Sunday, October 16, 2016

What Will the Republicans Do, After the Coming Loss?

With the heart of the traditional Republican political machine horrified at the Trump nomination, the Republican party will want to change the rules to avoid this kind of debacle in the future.  What will they do?

It is entirely possible that the Democrats will have 48 seats in the Senate after this election is done.  With 2 independants, the resulting 50-50 tie would be broken by Vice-President Tim Kaine.  The Republicans will continue control of the House of Representatives, but it is the Senate that approves Judicial nominees.  That means Clinton will get a supreme court justice of her choosing the day she takes office.  Republicans will be fit to be tied, and will be seeking drastic rule-changes to prevent this from happening again.  Here are a few possible moves they could make:

1)  Despite years of mocking the Democrats for empowering an elite class of over 700 superdelegates with a vote at the nominating convention, they will need to move in that direction.  Only super-delegates can counter state-by-state primaries.  They can't overturn a landslide, but the potential for a moderate unifying rally could have changed the game for someone like Kasich as the other moderates were dropping out.

2) Limit the field.  Perhaps the field of moderates was too thinly spread out at the beginning, so 10-15% polling result for a particular extreme candidate grabbed the headlines.  Remember Carson? Would a narrower field of 4-7 candidates have allowed more focus on traditional candidates?  The mechanics of this, however, would require some kind of non-voting selection of the candidates by the party, which is contrary to the ethos of the system at this time. This scenario is the least likely.

3) Run Offs in the Primary Elections.  This would narrow the field in each state, requiring a candidate to win a clear majority in each state before a winner could be declared.  An open election would be followed by a run off with, perhaps, the top 3 candidates, and then another with the top 2 candidates if necessary.  Again, this would have allowed early states to "refine" their votes, rather than giving all their votes to a single candidate who only won 20-40% of the vote in a larger field of candidates. The losing candidates could have, gradually and in a coordinated manner, formed an anti-Trump coalition earlier in the primary process.

4) Ranked Ballots.  This would be the most drastic, and most accurate change to determine the will of the people.  Rather than voting for 1 candidate, voters would "rank" the candidates from their top to bottom choices.  Votes could be counted as "weighted" points from top to bottom.  Someone who finished 3rd on all ballots cast could easily win the election, and no one with extreme positives and negatives could advance. The advantage here is that the "will of the people" as a whole could be determined within a single round of voting. The disadvantage is that ranking 10 largely unknown candidates could be quite difficult.

5) Elimination Voting.  Similar to Ranked Ballots, voters rank their candidates top to bottom.  One by one the losing candidates are removed from the bottom, and the tallies are recounted.  Again, in this system someone who gets 3rd on all ballots could easily beat someone who has extremes of top and bottom rankings.  This system would be the most helpful in the "Anti-Trump" scenario. Again, there is a single round of voting, but the elimination process could confuse people.  Despite its accuracy, it could be easily attacked in a political process.

In either Ranked Ballot scenario, Ted Cruz would probably have won.  This is because Trump supporters would have had Cruz in their top 3 on every ballot, but Cruz supporters would have had more ballots with Trump in the bottom.  The weighed ballots would have scored Cruz points on all Trump ballots, but Trump would have scored points mostly only on his own ballots.

The real question is, can the Republican Party implement any of these changes without enraging the Tea Party folks, or other "grass roots" movements within their tent who are used to "just voting"?  Changing to Ranked Ballots, either straight up or with elimination tallies, would be a hard sell.

After the unprecedented infighting and the growing rift between Trump and the party bosses, something will have to change.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Why I Visit Jewish Summer Camps

I just finished my final Jewish summer camp visit of the season today, visiting 7 of our congregation's children at Camp Deeny Riback, the regional JCC camp in Morris county.  I had a great time, surprising children, sharing lunch, and catching up on their fun.  I have visited 5 other camps this summer prior to this, seeing over 20 children from B'nai Shalom.  Each visit can involved hours of driving, often more time in the car than actually on the ground in camp.  Why do I do this?

Jewish Summer Camp is a tried and proven winner.  Along with day school and an Israel experience prior to HS graduation, it is the most impactful thing you can do for Jewish children if you want ongoing adult identity, affiliation and families.  Their rabbi knows this, but they don't.  But if I show up, they think, "Hey. Wow. My rabbi is here!  What's up with that?" And I tell them all the same thing: 1) I am here to see you and to visit you because I care about you and I miss you; 2) I am so proud of you for going not just to camp, but to a Jewish Camp that has Shabbat, Israel, and Jewish Education in the program; 3) I am envious of the fun you get to have all summer, and wanted to be a part of it; and, 4) I happen to have all these popsicles/frisbees (or whatever) and needed to give them to "somebody!"

In other words, I tell them the God's honest truth, and by actually being there they know I believe it.

Jewish camp is important.  It's really important.  That is why I fundraise to help our families who can't afford it go to Camp Ramah - the Jewel in the crown of Jewish summer camping. That is why I work with all camps to find scholarships and make it possible.  That is why I give my own scholarships to my congregation's children who need.

Jewish camp should be a right, not a privilege.  There is very little else that we do that has such a profound and lasting impact on our children.

So thank you to all the directors who welcomed me, and to my families who make the commitment to keep our children's Judaism strong straight through the summer months.  The reward is, quite simply, the future.

Monday, August 8, 2016

How Election Night, November 8, 2016 will go.

As of today, August 8, 2016, it looks clear that 3 months from today Hillary Clinton will become president elect of the United States of America.  This is not because the average of national polls over the last 10 days gives her over a 10% lead over Donald Trump.  It is because she is ahead in the polls in the right states to provide her at least 270 electoral college votes - the needed amount to win the election.  Having run a simulation 50 times, with current odds of winning each state applied from current polling, Hillary won 44/50 times.  That is an overwhelming advantage statistically.

So, given that everyone is watching the news and the news is in the business of making it exciting, get ready for "trumped up" news coverage on election night, and for "huuuge" ratings as the nation watches the inevitable roll out on election night as if it is in question.  How will they make it interesting?

First, news stations can not "forecast" projected winners until the polls actually close in a given state.  That creates a "rolling" series of announcements and predictions, starting at 6 pm EST.  Please note that a number of these states are in multiple time zones, and the t.v. stations may choose to wait until the very end of those time zones to make their forecasts.

Time EST   States whose polls close                           Clinton Subtotal    Trump Subtotal

6:00 PM    Indiana, Kentucky                                                       0                          19

7:00 PM    Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia               16                        44       
7:30 PM    North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia                           34                        69

8:00 PM   Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Maine,
                  Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, 
                  New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island,
                  Tennessee, Pennsylvania                                             129                       81
                  Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi,
                  Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas                 149                      160
                  [Florida too close to call - 29 at stake]

8:30 PM    Arkansas                                                                       149                     166

So here, at the moment Texas is announced, "Donald Trump is winning" will be all over every news station right in the middle of prime time.  See the drama?  It's tailor made for television.

9:00 PM   New York, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota,
                 Nebraska, Wisconsin                                                   204                         189
                 Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming              218                          203

So here, just 30 minutes later, "Hillary has taken over the lead, but it is a tough neck-in-neck race as the electoral college votes hang in the balance," etc., etc., etc.,  And they have an hour to roll out all of those 8 PM-9 PM states' results, a new state every few minutes.  Florida remains "too close to call," along with a couple of the others (Georgia?  Ohio?).  I have given Georgia to Trump, and Ohio to Clinton, so Florida will be held up as the lynch pin for the election.  Remember, you need 270.  With Florida, Trump would be at 232 at this point.  But the truth is, it is already over.  Here is why:

10:00 PM  Iowa, North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, 
                  Oregon, Utah,                                                            231                          219
                  [Nevada too close to call - 6 at stake]

11:00 PM California, Washington, Hawaii                                  312** Winner        219

04:00 AM Alaska [3 at stake]

Florida and Nevada (and Ohio and Georgia if needed) will be called late, but won't matter in this scenario.

Notice that Hillary has prohibitive leads in the polls in 4 of the 5 final states to close their voting:  California (55), Washington (12), Oregon (7) and Hawaii (4).  These 4 "locks" guarantee her 78 electoral college votes after 11:00 p.m.  There is simply no way that Trump will carry any of those states.

Now, look back at the time line and subtract those 78 votes from the 270 she needs to win the election.  As soon as she reaches 192 electoral college votes without the west coast, it is all over. In this scenario, that happened with the 9:00 announcements.  So, soon after 9:00 p.m. we should actually be very certain of the eventual outcome.

So what should you REALLY be looking at?  The states that could go either way before 9:00 p.m. will decide the election.  They are:  Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.  They total 54 electoral votes.  Take this from her projected 231 score at 9:00 p.m., and you have 177 if they are all up for grabs.  

Remember, she really only needs 192 votes by 9:00 p.m. to win (knowing that the west coast is a guarantee), so she will only need any one of Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20) or Michigan (16). 

Nothing important will happen before 8:00 p.m., or after the 9:00 p.m. states are announced.  Rent a movie, catch up on email or play a game. Tune in around 8:45 and by 9:30 you should know.

SO IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS:  If current polling holds,  ONE of the following determines the election for Clinton:  Ohio (Clinton up 1%), Pennsylvania (Clinton up 6%) or Michigan (Clinton up 6%).  If Trump sweeps those, then Florida (Clinton up 4%) decides the election.  It's just that simple.

For poll closing times and more details, go to the green papers.

For electoral college polls and an interactive map, go to 270 to win.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

As Predicted

NO, the news cycle about presidential polls this week is not news.

As predicted in the spring, in this blog, going into the Republican Convention there will be a bump putting Trump even with Clinton in national polls.  Those are not electoral college polls, and therefore don't really matter.  I'll add to that bump, however, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but not Florida as "toss ups" coming out of the Republican convention next week.

Coming out of the Democratic convention two weeks later, however, Clinton's bump will put her ahead for the duration.  Please also recall the electoral college math demands that Trump win Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania to win the election.  The odds of him sweeping those three are very low at this point.

Nothing new here.... See you in November.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Electoral College Map Game

270 electoral votes to win:

Here is your link to an Electoral College Interactive Map for those who want to play with the possibilities for the fall election.  The folks at 270towin dot com update the polls daily, and have an interesting "concensus pundit map" that shows various levels of "safety" for the two major candidates.  Remember, in 1824 (John Quincy Adams), 1876 (Rutherford B. Hayes), 1888 (Benjamin Harrison) and 2000 (George W. Bush) the election was won by candidates who did not win more popular votes than their opponents.

According to the pundits, as of July 7, the following states are in play:  Colorado (9), Iowa (4), Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.  All of the other states are significantly leaning, or solidly leaning one way or the other and are unlikely to change.

As of today, here's my best guess:

What does your map look like?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Trump/Clinton electoral college polls and the math against Bernie

Despite my own advice, I continue to watch the polls for the Electoral College.

One of the best scientific sites is Election Graphs dot com which averages the last 5 polls in each state, and then presents various charts and diagrams showing clearly the swing states.

Trump can not win without Florida AND Ohio.  Since the Romney election, I have maintained that the key to a new Republican coalition for national elections is to get 50% of women and a majority of hispanics.  Without women and hispanics, it is hard to see how the Republicans can hope to win national offices.  Of course Trump is polling at record setting lows with both categories, which in Florida is especially devastating. In a time when the incumbent Democrat enraged Cuban Americans in Florida by normalizing relations with Castro's Cuba, only Trump can manage to lose that demographic.

Current Summary
Trump Best264274Trump by 10 EV
Expected338200Clinton by 138 EV
Clinton Best384154Clinton by 230 EV
The tipping point state is Florida where Clinton is ahead by 4.2%.

So, I maintain you can all go back to sleep and wait to the fall.


As of today, Hillary has 1769 at-large delegates.  She needs 2383 to win the nomination on the first ballot.  That means she needs 614 more delegates.  How will she get there?

All of the remaining contests total 933 at-large delegates still available. Hillary is polling ahead in California, New Jersey and most of the other states.  Assume she gets 55% of the 933, for 513 delegates.  She will finish the primary season with 2,282 delegates, 101 shy of the 2383 she needs.  Bernie, in this math, will have won 1,921, or 462 shy of the 2383 he needs.  The super delegates will absolutely decide who the candidate is.  There are 712 super delegates in the Democratic party.  469 of them have already declared in favor of Hillary.  Game, set match.


In fact, with those 469 + her current 1769, Hillary already stands at 2,238 delegates, just 145 away from clinching the nomination.  In order for Bernie to win the nomination, he would need to win all 212 undeclared super delegates, plus 789 of the remaining 933 at-large delegates.  That would require winning every single remaining contest 85% to 15% over Hillary. Given the fact that he is actually behind in the polls, well... he is ONLY staying in the contest because it is his last chance at publicity and influence.


Virgin Islands on June 4,      12 delegates
Puerto Rico on June 5,          67

Over 800 total delegates on June 7:

New Jersey,
New Mexico
North Dakota
South Dakota

Washington DC, June 14      45 delegates.


As noted in the Bernie math, there are 212 "undeclared" super delegates at this point. They will most likely follow the election results in their home districts, or the party nominee.  If they split 106-106, Hillary wins the nomination right away on the first ballot.  According to

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Circling Back on the (Still Predicatable and Boring) Presidential Process


Here are the "Odds" from Vegas (Bovada) as of today:  Clinton is still a clear favorite over Trump for the White House.

Hillary Clinton -340
Donald Trump +280

A CNN news poll today puts Hillary +13% over Trump if the election were to be held today. So...

Looking back at my early February posting, there have been no surprises.

Here we are, as predicted, on May 4, 2016, and both Trump and Clinton have prohibitive leads and clear paths to their nominations.  Cruz and Kasich have now both suspended their campaigns and Trump is unopposed to lead the Republican ticket. Sanders has admitted that he is only trying to get more delegates to force his ideas into the Democratic platform for legislative action in the new congress after the elections.

Keep catching up on your old movies and books, as nothing interesting is likely to happen until the showmanship of the Conventions themselves.  And after that... since both Clinton and Trump are completely known commodities, there is no reason to believe that any significant shift will occur in the electorate in the next 6 months to November.

The Republicans meet in Cleveland on July 18-21.  The Democrats will meet in Philadelphia on July 25-28.  It is possible that the Republican "bump" could see polls close to each other going into the Democratic convention, but Clinton will then likely pull ahead coming out of Philly.  Stay Tuned for electoral map musings in the days ahead.

(Official Disclaimer:  My political comments and views are my own and don't represent any institution or anyone else - except other well informed individuals :) )