Monday, March 02, 2020

On Voting In The California Primary, Early Voting, Super Tuesday & Why Bernie Cannot Beat Donald Trump

Joe Biden - The Only Sane Choice for 2020
The Dividist will be casting his California vote for Joe Biden on Super Tuesday in the Democratic primary on the day of election. We understand why some would prefer the convenience of early voting and absentee ballots when and if you know you will not be able to cast your vote on election day. What we don't understand is why anyone would cast an early ballot if they don't have to, with a primary season as fluid and dynamic as the Democratic Presidential Primary in 2020.

If You Don't Have To Vote Early, Early Voting is Silly

Things change. Early voting opened in California a full month before the vote on March 3rd. In that time we've seen: Caucuses in Iowa and Nevada; Primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina; Three Democratic Debates, Michael Bennet, Andrew Yang, Deval Patrick, Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar all drop out of the race; The President deliver his State of the Union address; The President acquitted by the Senate in an impeachment trial; and 95% of humanity wiped out by the Corona virus (estimate based on media coverage). What if you cast an early vote for Andrew Yang and then died from the Corona virus? Did you waste your vote? Should it even count if you voted early and were dead on election day?

If You Are A Cult Of Personality Acolyte, It's Okay To Vote Early

I understand why you would cast your vote early IF you are a Bernie Sanders cultist. After all, he is THE ONE, so nothing that actually happened in the last month, last week, last day, last hour, or going forward is ever going to change your vote. However, if you are looking for a return to normalcy and competence in the White House by ensuring that Donald Trump is not reelected, it would have been prudent to watch developments before casting your vote too early.

Which is why we were pleased to read this in Politico:
“People in Super Tuesday states and California, in particular, are not returning their ballots yet,” said Danielle Cendejas, a Democratic strategist in California whose firm did campaign mail for both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. “They’re waiting for a signal, and I think this is a signal. If you were debating between which of the Democrats who aren’t Bernie Sanders or even Elizabeth Warren to throw your hat behind, you’re probably going Joe Biden’s way.
Unless You Don't Care If Donald Trump Is Reelected, Voting For Bernie Sanders is Stupid

Incumbent Presidents have a huge electoral advantage and are usually reelected. A sitting President holds a powerful platform to influence public opinion. They can and do wield the power of the office to enact policy and influence constituencies to garner support and undermine opposition. We know that President Trump will utilize every angle he can, legal or not, ethical or not, seemly or not, to win at any cost. That's what Democrats and #NeverTrumpers are up against.

There is a very narrow Electoral College path for a Democratic candidate to defeat Donald Trump. You can see the path by comparing Barack Obama's 2012 Electoral College 126 vote win (332-206)...

2012 Electoral College Results

... to Hillary Clinton's 2016 Electoral College 74 vote defeat (232 - 306):

2016 Electoral College Results
Hat/Tip to @TheValuesVoter for the graphics and analysis
The difference between the 2012 and 2016 elections are six states and one congressional district -  Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Maine’s 2nd district.

That's it. That is the only path. To win the White House the Democratic Ticket must hold all of the 2016 Blue States and take back enough of the six states lost to Trump to win the Electoral College (For ease of analysis we'll ignore Maine's CD-2). And Democrats need to retake those six states while the Trump administration, Trump campaign, and Trump Organization are using the power of the Presidency in concert with every dirty trick in the book to hold those states and flip New Mexico, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Nevada from Blue to Red. It's a problem.

How does Bernie Sanders solve the puzzle? How does he win? Let's just pretend that he can hold all of the 2016 Clinton blue states. Stipulated. He won't, but let's pretend he does. We'll even give him back all of Maine's 4 split electoral votes. Let's just focus on the six states Trump flipped in 2016.

Of the six, the state with the most electoral votes is Florida with 29. Obama won Florida. Clinton lost Florida. Bernie has already lost Florida before the General Election even begins because of this:

"Sanders praises some of Castro's policies, angering Republicans and Democrats in Florida"
"By singing the praises of aspects of Cuba's communist regime during a prime-time interview Sunday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled off the unimaginable: uniting Republicans and Democrats in the notoriously divided swing state of Florida. 
That unlikely union springs from long-standing fears of socialism in the Sunshine State, home to so many exiled Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans who fled socialist regimes in their home countries and make up an ever-growing size of the electorate in Florida."
Take Florida's 29 Electoral Votes off the map. Poof. Gone. 

Pennsylvania is the next largest with 20 electoral votes and Bernie is committed to banning fracking so... kiss another 20 Electoral votes goodbye:

"Proposals To Ban Fracking Could [EDIT: "Will"] Hurt Democrats In Key States"
"In a swing state like Pennsylvania, a major gas producer, fracking and energy are key issues. Even a small segment of voters swayed one way or another could change the election. "Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes in 2016 were decided by about 44,000 votes, or less than 1% of the electorate in that race," says Chris Borick, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. He thinks the effect of a candidate's relatively aggressive environmental policies shouldn't be underestimated."
"Sanders’ Proposed Fracking Ban Would Cost Him Pennsylvania And Probably The Election"
"Fracking has brought a flood of new jobs to the state and to this day there are still more openings than they can find people to fill them... Additionally, landowners with property sitting on the Marcellus shale deposits have been able to sign leases with the oil and gas industry bringing them much needed income. All of that adds up to a net positive for Pennsylvania residents. If you promise to eliminate all of that activity as President, it’s a safe bet that voters will turn out in support of Donald Trump once again in November.  
To a lesser extent, there is also fracking in Ohio, primarily in the eastern part of the state. The same situation exists there in terms of jobs and leasing opportunities. If you start your presidential run with a move that will likely cost you Pennsylvania and Ohio, the path to victory suddenly narrows drastically."
In 2016 Clinton lost to Trump by almost half a million votes in Ohio. It's going to be a tough climb for any Democrat to reclaim the state, but if Democrats nominate a candidate that wants to undermine the fracking boom in Eastern Ohio while increasing energy costs for everyone else... well, that's 18 more potential electoral votes shot to hell.

A fracking ban policy position is not only batshit insane political malpractice on a suicidal level, it is not good environmental policy. The fracking revolution opening vast energy reserves of cheaper and cleaner natural gas and is the very reason coal power plants are being closed or converted. Fracking is the reason that the USA has led the developed world in reducing our carbon footprint in recent decades when nothing else has. In addition, fracking has provided enormous economic benefit and the subsequent US energy independence improves national security. A fracking ban is bad environmental policy, bad economics policy and criminally bad politics:

"The Arithmetic Of Fracking"
The increased use of natural gas at the expense of coal has lowered the nation’s CO2 emissions absolutely and by a net 150 million metric tons in 2019, according to a Rhodium Group study and projections by the Energy Information Agency... Banning fracking will likely lead to unemployment and higher prices for heating, electricity and gasoline, and even more emissions—bad outcomes for politicians running for office."
So where does that leave us? If Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania stay red (and they will if Sanders is the nominee), it's game over. Even if Sanders can pick up Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa (which he won't) - Trump is re-elected.

Look. I understand the Sanders campaign pitch. That somehow Bernie will excite a youth vote and motivate a new constituency of previously disillusioned non-voters to suddenly decide they will get off their ass and cast meaningful votes for the first time in history.

The Sanders Youth Vote Myth

There is only one problem with the Sanders story. Through the four contests so far, there is absolutely no evidence that this massive mystery vote is out there and a lot of evidence that it is a complete mirage - as outlined in this excellent and detailed Vox explainer:
"Sanders himself has been clear that his strategy for beating Trump is to massively boost turnout, especially among young people — and young people in our data indeed say they would turn out at much higher rates for him. But for Sanders to do as well as a moderate Democrat against Trump in November by stimulating youth turnout, his nomination would need to boost turnout of young left-leaning voters enormously... 
There is no way to be sure whether Sanders’s nomination would produce this historic youth turnout surge — but it seems doubtful. Turnout in the 2020 primaries so far has not exceeded 2008 levels, including among young voters. If anything, research suggests the opposite is more likely to occur: In response to an extreme Democratic nominee, Republicans could be inspired to turn out at higher rates to oppose him... What if Sanders’s nomination doesn’t stimulate youth turnout enough to offset the votes it would lose to Trump? In an academic working paper based on this survey, we consider this possibility... 
The gamble Democrats supporting Sanders based on his early polls against Trump must be ready to make is that, despite the evidence to the contrary, the lowest-participating segment of the electorate will turn out at remarkably high rates because Sanders is nominated."
Sanders beating Trump is completely delusional. If you want to vote for Sanders because he aligns with your extreme progressive views, or because you believe he will lead you to the promised land, or because you want a "political revolution",  Hey! Knock yourself out!

But if you want to defeat Trump in November, take the needle out of your arm and Vote for Joe Biden.

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