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Time for change

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Member since: Fri Dec 3, 2004, 12:01 AM
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Journal Archives

Why I Now Consider Myself an Independent

I decided to discuss this issue on DU because of what I consider to be many unfair things being said about independents recently by some DU members – specifically that the Democratic Party should not consider them when making decisions or even allow them to vote in their primaries or caucuses. I assume I’m not out of line here, because the last I read, the DU rules say that they welcome independents who are not conservatives.

I’ve been a registered Democrat since I was old enough to vote (with a one year exception in 2000, when I changed my Party registration to Republican so that I could vote against George W. Bush in a Republican primary), which was about 46 years ago. Even now, that I no longer consider myself a Democrat, I still am registered as a Democrat. Why? So that I can vote in Democratic primaries. Some on DU would say that that is hypocritical. It is not. In my opinion, independents deserve to be represented in picking the Republican or Democratic nominees just as much as anyone else. Unfortunately, in this country, in general elections, we only have two viable choices to vote for. (That is in large part because our communications media gives other parties no attention or credence.) We deserve to have a role in picking who those nominees are just as much as any other U.S. citizen.

As far as the two major Parties are concerned, they both absolutely need to consider independents when running for office, because neither of the two major parties would win many elections without the support of independents. Enough said about that.


A word about so-called “Party Loyalty”

I am against “party loyalty” of any kind. The political parties should exist to serve the interests of us, their constituents, not the other way around. That is what we elect our public officials for. Even when I considered myself a Democrat at heart, I never was of the mindset that I would ever vote for a person just because they are a Democrat, as long as I know anything about the candidates. I vote for the candidates, not the Party. If I ever encountered a Republican Presidential nominee who I preferred to the Democratic nominee, I would vote for the Republican nominee. That has never yet happened, but it is always a possibility. A Presidential candidate has to earn my vote, not take it for granted. I definitely would have voted Republican in 1860, when Abe Lincoln was the Republican nominee. Keep in mind that he ran as a third party candidate that year.

Parties change over time, and when they fail to represent the interests of their constituents, those constituents should not feel an obligation to continue to vote for them. Whenever one’s Party nominates someone who is unacceptable to them, they should not vote for them, except possibly on the idea of voting for the lesser of two evils.


What kind of Democrat I was

I have always considered myself a liberal Democrat. Voting liberal is more important to me than voting Democrat. What do I mean by that? I think JFK said it as well as anyone I ever heard, defending himself as a liberal at the Democratic Convention of 1960:

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who…. welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."



Why I no longer consider myself a Democrat at heart

Over the last several years I have seen the Democratic Party move further and further to the right. Perhaps in large part it is the result of the increasing influence of money in politics. The leaders of the Democratic Party in general appear to believe that it is more important to satisfy the wealthy and powerful entities that fund its campaigns than the majority of its constituents. I have seen the DNC time and time again back its establishment candidates against liberal challengers. I have heard some DUers say that the DNC has the right to do whatever they want to further their interests because they are not part of our government. But though they are not part of our government per se, they are responsible for supporting the politicians who become part of our government. It may be true that they can do whatever they want, but they’re not going to do it with my money anymore.

Perhaps the biggest example of moving to the right is Barack Obama himself. I gained my first in-depth familiarity with him when I read his autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope”. I found the first chapter to be extremely irritating. It reeked of “bipartisanship”. In his effort to bend over backwards to be fair to Republicans he disparaged his own party and cast them as too liberal. Consistent with that, he has been in my opinion the most conservative Democratic President in over a century, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton, for reasons discussed in my previous posts, including this one. This is reflected in his job creation record, which is worse than the administrations of any other Democratic President since records began to be kept on this issue in the 1920s. Until his administration, job creation per term under every Democratic President since FDR had exceeded that of every Republican President since FDR.


“Too big to fail” (or prosecute) financial institutions and our economy

One of our worst problems today is our economy and associated income inequality, which is as great as any time since records have been kept on the issue. The recession of 2008, followed by its jobless recovery, was no accident. It was caused by reckless actions by our huge financial institutions, assisted by severe loosening of government controls over those institutions, many which had been in place since they were introduced during FDR’s administration. One could say that the loosening really got going during Bill Clinton’s Presidency, when he signed the law that repealed Glass-Steagall. Huge financial institutions were bailed out with taxpayer money during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, at a total cost to us of $17.5 trillion, as the CEOs of the responsible institutions walked away from it all with huge bonuses. Worse yet, there were no strings attached to the bailouts, and there was no federal prosecution of the banks for their illegal activities that led to the crisis. William Greider explains, in an article titled “How Wall Street Crooks Get out of Jail Free”:

The nation is left to face a disturbing spectacle: crime without punishment. Massive injuries were done to millions of people by reckless bankers, and vast wealth was destroyed by elaborate financial deceptions. Yet there are no culprits to be held responsible.


Now the DNC is supporting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, whose campaign has been largely funded by those same financial institutions. They tried to coronate her as the inevitable nominee of the Democratic Party even before any serious competition arose. I cannot condone such activities.

In the early money race to launch the campaigns of the leading contenders, an article titled “Wall Street is Putting Money Behind These Presidential Candidates”, the following statistics were given for campaign contributions from “big bank institutions”, which include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and others:

Clinton: $432,610
Bush: $353,150
Rubio: $105,669

So ask me if I believe that Hillary is going to be more responsive to the economic welfare of those financial institutions or to the economic welfare of the vast majority of her constituents. Ask yourselves that same question.


On the “Bernie or Bust” Phenomenon

I will not say that I will not vote for Hillary if she is the Democratic nominee. I will be terribly disappointed, but I will have several months to make up my mind. If she chooses Bernie as her running mate, or someone with similar liberal and courageous leanings (there aren’t many of them), that will certainly sway my decision in her direction, if I feel that her running mate is likely to have some substantive influence in her administration. I did not vote for Obama in either election. I voted for Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party candidate in 2008, and voted again for the Green Party in 2012. But I lived in a safely blue state at the time. I did campaign for Obama in Virginia (a swing state) in 2008, but voted for McKinney in Maryland. By 2012 I was so disappointed by his rightward leanings that I neither voted nor campaigned for him (See link above if you want more specific reasons on why). This time my decision will be more difficult because I live in a swings state – Florida.

But though I don’t consider myself part of the Bernie or Bust group, I certainly can understand and respect their reasons. I just recently read a DU post that postulated 4 potential reasons for a Bernie or Bust position: Personal animosity towards Hillary; Marxism; Blackmail, or; Narcissism. That’s ridiculous. I don’t have much if any personal animosity for Hillary. But if you feel that a candidate will not represent your interests because their campaign is funded by powerful wealthy interests who have done tremendous damage to our country and are likely to do more damage, what reason do you have to vote for them other than that you are even more turned off by the only other viable candidate in the race – and we don’t even know who that will be yet. Bernie is not a Marxist, and I don’t see what narcissism could possibly have to do with it. Bernie supporters are not narcissists. They are just very excited about having the possibility of electing the most liberal, independent minded, honest, and best U.S. President in their lifetime. And the majority of them are liberals who have a hard time voting for candidates who appear to be far to the right on some very important issues.

Hillary is now refusing to debate Bernie in New York, on the lame excuse that she doesn’t like his “tone”. This campaign isn’t about her, and it isn’t about Bernie. It’s about the important issues that face the American people. New Yorkers have a right to hear what she now has to say about those issues. She receives huge sums of money for making speeches to Wall Street, and then she refuses to release those speeches to the American people. What did she say to Wall Street that she doesn’t want the American people to hear about? And she’s been as quiet as a mouse about the voter suppression that is occurring in the Democratic primaries. Hillary supporters: Don’t these things bother you about her? Don’t they help you understand why some people don’t want to vote for her?

Posted by Time for change | Wed Mar 30, 2016, 12:31 PM (82 replies)

Investigation by Anonymous Provides Evidence that Bernie was Targeted in AZ Voter Suppression

For those of you who are not familiar with the group known as “Anonymous”, perhaps their most amazing accomplishment was their foiling of Karl Rove’s attempt to electronically steal Ohio for Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election. As it turned out, Obama didn’t need Ohio to win the Presidency in 2012, but that wasn’t known at the time that Ohio was called for Obama on Election Day, and Karl Rove had a conniption fit on FOX News over the call. The reason that Anonymous was ready to foil Rove’s plan in Ohio was largely due to the fact that he had successfully stolen Ohio electronically for George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential Election, when Ohio was the state that decided the winner of the election. In other words, I would call “Anonymous” a secret voter protection organization with extra-ordinary skills, especially computer skills.

As such, they were as concerned about the voter suppression that took place in the Democratic Primary in Arizona last Tuesday as much as anyone, and they were determined to investigate the reasons for it. There were two aspects of the voter suppression. One was a severe reduction in polling places, which resulted in voting lines as long as half a mile, and thousands of people waiting to vote for several hours. I discussed that aspect of it in this post. The other was that many people were not allowed to vote when they finally got to the front of the line because it was claimed that they were not registered Democrats. Between those two voter suppression methods, the end result was that Election Day voters in Maricopa County, by far the largest county in Arizona, accounted for less than 15% of the vote in the Democratic Primary that day (early voters accounting for more than 85% of the votes). This hurt Bernie Sanders tremendously, because while more than 60% of early voters voted for Clinton, more than 60% of Election Day voters voted for Sanders.

Anonymous’ investigation, reported in an article titled: “Anonymous Report: Was Arizona’s Voter Registration Hacked and Changed?” centered on the other aspect of voter suppression in Arizona – the claiming that voters who knew themselves to be registered with their Party were actually not registered. In this investigation, Anonymous searched the Internet to find all the claims that they could of voters who were disenfranchised in this way, and they attempted to ascertain their preferred candidate, by phone if they could, and otherwise from the Internet claim. The results are startling:

Unknown Party or preference: 25
GOP: 12
Clinton: 2
Sanders: 113

Keep in mind that this is not the extent of those who were disenfranchised in this way. These are only the claims that Anonymous could find on the Internet. Anonymous gives an example of the extent of the disenfranchisement by pointing to Phoenix (a big part of Maricopa County), which has a Democratic mayor, where 80,000 Republicans voted on Election Day, compared to only 33,000 Democrats.

Clearly there could be some bias in this survey. Maybe Sanders voters were more likely to voice their complaints of disenfranchisement than Clinton voters. Maybe a proportion of the Bernie claims are lies (I don’t believe that at all, but I can’t prove it). But this was as close to a random sample as Anonymous could get. And the extent of the difference between the Clinton and Sanders disenfranchisement in this survey is so huge that it is very hard to believe that most of it was due to bias.


Conclusion

Here is Anonymous’ conclusions in full (I don’t understand some of the technical computer jargon):

At this point, Anonymous quite obviously does not have the required proof to point a finger at any particular person or campaign for the findings in our database and of our vulnerability scan. Non-conspiratorial alternative explanations may emerge for why perhaps tens of thousands of voters showed up to the polls expecting to be able to vote with the party they had registered with previously and were either denied or forced to vote provisionally. What is unmistakable, at this point, is that something went very badly wrong well beyond the lack of polling stations. The evidence does point to the possibility that something more malicious is happening.

In that vein, we should note that there are now likewise dozens and dozens of reports of Sanders supporters in places like Pennsylvania and New York, with upcoming closed primaries, finding that their own registrations have been switched. One such report arrived in our inbox on Friday morning, the final day for new voter registrations in New York. The e-mailer told us that the website for New York was going up and down intermittently. We asked what link they were using. When we checked it, our Tor Browser informed us that the website was insecure, presenting an invalid encryption certificate.
Suspicious, for damn sure. We’ll allow readers to draw their own further conclusions at this point.

Posted by Time for change | Wed Mar 30, 2016, 12:08 AM (22 replies)

Will the Voter Suppression we Saw in Arizona Be Repeated in New York?

Yesterday evening my daughter brought to my attention Facebook accounts of several Bernie supporters who were registered Democrats, and, worried about the accounts of voter suppression in Arizona, decided they’d better check to find out if they are still registered. And guess what? They were not. So I thought I’d better look into it.

What I found was an article titled ”New York Election Fraud: Is Arizona Happening Again?”

For those of you unfamiliar with what happened in the Arizona primary: Voter suppression in Maricopa County, which includes about half or more of the population of Arizona, was so bad that only 14.7% of Democratic voters who voted in that county voted on Election Day. This was extremely important to Bernie’s chances in Arizona because more than 60% of Maricopa County voters who voted on Election Day voted for Bernie, while more than 60% of early voters voted for Hillary. In other words, because of voter suppression on Election Day, the election was virtually decided prior to Election Day.

The article that I referred to above talks about something very similar to what my daughter is finding in the Facebook accounts she’s reading: previously registered Democratic voters finding out that they are no longer registered. It concludes: “The more you look, the more stories are reported”. The article provides information to voters on how to check to see if they are still registered, and how they can still rectify the situation if they find out that they are not.

But how many prospective voters won’t read that article and won’t find out until Election Day that they are no longer registered, when it will be too late to do anything about it? We don’t know the answer to that. But Bernie’s campaign can ill afford another episode, in a large state like New York, of what went down in New Mexico. That could very well be a death blow to his campaign. And this whole thing has ominous implications for our democracy.

Posted by Time for change | Tue Mar 29, 2016, 11:09 AM (110 replies)

Bernie Supporters in Washington Demand that superdelegates Respect the Wishes of their Constituents

Bernie Sanders supporters in Washington state are demanding that Washington’s superdelegates respect the wishes of their constituents, who voted 72.7% for Sanders in yesterday’s Democratic caucuses.

Unlike delegates who are elected through the Democratic process in primaries and caucuses, the so-called superdelegates are free to vote for whomever they want at the Democratic Convention. A majority of Washington’s 17 superdelegates already endorsed Hillary Clinton, even before yesterday’s caucuses took place, as have the vast majority of superdelegates throughout the United States, giving Hillary Clinton a much greater lead (if the superdelegates who have endorsed her vote for her at the Democratic Convention) over Sanders than she would otherwise have. Most public published accounts of the current delegate counts actually include the votes of those superdelegates who have endorsed Clinton. Clinton currently leads Sanders in those superdelegate votes by 469 to 29, which takes little or no account of the public voting in the states that they represent. Their votes give Clinton an apparently insurmountable lead over Sanders. They fall in line with the wishes of the Democratic Party establishment and are a blatant affront to the democratic process. Not even the Republican Party uses such a process.

Sanders supporters in Washington are circulating a petition, which already has more than 6 thousand signatures. They are warning the elected superdelegates, “You work for us. We want Bernie. Respect us or lose your jobs”.

Other states should do the same. They should also consider whether there is a significant gap in favorability ratings of the candidates (Bernie’s is currently +7.4%, Hillary’s is -13.2%) and how they do in head to head competition vs. the Republican nominee (Bernie does much better than Hillary against all the major Republican likely nominees).
Posted by Time for change | Sun Mar 27, 2016, 03:52 PM (94 replies)

Favorability Ratings of Dem Candidates and Head to Head Competition vs. Rep Candidates

Our national news media has tried very hard to pass off the idea on the American public that Bernie Sanders would be “unelectable” in a general election against the Republican nominee, and that Hillary Clinton is the inevitable Democratic nominee anyhow.

But the data say otherwise.

First there are the favorability polling ratings of the two major Democratic candidates:

Favorability ratings of Democratic candidates
Clinton -13.2
Sanders +7.4

Then there is polling data on how they stack up in head to head competition against the leading Republican candidates:

Vs. Trump
Sanders +17.5% -- average of 6 latest polls, worst poll for Sanders +14 over Trump
Clinton +11.2

Vs. Cruz
Sanders +8.4
Clinton +2.9

Vs. Kasich
Sanders +1.0
Clinton -6.5


So why does Clinton continue to lead Sanders in national polls of Democratic voters?

Since announcing his candidacy, Bernie Sanders has made great inroads in closing the gap between him and Clinton in national polls of Democratic voters. Beginning at 56.8% behind in February 2015, Sanders has now closed that gap (See graph) to about 8.3%. But given the difference in favorability ratings, why is he still behind her at all?

I see two main reasons for that: One is that those polls that show Sanders behind Clinton include only Democratic voters, which constitute a minority of the total voting population of our country. Bernie has much wider appeal among independents, who may actually be more liberal that most Democratic Party members today (I really don’t know, but it is an interesting and significant question).

The other major reason is that there are many Democratic voters who would prefer Sanders to Clinton as President, but would not vote for him in the primaries because they are afraid that he is unelectable. The data above should put that argument to rest.


What about arguments that polling data this far away from the general election has no importance?

Some at DU have espoused this argument in response to my using similar data to show that Bernie is electable. But that argument is grossly overstated. It is of course true that polling data several months away from the general election is substantially less accurate in predicting the Presidential winner than is polling taken on the eve of the election. The major reason for that is that a lot can happen between now and then. Scandals can occur that affect the electability of a candidate. Public debates can change voters’ opinions. And many other things can happen to change voters’ opinions.

But what the polling data does tell us is who is likely to win if the election was held today. And this particular polling data tells us that Bernie Sanders would stand a much better chance of beating the Republican nominee in a general election than would Hillary Clinton if the election was held today. So to say that Bernie Sanders is unelectable is not only baseless but is the opposite of what current polling data tell us.


On Sanders’ chances of winning the Democratic nomination

I don’t know what Sanders’ chances are of winning the Democratic nomination. I do know that there are a lot of states that haven’t voted yet, and most of them seem to be favorable to Sanders. It is also important to consider the fact that polling data has consistently and widely underestimated Bernie’s performance in most states, except for some such as Arizona, where voter suppression on Election Day was so severe that early voting probably made up the majority of total votes cast.

After the Michigan primary, in which Nate Silver wrongly predicted that Clinton would win, with a greater than 99% probability, he decided to develop an entirely new model to predict primary results. But even this new model substantially underestimated Bernie’s performance in Idaho, Utah, Alaska, and Washington (I haven’t yet seen results from Hawaii). Only in Arizona, where voter suppression prevented so many voters from voting on Election Day did his new model not underestimate Bernie’s performance.


Concluding remarks

It is of utmost importance that Democratic voters who have not yet voted in their states’ primaries understand that there is no basis for the frequently heard statement that Sanders is unelectable, because if they think that he is unelectable even though they prefer him to Clinton as President, they will vote for the wrong person, and the wrong person will be the Democratic nominee. It is also of utmost importance that Super-Delegates who have previously declared themselves for Clinton consider the polling data very carefully if it persists to the Democratic Convention, before casting their vote.
Posted by Time for change | Sat Mar 26, 2016, 11:52 PM (4 replies)

How Badly Did Voter Suppression in Maricopa County Hurt Bernie in Arizona?

I noted yesterday that in this Tuesday’s Arizona Democratic primary, Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona, reduced the number of polling places open compared to 2012 from over 200 to 60, and that consequently, people spent entire work days waiting in line to vote, as voting lines stretched for over half a mile. Undoubtedly, many of them had to leave before voting, in order to avoid missing work, which I’m sure many of them could ill afford. The County recorder justified this blatant incident of voter suppression by claiming that “turnout is traditionally low” in Maricopa County.

But I did not make an effort in that post to estimate how much the vote was actually suppressed in Maricopa County and how badly that might have hurt Bernie’s chances in Arizona. The Maricopa County website statistics on Tuesday’s primary sheds some very interesting light on those questions.

That website shows that Clinton won the early voting part of the election in Maricopa County 118,832 to 71,019, over Sanders, a margin of 66.1% to 33.9%. The website also gives the total vote count, which also shows Clinton winning the total vote in Maricopa County, but by a little less. What it doesn’t do is specifically show us the statistics for Election Day voting. No problem. Those can be obtained by merely subtracting the early voting statistics from the total voting statistics.

The Election Day voting, which Bernie won by 19,883 to 12,802, shows us two very significant things. First, that Bernie won the voting on Election Day over Clinton by 60.8% to 39.2% in Maricopa County, quite a difference from the early voting margins. And second, it shows us that Election Day voting in Maricopa County accounted for only 14.7% of the total vote. I find that astounding! I have never heard of a presidential or any other election, where Election Day voting accounted for so low a percent of the total vote. This strongly suggests, in my opinion, that the effects of the voter suppression in Maricopa County were huge. Could it be that only 14.7% of voters who voted intended to vote on Election Day? There are three facts that strongly suggest otherwise. One is the 70% reduction in polling places, resulting in half mile lines that resulted in many people having to stand in line for several hours to vote. Another is the mis-categorization of Democratic voters as independent voters, who were therefore not allowed to vote. And the other is that, if one analyzes the data from the Arizona website, along with information on the overall Arizona data on early voting, one can calculate that Election Day voting in the Democratic primary in the rest of Arizona averaged 59.1% rather than 14.7%.

If one makes the reasonable assumption that in the absence of voter suppression, the Election Day voting percentage in Maricopa County would have been similar to that in the rest of Arizona, that would mean that more than 240 thousand additional voters would have voted on Election Day in the Democratic primary in Maricopa County. And assuming that Bernie’s margin of winning those extra votes over Clinton on Election Day was similar to the Election Day votes that were counted in Maricopa County, that would have meant that Bernie would have lost Arizona by about 2%, rather than by the almost 20% that he actually lost by in the official count. Also, keep in mind that these calculations are somewhat conservative, because they make no assumptions that the voter suppression in Maricopa County was targeted to Sanders areas. But why would anyone bother with voter suppression if it wasn’t targeted for or against a specific candidate? If the voter suppression was targeted to any extent to Sanders strongholds, that means that he probably would have won Arizona in the absence of any voter suppression.
Posted by Time for change | Fri Mar 25, 2016, 06:57 PM (61 replies)

Voter Suppression and Exit Poll Discrepancies in the Democratic Primaries

Voter Suppression

Insufficient polling places in Maricopa County
In this Tuesday’s Arizona Democratic primary, Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona, reduced the number of polling places open compared to 2012 from over 200 to 60. Consequently, people spent entire work days waiting in line to vote, as voting lines stretched for over half a mile. Undoubtedly, many of them had to leave before voting, in order to avoid missing work, which I’m sure many of them could ill afford. The County recorder justified this blatant incident of voter suppression by claiming that “turnout is traditionally low” in Maricopa County. CBS reporter Joe Dana put this incident in perspective: the “2012 primary had 300,000 voters and 200 polling places. 2016 primary had 800,000 voters at 60 polling places. Polling places in densely populated Latino neighborhoods were particular targets for closure.

Numerous Democrats in AZ were mistakenly listed as independents
Consequently, because independents are not allowed to vote in the AZ primary, these voters were not allowed to vote. I don’t know the details of this issue. Were these recently independent voters who joined the Democratic Party close to the date of the primary in order to cast their vote for one of the candidates? (a perfectly legal thing to do). In any event, this mistake was never rectified.

Arizona was called for Clinton while people were still waiting in line to vote
Because of all the delays, many people were still in line waiting to vote when Arizona was called early for Clinton, with 1% of the vote in. A declaration of victory while people are waiting to vote is likely to discourage many people from voting.

Why does voter suppression hurt Sanders?
One might think that voter suppression in a party primary would not necessarily favor one candidate or the other. Of course, that all depends on whether or not the suppression was targeted at one candidate or the other. At this time I know of no good evidence that shows that to be the case.

However, one thing that must be considered is that, in general, any across the board voter suppression favors Clinton over Sanders. The reason for that is that Clinton did far better than Sanders across the board, in early voting, compared to Election Day voting, which took place largely when Bernie Sanders was hardly known to voters.

Consider Arizona, where voter suppression was especially marked. The election was called for Clinton with only 1% of the vote in, when she was ahead by a margin of 61.5% to 36.1%. All of that total reflected early voting. Yet, with 17% of the vote in (I don’t have later data on this), Sanders was leading Clinton in Election Day voting, by a small amount. Thus, any voter suppression would elevate the importance of early voting in determining the final statewide results and thus affect the delegate count in favor of the candidate who did better in early voting.

Conclusion on voter suppression
We don’t know for sure that the voter suppression in Arizona (and Ohio, where many voting precincts ran out of ballots before the polls closed and caused many potential voters to lose their chance to vote) was targeted at one candidate or the other. But to think that voter suppression didn’t happen in Arizona, where the most populous county in the state reduced the number of polling places from 200 to 60 and ended up with voting lines half a mile long, sounds naïve to me. This kind of thing begs for an investigation, aimed at discovering the cause and preventing future episodes during this primary season. Therefore, please consider signing this petition to the White House requesting that these episodes be investigated promptly.


Exit poll discrepancies

Background: The great exit poll discrepancy controversy of the 2004 Presidential Election
Those of you who spent much time on DU during the 2004 Presidential election and the months and years that followed will remember the great exit poll discrepancy of 2004, in which, according to national exit polls John Kerry won the national vote, whereas George W. Bush won the national vote according to the official vote count. The difference between the exit polls and the official vote count was about 4%. The difference was particularly great in the important swing states, where slight differences in the vote count might make a difference between winning and losing. But there was only one state where it did make a difference, and that was Ohio, where the exit poll discrepancy was over 6%. Ohio would have given the election to John Kerry.

Further investigations found numerous anomalies in Ohio, and eventually a mass of evidence was accumulated that made it highly probable, if not certain, to make a long story short, that the 2004 Presidential election in Ohio was electronically manipulated to give the election to Bush (and there was massive evidence of voter suppression as well). I wrote many DU posts on these issues at the time, but I think that perhaps the best summary I wrote of the evidence for electronic manipulation in Ohio occurred many years later, when Bush was no longer president, in this post.

Yet through all the massive discussion of this issue on DU and other left leaning websites, not a word of it was even mentioned by our national news media, except for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. Instead, our national news media presented us with “adjusted” exit polls, meaning exit polls that were adjusted to fit the officially reported vote count. One could attribute benign or malignant motives to this omission. My own personnel viewpoint is somewhere in between, but leaning to malignant motives. The benign explanation is that our national news media merely assumes that when there is a discrepancy between exit polls and the official vote count, the exit polls must be wrong, because it is unthinkable that the discrepancy, no matter how large, could represent manipulation of the vote count, by electronic voting machines or otherwise.

Yet almost all other democracies in the world take exit polls much more seriously than we do in the United States, and in fact use them to help in assessing the validity of the official vote count. When there is a large discrepancy, in which the official count favors one candidate and the exit polls favor the other, the issue is investigated, and sometimes the official count is reversed, based on the results of the investigation. In the United States, not only do we not do that, but the issue is never even mentioned.

I acknowledge that there can be some bias in exit polls. But they are far more accurate than pre-election polls, for several reasons: 1) They assess whom the voter actually voted for, rather than whom he or she intends to vote for at some later date; 2) Pre-election polls use models that estimate which poll respondents are likely to vote in an election, based on data from previous elections. These models may or may not accurately apply to the current election. To the extent that they don’t apply, the results can be substantially biased; 3) The accuracy of pre-election polls depends on obtaining a representative sample of voters for the poll. That is no simple matter. One very large potential source of error is that voters who use cell phones rather than land lines may be grossly under-represented in pre-election polls. This kind of problem is almost totally eradicated by exit polls. Exit polls are taken of voters as they leave their polling places. It doesn’t depend on telephones or other overly complicated sampling methods.

Exit poll discrepancies in the 2016 Democratic primaries
I first became concerned about this issue in 2016 by means of an article on the 538 website, written on Tuesday, March 15, as Democratic primaries were underway in 5 states (OH, NC, FL, MO, IL). I don’t recall the exact words used in the article, but the writer commented on what appeared to be substantial discrepancies between exit polls and official vote counts in some of the states, especially Ohio, where the official vote count favored Clinton over Sanders, compared to the exit polls. He said he couldn’t understand the discrepancies, and he concluded by saying something like, well, maybe when the full counts are in those discrepancies will go away.

Consequently, upon reading about the voter suppression in Arizona, and recalling the discussion on the 538 website about the likely exit poll discrepancies, I tried to find results of the exit polls and compare them with the official vote counts. I wasn’t able to find results of exit polls for the states that voted this Tuesday, but here is what I found for some of the most recently voting states (results represent percent shares of votes between the two major candidates):

Massachusetts
Exit polls (preliminary results): Sanders +6.6
Official count: Clinton +1.4
Difference: 8.0 in favor of Clinton (compared to exit poll)

Michigan
Exit polls: Sanders +6.4
Official count: Sanders +1.6
Difference: 4.8 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Ohio
Exit polls: Clinton +3.8
Official count: Clinton +14.0
Difference: 10.2 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Florida
Exit polls: Clinton +28.0
Official count: Clinton +31.2
Difference: 3.2 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

North Carolina
Exit polls: Clinton +12.6
Official count: Clinton +14.4
Difference: 1.8 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Illinois
Exit polls: Sanders +2.4
Official count: Clinton +1.8
Difference: 4.2 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Missouri
Exit polls: Sanders +3.8
Official count: Clinton + 0.2
Difference: 4.0 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

In other words, there were substantial exit poll discrepancies in all 7 of these states, favoring Clinton in the official count in each one, compared to the exit polls. These discrepancies are in general larger even than we saw in the 2004 Presidential Election that DU and some other websites spent so much time discussing. As in 2004, we hear nothing of this from our national news media – all we get from them is “adjusted” exit polls, adjusted to perfectly fit the official vote count. If the exit polls are in fact an accurate measure of who actually received the most votes in these states, Sanders would have won 4 of them instead of just one, and he also would have received more delegates in each of the others.

I don’t know what to do about this, and I am not blaming Hillary Clinton. But she has some mighty powerful supporters in this election, including the financial industry. My intention in posting this is to give DU members a better understanding of a potentially very serious problem.
Posted by Time for change | Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:12 PM (34 replies)

Bernie’s Path to Victory

For a few years now I have fervently hoped that either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren would win the Democratic nomination for President in 2016. I haven’t cared much which one. Each of them has shown great courage in standing up against established powers in the United States, in an attempt to make life better for the majority of American citizens. They are both especially concerned about the economic status of our country.

Income inequality has reached obscene proportions in our country, levels not seen since just before the Stock Market Crash of 1929, which was followed by the Great Depression. As most of us know, one of our greatest presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was elected in 1932 to deal with that Depression, and he did so with the establishment of a great variety of programs which remained in place for many years. Many of those programs involved controls on the financial industry, which was to a large extent behind the Crash of 1929 and is similarly responsible for our economic woes in recent years, as they have lobbied for relaxation of one control after another of their “freedom” to ruin our economy while becoming filthy rich themselves in the process. One of the main controls that was destroyed was Glass-Steagall, which was essentially repealed in 1999 by the signature of President Bill Clinton.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are committed to restoring Glass-Steagall and many other measures that would help to restore income equality in our country. Bill Clinton denies that the repeal of Glass-Steagall had anything to do with the financial crash of 2008 or our current economic woes, and Hillary Clinton will not pledge to re-instate it. As we all know, her vast campaign treasure chest is largely funded by Wall Street, which would certainly not support her if they thought there was any likelihood that she would attempt to restore Glass-Steagall. That is one of the main reasons that I support Bernie for President, but there are many others. In short, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have shown a long history of standing up against the established powers in this country, and Hillary Clinton has not.


The gender issue

From what I have seen, the gender issue is playing a huge issue in this campaign. Many people believe that electing a woman president is long overdue in this country, and that is a major reason that they support Hillary. I too would like to see a woman elected president – but definitely NOT one funded by Wall Street. I get so sick of e-mails from Emilie’s List, which almost comes right out and says that Hillary should get the nomination because she is a woman. I hate identity politics of that kind. I wish I could see a poll of Hillary supporters that asks whether or not her gender plays a big role in their propensity to vote for her – and a similar one asking the same thing about Bernie. I have little doubt what it would show.


Bernie’s path to victory in the Democratic primaries according to the 538 website

So obviously I was very interested when a few days ago the 538 website published a map of Bernie’s “Narrow Path to Victory”, noting what percentage of the vote he needs in every remaining state to surpass Hillary in delegate count. Of course he doesn’t have to hit the target in every state to do that. He just needs to hit it on average, that is, he needs to surpass the target in some states in order to make up for the amount that he fails to meet it in other states. Let me be clear about this. These are not predictions or expectations. They are target goals that Bernie has to meet to win the nomination. The 538 predictions were quite a bit lower for Bernie in every single state. For example, Bernie’s target goal in Michigan was 53%. Yet, Nate Silver gave him less than a 1% chance of even winning that state, let alone achieving his target goal. Here is a quick sampling of how Bernie has done in the states that have held primaries since the map came out, compared to how his target goals are depicted by 538:

Kansas:
Target goal – 56.5%;
Actual result – 68%

Nebraska:
Target goal – 61%
Actual result – 57%

Louisiana:
Target goal – 25%
Actual result – 25%

Maine:
Target goal – 65%
Actual result – 64%

Michigan:
Target goal – 53%
Actual result – 51%

Mississippi:
Target goal – 25%
Actual result – 17%

So Bernie has made or exceeded some target goals and missed some others, but on average is very close. In turn, this means that he has exceeded expectations tremendously in the past week or so. Incidentally, my daughter and I had a disagreement about what the results would be in Michigan. She said that Bernie was going to win Michigan. I, on the other hand, looking at Nate Silver’s prediction on election eve of Bernie having less than a 1 % chance of winning Michigan, and predicting in fact that he would lose by 23 percentage points, obviously had a very hard time believing that he would win it – as Nate Silver has never been that far wrong in a prediction EVER. But Bernie did it, just as he has far exceeded 538’s predictions in almost all state primaries since it published Bernie’s “Narrow Path to Victory”.


So where do we stand now?

So whereas Bernie has done an amazing job so far, and has far exceeded expectations in general, he still has some mighty steep obstacles to climb in order to win the nomination – not the least of which is that the leadership of the Democratic Party, as well as the financial industry and most all of corporate America is rabidly against him.

It is worth noting though, that according to most polls, Bernie does very well against all of the likely Republican candidates that he might run up against – better than Hillary does. He beats all of them in the Electoral College. He does especially well against Donald Trump, winning in national polls against him currently by 11% - and climbing.

Yet, despite all of this, I am still pessimistic about his chances of winning the Democratic nomination, given all the obstacles in his path. As I said, he has a very large mountain to climb.


A proposed solution

However, I have a proposed solution that I strongly believe will solve the problem. I mentioned Elizabeth Warren at the beginning of this post, largely because I believe that she holds the keys. Given the importance of the gender issue in this election, and the fact that she and Bernie have very similar views on the issues and that both stand out as perhaps the two highest level politicians in this country to repeatedly demonstrate their willingness to stand up against the established powers, I believe that at the very least she should heavily and enthusiastically endorse him and campaign for him.

Or alternatively, she could jump into the race. There is no way in hell that Hillary would win a majority of delegates against the two of them running simultaneously. They could in a sense run together, making it clear that if they could stop Hillary from winning a majority of delegates, they would combine their delegates to get it done. That means ultimately, that one would release all their delegates to vote for the other one. Bernie has repeatedly said that this election is not about him – rather, it is about some extremely important issues threatening to destroy our country. So if voters in the Democratic Party are determined to have a woman president, he could release his delegates to a woman who would fight the financial powers who are destroying our country rather than pander to them. I have little doubt that Bernie would be willing to do that if it was the only way. And maybe the one of them could choose the other as their running mate, and make that public right now.
Posted by Time for change | Wed Mar 9, 2016, 08:14 PM (33 replies)
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