Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Georgia on my (two) mind(s)... Preference & Prediction

Georgia Senate Runoff
 "Other arms reach out to me..." 

Apologies in advance for utilizing the same overused "Georgia On My Mind" cliché title used by everyone else opining on the Georgia election. But, to paraphrase Yossarian in Catch-22, "If everyone else is doing it, I'd be a damn fool to do anything else." 

We're less than a week until the Georgia Senate runoff. No telling how long before we know the results. The election will determine partisan control of the Senate and whether we will have a Divided Government or a Unified One Party Rule Democratic Government for the next two years. The Dividist prognosticates and the Dividist has preferences. Sometimes they align. Sometimes they don't. First our preference... 

Dividist Georgia Runoff Preference:

There are three possible 2021-22 federal government outcomes for the Georgia Senate runoffs. Our preference has not changed since our election eve endorsement

"The Dividist Endorsement: Vote for Joe Biden and/or if you're a Republican who can't quite get there, vote #NeverTrump for a return to normalcy. Vote to retain a GOP Senate majority for the oversight and legislative restraint that only a divided government can provide.  Vote to protect the legislative filibuster, prevent expansion of the Supreme Court, and defend the Biden Administration's left flank from the moonbat fringe." 

The three possible outcomes stack ranked in order of Dividist preference:

  1. Divided Government with a 1 seat GOP Senate majority.
  2. Divided Government with a 2 seat GOP Senate majority. 
  3. 50-50 Unified One Party Rule Democratic Government with VP Harris tiebreaker.

We prefer divided government for all the usual reasons. We'd like to see Georgia voters split the two seats, leave Mitch McConnell with a one seat majority and Utah Senator Mitt Romney the swing vote in the Senate. With a one seat majority McConnell would also need to worry about any "centrish" Senator (Romney? Collins? Murkowski?) switching to Independent and caucusing with the Democrats. That should keep Mitch treading lightly.

Our second choice is for the GOP to hold both seats, again because we always prefer divided government, but that outcome is less good because it doesn't put McConnell on enough of a knife edge.

All that said, the Dividist will not be too upset if the Democrats take both seats and have a 50/50 + VP Harris tiebreaker majority for the next two years. In that eventuality, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin will be the swing vote. Despite pressure from the progressive fringe, Manchin will keep the Democrats in line:

"West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III wants to make clear that he will not be the 50th vote in favor of eliminating the legislative filibuster or expanding the size of the Supreme Court in a potential 50-50 Senate."
Senator Joe Manchin has credibility on these questions. As we've noted before, Manchin is the only current sitting Democrat in the Senate who voted against Harry Reid nuking the judicial filibuster in 2013. That was the vote that started us down this slippery slope in the Senate. Unlike 2013, this time Manchin's vote is enough to make the difference. And if Schumer tries to take the Democrats too far afield, Manchin could improve his reelection chances in West Virginia by switching parties and putting McConnell and the Republicans back into the majority. It's just that kind of balance that appeals to the Dividist.

Which goes to say that, while we have a preference, we're not going to be exercised regardless of how it turns out. The fact is, despite the hysterical hyperbole of both parties, this is not a critically important election. As such, the Dividist will take sympathy on the abused voters of Georgia and not contribute to the political advertising madness unfolding in that state right now. We recommend everyone else do the same. You're welcome, Georgia. On to the predictions:

Dividist Georgia Runoff Prediction:

Some caveats. The Dividist predictions have been pretty darn good this cycle. We have receipts. Now that it's legal, the Dividist opened a Prediction Market account on PredictIt and placed a few bets before the election. So far so good:

Dividist Predicts Election Outcomes

We've already collected on Biden winning POTUS, Harris winning VP (not shown), and we're winning the "Balance of Power" (D POTUS, D House, R Senate), and "Net Change in Senate Seats" (D plus 2) predictions. We also placed a longshot prediction that Trump will not finish his term, betting that he would resign to get a pardon from Pence. That one is not looking so good, but we still have 3 weeks to go. TBD. 

Also, this is the electoral map we predicted on election eve:

The reader will note that the Dividist got every state right, except Georgia. That did not stop us from doubling down on Georgia a short time later:
So let's just stipulate right here and now that the Dividist does not have any fucking idea what he is talking about when it comes to Georgia politics. And with that disclosure we'll make our prediction.

We think the Republicans are likely to take both seats. Here's why:

In the regular Senate election there were 3 candidates on the ballot....

  • David Perdue R 2,462,617 49.7%
  • Jon Ossoff D 2,374,519 47.9%
  • Shane Hazel L    115,039 2.3%

... and there are two candidates still standing. If we split that Libertarian vote 60/40 for Republican Perdue (based on libertarians preferring divided government), then Perdue beats Ossoff by 111,000 votes - 51.1% to 48.9%.*

For the special Senate election we have a bit more complexity, as there were 6 Republicans, 8 Democrats, 4 Independents, and 1 each Green and Libertarian running in the race. So we'll give Loeffler the total Republican vote, half the Independents and again 60% of the Libertarians. We'll give Warnock the Democrats, the Greens, half the Indies, and 40% of the Libertarians. Loeffler beats Warnock by 39,601 votes - 50.4% to 49.6%*

Obviously, that margin is razor thin. If it's that close, we'll probably get another recount and more drama. But, there are many reasons to believe it could go the other way and Warnock could win.  Among them: The President and his "legal" team are seemingly trying to depress GOP turnout support; Libertarians and Independents just might not show up; We may see greater turnout and support for Warnock by the African American vote; and there is the simple fact that Loeffler is just a piss-poor, unlikable candidate. 

Nate Silver also suggests that our simple arithmetic approach is not the best way to analyze the election. In an exhaustive on this hand... on the other hand... on the other other hand... analysis, he explains  "Why A Split Verdict in Georgia Isn't That Crazy":
Even with many prestigious pollsters sitting the Georgia runoffs out, there have been plenty of polls of the two U.S. Senate runoffs and they continue to show an exceptionally close race. As of Tuesday afternoon, Democrat Raphael Warnock had a nominal lead of 0.5 percentage points over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the special Senate election, while Republican Sen. David Perdue had an equally slim 0.4-point lead over Democrat Jon Ossoff in the regular Senate election. We aren’t planning to make probabilistic forecasts in Georgia, but it’s safe to say that a “polls-only” view of the runoffs would put each race at about 50:50.
So flip a coin. Then flip it twice and it could easily come up heads and tails. Meaning - there is a reasonable chance for Georgians to split this vote, and for the Dividist to get the prediction wrong but realize his preferred outcome. It could happen. Regardless, there is enough Centrist ballast in the Senate to keep the ship of state stable for the next two years. On January 5th the Dividist will have his feet up and popcorn ready. 

Finally, it's worth noting that the bigger impact of the Georgia special election may very well may be in 2022. As we've explained before, in the entire 164 year history of Republicans and Democrats competing for electoral dominance, the House of Representatives has never flipped against a divided government in a midterm election. Never. Not even once. If the Republicans retain the Senate and divided government, history says the Democrats will retain the House in 2022. But, if the Democrats take both Georgia Senate seats and unified control of the government, it is very possible, even likely, that they will lose their narrow 9 seat majority in the House in the midterms. 'Nuff said. 

We'll leave the 2022 predictions to a future post and wrap this up with a musical interlude:

* Your mileage may vary. Past performance does not necessarily predict future results. All predictions subject to change without notice. Some assembly required. Avoid alcoholic beverages while using these predictions. Fasten your seat belt. Elections are closer than they appear. Maintain social media distancing and wear a mask. If you have an erection lasting more than four hours call a doctor.

Cross posted on Medium 

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