Biden: Off to a Bad Start with Voters

It comes as no surprise to me (and to many others) that Biden isn’t enjoying a post-inaugural “honeymoon” with the mass of voters. Though it can be said that he seems intent on screwing them with higher taxes, higher energy prices, and privileges for identity groups.

Compare and contrast Biden’s performance in the Daily Presidential Tracking Poll published by Rasmussen Reports. Specifically, compare and contrast Biden’s performance relative to the performances of Obama and Trump according to a measure that I devised back in the early days of Obama’s presidency. I call it the enthusiasm ratio. It is the number of likely voters expressing strong approval as a percentage of the number of likely voters expressing either approval or disapproval (that is, it ignores likely voters who express neither approval nor disapproval).

Here’s the comparison:

What’s noteworthy about the graph, aside from Biden’s slow start, is Trump’s dominance over Obama after the first ten months of their respective presidencies. It should cast some (additional) doubt on the official outcome of the 2020 election.

Trump’s Popularity: A Summing Up

For most of his term as president, Donald Trump was more popular than Barack Obama was at the same points during Obama’s presidency:

That Trump failed of re-election can be chalked up to a combination of four things: fraud, a determined effort by Democrats to get out the vote, anti-Trump enthusiasm, and the decline in Trump’s popularity during the fourth year of his presidency. Even the resurgence between weeks 183 and 196 (due mainly to the Hunter Biden affair) couldn’t save him.

Will Trump remain influential within the Republican Party? Will he form a third party? If he does, will it be self-sustaining or will it fade away like Ross Perot’s party and the Tea Party movement?

Stay tuned….

How Are Americans Really Reacting to the Election?

Forget the Democrat-media propaganda about “no evidence” of election fraud. Forget the trumped up (pun) charges of incitement to riot. Forget the selective condemnation of the mostly white mob that stormed the Capitol, after years of failure to condemn mostly black mobs that looted and burned cities across the land.

Forget all of that and look at what likely voters think about the state of the union.

Likely voters (polled by Rasmussen Reports) have become much more pessimistic about the country’s direction since the election, that is, since Biden’s stolen victory. Following a steep decline in the mood of the country during the months of pandemic panic, the mood began to lift as Trump began to close the gap with Biden. The peak at week 197 of Trump’s presidency came a week before the election of 2020. The ensuing decline suggests that likely voters, despite the assurances of “establishment” Republicans and the Democrats’ media allies, know what’s coming at them — and it ain’t pretty.

Here We Go …

Down the tubes. It is almost certain that the Democrat candidates will be declared the winners of Georgia two Senate seats. The Senate will then be divided 50-50, and control will pass to the Democrats because VP Harris will cast deciding votes in the case of ties.

This won’t be the first time that Democrats have controlled Congress and the White House, but this Democrat Party isn’t your grandfather’s party, or your father’s party. It isn’t even the party that was led by Barack Obama, who was (and is) an ardent advocate of government control. Today’s party is filled with Obamas and politicians who make the Obamas seem moderate.

What, exactly, happens now (or as soon as Democrats get organized)? The follow list is borrowed from an earlier post. Not every item on the list will be adopted, but it wont’ be for want of trying.

1. Abolition of the Senate filibuster.

2. An increase of at least two seats on the U.S. Supreme Court (USSC), though there may be some vacancies to be filled.

3. Adoption of an interstate compact by states controlling a total of at least 270 electoral votes, committing each member state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who compiles the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of the outcome of the popular vote in each state that is a party to the compact. (This may seem unnecessary if Biden wins, but it will be a bit of insurance against the possibility of a Republican victor in a future election.)

4. Statehood for either the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico, or for both of them. (Each would then have two senators and a requisite number of representatives with full voting privileges in their respective bodies. All of them will be Democrats, of course.)

5. Empowerment of the executive branch to do at least three of the following things:

a. Regulate personal and business activity (in new ways) with the expressed aim of reducing CO2 emissions.

b. Commit at least $500 billion in new obligational authority for research into and/or funding of methods of reducing and mitigating CO2 emissions.

c. Issue new kinds of tax rebates and credits to persons/households and businesses that spend money on any item on a list of programs/technologies that are supposed to reduce CO2 emissions.

d. Impose tax penalties on persons/households and businesses for their failure to spend money on any item in the list mentioned above (shades of the Obamacare tax penalty).

e. Impose penalties on persons/households and businesses for failing to adhere to prescribed caps on CO2 emissions.

f. Establishment of a cap-and-trade program for CO2 emissions (to soften the blow of the previous item). (Needless to say, the overall effect of such initiatives would deal a devastating blow to economic activity – meaning massive job losses and lower real incomes for large swaths of the populace.)

6. Authorization for an agency or agencies of the federal government to define and penalize written or spoken utterances that the agency or agencies declare “unprotected” by the First Amendment, and to require media enforcement of bans on “unprotected” utterances and prosecution of violators (e.g., here). (This can be accomplished by cynically adopting the supportable position that the First Amendment protects only political speech. The purported aim would be to curb so-called hate speech, but when censorship is in full swing — which would take only a few years — it will be illegal to criticize or question, even by implication, such things as illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, anthropogenic global warming, the confiscation of firearms, or the policies of the federal government. Violations will be enforced by fines and prison sentences — the latter sometimes called “sensitivity training”, “citizenship education”, or some other euphemistic term. Candidates for public office will be prime targets of the enforcers, which will suppress open discussion of such matters.)

7. Imposition of requirements for organizations of all kinds — businesses, universities, charitable organizations, clubs, and even churches — to favor anyone who isn’t a straight, white male of European descent. (The “protections” will be enacted, upheld, and enforced vigorously by federal agencies, regardless of their adverse economic and social effects.)

8. Effective nullification of the Second Amendment through orders/regulations/legislation, to enable gun confiscation (though there will be exemptions for private security services used by favored elites).

9. Use of law-enforcement agencies to enforce “hate speech” bans, mandates for reverse discrimination, and gun-confiscation edicts. (These things will happen regardless of the consequences; e.g., a rising crime rate, greater violence against whites and Asians, and flight from the cities and near-in suburbs. The latter will be futile, anyway, because suburban and exurban police departments will also be co-opted.)

10. Criminalization of “sexual misconduct”, as it is defined by the alleged victim, de facto if not de jure. (Investigations and prosecutions will be selective, and aimed mainly at straight, white males of European descent and dissidents who openly criticize this and other measures listed here.)

11. Parallel treatment for the “crimes” of racism, anti-Islamism, nativism, and genderism. (This will be in addition to the measures discussed in #7.)

12. Centralization in the federal government of complete control of all health care and health-care related products and services, such as drug research, accompanied by “Medicare and Medicaid for All” mandates. (Private health care will be forbidden or strictly limited, though — Soviet-style — there will be exceptions for high officials and other favored persons. Drug research – and medical research, generally – will dwindle in quality and quantity. There will be fewer doctors and nurses who are willing to work in a regimented system. The resulting health-care catastrophe that befalls most of the populace will be shrugged off as necessary to ensure equality of treatment, while ignoring the special treatment accorded favored elites.)

13. Revitalization of the regulatory regime (which already imposes a deadweight loss of 10 percent of GDP). A quantitative measure of revitalization is an increase in the number of new rules published annually in the Federal Register by at least 10 percent above the average for 2017-2020.

14. Proposals for at least least two of the following tax-related initiatives:

a. Reversal of the tax-rate cuts enacted during Trump’s administration.

b. Increases in marginal tax rates for the top 2 or 3 income brackets.

c. Imposition of new taxes on wealth.

15. Dramatic enlargement of domestic welfare programs. Specifically, in addition to the creation of “Medicare and Medicaid for All” programs, there would be a “fix” for Social Security that mandates the payment of full benefits in the future, regardless of the status of the Social Security Trust Fund (which will probably be abolished). (Initiatives discussed in #5, #7, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, and #15 would suppress investment in business formation and expansion, and would disincentivize professional education and training, not to mention work itself. All of that would combine to push the real rate of economic growth toward a negative value.)

16. Reduction of the defense budget by at least 25 percent, in constant dollars, by 2031 or sooner. (Eventually, the armed forces will be maintained mainly for the purpose of suppressing domestic uprisings. Russia and China will emerge as superpowers, but won’t threaten the U.S. militarily as long as the U.S. government acquiesces in their increasing dominance and plays by their economic rules.)

17. Legalization of all immigration from south of the border, and the granting of citizenship to new immigrants and the illegals who came before them. (The right to vote, of course, is the right that Democrats most dearly want to bestow because most of the newly-minted citizens can be counted on to vote for Democrats. The permanent Democrat majority will ensure permanent Democrat control of the White House and both houses of Congress.)

*      *     *

The list is in keeping with the direction in which the country is headed and, in many cases, has been headed since the 1930s — despite Reagan and Trump, and with the connivance of Ike, Nixon, the Bushes, and (in some crucial cases) the USSC.

The Constitution’s horizontal and vertical separation of powers, system of checks and balances, and limitations on the power of the federal government have been eroded almost to the point of irrelevance. The next few years will put an end to the pretense (or false hope) of governance in accordance with the Constitution as it was written. The next few years will see the destruction of liberty, the bankruptcy of America, and the onset of obeisance to Russia and China.

Proof of Election Fraud or Statistical Hocus-Pocus?

There are many good reasons to believe that Biden’s almost-official election to the presidency was the result of electoral misfeasance, malfeasance, fraud, and judicial bias. But the statistical analysis reported at this link isn’t among them. The authors concocted a statistical model that, according to them,

explains 96% of county-level variance in Trump’s two-party vote share with four demographic variables (non-college white, college-educated white, black and hispanic) and one historical variable (the average of county-level GOP two-party presidential vote share, 2004-2016). All five variables are highly significant. This reinforces the conclusion that the model is generally a very strong predictor of vote shares, and so deviations from it should be considered surprising.

And

regression analysis shows Trump ought to have won AZ, GA, NV, PA, WI.

Are you convinced? I am not, because the authors (perhaps unwittingly) provide evidence that undermines their claim.

There is a table at the end of the article that gives Trump’s predicted share of the two-party vote for every State (except Alaska and Hawaii) and the District of Columbia. I compared the authors’ predictions with the State-level results compiled as of today at Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Elections. The absolute average of the prediction errors in 1.9 percentage points. The absolute errors for the six States listed above are as follows (in percentage points): AZ, 5.0; GA, 3.3; NV, 1.5; PA, 0.6; WI, 1.0; and MI, 1.1. So, as it turns out, the only outcomes (of the six) that the authors’ predictions might point to as fraudulent are the ones in George and Nevada.

Further, the authors don’t bother to highlight Trump’s significant underperformance (relative to their regression results) in many other States: CA, 4.3; DE, 3.5; ID, 2.4; IN, 2.0; KY, 3.0; ME, 2.5; MD, 3.3; NE, 2.1; NH, 2.2; NM, 2.1; OR, 4.9; TX, 3.6; UT, 6.3; VT, 4.3; and WA, 4.0. If their regression results for Georgia and Nevada are indicative of fraud, so are the results in California, Delaware, … , Vermont, and Washington. But I am unaware of any claims that the official outcomes in those States are bogus.

On top of that, Trump did significantly better than the authors predicted in DC (8.5 percentage points) and North Dakota (3.4 percentage points). Is anyone seriously suggesting that there was electoral fraud favoring Trump in DC, or that his campaign had to resort to fraud in deep-Red North Dakota?

The bottom line: The authors made some good predictions and a lot of very bad ones (20 of their 49 predictions exceed the average absolute error). But there’s nothing in the predictions to prove that Biden’s putative victories in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (or even Michigan) were obtained fraudulently. There is plenty of other evidence of misfeasance, malfeasance, and fraud in those States, but the authors’ statistical “proof” is nothing but a demonstration of the errors that abound in statistical analysis.

In this case, the errors resulted in the overprediction of Trump’s share of the vote in 39 States and D.C. — including, coincidentally, the six States that the authors claim to have shown were were stolen from Trump.

Texas v. Pennsylvania — The Supremes Cut and Run

UPDATED 12/14/20

I was right about the Supreme Court, though the scenario played out differently than I had expected it to. As it turns out, there wasn’t a single justice with the guts to admit that Texas attorney general Ken Paxton had it right:

[T]he 2020 election suffered from significant and unconstitutional irregularities in the Defendant States [Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin]:

Non-legislative actors’ purported amendments to States’ duly enacted election laws, in violation of the Electors Clause’s vesting State legislatures with plenary authority regarding the appointment of presidential electors.

Intrastate differences in the treatment of voters, with more favorable allotted to voters–whether lawful or unlawful–in areas administered by local government under Democrat control and with populations with higher ratios of Democrat voters than other areas of Defendant States.

The appearance of voting irregularities in the Defendant States that would be consistent with the unconstitutional relaxation of ballot-integrity protections in those States’ election laws.All these flaws–even the violations of state election law–violate one or more of the federal requirements for elections (i.e., equal protection, due process, and the Electors Clause) and thus arise under federal law. See Bush v Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 113 (2000)(“significant departure from the legislative scheme for appointing Presidential electors presents a federal constitutional question”) (Rehnquist, C.J., concurring). Plaintiff State respectfully submits that the foregoing types of electoral irregularities exceed the hanging-chad saga of the 2000 election in their degree of departure from both state and federal law.Moreover, these flaws cumulatively preclude knowing who legitimately won the 2020 election and threaten to cloud all future elections.Taken together, these flaws affect an outcome-determinative numbers of popular votes in a group of States that cast outcome-determinative numbers of electoral votes.

In sum, the citizens of States that were won by Trump were denied equal protection of the laws: Their votes were nullified because Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin flouted their own election laws. (To say nothing of massive instances of fraud, of which there is ample evidence, Democrats and media enablers to the contrary notwithstanding.)

William Rehnquist, who presided over Bush v. Gore twenty years ago, must be spinning in his grave.

This may have been a (futile) attempt by Roberts et al. to forestall court-packing, which surely will happen as soon as the Democrats garner a working majority in the Senate. Which is one reason among many to hope that the January 5 runoff elections in Georgia result in victories by the two Republican candidates.

Update:

An esteemed reader and correspondent sent me a link to a piece in which Alan Dershowitz is quoted at length. Here’s some of it:

Dershowitz agreed with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who indicated that Texas did have standing, saying they ”get the better of the argument,” but that the court just didn’t want to deal with what may be perceived as political.

”This Supreme Court decision sends a message,” Dershowitz said. ”The majority included the three justices appointed by President [Donald] Trump, and they all said, ‘We’re not going to hear the Texas case. We’re not going to get involved in this election.’

”I think this sends a message. It’s not a legal message, but it’s a practical message: the Supreme Court is out of this game.”

Elsewhere, Mollie Hemingway weighs in:

[H]ow can the state of Texas not have a judicially cognizable interest in her sister states living up to the compact they entered when they entered the Union?

Texas attempted in its briefs to crystalize the harm by stressing its interest in who serves as vice president, given the vice president’s tie-breaking status in the Senate and senators’ role as the representatives of the states. But a simpler and stronger argument came in a brief submitted by would-be amicus curiae [in] Citizen’s United:

When one state allows the Manner in which Presidential Electors be chosen to be determined by anyone other than the state legislature, that state acts in breach of the presuppositions on which the Union is based. Each state is not isolated from the rest—rather, all states are interdependent. Our nation’s operational principle is E pluribus unum. Each state has a duty to other states to abide by this and other reciprocal obligations built into Constitution. While defendant states may view this suit as an infringement of its sovereignty, it is not, as the defendant states surrendered their sovereignty when they agreed to abide by Article II, § 1. Each state depends on other states to adhere to minimum constitutional standards in areas where it ceded its sovereignty to the union—and if those standards are not met, then the responsibility to enforce those standards falls to this Court.

On Friday, the Supreme Court voted not to enforce those standards.

Maybe there is a good reason. Maybe Rehnquist’s view was wrong. Maybe the court found the alleged violations not “significant” enough to reach the level of a constitutional violation. (How “significant” would a violation have to be?) Maybe the court viewed a violation of the compact on which our country was founded as beyond its purview.

There might be a satisfactory answer, but Americans have yet to hear it. And that was wrong, both for the court and the country.

As the old saying goes, “we wuz robbed” by a cabal of crooked umpires.

Election 2020: Lost or Stolen?

RE-POSTED FROM 11/15/20, TO NOTE THE ADDITION OF DOZENS OF LINKS TO THE PAGE “ELECTION 2020: LOST OR STOLEN?” (LINK IN FIRST SENTENCE)

I have created a page with that title. It consists of links to posts from various sources about the evidence that Biden’s apparent victory is fraudulent. I will continue to add links as long as the issue remains unresolved — which may be a long time from now. (See also “Election 2020 and Occam’s Razor“.)

“Libertarians Suck”

That’s the title of an amusing and insightful piece by Michael Warren Davis at The Spectator (U.S. edition). I agree with every word of the title, not just because I’m a reformed libertarian (i.e., Burkean conservative or libertarian conservative) but also because I agree with Davis’s central point:

According to the latest figures, the Libertarian candidate for president, Jo Jorgensen (pronounced Yo Your-gun-sin), has spoiled the election. The number of votes Yo-Yo received in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania exceeds Joe Biden’s margin over Donald Trump in all those states. In other words, had the libertarians in each of those states voted for Mr Trump, he would have been reelected handily.

Thus do “big L” libertarians vote against their own interests by helping to elect Democrats, who are diametrically opposed to almost everything that libertarians claim to stand for.

I have made Davis’s point at least three times (here, here, and here). The third time I quoted a portion of a blog post by the late Bill Niskanen, who served as chairman of Cato Institute for many years. It is now appropriate to reproduce Niskanen’s post in full:

A Case for a Different Libertarian Party

All of this blogtalk about which major party is likely to be more receptive to libertarian policy positions, I suggest, is a waste of time unless the winning candidate of either party is dependent on the votes of libertarians.

Increased outrage about the state of American politics and the prospect for a larger number of close elections increases the potential effectiveness of a different libertarian party — one that sometimes endorses one or the other major party candidate but does not run a party candidate for that position.

The Libertarian Party’s efforts to promote their policy positions by running Libertarian candidates is counter-productive when they reduce the vote for their favored major party candidates. A disciplined group that is prepared to endorse one or the other major party candidate in a close election, however, can have a substantial effect on the issue positions of both major party candidates. The following conditions must be met to achieve this effectiveness:

  1. The party cannot run a separate candidate.
  2. The size of the party must be larger than the expected vote difference between the major party candidates.
  3. After the major party candidates are selected, the party leadership must have the opportunity to bargain with both major party candidates on the issue positions of highest priority for the party.
  4. The party, as much as possible, must act in concert to support the major party candidate who is chosen by the members of the party in that district.

There is no reason for this libertarian party to be active in any district for which the party does not meet all four of the above conditions. (For most libertarians, the most difficult of these conditions to meet, I suspect, is condition 4.) In addition, the party should not emphasize the same issues in every district, because the choice of these issues should depend on those for which the major party candidates are willing to bargain.

This is a strategy to increase the approval of libertarian policy positions rather than the usually counter-productive effort to increase the number of votes for Libertarian candidates. Maybe it is better to term the organization that I have described as a libertarian political action group, not a libertarian party.

Bill was a wise man, as his argument amply illustrates. I take his seeming neutrality between the major parties to be a rhetorical device. He was, as he described himself a private conversation with me, a “libertarian of conservative mien”. As a member of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration he was one of the architects of Reagan’s economic policy, about which he wrote in Reaganomics.

Election 2020: Is It Done and Dusted? Has the Fat Lady Sung?

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 11/09/20; UPDATED 11/27/20, TO REFLECT THE MOUNTING EVIDENCE OF FRAUD.

Possibly, despite considerable evidence of fraud. In any event, Barring a smoking cannon or two, the Supreme Court probably won’t salvage the election for Trump. However, based on Gorsuch’s recent smackdown of Robert in the religious liberty case, I hold out some hope for a rescue by the Supremes, if a case that flips the outcome gets that far.

A post by Trump supporter Anatoly Karlin — though I don’t agree with all of it — makes some good points. The vote counts are incomplete in several States, but the results to date support Karlin’s central thesis, which is that Trump lost just enough ground in key States (or Biden gained just enough ground in those States) to cause them to flip from Red to Blue.

If fraud isn’t at the bottom of Biden’s tentative victory, what might be? A degree of revulsion for Trump that blinded many voters to the dire consequences of a Biden win, especially if accompanied by Democrat control of Congress. Nothing else, that I can see.

Here’s the table that shows Trump’s (almost) across-the-board slippage, where the light-blue fill indicates States that flipped from Red to Blue: This table shows, in light-blue shading, the States whose votes were manipulated to tilt the election toward Biden:

Despite my faint hope for a reversal of the apparent outcome, I will carry on:

I will continue to update the list of links to allegations of election fraud (here) … just in case.

When all of the votes have been tallied and certified, I will update the graph that describes the statistical relationship between GOP candidates’ shares of electoral votes and shares of popular votes. (See this post for a preliminary update.)

And I will write about the likely consequences of a Biden-Harris presidency (you read that right), with a GOP-controlled Senate, which are dire but not quite as dire as the outlook implied in this post.

Election 2020: Which Poll Came Closest?

Despite my long-standing reliance on Rasmussen Reports, I have decided to add two polls to my must-follow list: The Hill/HarrisX and IBD/TIPP. Rasmussen’s final poll before this year’s election had Biden leading Trump by 1 percentage point. In fact — assuming that the final vote count resembles the current tally — the nationwide count of popular votes puts Biden ahead of Trump by almost 4 percentage points. That was the spread predicted by The Hill/Harris and IBD/TIP in their final pre-election polls. If I had used that spread in my final projection, I would have nailed Trump’s share of the electoral vote, which now stands at 43 percent (before all results have been certified and all court challenges have been heard and ruled upon).

In fact, this year’s (apparent) result is exactly in line with the equation that I had derived from the results for the elections of 1972 – 2016:

With the addition of 2020, the relationship between popular-vote share and electoral-vote share looks like this:

The only change is a slight improvement in explanatory power (r-squared rose from 0.92 to 0.93).

The GOP continues to hold an edge in the electoral college, but it is a slight edge. According to the equations in the graphs, a GOP candidate must muster at least 49.5 percent of the two-party popular vote to be sure of winning an electoral-vote majority.

Trump got lucky in 2016. Because of razor-thin victories in a few key States, he got 56.9 percent of the electoral vote with only 48.9 percent of the two-party popular vote (i.e., a deficit of just over 2 percentage points).

This year, however, Trump seems to have eked out only 48.1 percent of the two-party popular vote (i.e., a deficit of almost 4 percentage points), and the close calls (apparently) went to Biden. Result: A reversal of the 2016 outcome.

For more about the accuracy of various polls, see this piece at NewsMax (behind a paywall). Here’s some of it:

The Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP poll defended its title as the most accurate pollster for predicting presidential outcomes. The pollsters take the No. 1 spot for the fifth presidential cycle in a row, a Newsmax review reveals. Among the worst polls were those from CNN and Quinnipiac.

One of only two polls to predict President Donald Trump’s 2016 win, the IBD/TIPP poll came closest to predicting the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The Hill-HarrisX poll also predicted election results with the same accuracy, according to American Research Group, Inc….

Also making the top of the list were Emerson and Rasmussen Reports — one of Trump’s favorite pollsters. Fox News, USA Today/Suffolk University, and New York Times/Siena College came in at the middle of the pack. Among the worst polls were Economist/YouGov, CNBC/Change, NBC News/ Wall Street Journal, USC Dornsife, Quinnipiac, and CNN. All predicted Biden would lead Trump by double digits.

In any event, among the many sources that I will never consult is Nate Silver’s overrated statistical mishmash called FiveThirtyEight. Silver predicted not only Democrat gains in the House (wrong) and a likely flip of the Senate (probably wrong), but also a 9-point spread between Biden and Trump in the nationwide tally of popular votes (very wrong).

The Iraq War in Retrospect

The Iraq War has been called many things, “immoral” being among the leading adjectives for it. Was it altogether immoral? Was it immoral to remain in favor of the war after it was (purportedly) discovered that Saddam Hussein didn’t have an active program for the production of weapons of mass destruction? Or was the war simply misdirected from its proper — and moral — purpose: the service of Americans’ interests by stabilizing the Middle East? I address those and other questions about the war in what follows.

THE WAR-MAKING POWER AND ITS PURPOSE

The sole justification for the United States government is the protection of Americans’ interests. Those interests are spelled out broadly in the Preamble to the Constitution: justice, domestic tranquility, the common defense, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty.

Contrary to leftist rhetoric, the term “general welfare” in the Preamble (and in Article I, Section 8) doesn’t grant broad power to the national government to do whatever it deems to be “good”. “General welfare” — general well-being, not the well-being of particular regions or classes — is merely one of the intended effects of the enumerated and limited powers granted to the national government by conventions of the States.

One of the national government’s specified powers is the making of war. In the historical context of the adoption of the Constitution, it is clear the the purpose of the war-making power is to defend Americans and their legitimate interests: liberty generally and, among other things, the free flow of trade between American and foreign entities. The war-making power carries with it the implied power to do harm to foreigners in the course of waging war. I say that because the Framers, many of whom fought for independence from Britain, knew from experience that war, of necessity, must sometimes cause damage to the persons and property of non-combatants.

In some cases, the only way to serve the interests of Americans is to inflict deliberate damage on non-combatants. That was the case, for example, when U.S. air forces dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force Japan’s surrender and avoid the deaths and injuries of perhaps a million Americans. Couldn’t Japan have been “quarantined” instead, once its forces had been driven back to the homeland? Perhaps, but at great cost to Americans. Luckily, in those days American leaders understood that the best way to ensure that an enemy didn’t resurrect its military power was to defeat it unconditionally and to occupy its homeland. You will have noticed that as a result, Germany and Japan are no longer military threats to the U.S., whereas Iraq remained one after the Gulf War of 1990-1991 because Saddam wasn’t deposed. Russia, which the U.S. didn’t defeat militarily — only symbolically — is resurgent militarily. China, which wasn’t even defeated symbolically in the Cold War, is similarly resurgent, and bent on regional if not global hegemony, necessarily to the detriment of Americans’ interests. To paraphrase: There is no substitute for unconditional military victory.

That is a hard and unfortunate truth, but it eludes many persons, especially those of the left. They suffer under dual illusions, namely, that the Constitution is an outmoded document and that “world opinion” trumps the Constitution and the national sovereignty created by it. Neither illusion is shared by Americans who want to live in something resembling liberty and to enjoy the advantages pertaining thereto, including prosperity.

CASUS BELLI

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the armed forces of the U.S. government (and those of other nations) had explicit and implicit justifications. The explicit justifications for the U.S. government’s actions are spelled out in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq of 2002 (AUMF). It passed the House by a vote of 296 – 133 and the Senate by a vote of 77 – 23, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 16, 2002.

There are some who focus on the “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) justification, which figures prominently in the “whereas” clauses of the AUMF. But the war, as it came to pass when Saddam failed to respond to legitimate demands spelled out in the AUMF, had a broader justification than whatever Saddam was (or wasn’t) doing with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The final “whereas” puts it succinctly: it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region.

An unstated but clearly understood implication of “peace and security in the Persian Gulf region” was the security of the region’s oil supply against Saddam’s capriciousness. The mantra “no blood for oil” to the contrary notwithstanding, it is just as important to defend the livelihoods of Americans as it is to defend their lives — and in many instances it comes to the same thing.

In sum, I disregard the WMD rationale for the Iraq War. The real issue is whether the war secured the stability of the Persian Gulf region (and the Middle East in general). And if it didn’t, why did it fail to do so?

ROADS TAKEN AND NOT TAKEN

One can only speculate about what might have happened in the absence of the Iraq War. For instance, how many more Iraqis might have been killed and tortured by Saddam’s agents? How many more terrorists might have been harbored and financed by Saddam? How long might it have taken him to re-establish his WMD program or build a nuclear weapons program? Saddam, who started it all with the invasion of Kuwait, wasn’t a friend of the U.S. or the West in general. The U.S. isn’t the world’s policeman, but the U.S. government has a moral obligation to defend the interests of Americans, preemptively if necessary.

By the same token, one can only speculate about what might have happened if the U.S. government had prosecuted the war differently than it did, which was “on the cheap”. There weren’t enough boots on the ground to maintain order in the way that it was maintained by the military occupations in Germany and Japan after World War II. Had there been, there wouldn’t have been a kind of “civil war” or general chaos in Iraq after Saddam was deposed. (It was those things, as much as the supposed absence of a WMD program that turned many Americans against the war.)

Speculation aside, I supported the invasion of Iraq, the removal of Saddam, and the rout of Iraq’s armed forces with the following results in mind:

  • A firm military occupation of Iraq, for some years to come.
  • The presence in Iraq and adjacent waters and airspace of U.S. forces in enough strength to control Iraq and deter misadventures by other nations in the region (e.g., Iran and Syria) and prospective interlopers (e.g., Russia).
  • Israel’s continued survival and prosperity under the large shadow cast by U.S. forces in the region.
  • Secure production and shipment of oil from Iraq and other oil-producing nations in the region.

All of that would have happened but for (a) too few boots on the ground (later remedied in part by the “surge”); (b) premature “nation-building”, which helped to stir up various factions in Iraq; (c) Obama’s premature surrender, which he was shamed into reversing; and (d) Obama’s deal with Iran, with its bundles of cash and blind-eye enforcement that supported Iran’s rearmament and growing boldness in the region. (The idea that Iraq, under Saddam, had somehow contained Iran is baloney; Iran was contained only until its threat to go nuclear found a sucker in Obama.)

In sum, the war was only a partial success because (once again) U.S. leaders failed to wage it fully and resolutely. This was due in no small part to incessant criticism of the war, stirred up and sustained by Democrats and the media.

WHO HAD THE MORAL HIGH GROUND?

In view of the foregoing, the correct answer is: the U.S. government, or those of its leaders who approved, funded, planned, and executed the war with the aim of bringing peace and security to the Persian Gulf region for the sake of Americans’ interests.

The moral high ground was shared by those Americans who, understanding the war’s justification on grounds broader than WMD, remained steadfast in support of the war despite the tumult and shouting that arose from its opponents.

There were Americans whose support of the war was based on the claim that Saddam had ore was developing WMD, and whose support ended or became less ardent when WMD seemed not to be in evidence. I wouldn’t presume to judge them harshly for withdrawing their support, but I would judge them myopic for basing it on solely on the WMD predicate. And I would judge them harshly if they joined the outspoken opponents of the war, whose opposition I address below.

What about those Americans who supported the war simply because they believed that President Bush and his advisers “knew what they were doing” or out of a sense of patriotism? That is to say, they had no particular reason for supporting the war other than a general belief that its successful execution would be a “good thing”. None of those Americans deserves moral approbation or moral blame. They simply had better things to do with their lives than to parse the reasons for going to war and for continuing it. And it is no one’s place to judge them for not having wasted their time in thinking about something that was beyond their ability to influence. (See the discussion of “public opinion” below.)

What about those Americans who publicly opposed the war, either from the beginning or later? I cannot fault all of them for their opposition — and certainly not  those who considered the costs (human and monetary) and deemed them not worth the possible gains.

But there were (and are) others whose opposition to the war was and is problematic:

  • Critics of the apparent absence of an active WMD program in Iraq, who seized on the WMD justification and ignored (or failed to grasp) the war’s broader justification.
  • Political opportunists who simply wanted to discredit President Bush and his party, which included most Democrats (eventually), effete elites generally, and particularly most members of the academic-media-information technology complex.
  • An increasingly large share of the impressionable electorate who could not (and cannot) resist a bandwagon.
  • Reflexive pro-peace/anti-war posturing by the young, who are prone to oppose “the establishment” and to do so loudly and often violently.

The moral high ground isn’t gained by misguided criticism, posturing, joining a bandwagon, or hormonal emotionalism.

WHAT ABOUT “PUBLIC OPINION”?

Suppose you had concluded that the Iraq War was wrong because the WMD justification seemed to have been proven false as the war went on. Perhaps even than false: a fraud perpetrated by officials of the Bush administration, if not by the president himself, to push Congress and “public opinion” toward support for an invasion of Iraq.

If your main worry about Iraq, under Saddam, was the possibility that WMD would be used against Americans, the apparent falsity of the WMD claim — perhaps fraudulent falsity — might well have turned you against the war. Suppose that there were many millions of Americans like you, whose initial support of the war turned to disillusionment as evidence of an active WMD program failed to materialize. Would voicing your opinion on the matter have helped to end the war? Did you have a moral obligation to voice your opinion? And, in any event, should wars be ended because of “public opinion”? I will try to answer those questions in what follows.

The strongest case to be made for the persuasive value of voicing one’s opinion might be found in the median-voter theorem. According to Wikipedia, the median-voter theorem

“states that ‘a majority rule voting system will select the outcome most preferred by the median voter”….

The median voter theorem rests on two main assumptions, with several others detailed below. The theorem is assuming [sic] that voters can place all alternatives along a one-dimensional political spectrum. It seems plausible that voters could do this if they can clearly place political candidates on a left-to-right continuum, but this is often not the case as each party will have its own policy on each of many different issues. Similarly, in the case of a referendum, the alternatives on offer may cover more than one issue. Second, the theorem assumes that voters’ preferences are single-peaked, which means that voters have one alternative that they favor more than any other. It also assumes that voters always vote, regardless of how far the alternatives are from their own views. The median voter theorem implies that voters have an incentive to vote for their true preferences. Finally, the median voter theorem applies best to a majoritarian election system.

The article later specifies seven assumptions underlying the theorem. None of the assumptions is satisfied in the real world of American politics. Complexity never favors the truth of any proposition; it simply allows the proposition to be wrong in more ways if all of the assumptions must be true, as is the case here.

There is a weak form of the theorem, which says that

the median voter always casts his or her vote for the policy that is adopted. If there is a median voter, his or her preferred policy will beat any other alternative in a pairwise vote.

That still leaves the crucial assumption that voters are choosing between two options. This is superficially true in the case of a two-person race for office or a yes-no referendum. But, even then, a binary option usually masks non-binary ramifications that voters take into account.

In any case, it is trivially true to say that the preference of the median voter foretells the outcome of an election in a binary election, if the the outcome is decided by majority vote and there isn’t a complicating factor like the electoral college. One could say, with equal banality, that the stronger man wins the weight-lifting contest, the outcome of which determines who is the stronger man.

Why am I giving so much attention to the median-voter theorem? Because, according to a blogger whose intellectual prowess I respect, if enough Americans believe a policy of the U.S. government to be wrong, the policy might well be rescinded if the responsible elected officials (or, presumably, their prospective successors) believe that the median voter wants the policy rescinded. How would that work?

The following summary of the blogger’s case is what I gleaned from his original post on the subject and several comments and replies. I have inserted parenthetical commentary throughout.

  • The pursuit of the Iraq War after the WMD predicate for it was (seemingly) falsified — hereinafter policy X — was immoral because X led unnecessarily to casualties, devastation, and other costs. (As discussed above, there were other predicates for X and other consequences of X, some of them good, but they don’t seem to matter to the blogger.)
  • Because X was immoral (in the blogger’s reckoning), X should have been rescinded.
  • Rescission would have (might have?/should have?) occurred through the operation of the median-voter theorem if enough persons had made known their opposition to X. (How might the median-voter theorem have applied when X wasn’t on a ballot? See below.)
  • Any person who had taken the time to consider X (taking into account only the WMD predicate and unequivocally bad consequences) could only have deemed it immoral. (The blogger originally excused persons who deemed X proper, but later made a statement equivalent to the preceding sentence. This is a variant of “heads, I win; tails, you lose”.)
  • Having deemed X immoral, a person (i.e., a competent, adult American) would have been morally obliged to make known his opposition to X. Even if the person didn’t know of the spurious median-voter theorem, his opposition to X (which wasn’t on a ballot) would somehow have become known and counted (perhaps in a biased opinion poll conducted by an entity opposed to X) and would therefore have helped to move the median stance of the (selectively) polled fragment of the populace toward opposition to X, whereupon X would be rescinded, according to the median-voter theorem. (Or perhaps vociferous opposition, expressed in public protests, would be reported by the media — especially by those already opposed to X — as indicative of public opinion, whether or not it represented a median view of X.)
  • Further, any competent, adult American who didn’t bother to take the time to evaluate X would have been morally complicit in the continuation of X. (This must be the case because the blogger says so, without knowing each person’s assessment of the slim chance that his view of the matter would affect X, or the opportunity costs of evaluating X and expressing his view of it.)
  • So the only moral course of action, according to the blogger, was for every competent, adult American to have taken the time to evaluate X (in terms of the WMD predicate), to have deemed it immoral (there being no other choice given the constraint just mentioned), and to have made known his opposition to the policy. (This despite the fact that most competent, adult Americans know viscerally or from experience that the median-voter theorem is hooey — more about that below — and that it would therefore have been a waste of their time to get worked up about a policy that wasn’t unambiguously immoral. Further, they were and are rightly reluctant to align themselves with howling mobs and biased media — even by implication, as in a letter to the editor — in protest of a policy that wasn’t unambiguously immoral.)
  • Then, X (which wasn’t on a ballot) would have been rescinded, pursuant to the median-voter theorem (or, properly, the outraged/vociferous-pollee/protester-biased pollster/media theorem). (Except that X wasn’t, in fact, rescinded despite massive outpourings of outrage by small fractions of the populace, which were gleefully reflected in biased polls and reported by biased media. Nor was it rescinded by implication when President Bush was up for re-election — he won. It might have been rescinded by implication when the Bush was succeeded by Obama — an opponent of X — but there were many reasons other than X for Obama’s victory: mainly the financial crisis, McCain’s lame candidacy, and a desire by many voters to signal — to themselves, at least — their non-racism by voting for Obama. And X wasn’t doing all that badly at the time of Obama’s election because of the troop “surge” authorized by Bush. Further, Obama’s later attempt to rescind X had consequences that caused him to reverse his attempted rescission, regardless of any lingering opposition to X.)

What about other salient, non-ballot issues? Does “public opinion” make a difference? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Obamacare, for example, was widely opposed until it was enacted by Congress and signed into law by Obama. It suddenly became popular because much of the populace wants to be on the “winning side” of an issue. (So much for the moral value of public opinion.) Similarly, abortion was widely deemed to be immoral until the Supreme Court legalized it. Suddenly, it began to become acceptable according to “public opinion”. I could go on an on, but you get the idea: Public opinion often follows policy rather than leading it, and its moral value is dubious in any event.

But what about cases where government policy shifted in the aftermath of widespread demonstrations and protests? Did demonstrations and protests lead to the enactment of the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s? Did they cause the U.S. government to surrender, in effect, to North Vietnam? No and no. From where I sat — and I was a politically aware, voting-age, adult American of the “liberal” persuasion at the time of those events — public opinion had little effect on the officials who were responsible for the Civil Rights Acts or the bug-out from Vietnam.

The civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s didn’t yield results until years after their inception. And those results didn’t (at the time, at least) represent the views of most Americans who (I submit) were either indifferent or hostile to the advancement of blacks and to the anti-patriotic undertones of the anti-war movement. In both cases, mass protests were used by the media (and incited by the promise of media attention) to shame responsible officials into acting as media elites wanted them to.

Further, it is a mistake to assume that the resulting changes in law (writ broadly to include policy) were necessarily good changes. The stampede to enact civil-rights laws in the 1960s, which hinged not so much on mass protests but on LBJ”s “white guilt” and powers of persuasion, resulted in the political suppression of an entire region, the loss of property rights, and the denial of freedom of association. (See, for example, Christopher Caldwell’s “The Roots of Our Partisan Divide“, Imprimis, February 2020.)

The bug-out from Vietnam foretold the U.S. government’s fecklessness in the Iran hostage crisis; the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Lebanon after the bombing of Marine barracks there; the failure of G.H.W. Bush to depose Saddam when it would have been easy to do so; the legalistic response to the World Trade Center bombing; the humiliating affair in Somalia; Clinton’s failure to take out Osama bin Laden; Clinton’s tepid response to Saddam’s provocations; nation-building (vice military occupation) in Iraq; and Obama’s attempt to pry defeat from the jaws of something resembling victory in Iraq.

All of that, and more, is symptomatic of the influence that “liberal” elites came to exert on American foreign and defense policy after World War II. Public opinion has been a side show, and protestors have been useful idiots to the cause of “liberal internationalism”, that is, the surrender of Americans’ economic and security interests for the sake of various rapprochements toward “allies” who scorn America when it veers ever so slightly from the road to serfdom, and enemies — Russia and China — who have never changed their spots, despite “liberal” wishful thinking. Handing America’s manufacturing base to China in the name of free trade is of a piece with all the rest.

IN CONCLUSION . . .

It is irresponsible to call a policy immoral without evaluating all of its predicates and consequences. One might as well call the Allied leaders of World War II immoral because they chose war — with all of its predictably terrible consequences — rather than abject surrender.

It is fatuous to ascribe immorality to anyone who was supportive of or indifferent to the war. One might as well ascribe immorality to the economic and political ignoramuses who failed to see that FDR’s policies would prolong the Great Depression, that Social Security and its progeny (Medicare and Medicaid) would become entitlements that paved the way for the central government’s commandeering of vast portions of the economy, or that the so-called social safety net would discourage work and permanently depress economic growth in America.

If I were in the business of issuing moral judgments about the Iraq War, I would condemn the strident anti-war faction for its perfidy.

Election 2020: Modified Betting Propositions

In “Election 2020: Some Betting Propositions“, I laid out the terms of a bet that I had proposed to correspondent who is a “conservative” collabo. The underlying conditions — Democrat control of the White House and Congress — may not be met, at least not in 2021-2023. But the day will come, and Americans will rue it.

So, what will happen if Biden is elected but the GOP still controls the Senate and is able to prevent the left from enacting some of its agenda? Plenty. I have gleaned some examples from the blogosphere (links at the bottom of this post), and here they are:

Stopping construction of the border wall by not requesting funds for it, not reapportioning funds to it, and canceling all work in progress.

Encouraging illegal immigration (e.g., lax enforcement, reinstatement of DACA) to reopen the floodgates at the southern border.

Issuing executive orders that reverse the economic recovery in the name of combating COVID-19.

Rejoining the Paris climate scam, severely restricting U.S. oil production and the use of fossil fuels, and promoting “renewable” energy through  executive-regulatory actions, which will have almost zero effect on the climate and make Americans generally poorer and more miserable. (A full-bore legislative package — if Biden could get it passed — would be disastrous.)

Reinstating U.S. support of WHO, a corrupt pro-China, anti-life operation.

Reinstating Obama’s supine, America-last foreign policy. In particular, reinstating the Iran nuclear deal and resuming the shipment of bales of money to Iran to finance its “peaceful” nuclear research, continue to build its regional military prowess, and acquire the means to strike the U.S. with missiles; and ilting strongly in favor of radical Islam and Palestine, and strongly against Israel, which will foment conflict in the Middle East.

Progressing further toward thought control by encouraging more and stricter pro=left censorship by internet-based purveyors of “news” and anti-social media.

Advancing “critical race theory”, which blames whites for all of the miseries of blacks, many of which are self-inflicted by black culture, and others of which are due to innate racial differences in intelligence.

Actively pursuing extra-legal “punishment” of Trump’s allies and supporters.

Using the Justice Department to further erode law and order in the United States by hamstringing police departments.

Not mentioned at any of links below, but a key proposition from my earlier post: Diminution of America’s armed forces in the face of increasing adventurism by Russia and China — thus encouraging even more and bolder moves by those countries against American’s interests. This is a move that Harris-Biden can make unilaterally by slashing defense budgets submitted to Congress, and which the House can help to attain by holding the defense budget hostage until the Senate acquiesces in the cuts.

And one more crucial thing. Harris-Biden will openly flout rulings by the Supreme Court when such rulings conflict with the regime’s policies. (This is something that Trump/Hitler never did.)

I will package these items as a proposed bet for my correspondent. He will probably decline to take the bet (as he declined my earlier offer) because, in his ostrich-like way he doesn’t want to acknowledge the damage that Harris-Biden will do to the nation. He couldn’t see past his Trump hatred.

I will end this on a more pleasant note, with a link to Joy Pullman’s post at The Federalist, “12 Ways For Trump To Bomb The Battlefield While Biden Claims The Presidency” (November 10, 2020).


Links:

Carina Benton, “Totalitarian Left Promises Purges And Punishment For All Trump Voters“, The Federalist, November 10, 2020

Sam Dorman and Hillary Vaughn, “Biden Plans to Rejoin Paris Agreement, WHO, and Undo Other Trump Decisions on Day 1“, Fox News, November 9, 2020

Tilak Doshi, “The Coming Energy Shocks Under a Biden Administration“, Forbes, November 11, 2020

David Gerstman, “Former Biden Aide: Rejoining Nuclear Deal Is ‘High’ on Biden’s Agenda“, Legal Insurrection, November 10, 2020

Fred Lucas, “7 Big Items on Biden’s White House Agenda“, The Daily Signal, November 8, 2020

Heather Mac Donald, “The Biden Threat to Law Enforcement“, City Journal, November 10, 2020

Steve Postal, “How a Biden–Harris Administration Would Unravel Middle East Peace “, The American Spectator, November 10, 2020

Jarrett Stepman, “Biden Would Likely Issue Flurry of Executive Orders on Climate, Abortion, Immigration“, The Daily Signal, November 10, 2020

Jonathan Turley (eponymous blog), “Shredding The Fabric Of Our Democracy’: Biden Aide Signals Push For Greater Censorship On The Internet“, November 10, 2020

Francis Menton, “How Much Damage Can Biden Do to America with His Climate Plan?“, Manhattan Contrarian, November 14, 2020

Eugene Volokh, “Biden Transition Team Member’s Op-Ed on ‘Why America Needs a Hate-Speech Law’“, The Volokh Conspiracy, November 17, 2020

Frances Martel, “Six Disastrous Obama-Era Foreign Policies Set to Return Under Biden“, Breitbart, November 26, 2020

Art Keller, “Will Biden Resurrect the Iran Deal?“, Quillette, November 29, 2020

Election 2020: What Will the Supreme Court Do?

Here’s my guess. Roberts, who has shown animus toward the Trump administration in some of his opinions will join the “liberals” — Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan — in decisions that favor Biden. Many commentators will simply ascribe Roberts’s rulings to his desire to maintain an appearance that the Court is non-political. They will also ascribe to him a desire to fend off court-packing by making it seem less threatening to Democrats, despite its supposed conservative majority. The mainstream media will simply ignore or minimized Roberts’s animus.

But Roberts plus the three lefties do not a majority make. So how will Roberts achieve his real objective, which is to remove Trump from office? He will appeal to Gorsuch, who seems to march to a different drummer than the Court’s real conservatives (Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh, and Barrett). “Neil”, he’ll say, “here’s our chance to reassure the Democrats, who would surround us with their lackeys, that we aren’t rubber stamps for Republican policies.” And so Gorsuch will join Roberts and the lefties, for an anti-Trump majority. And perhaps (though I doubt it) Roberts will be able to recruit Kavanaugh or Barrett to the cause of making the Court seem to be above partisan politics. (Ironically, that’s precisely what Roberts will be engaged in, and everyone will know it.)

And so, Trump will lose despite evidence of massive election fraud in key Democrat-controlled States. And when the Democrats next get their hands on the Senate, court-packing will proceed apace, and Roberts will be an impotent chief justice who is dominated by the Court’s new, permanent left wing.

Election 2020: When Will the Winner Be Known?

Who knows? But the results from a few States in the Eastern time zone may tell the tale. Look at the results reported by late Tuesday and compare them with Trump’s performance in 2016.

The following information is borrowed from The New York Times and Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections.

Maine (polls close at 8 p.m. EST):

Officials are not expecting delays processing mail ballots. As of Sunday, the vast majority of absentee ballots had been returned.

Trump won 48 percent of the two-party vote in 2016.

New Hampshire (most polls close at 7 p.m. EST):

No information provided about counting mail ballots, but New Hampshire is a small State.

Trump won just under 50 percent of the two-party vote in 2016.

North Carolina (polls close at 7:30 p.m. EST)

Early votes and processed mail ballots, which are likely to be relatively stronger for Biden, will be reported around 7:30 p.m. Election Day results, which are likely to be relatively stronger for Trump, will be reported between 8:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. As of Monday, officials estimate that 97 percent of ballots cast will be reported on election night. Although postmarked ballots can arrive as late as November 12, a clear winner may emerge on election night.

Trump won 52 percent of the two-party vote in 2016.

In general, look to States where most of the ballots have been counted by, say, midnight on election night and compare Trump’s percentage of the two-party vote in those States with the results for 2016. You can guesstimate the outcome by adding and subtracting electoral votes from Trump’s tally in 2016:

If it’s a blowout for Trump or Biden, mostly complete returns by late Tuesday or early Wednesday should tell the tale. If it’s too close to call, look for an election that’s decided in the Supreme Court.

Election 2020: A Penultimate Prognostication

Tomorrow I will issue a firm prediction about the outcome of the presidential election of 2020. I will base the prediction on the indicators discussed below.

The mood of the electorate was rising sharply in 2012 when Obama was re-elected. Recently, the mood has risen sharply from its COVID-induced depths, which is a good sign for Trump:

Trump’s standing with likely voters has, as measured by Rasmussen Reports, has rebounded to levels well above those attained by Obama at the same point in 2012:

According to White House Watch at Rasmussen Reports, which nailed Clinton’s popular-vote edge four years ago, Biden is not out-performing Clinton:

Biden’s narrow lead and Trump’s standing with likely voters translates into a slight edge in the electoral vote:

If I were calling the election today, I would call it for Trump — subject to the caveat that the outcomes in some key States may well hinge on decisions rendered by Democrat-appointed judges.

Election 2020: Gallup’s Timely Departure

Gallup isn’t polling Election 2020. It’s polling a lot of related things, but not voters’ preferences as between Trump and Biden. Why is that? It seems that Gallup abandoned the business of presidential prognostication after its poor (but not uniquely poor) sounding of the 2016 presidential election.

Gallup’s final poll had Clinton leading Trump by 4 percentage points, 46 to 42. A 4-point spread surely meant that Clinton would win. But Trump won, despite Clinton’s final 2-point “victory” in the mythical nationwide popular vote. (Why? See this.) Trump exceeded Gallup’s final estimate by 4 percentage points while Clinton bettered it by only 2 percentage points. Game, set, and match to Trump.

It was only the second time since Gallup’s first presidential poll in 1936 that Gallup recorded a clear failure. The first time was when Gallup had Dewey ahead of Truman 50-45 in the 1948 race.

There were several races in which Gallup’s final spread was 2 percentage points or less, so failure in those cases could be attributed to sampling error. Even in those cases, the candidate who was ahead, in Gallup’s estimation, lost only once: Gerald Ford in 1976.

Gallup’s departure signaled a realization that polling had become too fraught with uncertainty because (a) voters have become increasingly reluctant to respond to pollsters. And among those that do, there are more and more voters who are unwilling to divulge their true preferences (e.g., “shy” Trump supporters).

Election 2020 confirms the wisdom of Gallup’s departure from the field. Almost all of the pollsters, including the highly overrated FiveThirtyEight, are predicting victory for Biden. This comes in the face of huge pro-Trump crowds, a late swing toward Trump in Iowa, unusual endorsements of Trump (e.g. police unions, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), and Trump’s standing in an unbiased poll, that of Rasmussen Reports.

I’m not quite ready to say that Trump will win. But the outcome will be a lot closer than FiveThirtyEight et al. would like it to be. (Yes,”like” is the proper word.) I will issue my final prediction on the morning of Tuesday, November 3.

Election 2020: Daily Forecast of Electoral Votes

UPDATED 10/31/20 — IT’S TIED AGAIN.

As of yesterday:

The estimates represented in this graph reflect Trump’s daily strong approval/strong disapproval ratio (derived from the Daily Presidential Tracking Poll at Rasmussen Reports), the relationship between that ratio and Trump’s share of the popular vote (based on White House Watch at Rasmussen Reports), and the relationship between share of popular vote and number of electoral votes (see this).


Previous posts in this series:

Liberty Is at Stake

The Dark Side Is on the March

Keep Your Eye on Rasmussen Reports

The GOP’s Edge in the Electoral College

Some Betting Propositions

Don’t Believe What You Read about Biden’s “Lead” in the Polls

Deja Vu?

Election 2020: Don’t Believe What You Read about Biden’s “Lead” in the Polls

I have read commentary to the effect that Biden is in better shape now than Clinton was at this point in 2016 because he has a bigger lead in the polls than Clinton did. I believe that observation is flawed because it seems to rely on conglomerations of polls (like those tracked by RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight), the quality and composition of which varies from day to day, and which has probably changed a lot since 2016.

I follow White House Watch at Rasmussen Reports. It’s superior to most polls because it’s a tracking poll that samples the same group of likely voters throughout a campaign. I suspect (but don’t know for sure) that there’s a lot of overlap between the 2016 sample and the 2020 sample.

The graph below compares Clinton’s and Biden’s lead or deficits against Trump, given the number of days left before election day. As that day draws nigh, Biden is actually doing worse than Clinton.

Notably, the final Rasmussen poll in 2016 hit the popular vote gap right on the head: Clinton “won” the mythical nationwide popular vote by 2 percentage points. And it did her no good because her popular-vote “victory” was the result of lopsided outcomes in deep-Blue States (e.g., California), where extra popular votes didn’t translate into extra electoral votes. I expect the same kind of result this year, though some of the States that went narrowly for Trump in 2016 may flip in 2020.