get credit for a successful prediction just because they “predicted a Trump win”.

        But equally, the 10% guy doesn’t get to blame the weather.

        Someone who claims Trump will probably lose by 3% isn’t going to be foiled by bad weather, if they’re right.* They can only be foiled by systematic errors on the order of >3%.

        But yeah, I basically agree with you, this is just nitpicking.
        ———- ———————————-
        *short of a stormcloud materializing above one candidate and striking them with lightning, killing them instantly. Even then, only 5% or so.

      • chaosmage says:

        538 says the polls do not screen out the difference in strength of get out the vote operations.

  6. Alsadius says:

    I agree for the most part, but it’s important to remember that, in Obama’s famous phrase, “elections have consequences”. If Trump wins by one vote and all the worst fears of him come true, it doesn’t matter that 46% of America was anti-orange-fascism and only 46.00001% was in favour of it, we’re still going to nuke Kyrgyzstan for the crime of being hard to spell. The 21st century could well be the century of nationalism as a result, even if a near-plurality of the public opposed it.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      That’s GW Bush’s phrase, post-2000. Obama was quoting him.

    • John Colanduoni says:

      Now you have me trying to find out if nuking Kyrgyzstan for being hard to spell would be considered an illegal order than the military could refuse (a’la directly targeting terrorist families is supposed to be). So thanks for that.

      • shakeddown says:

        Are soldiers allowed to refuse to nuke somewhere? I’m pretty sure nuking anywhere (except maybe an aircraft carrier) breaks every national and international war crime law about targeting civilians, but there’s probably an exception for a case which matches the official american nuclear policy.

        • John Colanduoni says:

          I suspect you’re right, or at least it would be a gray area. I’d be more hopeful that someone in the chain of the command would either (a) not want it on their conscience or (b) be thinking about the soul sequel to the Nuremberg trials.

        • Autolykos says:

          Well, in practice you’ll only be tried for war crimes (when following orders) if your side loses. Which is unlikely in a nuclear exchange between the US and Kyrgyzstan…

        • John Schilling says:

          There is not and never has been a law of war against targeting a military base that happens to be located in a city, even if you are absolutely certain that a million innocent telegenic orphans will die in the blast. The war crime is parking the civilians that close to a legitimate military target. It is required that the attacker at least try to minimize the civilian casualties, but not to the extent of compromising vital military objectives. Exactly what constitutes a vital military objective, or how hard one has to try to avoid killing the orphans, are indefinably vague.

          If Hillary Clinton decides to nuke Kyrgystan, it’s going to happen. She’ll make sure there’s a suitable crisis beforehand, and she’ll be sure to phrase the order in terms of some critically urgent need to destroy the Manas airbase or whatnot. If Donald Trump decides to nuke Kyrgystan, it’s possible he would be impetuous enough to just demand, “I want Bishkek wiped off the map; who do those wogs think they are!”, which military officers could refuse as an illegal order and which would color any subsequent request to “…give me the name of a military base in Bishkek and nuke that!”. But even Trump isn’t so consistently stupid that I’d want to count on that.

          • shakeddown says:

            Do you know how specific american laws are about targeting civilians?
            I know the israeli law, which says that you’re allowed to risk civilians “within limits”: e.g. if there’s a sniper in a civilian building you’re allowed to shoot up his apartment, knowing that there may be innocents inside, but not to blow up the entire building if it has hundreds of civilians in it. My general impression is that american law about civilians is somewhat laces than the israeli case, but I don’t know too much about it.

          • John Colanduoni says:

            No, I don’t think Trump would do that even if he were as bad as the worst estimates of his character would suggest. Insofar as this was connected to a “real worry”, I was thinking of some sort of Caligula-esque situation (if Caligula was indeed literally insane).

    • TheBearsHaveArrived says:

      Hey.

      If they didn’t want to be nuked, they should have named their country something pronounceable. How dare they embarrass national leaders from larger countries with their spelling!

  7. atreic says:

    This is a diversion, but I’m interested in how you score ’18. No country currently in Euro or EU announces plan to leave: 90%’ given the UK referendum. Presumably that one’s a fail? Or is our complete lack of a _plan_ to leave a weasilly success, if we fail to make anything resembling a plan by the end of the year?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Yeah, that one’a a failure

    • Deiseach says:

      Given the “cripes, we actually won the referendum to leave? now what do we do?” reaction and Gove’s hilarious back-stabbing of Johnson which resulted in Gove getting the boot and BoJo being made Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, plus the recent High Court ruling that the government can’t invoke Article 50 on its own, it has to have the consent of Parliament – I definitely think calling this mess a “plan” is pushing the definition beyond use, so Adams would win on a technicality there 🙂

  8. Jared says:

    Typo thread

    The second paragraph ends with this article’s URL as plain text.

  9. onyomi says:

    “I already count both Wiener and Adams as having been proven wrong regardless of what happens tomorrow.”
    …(unless the polls are totally wrong and one candidate somehow wins in a 20 percentage point landslide or something)”

    Right?

    I do think Adams’ estimates are indefensibly high regardless, though he does hedge them in the following way: he says “this is my estimate if nothing big changes between now and election day (but something usually will change between now and election day, though not at this point).” It’s kind of a weird way to offer a probability estimate, since I think most people include some guess about the likelihood of hard-to-predict future events in their estimation. It makes one seem more certain than one justifiably can be, since it takes out a big discounting factor.

    Also, there are two separate questions, right: how should we interpret Tuesday’s outcome and how will people (outside SSC) interpret Tuesday’s outcome. I do agree a narrow win for either candidate shouldn’t fundamentally change our world view much, though I do think a lot of people will spin it that way, especially in case of a Trump victory (even a narrow victory).

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      how will people (outside SSC) interpret Tuesday’s outcome.

      The people who lose will say that they lost because they didn’t stick to their principles.

      If Hillary loses, liberals will claim it was because Hillary wasn’t liberal enough. If Donald loses, conservatives will claim it was because Donald wasn’t conservative enough.

      You can bank on this one.

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        If Hillary loses, liberals will claim it was because Hillary wasn’t liberal enough. If Donald loses, conservatives will claim it was because Donald wasn’t conservative enough.

        You can bank on this one.

        I think if Trump loses in a way that specifically points to high Hispanic turnout (e.g., losing Arizona narrowly and Nevada & Florida bigly) it might discredit the hawkish position on immigration. As an electoral strategy, I mean, not on the merits, although I don’t really buy them either.

        EDIT: vvv Wrong Species made pretty much this exact point. I really should scroll down more before replying!

      • DrBeat says:

        Usually, when a Republican loses, Republicans say it was because he was not conservative enough and they have to move further to the right, but when a Democrat loses, Democrats say it was because he was not conservative enough and they have to move further to the center (ie, to the right of where they are).

        • Walter says:

          Hilariously enough, in Republican-land, we take it as given that the opposite is true. If a liberal loses, they will be seen by the dailykos crowd as losing because they were not progressive enough. If a conservative loses it will be a sure sign that they alienated voters with their radical dogma, and we must move towards the middle.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            That’s why the one thing you can count on is the people on each side being completely sure that their party’s main sin is a failure to stick to the principles that they know the rest of the country, at its core, really holds.

          • DrBeat says:

            The dailykos crowd will say that, but the DNC will not. The people who make the decisions on who get to run follow this pattern; the DNC is notorious, and rightly so, for ignoring and betraying their voting base.

          • gbdub says:

            I mean, a lot of Republicans think the RNC does the same. They are seen as caving on “amnesty” to swing a segment of the Hispanic vote they aren’t going to get anyway. Romney (who probably would have been the most competent president out of any nominee since at least Bill Clinton) was labeled as milquetoast and a RINO.

            Both wings have made that same error. They do have something of a point though – yes, successful candidates tend to be centrist, but you still need to excite your base enough to get them to turn out.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Both party leaderships are less loyal to their base than the base is to the party – the leadership wants to expand their vote beyond the base, or expand the base itself.

    • ShemTealeaf says:

      Do we still think that Adams is actually attempting to make real predictions? He seems pretty intelligent, and it’s hard for me to imagine that an intelligent person could predict a 98% of a Trump victory, much less a 98% chance of a Trump landslide. Maybe he does really think that Trump is going to win, but I would be absolutely shocked if he really believes his outlandish ‘predictions’.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        I’m 98% sure that on Wednesday he will claim this is all part of his master persuader thing. “Look, I made you all believe it was true, when it wasn’t. Awe at my power!!!” (I won’t be impressed.)

      • Aharon says:

        I don’t think he cares about the outcome of the election at all, he cares about writing outrageous, entertaining claims (we’re discussing him here, after all) so his blog gets more views and the products he plugs (his books, shortly before the election the app of his start-up) are exposed to more people.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Well, on the one hand, I wouldn’t have read his book (which was OK, but hardly special) if he hadn’t plugged it on his blog, and I wouldn’t have read his blog if he hadn’t created publicity by making outrageous claims. On the other hand, I took his book out of the library, and do not think it would have been worth spending money on.

      • Autolykos says:

        I think he’s going to wind up with plenty of egg on his face, but it will be forgotten more quickly than the timespan in which he was making his crazy prediction and attracting viewers. Net win for him.

  10. Wrong Species says:

    What if Trump narrowly loses because of high turnout from Latinos? That will show that perceived hostility to minorities is probably not going to help you win the election, especially since they will make up a larger percentage of the population in the future.

    • John Colanduoni says:

      But violent hostility just might! So I’m not sure that would lead to a less immigration-polarized 2020 🙁

    • JulieK says:

      It will also show that policies that will *cause* Latinos to be a larger percentage of the population in the future will not help Republicans win future elections. (Even the optimistic predictions about how Republicans could appeal to Latinos by doing X, Y and Z tend to assume that the Republican share of the Latino vote will still be less than 50%.)

    • dndnrsn says:

      The issue here is – Hispanics/Latinos are a culturally-defined demographic group by the statistics, but pretty much everybody talks about them as though they are an ethnic/racial group. It’s very confused.

      Most Hispanics (I gather that which term gets used is an indicator of which coast you’re closer to? Hispanic is East Coast, Latino is West Coast? Or, New York vs LA? And then there’s Latin@, Latinx, etc) are defined as “white Hispanics”, etc for census purposes, etc, but aren’t really recognized as white by the popular culture.

      By 2050, the US is projected to be just under 70% white – but just under 47% non-Hispanic white. So, 23% of the population will be white Hispanic. Hispanics of any race are predicted to be 28%.

      However, “white”, like “black”, is not a semi-objective category like “Asian” or “European” – it’s culturally bound. There are people who are considered black in the US who would be considered white in Brazil. While sometimes accounts of how “whiteness” was expanded to include Irish, Italians, etc are exaggerated – how likely is it that the majority (over 3/4) of Hispanics who are counted as white will be considered, and will consider themselves, “fully white” in 2050, and will thus vote in a bloc far less – as, I am given to understand, is the case with Irish and Italians?

      Predictions of the political future that consider changing demographics but not changing definitions might miss this. I think the Republicans are screwed at a national level, but that’s different from “one party will always win based on Hispanic voters, forevermore” – there’s going to be a right-wing party in the US in 2050, and it’s going to be less dependent on white voters than the Republicans are now.

      • John Colanduoni says:

        Do the Italians still vote as a bloc? My father’s side of the family is Italian and my grandparent’s generation and back had significant social ties to their Italian neighbors (and their neighborhood was very self-segregated), but as far as I can tell none of the more recent generations are nearly as cohesive. Especially when it comes to politics.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Italians are probably still somewhat more socially cohesive than white people in general but I am fairly certain they don’t vote as a bloc.

        • Mr Mind says:

          I’ve several friends living in the US and cohesiveness is not the defining trait for their political opinions…

  11. The Nybbler says:

    If Trump wins, things change. Not as much as many would like, but conflicts will come to the surface and long-suppressed views will be heard. A new equilibrium will shake out as both parties re-organize; I’d like to think it will be a better one, but I can’t promise that.

    If Trump loses, the minority (and a slight minority it is) is suppressed even more. And the potential backlash becomes even greater, in four or eight years. The Republicans collapse or are re-organized, the Democrats continue as they are. Not enough of the suppressed are going to die off in that time, especially as those in power will become more bold and suppress (narrow the Overton window) even more.

    The election shouldn’t change beliefs about the current state of the country. But elections have consequences, and this election will change the _future_ state of the country.

  12. Levantine says:

    Making these percentage predictions, aside from those derived from betting markets: I wonder about the methods involved. Some may be taking poetic licences. If there are any based on calculations*, it strikes me that what you choose as a condition must be considerably arbitrary.

    * Though, I should take a look – when I find them!

    I see that 538 was put down by Nassim Taleb.

    • Almoturg says:

      The 538 and NYT ones are certainly both based on calculation (here is 538’s description of how their model works).

      Of course there are quite a few free parameters but as far as I know these were chosen in June and not changed since. Since then they’ve just been feeding in new polls as they appear (these polls are adjusted for “house-effects” of individual pollsters, but that is automatic as well, by comparing different polls in the same state).

      There is quite a big difference between the 538 and NYT models, I think that’s mainly because 538 assumes a higher correlation between states (i.e. if Trump outperforms his polls in one state he will probably also do so in others).

      Edit: There is some discussion about the Nassim Taleb thing here. As far as I understand he is saying that there is a lot more uncertainty in the election than the 538/NYT models account for. I find his results intuitively a bit strange because from his graphs it looks like a few days before the election the result is always pretty much 50/50.

      • eccdogg says:

        As I understand Taleb’s criticism it is that the 538 probability estimate swings too wildly, particularly with months left to go.

        The argument is that if you odds go from 55% to 80% and back to 55% then you should never have been 80% confident to begin with because you knew the model could shift back to 55%.

        I think he is largely correct in this view.

        • null says:

          What if the model says 70% but you know that the model is equally likely to shift to either 55% or 90%?

        • onyomi says:

          I think this is actually the real problem with Adams: he went from 98% Trump victory to seemingly 98% Hillary victory and then back to 98% Trump victory. He always hedges by saying “if nothing changes,” but a good prediction takes into account the probability of things changing. It’s precisely because it’s so hard to predict when and how things will change that we have to be much more modest than 98%.

          • martinw says:

            Yeah, that was the lamest prediction ever. It’s like saying “I predict that Spain will win its soccer game against Germany — unless the Germans gain control of the ball and manage to kick it into the Spanish goal a few times.”

            After switching his prediction in favor of Hillary, Adams defended himself by saying that the Gropegate video was a “meteor strike” which nobody could have foreseen and which therefore shouldn’t be held against him.

            Really Adams? Here we have a guy who has always proudly presented himself as a typical rich playboy, who was a frequent guest of shock jock Howard Stern, who has already said a bunch of misogynistic things in public — and Scott Adams thinks that the chance that this guy’s opponents might dig up a video where he says some even rapier things, and that the guy’s opponents might then release that video at a strategically chosen moment, is so incredibly small that it would be unfair to fault someone for not taking that possibility into account when making a prediction?

            That’s not a meteor strike. It’s more like making plans for an outdoor event in autumn, and not taking into account the possibility that it might rain.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Yes, it would probably be an error for Silver to predict 55% and then 10 days later predict 20%. But Silver didn’t do this. Taleb is simply wrong to claim that he did.

          Silver made two hypothetical predictions: that Trump had a 55% chance of winning an election held on 26 July and 4% chance of winning an election held on 1 August. But his actual (polls-plus) predictions about the real election that he made on those days were 40% and 32%.

          • eccdogg says:

            You right that I think Taleb was confusing the “now cast” for the polls plus model which is more stable.

            But I think even Nate himself admits that his model may be overreacting to noisy polls. See this from his twitter account less than 24 hours ago.
            ——
            Nate Silver ‏@NateSilver538 17h17 hours ago
            People don’t debate the premises of 538 model (e.g. state errors correlated, undecideds=uncertainty). They just don’t like the conclusions.

            Nate Silver ‏@NateSilver538 17h17 hours ago
            Actually, one exception—there’s good, healthy debate about how aggressive a model should be about chasing down swings early in the campaign.

            Nate Silver ‏@NateSilver538 17h17 hours ago
            It’s possible—I think likely, to be honest—that a model should be fairly conservative on swings early on but aggressive late.
            ——

            I think Taleb pointed out correctly that there are some bounds on how volatile a probability estimate can be, if it is very volatile the estimate itself should get closer to 50/50. He pointed that out, but as usual did it in a jerky way that acted like everyone else was an idiot. I think Silver is acknowledging that that view probably has merit.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            (The now-cast hypothetical “What if the election were held today?” is very hard to make sense of. I think Silver really means that this is his best estimate of what a representative poll taken on that day would be. Interpreting it as an election is silly. But it is a very natural intermediate waypoint to separate out the step of aggregation of polls from the step of projecting the future.)

            The 55% sounds like it comes from the now-cast, but maybe it’s a typo and Taleb meant 50%, the polls-only prediction of 30 July, which fell to 12% on 9 August. I don’t understand why the polls-only forecast is as noisy as the now-cast forecast, rather than as smooth as polls-plus, which moved from 40% to 20% between those days. I thought that smoothing was what got us from now-cast to polls-only, while the polls-plus step was adding in terms that depend on the economy rather than the polls and don’t do much smoothing. (I guess if polls-plus were only 50% polls, it would be half as noisy as polls-only, which is what we see, but I didn’t think that the non-poll term was so big.)

            I think that Silver is smoothing based on the volatility of previous years. Maybe he should be measuring the volatility this year and smoothing more if this year is more volatile.

            There are three sources of volatility. One is polling error. The second is that the public’s true opinion over-reacts to news. It really does change its mind, but it predictably changes back. The third is that there is more news this year. If you could predict that there would be more news, then you should smooth more. But it’s not clear that you could predict that. Does the existence of wikileaks allow you to predict Comey’s behavior? Anyhow, I object to the phrase “noisy polls.” That sounds like the first source of error, which I think Silver handles correctly. Maybe it could include the second source of error, but I think it would be better to use a different phrase. And I think it would be wrong to use that phrase for the third source of volatility.

        • Eponymous says:

          Nate Silver has said that a weakness of his model is that it doesn’t consider the entire history of the polls, but only their current state.

          Thus if it’s currently Clinton +1, with 1 month to go, and through the whole campaign the vote totals have been fluctuating between Clinton +1 and Clinton +5, we should expect mean reversion rather than drift.

    • PDV says:

      Taleb is just a sophisticated troll, at this point. He’s better than Adams, but not much.

  13. onyomi says:

    This will sound strange and irrational and it is, fundamentally, irrational, but has anyone else ever had this thought?

    “Statistically, my vote makes no difference, but if I don’t vote today then it means people like me aren’t going to vote, which means the guy I want to win won’t win, so I’ll vote.” This thought process has never actually changed whether or not I voted, or for whom, but I have had it. It feels sort of like predestination logic: “the elect are already going to Heaven and there’s nothing they can do about it, but I’m going to work really hard and be a good person to prove I’m one of the elect.”

    • MugaSofer says:

      I’m not sure that is fundamentally irrational.

      Assuming it’s impossible to know ahead of time whether “people like me” will vote, and we all get a large benefit if we do, I’m basically caught in large multi-player prisoner’s dilemma with all the other people like me.

      Right?

      Ideally I’d prefer to defect, stay home, and reap the benefit of everyone else cooperating. But I’d much prefer the benefit of us all cooperating – voting – to what happens if most of us defect.

      If we define “people like me” as “people likely to think of this in these terms”, as opposed to “people who agree with me politically”, then it collapses into the standard TDT playing-against-a-clone-of-yourself thing, where you cooperate so that the others will make the same choice.

      And in fact humans are pretty good at this game; if you say to a hundred people “I’ll give you $100 each if >50% of you vote to, but I’ll give you $5 iif you vote against”, I’m betting most people will vote to give themselves free money trusting most people will make the same calculation, and successfully walk away with the $100. (Although some will no doubt walk away with $105, the cheating jerks.)

      • Wrong Species says:

        But you voting doesn’t mean other people are going to vote. And even if you could influence other people to vote, you’re not going to convince enough people for it to actually matter.

        • PDV says:

          Many people have thought processes like you. By having this thought and then going ahead and doing it, you give yourself some evidence that other people like you will do the same.

          • Wrong Species says:

            But my actions are not going to affect anyone else’s thought process, except maybe people I know and even then that might add up to a few hundred people at most, and it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll convince them all.

    • The Nybbler says:

      It’s basically Newcomb’s paradox, I think. But I’ve had the same thought (not about voting specifically)

    • null says:

      This thought process reminds me of superrationality.

    • Creutzer says:

      Seem like you have internalised TDT.

    • superordinance says:

      Yeah, I’ve had pretty much that thought. Perhaps something more like: “My mind is fairly similar to a lot of other people’s minds. Whatever decision I come to, vis a vis voting, is the same one all those other people will make. I want them to decide to vote, so my candidate wins. Therefore, I should want to decide to vote.”

    • Philosophisticat says:

      A number of people have noticed this as a consequence of Evidential Decision Theory. Evidential Decision Theory is wrong, though.

      e.g.
      https://www.jstor.org/stable/2111503?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    • Walter says:

      Very Homestuck.

      Feels like the counterspell is realizing that your candidate is supported by both “couch-sitting-you”, and “go-out-and-vote-you”, and that all you are doing is controlling which tribe you end up in.

    • suntzuanime says:

      I don’t think it’s irrational. I went out and voted based on this logic. In fact it’s probably even more rational for other people, since there are so few people like me.

    • Squirrel of Doom says:

      Is this a Schelling Point argument?

      I don’t think it quite is. But it’s kinda related.

    • grendelkhan says:

      I’ve seen this idea before, and I’m sure it has a decision-theory name.

      From Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free”, a story about an engineer who signed a loyalty oath to avoid being kicked out of the party and losing his influence, which hadn’t really made much difference in and of itself.

      “There, then, is my point. If I had refused to take the oath of fidelity, I would have saved all three millions.”

      “You are joking,” I said.

      “No.”

      “You don’t mean to tell me that your refusal would have overthrown the regime in 1935?”

      “No.”

      “Or that others would have followed your example?”

      “No.”

      “I don’t understand.”

      “You are an American,” he said again, smiling. “I will explain. There I was, in 1935, a perfect example of the kind of person who, with all his advantages in birth, in education, and in position, rules (or might easily rule) in any country. If I had refused to take the oath in 1935, it would have meant that thousands and thousands like me, all over Germany, were refusing to take it. Their refusal would have heartened millions. Thus the regime would have been overthrown, or, indeed, would never have come to power in the first place. The fact that I was not prepared to resist, in 1935, meant that all the thousands, hundreds of thousands, like me in Germany were also unprepared, and each one of these hundreds of thousands was, like me, a man of great influence or of great potential influence. Thus the world was lost.”

      “You are serious?” I said.

      “Completely,” he said. “These hundred lives I saved–or a thousand or ten as you will–what do they represent? A little something out of the whole terrible evil, when, if my faith had been strong enough in 1935, I could have prevented the whole evil.”

      Sometimes I wonder if the phrase “coordination problem” shouldn’t be a bit more widely used.

      • Jiro says:

        If I had refused to take the oath of fidelity, I would have saved all three millions.

        You need to divide the number of people saved by the number of people who would have to refuse in order it for it to be a big enough trend that a similar trnend would have prevented Hitler. That’s a divisor of at least a couple of million.

    • vV_Vv says:

      “Statistically, my vote makes no difference, but if I don’t vote today then it means people like me aren’t going to vote, which means the guy I want to win won’t win, so I’ll vote.”

      The election is a competitive game where the Nash equilibrium is a mixed strategy: you should vote with some probability which depends on how costly is voting for each voter, and how much utility each voter stands to gain or lose for any of the options. If you knew these properties for all the voters, then you could precisely compute such probability using game theory. Since in practice you don’t know the individual preferences of million of other voters, but you know some aggregated proxy for them, you could estimate that probability using a mean-field approximation, e.g. the Myerson-Weber strategy.

    • onyomi says:

      Well, in this universe, I got off the sofa and voted for Gary Johnson. Hopefully this means other people like me are motivated to vote for Gary Johnson… by typical mind fallacy I predict 98% chance of Johnson victory.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      You may be interested in Eliezer Yudkowky’s Timeless Decision Theory paper.

  14. Anonymous Bosch says:

    Something just like your hypothetical may play out tomorrow in Michigan, as there’s currently cold rain forecast in Detroit.

  15. Some Troll's Serious Discussion Alt says:

    I smell your fear!

    …is what I would say if it was anyone else putting up a blog post on how you shouldn’t read anything into the results of the election the day before the election.

    Instead I’ll just say that I disagree to an extent. That rainstorm really could shift Nationalism’s “power” as an ideology a lot. 4-8 years of Trump versus 4-8 years of Hillary setting the national agenda is a big deal. Hillary could push her open borders and common markets, get us embroiled in a new cold war, issue a bunch of executive orders about bathrooms, etc. Trump could boot a bunch of people out of the country, tear up a bunch of treaties that won’t come back, ban cuckold porn, etc. Either one will get to pack the supreme court.

    Which of the various factions warring inside the Republican party comes out on top matters too. Someone’s getting taken behind the woodshed and how this election goes will probably decide who. That’s half the political landscape reorienting itself based on if it rained or not right there.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Yes, I agree it can definitely change the future, just not our narrative about the past/present.

      • beleester says:

        I mean, if the consequence of losing an election by 1% is that the Republicans come together and say “We’re not building our platform on nationalism again,” then I think it’s fair to say that “The election was a repudiation of nationalism.” Even though, if there had been a rainstorm that day, the Republicans might be saying “Okay, there might be something to this nationalism thing.”

        I’d expect parties to be sensitive to small shifts in the electorate, because those small shifts could determine whether they run away with the election or they need to pray to the Rain Gods to get a win.

  16. Vexhilarious says:

    Alsadius and The Nybbler have made similar points, and I’m making one too.
    Edit: Over half the people replying seem to be bothered by the same thing. This seems to me one of those posts that need a quick retooling.

    “And I’m worried that someone is going to confuse this kind of stuff with deep insight into the state of the country.”
    “Imagine that the deciding factor really is a rainstorm in Philadelphia. There was a rainstorm in Philly, therefore the 21st century will be the century of nationalism? It was a clear sunny day in Philly, therefore nationalism is a spent force in politics? The difference between nationalism being all-powerful and being at its last gasp is whether there was a cold front over the mid-Atlantic region?”

    I understand why you’re saying this, but you could definitely have painted a more nuanced picture. While a Trump/Hillary win itself may not give you masses of information about the state of the US at T-0, the result of the election itself may be what shift the political tides of the century.
    A phrasing which can explain the confusion in your post would go something like: “An apparently racist nationalistic narcissist has won the presidency of the world’s most powerful empire (both politically and culturally), therefore the 21st century will be the century of nationalism. You may not buy the enthymeme, but it’s both more accurate and more understandable than your original formulation. The point is that in this post, the election results seems to be (wrongly) considered in a vacuum.

    Here’s the example to make this as clear as possible:
    “If a Trump victory tomorrow would convince you that X is true, I suggest that you believe X is true regardless of whether or not Trump wins, because Trump’s victory almost certainly will depend more on noise than on X.”

    Suppose I play Russian roulette (to death) with Scott. The argument would go something like: if Scott squeezes the trigger with a bullet in the chamber, I would be convinced that Scott will die on the spot. The suggestion that I believe ‘Scott will die on the spot’ is true whether or not there is a bullet in the chamber because its being there depends more on noise than on his dying on the spot is a senseless suggestion.

  17. greghb says:

    I wrote this yesterday, sharing here half out of narcissism, half out of thinking Scott and others might enjoy. My motivation was very similar to yours: pre-commit now, because it’s less trustworthy after the fact. Also, credit to SSC for some inspiration behind the meta- vs. object-level thought experiment toward the end.

    ***

    How will you feel Wednesday morning?

    If Clinton wins, it will be hard to think straight through the flood of relief.

    If Trump wins, it will be hard to think straight through the flood of disappointment.

    If the result is in question (and not just because Trump “has questions”), it will be hard to think straight through the flood of you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me.

    Therefore, I’m writing down my reactions today. Here’s how I would feel if …

    Clinton Wins

    From the vantage point of today, I think a Clinton win should feel more like a reprieve than a victory. The imperative is to remember how scary and real this election was, and not to sink into complacency. To quote an Atlantic article from August, “poor white Americans’ current crisis shouldn’t have caught the rest of the country as off guard as it has.” If we continue to ignore it, we deserve whatever comes next.

    I hope we seize the opportunity to redraw current partisan lines more inclusively. Could confusion over what each party stands for right now allow for more common-ground politics than we’ve seen recently? Maybe fiscal conservatives and wonky liberals can find common ground at the intersection of “small” government and “efficient” government. Maybe BLM and poor whites can find common ground on redistributive economic policies. (Oddly enough, see the latest SNL Black Jeopardy sketch.) Maybe the fiscals/wonks won’t even mind the redistributive policies if they make for a simpler tax code and welfare system. Maybe there’s just enough flux to make it work.

    You’ll note the absence of cultural and identity politics in the above paragraph. I don’t have a shred of a clue about how to make progress there. I’m clinging to the shaky hope that an improved economic situation gets everyone to chill tf out. Beyond that, my next move is just to keep reading and listening.

    Trump Wins

    From the vantage point of today, it’s easier to set aside some of the awful feelings that would follow. Trump would not be a gracious winner. We’d be angry and he’d flaunt it. Surely nothing feeds arrogance like winning the presidency. But, on some level, that’s immaterial. It would be an emotional drain but we would cope.

    From today, I can admit there’s a chance that the world would emerge from a Trump presidency relatively unscathed. This has always been about a risk, not a certainty. Maybe Trump would be nothing beyond an obnoxious figurehead.

    Or maybe he’d do exactly as he promised. I’ll care less about litigating every dumb and awful thing he says, and more about using limited resources to stop his worst policies. What’s the plan if he initiates a deportation force to kick out 11 million people and disrupt countless more lives? What’s the plan if he goes after the press? What’s the plan if he pushes for nuclear proliferation? And even as we reacted to those policies, we would have to remember that he’s just one big symptom. The root cause is the economic and cultural fractures mentioned above, and we’d still have to do our best to understand and address those. Even today that all seems like a tall order.

    Finally, an improbable note of hope. Could Trump’s experience in business actually make him good at running a large organization? It’s not impossible. Maybe he even stays above partisan dogma and passes some reasonable policies that Democrats quietly support. He seems to be a fan of public works projects. Anyway, no harm in hoping. Today I commit to eat crow if Trump surprises us all and does right by everyone.

    The Result Is in Question

    God help us.

    As much as I’ve detested Trump for flouting the rules of democracy, who among us is saintly enough to apply the rules fairly if there isn’t a decisive winner?

    Imagine. It’s Wednesday morning. The map played out exactly as 538 currently has each state leaning, except for New Hampshire which is on a knife’s edge. It’s Clinton-268 to Trump-266. Whoever wins New Hampshire wins the election. The NH Secretary of State (a Democrat) finally announces that Trump won by a tiny margin. Liberal news sources call for a recount. Some start writing about possible voter intimidation, but the facts are totally unclear. Clinton even won the popular vote nationally. What do you do?

    Now imagine the same scenario except the announcement comes out in favor of Clinton. Conservative news sources start calling for a recount. Some start writing about possible voter fraud, but the facts are totally unclear. Trump even won the popular vote nationally. What do you do?

    I feel a responsibility to behave consistently in these two scenarios, though I can understand if you disagree. If you believe there’s 5% of chance of President Trump starting WW III, maybe you’re forgiven for breaking the rules. But you would lose some moral high ground, and you might need that one day.
    I will commit today to accept the results as announced. I’ll keep a weasel-clause of “barring clear evidence of extreme wrong-doing.” But I don’t expect to invoke that clause.

    I don’t really trust us to behave well in this situation. If prayer worked, my prayer would be: grant us wisdom and save us from ourselves. Unfortunately, the odds don’t listen to prayer. 538 gives a 10% chance of there being at least one decisive state with a less-than-0.5% margin.

    • Deiseach says:

      To quote an Atlantic article from August, “poor white Americans’ current crisis shouldn’t have caught the rest of the country as off guard as it has.” If we continue to ignore it, we deserve whatever comes next.

      I wonder. The popular vote only counts towards electoral college votes, and those skew heavily in favour of the highly-populated urban areas – see the map in the preceding post, with two bands of blue on the coasts (more or less).

      A pragmatic/cynical Democrat party might say “Screw the heartlands. Our power base is in the cities. Urban populations with high ethnic diversity and minority and educated, liberal, middle-class white voters. Let the poor whites stew in their own juices, they haven’t voted for us or been election winners for us in forty years, it’s not worth our while pandering to them. Let the Republicans chase the declining share of the national vote there.”

      • hlynkacg says:

        A pragmatic/cynical Democrat party might say “Screw the heartlands. Our power base is in the cities.

        We are already seeing this happening.

      • Brad says:

        The electoral college favors the rural states, not the urbanized one. Each state gets one vote in the electoral college for each senator and representative. So for example, Wyoming get 3 electors, which is one elector per roughly 200k people. California gets 55 elecotrs, which is one elector per roughly 715k people.

        That said, it is rare in recent history that the electoral vote and the popular vote have pointed in different directions.

        • beleester says:

          Not only that, but if we went with a pure popular vote, we’d probably see even more campaigning in the cities from both sides. Why go to Podunk to win five hundred votes when you could go to New York and win five million?

      • Schmendrick says:

        It’s not just that – every coalition needs an enemy. And, at least for the currently-dominant strand of identity politics, that enemy is “whiteness,” which conveniently is most clearly present in those deep-red heartlands.

        • gbdub says:

          Well, really “white maleness”, and really “maleness” aka “toxic masculinity” is the whipping boy du juor. I get the uncomfortable feeling that the “white” part is mostly tacked on for appearances, since a lot of the “toxic” things complained about are at least as, if not more, common among minority males.

          • The Nybbler says:

            No, the point of the game is to cement the status of cis white males at the bottom of the ladder. Attributing negative attributes more characteristic of other groups to whites is simply part of that; whites can’t point that out, because that’s racist.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @The Nybbler:

            Come on, cis white males are not at the bottom of the ladder. That is, as a statement of objective fact, untrue. Being male helps you a lot less than being white does, that’s for sure (and for some things being male seems to be an actual hindrance, which is absolutely not true of being white), and an overwhelming majority of people are cis so that’s really more about most people and society in general behaving truly awfully towards trans people. If you had to look at American society, and say “which group gets (factually, materially, not in clickbait-left articles or whatever) shit on the most”, the answer is not “cis white men”.

            Now, being a poor cis white man sucks, but that’s more about being poor sucking. It’s unfortunate that poor cis white men get denied sympathy by some on the basis that people who look kinda like them are doing pretty great (life is great for affluent white people in general – it’s the poor white people whose life expectancy is dropping – I feel like they get punished for life being good for affluent whites).

            Ultimately, everyone’s gotta stop treating sympathy as some kind of nonrenewable resource. But statements like “cement the status … at the bottom of the ladder” implies that this is a group at the bottom of the ladder, which is not the case.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @dnbdnrsn – “Come on, cis white males are not at the bottom of the ladder. That is, as a statement of objective fact, untrue.”

            What objective measures would qualify as being “at the bottom of the ladder”, in your opinion?

          • Brad says:

            How about disproportionately low representation in things like fortune 500 CxOs, tenured professors, high paid actors, and congressmen?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Brad – multi-million-dollar athletes? actors only, or entertainers generally?

            …Also, is there any particular reason why all the examples you list are apex tournament fields?

            [EDIT] – I would be entirely happy to accept a deal wherein cis white males were banned entirely from all the positions you list if it meant I didn’t worry daily about being fired due to my coworkers finding out about my political opinions. but I do actually worry about that daily, and George Clooney’s mansion is surprisingly little consolation.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            Some possible criteria:
            Political representation. Business management representation. Desired target demographic for businesses. Incarceration rate. Income. Poverty rate. Life expectancy. Depression rate. Self-reported happiness or satisfaction.

            I don’t know the answers to [all] of those…

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Representation among the elites assumes the category captures everything. A cishetwhite living in Appalachia isn’t impacted by this at all.

            But HBC’s points about poverty rate and incarceration rates, which are felt across the board, are very good. I may not be able to become an elite but I’m not getting shot by the cops.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “Political representation.”

            …We likely already live in a world where it’s impossible for a Republican to win the presidency. Should I be happy because Hillary is white?

            and then on the other hand, once we hit proportional representation, the message will be “it’s good that we have proportional representation, but the fight isn’t over!”

            “Business management representation.”

            I grew up in a trailer, where the phrase “store-bought” indicated a luxury.

            “Desired target demographic for businesses.”

            Near as I can tell, this just means “has money”.

            “Incarceration rate. Income. Poverty rate. Life expectancy. Depression rate. Self-reported happiness or satisfaction.”

            These seem pretty reasonable.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Edward Scizorhands:
            But a cis-het-white-male Appalachian will still (most likely) have a cis-het-white-male boss and a cis-het-white-male Congress critter.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @dndnrsn

            The question is “which group gets shit on the most” by the coalition containing the currently-dominant strand of identity politics, and that’s cis white males without a doubt.

            My point is that the fact that some of the “toxic” behaviors (e.g. catcalling) complained about in cis white men are more prevalent among minority men is a feature, not a bug. The white male is tempted to defend himself by pointing out that those behaviors are actually characteristic of minority males; if he actually does it he’s shouted down as a dirty racist. If he realizes this will happen, he’s realized his status as the whipping boy.

            (oh, and FacelessCraven’s worry is my reality)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “But a cis-het-white-male Appalachian will still (most likely) have a cis-het-white-male boss and a cis-het-white-male Congress critter.”

            What value does this offer?

            [comment removed due to incivility.]

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            What does “Republican” have to do with cis-white-het-male (in the sense of how is it necessary part of the category)? And what does you growing up in a trailer have to do with whether your boss is cis-white-het-male?

            You seem to be (in your head) excluding a lot of actual cis, white, het, males from your definition of said group?

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Incarceration rate.

            Relative to crime rate?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “What does “Republican” have to do with cis-white-het-male (in the sense of how is it necessary part of the category)?”

            Because Republican (or more accurately Red Tribe) is the tribe I actually care about, not cis or het or white or male, until it becomes unavoidably obvious that they’re the same thing.

            “And what does you growing up in a trailer have to do with whether your boss is cis-white-het-male?”

            What does my boss being cis-white-het-male have to do with me growing up in a trailer? My white-cis-het-male boss is rich enough to pay me to watch @n1t@ S@rk1s1@n videos to make sure the art I make isn’t “problematic”. I’m just trying to survive.

            [EDIT] – I don’t care if my congressman, president, boss, CEO, movie star or whatever else is gay, or black, or trans. I care whether they’re part of my tribe. With due respect, I don’t think it’s different for you, or any of the other liberal commenters here. If you were offered perfect representation in terms of gender, sex, ethnicity, social strata and so on so long as everyone at the top was overwhelmingly Red Tribe, you wouldn’t take it and you’d be mad if you did.

            Diversity is crucially important right up until it’s the kind that gets in your way.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            Well the statement being discussed was whether (as a group) cis, het, white, males were the bottom of the ladder.

            And even including Republican (which is weird) most cis, white, het, males will have cis, white, het bosses who also happen to be Republican. Cis, white, het, Republican males have been winners of 7 of the last 12 presidential cycles.

            If I was going to be unfair, I’d say you seem to conflate “not every member of my cohort is clearly above every single other category” with “bottom of the ladder”. I’m not sure that’s actually the mistake you are making, but I’m not sure how else to characterize it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            Same as HBC. Material things: on the one hand, low-end average stuff: wealth, income, chance of being a victim of violence, etc. On the other hand, high-end stuff: % of Fortune 500, politicians, etc. Obviously, most white people (or men, or cis people, or straight people, or affluent people, or whatever) are not CEOs or whatever. But most CEOs are cis straight affluent white men.

            Considering only cis, white, and male:

            Cis: Cis people have it much easier than trans people. Trans women in particular are treated horribly. Trans people get treated like shit, and I think it is completely obvious that it’s totally undeserved and due only to humans being generally awful and loving to hate on people who are different. This one opens up the issue, though, of whether to consider things advantages to one group, disadvantages to the other, or both – is horrendous treatment of a small minority an advantage to the majority?

            White: This one is a major advantage. I can’t think of any way that, on a societal level, white people have any real advantages. Of course, you can find individual cases, but they usually hit other groups too (eg, it looks like Asians suffer due to AA policies in university admissions than white people do). Of course, this one runs into the issue that it isn’t a binary “white”/”not white” situation – Asians have lower rates of incarceration, higher average incomes, etc than white people, at least in the US.

            Male: This one really depends on how you read highly contentious and often very unreliable statistics, the big ones being the wage gap and sexual assault statistics. Also highly contentious are questions of nature and nurture – how you answer questions like “why are men more likely to be CEOs”, “why are men both more likely to be the perpetrators and victims of violence”, and “why are men more likely to be in prison” is very important. Given that so much is based on contentious statistics, this one is very hard to discuss.

            Of course, you talk about class, and class is not mentioned in The Nybbler’s original comment. In my opinion, if I had to rank the advantages I have received in life that have nothing to do with any merit or effort on my part, being upper-middle-class would be #1, followed tightly by being white, with being male a distant third. The elite college I did my undergrad at is minority white, and minority male, so obviously people who are not white, not male, or neither are not being kept out – but is majority affluent. Very few poor kids. Very few lower-middle-class kids even.

            I think class often gets left out of these discussions because the people talking are usually affluent, and affluence is the one social advantage one can simply divest one’s self of if one feels guilty about it – so people who are affluent find ways not to feel guilty about it, and focus either on reasons other people should feel guilty, or on their guilt over things they can’t change about themselves.

            Finally, you (a game designer or something) are in one of the bubbles where SJ types do actually have some power. University campuses would be another one. But that’s not the majority of the world. There’s more trans kids getting disowned and kicked out on the street or black people getting hassled by the cops for no reason than there are professors getting blackballed for not having the right opinions. That, of course, doesn’t mean that the last one is OK – but worse and more widespread harms need to be a greater priority.

          • Brad says:

            I don’t care if my congressman, president, boss, CEO, movie star or whatever else is gay, or black, or trans. I care whether they’re part of my tribe. With due respect, I don’t think it’s different for you, or any of the other liberal commenters here. If you were offered perfect representation in terms of gender, sex, ethnicity, social strata and so on so long as everyone at the top was overwhelmingly Red Tribe, you wouldn’t take it and you’d be mad if you did.

            @FC
            You seem to be changing the argument because it doesn’t suit you. If you don’t think it is relevant or even sensical to say that “cis white males [are] at the bottom of the ladder” because: that group is made up of more relevent subgroups, or because there are different ladders, or some other reason, then why didn’t you say that instead of challenging dndnrsn’s claim as to the order?

            Your objection should have been with The Nybbler’s original statement even if he is on your “team”.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “Well the statement being discussed was whether (as a group) cis, het, white, males were the bottom of the ladder.”

            I am attempting to figure out what “the ladder” means as a concept.

            “And even including Republican (which is weird)…”

            why?

            “most cis, white, het, males will have cis, white, het bosses who also happen to be Republican.”

            I haven’t had a Republican boss in over a decade. Have you?

            “Cis, white, het, Republican males have been winners of 7 of the last 12 presidential cycles.”

            …And losers of 4 of the last 6. And likely losers of this one. And likely losers of all subsequent presidential contests from here on out. And if that prediction comes true, it won’t count towards “the ladder”, will it?

            “If I was going to be unfair, I’d say you seem to conflate “not every member of my cohort is clearly above every single other category” with “bottom of the ladder”. I’m not sure that’s actually the mistake you are making, but I’m not sure how else to characterize it.”

            “my cohort” is apparently made up of me, trying to keep my head down and my opinions secret while my coworkers openly and daily talk about how people like me are unbelievable monsters, and George Clooney, who lives in unbelievable luxury somewhere in the sunnier parts of California. So yes, I think your system of assigning “cohorts” sucks.

            How much of the past decade have you lived in fear of immediate, personal, catastrophic harm due to your tribal characteristics? But remember, it’s not structural oppression.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            Well now your argument seems to be “I’m at the bottom of the ladder in my workplace” which … may be relevant from a “how do people evaluate these arguments psychologically” but doesn’t really actually make a coherent point.

            My current boss (in a tech hub, in programming no less) is Republican (and cis, white, het, male). So was my last boss. But that isn’t really material because it’s anecdote and is not a look at the state of managerial jobs as a whole.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @dndnrsn – “I think class often gets left out of these discussions because the people talking are usually affluent, and affluence is the one social advantage one can simply divest one’s self of if one feels guilty about it – so people who are affluent find ways not to feel guilty about it, and focus either on reasons other people should feel guilty, or on their guilt over things they can’t change about themselves.”

            ding ding DING DING DING DING DING DING DING!!!

            …which is why people in this thread are talking about Fortune 500 CEOs, of which there are *500* in a country of *300 million*. Again, I would happily ban all problematic identities from the Fortune 500 if it meant fewer daily lectures about how my team isn’t “diverse” enough.

            I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this mentioned, and then everyone sort of shuffles about in awkward silence for a bit, and then resumes as if it hadn’t been brought up.

            “That, of course, doesn’t mean that the last one is OK – but worse and more widespread harms need to be a greater priority.”

            Naturally. Just so long as those priorities don’t threaten the people you yourself identify as the most advantaged.

            @Brad – “You seem to be changing the argument because it doesn’t suit you.”

            I would say more because it’s patently farcical, but to each his own.

            “Your objection should have been with The Nybbler’s original statement even if he is on your “team”.”

            The Nybbler is not on my “team”, and with due respect to him, I do not see a useful outcome to engaging with his point directly. Where he is going I cannot follow.

          • Brad says:

            @FC
            It sounds like we are all in agreement that “the point of the game is to cement the status of cis white males at the bottom of the ladder” is wrong. Some of us for different reasons than others, but all in agreement on the question of overall correctness.

            So that’s good.

            Again, I would happily ban all problematic identities from the Fortune 500 if it meant fewer daily lectures about how my team isn’t “diverse” enough.

            I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this mentioned, and then everyone sort of shuffles about in awkward silence for a bit, and then resumes as if it hadn’t been brought up.

            I’m not really sure what kind of response you are looking for. That trade isn’t on offer, and I don’t think it ought to be or at least not for one person to make.

            I suppose we could have a discussion about at will employment and unions if you want, but I don’t see how it really ties into this already max nested sub-thread.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @The Nybbler:

            The question is “which group gets shit on the most” by the coalition containing the currently-dominant strand of identity politics, and that’s cis white males without a doubt.

            But that’s not what you said. You said:

            No, the point of the game is to cement the status of cis white males at the bottom of the ladder.

            Two very different things. Sure, to the (I would hardly argue dominant) strand of academic-ish-left-wing-activist identity politics, cishet white men are not in good odour. But they don’t determine reality. Plenty of cishet white men at the top of the Democratic coalition. They’re clearly confident this isn’t going to hurt them. I think they’re right.

            Now, it’s shitty for poor cishet white men. But things are generally shitty for all poor people. To use a quote ascribed to, as far as I can tell, nobody male – “I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor, and rich is better.” (I have never in fact been poor myself, nor would I call myself rich, but being upper-middle-class is pretty fucking sweet and it’s been a major advantage)

            (Also, thinking about it more, being able-bodied has probably helped me more than being male.)

            Now, I am of the opinion that poor white men (or poor men, or poor white people, or whatever) are the scapegoats for the sins of their affluent equivalents: for instance, changes to notions about due process in sexual assault law brought in after some horror done by some rich white fratboy are going to hit poor men and especially poor black men harder than they will ever hit rich white men. This is shitty. But it’s far from cis white men or whatever being at the bottom of the pecking order.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @dndnrsn

            This whole discussion seems to have gone on given the premise that I meant some sort of society-wide position by “the ladder”. I didn’t; I was making a much smaller point about the status ladder as defined by those complaining about “toxic masculinity” (sometimes called the privilege ladder, or the progressive stack).

          • dndnrsn says:

            If you meant “at the bottom of the ladder” with the caveat that this is the ladder of esteem in the eyes of a particular sort of left wing activist, then, sure, there are left-wing activist types who think cis white men are the root of all evil. I know one. But I don’t know how much power they actually have. I doubt it’s very much – this person is so disagreeable and unstable that they seem to have a knack for alienating everyone they come into contact with.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – my argument is that “the ladder” as described by you, brad, and dndnrsn does not carve reality at the joints, notably by ignoring wealth and class.

            As for the Republican bit, a simple example may help. If you believed that a black person would never again be elected president, would you be okay with that? On the other hand, the news that Republicans will likely never win a Presidential election again is greeted with glee. Skin color is treated like it matters, tribe is treated like it doesn’t. I think this is a foolish way of seeing the world, because whether they should or not, some people value their tribe more than their skin color.

            @Brad – “It sounds like we are all in agreement that “the point of the game is to cement the status of cis white males at the bottom of the ladder” is wrong.”

            Wrong it may be, but at least he’s painting an accurate picture of a real problem, if one of uncertain scope. On the other hand, you and others in this thread are arguing that skin color and gender and ethnicity matter to the ladder, while ignoring social class, wealth, and (controversially) tribe. That in my opinion is considerably worse.

            Obviously talking about class and wealth and tribe would be inconvenient, because that would mean the targets of all those critiques would sound a whole lot less like me and a whole lot more like you. So they don’t happen, and people like you stay quite comfortable, and everything is fine except that people like me get stuck with the bill. I am sure this seems like an entirely satisfactory arrangement for your perspective.

          • Bugmaster says:

            I think there’s a difference between poor (or lower-middle-class) cis-heteronormative white males, and upper-class cis-heteronormative white males.

            The poor ones are rapidly becoming the acceptable target du jour; that is to say, society is moving toward the position that discriminating against these people is perfectly acceptable.

            The rich ones (and maybe even upper-middle-class ones), on the other hand, do enjoy a certain degree of positive discrimination in their favor.

            Of course, the truly elite people don’t care about their race all that much. At the very top, the only color that matters is green.

  18. Brad says:

    Is Nate Silver’s model explicitly bayesian? I think Scott’s post is treating it that way (i.e. as a degrees of belief), but does NS ever come out and say that? There’s a lot of language on 538 that seems to suggest sampling an underlying distribution.

    • PDV says:

      They run a ton of simulations (10,000 runs each time) to generate the probabilities. There’s Bayesian thinking upstream of that, in the assumptions that they use to build the model, but it’s not in the nuts and bolts.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      That’s not what a Bayesian model means. (And no, I don’t think his model is fully Bayesian, based on what I know about it).

      Bayesian is not the same thing as probabilistic. Bayesian is not the same thing as a sampling method. Bayesian is not the same thing as using Bayes theorem.

      The thing of interest about Nate Silver’s model isn’t whether it is Bayesian, but whether it works.

      • Brad says:

        How do you define working? There’s only ever going to be one 2016 election. There’s no way to re-run it 10,000 times and see if Nate Silver’s percentages were right.

        I think it is a very interesting question to ask what Nate Silver means exactly when he says “Hillary Clinton has a 69.2% chance of winning”. If you don’t, that’s fine but I don’t know why you feel the need to come in and make this rude and not particularly informative response.

        Edit: Thanks for the below reply.

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          How you define “working” is a good question! I would define it as “past performance on similar tasks.” People pay attention to Nate’s models because they did well in the past.

          Interpretation of probabilistic model output is not such a simple matter in practice, because a lot of these models are hybrid methods in various ways. I don’t know exactly what Nate Silver does (because he doesn’t publish his model) but for example one thing people do is reweigh polling data to account for systematic bias due to how polls are conducted. This part is likely not going to be Bayesian even if the rest of the model has Bayesian pieces in it.

          Another example is “deep learning” methods. Some of them are probabilistic. Maybe you could come up with a Bayesian interpretation for the output, maybe not. I am not sure how that would change anything.

          If you wanted to learn more about Bayesian models, SSC comment section probably isn’t the right place for it, but there are lots of good intros to them (I looked at Bishop’s machine learning book recently, that’s taught from a Bayesian perspective).

          I apologize if you were offended by my response.

          • Brad says:

            How you define “working” is a good question! I would define it as “past performance on similar tasks.” People pay attention to Nate’s models because they did well in the past.

            The model has had all sorts of changes since the last time Nate predicted a presidential election. In a very real sense it will only ever be used once.

            Maybe we can talk about the track record of a family of models or a certain kind of approach but I don’t think we can talk about the success of this model, without doing backtesting. And basing “what works” on backtesting risks the kind of rampant overfitting seen in the financial world.

            Thanks for the reference, but I’m more interested in the epistemological questions than the nuts and bolts of modeling.

        • vV_Vv says:

          I think it is a very interesting question to ask what Nate Silver means exactly when he says “Hillary Clinton has a 69.2% chance of winning”.

          It means that he sampled his model many times and 69.2% of times he got a Clinton victory. How to precisely interpret this is a question best left to philosophers.

          • Brad says:

            Since that’s exactly the question I am interested in, I suppose that makes me a lover of wisdom. 😉

    • Douglas Knight says:

      I’m pretty sure that the output probability is intended as a degree of belief. For example, Silver’s book advocates such outputs.

  19. mtraven says:

    I am confused about the point Scott is trying to make.

    If it՚s just that elections can turn on things that aren՚t fundamental, well, yes, so can any conflict, it՚s a truth that՚s been proverbized. And such non-fundamental causes become part of the narrative.

    If it՚s that the fundamental underlying forces are going to remain in play regardless of the consquences of the elections, well that is true also but everyone is aware of that. Trump has stirred up the forces of racism, nativism, authoritarianism, and fascism, and those aren՚t going away after he loses.

    The fundamentals won՚t change, but it՚s precisely the narrative that will change. If Trump is elected there will be one set of stories told (both about the past and the future), and if Clinton wins, a quite different set, and this is entirely appropriate, it՚s just how narrative works. Half the job of a president is serving as a locus for the national narrative. Maybe more than half.

    So this post seems exactly wrong, or maybe just misphrased.

    It also reminds me of certain kinds of old-school Marxists who like to believe that they are in touch with the fundamental dynamics of history that lets them ignore transient noise like elections: “Elections come and elections go, but the class struggle carries on regardless.”.

    • gbdub says:

      He’s not denying that the narrative will change, he’s arguing that it shouldn’t.

      Either way, the election looks close. Assuming it stays that way, we shouldn’t massively change our beliefs regarding the current electorate. There’s a tendency to treat a result as an emphatic declaration that one side was right and the other was soundly repudiated, but that seems particularly off in this election. Either way, about half of the country is going to wake up on Wednesday despising the president-elect – their views don’t instantly cease to matter or cease to impact the narrative.

      • mtraven says:

        about half of the country is going to wake up on Wednesday despising the president-elect – their views don’t instantly cease to matter or cease to impact the narrative.

        True but a strawman, nobody believes the other side is going to go away.

        He’s not denying that the narrative will change, he’s arguing that it shouldn’t.

        See, that I don՚t understand. “Shouldn՚t” in what sense? Changing the narrative is half the point of an election. Why do you think people care so much about it? To quote another proverb, history (narrative) is written by the winners.

        Maybe what he is really arguing for is for a non-narrative interpretation of politics and social processes. If we think about it purely in quantitative terms, as people here like to do, then maybe we won՚t be trapped in a narrative frame. That at least makes sense, but it isn՚t changing or not-changing the narrative, it՚s escaping from narrative.

        • Schmendrick says:

          nobody believes the other side is going to go away.

          I’m reminded of the aphorism that democracy is just ritualized warfare…each side shows up and the side with more “soldiers” wins.

        • gbdub says:

          See, that I don՚t understand. “Shouldn՚t” in what sense? Changing the narrative is half the point of an election. Why do you think people care so much about it? To quote another proverb, history (narrative) is written by the winners.

          I think you’re continuing to miss the point. The election is a snapshot. Someone will win, and someone will lose, but actual opinions aren’t going to shift that much based on the result.

          I read Scott to be saying “look, a Trump win doesn’t mean that his brand of populism is ‘sweeping the nation’ or ‘suddenly ascendant’ – and a Trump loss doesn’t mean the opposite. His brand is about equally as popular as Hillary’s. Either way, both positions are clearly influential and that fact should inform your thinking”.

          It’s sort of like a football team winning a game on a last-second touchdown, and concluding that they were clearly far superior to the other team. No, both teams were about equal, and if you played 10 more times each team would probably win a few. One team doesn’t become crap and the other unstoppable just because of how the random number generator came up this time.

          “Things are close” IS the narrative. Somebody gets the trophy, but the thing about politics, as opposed to sports championships, is that the election is just the beginning – afterward you have to govern, and either candidate is going to have to deal with a vocal and numerous opposition (much more so than e.g. Reagan).

          • mtraven says:

            Alright, maybe I am missing the point, which to me seems either wrong or obvious. Not much point going round and round on it.

            I agree that politics is about a lot more than elections, and elections don’t make the other side go away. They are, though, pretty important targets in the ongoing struggle, so in that sense they do represent points of change in an ongoing narrative.

  20. dansimonicouldbewrong says:

    In a normal democracy, where everyone treats elections as single instances in an iterative process of parties luring voters to build winning coalitions, the fact that both major parties are close to victory would cause the two leaderships to immediately begin brainstorming ways to lure constituencies into their coalition–in effect, causing their positions to bleed into each other to form a fairly clear “centrist” (by the country’s own definition) consensus on policies. In America, however, nobody really cares for or believes in democracy, elections are considered a form of tribal warfare, and close elections are thus considered an opportunity to brainstorm ways to manipulate the process so as to engineer a (more bullet-proof) victory for one’s own tribe next time. So no, the fact that victory in such close elections can be a result of random happenstance doesn’t tend to provoke sober reflection on the need to consider the diversity of opinion in the country.

  21. dndnrsn says:

    Assuming the smart money is right and Trump loses tomorrow, what is the future of what some people call “Trumpism” but is really just right-wing populism (the US being relatively short on authentic populism – of course the question there is whether Trump is authentic – and many American commentators tending to forget that Europe exists), a few questions/thoughts. Interested to see what people think:

    One: Does a candidate running a right-wing populist party, but without Trump’s many flaws (picking Twitter fights with whoever, his disastrous debate performances, the various skeletons in his closet) in 2020 do better (leaving aside the question of whether 2020 will be a “throw the bums out” election)? As much as some people want to pretend that Trump’s always attack, never back down style was part of his appeal, I don’t think it helped him much once the primaries were over. Someone who could appeal to the reasons people support right-wing populism without coming off as much of a bully as Trump did, and without all the baggage, might be able to do quite well.

    Two: Is there simply not the demographics to support a right-wing populist party? Going into this election, the Republican base of support was white men and married white women, and the right-wing populism we have seen so far has been appealing almost entirely to white Americans (see also below). Are there going to be enough of those people? Are there even the demographics to support any kind of party like the Republicans, be it a populist party, or a party with the sort of candidate the National review crowd wanted to win – can the whole “Hispanics are natural Republicans” thing ever work?

    Three: Has Trump’s running in and of itself harmed the future prospects of right-wing populism? Has Trump driven off white women in general? Has he driven off college-educated whites (who tend to be less populist)? I’ve seen predictions that he will not get the vote of white women and college-educated whites. I think this one is rather likely – especially losing women’s votes; right-wing populism may now be tied in the public imagination with a certain sort of crass misogyny.

    Four: Would it be possible to build a right-wing populism without the racial angle? An appeal to civic nationalism rather than a soft ethnic nationalism? This one could be a real winner, but again runs into the problem of having to peel off a significant number of groups that tend to go Democrat. Perhaps a right-wing populist party would split from the Democrats (I think this is likely – I think the Republicans are going to disappear as a national party).

    Bonus question: how does one categorize populist movements? I keep saying “right-wing populism” but it tends to be more of the social right than the fiscal right, and more about national identity and loyalty than necessarily about either of those things. Let’s say a populist movement comes in and starts a big dig-holes-and-fill-them-in make-work project but limits it to “loyal” (whatever that means) citizens – is that left wing or is it right wing?

    • Moon says:

      Propaganda solves all. But it seems unlikely for much constructive to come out of this, unless people pull free of the propaganda somehow, which is very unlikely. As long as propaganda works to get votes, Right Wing propagandists will continue to do their jobs in the easiest way– that is, by catering to people’s vices to get votes– which is what got us here in the first place.

    • Walter says:

      1: I think not. Trump is probably the high water mark for this kind of populism. The next candy bar will have to add peanut butter to this chocolate. You can’t really stuff more Trump into a candidate than Trump did.

      2: White dudes vs all is a demographic loser. But India is a good example of how this goes. Once the boogeyman is revealed to be beatable, the Fellowship breaks up as Aragorn has to choose Elf or Dwarf interests in practice. Sanders vs Clinton is a prelude.

      3A: He hasn’t exactly harmed it. It is sickly and weak because he brought it back from the dead (or, woke it up from its slumber if you prefer), not because it used to be thriving and then it caught a nasty case of Trump.

      3B: Absolutely. Trump has lost women, and his heirs will not get them back. A political alliance with whatever they end up creating I can see, but they will not return meekly to our tent after this nonsense.

      3C: College educated white folks may be driven off, but that’s kind of how we do? Like, go to college, become a dem, is a known thing. They’ll be back when they open a car dealership and realize that Dad had a point about taxes.

      4: Sure, but there is little incentive to do so. If I’m the Poor party, and you are the Middle Class Party, and you are buddy-buddy to the tune of 94% voting solidarity with the Eskimo Party my avatars have a lot of incentives to put eskimo jokes on the stump. The only way that this alliance works is if (again, looking at India), the Dem sub parties fall out with one another and we end up with an alliance with one of their former client groups. At that point we would discover that (to quote one of Scott’s older works), there n’er was a coward where the Shmrock Grows.

      4B: I don’t think the reps will ever disappear. We are necessary, in a very fundamental way. As far as not being everywhere? Well, that’s already the case.

      Bonus question:
      Left : Hope/Greed based. Left promises to make something happen in exchange for your vote.
      Right: Pride/Fear based. Right promises to avert some calamity in exchange for your vote.

      State is a car, Left is gas pedal, right is brake.

      Your example would be left wing, albeit deeply out of sync with their current fashions.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        White people vs. everyone is a demographic loser, but I don’t think the Republican base realizes this. The lesson of the Tea Party is that Republicans are going to enforce conservative orthodoxy (successfully) whether or not it’s a broader electoral winner. Note also that this strategy works perfectly well for Congress and probably will for a few more decades.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Scott Alexander – “White people vs. everyone is a demographic loser, but I don’t think the Republican base realizes this. The lesson of the Tea Party is that Republicans are going to enforce conservative orthodoxy (successfully) whether or not it’s a broader electoral winner. ”

          …What is the point of a political movement that can’t enforce its orthodoxy?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Spoils and patronage!

          • hlynkacg says:

            Besides white people suck.

          • beleester says:

            Winning an election with a platform that calls for 50% of what you want is better than losing an election with a platform that calls for 100% of what you want. Representative democracy means you often have to bend to what the people want.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @beleester – “Winning an election with a platform that calls for 50% of what you want is better than losing an election with a platform that calls for 100% of what you want.”

            50% of a car is likely not useful at all. 50% of my computer is unlikely to let me post here. Political goals are not perfectly fungible. If the only way to win the election is to sacrifice the things I actually value to secure the things I don’t value, winning the election is pointless.

            “Representative democracy means you often have to bend to what the people want.”

            …And it’s possible that at some point, what the people want is fundamentally incompatible and there are no avenues remaining for compromise.

          • beleester says:

            Political goals are not perfectly fungible, but they’re not all-or-nothing either. If you are anti-abortion and anti-Obamacare, and you only end up passing a bill to repeal Obamacare, you got 50% of what you wanted.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I think it’s a mistake to say that the Tea Party (and Trump) are about orthodoxy, at least any sort of coherent intellectually coherent conservative orthodoxy.

          It’s far more about identifying the outgroup(s) of the “common man” and tilting at them. Elites, whether they are Wall St. or government elites, re-establishing “law and order” in the “inner city”, finding the foreigners and expelling them, etc.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The funny thing is that in many “inner cities”, law-n-order was re-established some time ago. The major credible threat to it recently has been _Black Lives Matter_, a group backed by the elites. It’s hard crying about inner-city crime in the suburbs of Baltimore if people associate Baltimore with the harbor and Fells Point restaurants; much easier if they’re thinking of burning buildings and riots at the doorstep of Camden Yards.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Sorry, confused here. Are you claiming that until BLM, Baltimore had law and order in poor areas? And then BLM ruined this? Or what are you claiming?

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’m saying that Baltimore actually had fairly large “safe zones” compared what it once was. Unlike some other cities (New York, Philadelphia) it didn’t have law-n-order in most places, but your average suburbanite could go anywhere they wanted in Baltimore and not see any of the no-go areas.

            The BLM riots extended right into the safe zones (rioting within sight of Camden Yards), put Baltimore crime back in the minds of suburbanites, and Baltimore’s homicide rate went up to record levels.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I think if your claim is that the riots had to with BLM (and not w/ cops killing Freddie Gray) then I think you are wrong about this. Similarly to Rodney King riots, which happened before BLM.

            Baltimore has the same safe zones it always did after the advent of BLM. In fact it’s getting safer due to usual gentrification reasons.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Ilya Shpitser

            Baltimore cops are scum, and things like Freddy Gray happen all the time there. The riots happened in that case because there was an organization which decided to get them going.

            Baltimore had a record number of murders in 2015. It _was_ getting safer before that. Perhaps it is again. But the riots did affect the reality and affected the perception even more.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            “The funny thing is that in many “inner cities”, law-n-order was re-established some time ago.”

            “Baltimore cops are scum, and things like Freddy Gray happen all the time there.”

            Well, my friend, if regular unjustified murders by cops happened during the previously established law-n-order, then perhaps the African American residents of Baltimore decided, quite correctly if you ask me, that this is a bad deal. If BLM helped them organize politically and get some pushback going, then good for them!

            It’s true that Baltimore murders spiked up after Freddie Gray (because cops got pushback, and decided, out of spite, to stop doing their jobs). Cops have a hard job, but I am pretty sure murdering innocents is something we can ask them not to do. (Or, to use another example, why is that Chicago cop who sodomized a guy with a screwdriver (a) still on the payroll, and (b) not in prison? Seems like a no-brainer to me.)

          • The Nybbler says:

            Ilya, if you’re looking for me to defend Baltimore cops, or cops in general, you’re barking up the wrong tree. The Baltimore PD has maintained a level of casual brutality for decades that as far as I know, no other major US department has maintained (though others have reached). That doesn’t change the point that the riots were not “grassroots” affairs but rather organized from above, nor does it change the fact that they were counterproductive.

            It would be very nice if we could hold brutal cops accountable. This would require having them tried, convicted, and punished (imprisoned or executed) on a regular basis, which is never going to happen. There are perhaps other strategies which would work, but are very high risk — extrajudicial executions of the specific cops caught, violence targeted at police stations, that sort of thing. Burning down unrelated businesses and attacking random people is never going to do it.

        • dndnrsn says:

          White people v. everyone else is a demographic loser on the national level, in some states, in some cities, in some counties, etc.

          In some places, however, it is a winner. That’s why I’m predicting the Republican party will continue to exist and even thrive below the national level. In 50 years when the Populist Party has split from the Democratic Party, or whatever, and the split is economically more left/socially more right vs socially more left/economically more right (to just spitball one possible scenario), there will still be states ruled by the Republican party.

      • Ryan says:

        On 4A, eventually the dem coalition of ethnic groups will each have enough size/influence to start competing with each other. When that is the case how hard will it be really to break it up? There are a lot of formerly 90% black neighborhoods in California that are now 90% Hispanic, where the reason for the change really did have a lot to do with violent crime by Hispanic gangs forcing black people out.

        • psmith says:

          the reason for the change really did have a lot to do with violent crime by Hispanic gangs forcing black people out.

          Could you go into that a little more? I was under the impression that it had a good deal more to do with rising prices, landlords preferring to rent to Hispanics, that kind of thing–not gentrification exactly but a move in that general direction.

      • dndnrsn says:

        3A. My understanding is that the US has been relatively short on authentic populism (not just ginning up populist sentiment) relative to Europe and other places throughout its history.

        3C. Didn’t a slim majority of college educated whites vote Romney last election? There are a lot of colleges that aren’t stereotypical dens of the left. And there’s a lot of people who bite their tongue for 3 or 4 years.

        4. I think the Republicans are going to disappear at a national level. The brand now is “scary ignorant cishet white men” due both to propaganda against them and their own actions. A party that wants a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, and the Presidency (and thus the Court) can’t survive with the demographics the Republicans have nationally.

        • Walter says:

          4: We kind of already have? Like, Obama x2 followed by Clinton x2? Sixteen years of Dem rule of the white house.

          I’d say it can “survive” (it takes, what, a thousand people to keep the lights on everywhere? I mean, isn’t there still a Prohibition party?) Moreover, the dems need us around to keep their team united. They have an incentive (and thus the gov has an incentive) to prop us up.

          Imagine in a dozen year, Reps are basically only competitive in their core areas, Dem president foregone conclusion. Real drama is future Clinton vs future Sanders, in whatever manner you like to split the dems. Easy to envision the defeated side in a donors vs beggars fight reaching out to Team Red to get another shot in the general after a narrow defeat in the primary.

          • dndnrsn says:

            With the US’ system such as it is, I imagine there won’t have to be a losing side reaching out – Republican voters with their 20 senators and 60 representatives or whatever will probably end up picking the more right-wing Democratic splinter of their own accord.

    • Schmendrick says:

      1) Trump’s combative style and showboating really did help him. He came across as authentic – as saying the things that people actually themselves would say. A politician with that ability who also had a better filter (i.e., “Crooked Ted,” “Lil’ Marco,” and “Lyin’ Hillary” but without “Megyn’s got blood coming out of her wherever”) would be quite successful. Especially if they had the kind of blustery, braggadocious social media presence Trump has. For better or worse, our BosWash overlords rely on social media to a massive extent these days, and so generating buzz there is very helpful when it comes to getting media attention. Yet, at the same time the absolute number of people on Twitter is very small, so you can afford to be ridiculously aggressive and not risk having it hurt you quite as badly (unless you’re telling people to go look at a sex tape at 3 am. That one…not so good a call). Any populist politician who actually sounds like a politician with tinned soundbytes rather than some kind of up-jumped Joe Sixpack is going to fail and fail hard.

      2) The right wing, populist or not, will not win another presidential election while SJW identity politics has a hammerlock on how we see race and gender. So long as everyone is desperate to not be white, the party which appeals to white folks, or values associated with white folks, will be a veritable plague ship. This, ironically, will have the effect of discouraging the Universalist right (generally the Reaganite Establishment) and empowering the White Identity Politics right (generally the Trumpian Populists), which will increase the conservative deficit among non-white voters. This state of affairs will hold until one minority group is comfortable enough to decide that it no-longer desires special treatment, or a high-stakes issue comes up which noisily and acrimoniously pits one minority group against another.

      3) No. Populist movements are linked to the personality of their leader, as a general rule. This is why Peronism degenerated after Peron, and Chavismo is currently dying after Chavez. Gilded Age populism died with the political careers of William Jennings Bryan and Tom Watson. So while Trumpism as a populist force is dead (we shall see whether it can transition into a formal electoral institution), another leader – especially a woman – might emerge to fire the imaginations of a slightly different constituency. I could see someone like Joni Ernst leading the charge as a modern day Phyllis Schlafly.

      4) See #2.

      • dndnrsn says:

        SJW identity politics hardly has a “hammerlock on how we see race and gender”. In some bubbles, definitely. But the majority of the adult population without a university degree generally doesn’t live in those bubbles, and plenty with a university degree don’t either.

        It’s is hardly hateful and false propaganda that led the Republican party to become the party of white people, and then fewer and fewer kinds of white people. Sure, there’s been some defamation, but their own actions have led to this situation.

        • Schmendrick says:

          Right, but the culture writ large subscribes to a watered-down form of SJW identitarianism; i.e., that the important thing is what you are, rather than what you do. It’s how we sort our political factions, it’s how we arrange our popular culture, it’s how we look at problems of social dysfunction. We racialize EVERYTHING in this country. We’re obsessed with it. We never stop talking about it, both left and right; blue and red tribe. Feminism and LGBTQ groups are trying to raise sex and gender to this level. People don’t need to be SJWs to be steeped in racial, sexual, or gender identitarianism. And for a bunch of reasons, all this has shaken out on the left as “POC vs. whites” and “cishet-males vs. everyone else.” Given a two party system, is it really all that surprising that whites and men are gravitating away from the party/tribe that defines their identitarian interest in opposition to them? No hate or falsity needed, though there’s plenty of both in this country.

          • dndnrsn says:

            “What you are is more important than what you do” is hardly something only one side has been pushing, or something that is something only recently being pushed. It’s one of the basic tenets of racism, homophobia, and sexism.

            Back when white people had an overwhelming majority and used it to be extremely unpleasant to everyone else … among other examples … I don’t think you can blame that on the modern activist left.

            And is it that whites and men are gravitating to the Republicans, or that people who were Republicans are leaving, and some people never were Republicans in the first place?

      • Walter says:

        2)

        “until one minority group is comfortable enough to decide that it no-longer desires special treatment” – Scoff. Not saying anything about minority folks here, just humans in general don’t tend to vote for “take stuff away from me”.

        “pits one minority group against another” – marginally more plausible. The Social Justice car doesn’t have a reverse gear, so if they ever accidentally point two of them at each other there will be a wreck.

    • Wander says:

      If Clinton gets in, Hispanic immigration continues as it has been, and the American demographic shift that started in 1965 continues, then it’s entirely possible that the Republican party as it currently exists never wins another election. In that case, I’d expect something like a Catholic-Hispanic focused conservative party to take up the mantle of the other side of politics.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Yeah, I’m predicting a split of the Democrats, with the right-wing position being taken up by a socially conservative (relatively speaking – there are socially conservative ideas now that would have sounded absolutely wild a hundred years ago) and fiscally more left-wing party, versus a socially liberal but fiscally more … not conservative, but free-market-ish, at least to a certain extent, party.

        We can already see the latter in the people whose goal seems to be to make the fruits of free market neoliberalism more equally available – more female CEOs, etc.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Well, looks like I assumed wrong. I had adjusted my chances of Trump winning based on the “Shy Trumper” effect and similar experiences in Europe, but evidently I didn’t adjust them enough. I still think in the long run the Republicans face a demographic problem, but given that Trump did about as well as Romney did among Hispanic voters, female voters, and black voters, and given that he won, it’s not yet an issue for them.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        I still think in the long run the Republicans face a demographic problem

        Why, though? Do you think Republicans are going to field more Trumps in the future?

        • Anonymous says:

          Demographic change.

          “Republicanism” appeals to whites, they’re the White People Party. “Democratism” appeals to non-whites, they’re the Non-White People Party. Right now, the split is something between 80-20 and 60-40, but the polarization is increasing. The way things are going, unless someone executes another Operation Wetback, whites will lose the ability to dominate their own country’s politics due to becoming the minority.

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Whatever Happened to Anonymous:

          Leaving aside the question of what whether conventional wisdom says is the way to appeal to Hispanic voters – namely, immigration-related amnesty and such – the Republicans can’t offer what the Democrats are offering (or, at least, what people think the Democrats are offering) without alienating their current base, and they are unlikely to be able to offer more than the Democrats are offering. Even without the negative emotional association that Hispanic voters have with the Republican party, I don’t see how on purely mechanical terms the Republicans can entice Hispanic voters over to the Republican party.

          It’s like, if you’re watching the game on your new 42″ TV, and I call and say “hey man want to come over here? I’m watching the game on my new 42″ TV!” and you’re perfectly happy at your place, are you going to come over? Probably not. Add in that you think I’m a dick, and it’s even more likely that you won’t.

          • John Schilling says:

            If I want to watch football and you’re watching football and my wife insists on watching a documentary on the plight of LGBT Womyn of Color, I might just decide to hang out with a dick for a while.

            The Democratic Party being the Party of Every Underprivileged Minority means trying to please many different constituencies simultaneously, not all of whom are best friends with one another. Every once in a while, that means they wind up taking one group for granted while they enthusiastically court or appease another, only noticing too late that the first one is walking out the door.

            This year, that’s how they lost Labor, traditionally one of the biggest parts of their constituency. Depending on what they chose to prioritize next, Hispanic Citizens could be the next group to feel that they are being taken for granted.

            The GOP may be focused on providing the American Dream to White Americans, but – to their fortunate advantage – the White American Dream is what pretty much all of the minorities in the Democratic coalition aspire to. And the Hispanic citizens are already mostly white.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling:

            To be honest, if I thought there was one group in the Democratic coalition most likely to feel taken for granted, it would be black voters. A canny Republican might be able to accomplish something with an appeal along the lines of “they’re happy to take 90% of your vote and prove you with some-but-never-enough social services, but they never do anything that would really fix the problems, and what do you think is going to happen when the demographic situation is such that they don’t need your votes?”

            Either that or cis gay men, who could be reached with an appeal to fear of socially conservative immigrants.

          • Randy M says:

            “Socially conservative” is not really a phrase that works well across cultures.
            Or were you referring to Texans or something?

          • dndnrsn says:

            How doesn’t it? I don’t see how, to give an example, a conservative Muslim and a conservative Christian who both believe in traditional gender roles and strict sexual morality are not both social conservatives.

          • Anonymous says:

            How doesn’t it? I don’t see how, to give an example, a conservative Muslim and a conservative Christian who both believe in traditional gender roles and strict sexual morality are not both social conservatives.

            Maybe they’re both social conservatives, but they’re not going to be on the same team – or, at least, they’re not now and aren’t going to be for the foreseeable future. The Christians think the Muslims savage barbarians, the Muslims think the Christians should pay an offset to be allowed to live.

            Would a traditional Christian be happier/better off paying his Jizya under a fiqh system than under the current system that considers grave sins to be lifestyle choices more valid than being a traditional Christian? Maybe. Would he want to? No! He would prefer to take over the reigns and exile the barbarians, right before removing legal innovations of the last century or two.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’m not saying that they are logical coalition partners in the current US political atmosphere. I’m saying that a Fortuyn-style (or, Yiannopoulos-style, since Milo is just ripping off Fortuyn) “protect social liberalism by tightening up immigration” message could potentially play well with a demographic that generally does not vote Republican.

          • Randy M says:

            @dndrnsn
            I agree with the point you are making. Here’s my nit-pick:
            If Muslim (let’s be honest) “social conservatives” = US “social conservatives” (as implied by using the phrase widely used in US political contexts to describe outside social forces) then what sense does it make for gays to join up with the more social conservative US party? They would be advancing the agenda of their (let’s grant for the sake of argument) oppressors even faster that way.

            But in reality (and hence my overall agreement with you), Muslims are not equivalent to Christians, even if a far left perspective blurs some distinctions. And the thing that would push the gays out of the coalition is not in any case “belief in gender roles”, but actual physical harm, the rates of which towards outsiders are not equivalent in the two groups. So bringing up “social conservatism” is either a distraction or an unintentional eliding of the salient features.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Imagine an affluent cis white gay man who lives and works in a solidly blue city in a solidly blue state. There’s circumstances under which he might take a pitch by the Republicans on the basis of immigration policy – he might figure “well, rednecks don’t like me, but they’re out in the countryside” and he’s nervous that he’s seeing mosques go up in the city he lives in.

            He is confident that the state and municipal level Democrats have his side, but he’s not so sure about national-level Democrat immigration policies. Then, the Republicans start running ads showing a map of “where in the world does being gay carry a death sentence” and playing 9/11 tapes from the Pulse shootings. Maybe an attempt to bring in a new LGBT-friendly sex ed curriculum meets unexpected opposition from immigrant communities, especially Muslims (this is not a hypothetical, and an alliance between conservative Muslims and conservative Christians does appear to be getting formed in that case, and the conservative Christians aren’t all white either).

            Maybe he keeps talking up the Democrats, and keeps voting for them for city council, mayor, state legislators, etc, and spends October 2020 at cocktail parties shit-talking Trump along with everyone else, but when it’s just him in the voting booth…

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          but the polarization is increasing

          Did Trump not do better than Romney on all those demographics?

          The way things are going, unless someone executes another Operation Wetback, whites will lose the ability to dominate their own country’s politics due to becoming the minority.

          Maybe not? Black people don’t seem like they’re a growing demographic, Latinos/Hispanics become “white” after a few generations, and they’re pretty socially conservative. I have no idea about asians, to be honest, but they don’t seem like they’re predestined to be democrats, they just seem to be clustered on democratic bubbles.

          • Anonymous says:

            Did Trump not do better than Romney on all those demographics?

            Yes. A little bit. The vast majority of them still voted for their traditional, Democratic candidate.

            I suspect Trump only did better because he’s Trump – his style doesn’t exude the sort of “hello fellow children, I am also a teenager” vibe that other candidates chosen by the Republicans to appeal to these demographics do. Even if they fielded an actual Latino who looks like a Latino, or an actual Black guy, he’d be perceived as some sort of La Malinche or Uncle Tom.

            My source on political polarization here and here. I suspect the racial/ethnic component is not without importance here.

            Maybe not? Black people don’t seem like they’re a growing demographic, Latinos/Hispanics become “white” after a few generations, and they’re pretty socially conservative. I have no idea about asians, to be honest, but they don’t seem like they’re predestined to be democrats, they just seem to be clustered on democratic bubbles.

            The way I look at it is that migrants will skew their new home towards conditions present in their old home, via regression to the mean. So Hispanics immigrating en masse to the US will tend to make the US look a lot more like South and Middle America – corrupt Catholic socialism-lite. Whereas Asians (Chinese) will immigrating en masse will make it more like China or Taiwan.

            Whether what goes on in the Latin part of the Americas is “socially conservative” is debatable.

          • So Hispanics immigrating en masse to the US will tend to make the US look a lot more like South and Middle America – corrupt Catholic socialism-lite. .

            There’s no issue of immigrants self selecting as people who want to get away from that sort of thing?

          • Sandy says:

            There’s no issue of immigrants self selecting as people who want to get away from that sort of thing?

            Might be the case when the immigrants are coming from across the ocean. Not when they’re just strolling across the Southwest land border.

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s no issue of immigrants self selecting as people who want to get away from that sort of thing?

            That’s why I mentioned regression to the mean. The first generation immigrants might be fairly special, but their kids will be much more like the average dweller of their homeland.

          • a non mouse says:

            There’s no issue of immigrants self selecting as people who want to get away from that sort of thing?

            Deciding that a high-trust, high IQ society is better to live in doesn’t make you into a high IQ, high-trust person who can sustain such a society – no matter how strongly you prefer the results.

  22. Moon says:

    The thing with Scott Adams is that he is not predicting on the basis of mathematics or anything that makes sense. He just seems to have a very positive emotional response to Trump, and then bends over backwards to excuse or justify anything Trump says or does– and to claim that whatever Trump says, is proof that Trump is a “Master Persuader.” Whether Adams predicts well or badly this time, that’s not a good basis for prediction.

    Trump’s not a Master Persauder. Trump is just “rich white trash” who communicates seamlessly with “poor white trash” types and a few other related types, because” rich white trash” is exactly what so-called “poor white trash” aspire to become and so desire to follow– rich enough to get respect and admiration, rather than scorn, for saying and doing ignorant things. No one is trash really of course, but these terms are more descriptive of the types I am referring to, than any other terms I can think of right now.

    Adams seems to understand that most people don’t make decisions like voting on a rational basis. But then he still gets a lot more caught up in his emotional responses than he himself realizes.

    Many people here tend to think that they are rational and other people who disagree with them are not. That is what a rationalist looks like–from the perspective of an outside person, who sees the “rationalist” cherry picking their studies and examples, for the purpose of “proving” their own points of view. And then sees them nit picking the arguments of anyone who disagrees with them.

    If you are on a board where most people agree with you, the whole process is intensified and accelerated and justified, when other people pile on the rare dissenters, and insult them and nitpick them to death in unison, and then report them to the lone liberal to the moderator when they strike back or insult back. Whereas the dissenter doesn’t tend to report the insulters, as they are so many in number, that reporting them would take days. So that’s how you get your people with dissenting opinions banned and keep your board “pure.”

    Adams is sort of an “emotionalist”– someone who correctly perceives that he and most other people make decisions for purely emotional reasons. He then goes on to make his decisions for purely emotional reasons. But then he twists logic and rationality into pretzels trying to logically and rationally defend his decisions without even realizing that he is doing so. And he constantly finds “rational” or “logical” reasons to pump up his own ego, at the same time.

    A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Adams seems to know a little bit about psychology– specifically little bits of information about hypnosis and persuasion, and nothing else. I suppose he’s like any other comic strip writer who takes a short hypnosis class and then reads a few books about persuasion, and then decides he knows far more than trained and accomplished experts in those fields.

    • Lexington says:

      I think one has to view Adams’ Trump predictions more as a self-marketing maneuver, rather than an objective position based on evidence – it’s something he’s not too shy about admitting himself. If one takes a look at his blog, you see a guy who’s constantly read this election wrong along just about every axis, but in a way that inflates the ego of a certain kind of Trump fan.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        According to Adams, he’s lost all his speaking engagements as a result. Maybe, like Trump, he’s past the “need money” stage and can say whatever fool thing pops into his head, like Hollywood stars do.

    • NIP says:

      I was going to make a sarcastic post highlighting your laziness in not trying to find a better term than “white trash” to describe the average Trump voter when you’d no doubt get very upset if someone else tried to lampshade using a slur to describe the main constituency of whoever you’re voting for, but the process of registering to wordpress and gravitar to comment here was so convoluted that it took all the fight out of me. Instead I’ll just say:

      1: Please refrain from describing people who think differently from you as literal human garbage,
      2: I now half-heartedly endorse Scott’s comment vetting system, since while hot-blooded, I do tend to say things I’ll regret later on new blogs/forums when stirred up by hypocrisy, and
      3: Hello SSC. Long-time lurker, second-time poster (completely forgettable, but I did technically make a post or two here before Scott got strict.) I look forward to making many carefullyy-worded angerposts behind clenched teeth here in the future.

    • a non mouse says:

      No one is trash really of course, but these terms are more descriptive of the types I am referring to, than any other terms I can think of right now.

      That’s because you’re regurgitating the stupid shit you ingest and are incapable of thought – not because you’ve hit on the best term.

    • tscharf says:

      If anyone is wondering why Trump won, they voted against smug arrogant elitist a-holes just like this “not trash” person Moon. My guess is Moon had a very bitter Wednesday morning.

      Moon no doubt believes the trash (being trash) are incapable of sensing the contempt that “not trash” people like him/her/itself has for them.

      Perhaps they can sense this. Perhaps they vote.

  23. dsotm says:

    (unless the polls are totally wrong and one candidate somehow wins in a 20 percentage point landslide or something)

    This.
    Conditioning a pre-commitment to the existing narrative on the actual results being within a stated margin of predictions is crucial here IMO, as both sides have claims that the media and polls systematically misrepresent the public opinion and even if both are right that doesn’t mean that they cancel each other out – one side might turn out to be much more effective in doing so.
    So just like predictions, a pre-commitment of this kind should come with a confidence interval outside which it would no longer apply.
    This is probably a pretty good time to remind that as late as a year ago expecting anything *other* than a Clinton landslide victory in the case of a Clinton-Trump election would have been a bold prediction, at least to people outside the US.

  24. gbdub says:

    Another issue that I think means you should downgrade how much you read into the results: Both of these candidates are particularly poor / unpopular representatives of their ideologies.

    Probably nobody can run as a nationalist / isolationist without getting labeled racist. But Trump has been unusually ham-handed about it, and also has the Access Hollywood tapes and general assholishness working against him. He also has the disadvantage (from a Republican perspective) of not being socially conservative (at least not until he was already running).

    Ted Cruz, had he won the primary, would probably beat Clinton. Or maybe a more nationalist version of John McCain or someone like that.

    Hillary has the emails, the Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, and all the assorted Clinton baggage following her around, plus just generally doesn’t come across as very pleasant or personable (poor political “soft skills”, at least in public – at behind-doors political maneuvering, never bet against a Clinton).

    Ignoring term limits, Obama could run on Hillary’s platform and win in a landslide.

    So personal dislike as much as ideology is going to shape the result.

    For everyone saying “it doesn’t matter what this says about the electorate, the presidency can change the future!” Well, I get that Presidents have a lot of power, but it’s not unlimited, and a first termer especially is not going to go out of their way to tank their chance of re-election. Trump can move things in a more nationalist direction, but too much and he loses his own party completely. (in addition to the 45% that will already hate him). Hillary can – sustain the status quo a little harder? But the relative success of Trump makes a major immigration amnesty less likely.

    • antimule says:

      > Ted Cruz, had he won the primary, would probably beat Clinton. Or maybe a more nationalist version of John McCain or someone like that.

      Ted Cruz has two disadvantages: one, being really religious that doesn’t work any more as it used to. Two, Reagonomic isn’t as popular as it used to be. Trump’s protectionism is getting far more traction. So no.

      • Ryan says:

        I’d imagine a third disadvantage: if Cruz really is “the most miserable son of a bitch I’ve ever met” as Speaker Boehner put it, it would be hard for him to put together the most effective organization.

      • gbdub says:

        I’m not saying Cruz is a great candidate (I wouldn’t have picked him in the primary), I’m saying that he’s less flawed in a general election than Hillary, and much less flawed than Trump. Or maybe not. But if it really is 65% Clinton, 35% Trump right now, I’d argue Cruz would have flipped that.

    • lliamander says:

      > Probably nobody can run as a nationalist / isolationist without getting labeled racist. But Trump has been unusually ham-handed about it

      When you (not you personally, just a general “you”) create an association in people’s minds between advocating certain policy positions being a terrible person in general, the result is that the only people willing to publicly advocate for those positions are actual terrible people. When it turns out that those policy positions would actually find favor with a majority of the population, you create an opportunity for terrible people to get into power.

      • gbdub says:

        Trump’s idea of defending against the racism claim was taking way too long to say “David Duke’s positions are awful” and eating a taco bowl.

        The argument “the media is biased” works – the Republican base is more than willing to eat that up. Couple that with an intelligent defense of “Look, my policies are best for Americans of all races, Hillary wants to offshore your job and cares more about meddling in other people’s wars than sick American veterans”, and you have a winning hand.

        There’s a difference between nationalism and ethno-nationalism. Hillary has way overreached trying to tie any hint of nationalism to white supremacism (War on Pepe! Dog whistles!) – a smoother, smarter candidate could play that to his advantage (“Look how’s she’s flailing! She can’t answer me so she’s stooping to insults!”).

        • dndnrsn says:

          I’m surprised that there weren’t any real attempts to sell anti-illegal immigration to black voters. Or anti-Hispanic immigration in general. There’s various indicators it might have success – flipping black voters from D to R is impossible, of course, but things could get very interesting if black voters went less overwhelmingly D.

          • gbdub says:

            I’m kind of surprised there too. I think it would have been potentially effective. Similarly with any anti-gay marriage message he wanted to send.

          • Brad says:

            Wasn’t that what this pitch was all about?

            What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump?”

            “You’re living in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?”

          • onyomi says:

            I never recall hearing Trump or his surrogates make the case explicitly that blacks are disparately impacted by illegal immigration, though it’s certainly true in some places, like my home state. I’m not sure why not. It was more just “what have the dems done for you?”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Brad:
            Nah. That was mostly a pitch aimed at white, college educated Republicans who were wavering.

            “Negging” as a strategy to attract a voter is … contra-indicated.

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC, yeah, I was thinking a reason why Trump may not have made the explicit argument to blacks, “hey, Latino immigrants are making it harder for you to get a job,” is because the actual target of a lot of Trump “minority outreach” may have actually been educated whites: a way of saying, “see, I’m not racist!” Setting one minority group against another probably doesn’t play well with that audience, much less the group you’re setting the first group against.

          • DrBeat says:

            Phrasing it like that requires tact and — more importantly — some kind of control over your emotions.

            No matter what a good idea it would have been, Trump was not capable of it.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @gbdub:
          Regardless of whether Trump himself is actually a “racist”, however you want to define that term, it seems clear to me that his campaign has bumped up against the “racist/anti-semitic” dog-whistle-trope line way too many times for it to be coincidental.

          Even if it’s just trolling, it’s still significant.

          • The Nybbler says:

            By that light, Hillary’s a blatant sexist with her “vote for me because I’m a woman” message.

            I think the Trump campaign has Donald Jr. out giving thumbs-up signals to racists, which is certainly distasteful.

          • gbdub says:

            @HBC
            What part of my comment made you think I disagree with you there? I agree that Trump has been particularly poor at defending against the racism claim, has been too cavalier about doing things he should have known would be labeled racist, and could have defended it much better without backing down from his core messages. (On the other hand, when the opposition gets to define a dog whistle, and is willing to count “criticized bankers, who we know are often Jewish” in that list, I don’t think “number of dog whistle incidents you’ve been accused of” is actually a significant statistic).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @gbdub:

            I’m saying that the Trump campaign has intended to say things that seem like ethno-nationalist appeals. Apparently they are doing this consciously, but perhaps not. I say “apparently consciously” because after the the 1st time (and definitely the 2nd or 3rd) not preventing yourself from doing it again is a pretty good marker that you did it on purpose.

            I think we are in disagreement there. You seem to think Trump has been bad at defending against the charge (but that the charge isn’t merited). Whereas I think the charge is merited.

          • tscharf says:

            By the ever microscopic microagressive definitions of what makes a person racist according to the left’s moving target of acceptable discourse it is really just not worth Trump worrying about. That’s a game he never started playing and it was a wise decision. The racist charge carries the death penalty in progressive circles, but it is quickly losing its impact elsewhere because it has been overused. Not just a little overused, but way overused to the point of absurdity.

            It’s become a lazy smear that requires no evidence and is used in politics to shut down debate. Have a grievance about your lack of opportunity and uneven wealth distribution in middle America? Talk to the hand white racist Trump supporter.

            There isn’t even any discrimination between (r)acists who don’t support affirmative action and (R)acists who are looking for trees and ropes and people of the correct color. Racism is apparently a homogeneous trait. A racism charge is so loaded that its like a scarlet letter on anyone who is simply accused of it. With the convoluted social rules in place, you really aren’t even allowed to defend yourself against a racism charge if you are white, or defend others that some charges are baseless and unwarranted.

            It’s like playing six degrees of Kevin Bacon. You can draw a line from a Trump supporter to David Duke in less than 4! Case closed. Talk to the hand.

  25. Manpanzee says:

    Ok, but what if Trump does win a decisive victory? What if the landslide actually happens? If that happens, we should certainly update how we think about making predictions, right?

    I actually think there’s a decent chance that the landslide occurs, and I’d like to lay out the argument ahead of time.

    A couple days ago, 538 posted this article with a table of how historical election results have deviated from polling:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-is-just-a-normal-polling-error-behind-clinton/

    Over the last 12 elections, the average absolute error is 2.0 points. In 9 out of 12 elections, the error has been below 3.0, and in 11 out of 12, it’s been below 3.5. And then we have the one major outlier, 1980, where the error was 7.2 points.

    That’s a massive, massive outlier, and it suggests to me that “sometimes polling gets things systematically wrong” is a much more reasonable premise than “deviations from polling are mostly noise”.

    Predicting the outcome of an election has two main components: 1) Predicting who is going to vote, and 2) Predicting who those people are going to vote for.

    I think that we should expect polls to be reliable at estimating the second part — all you have to do is ask people who they plan to vote for, and there isn’t much reason to distrust answers to that question (I am skeptical that a “shy Trump” effect has much impact here). But the first part… that part involves a lot more guesswork, and seems very easy to get wrong.

    So, my hypothesis is, “Trump will get an unusually large number of votes from people who don’t usually vote, and polls are bad at accounting for these people”.

    If this happens, we should significantly reduce the weight we place on pure polling data in making predictions. Also, given the related opinions of pundits and betting markets, we should probably increase our priors about the likelihood of society-wide epistemic failure.

  26. Logan says:

    A rainstorm in Philadelphia cannot change the outcome of the election, and 2% of 300 million people is statistically significant. [I know less than 300 million actually vote].

    It’s important to keep in mind how much the win is by. If it’s a Hillary blowout, that means Trump has been soundly rejected by the populace, and if Trump loses by just half a point, then he was a serious candidate and we remain on the brink of ultra-nationalism. If it come’s down to a couple hundred votes, then the winner is more a result of noise than of real preference. These are things that people know.

    You’ve made the different claim, that a 2 point swing is just noise. This is factually inaccurate. A 2 point preference for Donald Trump is very interesting, just like a 2 point preference for gay marriage and marijuana legalization and federal funding of planned parenthood would be. We live and die in these 2 point leads.

    In the interest of steel-manning, yeah the election gave Trump a 2 point lead but the polls gave Clinton a 2 point lead, so it’s just a matter of which polling method you use. This is a reasonable claim, to which I say 1) we can never prove it, but unlike polls I don’t think the election would change noticeably if we held a second one on November 9th or November 15th, and 2) elections, not polls, are the metric we’ve decided on to measure, nay define, societal preference.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      “A rainstorm in Philadelphia cannot change the outcome of the election, and 2% of 300 million people is statistically significant.”

      If the election goes according to the 538 electoral map on yesterday’s Open Thread, Hillary wins. But if it goes that way except that Pennsylvania goes for Trump, then Trump wins. 538 predicts Trump will lose PA by only 3.5 pp, with high margin of error. A rainstorm could absolutely change the outcome of the election.

  27. Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

    See. This is why I dislike reading this blog.

    How you could miss the obvious is beyond me. I mean seriously. Seriously.

    What were you thinking when you wrote this? It beggars belief. This post is not only a massive black mark, a terrible nadir on your blog, but in the wider rationalist-adjacent sphere. And it makes me ashamed to be a member.

    I mean, isn’t it obvious? The election is already decided, and it speaks volumes about America. And it’s because it’s always sunny in Philadelphia.

  28. Quixote says:

    Its not this close. A rainstorm wouldn’t make the difference. A rainstorm in PA and a sandstorm in AZ and a thunderstorm in Hawaii all together wouldn’t make the difference. Many conclusions you would draw from the election being as close as Scott seems to think it is would be wrong conclusions.
    The people saying Hil is way ahead are statisticians. The guy with a big Trump prediction is a random comedian. Geologists vs. Flat Earth Society, “views differ on the shape of the planet.” It’s a joke and a category failure to refer to them equivalently in the same post.

    Money where mouth is: I’ll put $100 of my money to $65 of yours that Hillary wins. If you are sufficiently enmeshed in the rationalist community that Scott would be able to put social effective pressure on you if you failed to pay you are free to take this bet. First 15 replies accepted.

    Note I do acknowledge that, there are a lot of Trump supports out there, and that he will likely pull north of 42% of votes cast. I have already made major updates to my beliefs over the course of this election based on these facts.

    • eccdogg says:

      “I’ll put $100 of my money to $65 of yours that Hillary wins.”

      Doesn’t that bet imply that Hillary has ~60% chance of winning? Saying that Trump wins four out of every 10 times. That sounds pretty close to me.

      I don’t really think it is that close though. Prediction markets putting it more like 80% for Hillary as of today so you would have to offer much better odds.

      • Quixote says:

        Meant to say offer closes at midnight.

        As to the other, your math is a bit off. These odds are 1.5 to 1, so odds imply closer to 33% chance than 40%.

        That said, I think its less close than my betting odds imply. But I don’t offer bets that are fair given my worldview. If you think its really close (like 50-50ish) than I’m offering great odds. If you think the real odds are 95%-5% than my posted odds are great for me.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Note that I’m taking my numbers from eg the 538 model by Nate Silver.

    • Ralf says:

      I guess you are lucky no one was bold enough to take your bet?

      • Quixote says:

        Yep. That could have been a very costly but memorable lesson. Instead I wind up with minor egg on my face and the ability to make excuses.

        I note now, that the fact no one felt confident enough to take the opposite side may point to my belief as having been epistemic justified even if it ended up being wrong. Being rational doesn’t guarantee you are right, it just means you couldn’t have predictably done better in advance.

  29. Douglas Knight says:

    You chose Philadelphia as the example because of the strike, right? (Resolved late Sunday.)

    Why did the Philadelphia transit union strike immediately before the election? This would predictably suppress turnout in a heavily Democratic city and predictably suppress Democratic turnout more. But aren’t the union and the city government both heavily Democrats? They did this before — striking through the 2009 local elections. Maybe they had different interests in local elections, but why did they sign a 7 year contract setting them up to strike at the 2016 national elections? Don’t they both want the same thing? Why not make the contract a month shorter or a month longer, so that they didn’t risk swinging Pennsylvania?

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      If the city is heavily Democratic, it’s the Democrats who should be scared of pissing you off, right?

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Right. They can strike now and the DNC will bend over backwards to undo it. There were leaked emails somewhere showing that the Democrats were afraid of the damage that a pissed-off union could do to them (which was presented as a surprise, but I thought everyone knew it already).

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Sure, the DNC cares about the national election a lot more than the union does. But it also cares a lot more than the city does. The DNC is not a party to the negotiation. How can it do anything to end the strike?

          Maybe it’s valuable to not care one way or the other about striking through the election, not to extract anything immediate form the DNC, but just to remind the DNC not to take it for granted.

          • John Colanduoni says:

            Depending on how desperate they are, they could lean on/bribe (especially a Democratic city government) the city to give in and make the strike end.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      If Hillary lost the election because of a transit strike, wouldn’t that be on the front page of all the papers and make the mayor look terrible?

      (actually, I chose Philadelphia because I originally chose Detroit, worried that some people would read some kind of racism into it, and went for the next big diverse city in a swing state)

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Would the mayor take more blame than the union? Would the mayor care about blame more than the union?

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I think so. The union doesn’t need to be reelected. Also, the whole point of a strike is to inconvenience people and make them unhappy. If you can do it in a single day, that’s better than losing a lot of wages.

        • shakeddown says:

          To some degree, the point of a strike is to play the chicken game and see who blinks, at which point you negotiate. It’s in everyone’s interest (especially the union’s) to make strikes as short as possible, so putting it right before some point that could be a cliff is a good way of accelerating that.
          Regarding blame – the mayor has a lot more to lose, but might also manage to get the court to force them to break strike for election day, which would weaken them. So I’d say both sides have something to lose.

    • BBA says:

      The city government isn’t at the bargaining table. Only two of the 15 members of the SEPTA board are appointed by the City and County of Philadelphia, and the other jurisdictions involved aren’t nearly as heavily Democratic. (This kind of jurisdictional confusion is common – here in New York the MTA is controlled by the state government but somehow the mayor always gets blamed for fare increases, service cuts, and anything else that goes wrong with the subways. I can’t help but think this was set up intentionally.)

      But more fundamentally, I just don’t think the union and SEPTA were thinking that far ahead when they drew up the last contract. It’s not like the end of a contract automatically means a strike.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Good point. The board is not just Philadelphia because SEPTA serves other counties, but the strike was just Philadelphia, not those other places.

        The last contract was a strike through an election. That should have made it salient.

      • Brad says:

        Just like SEPTA, the MTA has appointments from multiple jurisdictions. The Governor gets to appoint six of the fourteen votes while the Mayor gets four. The remaining four come from the suburban county executives.

        So while it might not be fair to put all the blame on the Mayor, he deserves some.

  30. Nate Silver says:

    We could really use a voter-list-based poll of Nevada, indeed. And one of Michigan. Those are the two states where I think we have the least idea what’s going on, and they’ve both had high polling errors in the past.

    Well, such polls are being conducted in Michigan — they just aren’t public.

    Here’s something a Michigan pollster had to say about his results in non-public polls:

    …the prior partisanship of respondents was a much weaker than usual factor explaining 2016 presidential preferences. That is, significant proportions of known strong Republicans (including Republican presidential primary voters) support Clinton and significant proportions of known strong Democrats (including Democratic presidential primary voters) support Trump….

    What is most interesting is that in each of the two down-ballot races we surveyed voters are staying with the party of their presidential choice, not returning to their earlier leanings. That is, a strong Republican who is voting for Clinton is also voting Democratic down ballot; a strong Democrat who is voting Trump is voting Republican down ballot.

    This is not what I was expecting. Based on this data, voters are realigning themselves in response to Trump.

    • Deiseach says:

      That is, significant proportions of known strong Republicans (including Republican presidential primary voters) support Clinton and significant proportions of known strong Democrats (including Democratic presidential primary voters) support Trump

      This story, if it’s accurate, may indicate why some of the swing towards Trump from allegedly staunch Dems:

      Out in Wooden’s congregation after his service, Aroson Randle (40) and his wife Deanna (40), who run a childcare business, are proud Trump supporters.

      “I voted for Donald Trump,” says Aroson, standing between the two banks of pews. “I ain’t shy about it.”
      Deanna voted for Obama in 2008 but not in 2012 because of his support for same-sex marriage. Most African-Americans, she said, only voted for him because he would be the first black president.

      “My grandfather was in his 90s. We asked him who he voted for. He didn’t even know his name. He said, ‘I voted for the coloured guy’,” she said.

      Their friend Amanda Pierre-Louis (31), who owns an insurance agency, says she hopes black voters researched the issues behind the candidates in this election and “opened their eyes to see Democrats don’t fight for us because they know we are only going to vote one way”.

      Aroson is particularly annoyed that Obama’s promised loan support for black-run small businesses failed to materialise. “He was talking over our heads, misleading to feel like he was going to help small businesses when in actuality there was no help offered.”

      He even suggests that education standards may have been better for blacks during segregation, based on what older people who lived under it had told them.

      The three see African-Americans as being worse off now than they were when Obama was elected. They also agree with Trump: they believe they have nothing to lose by voting for him.

      “It can’t get any worse,” says Pierre-Louis. “It can be better faster than it can be worse.”

      • andrewflicker says:

        What I’ve read indicates that African-American support for Clinton is the usual 9 or 10 to 1, no different than the last few elections. The change this time seems to be a significant drop in black turnout (probably reversion to the non-Obama mean), but it will take the exit polls to be certain.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I will want to see whether there is any drop in black voter turnout, and if so, whether that drop in turnout is nationwide, or varies on a state by state level, and if so, what states.

  31. Ryan says:

    So here’s the burning question that really should be at the front of everyone’s mind:

    Why have we never seen a documented case of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_seeding as a means of influencing an election?

    Seriously, this has seemed obvious to me for a decade. Too easy to get caught? Too sciency? Won’t actually work? What’s the deal?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Is it legal for a private individual to cloud-seed?

    • (1) If there’s no clouds, there can be no seeding. So the method would be powerless against ideal (clear, sunny) voting weather.

      (2) Presumably it would be difficult to focus the effect on the desired voting district. The rain might fall elsewhere.

      (3) A little rain (without change in temperature) probably doesn’t have much impact on voter turnout.

      (4) Presumably the high risk of getting caught and suffering public scandal and legal liability outweighs the small chance of having an impact.

  32. Wander says:

    I’m always a little wary of polling for the simple fact that I don’t believe people’s minds change like that. The idea that there are people flipping back and forth day to day, hour to hour just doesn’t make sense to me. Are there really people who have such a malleable opinion of things that they change their choice of Presidential vote on a regular basis? I’d assume that everyone was well set into their groove by now.

    • Moon says:

      Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense. I would suppose they keep polling different people over time, so there are differences because of that, even though perhaps no particular person has actually changed their mind. They just were different people– polled e.g. a month ago vs. now.

    • Moon says:

      Although there were big changes when Comey at the FBI came out 12 days before the election and said he’d found some more Hillary emails. As Trump supporters like Giuliani– and, I expect Comey (who donated to both McCain and Romney)– certainly hoped would happen, some people apparently did read things into the FBI statement that were not really there, causing them to see Hillary less favorably than before.

      • Deiseach says:

        This is what interests me – oh, the FBI must be a partisan operation! Were the guy in charge a Democrat, what would we see happen? If the guy in charge was a Democrat and buried the emails, would we see accusations of partisan bias? How about if embarrassing/potentially incriminating emails came out about Trump during an investigation and Comey sat on them – would we see the same “he’s in the tank for Trump, of course he squashed any news!”

        You see, whatever about the initial emails, the ones that turned up when Anthony Weiner was being investigated can’t just be swept under the carpet. Never mind if they’re marked confidential or not – what we’ve found out is that someone working at a high-ish level in the State Department not alone brought home/was sent via this private server emails having content that is supposed to be confidential and secure, she then kept or stored or otherwise had these on a home computer that her husband, who was not cleared to have anything to do with these, was able to access. And in the middle of an investigation about child porn/solicting sex with a minor, the investigating officers found these unrelated AND SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE emails.

        What were their choices? “Okay, make a snap decision, we ignore these and pretend we never found them”? That can be portrayed as equally as partisan a decision pro-Clinton (to save her any negative consequences during an election campaign) as the action Comey took is being portrayed as pro-Trump.

        I’ve said it before: I’ve had to turn over and wipe any work-related files I used in my minor minion bureaucratic function. I’m supposed to keep the work confidential and secure. If anyone in my house could log onto the computer and read the material, I would have been in so much trouble. And I’m nothing near the State Department.

        From the reaction pouring scorn on Comey (and it may well be deserved), the message anyone in future takes away from this is: You are not there to do your job and serve the public interest. You are there to serve the interests of whoever is in power at the time, no matter which party it is. You quash anything that may be embarrassing or awkward for whoever is the favoured candidate running for election, even if the public has an interest in knowing this is the kind of thing their potential representative or leader does when in office. Otherwise you will be pilloried as a stooge and a partisan.

        If we’re all agreed “Okay, Hillary is Connected. People like her don’t have to deal with public fall-out from any misguided decisions, it can all be handled discreetly in secret with a phone call to the Right Person and the little people don’t have to know and never find out”, then let’s come on out and say that. But remember, this applies to your political opponents just as much when they’re the ones in power or on top of Fortune’s Wheel. Any potential scandals for a Republican candidate next time round? The FBI now knows it keeps its mouth shut and buries anything.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I believe most of the changes are in who is considered a “likely” voter rather than who is being voted for.

      • Wander says:

        That’s an interesting point. I often forget that in non-compulsory voting systems turnout is about as important as actual support.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      There was a point made recently, I’ll see if I can dig the blog post up, that polls are “swingy” because, although they are trying for demographic balance, they aren’t trying for partisan balance. This means that when Trump has a tape come out, his partisan backers don’t stop planning to vote for him, but they do stop responding to polling attempts. Ditto Clinto.

      Here is the post at YouGov.

      • erenold says:

        I wonder if the solution to non-response bias is to reveal the total number of contacted people, including hangups. If we saw that Hillary was +15 nationally or something, at the height of the Khantroversy from a n=800 sample, (that’s a real poll I distinctly recall), but it took an atypically large number of calls (say, 2000 rather than the usual 1500) to get this result because folks kept hanging up, one could reasonably infer that such a result was probably chimerical.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Maybe, given a particular polling firm using a particular contact strategy comparing like to like over time, that gives some good information that something is up.

          But unless you include a demographic/partisan weighting (who is hanging up) it doesn’t tell you all that much. Polls taken in Illinois last week probably had a non-response effect, but it didn’t have anything to do with the candidates.

          • Jordan D. says:

            I concur- as a voter living in a swing state, I’ve been getting calls from pollsters locally and nationally roughly a dozen times a day. For the past two weeks it’s been my policy- and the policy of a few people I know have voted both ways- to just let all calls go to the answering machine.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I was implying that phone calls during Cub games weren’t getting answered, and that this is unlikely to have a partisan effect on the poll outcome.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Here is a similar paper.

  33. Moon says:

    I hope that at least some attention can be paid to the needs of people who identify as working class, as a result of this election– people whose wages are stagnating, or they’re unemployed because their job was outsourced or doesn’t exist any more, or they work full time but can’t afford food, shelter and utilities, the growing number of people with opioid addictions etc. Trump and Bernie both spoke to those groups. And they both spoke of wanting not to have unnecessary wars. Trump is a racist clown. But Bernie is a serious and ethical person. I hope for Bernie to campaign for issues, now that he is no longer campaigning for president.

    • Brad says:

      What about people that identify as working class but are doing great financially? Think tradesman of various kinds. Or the many many people that identify as middle class but are nonetheless struggling financially, many in just those ways you describe? What about the outright poor, including those in inner cities?

      • Moon says:

        YEs, I think those groups would all fit as categorirs of people that Bernie and/or Trump appealed to.

  34. suntzuanime says:

    If Trump wins in a landslide, I’d be more willing to entertain the possibility that Adams has seen something I’ve missed. I don’t count him as already wrong. And honestly, so long as Clinton wins by anything but the tightest of margins, it seems like we should at least consider the possibility that Wiener is right. Isn’t “the media reports a real possibility of Trump winning but then Clinton turns out to win” exactly what we would expect to see from his model?

    I mean, one piece of evidence is not proof, but we should be willing to update at least a little.

    • onyomi says:

      Yeah, I think a more defensible, if boring title for this post could be: “don’t look for surprising explanations when boring explanations will do.”

      For example, a narrow Hillary win is easy to explain with conventional wisdom, but so too, really, is a narrow Trump win. The media will act more shocked if Trump wins, but a narrow Trump win is still fairly easily explained by boring explanations: the economy, Clinton scandals, general tendency of the White House to flip after eight years, bad weather in Philadelphia, etc. A narrow Trump win doesn’t demand we “question everything” or look for exotic explanations, so we probably shouldn’t read too much into it (and neither Wiener nor Adams get to take too much of a victory lap for a prediction which may have hinged on something like the weather, which they couldn’t possibly have predicted), I think is the point.

      That said, I think a big win by either candidate, and especially by Trump, would be very surprising and run very much counter to conventional wisdom. Therefore, digging for more surprising explanations may be justified where boring explanations won’t suffice. I think Scott’s point is that pundits will be tempted to reach for surprising, interesting explanations to a case which really won’t require them.

      • Wrong Species says:

        How relevant is the economy to this election? I keep hearing people bashing Clinton for Benghazi and corruption and people bash Trump for racism and stupidity. Maybe it’s just because these candidates are so terrible they overshadow everything else but we really haven’t heard much about the economy since the primaries.

        • suntzuanime says:

          It’s also a matter of the economy being kind of middling. If it were disastrous Trump might be pushing change harder, if it were wonderful Clinton might be trying harder to take credit for it, but it’s just sort of meh.

        • Deiseach says:

          I don’t think either of them can do much about the economy. It’s recovering a bit but it’s still sluggish, but no-one seems to have much of an idea what will boost it – stimulus packages have been tried and whether they worked or not is what the argument is about.

          Really all that can be said is the old reliable “lower taxes, remove barriers to entrepreneurship, make it easier for people to hire new workers, come back from bankruptcy, move where the jobs are” and the problem is – where are the jobs? if (as is the case most often) they’re in the nearest big city, what do you do about rents being too high to move there? if manufacturing industry is not going to be the driver of employment and we’ve now transitioned to a service economy, again, that favours urban over rural or small town areas, and how do you revitalise the Rust Belt?

          Neither Trump nor Clinton can do much about that, if the future is “manual labour and manufacturing will be replaced by automation and the only jobs are going to be for computer programmers/coders/that line of work”. Not everybody can code, unfortunately, despite what the upbeat slogans say!

  35. Bugmaster says:

    We live in a country and a world where Hillary can be at about 47% and Trump at about 45%. … It suggests that a lot of people are willing to support a nationalist candidate, and a lot of other people really hate that candidate.

    Not really. All it shows is that about 90% of people are going to vote for their favorite team. The candidate him/herself is irrelevant. He/she could say or do anything, it doesn’t matter; as long as the candidate is wearing Team Elephant colors, he’s guaranteed ~45% of the vote. Same goes for Team Donkey. Elections are decided by the ~10% of people who haven’t picked a favorite team, and there are relatively few of them, so of course their decisions will be drowned out by noise.

    • andrewflicker says:

      As far as I understand it, this is factually untrue. General presidential elections are far more about how many of the 45% Team Elephant and how many of the 45% Team Donkey actually show up at the polls- not about the oft-lauded swinging ten-percenters.

  36. Tibor says:

    I’m not a big Trump fan either (ditto for Clinton) but why “Trump and Hillary” and not “Trump and Clinton” or “Donald and Hillary” (I’d prefer Trump and Clinton even if I liked them)?

    Good post otherwise.

    By the way, an argument for why it does not really matter all that much who wins.

    I particularly like this bit:

    …Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, neither of whom possess the requisite talent, vision or charisma needed to destroy this country in a mere four years.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Personally I use “Trump and Clinton” but I understand why someone might not: there has already been a different President Clinton, a different Clinton very much in the public eye, so use of the first name provides some additional clarity. Personally I feel that it’s usually not hard to figure out from context and equal treatment is more important, but I can sympathize with those who might feel differently.

    • John Schilling says:

      We normally refer to presidents by their surname, but:

      For most of the period that Hillary Clinton has been a recognizable public figure, “Clinton” meant the important Clinton. You know, the one who was actually governor of Arkansas and later President of the United States. Even a recent ex-President ranks higher in the public mind than a freshman Senator, never mind an ambitious first lady.

      Hillary Clinton gets called “Hillary” because the mononym “Clinton” was already taken when it mattered, and habits are hard to break.

      • lhn says:

        Sort of similar to the way among 19th century English gentry, “Miss Bennett” was the eldest unmarried daughter, and the rest were “Miss Elizabeth Bennett” (or “Miss Elizabeth”), “Miss Mary Bennett”, etc. There can only be one unmarked user of a name.

        In the context of current presidential candidates, there’s only one Clinton, so like suntzuanime I’d say “Trump and Clinton” is more appropriate where there’s no risk of ambiguity.

        On the other hand, whether “President Clinton” will be ambiguous (if she wins) will likewise depend a lot on context. Current events, sure, but a lot of times that shades into historical discussions where what happened under previous presidents will be relevant.

        (As there were different circumlocutions to distinguish between Presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush not so many years ago. I expect to see a fair amount of “the first President Clinton”, “President Bill Clinton”, etc. in that case.)

        • nancylebovitz says:

          “Donald and Hillary” sounds weirdly over-personal, but it might be possible to get used to referring to both of them by their first names.

    • a non mouse says:

      She doesn’t want to be referred to as “Clinton” and doesn’t actually use that name in private.

      Her email addresses on her private server were hrod17@clintonemail.com and hdr22@clintonemail.com (Hillary Diane Rodham).

    • The Nybbler says:

      That’s been their brands for this election; he’s “Trump” (though his more raucous supporters call him “The Donald” — for the origin, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2015/09/01/why-does-everyone-call-donald-trump-the-donald-its-an-interesting-story/ ) and she’s “Hillary”. Probably because there’s another Clinton associated with the Presidency; the younger George Bush was branded “W”, after all.

    • Deiseach says:

      Eh, I use “Hillary” because every time I type “Clinton” I feel the urge to add “not Bill, the other one”. So it’s easier to just go by “Hillary”.

      I also think it might have been part of a campaign strategy to get people to think of her in a warmer, more personal way – “Hillary” is more personal and familiar, and she does have the image problem to overcome of seeming to be a little robotic and arrogant, especially by comparison to Bill who just overflows with charm and charisma. Maybe she’s really a lovely caring person once you get to know her up close, but that’s not how she comes across publicly.

      • Tibor says:

        Well, that’s kind of my point. Using Hillary instead of Clinton sounds like obvious favouritism, just as “Clinton vs. Donald” would (although when you say Donald, the first thing that comes to my mind is the duck from Walt Disney). It reminds me of a poll in die/der Welt* a few days ago where the two options were “Hillary Clinton would be a good president” or “She is just the lesser evil” (with a slider to represent an opinion somewhere between those two options). No option for those who find Trump to be the lesser evil or even a good candidate. Of course, this was a stupid informal online poll, but it was kind of ironic as a good part of the article was about how the people who accuse the media of being biased against Trump actually do have a point and that the media should try to be less blatantly partisan and try to understand these people instead.

        I get the point with Bill Clinton. However, at least outside of the US, people also said Bush and not W for the younger Bush. And Bill Clinton hasn’t been a president for almost two decades now, so I think there should be no confusion (I don’t know how active he is politically, but you don’t hear about him any more, at least not in Europe).

        *I never know whether to write in der Welt when writing in English, using the proper declination in a language where declination does not exist, or in die Welt, hence using nominative instead of dative with the preposition “in”)

        • Creutzer says:

          I never know whether to write in der Welt when writing in English, using the proper declination in a language where declination does not exist, or in die Welt, hence using nominative instead of dative with the preposition “in”)

          You have two options. Either you take “Die Welt” as a whole as a proper name and write “in Die Welt” (including the capitalisation).

          Or you treat only “Welt” as the name, but account for the fact that it is mandatorily accompanied by a definite article and write “in the Welt“. (Similar to “the Times” and “the Pravda“.)

          My feeling is that the second strategy is preferred only for well-known venues.

        • JulieK says:

          Fowler (section 4) recommends against declining foreign terms when writing English. I second Creutzer’s “in Die Welt.”

  37. Squirrel of Doom says:

    Can we talk about how bad the Primary system is? Both parties have several better candidates than these clowns, yet this system consistently produces other candidates than the most electable.

    Letting anyone vote to select the candidate sounds democratic and fair, but it’s also the system that gave us Boaty McBoatface.

    I understand there was a different system, abolished a number of decades ago, when party bosses decided what candidate each party would run. Is it “grass-is-always-greener” bias to think that the candidates were better then?

    I would also welcome a scientific study of the correlation between being a primary voter and a Youtube commenter!

    • suntzuanime says:

      Yeah, broadly speaking, the less democracy the better. I think it’s worth considering that the primaries gave us Obama, though, and not holding primaries would not have stopped Clinton from being nominated.

      • Tibor says:

        One of the most democratic (among other things) countries in the world is Switzerland. Would you argue that it is run worse than China? Or Germany? Or that, keeping other things constant (such as strong federalism) that Switzerland would do better with a less democratic model? Of course, a feature that is hardly present elsewhere is that the voters can actually vote directly for or against laws, as opposed to just representatives.

        At least from a libertarian perspective it is interesting to note that the Swiss consistently vote against minimum law, higher taxation for the rich, etc. And they do it by large margins (around two thirds of the population), which somehow contradicts the usual elitist argument that if you give the voters too much direct power, they will vote for populist measures that are going to ruin the state.

        • Walter says:

          Well, you can pick and choose examples where Democracy does worse or better. India is a fine counterexample.

          • Tibor says:

            I suppose that’s correct. Another counterexample is Singapore. However, on average the more democratic countries tend to be more successful. I don’t see democracy as a value in itself (I prefer democratic majority decisionmaking replaced by individual personal decisionmaking), but on average it seems to be better at limiting state power than oligarchy and there is a good evidence that limiting state power (by which I mean limiting its scope rather than efficiency) leads to both more freedom and prosperity.

          • onyomi says:

            Yeah, like a college education, democracy could be correlated with success without causing it.

          • Tibor says:

            @onyomi: I find this video to be largely correct.

            The question is not whether India could do better with some kind of a dictator or a less democratic regime. That is obviously always true. The question is how likely it is that that regime is going to be close to the philosopher king ideal.

            I am still not absolutely convinced about the Singaporean model (and it should be noted that while it is definitely not a democracy it is not an outright dictatorship either). Having one good almost-dictator is well within the realm of possibility, even two in a row. But eventually you get a really bad one and the dictator has a much more power at his disposal than a democratic government. He can do much more good stuff that way but also he can do bad stuff more easily.

            Maybe Singapore has a mechanism for choosing good quasi-dictators which I am not familiar with. But if not then it will sooner or later have a bad one. One reason this might not happen (and that might explain the success of its current regime as well) is that Singapore is dependent on international trade. An isolationist Singapore or even one with laws like China (which has made a long way since its Maoist past but it is still hardly an economically free country, not to mention socially) would end up with dwindling resources and subsequently a coup or a revolution. So it may be competition which forces Singapore to have quite a good governance (even if somewhat peculiar and not exactly a liberal or libertarian one).

            It would be interesting to measure the relationship between the quality of government (by some objective measures) and dependence on international trade. I would expect it to be quite positive. It could contribute to the Swiss success as well. At the same time, countries where the government can afford to be isolationist (usually due to having natural resources) tend to have really poor governance.

          • erenold says:

            Quite coincidentally, Singapore is actually undergoing a leadership change as we speak. However, it’s wholly behind-closed-doors phenomenon in which the party leadership – I suppose you could use the pejorative American term ‘bosses’ – will make the decisions and then present the Singaporean people with their choice. Moreover, in early 2017, they will also vote for their next President.

            It’s going to be a very interesting test of the Singaporean leadership-renewal process, because this will be the first time the Prime Minister will not be Lee Kuan Yew, his son, or the seatwarmer between the two. If all goes well for Singapore under their ‘fourth-generation’ leadership in the decade to come, I’ll consider it proof that the Singaporeans are on to something.

            I’m not sure what the level of general interest on this is so I’ll leave it at that, but I can go into further detail about what to expect if there’s curiosity.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            There is always curiosity.

          • Tibor says:

            @erenold: Feel free to go on 😉 (maybe in a new thread though? as this is already reached the maximum indentation).

          • onyomi says:

            @Tibor, I liked that video a lot, though it does contradict Hoppe’s argument that autocrats have more vested interest in their country’s long-run prosperity since they can, essentially “bequeath” it to their children, whereas democratic leaders are incentivized, essentially, to goose things to look good in a 4-8 year time frame, even if it means the equivalent of “eating your seed corn.” I can sort of see both arguments.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            The book that the video is based on 100% concedes Hoppe’s point. The video mentions in passing that democratic rulers don’t last very long; I suspect that a later video in the series will come back to this. Both the book and video just argue that the other effects are more important.

          • “So it may be competition which forces Singapore to have quite a good governance ”

            At a more local level, I have long argued that the idea form of government is competitive dictatorship–the way we run restaurants and hotels. I have no vote on the menu, and absolute vote on which restaurant I go to.

          • Anonymous says:

            Sounds like the Holy Roman Empire.

          • Tibor says:

            What’s like the HRE?

          • sflicht says:

            I believe the HRE comparison was in reference to David Friedman’s “local competitive dictatorships” model. I’m not sure I agree the comparison is apt, because under feudalism the peasant class was probably not actually very free to move among the jurisdictions of the HRE member states. Although I suspect there was more mobility for them than for peasants in contemporaneous France, if only because the princes were constantly drafting their peasants into petty wars, and one can desert from an army pretty easily. Probably the shared German language helped make capital and members of the bourgeoisie relatively mobile, at least within certain regions of the HRE. So there probably was some genuine competition for the loyalty of the Second Estate.

          • Tibor says:

            For most of its history the HRE had no common language. There had been no Hochdeutsch until Luther and if you compare for instance Bavarian to Plattdeutsch, you’ll see that they’re not mutually intelligible. Also, the HRE included the Dutch and the Czechs who didn’t even speak a German language (and the kingdom of Bohemia was the largest part of the empire, I’m not sure if also by population). At times also the Burgundians who spoke French.

          • At a more local level, I have long argued that the idea form of government is competitive dictatorship–the way we run restaurants and hotels. I have no vote on the menu, and absolute vote on which restaurant I go to.

            Misleading analogy. The barriers to uprooting yourself, finding a new job and social circle ,etc, are much greater than going to a different restaurant, so that rounds of to dictatorship. Consider the HRE again..the majority did not have Voice or Exit.

          • Tibor says:

            @TheAncientGeekAKA1Z: I’m not sure if this is what David meant by local level but if you consider a country organized like Switzerland, i.e. with small constituencies with a high degree of autonomy then “uprooting” yourself means moving about 500-100 kilometres away. You can still meet anyone from your old place on an hour’s notice (something that’s not always possible if you both live in Berlin for example). Also if you keep reducing the area of the constituencies to zero you basically arrive at the kind of anarchocapitalism David advocates. Or the Amish, apparently, whose Ordnungs sometimes geographically overlap.

          • Switzerland isn’t a patchwork of dictatorships, twice over. It’s a devolved democracy. The Cantons are democratic, and they are part of a larger federal democracy. As you shrink the granularity of the devolved units, what happens is that more has to be done at the federal level, because things like infrastructure become too big for a tiny canton too handle directly.

          • Tibor says:

            TheAncientGeekAKA1Z: of course the cantons are no dictatorships (Amish congregations technically aren’t either) but the point of is that the success of Switzerland might be more due to competition than to democracy (although I think that direct democracy on a reasonably small scale, I.e. voters in tens of thousands and not millions, can actually work quite well)

          • ChetC3 says:

            The HRE (I’m assuming from context you mean the HRE of the early modern era) is a poor model if competition is what you’re after, since it tended to work in favor of preserving the territorial status quo above all else. It wouldn’t matter how manifestly incapable an imperial prince was of performing even the most minimal functions of a state, he and his descendants would remain in power so long as the HRE lasted, and enforce their rights at the expense of their luckless subjects.

      • Squirrel of Doom says:

        This is too simple.

        Democracy is good for some things and bad for others.

        For choosing a president, who we all have to live under whether we like it or not, it makes a lot of sense.

        Choosing which candidate a political party should support should be up to the party itself. We don’t let the public vote on what products Apple or Starbucks offer, and that’s a good thing.

    • DrBeat says:

      That party boss system is what the Democrats are doing now. The party anointed Hillary as its chosen candidate and everyone got in line except this one asshole nobody invited (Sanders). Throughout the entire process, the party leadership along with the media have blatantly and shamelessly skewed things in order to ensure Hillary was the nominee, bypassing the entire purpose of having primaries.

      Having primaries leads to awful, reprehensible nominees, and not having primaries leads to awful, reprehensible nominees. If you notice that this means there is no way out, you’re right! Death is the only escape.

      • The Nybbler says:

        The Wikileaks suggest that Bernie may have been invited (to provide the appearance of opposition) and expected to throw the game. There’s talk about him violating their agreement and them (Hillary’s people) having leverage over him.

    • dsotm says:

      Which among these arguments doesn’t hold equally well for the general election itself ?

      • Squirrel of Doom says:

        – The gradual whittling down of 15 candidates is a very different game theoretical scenario.

        – People from the party A have no interest in voting for the worst party B candidate

        – Primaries attract a small population of party member voters. The general election draws out the regular population

        • dsotm says:

          I can somewhat see the first point though it’s mostly an artifact of the two-party system but the only possible benefit of the bosses deciding on a nominee imo is their ability to overcome in-party populism and decide based on which candidate would likely be better accepted by voters outside the party – but this would be offset by the chance of alienating core party voters and the boss’s personal/interest-group agenda so no clear gain here and an (even bigger) of loss of PR for the party and legitimacy for the chosen candidate.

          Not sure I understand the other two – if primaries votes are limited to party members then people who register to party B to sabotage their primaries will lose the ability to vote in the primaries for the candidate they support in their own party, seems analogous to the strategic choice to vote in the general election for a candidate that you’re sure will be so bad that he will cause damage to the party in the next election or in the congress. Or is it legal in the US to register to both parties ?

          Alternatively, is it legal to condition party membership on anything ?

          • Squirrel of Doom says:

            The primary rules vary between states, but it’s usually fairly easy to vote in a primary election. I don’t doubt that most primary voters are loyal to the party they vote for, but tactical line crossing is not uncommon either.

            I forgot the maybe biggest problem: Since only a small minority of dedicated party faithful vote in primaries, they tend to go for extremist candidates. D picks someone really to the left and R someone really to the right. The centrist candidates that most of the country would be pretty OK with have a very hard time getting to the general election that they probably could win.

          • dsotm says:

            But this time the democrats didn’t pick someone really to the left, even Clinton’s opponents don’t really cite far-leftism as their main criticism against her while the really-to-the-left democrats who supported Sanders accuse the party of bossism even in the presence of the primaries.
            I’m not sure Trump qualifies as ‘really to the right’ either, more like really to the low – it’s true that he would most likely not pass a boss system but that would probably be more due to his political outsiderness rather than any views.
            Re the general election drawing out the regular population – doesn’t look that way from here, in the general election almost all the states are winner-takes-all whereas the in the primaries it seems to be a more mixed bag, if anything that’s a reason to encourage more people to participate in the primaries rather than penalise those who actually care from the start.
            As far as systemic changes should go imo the first priority would be to make both the general elections and the primaries popular-vote based doing away with the electoral college

          • Deiseach says:

            the only possible benefit of the bosses deciding on a nominee imo is their ability to overcome in-party populism and decide based on which candidate would likely be better accepted by voters outside the party

            I dunno, parachute candidates tend not to be very popular on this side of the Atlantic; generally they’re ambitious bright young things that headquarters forces on the constituents in a ‘safe seat’ so they can get their start for the forecast glittering career, when they’ll then drop the yokels like a hot potato and get a plum candidacy in the really important places (i.e. the capital).

            Sometimes it works because there really is no alternative, but often the resentful local party machinery works against the imposed candidate and the ungrateful voters insist on voting for someone they like instead 🙂

          • dsotm says:

            @Deiseach
            Well this is specifically about the presidential candidate, in the local level party bosses already have a lot of say in determining the candidates from what I understand, isn’t that what makes them bosses ?
            Squirrel of Doom says that it will be good to have them override the opinion of their own party supporters if they believe it will bring better results in the general election, but as I wrote I don’t think it will work well in the average case – The US idea is for the president to enjoy at least a legitimate pretence of direct popular support as head of government as well as the state – otherwise why not let congress elect him thereby ensuring that he will have a majority for at least the first two years like in parliamentary coalition PM systems ?

    • erenold says:

      I, too, have been having this thought a lot lately and I would like to propose a possible explanation for this phenomenon.

      Claim: The primary-voting process is inherently flawed because the single most important candidate quality – competence in governance – is information not generally available to the primary electorate. The ability to schmooze, make backroom deals, and generally get things done is information that party bosses are privy to, but not generally the voters.

      Moreover, with all candidates being broadly ideologically similar to each other, the primary process appears to force candidates into signalling spirals to distinguish themselves, to no effect other than to drive party politics to ideological extremes.

      The latter in particular is a phenomenon that does not exist in the general. You broadly know what ideology will drive the government if the Democrats win. Likewise the Republicans. Your vote genuinely adds value to the process because you’re making a clear, relatively well-informed choice about the direction you want your country to go in. Not so for the primary.

      • erenold says:

        I’m not even primarily thinking of America here – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is clearly the example par excellence of a self-destructive primary process leading an entire party to suicidal electoral annihilation, and doing considerable incidental harm to the nation as a whole in the process.

      • The Nybbler says:

        The ability to schmooze, make backroom deals, and generally get things done is information that party bosses are privy to, but not generally the voters.

        Both the US Democratic and Republican primaries picked someone with this ability par excellence. Obviously Hillary, who won her primary that way. But also Trump, for whom this describes his business career.

        • erenold says:

          Well, certainly. But I think it’s reasonable to wonder to what extent either primary process was driven by the criterion of actually-able-to-get-things-doneability, and to what extent by signalling-spirals and, basically, the ability to advertise oneself. How much steak to how much sizzle, basically.

          And, more importantly, to the extent that both primary processes were, in fact, driven by steak, how much reliable information voters had to go on in that regard. Say Trump, as he reportedly almost did, got last minute cold feet and we had a Trumpless R primary – could a meaningful distinction between the Bush/Christie/Rubio/Kasich/Walker candidates be drawn in that regard? Bearing in mind, of course, that the alternative was internal selection by party bosses. How much steak-sizzle ratio could we expect from that mechanism instead?

    • Tibor says:

      That’s a system that most parties in Europe employ. You can usually only vote for the party, not for the candidates (for the MPs at least…and you don’t have a say in who’s the PM at all, you usually can vote for the president directly, but in most countries the president is a rather unimportant function, and in Germany he is actually selected by the Bundestag as opposed to the voters), the parties choose who gets to be on the candidate list and in what order which the voters can only marginally alter by preference votes. Sometimes the party members vote on that, sometimes it is chosen by the party leadership and sometimes even votes of the party leadership are restricted to just some party members.

      It is a system that leads to a insulated political class and hence eventually to protest parties gaining momentum. On the other hand the US system also seems to produce such a political class.

  38. thepenforests says:

    I completely agree with this post, and I’m glad you wrote it.

    That being said, it’s still interesting to talk about where exactly the uncertainty lies when we talk about a 60-80% chance (or whatever) of Clinton winning tomorrow. It could mean a number of things: that if we were to re-run November 8th over and over again Clinton would win 60-80% of the time, that if we were to re-run this election over and over again Clinton would win 60-80% of the time, or that if we were to consider an unfathomably huge number of possible elections, elections fitting into this reference class would be won by the Clinton-like candidate 60-80% of the time. In the first of these cases we can consider the election to be legitimately undetermined at this point, and the 60-80% number reflects that fact; in the latter cases the election is essentially determined already, and the 60-80% number reflects an epistemic uncertainty on our part.

    So the two main categories of uncertainty would be:

    1. Chaotic or quantum-chaotic uncertainty. In this case the election depends on the exact microstate (say the position of all the atoms) of the universe at the outset of November 8th. A slightly different microstate would lead to a different election outcome. This could be the case if (as in Scott’s example) a rainstorm would cause reduced voter turnout somewhere and swing the election, and whether or not that rainstorm formed was chaotically dependent on the exact microstate of the universe. If this is the case it basically means that you could never predict the outcome of the election, even if you were a superintelligent AI. The best you could do would be to say that Clinton has a 60-80% chance of winning, and this would roughly cash out to meaning that 60-80% of future branches of the wavefunction would contain Clinton election wins.

    2. Epistemic uncertainty. In this case the election is basically already decided, we just don’t know how it’s going to turn out. You could reinitialize November 8th over and over again with slightly different initial conditions, and you would get basically the same result every time (or 99.99999% of the time). Polling errors would fall under this kind of uncertainty. A superintelligent AI might be able to predict the election with a great deal of certainty in this scenario. The vast majority of future branches of the wavefunction (from this point onwards) turn out the same way in this case.

    I feel like most people saying that Clinton has a 60-80% chance of winning consider their uncertainty to be predominately epistemic (does anyone here feel differently?). This seems reasonable to me – I doubt the election is all that dependent on chaotic or quantum factors. Still, I feel like this is an important distinction that people often don’t make when talking about uncertainty.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      that if we were to re-run November 8th over and over again Clinton would win 60-80% of the time, that if we were to re-run this election over and over again Clinton would win 60-80% of the time, or that if we were to consider an unfathomably huge number of possible elections, elections fitting into this reference class would be won by the Clinton-like candidate 60-80% of the time.

      I think the real story is just that there is exactly one outcome — but we can’t measure it. Either Trump or Clinton wins, and we have an imperfect measure, leading to error bars on our predictions.

      There’s a 65% chance we are in a universe where Clinton wins, and a 35% chance we are in a universe where Trump wins.

      • shakeddown says:

        A more mathematically precise way to put it: In 60-80% of universes with election scenarios that lead to polls(\other date) like this, Clinton wins.

  39. keranih says:

    So, we have a country that includes a lot of people who don’t support Trump, and a lot of people who don’t support Hillary Clinton. And either way, there are going to people who are unhappy and disgruntled.

    I wonder, however, if it’s a really balanced reality. My sense is that had there been a different R candidate, there would have been far more supporter for the R ticket. On the other hand, I don’t get the impression that Hillary is as unacceptable to so many people. So Trump is the outlier, the weird one, and – all else being equal – the ‘normal’ majority is going to be against him. So the anti-D, or pro-conservative populist, trend is maybe larger than one thinks from the Trump vs Clinton matchup.

    If one accepts this – and I would be interested in other thoughts – the conformation bias of a win is more dangerous for Democrats than for Republicans. A close win for Trump (or even a close loss) would understate the overall support for conservative positions/candidates. On the other side, a D win overstates the support of Clinton and D policies, because so much of it is anti-Trump. Which for me recalls (ex) friends who had posters of “Commander in Thief” up in their offices in 2007, and the meltdown after the 2004 election. (And yep, there were strong R-intransigent areas after 2012.)

    Either way, there are going to be a number of po’ed people whenever the election is finally decided, and we are going to have to learn to live together in the weeks and months later.

    We’ve tried division before, and the attempt was heartbreaking. Let’s not do that.

    (So I was thinking about this point earlier, but in this moment I am finishing up 538’s podcast on Trump the 2016 election, and omg they just. don’t. get. it. All of them are defensive, strikingly pro-Hillary, and aghast at the idea of living in a country with people who might support Trump. It was very frustrating to not even have a figleaf of a pretend attempt to understand the other side.)

    • onyomi says:

      “Either way, there are going to be a number of po’ed people whenever the election is finally decided, and we are going to have to learn to live together in the weeks and months later.

      We’ve tried division before, and the attempt was heartbreaking. Let’s not do that.”

      In order to avoid seeming like a sore loser when Hillary likely wins tomorrow, I’ll say right now that, whatever the outcome, I’ll continue to think it would be a very good thing for the United States to splinter somehow, and that this election has done nothing but dramatically strengthen that opinion. Either way, huge chunks of the population are going to be unhappy with their leader. Why force them all to have just one?

      I not only think this is desirable, I think it’s probable within the next fifty years or so.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Because that splinter would happen on really weird lines and all of the urban areas that want to be in coalition aren’t connected?

      • keranih says:

        It’s not that I don’t think that splintering couldn’t be the best choice, it’s that I see nothing to make me think that the Union would be any more willing to let the fractions go their own way this time than the last time.

        • psmith says:

          I see nothing to make me think that the Union would be any more willing to let the fractions go their own way this time than the last time.

          If nothing else, I think today’s Union is a good deal less warlike than yesteryear’s.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:
        We’ve tried division before, and the attempt was heartbreaking. Let’s not do that.

        I not only think this is desirable, I think it’s probable within the next fifty years or so.

        The U.S. cannot Balkanize.

        • erenold says:

          John C. Breckinridge, running on the ballot of the Southern Democratic Party, won almost the entire South, while Abraham Lincoln won almost the entire North and John Bell of the Constitutional Union ticket won three states in the center of the country, including Virginia, which coincidentally fell apart very soon.

          Not a single ballot was cast in favor of Lincoln in 8 out of 10 states that Breckinridge won, and not a single ballot was cast in favor of Breckinridge in four Northern states, including the big ones of New York and Pennsylvania. The South had a three-way race between the Northern and Southern Democratic parties and the Constitutional Union Party, while the North had a two-way race between the Republican Party of Lincoln and the Northern Democratic party. The country was de facto holding two totally different elections. In other words, it was already de facto two different countries.

          That’s actually one of the most amazing things I’ve ever read. Am I getting lost in translation somehow through some Electoral College thing or something, or did literally zero voters, in 12 entire states, vote for one of the two major parties?

          • Brad says:

            I believe the zeroes all represent cases where the candidate in question was not qualified to be voted for in that state. Each state has its own rules for deciding who can appear on the ballot.

            Also, keep in mind that the Republican Party was not a firmly entrenched “major” party in 1860. It had only been founded in 1854 after the de facto end of the Whigs.

          • I believe the zeroes all represent cases where the candidate in question was not qualified to be voted for in that state. Each state has its own rules for deciding who can appear on the ballot.

            That’s an incredible anachronism, almost like asking whether Alexander Hamilton drove a Ford or a Chrysler.

            In 1860, governments did not print ballots. That practice did not start until nearly three decades later — a reform that took the nation by storm.

            Before 1888, voting was by “ticket”, and the tickets were supplied by political party organizations. Party representatives handed out tickets in polling places. A voter would take one of the tickets and drop it into the ballot box.

            You could “scratch” your ticket, by crossing out some names and writing in different ones. Partisan newspapers deplored this practice, strongly urging readers to vote a “clean ticket”.

            I suppose in theory you could write up your own ticket, but I’ve never seen any reference to someone doing that.

          • erenold says:

            Many thanks to both of you, particularly re: “ballot access” point – I had forgotten about that. 0 voters in 12 states did seem wildly improbable mathematically.

        • onyomi says:

          As the article states, the Civil War resulted from a situation in which two parts of the country were de facto holding two different elections. We’re not there yet, but, I feel like we’re moving in that direction, a la “post-partisanship is hyperpartisanship.” The fact that the alienated factions are more geographically dispersed makes it less likely, but not impossible, given that technology makes geography less relevant as time goes on (which is part of the reason for greater tribal dispersion in the first place).

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            The fact that the alienated factions are more geographically dispersed makes it less likely, but not impossible, given that technology makes geography less relevant as time goes on (which is part of the reason for greater tribal dispersion in the first place).

            Onyomi, do you remember when you realized that the lack of aversion to moving from one end of the world to another in search of a job that you and other academics have is a complete aberration from the way most humans feel? I think something similar is going on here; people who live a life of the mind which can be lived entirely online and in books and in postal deliveries have lost touch with how incredibly, amazingly important physical location is.

            In particular, politics is ultimately about violence, and anybody who has studied history or even so much as played a strategy game can tell you how much difference physical distance makes in the application of violence. There is a reason the vast amount of territory in the vast majority of countries is contiguous.

          • onyomi says:

            It is true that most people aren’t nearly as mobile and unattached to place as myself, but if they were, secessions would already have happened.

            I also think there’s an extent to which technology makes everything come to you, including more tangible goods and services, so even people not socializing online all the time can still get, e. g. their insurance, their banking, etc. etc. from somewhere physically far removed.

            Also, various migrations are happening, albeit gradually. But the cumulative effect of that could be pretty big over 50 years. Black people are moving back to the south. Young professionals moving to coasts, etc. It’s true America’s diversity is less geographically concentrated than in most places, but many American localities are still very different, on average, from their neighbors, compared to probably most places which have historically split. Northern Ireland is probably not more culturally different from Southern Ireland than Texas is from California, I’d guess. And if people keep being unsatisfied with the government, maybe we will see even more migrations with political goals specifically in mind: Free State Project, etc.

      • onyomi says:

        And now this is a thing. Not a serious thing yet, but people are thinking about it.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          so there’s an obvious point here that’s going to come up a million more times over the next few days: People are scum, and there are already uncountable examples of gross hypocrisy raining from the sky. Reveling in them as evidence of why the other side is awful is probably not useful. Using them as a reminder that both sides have a lot in common probably is more useful.

          • onyomi says:

            I didn’t post the “Calexit” thing as proof that Hillary supporters are awful, but rather to support my point that, no matter which side wins, a lot of people are going to be so PO’d, maybe they’d be better off just seceding. If Hillary had won, I’d probably be pointing to “Texit,” though, as I mentioned above, it might make me seem like more of a sore loser, since I wanted Trump to win. I’m saying, either way, I have no problem with the idea of secession, and actually think it’s a good idea. Most people in California clearly don’t want to be governed by Trump; most people in Texas clearly do (or at least prefer him strongly to Hillary). Why make 300 million people accept one-size-fits-all leadership?

          • eccdogg says:

            I think secession lite aka Federalism is our best path forward as a country. The problem is neither party wants to give up telling people what to do when they have power.

            Most US states are the size of many European countries. Let each of them set their own climate policy, minimum wage, marijuana laws, abortion laws, healthcare policy, etc etc that way California can have what it wants and Texas can have what it wants.

            Immigration and trade policy are the two thorny issues. But even with immigration you could let each state decide how much of its public services it wanted to extend to undocumented immigrants and how heavily it wanted to enforce immigration laws.

  40. sflicht says:

    Does anyone care to make a prediction as to the number of states in which Trump wins the Latino vote?

    • The Nybbler says:

      Only chance would be Florida, and I think likely not. So zero.

      • sflicht says:

        Part of the reason I asked was that I couldn’t easily find relevant state-by-state polling data, or even a convincing demographic model. Do you happen to have a link?

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Yeah, the over/under couldn’t be set on this as a prop bet.

        Well, I guess they would set it at zero and the house would bet against people who wanted to take the over.

  41. I’m glad that Scott mentioned betting markets, because I really wish people in the chattering classes would follow Bryan Caplan and Robin Hanson’s ideas about betting on ideas. For example, Scott Adams claims that he still believes that Trump has a 98% chance of not only winning but winning in a landslide. From looking at these new-fangled inventions called “polls”, “forecasts” and “betting markets”, I conclude that Mr. Adams has perhaps just slightly exaggerated the probability of a Trump landslide, and I would very much like to take some of his money and/or embarrass him make a bet about it with him. In all seriousness, though, I think it would be nice if it was a social norm that people who are being contrarian about something demonstrate their real intellectual confidence (or lack thereof) by betting money on falsifiable predictions regarding it. In a world like that, I think people would be much more careful about sharing their opinions without doing sufficient research beforehand and much more honest to themselves and others about what they actually think the evidence shows as opposed what they wish it did.

    • Deiseach says:

      I know nothing about how your electoral system works and am too damn lazy to Google some basic information for godsakes, so is it possible that Trump could win the popular vote but still lose on the electoral college votes (given that the big population centres are where Hillary’s support is and that those are the ones with the most electoral college votes)?

      That way, Adams could still claim Trump had won and if the American system were different (direct voting by the people instead of via electors to the electoral college), it would have been by a landslide?

      • John Colanduoni says:

        Yes. The simple and less insidious reason is what you brought up: that the electoral vote is winner take all on some level, mostly states.

        The dicier and scarier one is that the members of the electoral college for each state does not have to follow that state’s popular vote as far as the Constitution is concerned. It’s illegal in some states, but not all. I would have disregarded this possibility completely even in this election, if not for the fact that some have already said they will do it.

      • Balioc says:

        It’s possible, yes, but far more likely to go the other way. Relative to the popular vote, the electoral college is heavily biased towards “empty” states and rural voters.

        (The short version is that every single state gets two “free” electors, plus an number roughly based on population. So the 600K voters of Wyoming divide up the power of those two free electors amongst themselves, while the 39M voters of California are dividing up those same two free electors, before any population-based representation even kicks in.)

  42. shakeddown says:

    Optimistic theory (p~40%): This election will have disgusted people so much that partisanship will go down afterwards. Before the election, people are invested in the results, but afterwards, once there aren’t any hard results to look forwards too, people will just avoid thinking about partisanship because it’s gotten so ugly, it’s become an unpleasant thing to think about.

    • Acedia says:

      I’m not so sure. An awful lot of people seem to be reveling in it.

      • shakeddown says:

        It’s a race to the bottom, though – those people race to make it uglier and uglier, and more and more people are just getting sick of the whole thing, until the people who enjoy it end up a minority among uninterested non-partisans.
        (This is the optimistic scenario. I’m not much more optimistic than you are – like I said, I give it about 40%).

  43. Cerby says:

    Here’s my two cents:
    – Power is magnetic to the corrupt.
    – With their lack of moral restraints, the corrupt are also advantaged by their more numerous options and methods in obtaining and maintaining said power.
    Therefore, until proven otherwise on a case-by-case basis, all people with sufficient power can safely be assumed to be unrepentant shitstains, and both Trump and Hillary, as well as all their cohorts and hanger-ons, have done nothing to alleviate such concerns (quite the contrary, in fact).

    In other words, it doesn’t matter who gets into the White House; Moloch wins.

    • shakeddown says:

      Clearly, the solution is to have the country run by a guy with a cat who doesn’t know he’s running anything, and elect someone entertaining who doesn’t do anything to be president.
      The rise of Yair Lapid suddenly makes a lot more sense.

  44. neaanopri says:

    I think that it’s quite meaningful what the conventional wisdom is, in and of itself. It’s going to inform what kind of policy choices will be made and what kinds of proposals will be listened to.

    I also don’t necessarily think that because the election is close in the polls, that the results will actually be close. There’s two different “randomnesses” here: the randomness in which people will behave, and the randomness in which the way polls translate to actual support. And these are difficult to disentangle, since we’re only going to have one trial on this election!

    If the election actually contains significant amounts of randomness to it, then yes, the outcome of the election shouldn’t affect our conclusions as much. But if the election doesn’t contain much inherent randomness, just a complicated relationship between polling outcomes and votes, then we can absolutely take lessons from the outcome of the vote. Of course, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about the contributing factors, especially if the election turns out to be actually close.

  45. HeelBearCub says:

    Regardless of an HRC or Trump win, I take the following out of this election:

    1) The Republican coalition really does have a governing rump that is far more “nativist populist” than ideologically conservative (as the intellectual leaders of the past 40+ years have defined that ideology).

    2) The structural realignment of the parties that has been occurring since 1964 may have almost run its complete course. The blue-collar Midwest whites seem poised to jump to in bulk to R, as the union power that kept them D has waned too much. College educated whites may be forced/jump out of the R coalition in increasing numbers.

    3) To the extent that 1 and 2 play out, “minority” voters will also be kept at arm’s length from the the R.

    4) None of this is a surprise. George W. Bush didn’t really look all that reliably conservative either, but the base was happy to embrace him as a folksy populist. The base got Medicare-D, everyone got a tax cut, and most on that side didn’t really care that the surplus became a record deficit (plus they knew it was the Dems fault somehow). But what he couldn’t get through was immigration reform.

    5) The inherent cognitive dissonance in the Republican Party caused by the coalitional stresses mean that, although they have tribal cohesiveness, they struggle to govern effectively with coherent policy objectives. This means that the base continues to search for a candidate who can articulate a policy that threads the needle. Trump is able to get away being incoherent on policy because the party lacks policy coherence.

    6) The Democratic Party is also suffering stress due to populist leanings.

    7) The Dems may have a reckoning when they can’t actually enact things like “free college for all”. Free college for all also is somewhat regressive from a benefits perspective, which shows that some of the white youth vote may actually put pressure on the Democratic coalition.

    8) There is a hunger to address some of the basic inequities caused when a rising tide swamps some boats and lifts others. But the current coalitions may prevent this from occurring.

    • keranih says:

      George W. Bush didn’t really look all that reliably conservative either, but the base was happy to embrace him as a folksy populist. The base got Medicare-D, everyone got a tax cut, and most on that side didn’t really care that the surplus became a record deficit (plus they knew it was the Dems fault somehow).

      Just going to point out that there was a great deal more going on than just Medicare D & the tax cut that led to the deficit, and that the deficit record didn’t last very long. And that Bush had a number of detractors on the right.

      I think your grasp on the pulse of the right side of the electorate is not as solid as you might like.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @kerinah:
        Did you think Trump had a shot at becoming the nominee when he announced?

        If not, have you revised your beliefs about the coalition that forms the Republican electorate?

        Yes, there were plenty of people in the coalition who were mad at Bush by the end. But, much of that anger was for having bad outcomes, rather than the actual policy choices.

  46. BBA says:

    The polls have closed in the township of Dixville, NH, which will soon be the first precinct in the nation to report its results. And as Dixville goes, so goes Erving’s Location, and perhaps Chandler’s Purchase as well.

    EDIT: Clinton 4, Trump 2, Johnson 1, and a single write-in for Mitt Romney. And we’re off.

    EDIT 2: With three precincts in NH reporting, Trump leads 32-25. And now no more precincts report for another 17.5 hours, when polls close in the parts of Indiana and Kentucky in the Eastern time zone. I’m going to sleep.

  47. keranih says:

    Slightly random bit of election noise:

    Evidently, Trump masks outsold Hillary masks. Which, thinking about it, is a bit of a cultural tell, and might end up being upended this year by rising Hispanic voters. Either way, I surely do hope we know in 24 hours which way it’s going to fall.

  48. Deiseach says:

    Good luck to you all on Election Day today (later your time) and remember – vote early and often! 🙂

  49. liskantope says:

    I agree 100% with this post and think it makes a point not heard often enough. The result’s of today’s election will greatly affect our country’s future, but in terms of my view of the American people and political process in late 2016, all damage has already been done. I want to point out, though, that I suspect that the closeness of the two main candidates has less to do with many people being nationalist and many others being against that, and more to do with a deeply entrenched two-party system.

  50. Deiseach says:

    *throws hands in air*

    This is a sample of what some people genuinely believe:

    I don’t care if Hillary Clinton is corrupt. I don’t care if she lies, if she cheats, if she eats bowls of newborn chipmunks for breakfast.

    She is literally the only thing standing in the way of a fascist dictator becoming President of the United States with a Republican majority congress that guarantees he can do anything he wants and nothing will be able to stop him.

    If Trump is elected, people are going to die. Women are going to die when Roe v Wade is overturned and Planned Parenthood is defunded. LGBTQ people are going to die when conversion therapy is further legalized and more bathroom bills are passed. POC are going to die as Trump rounds up Mexican immigrants, gives more power to the police, and fuels the fires of Islamaphobia. Poor people are going to die as Obamacare gets overturned and further cuts are made to welfare programs. And that’s just in this country. That’s not even taking account the all-too-likely outcomes of Trump starting new wars in the Middle East and having control of nuclear bombs that he’s said he ‘would not rule out’ using.

    Thing is, I’ve also seen on my Tumblr dash someone reblogging a post from 2012 when they were “The results of the election are either going to be the biggest party of all times or the apocalypse” and saying now “Ha ha, imagine thinking back in 2012 that Mitt Romney would be the cause of the apocalypse!”.

    But the thing is – back in 2012, there genuinely was hysteria about the evil Republicans and evil Mitt Romney who would be as bad for women, immigrants, LGBT, etc. as they’re saying Trump would be. And now it’s “Good old Mittens!”

    Do people never learn, or what?

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Bill Maher apologizes: https://twitter.com/sahilkapur/status/794934727811756032

      This is a lot better than most others, who react to “you have called wolf before” by screaming “WOLF” at the absolute top of their lungs.

      • koreindian says:

        AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND- AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND MILLENNIALS…

        The clip cuts off at just the right time.

      • John Schilling says:

        Talk is cheap. Maher claims to have backed up his histrionics re Mitt Romney with a million-dollar donation to the Obama campaign; I’d kind of like to know how his newfound appreciation for the virtues of non-Trump Republicans, and his supposed need to atone for past wrongs, is going to guide his next million-dollar donation.

        • Matt M says:

          Right. While he does get credit for admitting to being wrong before (something most people won’t do), he’s still following that by saying “BUT I’M NOT WRONG NOW”

          The true test will be if the GOP nominates say, Rubio, in 2020, will Maher lead with “I disagree with this guy but he’s an honorable opponent who is surely much better than Trump was” or will we find some new outrage that requires us to assume Rubio is TOTALLY THE WORST EVER?

      • onyomi says:

        Yeah, I give Bill Maher a lot of credit for intellectual honesty.

    • koreindian says:

      It’s posts like that that remind me why I no longer use my tumblr.

    • liskantope says:

      I wholeheartedly agree that the American left has in part brought this situation on themselves by repeatedly crying wolf in the way you describe. I also think that the current opposition is by far the closest thing we’ve seen to an actual wolf in modern times. Now that’s still a long way from actually *being* a wolf, and in fact I believe the fundamentals of American democracy are too strong to allow him to bring about any kind of apocalypse regardless. But still I don’t blame the American left for cautiously comparing him to a wolf this time, *as long as* they’re extra careful not to go further than is reasonable or necessary. The real measure of how well they’ve learned their lesson will be to see how they talk about (what will hopefully be) a less extreme candidate in a future election.

      • Deiseach says:

        But still I don’t blame the American left for cautiously comparing him to a wolf this time, *as long as* they’re extra careful not to go further than is reasonable or necessary.

        Is “How to avoid getting shot by Trump supporters tonight” going more than is reasonable or necessary, d’you think?

        I think I’ll quote the full of this one, because it is a pippin – and I’m beginning to think some people want blood in the streets to validate how they’re on the side of truth and justice and their opponents are pure scum (yes, yes, it’s Tumblr, I know, but this is what some young adults are putting out there and others are swallowing whole; unless I am to think that the original poster is cynically manipulating emotion-based fear for their own purposes, and I can’t quite figure out what those purposes might be, I have to think that they’re at least semi-sincere even if being a self-dramatising martyr in their own mind – it must give them a pleasant thrill to think, as they walk home, that they are in actual bodily danger from the fascists because of their brave stance to vote for Hillary Clinton):

        This is a plea to those in the US on tumblr about election night:

        If you can, please, for your own safety, stay home.

        Regardless of who wins, there will be violence.

        If Hillary wins, then all the violence Trump has been encouraging will come to a head. His supporters have already said they believe the system is rigged, and there is a growing movement to “take up arms” and “fight back” if Trump loses. This is especially important for those of you in smaller, more rural, white-dominated communities. Trump supporters are plenty there, and as someone who lives in one, I can tell you the chances of people having guns on hand are very high.

        If Trump wins, then all of his ideas about “law and order” being enforced by self-policing neighborhoods and his terrifying ideas of vigilantism being an acceptable form of law enforcement could come to fruition. People will most likely be protesting if he wins, and there is a heavy chance that Trump supporters may decide to shut these protests down with violence. They may decide to get a jump start on kicking people out of America. They may decide to commit hate crimes because Trump being elected reinforces their belief that violent rhetoric and actions against minorities is acceptable.

        This is not an exaggeration. There will be violence on Tuesday night. There will be hate crimes. There will be people hurt. Do absolutely everything you can to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

        Sound extreme? Well, listen up.

        I want to stress something to everyone on tumblr who is voting for the first time, or is too young to remember previous elections: the violent rhetoric around this election is NOT NORMAL.

        Previous elections have never had this strong of a group of people declaring they’ll secede if their candidate loses. Previous elections have never had violence encouraged and stoked by a presidential candidate. Previous elections have never been this tense, this scary, this pivotal.

        This election has been violent, and the results on Tuesday night will either push Trump supporters into thinking their violence is acceptable, or push them into fighting back against what they see as a “rigged system”.

        Either way, please look after yourself Tuesday night, especially if you are a minority and/or live in a conservative, white-dominated community.

        Please reblog this so everyone can see it. I never ask for reblogs, but this is extremely important for people in the U.S.

        Yep, look out for all those white conservatives, those bitter clingers have been fondling their guns all month in anticipation of shootin’ them some liberals in celebration of turning the USA into a fascist state/as the kick-off to armed revolt against Saint Hillary!

        • Brad says:

          Do you go searching for tumblr posts that will upset you, or are these people you follow because you’ve liked what they’ve written in the past or on non-political topics, or ???

          • Deiseach says:

            are these people you follow because you’ve liked what they’ve written in the past or on non-political topics, or ???

            Follow for fandoms (the fun I’ve had discussing the Dumas Musketeers, you wouldn’t believe), art, western martial tradition (very amateur interest but some gorgeous swords, armour and really genuinely informative history posts), TV/movies to an extent, football (the soccer not American version) and bits’n’bobs.

            For some reason, everyone with common interests as listed above is way, way, way more liberal/left-inclined than I am. Our host is the most conservative person I follow in any sense, apart from religious blogs and one Sad Puppy author who is even more conservative, politically and economically, than I am 🙂

            I have no idea how that happened, it just did; f’rinstance, when the Peter Jackson “Hobbit” movies were coming out, I struck up an acquaintance with a trans male femme mixed-race English guy who was Asatru but has recently converted to Judaism over our mutual conviction that Dáin Ironfoot was (a) Magnificent (b) the only member of the Line of Durin who seemed to have a functioning brain (as an aside, did you know that ZOMBIE DWARF KINGS are canonical? Well, technically they’d be more liches, but nevertheless, this is something that can be legitimately derived from what Tolkien has said on the topic!). We don’t even agree on everything in Tolkien, so you can imagine the disparity in our views on practically everything under the sun (antipodean doesn’t even begin to approach it).

            Generally most of the posts are about mutual interests, and the liberal/progressive stuff I ignore or bite my tongue about as background noise (unless it’s particularly egregious and I have unfollowed a couple of Tumblrs for it).

            But this election has been a constant drumbeat of HILLARY HILLARY HILLARY THE PROMISED SAVIOUR THE ONLY ONE WHO STANDS BETWEEN US AND THE DARKNESS and the hysteria about causing the deaths of poor POC LGBT etc people if Trump were elected and how his supporters and voters are only itching to go on a rampage has been non-stop.

            I’m keeping my head down and only bitching about it on here because at least I can have a sensible discussion with you lot, even if we vehemently disagree.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Deiseach:

          I think going out and looking for outrage porn is a sort of antithetical to the spirit of the blog. Your (from my perspective) apparent love for being outraged reduces the likelihood that I take the time to evaluate future arguments you make.

          If I wanted to go out and find horrible things said by random conservatives on social media, I guarantee I could do it. If I posted it here, I feel I would get shat upon to an inordinate degree with people claiming how unfair it was that I was making the argument that “all conservatives” are [pick your negative characteristic of choice].”

          • Deiseach says:

            Dear HeelBearCub, I don’t have to go looking for it. I get it shoved in my face whether I want it or not. My choice is to unfollow all these people (which I don’t really want to do, because outside of crazy politics we mostly have interests in common we can agree on) or ignore it until this election is over.

            But I know I’m going to get, even if Clinton wins, loads of stuff about how awful Trump/his voters/the other crowd are, and how there is imminent and immediate threat of [terrible thing happening] unless everybody right now [does this thing].

            The level of “we are the nice people and those over there in the opposition camp are literally going to bathe in our blood and eat babies raw” is driving me up the wall. Believe me, I’m certainly not going out searching for any of this stuff.

            The next Irish election, I freely invite you all to criticise our selection of rogues, idiots, criminals and two-faced back-stabbing liars. Unfortunately, we just had our general election this year so the next one won’t be for five years or so. But our presidential election will be held in 2018 (unless Michael D. pops his clogs before then, and there’s no reason he should do so). Generally our presidential elections are quite boring, but the one in 2011 was interesting.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Deiseach, you do have a third option: install tumblr savior and train it to hide political posts.

          • keranih says:

            @ Douglas Knight –

            I am really ambivalent about that sort of gagging. To me, it seems like deliberately putting blinders on so that one can’t see what ones fellow community members are really like. Like deliberately constructing a bubble.

        • liskantope says:

          I… don’t disagree.

          I do believe that the likelihood of violence in the context of voter suppression and over disputed results is marginally higher than for other elections, but the passage you quoted is blatant hyperbole. I spend more time on Facebook than on Tumblr and am glad to say that my Facebook friends are somewhat more moderate than many Tumblrites, but they still do generally seem to have overblown ideas of the consequences of a Trump victory.

          I will point out, though, that the type who posts passages like the one you quoted is generally not the type to use the descriptor “saint” anywhere near the name “Hillary”.

  51. Jordan D. says:

    Writing from Pennsylvania: the sky is clear blue as far as the eye can see. It’s supposed to get nasty tomorrow though.

  52. Humbert McHumbert says:

    On a related note: why is Sam Wang’s model such an outlier in its high confidence of a Clinton win?

  53. BBA says:

    SSC reader Matt Levine points out that in the French Revolutionary Calendar, today is the 18th of Brumaire.

  54. sflicht says:

    If HRC wins tonight, I plan to honor E Harding by referring to her as Her instead of Hillary, Clinton, or HRC, for the duration of her term in office. I call on all SSCans to join me in this show of national unity.

    • John Schilling says:

      No, thank you. I’ll give the office the respect it deserves in spite of its next occupant, and I’ll avoid the petty name-calling. “Hillary” or “Madame President”, depending on context

      • sflicht says:

        I respect your decision.

        Nonetheless, ever since Harding started doing that, I’ve been delighted by the idea of it catching on enough that we could have newscasters saying things like “Her’s taken us to DEFCON 2” and such.

        As an aside, neither the office nor its holder are intrinsically worthy of respect. Rather, the Constitutionally enshrines responsibilities of the position warrant respect. None of the living Presidents has lived up to those responsibilities in my view, so if I ever meet one in person I’ll be addressing them by their first name, not their former title.

        • shakeddown says:

          I like this (and it doesn’t really seem disrespectful – it’s a term that could be used affectionately by supporters just as easily).

  55. Eponymous says:

    So…you’re saying the glass ceiling is effectively shattered, even if Trump wins?

    • shakeddown says:

      Is that really in dispute? We know that a woman can easily be elected president now – even if Clinton loses, a hypothetical woman without an email scandal would probably win.

      • Moon says:

        A Republican woman who was otherwise identical to Hillary certainly could be elected president. Because the Right Wing media wouldn’t have bashed a Republican Hillary for decades, the way it bashed the Dem Hillary. It wouldn’t have twisted and distorted and lied about everything in all her emails.

        And liberal media does about 90% less lying and distorting than Right Wing media does. So liberal media wouldn’t have bashed Republican Hillary much either.

        The reason Obama was able to win, despite being a Dem, is that he hadn’t been a well known powerful Dem for very long before he was elected. Therefore he hadn’t been bashed for decades on end like Hillary has.

        If Hillary wins, it will be only because DT is such a horrible candidate, who lies 70% of the time, a record even for a politician.

        Negative campaigning works to win elections. And the GOP does it far more often than the Dems do. But go ahead. Look into that 5% to 10% of the bashing and distortion that is done by liberal, rather than Right Wing, media, and cite every single example of it.

        • sflicht says:

          TayTay for president?

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ Moon
          A Republican woman who was otherwise identical to Hillary certainly could be elected president.

          Ho, data in sight! Looks like a correlation there. Thatcher, May, Merkel, Meir? (Disclaimer: very small sample.)

          • shakeddown says:

            Meir was leftist. But aside from that, yeah.

          • Tibor says:

            Merkel is hardly a rightwinger. If anything and steered her own party clearly to the left. Also note that neither the PM nor the Bundeskanzler is elected directly, so if Meir (I don’t know her) is a leftwinger, you have a sample size 0.

          • rlms says:

            The PM is elected directly in the sense that they have to win a seat, and also in the sense that when people choose which MP to vote for, they generally do so largely on the basis of which party (and hence candidate PM) they prefer.

          • Tibor says:

            @rlms: Ok, make it 1 then (to my knowledge, no other European country has the first past the post system so preventing the designated PM candidate from getting a seat in the parliament/Bundestag/whatever it’s called in a particular country is almost impossible (unless you vote for a different party altogether)

        • Deiseach says:

          And liberal media does about 90% less lying and distorting than Right Wing media does.

          I’m just going to lean back in my chair and admire that from all angles, to get the full beauty of it.

        • Anyone want to bet that anyone will remember or give a damn about the email server in a years time?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            I will remember and give a damn about it, just as I remember and give a damn about a great many other Clinton improprieties from the 90s.

          • paulmbrinkley says:

            I can’t help but remember it for the rest of my life, given that it involves things I’ve been close to by profession. If I’m counted in “anyone”, I would take the bet and offer 100000:1 odds to everyone within earshot.

          • keranih says:

            Hillary’s actions & conduct –

            – leaving aside the lack of accountability for it –

            – have already have had repercussions across the field of government secure communications/record keeping. Whether or not her name is attached to it, a corporate memory of her actions is already baked in.

          • While we’re on the subject, who remembers “Hilary definitely about to die any second now” from a month ago?

          • hlynkacg says:

            I remember a fair bit of speculation to that effect after her heat exhaustion pneumonia snafu back in September.

            Is that what you’re talking about?

          • keranih says:

            I remember the physical health things, and was thinking a week ago that it’s interesting that a) we haven’t heard much since and b) that she stopped doing major public appearances outside of the debates.

            I expect that she was emotionally devastated by the results, on top of being physically run down. I hope she recovers well, and has many years to come to play with the grandkid(s), mentor young friends of the family, and enjoy her home in NY.

          • Iain says:

            Clinton did four separate rallies the day before the election: one in Michigan, one in North Carolina, and two in Pennsylvania. Yesterday, somebody bumped into her walking through the woods with Bill and their dogs.

            Her health is fine. The stories were bullshit.

          • a non mouse says:

            So for weeks she doesn’t do rallies, she disappears for days before and after the debates and has a freaking seizure on video (that they denied until they saw that there was video evidence) and your conclusion is “nah, that story was bullshit”.

          • Sandy says:

            Yesterday, somebody bumped into her walking through the woods with Bill and their dogs.

            Today, there is suspicion that the encounter was staged.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            No. Next you’ll tell me the little kid that broke through the security line to hug Clinton was staged too.

          • Iain says:

            Heaven forbid that Chappaqua, New York have a higher-than-average density of Democrats! Surely it is impossible that a person living in the same neighbourhood as Hillary Clinton might meet her more than once and take photos with her both times.

            Even by the normal standards of anti-Clinton conspiracies, this one is dumb.

            @a non mouse: If you watch the full video of Clinton’s “seizure” and think it shows a medical concern, then I don’t know what to say to you.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Iain, the women’s facebook post of the Clinton encounter was taken down and all other posts deleted. Seems suspicious but who knows. Maybe trolls found her post causing her to delete everything.

  56. nyccine says:

    I’m reminded of nothing so much as Orwell’s completely inane critique of Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution; ignore the entirety of the argument in favor of an irrelevant tangent. The reality is, Trump shouldn’t be anywhere near as close as he is, what with the entire establishment of both parties being hell-bent on trying to take him down, coupled with a ridiculously hostile media. That Trump is doing as well as he is speaks to the validity of Adams’ central thesis; that charisma matters vastly more than intellectual arguments.

    The reality is, Nate Silver hasn’t done anything different than what Scott Adams has, you’ve just been conned by the scientism Nate Silver employs – there’s math! (how’d that work out for him in calling Brexit or the Republican primaries again?) – and you can’t be bothered to look any deeper. Not entirely dissimilar to how you respect an abject moron like Bryan Caplan, who insists on the validity of clearly b.s. stats on inflation and unemployment, never mind that the doctoring there is done completely in the open.

    Posts like this, in contrast with the care you take in things like alleged bias in American jurisprudence against African Americans, are proof positive that “rationalism” is nothing more than a label.

    • Moon says:

      Nate Silver may be wrong sometimes, but he does go by the numbers. Scott Adams seems to go by who he personally feels attracted to emotionally– and then he tries to think up arguments for why that candidate is a “Master Persuader.” There’s a large difference there.

      • a non mouse says:

        …and yet Nate Silver was very very wrong and Scott Adams was right because Nate Silver was using polls that were actually just propaganda and basing a model on them.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Yeah, at this point even if Hillary eeks out a win, it’s hard to say that Scott Adams did any worse than Nate Silver, especially since Adams was taking the side of the bet counter to conventional wisdom. And I say that as somebody who in this very comment section declared “it won’t be Trump [winning the Republican primary].”I was wrong. The polls were wrong (according to them this would not be this close).

          Time to read up on sex hypnotism magic, I guess.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            You guys like existential risk, right? Well, good news! 🙁

          • John Schilling says:

            Yeah, at this point even if Hillary eeks out a win, it’s hard to say that Scott Adams did any worse than Nate Silver

            If Adams says “98% probability Trump wins by a landslide” and Silver says “even odds this election will be within a 2% margin, too close for anyone to call”, and Trump wins by <2% of the vote, I call that pretty good for Silver and way off for Adams.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I think the top-line number everyone will remember is that Silver has been pretty consistently giving Hillary 60+% odds of winning. All the rest is fine-print; we weren’t expecting a close election. And sure, maybe we’re in the 1/3 universe, but I don’t think that excuse holds up well when the test is only run every 4 years.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            1. Silver deserves enormous credit for baking enough uncertainty into his model to give Trump a 30% chance of winning on election night. The most recent polls in aggregate suggested Hillary had a 2-4 percentage point lead in the popular vote, and most other election models gave Trump far slimmer chances than 538’s did. I was prepared for the outcome precisely because I heeded 538’s warnings that a Clinton presidency was no fait accompli.

            2. It looks like Trump will win Michigan by about 17,000 votes, Wisconsin by 27,000, and Pennsylvania by 70,000. This is not an election that either candidate had a 98% chance of winning.

            3. It is important to distinguish having correct beliefs from having beliefs which are supported by the evidence. These two can come apart in cases where the evidence is misleading, as were the polls in this election. Rationality consists in proportioning your beliefs to the evidence, not in having true beliefs, and we should resist both the urge to blame those who believe as they ought to but get unlucky and the urge to praise those who making foolish gambles and get lucky.

          • Iain says:

            Earthly Knight has it right. The polls were clearly in Hillary’s favour going in. Nate Silver took a lot of flack from the left for building enough uncertainty into his model to allow for polling error to swing the election in Trump’s favour, but he has been thoroughly vindicated. Nate Silver doesn’t run the polls, he just interprets them – and in this case, it looks like he interpreted them better than anybody else.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Rationality consists in proportioning your beliefs to the evidence, not in having true beliefs

            Is that really so? My reading of the Litany of Tarski is the exact opposite. The goal is true beliefs. Evidence is a means to that end, and if the available lines of evidence turn out to be flawed, you want to find lines of evidence that work better.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            “Believe all and only the truths” is good policy for a god, but useless for us. “Believe what your evidence supports” is the best advice we mortals are capable of following and hence the appropriate standard for adjudicating praise and blame. A man who is confident he will win the lottery deserves censure, even if he turns out to be correct.

          • a non mouse says:

            “Believe what your evidence supports” is the best advice we mortals are capable of following and hence the appropriate standard for adjudicating praise and blame.

            What “rationality” has forgotten is to appropriately discount all evidence for things that progressives deeply wish were true because progressives have been shown over and over as willing to at minimum be careless as long as the results come out right and at most thoroughly dishonest to reach the right conclusion.

            Unfortunately, going down this road invalidates a lot of ideas that prominent “rationalists” are emotionally attached to.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            There’s no evidence that polls in presidential elections tend to err in favor of the more progressive candidate. Quite the opposite, in fact. Final polls in the 2012 election showed Obama up one percentage point in the popular vote; he went on to win by four. Final polls in 2000 showed Gore down three percentage points; he won by half a point. Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by noisy data.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Biased, not just noisy. Bias/variance is a thing, the big problem with polls is they are systematically biased by nature of the polling process.

          • Iain says:

            If there is a bias, then there should be some dimension along which the polls are consistently wrong in the same direction. It’s not Republican vs Democrat; as Earthly Knight says, the polling has been wrong in the opposite direction multiple times in the recent past. So what is it?

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I think it’s bias in the opposite direction (perhaps because Trump people didn’t trust pollsters as they were part of the establishment).

            The fact that bias went the opposite way from the way it has in the past is the reason a lot of people got things wrong. People will talk and think and write about this issue a lot in the future.

            At this point all I wanted to point out was that statistical models have to deal with bias (being systematically off) AND variance (being noisy). Generally there is a tradeoff, since your squared error has both of these components.

            This stuff is not so simple…

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Although right now Nate Silver is looking like a genius for standing his ground against people calling him an idiot for not saying Hillary Clinton was guaranteed.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Another (slightly inebriated) thought on polls:

          The actual vote counts don’t give us breakdowns according to demographics (beyond coarse geographical data). We get that information from exit polls, right?

          The exit polls aren’t looking so hot right now. How much should we really trust the vote breakdowns by race/sex/etc?

      • nyccine says:

        Nate Silver may be wrong sometimes, but he does go by the numbers.

        Which is the point; the numbers were never good. That’s why I brought up the unemployment and inflation figures; they’re equally as garbage – blatantly so – but the “experts” stick with them, and that’s good enough for Scott, and rationalists in general. There’s no excuse for it.

        Also, Silver’s been wrong a few times – as best I can tell, his entire aura relies on the completely silly “his model called all 50 states!” argument. The mistake people make is believing Nate Silver is in the “stats” business; no, Nate Silver is in the Nate Silver business. He sells his audience a belief that their beliefs are “science” because he’s “done the math”.

        • John Colanduoni says:

          What is the opposing empirical evidence with which you made your conclusions? What is your argument that your method is any less of a fluke than a coin flip, noting that “correctly predicting the election” only counts as one data point?

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          In a world where currencies are freely traded against each other (plus non-governmental measures like MIT’s Billion Prices Index) inflation seems like the sort of thing that can’t be fudged by a bureaucracy.

          • nyccine says:

            @Anonymous Bosch: “core” CPI doesn’t count energy, or food, or even housing costs, although it does have a oddly calculated “Rent of Shelter.” Normal CPI does have those figures, but here’s a good example of how that’s garbage.

            MIT’s Billion Prices Index

            Suffers from the same problems as CPI; it’s artificially only looking at certain things, which dramatically understates inflation, particularly as it’s impacted the lower classes. But there’s MATH!, and so it’s accepted as true, even though it isn’t.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Suffers from the same problems as CPI; it’s artificially only looking at certain things, which dramatically understates inflation, particularly as it’s impacted the lower classes.

            What “certain things?” Energy and food are definitely in the BPP, their raw dataset includes gas and supermarkets. It doesn’t appear to have housing but it has prices for things like furniture and appliances which would be expected to track housing closely. Even if we assume otherwise, asserting that there is hidden inflation AND it’s concentrated 100% in the single sector of the economy not directly included in BPP and CPI requires stronger evidence than boilerplate criticisms. Especially since (a) BPP and CPI closely track each other despite different methodologies (b) BPP has a track record of exposing inaccurate official numbers in other countries (Argentina)

          • nyccine says:

            It doesn’t appear to have housing but it has prices for things like furniture and appliances which would be expected to track housing closely.

            I can’t argue with this. I mean, I literally can’t argue with this, it’s a complete non-sequitur; there is literally no reason to think prices of appliances and furniture would track with housing at all, except perhaps at the extreme tails.

        • Nate Silver is into sports as well as politics, which he approaches in the same way. He is quite open with his assumptions and approach, and (most importantly) the degree of uncertainty in any prediction. He was bashed, hard, for his unwillingness to call Clinton’s election a near certainty, but he stuck to his guns, pointing to the factors that raised uncertainty about the outcome. And he was a lot righter than all the analysts who assigned probabilities north of 90%.

          The numbers — in sports and in politics — are what they are, subject to inaccuracy and limitations, which Nate specifically discusses, in each context. Past election returns, demographic statistics, survey interviews, focus groups, exit polls, weather patterns, whatever, all contribute at least a little bit of information, in a Bayesian way.

          The larger issue, much larger than Nate Silver, is that accurate polling has become nearly impossible. Cell phones, caller ID, sampling issues, extremely low response rates, problems with estimating who is likely to vote, etc., all make it more likely that polling will not reflect reality. Many of us have been expecting the entire polling industry to collapse AnyTimeNow, and that moment may have finally arrived.

          • a non mouse says:

            The larger issue, much larger than Nate Silver, is that accurate polling has become nearly impossible. Cell phones, caller ID, sampling issues, extremely low response rates, problems with estimating who is likely to vote, etc., all make it more likely that polling will not reflect reality.

            But the polls all systematically were wrong in favor of the preferred candidate of the pollsters and the whole chattering class.

            Taking the conclusion that “polling is impossible” as opposed to “the current pollsters are dishonest” isn’t correct.

          • Anonymous says:

            What the mouse said. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the polls are fraudulent.

            It doesn’t even take a genius to actually fabricate poll results favoring whichever result you want – simply play around with the participant selection, or repeat the process until you strike gold, or do anything else that dishonest scientists do to tweak the numbers in the favor of their chosen conclusion.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            The polls were off in 2012, too, but there they underestimated Obama’s margin of victory by an average of about 2 points (Obama was, I take it, also the preferred candidate of the chattering class). The problem isn’t dishonesty or fraud, it’s error.

          • Fahundo says:

            Just wondering why, if you want Hillary to win, you would cook up polls to make her look farther ahead. This was really close; people predicting this as a slam dunk may well have caused many potential Hillary voters to stay home, thinking victory was assured. If the MSM was cooking polls because they like Hillary so much, that would probably mean they sabotaged themselves.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            There are lots of reasons the polls might be systematically wrong in favor of Clinton that are not due to a conspiracy. For example, Trump supporters don’t trust “the establishment” (including the media, the pollsters, the academics that interpret polls, etc). So they refuse to poll.

            I always thought “shy Trumpkin” was kind of a misnomer. I think these folks aren’t shy or embarrassed about their views, they just don’t like pollsters.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Funnily enough, what I’ve heard (from non-reputable sources) is that the polls were cooked to make them seem narrower than they actually were, in order to scare people into voting (presumably, for a push at taking congress).

            You can make up whatever you want if it sounds kind of plausible.

          • Anonymous says:

            Just wondering why, if you want Hillary to win, you would cook up polls to make her look farther ahead. This was really close; people predicting this as a slam dunk may well have caused many potential Hillary voters to stay home, thinking victory was assured. If the MSM was cooking polls because they like Hillary so much, that would probably mean they sabotaged themselves.

            Indeed. By spinning the narrative of Trump being unsuitable/unelectable/deplorable/etc, they’ve shot themselves in both feet. Hard to backpedal all the way from “he hasn’t got a chance” (intended to demoralize his supporters) to “every vote counts!!!” (intended to encourage her supporters). Even combining the two in one coherent story would be very tricky.

          • nyccine says:

            And he was a lot righter than all the analysts who assigned probabilities north of 90%

            He had her north of the 80’s for most of the campaign, and his last analysis had her at 71.4%. Now, he’s backtracking by insisting the polls showed a competitive race. I can’t put it better thanProf. Althouse; he’s protecting his lucrative brand.

          • nyccine says:

            @Fahundo: Presumably, a monster lead would depress turnout by the opposition who expects to get steam-rolled anyway. Additionally, it’s social persuasion to those who might be on the fence; get them thinking it’s what everyone else thinks is the right thing to do, might as well get on board as well.

            It certainly seems obvious that among the elite, perception of inevitability gets people, and money, flowing in one direction.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Funnily enough, what I’ve heard (from non-reputable sources) is that the polls were cooked to make them seem narrower than they actually were, in order to scare people into voting (presumably, for a push at taking congress).

            This is also undoubtedly bunk. The one real place where you see malfeasance (according to 538, anyway) is that pollsters often suppress outlier results in the last week or two of the race, on the hypothesis that (a) the polling average is more likely to be correct than their own individual poll and (b) getting it wrong at the last minute will damage their reputations.

          • a non mouse says:

            Just wondering why, if you want Hillary to win, you would cook up polls to make her look farther ahead.

            When the “polls” showed Trump down a bunch and the latest manufactured scandal came out a bunch of Republicans actually called for Trump to step down as candidate.

            That’s how it would work. Make him look like a loser, his coalition fractures, people that he relies on who are only helping because they think he can win defect, actual loss results.

            Almost worked too.

          • Iain says:

            All the pollsters who produced polls showing an edge for Clinton are currently wiping egg off their face. They look dumb, in a way that hurts their bottom line. Most of these pollsters make their actual money by doing commercial marketing research, and election polls are just an advertisement of quality. There’s a strong incentive to get the numbers right.

            I don’t see why we are giving this conspiracy theory the time of day, when the obvious answer is the parsimonious one: the pollsters made a mistake, because polling is hard.

          • Taking the conclusion that “polling is impossible” as opposed to “the current pollsters are dishonest” isn’t correct.

            So you reject the incompetence explanation and insist on malice?

            Pollsters (there are dozens of major ones) are individually much more self-interested than they are trying to change the world. Each individual one is trying to stand out as more accurate.

            That does lead to a degree of groupthink: if everybody else is saying +3, then I don’t want to look ridiculous by saying -4, so outliers do tend to get discouraged.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t see why we are giving this conspiracy theory the time of day, when the obvious answer is the parsimonious one: the pollsters made a mistake, because polling is hard.

            Why the miraculous error in one direction only, then? If it were down to simple error due to difficulty, wouldn’t you see many polls predicting Clintslide and many polls predicting Trumpslide? Why did they polls pretty unanimously predict that Clinton would win, with her hands in her pockets?

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            You are suggesting that any problem with polling could be fixed by doing more of them and then averaging them all out. Obviously polling is harder than that.

            Polling is hard, but I look with scorn on people who second-guess all the hard work that the polling people do. It is their fulltime job, literally, not something they only care about once every 2 or 4 years. They have reputations with their customers on the line. Getting it right may mean having work next year. Getting it wrong may mean going out of business. That’s more feedback than someone in a comment section has.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Why the miraculous error in one direction only, then? If it were down to simple error due to difficulty, wouldn’t you see many polls predicting Clintslide and many polls predicting Trumpslide? Why did they polls pretty unanimously predict that Clinton would win, with her hands in her pockets?

            You are asking why the error was systematic rather than random. We don’t really know yet. But pretty much any kind of complicated measurement carries a risk of systematic error, it’s about as miraculous as rainfall.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            “Why the miraculous error in one direction only, then?”

            Because that is how errors due to bias look. Errors due to variance will have your answers “all over the place” away from truth, errors due to bias will have your answers tend towards one wrong direction.

            Serious suggestion (not a status attack): if you don’t understand statistical analysis involved in using polls for prediction, please criticize less and read up on things more. Some relevant topics: survey sampling stuff, missing data, trend corrections, regression models.

          • . By spinning the narrative of Trump being unsuitable/unelectable/deplorable/etc, they’ve shot themselves in both feet.

            Unsuitable and deplorable both still work.

          • Anonymous says:

            Unsuitable and deplorable both still work.

            What do you even mean?

          • vV_Vv says:

            Why did they polls pretty unanimously predict that Clinton would win, with her hands in her pockets?

            Because they use similar methodologies which cause them to make correlated errors.

            Possible source of systemic error (statistical bias) could include:
            – Sampling error: the method that the pollsters use to choose which people to interview undersrepresents Trump supporters and overrepresents Clinton supporters. Traditionally, pollsters used to sample from landline phone directories, but now many people don’t have landline phone, and this may correlate with their political preferences for complicated demographic reasons.
            – Self-selection bias: maybe Trump supporters are more likely not to like being polled and don’t respond or give BS answers.
            – Preference instability: maybe there were many undecided voters who made up their mind at the last minute and they were more likely to vote for Trump rather than Clinton.

    • John Colanduoni says:

      Were the party establishments or media really trying to take him down with intellectual arguments? Because that’s sure not what I’ve seen. I won’t repeat your mistake of using “you” to tie a bunch of opinions together as if you’re talking to the rationalist who is of one mind when it come to all the things you mentioned, but the complaint I’ve heard before now was that the elite were using power, not reason, to get their way.

      Are you disagreeing with that? Do you think the problem is that the elite were floating around sound intellectual arguments when they should have just been name calling?

      • nyccine says:

        Were the party establishments or media really trying to take him down with intellectual arguments? Because that’s sure not what I’ve seen.

        Missing the point entirely. Scott’s article insists a Trump win doesn’t matter, which is hilarious; everyone in power threw everything they had, that they could get away with – and Trump didn’t get crushed, he competed. And might win.

        I won’t repeat your mistake of using “you” to tie a bunch of opinions together as if you’re talking to the rationalist

        Re-read; I made no such mistake. My post is directed at Scott, and only tangentially extends to rationalists at large. Although I will ask – how many people other than me told Scott his post is flat-out wrong?

        • John Colanduoni says:

          Missing the point entirely. Scott’s article insists a Trump win doesn’t matter, which is hilarious; everyone in power threw everything they had, that they could get away with – and Trump didn’t get crushed, he competed. And might win.

          If Adam’s central thesis “that charisma matters vastly more than intellectual arguments” is not the point, then why did you assert its validity in your argument? Were you missing the point then? Did I miss a “not intended as a factual statement” qualifier somewhere?

          I never said I disagreed that virtually everyone in power was stacked against Trump, or even hinted at it.

          Re-read; I made no such mistake. My post is directed at Scott, and only tangentially extends to rationalists at large. Although I will ask – how many people other than me told Scott his post is flat-out wrong?

          You called “rationalism” nothing but a label, which is pretty far from “rationalism is nothing but a label for you” or “you are not a rationalist.”

  57. onyomi says:

    I think the rational conclusion here is that magical Chinese monkeys can predict the future.

    Somewhat more seriously, my possibly premature takeaway is that “shy Trumpkins” were real, and they were calling themselves “independents,” “undecided,” etc. Yes, people talk about the “shy Tory” thing a little bit every four years, but there was better reason to suspect it could be real this time, considering how ambivalent many Republicans felt about Trump on a personal level, and how culturally divisive the election became (people afraid to put up Trump signs, etc.).

    • Jaskologist says:

      Reminder that this is the other danger of PC/SJW/whatever. Forget the damage it does to the body politic.

      It also damages your ability to gather accurate information. Instead of altering people’s behavior, you alter their willingness to tell you about their behavior. And then you get smacked in the face with a Brexit or Trump, which could have been avoided or at least mitigated if only you’d been willing to listen.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Yes. I think most of the Shy Trumpers stopped being shy at the last moment and that’s why the polls closed up. The rest of it was due to errors in estimating likely voters.

      • Anonymous says:

        Or it’s a combination of the pollsters not wanting to completely lose their credibility and homing in on the most “truthy” but acceptable outcome they could divine from entrails – and shy Trumpkins being shy all the way to the secret ballot, where they could have some privacy.

    • Creutzer says:

      Shy right-wing voters have been a thing in Europe for years. Voting for Trump is culturally analogous to voting for a right-wing party in Europe (whatever you think of his actual alignment on any sort of left-right axis, which is probably a meaningless thing to ask about). So this isn’t all that surprising, or shouldn’t be.

      • Tibor says:

        Depends on what you call right-wing and depends on where in Europe. If the CSU is right-wing, I don’t think there are people who are not going to admit voting for them. People not being open about voting for the AfD are of course a thing. In the UK, I doubt anyone would lie about voting for the Tories or for the Les Republicanes in France. Of course, Fronte National might be a different story. In Poland, the PiS seems to be something like the AfD, only more religious, I’ve never been to Poland but it doesn’t seem to me like people are hesitant to admit that they vote for them.

        At the same time, in the Czech republic, it is somehow reversed. The polls tend to underestimate the support of the communists. Not by much, mind you, they tend to get something like 2% more votes in the actual elections than in the projections (their support hovers between 10% and 15% with a slow downward trend, since most of their voters are old people). Similarly, I think some people would not admit voting for Zeman (the current Czech president) in the presidential elections, even though he is a leftist. I would expect a similar pattern with Die Linke in Eastern Germany, although their role seems to have been partly overtaken by the AfD.

        I think the line is not between right-wing or left-wing, but between sort of “progressive” and “regressive” (both of those terms are extremely vague in this sense). Both Zeman and the Communists are very “regressive”, supported mostly by older people and by people in the countryside (the people in the cities either vote overwhelmingly “liberal right wing” or “liberal left-wing” parties). There is also a small anti-immigration party, something like the AfD (the funny thing is that the head of the party is a guy called Tomio Okamura who is half Japanese and born in Japan) which also probably gets votes mostly from people in the countryside but their support is about 6% anyway.

        So in all these cases you have a city/countryside divide and the countryside tends to be more conservative (it might sounds strange to call the communists conservative but it is an accurate description for the Czech ones – they are economically extremely socialist of course, but socially they are conservative…sort of the worst of all worlds). It also explains why a right-wing party like the AfD can attract voters of Die Linke (those voters who voted for the old DDR communists and who did not like its shift towards the “new left” when they merged with the Western German radical leftists). At the same time, the media and the academia are city based and for various reasons tend to be even more “progressive” than the average city-dweller. Since there is little effort made by anyone to understand the others, everyone on the other side is considered by most to be either stupid or evil. And since the media and the “respectful society” are largely amassed on one side, it is the people on the other who are hesitant to admit that they support the other guys. This subsequently leads them to support increasingly radical people on that other side out of frustration and simply to take it back to the condescending media and “elites”.

        • Tarpitz says:

          In the UK, I doubt anyone would lie about voting for the Tories

          Socially? In certain circles, including mine, absolutely. Or at the very least keep extremely quiet about it. To a pollster? I’m less certain, but would regard it as at least entirely possible. No, you know what, I’m pretty certain it must happen; the question is whether it happens often enough to affect polling. The last general election seems like a data point in favour of yes.

          • Anonymous says:

            If the poll is conducted by telephone, or asking random people on the street, there’s a high chance it’ll catch them in company of their peers. In such a situation, the polled person might have the same false response as when asked by an acquaintance.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Or they just don’t trust the pollster not to leak their answer.

            And why would they?

            I mean, if they support the populist right, they are probably already likely to believe that there is a vast elite conspiracy out to get them. They have probably noticed the mainstream media crucify anyone who publicly expresses the same political preference that they have, from tech billionaires to the billionaires friends of such billionaires, to random nobodies.

            Why would they entrust their reputation to a random voice who calls them and asks who they will be voting for? They stand nothing to lose for refusing to answer or giving a false safe answer and lots to lose for giving a true but politically incorrect answer. Why take the risk?

        • In the UK, I doubt anyone would lie about voting for the Tories

          “Shy Tory Factor is a name given by British opinion polling companies to a phenomenon first observed by psephologists in the 1990s, where the share of the vote won by the Conservative Party (known as the ‘Tories’) in elections was substantially higher than the proportion of people in opinion polls who said they would vote for the party.[1] This was most notable in the general elections of 1992 and then 2015, when the Conservative Party exceeded opinion polls and comfortably won re-election.” — WP

    • Agreed. now regret not adding a Shy Trumpkin post of my own, sicne I would have predicted the result of the election and the reason for it.

  58. Brad says:

    This is on y’all’s heads. Hopefully there won’t be too much blood on your hands come four years from now.

    • keranih says:

      Oh, I’m perfectly willing to work on impeaching Trump straight off the mark, and given that I wouldn’t have to fight the media, academia, and the rich men in the country every. single. stinking. step, there’s a chance we’ll make it stick.

    • The_Other_Brad says:

      You don’t feel like you’re exaggerating?

      • Protagoras says:

        We’re talking about a presidential election. What could make you think someone was exaggerating in saying something like this? Are you suggesting that presidents have not in the past frequently made decisions that produced many deaths?

      • Brad says:

        Maybe. I hope so. But I don’t think so.

      • Zombielicious says:

        Given that the last time this sort of thing happened we got the Iraq War, torture programs, and housing crisis, among other things, it doesn’t really seem like that ridiculous of an expectation.

        About the only way I can shine this penny is to say that we’ll at least get to test people’s predictions for how bad a Trump presidency (w/ three fully GOP controlled branches) could actually be. I’m going with >80% odds of an Iraq War level disaster, and no way Republicans actually try to remove him prior to that after he handed them control of all three branches of government.

        • John Schilling says:

          after he handed them control of all three branches of government

          You seem to be implying that the GOP controls Donald Trump. When did that happen?

          • Zombielicious says:

            No idea what you’re reading into my comment. The GOP gets the Supreme Court and maintains both houses of Congress. So it seems he didn’t hurt their Congressional chances that badly after all (as many were suggesting), plus by taking POTUS they get SCOTUS as well. The only downside is (probably) losing the popular vote and winning by the EC for a second time in five elections, which is not going to go down well with the people who will now consider themselves a disenfranchised majority. Not exactly a mandate, though I’m sure it’ll be spun as one.

            I’m basically saying that’s awesome for them, Trump is somewhere between partly and heavily responsible, and there’s no reason for them to give their new coalition a black eye by immediately jumping to impeach the guy who just won PA, MI, WI, etc. So if it happened at all, it’ll only be after he did something truly awful to tank their popularity to absurdly low levels. Basically, all this we’ll-get-Pence-after-deposing-Trump stuff is totally unrealistic.

    • CatCube says:

      I’m going to say that the Democrats bear some responsibility. They nominated somebody who might not be able to beat Donald fuckin’ Trump. (It hasn’t been called by either CNN or Fox as I write this, and I can hardly believe that Trump is even within spitting distance.)

      As a Never Trump conservative, I’m incredibly surprised that he might have pulled it off. I really, honestly, thought that the Republicans managed to nominate the only guy who had zero chance of beating Clinton. I voted for McMullin for other reasons; I think that Trump is a buffoon with a tendency to let his dick lead him off of cliffs, like Bill Clinton, and doesn’t have a conservative bone in his body. (Also like Bill Clinton) I don’t like what this is going to do for the environment of the Republican Party–this will likely push me into the wilderness. Hopefully all the people on the right who drank the Trump Kool-Aid are right that Pence and the party leadership will be able to keep a hold of him, but I doubt it.

      I can take some small consolation in watching Hillary lose (if she does). God, I hate her. Then the consolation will get snatched away when I realize I hate Trump just as much.

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        Yeah, as a fellow NeverTrumper, I’m alternating between “Thank God our First Woman President isn’t going to be Hillary Clinton!” and “Oh, God, I cannot believe Donald Trump is our president for four years.”

        That said, the wailing and gnashing of teeth in my social media sphere is rapidly pushing me pro-Trump.

        • CatCube says:

          I’m still in the “thank God Clinton lost”/”I can’t believe Trump won” cycle, but yeah, the reactions to the election are something. I can’t say they’re making me pro-Trump, but the desolation of liberals is definitely a bright spot to be enjoyed. Reading Slate’s article about how white women betrayed the sisterhood is like a sweet, juicy orange.

          • Tibor says:

            Reminds me of this :-))

            your tears are delicious and your parties will die

          • hlynkacg says:

            *Facepalm*

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Oh for fuck’s sake. I expected better of Reason.

            File pretty much all of the above under “NOT HELPING”. Reveling in Schadenfreude is obnoxious no matter who’s doing it, and it’s counterproductive to boot.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Nice. Please splain to me again how liberals are uniquely evil people and show me the gif of some rando with a 2-liter of fake “Republican tears” as an example of how awful we are?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Zombielicious
            I don’t think anyone here has suggested liberals as a group are uniquely evil people. And you’ll note that there’s already people like hlynkacg pushing back against that sort of reaction.

            Go and do likewise. Which is to say, rein in the overreaction among your liberal and progressive friends.

            Otherwise, well, file under “Not helping”. I expected rather better of both you and EarthlyKnight based on earlier threads.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Oh, you don’t think anyone here has done that? I guess I can just say that I strongly disagree. I’ve sat here and many other places and tried my best to hold my temper as I’ve read all kinds of thinly veiled and not so veiled accusations about how much more categorically evil and different the left is from the right, from some of this blog’s most regular and well accepted commenters. Yes, there were people pushing back against it, just as there were people like HeelBearCub doing so on the left. I’ve definitely done the same in other places as well, maybe not so much on here because there’s a lot more conservatism going on here than liberalism, so saying “+1 feminism can be awful” has been pretty unnecessary (fwiw I’ve been actually sent to jail by lying feminists and sexist laws, and publicly shamed by them to the point where I was left with some serious issues as a result from it, so I don’t think almost anyone here who is “scared for their jobs” or whatever has room to claim I haven’t actually experienced the worst of it more than them). But in other places I get regularly attacked as a conservative (and misogynist) for defending any positive ideas they have.

            There is no way anyone who talks about something like instrumental rationality and has watched the results of the last sixteen years, culminating in this result, has any room to demand niceness and civility and factual accuracy and charitability from their opponents anymore.

            You think I want to sit around and debate something like “global warming alarmism” or “HBD” with conservatives when they win elections by saying it was all a Chinese hoax to kill American manufacturing? That it’s unfair to challenge the legitimacy of a president after electing the guy who started his entire campaign with “show us his birth certificate, a black guy is probably a Muslim born in Kenya!” If I decide to just personally attack them all as rapists and killers and lie lie lie about everything they’ve ever said or done, do you think that’s irrational of me as far as choosing the most successful strategy? That’s what I mean when I say that, along with the mainstream political establishment, that anything resembling sensible political discourse was also voted down this week. Love to hear how completely out-of-context offhand remarks about “bitter clingers” or “deplorables” or “47% just looking for a handout” are any comparison for the new low we’ve now hit. Yeah, I’m sure I’ll sit here and let people tell me how I’m not being civil enough in the future. It’s not like a completely new standard in dishonesty and personal attacks has been laid out as the blueprint for successfully destroying your opponents, and demanding the other side not immediately embrace these tactics is any kind of double standard…

            I can’t say, unlike some, that I see absolutely no upside to this outcome, but no one who helped cause it has any moral authority to demand reasonableness, factual accuracy, or even treating your opponents like human beings anymore. Sorry, that bridge got burned.

            Don’t worry, I highly doubt you’ll be hearing from me again in the future.

          • hlynkacg says:

            So are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @hylynkacg – I don’t think they are interested in playing the conversation game right now, or maybe ever again.

            From their perspective, we are the problem, and the solution is to go somewhere else.

          • Tibor says:

            To Reason’s defence:
            1) this is a quote from the head of the Libertarian Party.
            2) While there is a lot of Schadenfreude in it, it is aimed at both the Democrats and the Republicans (“your parties will die”, not “your party will die”) and it is also partly a response to “You stupid Libertarians! Why haven’t you voted for Hillary like you were supposed to? Now look what you’ve done!”

            I am just a bit worried that while 4 million votes is a triumph to the LP (although it could have potentially been even better), just as the Reason’s reporter points out in the interview, it could be something like Nader’s victorious boasting in 2000s (and telling the two parties who have got 96% of the votes that they will die is a lot of boasting) about the great future of the US Green Party.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Zombielicious
            Yes, we already established that you’re unhappy with the result.

            “If I decide to just personally attack them all as rapists and killers and lie lie lie about everything they’ve ever said or done, do you think that’s irrational of me as far as choosing the most successful strategy?”

            No. I think that if you decided to do that, it would indicate that civility, honesty, and rationality are not ends to you, but means. I don’t generally think it’s a good thing when someone elevates tactical effectiveness over principle. Arguably, it’s worse than someone who simply lacks the emotional maturity and/or intellectual capacity to choose another course.

            I’m not terribly concerned with questions of “moral authority” (I voted for Gary Johnson and don’t much care if someone thinks that this means I ‘helped Trump’ or not), and you are of course free to reject my opinion. I’m speaking as someone who has considered your voice to be one of the valuable left-leaning ones in the commentariat, and would like to see that continue.

            You’re free to do with that input whatever you’d like.

            @Tibor
            Yeah, I realize it’s a LP quote. I’m not a fan of the LP as a -party- (I’m not of ANY party as parties. Political machines suck, period, and they tend to bring out the worst in people the longer they’re associated with them), so I didn’t necessarily expect much better.

            But I had hoped that Reason’s staff would be more mature than to just echo/reblog that sort of response without comment, especially since it encourages people to double down on the assumption that Libertarians are just Racist, Sexist, Homophobic Deplorable Republicans who happen to like smoking weed.

            For the main reason, see my response to Zombie above. But even if you’re only interested in tactics, consider that while we may be aware that the schadenfreude is aimed at both parties, that’s not how it’s going to be interpreted by a lot of the people who see it.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I think that if you decided to do that, it would indicate that civility, honesty, and rationality are not ends to you, but means.

            I don’t know if anyone thinks that civility, honesty, and rationality are valuable for their own sake. They’re mostly valuable insofar as they help people acquire true beliefs and use those beliefs to make informed decisions that improve the general welfare. Which means there’s no reason to exhibit those virtues if people are going to ignore what you say and believe whatever insane lies a cartoonish demagogue feeds them instead. Scott proposed that being civil, earnest, and charitable would be more effective in promoting truth and well-being than being nasty, cynical, and uncharitable. We’ve had our experimentum crucis now, and Scott’s hypothesis was wrong.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Wow, you’re really trying to accuse me of just being a sore loser who doesn’t value such noble concepts as “civility, honesty, and rationality” as terminal values while simultaneously telling me to STFU and just accept Donald Trump as a fine outcome.

            Speaking of the Libertarian Party, they’re also ridiculing the “anti-war left” after having just asked us to come out and vote for their candidate. So glad I actually wasted more than five seconds considering doing that. Maybe more Ayn Rand book reports and I’ll finally learn the lesson about being noble in defeat.

            Libertarians, Nov. 7: “Support Garry Johnson to help end the two party system!”
            Libertarians, Nov. 9: “Your tears taste amazing and we drink to your suffering!”

            Meanwhile the people who constantly lambasted Queen Hilary are conspicuously silent in their criticism of the guy who campaigned on “kill their families” and “I’ll make a list of my enemies once I’m the most powerful man in the universe.” Almost like they think totalitarianism is only wrong when it’s the tumblr commie negroes doing it. I mean say what you want about Jill Stein and the Greens (as well as most of the other left-leaning groups that are regularly attacked on here), but at least they have their hearts in the right places. And it’s a lot more reliable to trust basically good people to eventually find the right policies than it is to engage with ideologues and demagogues who just want to gloat and make their outgroup suffer.

            But libertarians aside, let me try and explain how someone like me is completely incompatible with a community that imagines itself as this one does now. Trump didn’t win the election because not enough SSC readers turned out to vote against him. He won because, among other things, the strategy of spamming millions of poor, uneducated, disillusioned Americans with nonsense about chemtrails and Satanic devil worshiping was by far a more effective strategy than long thinkpieces in Foreign Affairs about the need for stability in a globalized world. The left was fighting the idea war while the right was fighting the meme war. People can go on and on about the need to understand your opponents, but it was those damn coastal elites sitting there wondering “maybe I am biased” that got themselves screwed doing just that, while the Alex Joneses of the world were playing the smart game, the one based on fear-mongering, hate, and misinformation.

            You want me to be part of a solution? Oh trust me I’m gonna. But winning back those people from the clutches of their biggest exploiters isn’t going to involve linking people like Melanie Austin to read Meditations on Moloch and ask her to think about the liberal viewpoint.

            Oh, here’s another one: you remember the poster who was threatened with banning (and eventually was) for bringing up the Naomi Klein Shock Doctrine stuff about a certain other poster here? Yeah, you have no credibility to claim that’s not an acceptable strategy for the left anymore. It was just officially institutionalized as a part of American democracy. A community which discourages it is either actively hostile to us, or just irrelevant to the broader social discourse now.

            Staying and communicating would be both ineffectual and useless, and would lead to my banning anyway since you apparently can’t play the conservative game with conservatives unless you already agree with conservatives. I’m not really sure how to get around that one, so I’m going to try to mount an effective resistance to the shitty direction I see my country headed in (just as under Bush, Obama, and would have done under “Hilary”). SSC doesn’t seem to have much place in that under the new norms, and the old rules were clearly a fool’s game.

            I’d personally recommend anyone else remotely dissatisfied with Donald Trump as CEO of America, Inc., along with his cast of all-star “winner” negotiators like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani, consider doing the exact same. Otherwise, GTFO of my way.

          • a non mouse says:

            Almost like they think totalitarianism is only wrong when it’s the tumblr commie negroes doing it.

            As bad as East German communism is, it’s better than Zimbabwean communism.

            Trump didn’t win the election because not enough SSC readers turned out to vote against him. He won because, among other things, the strategy of spamming millions of poor, uneducated, disillusioned Americans with nonsense about chemtrails and Satanic devil worshiping was by far a more effective strategy than long thinkpieces in Foreign Affairs about the need for stability in a globalized world. The left was fighting the idea war while the right was fighting the meme war.

            Ok, next election we restrict voting to 100+ IQ people and measure it by testing literacy or perhaps testing mathematical ability. That strike you as fair? You think the left gets more or less votes that way?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Zombielicious
            I’m not accusing you of anything. If anything, I am saying “Yes, I get that you are upset. I get that you are very upset. Further expansion and amplification of how upset and unhappy you are isn’t really accomplishing much beyond any venting of internal pressure you’re getting from it.”

            Is that more clear?

            And I said IF you, to quote again “personally attack them all as rapists and killers and lie lie lie about everything they’ve ever said or done,” THEN I would conclude that you didn’t have those things as terminal values. I don’t think you’ve engaged in that sort of demagoguery so far.

            I think my exact words in response to the LP response was an exasperated “For Fuck’s Sake”, not “Yeah, you tell ’em, guys, Har de Har Har”.

            If you can sit here and honestly tell me that you think the basic problem with the democratic party and the talking heads (both print and screen) was excessive moderation and restraint, I honestly don’t know what to say to you or how much ground there is for meaningful communication, since we obviously have a very different perspective of how the last year or two played out.

            RE: the Shock Doctrine stuff, no, I don’t know what you’re talking about, though I am familiar with the book. I assume that was before I started following SSC.

            If you truly want to leave SSC, no one’s stopping you. But it’s a bit silly to engage with the commentariat here as if it were comprised entirely of Trump’s most rabid core supporters.

            EDIT: As for “fighting” with invective, insults, and demagoguery, I think that if it were going to work, it already would have. I think that in fact those tactics helped to contribute to Trump’s success. But if you want to contribute by stopping posting here, and taking to the streets to throw bricks through the windows of trump supporters, burn some american flags, or just start posting about “president pussygrabber” on twitter, tumblr, and the comment threads on youtube and newspaper websites, that’s your call.

            I suspect it will do more towards soothing your current anger and frustration than advancing your stated goals, however.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Well, I had typed a reply to “a non mouse” explaining why he’s a total hypocrit and doesn’t understand anything, but it apparently hit a filter or something. Either it appears later or else this blog community doesn’t actually have the commitment to freedom of speech and ending political correctness, at least not for left-leaning opinions, just for right-leaning ones. Or I’m already banned, who knows. Either way, not worth my time to figure it out. See ya.

            @Lysenko:
            Search for it yourself, not my problem. There’s no room for meaningful communication here anymore, that’s basically been my entire point.

          • Sandy says:

            at least not for left-leaning opinions, just for right-leaning ones.

            There have been filters for “right-leaning opinions” for a while, mostly relating to Death Eater thought.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @zombielicious – for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure you ran afoul of the spam filter due to some random thing. multiple posters have complained about it over the last few threads.

            I’m sorry to see you go, and I will definately miss your input here. I’m not sure how much I have a right to say beyond that. Stay safe, sir. Though it may be unlikely, I hope to hear from you again someday.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Either it appears later or else this blog community doesn’t actually have the commitment to freedom of speech and ending political correctness, at least not for left-leaning opinions, just for right-leaning ones. Or I’m already banned, who knows. Either way, not worth my time to figure it out. See ya.

            It’s not “this community” (whatever that means”) who decides on the filter, it’s Scott, and he’s very much not in favor of ending political correctness. In fact, you’ll probably find that the unofficial filter list has more “right” terms banned than “left” ones… plus, a fuckton of insults, maybe that was the problem?

          • Tibor says:

            @Zombielicious: If it’s worth anything, I also would prefer you to stay here. As for the LP, while it is true that the comment of their boss is a bit childish, it was said mostly as a reply to Democrats who were angry at Libertarian voters that they did not vote for Clinton. It can definitely be explained in a more constructive way of course why libertarians prefer their own candidate to just (from their point of view) the lesser of two evils (and some libertarians are particularly dogmatic about never choosing the lesser evil, sometimes beyond reason, although I don’t think that that was the case in this election). But as Lysenko pointed out LP is a political party and political parties tend to be tribal. And I have to admit that being happy about the 4 million votes the LP got, I was at first amused by that statement myself – but Lysenko is right that while this is really appealing to the lizard brain it is not not very helpful. Especially since it looks like it is mostly aimed at Democrats (although I do believe that it was sincerely meant as a fuck you to the Reps. as well, as hard as it might be to believe that, Libertarians really do not like either party – they might be on board with non-radical Democrats on social issues and with libertarian-leaning Republicans on economic issues, but especially now as the Republican party is turning into a party of protectionist conservatives and parts of the Democratic party is turning into a thought police – even if probably not the mainstream of that party – they have little in common with either of them).

            As for that anti-war left spoof, it is a comment on the difference in activity of anti-war leftwingers during Bush’s administration and during Obama’s. They were (rightly) against the Iraq war, but I have noticed little objections against the strikes in Libya or drone strikes in the Middle East. True, Iraq war involved more US troops, but Libya is at least just as fucked as Iraq, if not more and in both cases the US involvement has a lot to do with that. To be fair, the Libyan intervention was actually initiated by Nicholas Sarkozy, i.e. France (although Europe is incapable of even such a relatively small scale operation without the US) whereas Iraq was a US initiative. But still it does seem like a lot of the people on the left are against foreign interventions a lot more when those interventions are carried out by a Republican administrative.

          • Iain says:

            @Zombielicious: For what it’s worth, I agree with Faceless Craven and Tibor. I have appreciated your posts, and would be sad if you disappeared.

          • Divers Alarums says:

            @Zombieliscious, so what do you think of blowing this popsicle stand and starting a new one? I’m sick of the same things you’re sick of and I’d like to see community done better.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @Zombielicious:

            I won’t be unhappy at all if you leave.

            I will, however, be unhappy if you don’t come back after a week or a month.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      “I don’t know how Trump could have won! I had a fucking conniption every time his name was mentioned. I screamed at people all day about how they were monsters! What more could I have done???”

    • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

      Over the summer I was walking in south Philly around midnight on a Saturday with my Jewish girlfriend.

      We were holding hands and talking. While we were walking, I saw a dude walk perpendicular to us wearing a full militant neo Nazi outfit: Red T-shirt with a huge swastika on the front, black pants with chains, etc. He looked at us sort of menacingly (probably seeing the obvious Jewish girl) but kept walking, but for a moment I thought he was going to make a scene.

      Girlfriend didn’t notice since she was talking/looking at me at the time, but a few steps later I pointed out the above dude who passed literally 10-15 feet in front of us and she was like “Really? In Philly?” “The age of Trump I suppose”

      I wonder if the next one will feel more empowered to act on his hatred based on this Trump victory.

  59. AnonEEmous says:

    BOY

    TUESDAY MADE THE NARRATIVE GREAT AGAIN

    PREPARE FOR FLEXING

    :::

    :::

    :::

    FLEX COMMUNIQUE END

  60. registrationisdumb says:

    Looks like a lot of “rationalists” have been living in a bubble lately.

    Called this a few months back, and a little dissapointed no-one followed through on their bets that Clinton would win.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      Scott, at least, bet “a lot of money” that Trump would not win. I’ve also seen some bets on the subreddit.

      • Jiro says:

        Scott’s major reasons for opposing Trump also included the bizarre claim that if Trump gets elected, that would help the social justice warriors. Let’s see what happens with that.

        • Zombielicious says:

          Yeah, I’d take that bet. For people who think this is going to make “SJWs” more moderate and restrained, ask yourself whether the 2008 Obama/Dem win (by far larger margins), and efforts to “reach across the aisle and find common ground,” worked on conservatives. Everything they fear was just validated completely. They don’t see chickens-coming-home-to-roost in return for “marginalizing conservative voices,” they’re seeing a country that hates them enough to elect an openly racist bigot who campaigned on deporting or imprisoning them. And that’s not just the most hardcore “SJWs” blogging on tumblr, that’s a huge portion of the left that sees it like that (present tense because I’ve been watching this reaction all night). It only gets more polarized from here, not less.

          Not nearly cynical enough about how the left is going to react to this. Or that it’ll actually force them to move further towards conservatism, rather than double-down until people are similarly pissed off after another four-to-eight years of “if you don’t like America, you can get out” rhetoric.

          • Jiro says:

            I think there’s a difference between “becoime more restrained” and “have less influence”. Clearly they are going to be up in arms about this, but just the fact that Trump got constantly attacked by social justice and managed to win anyway would show that social justice isn’t unbeatable and make intimidation by social justice harder.

            Also, electing any Republican would make the SJWs less restrained, but Scott was implying a special effect of Trump specifically, above and beyond the effect of just electing a Republican, which is a lot more doubtful.

          • vV_Vv says:

            but just the fact that Trump got constantly attacked by social justice and managed to win anyway would show that social justice isn’t unbeatable and make intimidation by social justice harder.

            That. Remember how the SJWs were always saying:
            “It’s 2016!”
            “We are on the right side of history!”

            I guess we not going to hear this for some time.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Yeah, I’d take that bet. For people who think this is going to make “SJWs” more moderate and restrained, ask yourself whether the 2008 Obama/Dem win (by far larger margins), and efforts to “reach across the aisle and find common ground,” worked on conservatives.

            Well, how did it work on the SJWs? After 8 years of first black president you’ve got BLM, not the KKK, rioting in the streets.
            After the Dear colleague Title IX letter, you’ve got Mattress girl and Rolling Stone’s false UVA rape case.

            The SJWs can’t be appeased. Any concession they get makes them more vicious. They need to be humbled.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Well, the thing there was that there wasn’t a real attempt to “reach across the aisle and find common ground.”

            I’m not sure how that plays out this time. Obama promised to do that, but it doesn’t seem to me that Trump did.

          • onyomi says:

            “I think there’s a difference between “becoime more restrained” and “have less influence”.”

            With any luck, maybe they’ll undergo “evaporative cooling.”

          • AnonEEmous says:

            the power of SJWs is to say “you can’t say that”

            now we know that you can actually get elected president by ignoring them.

            this also means that politicians know that you can get elected president just by ignoring them.

            Scott is probably going to hop in disagreeing but he presupposed his own conclusion; Trump had a very strong margin of victory and he’s probably going to take 30 plus electoral votes, which means he could afford to lose at least 1 state and likely 1 big and 1 small state. In short, this wasn’t a rainstorm victory, this wasn’t an accidental victory, this mattered. Trump didn’t just slip and fall over the finish line, he leapt over it in fairly convincing fashion.

            Meanwhile, SJWs now have no federal power, at all. And people already don’t like them; if they keep getting angrier and angrier, how long before they’re just hated by the majority of the populace?

            ultimately trump has the chance to show that all that rhetoric about him was false and the speakers are false speakers, as well. We’ll see what happens, but SJWs have been dealt a crushing blow.

          • Everything they fear was just validated completel.

            Fro some value of validated. If you fear Obamacare as a terminal goal, then Obamacare happened, so validation. If you. If you feared Obamacare because it will make the sky fall in, then no validation. (During the coverage I saw a Trumper complain that the other parties had done “nothing” over several decades, Well, Obamacare wasnt nothing when it was being discussed!)

  61. John Schilling says:

    Remember, everyone: the reason the United States is almost certainly going to have a wretchedly awful president for the next four years is that the leaders of both parties were so incredibly arrogant as to believe they could force the voters to line up behind a dynastic party insider with one of the most toxic names in American politics, because they had the seniority and the right connections and the donor support and because the voters would do what they were told. Which means that the virtue of this particular outcome is that both parties cannot fail to get the message. The Democrats had the discipline to force their Chosen One down the voters’ throats, and lost everything. The GOP lost control early, so now they’ve got someone presiding over the country in their name who is not one of them and will cause them more harm than they can yet imagine.

    That’s cause for hope, not despair, at least in the long run. In the short term, faced with choosing the lesser of two evils, the American people split evenly on which evil concerned them most. Anyone who wants to make this an exercise in blaming the voters who didn’t agree with them about which evil was greater, that’s wrong on every level except possibly being the easiest way to feel smugly self-righteous. Likewise anyone who wants to rejoice in the triumph of their supposed lesser evil.

    If you want something better in four years, you’re going to need help from some of the people who voted against your preferred candidate tonight. You’re probably not going to get it by demanding that they feel ashamed of themselves. And you’re losing track of who your enemies are.

    • Deiseach says:

      a dynastic party insider with one of the most toxic names in American politics

      Now John Schilling, that’s just mean ol’ Republican Hillary-bashing as in “Right Wing media wouldn’t have bashed a Republican Hillary for decades, the way it bashed the Dem Hillary. It wouldn’t have twisted and distorted and lied about everything in all her emails”, doncha know? It’s all lies and propaganda that made you have a bad opinion of the lady, who never did anything wrong ever and whose hands are lilies and snow and certainly not somewhat spotted a la Lady Macbeth when it came to cronyism and peddling influence for money 🙂

    • Jaskologist says:

      I’m going to be reposting that last paragraph elsewhere if you don’t mind. Probably without attribution unless it bothers you.

    • Bush 2.0 was fine I guess.

    • Earthly Knight says:

      Anyone who wants to make this an exercise in blaming the voters who didn’t agree with them about which evil was greater, that’s wrong on every level except possibly being the easiest way to feel smugly self-righteous. Likewise anyone who wants to rejoice in the triumph of their supposed lesser evil.

      I do not think there can be any objection, in principle, to blaming voters who make what is clearly the wrong choice if that choice goes on to have disastrous consequences. Certainly the plurality of Germans who voted for the Nazis in 1932 and the plurality of Palestinians who voted for Hamas in 2006 deserve some blame, don’t they? If Trump goes on to cause an entirely foreseeable catastrophe, some share of the responsibility will fall on those who voted for him.

      • Randy M says:

        I really am looking forward to seeing whether these predictions of doom come true and whether anyone changes their beliefs based upon the results.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          Here’s a list of possible catastrophes which, I think, could reasonably have been foreseen by Trump voters:

          –Trump starts a devastating war over a minor provocation
          –Massive tax cuts for the rich effectively bankrupt the federal government
          –Russia expands its sphere of influence to a large part of Eastern Europe
          –Deportation program causes widespread human rights abuses
          –Federal government becomes substantially more authoritarian, restricting freedom of speech and the press
          –Protectionist policies set off a trade war leading to recession
          –The US military commits war crimes with Trump’s tacit or explicit approval
          –Xenophobia and racial conflict in the US increase, with attendant rises in hate crimes and discrimination against Hispanics and Muslims

          If any event on this list comes to pass, Trump voters will bear some responsibility for it.

          • Randy M says:

            Thanks for going on the record here; a few quibbly follow ups:

            Do you want to give a casualty range for the devastating war? Without it, I think one war in four years may well be below baseline.

            Do you think a Trump tax cut would be in any particular way different from a Bush tax cut? Also, any particular reason to think Trump wants to cut taxes on the rich? Now that he is president, there are much easier ways to make loads of money than by merely taxing his personal income less.

            Has Russia’s influence changed at all in the last eight years? Is this Obama voters’ fault?

            Are you labeling a deportation program in and of itself a human rights abuse? If so, I dispute the terms. If not, please specify.

            A more authoritarian federal government is certainly a concern, but how would you separate Trump’s contribution from the baseline trend? Why is a government that punishes your speech a qualitatively different catastrophe from one that punishes you for not buying favored products?

            His trade proposals do buck conventional wisdom. At least there would be some good evidence, though hard to detangle from technological changes or other policies.

            War crimes like Waterboarding or war crimes like Dresden?

            What has racial tension been doing the last eight years, and to what extent are Obama voters to blame?

          • John Schilling says:

            Do they get credit for e.g. preventing Hillary’s no-fly zone over Syria from escalating into WWIII? Or stopping the Federal government under Clinton from becoming substantially more authoritarian, restricting freedom of speech and the press?

            How, aside from “trust me, it’s obvious”, do we know?

      • John Schilling says:

        I do not think there can be any objection, in principle, to blaming voters who make what is clearly the wrong choice if that choice goes on to have disastrous consequences.

        In principle I agree, but denouncing as irredeemably evil the 96% of the electorate that voted for Not Gary Johnson seems a bit harsh.

        More seriously, “clearly the wrong choice” is much easier to define after it has gone on to have those “disastrous consequences”. Particularly in a lesser-of-two-evils situation, it is almost a tautology that if a majority of the electorate votes for X then X isn’t clearly the wrong choice at the time.

        Certainly the plurality of Germans who voted for the Nazis in 1932 and the plurality of Palestinians who voted for Hamas in 2006 deserve some blame, don’t they?

        The Germans who went Nazi had a range of credible choices under a parliamentary system, which narrows the scope for any excuses. Hamas v. Fatah was much more of a lesser-of-two-evils scenario, skewed by the fact that Hamas’s terrorist evil was directed against outsiders that we happen to like whereas Fatah’s kleptocratic evil was inwardly-directed. What is clearly wrong to us, might look different from the Palestinian perspective.

        • Tibor says:

          The problem with voting Hitler is that you only get to vote for him once. And he wasn’t so exceptional at his time, similar people won the elections in other European and southern American countries of the time. Also, the Czechs who kind of smugly saw their country as the only bastion of democracy in central Europe did the same mistake only 12 years later with the communists (and many of them treated Germans in an appalling way when the war ended, regardless of whether those Germans were Nazis or not). My opinion is that had the WW1 played out a bit differently , Hitler could have just as easily been an Englishman or a Frenchman.

    • noob says:

      For months, there appeared to be a huge consensus among Americans that both Hillary and Donald are horrible candidates (at least within my filter bubble). In every category, one of them is extremely bad, and the other one is worse. Discussions about which is the lesser of two evils.

      After months of complaining, over 95% of American voters voted for Clinton or Trump. I do not understand American voters.

  62. Jugemu says:

    Well, that was surprising. Could hardly believe my eyes seeing Trump’s betting odds shoot up. Well, considering that I was half-seriously starting to think about moving away from possible nuke targets if Hillary Putin-Hatin’ Clinton won, I’m pretty pleased with the results, even though I’m not quite sure what to expect out of Trump. (And in the short term the smugness of victorious Clinton fans would have been unbearable.)

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Where can I see the betting market movement over the course of the night?

    • Unirt says:

      Easy for you to say… If this is the end of NATO, then I’ll have to move away to not get bombed. I mean, Trump won’t do anything that Putin doesn’t like, will he? Neither Putin nor Trump like NATO much. So Putin will invade the Baltics, knowing that USA won’t answer. That will be the end of NATO and the glorious post-WW period of peace. Why would Putin not do it, if it costs him nothing and there’s no real danger of war with USA? If he can eliminate NATO with no cost at all, why not do it? The next day China will attack Japan or something. Well, I’m now living as if none of this will happen, I’ll take my kids to daycare and go to work like usual, trying to wish this scenario away.

      • No, no, China will invade Taiwan first. Priorities.

      • vV_Vv says:

        I think the most that will happen is that the Russian annexation of Crimea, Donbass and possibly Transnistria will be formally recognized.

        If the NATO ends, then European countries will form their own military alliance, perhaps minus some of them which may ally with Russia. So what?

      • sflicht says:

        Perhaps you should consider the possibility that just as they were wrong about the election, media pundits are not being accurate/honest in their assessment of Putin’s aggressive intentions towards the Baltics.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          Let me preempt about 10,000 future comments by saying “pundits were wrong about X, therefore they are wrong about Y” is not a good argument.

          Georgia and Ukraine provide strong non-pundit evidence for Russia’s willingness to launch revanchist wars.

          • sflicht says:

            Only if you read the evidence according the conventional (MSM) Western interpretation of those events. This is not the only way to read it.

            (EDIT: Thanks to Anonymous below who took the time to spell out the alternative interpretations I was gesturing towards. I was too lazy to do so because it’s generally futile.)

          • Anonymous says:

            Ukraine is evidence of USA’s willingness to steal from other powers’ sphere of influence. Russia is merely defending its client state, after its puppet government has been overthrown and a hostile puppet government installed.

            In Georgia, it was also the Georgians who started shooting. Russia came to the aid of its client rebels.

            Neither of these seem “revanchist”.

        • Anonymous says:

          Attacking the Baltics would be utter idiocy for Russia, engaged as she is in Ukraine and Syria right now. Only someone with the power and reach like the United States – a far cry from the resources at the disposal of the Russian Federation and friends – would and could do something like that.

          • Unirt says:

            I don’t think Russia would go and take the whole Baltics. It’s enough to take a small piece, i.e. the Russian-populated Ida-Virumaa (to “protect the Russian citizens living there”). The main outcome would be the de facto annihilation of NATO, if USA doesn’t respond. Not obtaining a piece of land.

            But what if Putin figures that USA won’t respond, and attacks, but then the Congress, or perhaps the US Army generals or whoever has the power, forces the government to respond after all, just to save NATO, and that will lead to an actual USA-Russia war?

      • John Schilling says:

        Why would Putin not do it, if it costs him nothing and there’s no real danger of war with USA? If he can eliminate NATO with no cost at all, why not do it?

        If Putin invades the Baltics, he’ll probably get to keep them and Moscow won’t get nuked, yes. What are the Baltics worth to Russia, really?

        But if Putin invades the Baltics, everyone else in Europe will recognize the need for an effective alliance to contain Russia, and if NATO can’t be remade to fit that purpose something else will. And if Donald Trump isn’t on board with it, the US will have a new president in 2020.

        Putin gets maybe one free shot against a Europe without an effective defense alliance. The price for invading the Baltics is that he doesn’t get to hold on to that card for use later. And really, if you’ve got that one card, your best bet is probably to never play against anyone it but hold it as a threat against everyone you have to deal with.

        • Jiro says:

          But if Putin invades the Baltics, everyone else in Europe will recognize the need for an effective alliance to contain Russia, and if NATO can’t be remade to fit that purpose something else will.

          Couldn’t the same thing be said about Ukraine? (Ukraine isn’t in NATO, unlike the Baltics, but you’re postulating that this will happen even if NATO is ineffective.)

          • Anonymous says:

            Ukraine was until very recently in the Russian sphere. Everyone not living under a rock realizes this, and Russia’s “aggression” seems somewhat justified. After all, there was a coup d’etat in Ukraine, and there does seem to be fairly massive grassroots uprising support. Russia intervening there is not surprising.

          • John Schilling says:

            If Russia were to invade and conquer all of Ukraine, or Georgia, that also would likely trigger Europe (and no later than 2020 the US as well) to reinstate a strong anti-Russian defensive alliance.

            Invading just Crimea, the Donbass, South Ossetia, etc, are much less provocative, for reasons Blue Anonymous and others have already pointed out. The Russians could maybe try to find a pretext to occupy a few select districts of one of the Baltic states, but there would be less grounds for legitimacy and much less reward from such a thing. Putin gets one free shot against NATO and he’s going to waste it on a quarter of Estonia?

          • Unirt says:

            Putin gets one free shot against NATO and he’s going to waste it on a quarter of Estonia?

            Which other NATO state would be a better (and more legitimate) target? And he only does need one shot. Dispatching NATO is a sweet enough reward, even if the quater of Estonia isn’t particularly valuable, right?

          • John Schilling says:

            Which other NATO state would be a better (and more legitimate) target?

            All of them combined?

            If President Trump gives you an advance pardon for a single count of first-degree murder, going out and killing the one person you hate most is the sucker move. The smart move is making up an “I still have one free murder left” T-shirt to wear whenever you’re dealing with anyone you don’t like or really want something from.

  63. Bugmaster says:

    Hmm, well, I was pretty certain that Trump would not get the nomination. Then, I (along with Nate Silver) was pretty certain that Hillary would beat Trump easily. In the previous discussion threads, I was pretty certain that, in the unlikely event that Trump would somehow get elected, he wouldn’t be able to make any major policy changes (and the same went for Clinton).

    Let’s hope I’m not 0 for 3…

    EDIT: Missed a “not”. Freudian slip ?

  64. Fossegrimen says:

    My take from the election:

    Country as a whole: Trump ~50%, Clinton ~50%
    District of Columbia: Trump 4%, Clinton 93%

    That’s some Marie Antoinette level disconnect between the rulers and the ruled right there. Also the whole reason you guys got Trump summed up in 4 simple numbers.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      DC went 85% Democratic the first election in which it had EVs and hasn’t looked back since. I don’t think there’s any deep meaning to be had beyond a restatement of the usual white/black urban/rural divides; if you give electoral votes to what is essentially a single urban core with a substantial black population, that’s to be expected.

      In fact, I’m not even sure there’s an example of a democratic capital not leaning dramatically left/liberal compared to the country at large.

      • Fossegrimen says:

        Not sure I’m buying that. Early exit polls says Trump is getting 8-12% of the black vote, so to get 4% total means some pretty out-of sync demographics.

        Edit:
        And for your added point about all democratic capitals being like that, I believe that proves my point. Rulers being disconnected from the ruled can scale down to the state level too.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          And for your added point about all democratic capitals being like that, I believe that proves my point.

          It would only prove your point if all countries always elected right-wing leaders at odds with the capital. But to use the most proximate example, Ottawa seems pretty in-tune with Canada at the moment.

          • Fossegrimen says:

            Aah, sorry, I thought you were talking about state capitals.

            No, the problem seems pretty unique to the USA at the moment. The Scandinavian capitals are very far to the left and also in tune with the populace at large. The problem is not the leftish-ness, but the large difference.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          Bosch is correct, this has everything to do with black population and urbanity and nothing to do with ruling classes. Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia all also went for Clinton by huge margins, and none of those cities rules over anything.

      • Tarpitz says:

        Depends where you think London stops. Inner London is very left wing. The suburbs, not so much. The totality is more left-leaning than the country as a whole – and certainly than England as a whole – but not so much so that it couldn’t elect and re-elect a Conservative mayor by reasonable margins.

    • That’s some Marie Antoinette level disconnect between the rulers and the ruled right there

      That can be read two ways. Y

  65. Deiseach says:

    HOLY CRAP AMERICA HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???

    Since your election results wouldn’t be out until 4 in the morning my time, I didn’t bother staying up to see the results as I was sure Hillary had this won.

    “I’ll wait till the morning”, I said to myself. “Check it as soon as I get into work, that’s time enough”.

    AND THEN YOU ELECT TRUMP ON ME.

    I’m not at all sure how to react – part of me is delighted, I have to say. I think he’ll be bad, but unless he was the Devil out of Hell, there is no way he could be as bad as the hysteria in the run-up was painting him. I think it’s partly the same reaction I had to the same-sex marriage referendum here: up till the campaign got into full swing, I was an apathetic “Ehhh, probably will vote yes, no reason the civil law should be restricted to straights given the state of marriage nowadays” but after the gloop, glurge, and ‘unless you vote yes the apocalypse will ensue with the streets littered with dead gays and lesbians whose hearts you broke and who were murdered by the homophobes encouraged by a ‘no’ result’, I went “I AM GOING TO VOTE NO, AND NOT JUST NO, BUT HELL, NO!”

    Well. Looks like some people will need to apologise to Scott Adams, though I don’t know if the final result counts as a “landslide” – does it? 276-218?

    Let us see how events eventuate 🙂

    • Murphy says:

      “AND THEN YOU ELECT TRUMP ON ME.”

      And not even by just a little bit, even split on the popular vote but by a massive margin of the electoral college.

      I kept saying he’d win but I should have put my money where my mouth is. I could have got 8 to 1 from the bookies.

    • S_J says:

      I was telling myself yesterday morning that this whole election cycle has been the Monty Python campaign.

      And Now for Something Completely Different!

    • Anonymous says:

      HOLY CRAP AMERICA HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???

      You shouldn’t believe what the mainstream media says when the mainstream media is not a neutral side in an issue. The MM is establishment property, and has been propagandizing appropriately. The polls were crap because it’s really easy to fudge the numbers by being selective in just the right way to show one’s preffered result; in addition, given the negative propaganda, publicly avowing allegiance to Trump was fairly radioactive – it wouldn’t surprise me if like ~4% of polled people lied and said they’d vote for Clinton, but in the privacy of the voting booth did something else entirely.

      • You shouldn’t believe what the mainstream media says when the mainstream media is not a neutral side in an issu.

        And the pollsters are biased too? Or just incompetent?
        I mean, its’ actually in the interest of the other side to have accurate polls and not make believe, so they can plan effective strategy.

      • Murphy says:

        If it were just the media then there wouldn’t have been such a sharp change in the markets after trumps election. A lot of money in on the line in little things like the value of the mexican peso and various industries potentially affected by the results.

        The people who have money on the line, a lot of money, you’d expect to invest in gathering accurate information.

        Yet the markets seemed moderately shocked by the outcome.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      I’m not at all sure how to react – part of me is delighted, I have to say. I think he’ll be bad, but unless he was the Devil out of Hell, there is no way he could be as bad as the hysteria in the run-up was painting him.

      Yeah, me too.

      Plus, there’s been a fun sense of schadenfreude watching all my American Facebook friends who’d previously posted loads and loads of sanctimonious stuff about how stupid Britain was for voting to leave the EU, having online meltdowns now that their country has elected Trump.

  66. JC83 says:

    Clinton and the Democratic party made a critical mistake. Clinton continued to focus heavily on minorities while taking the white male support she had for granted. The message from Clinton to white males was “I am not on your side”, while Trump embraced them. Even if they favor Clinton on issues and experience, they can’t help but favor Trump emotionally. And, most humans make decisions based on emotions instead of logic.

    As for the polls being inaccurate, I believe it’s because these mostly white voters previously considered both parties to be good enough and didn’t care enough to vote. But, now that the Democratic party has begun to look like the “anti-white party”, these voters felt threatened and turned up in greater numbers. The polls missed because this group simply is far less likely to answer polls.

    • Anonymous says:

      There’s also probably a significant amount of Havel’s Greengrocers.

      – “You’re not voting for Trump, are you?”
      – “Of course not, comrade. See you at the next Party meeting?”

  67. Nadja says:

    I think I agree with the consensus here that Scott Adams’ predictions were a bit preposterous. (The “98 percent chance”, the flip-flopping, etc.) But where I do give him credit is in his arguing against the “lucky clown hypothesis”. There are people (um, most of my social circle) that literally think Trump is a moron who just got lucky in life. Scott Adams, on the other hand, argued that the Donald is smart and skilled. He gave various examples of Trump succeeding in various disciplines (business world, books, entertainment, etc.) The elections seem to confirm what Scott Adams was saying. Trump won a decisive victory in terms of the electoral college. He seems to have campaigned in pretty much all the right states. It’s as if he had actually figured out what he needed to do, and did it. Will people again argue that he just got lucky? That there was no skill/intelligence/whatever involved? Especially considering that he spent literally less than half of what Clinton did?

    • Jugemu says:

      I feel similarly. Adams isn’t intellectually honest enough to take everything he says at face value, but I think he saw some things that few other people did.

      • dndnrsn says:

        This is what I think you can say for Adams. He saw some stuff that most people didn’t spot. His lens isn’t perfect, but it gave a better picture, especially during the primaries, than the ones a lot of other people were using.

    • John Schilling says:

      Adams and the “Trump is a clown who got lucky” crowd are equally and oppositely wrong.

      But where are you getting “decisive victory in terms of the electoral college”? The results are not all in, but 538 is predicting 299-239 as the mean expected outcome. In the past hundred years, only Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush have won presidential elections with a narrower electoral-college margin. The EC being winner-take-all biases it towards wide swings; this is what a legitimately close election looks like in the United States.

      • Nadja says:

        You’re right, John, I got carried away with the “decisive”. I should have said “less of a narrow win that it could have been” with him taking both PA and MI, and getting a 306 total, if we believe the NYTimes projections.

    • He gave various examples of Trump succeeding in various disciplines (business world, books, entertainment, etc.)

      All areas where you can succeed by creating an aura of success, of course.

      • Soy Lecithin says:

        And perhaps winning the presidency is another such area.

        • More than perhaps. And if it also wasn’t obvious, the “aura” things is the exact opposite of technocracy.

          • Murphy says:

            I remember listening to some of the speeches people were giving before the election and there’s something about a speech which spends 30 seconds praising the person you want people to vote for and 10 minutes talking about how horrible their opposition is.

            1: “damning with faint praise”

            2: it leaves the person you’re attacking sounding terribly important since you’re spending all this time talking about them, they must be a real threat to your side for that, so they’re strong.

            And there was something about the speeches where people would go out of their way to make sure to mention that “white males” support Trump even when it made no sense. With a sneer in their voice to make clear their disdain for white males.

            If I was an apathetic white male voter who voted with my gut feeling then I’d be looking at one group who’ve been busy telling me that I’m a terrible person for existing telling me that I need to vote for Hillary or else I’ll be an even more terrible person while declaring that people like me are a problem.

            So I have a choice between 2 sides. People who hate me already and say so, again and again and blame all the worlds problems on me because I was born. The other side is not doing that to me. Tough choice.

          • Nominative determinismm too.

            trumpery
            [truhm-puh-ree]

            1.
            something without use or value; rubbish; trash; worthless stuff.
            2.
            nonsense; twaddle:
            His usual conversation is pure trumpery.
            3.
            Archaic. worthless finery.
            adjective
            4.
            of little or no value; trifling, worthless; rubbishy; trashy.

      • Nadja says:

        Trump didn’t win the election by creating an aura of success, though, did he? He didn’t even get the popular vote. It’s not like people were universally drawn to his aura. He won by winning the states he needed to win (with some safety margin built in, taking all and not just two of PA, MI and FL.) And he won those states by smart, targeted campaigning.

        I’m not saying an aura of success doesn’t help. Trump himself definitely thinks it’s important and he definitely works very hard to create it. (And I’d argue that it takes skills and smarts to do it well. Intellectuals often have an aversion to investing time in building social desirability, but making yourself more attractive is like any other human endeavor where being smart makes it easier to do it effectively.) But it’s not enough. Not in politics and not in business. Trump does well not only because he’s charismatic, but also because he takes calculated risks and because he’s an independent thinker, in the sense of being Taleb’s Fat Tony and not falling for the “intellectual-yet-idiotic” (apologies for the phrase, borrowed from Taleb again.) So, anyway, since “technocratic” often applies exactly to the “intellectual-yet-idiotic”, Trump, in my mind, indeed is the opposite of it.

        • Trump does well not only because he’s charismatic, but also because he takes calculated risks and because he’s an independent thinker

          Those *are* charisma. Bad boys and all that.

          And he won those states by smart, targeted campaigning.

          He did it by campaigning isn’t exclusive of “he did it by charisma”. I don’t know what you think charisma is. The uncharismatic way of doing things is to appeal to your track record, and put forward detailed plans, neither of which he did.

          • Nadja says:

            If I’m understanding correctly that you’re saying Trump’s aura of success/charisma helped him win, then I agree.

        • The Nybbler says:

          The popular vote isn’t really relevant; everyone knows the rules in advance