Election 2016: Potential outcomes

If you only watch TV news and know nothing about electoral politics, you might think there are only two possible outcomes on election night: Clinton wins, or Trump wins. Those of us who study these things and have thus been in a Xanax coma for months know otherwise. Here are a few ways the election could go down, with probabilities included.

Narrow Clinton win

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Based on simple state polling averages, Hillary Clinton is likely to have enough votes to be elected the 45th President of the United States on Tuesday night. RealClearPolitics currently expects that to be with 301 electoral votes, well shy of President Obama’s 332-vote majority four years ago, but enough to get the job done.

Probability: 80%

Narrow Trump win

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However, if just two key states flip, Trump could actually pull it off. Clinton leads in Florida on average right now, but a couple polls there have Trump leading or tied instead. In New Hampshire most polls show Trump ahead, but one large outlier has pulled Clinton up in the average. If Trump wins just those two states, he could walk away with exactly enough votes to win.

Probability: 20%

Early voting in Louisiana still leans Democratic, but maybe not for long

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Early voting results, which only provides voter demographics and not ballot choices, is often used as electoral tea leaves, to try to divine trends or predictions before election day. Louisiana’s early and absentee voting ended this week, so I took a look at the numbers from the Secretary of State’s office to see who the state’s eager beavers are.

This year, 517,614 people early voted in Louisiana, 31% more than in 2012, and 43% more than in 2008. Early voting is clearly a growing phenomenon, at least here, though there are similar reports of records being broken across the country.

Of those, 38% were Republicans, 44% were Democrats, and 16% were Libertarians, Greens, other parties, or unaffiliated voters. Before you take this to mean Hillary is going to win one of the reddest of red states, let’s take a look at prior years.

Four years ago, early voting was a little bluer. In 2012, 50% were Democrats, 34% Republicans, and 14% other. I shouldn’t need to remind you that Louisiana was still very, very red in 2012. Romney won 57% of the total vote to Obama’s 40%. Even though Democrats had a majority of the early vote, Republicans still took the total vote by a huge margin due to election day turnout.

Four years before that, early voting was bluer still. In 2008, 57% were Democrats, 28% were Republicans, and 13% other. That year, McCain beat Obama 58 to 39.

At least in Lousiana, early voting demographics don’t seem to be predictive of either party’s total vote share. As Republicans have increased their early voting share significantly, by 6-7 points each cycle, their total share of the total presidential vote has remained about the same.

Surprising no one, music festivals this year are anti-Trump

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This past weekend I attended VoodooFest as a music fan. With just over a week until election day, the politics swirling around the event would probably have enabled me to attend with a press pass instead.

Amidst the many tawdry and debaucherous Halloween costumes worn by the mostly Millennial crowd, there were a few Trumps and Hillarys. There were also the obligatory Planned Parenthood propaganda volunteers outside the gate.

While there was no official politicking by campaigns or companies inside the City Park venue, the artists performing on stage didn’t hold back their opinions.

Over the course of the weekend at least two artists, one a rapper, one a DJ, led their jubilant audiences in anti-Trump chants. I wasn’t in either of those audiences myself, but the chorus could easily be heard across the sprawling park.

Why I will no longer wear my “Hillary for Prison” shirt

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Hillary Clinton has broken the law. FBI Director Comey admitted as much when he announced he would not recommend pressing charges against her for mishandling classified information on her records regulation-skirting private email server. I think she should have been charged and faced justice, and so do a majority of Americans.

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But there’s a difference between facing justice and political prisoners. We don’t convict defendants based on a majority vote…yet.

In the second presidential debate, Donald Trump said that if he were president that Clinton would be in jail. Shortly before that he said he would direct his attorney general to use a special prosecutor to investigate her. Which is it? Would he investigate her, or would he convict her? The difference is crucial.

He might say that under a different attorney general or FBI director of his choosing, charges would have been recommended and Clinton indicted. That still doesn’t guarantee a conviction or jail time, which he did before a television audience of tens of millions of voters, even if flippantly.

Snowden goes Hollywood, then goes live

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Usually when an internet video feed cuts out, the people watching sigh, grumble, or curse their bad luck. When the live feed cut out from Edward Snowden being interviewed after the Fathom Events early preview of Oliver Stone’s film depicting the last few years of Snowden’s life, audiences around the nation gasped. Had they finally caught him? Did a drone strike take out his secret hideout in Russia, as the movie showed happening to anonymous targets via video in an NSA base?

Fortunately not, or unfortunately depending on your opinion of the now world famous surveillance leaker. A few seconds later when he came back on screen the power of Hollywood was proven viscerally. A simple computer glitch had rendered audiences horrified in the immediate context of such a dramatic film.

And dramatic it was. Stone is undeniably an auteur behind the camera, whether you agree with his perspective of his subject or not. And he chooses those subjects carefully. Snowden himself was portrayed expertly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who took on his speech, mannerisms, and look brilliantly, sometimes making me forget it was even a fictional portrayal at all.

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In order to add a personal dimension to the cold, heartless world of data analysis and global surveillance, Stone focused on how the things Snowden learned, and hid until ultimately revealing them, affected his relationship with his still-girlfriend Lindsay Mills, played prosaicly by Shailene Woodley, and even his own health. After the film, Snowden himself lamented that the press had treated Mills as an “ornament” in his story, not knowing what else to do with an attractive woman in this kind of discussion. Stone’s film did a lot to give a relatable personality to someone most of us have only ever seen in photos published to add additional controversy to Snowden’s story.

Opinion: Gun Control Negatively Effects Minorities

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Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post has a nearly unblemished track record of offering up hard-hitting, powerful, emotional editorials which assess America’s most pressing issues and are almost always…wrong. Last week’s anti-gun, anti-police commentary, “In America, gun rights are for whites only” was no exception.

Robinson starts off by regurgitating the inflammatory leftist narrative of a police-driven war on young black men, claiming “If you are a black man in America, exercising your constitutional right to keep and bear arms can be fatal. You might think that the National Rifle Association and its amen chorus would be outraged, but apparently they believe Second Amendment rights are for whites only.”

And that is where he goes off the rails. He is reflexively programmed to see everything through the prism of race, even when race has little or no bearing on an issue or incident.

Regarding the supposed apathy of the NRA towards gun-owning minorities, he is just flat wrong. It was a black man, Otis McDonald, who was aided by the NRA as he sued the City of Chicago for unlawful infringements of his 2nd Amendment rights. McDonald, 76 (in 2010, when the case was decided by the Supreme Court) was refused permission to own a handgun for self-defense, despite living in a neighborhood infested with drug dealers and gangbangers. His home had been robbed five times, but he was denied the ability to defend himself. The NRA helped McDonald win a landmark case for individual gun rights.

Dozens Injured in Weekend “Narrative Fight” With Islamic Terrorists

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In Aeneid, the epic by the ancient Greek poet Virgil, the story is told of how the Greeks defeated the Trojans through the use of stratagem. As the story goes, the Greeks, after a decade-long siege of the city of Troy failed to secure a victory, deceived the Trojans by building a huge wooden horse, leaving it at the gates of the city as the Greek army sailed away. The Trojans, believing the Greeks had given up, brought the great horse within the city walls as a symbol of their victory. Unbeknownst to the Trojans, an elite force of Greek soldiers was hidden inside, which came out under cover of night, opened the gates for the Greek army (which had sailed back), and destroyed the city, ending the war decisively.

As the philosopher George Santayana noted, those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And Obama and his legions of progressive Democrats certainly seem determined to repeat history when it comes to allowing our enemies within our borders.

Following Islamic terror attacks this past weekend in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota, Obama once again buried his head in the proverbial sand, berating the media for reporting the incidents as acts of terrorism. He admonished the press to “try to refrain from getting out ahead of the investigation…it does not help if false reports or incomplete information is out there.”

As loath as I am to admit it, it turns out Obama was right. Federal officials have captured a suspect in the recent New York/New Jersey terrorist bombings. The FBI has detained an Alabama man named Jim Bob Campbell, a Southern, white Republican and a member of the NRA and the TEA Party. His motive for the bombings is alleged to be because he is still angry at Obama for Obamacare and the failed stimulus bill.

Trumpism’s straw man war against “political correctness”

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Skittles. It had to be Skittles.

In his 18-month quest to ruin everything that is good and laudible about America, Donald Trump’s campaign has finally come for my favorite fruit-flavored candy. And not even the apocryphal pastel ones.

Yesterday Donald Trump Jr tweeted an analogy comparing Syrian refugees to Skittles.

It’s not a new analogy, but it’s also not even close to proportionally correct either. In order to accurately compare the threat of Syrian refugees to the total US population, you’d need more than 3 billion Skittles in a swimming pool. And now I’m hungry.

There’s a more fundamental problem with Trump’s argument, though. A “politically correct agenda” is not what drives our refugee program. We accept refugees from war-torn countries because we are a good and moral people, and it is the right thing to do. Especially when we’ve been meddling in those wars and making them worse.

Justice reform bills face crucial hurdles in the House

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Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jason Pye of FreedomWorks discuss justice reform proposals.

Justice reform is a rare cross-partisan issue that unites conservatives, libertarians, and progressives, Republicans and Democrats, in agreement. But as with anything that comes before Congress, except perhaps naming post offices, it takes blood, sweat, and tears, sometimes literally, to get these vital policies passed.

Several justice reform bills are in the midst of that process in the House right now, possibly moving to final floor votes this month.

The Sentencing Reform Act was introduced last year and is currently in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting a final vote to move to the floor. This bill, HR3713, would allow local criminal courts to reduce federally mandated minimum sentences for nonviolent charges and also reduces the mandatory minimum sentences for other crimes, especially those committed while in possession of a firearm. Why should people get punished more harshly for exercising but not abusing their Second Amendment rights?

The CBO has calculated that the Sentencing Reform Act alone would save almost $800 million from the federal budget.

No Country for Old (White) Men

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At least within the ranks of the Democrat Party, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream is officially dead.

On August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, civil rights icon Martin Luther King declared “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Today, the absolute last thing liberal Democrats want is for anyone to be judged by the content of their character, instead demanding everyone be judged by the color of their skin.

Then again, that is not entirely true. To the modern Democrat Party, the color of your skin must also be aligned with political ideology. That is why conservative blacks and Hispanics are not considered “authentic” blacks and Hispanics; because they are not also liberal/progressive, meaning they are open game for the most vicious, slanderous attacks.

A recent example of this comes in the form of the nomination by Obama of the milquetoast, boring old white guy, Garland Merrick, to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the passing of revered originalist Justice Antonin Scalia.


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