Matthew DesOrmeaux

Recent Posts From Matthew DesOrmeaux

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

narrow clinton

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

narrow trump

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.

poll

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.

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.

A taco truck on every corner: Threat or promise?

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After Donald Trump’s hysterical, radical, authoritarian immigration speech this week, it was going to be a challenge for his supporters to defend him in the press. So when the founder of Latinos for Trump went on MSNBC he probably should have avoided calling his culture “imposing” and threatening there would be taco trucks on every corner of America if it weren’t stopped.

Promise?

taco1

If you’re going to fearmonger to try to get American voters on your side, try something other than tacos. Tacos are delicious. They’re quickly becoming America’s favorite food. Salsa has already eclipsed ketchup as the most popular condiment in the country. The main dish can’t be far behind.

Nor should it be.

taco2

But maybe that means this Trumpkin is right! Maybe tacos are so popular because Hispanic culture is “imposing” its will (and spectacular food) on us.

There’s a simpler explanation - tacos are delicious. They’re like a sandwich, but with less nonsense and more fun. The lower carb option of a tortilla instead of bread is hard to pass up, as the post-sandwich wrap phenomenon of the last couple decades has shown.

This one small debate rule change could upend the two party system…which is why it won’t happen

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Ever since it became clear that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would be the Democratic and Republican nominees for president, clamor has increased to allow other candidates into the fall debates. Clinton and Trump are the two least popular nominees in modern history, so people are thirsty for alternatives.

Recent polls have found huge majorities of voters want third party candidates to be included in the debates, regardless of who they are. But the current rules created last year, before the Clintrump circus was ordained, make that almost impossible.

Candidates have to be on the ballots of enough states to win an electoral college majority, but they also have to have an average of 15% in five national polls selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates. It’s this last requirement that will keep third parties out of the game, but it doesn’t have to be.

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The five national polls selected by the Commission are among the highest in which Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson polls, but they are also the ones that do 4-person polling most often. That means some of his potential support gets split with Green nominee Jill Stein. If those polls only asked Clinton-Trump-Johnson and Clinton-Trump-Stein instead of Clinton-Trump-Johnson-Stein, both third party candidates would probably find more support and increase their chances of making the all-important 15% threshold.

The danger of crying wolf on religious liberty

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For the past few years religious liberty has been a litmus test issue for conservatives, helping them decide who they can support politically and who they can’t. As a fundamental First Amendment freedom, they’re right to make it that important to their politics. But the religious liberty that’s been legislated across the country since 2013 is all too often a smokescreen for something else, and that threatens the protection of actual freedom of religion when it’s needed.

Last week a Clemson University administrator ordered a man, pictured above, to stop praying on campus. Clemson and many other universities across the country have implemented “free speech zones” that non-students are required to use for protests or other First Amendment activities. Apparently that includes prayer.

This is an actual and egregious restriction of religious freedom. Congress, and by extension taxpayer-subsidized universities, cannot restrict the free exercise of religion. Clemson can’t tell students or non-students when or where they may pray on campus. I doubt almost anyone would disagree.

Matthew DesOrmeaux

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married, father of two, atheist, libertarian, introvert.

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