Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Conventional Wisdom: GOP DAY 1

While The Omnivore holds out hope for a floor-clearing brawl, the first day of the convention seems to have more or less delivered on what-did-you-expect. The first part of the day had a voice-vote rejection of Never-Trump which was ham-handed (and probably unnecessary).

The speaking events were less well watched (The Omnivore had stuff to do, yo) but it seemed Rudy Giuliani ranting like a maniac was the high-point. There are allegations Melina Trump plagiarized some of Michelle Obama's speech (maybe her secret hero is Joe Biden?) and apparently some viewers found the rest of it incoherent--but over all, it seems to The Omnivore that it'll play well to the base.


This is Erick Erickson's The Resurgent's live-tweet recap (with full video).

Thoughts On The Convention

This, from Princeton Electoral Consortium is what the race looks like today:
The red zone is around 65% chance and the yellow is 95%. The spread is based on the historical "elasticity" of the shift in vote--how much does it likely move between now and November. If the race were "held today" Clinton's chance of winning would be over 95%. Assuming that the vote-count drifts "within normal parameters," if it goes in Trump's favor, she has an 80% chance of winning in November.

The methodology here has held up extremely well since 2008.

What Does This Tell Us?

Below is a 538 look at some campaign events for Romney vs. Obama and their impact on the vote aggregate (note: 538's methodology is different from PEC's--but they generally converge):

From this it is hard to tell what exactly contributed to the slide in Romney's polling (or the gain in Obama's). For example, Libya is #Benghazi. There are two basic kinds of movement in national polling numbers:

  1. Undecideds making a decision.
  2. Partisans coming home.
You can add (3) "decides" switching sides--but while that happens, it's statistically insignificant in most cases so long as both candidates remain in the race. The distinction between 1 and 2 is that in the case of 2, they were really, always, going to vote one way or the other and when something happens they now feel they can declare for the candidate they were always gonna cast a ballot for in the first place. Consider this:
Yet many of these “stuck in the middle” Americans, Lincoln Park finds, still identify with one party or another. When the firm cross-referenced ideological inclinations with party identification, the share of ideologically “stuck in the middle” Americans who also identify as nonpartisan Independents was just 4%.
The survey finds that when push comes to shove there are really only 4% of voters who haven't made up their minds. The Omnivore suspects it's an even lower number: most people have a handful of issues they really care about and have probably already been persuaded by the candidates on those issues.

The remaining part of the race comes down to:

  1. Get Out The Vote: can the campaigns convince their ideological supporters to actually get to the polls? This involves door-knocking, phone-banking, and so on. 
  2. Rubbing It In: if you sleep between now and the vote, even if, today, a lot of people were on your side, they'd likely lose confidence in you. Both parties have to keep up the drum-beat of messaging and partisan massaging until the ballots are ready. 
  3. Expanding your targets. Clinton wants more minorities going to the polls. Trump wants more white males (to be clear, both want whoever they can get--but there are trends, right?). This is different than GOTV because it involves talking to new people.
The chances for an elastic event to change the vote comes down to a few pre-packaged scenarios. The party conventions, Vice President roll-outs, and the debates. Sprinkled in there are (a) run of the mill gaffes (most of which are not very important) and (b) the odd black-swan event like a war, another major terrorist attack, economic collapse, etc.

The question over the next three days is going to be: Are the Republicans blowing one of their key chances to get a bounce (considering that they will not, over time, keep all the "bounce"?). We'll see.

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