Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Last Call For We Don't Need No Education

I'm still kind of mad at Nate Silver, but his evidence that the percentage of a given county's residents with a 4-year college degree having a direct correlation to who the county voted for president is pretty overwhelming.

I took a list of all 981 U.S. counties 1 with 50,000 or more people 2 and sorted it by the share of the population 3 that had completed at least a four-year college degree. Hillary Clinton improved on President Obama’s 2012 performance in 48 of the country’s 50 most-well-educated counties. And on average, she improved on Obama’s margin of victory in these countries by almost 9 percentage points, even though Obama had done pretty well in them to begin with.

.Although they all have highly educated populations, these counties are otherwise reasonably diverse. The list includes major cities, like San Francisco, and counties that host college towns, like Washtenaw, Michigan, where the University of Michigan is located. It also includes some upper-middle-class, professional counties such as Johnson County, Kansas, which is in the western suburbs of Kansas City. It includes counties in states where Clinton did poorly: She improved over Obama in Delaware County, Ohio, for example — a traditionally Republican stronghold outside Columbus — despite her numbers crashing in Ohio overall. It includes extremely white counties like Chittenden County, Vermont (90 percent non-Hispanic white), and more diverse ones like Fulton County, Georgia, where African-Americans form the plurality of the population. If a county had high education levels, Clinton was almost certain to improve there regardless of the area’s other characteristics.

Then Nate took the 50 least educated large counties.

These results are every bit as striking: Clinton lost ground relative to Obama in 47 of the 50 counties — she did an average of 11 percentage points worse, in fact. These are really the places that won Donald Trump the presidency, especially given that a fair number of them are in swing states such as Ohio and North Carolina
. He improved on Mitt Romney’s margin by more than 30 points (!) in Ashtabula County, Ohio, for example, an industrial countyalong Lake Erie that hadn’t voted Republican since 1984.

And this is also a reasonably diverse list of counties. While some of them are poor, a few others — such as Bullitt County, Kentucky, and Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana — have average incomes. There’s also some racial diversity on the list: Starr County, Texas, is 96 percent Hispanic, for example, and Clinton underperformed Obama there (although she still won it by a large margin). Edgecombe County, North Carolina, is 57 percent black and saw a shift toward Trump.

How do we know that education levels drove changes in support — as opposed to income levels, for example? It’s tricky because there’s a fairly strong correlation between income and education.4 Nonetheless, with the whole country to pick from, we can find some places where education levels are high but incomes are average or below average. If education is the key driver of changes in the electorate, we’d expect Clinton to hold steady or gain in these counties. If income matters more, we might see her numbers decline.

As it happens, I grew up in one of these places: Ingham County, Michigan, which is home to Michigan State University and the state capital of Lansing, along with a lot of auto manufacturing jobs (though fewer than there used to be). The university and government jobs attract an educated workforce, but there aren’t a lot of rich people in Ingham County. How did Clinton do there? Just fine. She won it by 28 percentage points, the same as Obama did four years ago, despite her overall decline in Michigan.

And in most places that fit this description, Clinton improved on Obama’s performance. I identified 22 counties5 where at least 35 percent of the population has bachelor’s degrees but the median household income is less than $50,0006 and at least 50 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white (we’ll look at what happened with majority-minority counties in a moment, so hang tight). Clinton improved on Obama’s performance in 18 of the 22 counties, by an average of about 4 percentage points.

So yeah, it's pretty clear at this point that Donald Trump's play to a combination of fear, ignorance, and white identity politics (and a need for "beneficent" white identity politics to help less educated, poorer non-white areas) was the key to his victory.

And he did it masterfully.

Trump on Trump

Donald Trump went to visit the NY Times today.  Reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted what the President-elect said:

How does that even work? How can be be this oblivious to the very reason he won?
But here's the big one.

Another President said something remarkably similar 50 years ago.

We're in a lot of trouble, guys. But you knew that.

How To Steal An Election, Con't

Well, I mentioned Sunday that NC GOP Gov. Pat McCrory was trailing his Democratic opponent, AG Roy Cooper, in his re-election race, and that McCrory refuses to concede the race. I also mentioned that it looked like McCrory might try to stall or pull some other chicanery so that the Republican-dominated NC General Assembly would then declare McCrory the winner.

As of today this definitely looks like the plan, and Republicans in NC are definitely moving forward with it and then some.  But first, any good heist needs the setup:

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore said Monday that the legislature could revisit voter ID requirements and other election laws in the wake of complaints filed with help from Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign.

During a news conference announcing House Republican leaders for next year’s legislative session, Moore was asked about the complaints filed amid a tight governor’s race – making claims that dead people and convicted felons voted in this year’s election.

“The fact that there are a number of protests related to the election at least make it an issue that it’s something that needs to be dealt with,” Moore told reporters.

The speaker said GOP legislators still support the voter ID law that was struck down by a federal court this year.

We believe firmly that the voter ID law that we passed should have passed constitutional muster in every way, and certainly we’ll continue to work on that because we believe voter integrity is very important,” he said.

Did you catch that?

The NC GOP are now heavily implying the idea that, because part of the state's effort to disenfranchise black voters was struck down by the courts, that McCrory's loss can be attributed to lack of "voter integrity". 

Pay close attention to that setup, because the heist is now in the works. Mark Jospeh Stern at Slate explains:

This chicanery will be easier to pull off than you might expect. Thus far, McCrory has questioned votes in more than half of North Carolina’s counties. One attorney monitoring the proceedings called these challenges “silly, small in number, poorly researched and often defamatory,” which is undeniable: Republican-controlled county election boards have forcefully rejected McCrory’s challenges, concluding that there is simply no proof of widespread fraud or malfeasance as McCrory claims. Frustrated by these setbacks, McCrory petitioned the Republican-controlled State Board of Elections to take over the review process. The board refused, but it agreed to meet on Tuesday to set guidelines for how county boards should address complaints.

Despite the utter lack of evidence to support allegations of fraud, McCrory’s team has launched a misinformation campaign to cast a pall of suspicion over the results
. His campaign spokesman asked, “Why is Roy Cooper fighting to count the votes of dead people and felons?” McCrory’s close ally and current state budget director, Andrew T. Heath, also tweeted that Durham County has 231,000 residents over the age of 18 but 232,000 registered voters, implying fraud. (In reality, Durham’s 2015 voting-age population was about 235,600, and the county has only 193,659 active registered voters; its Republican-controlled election board already unanimously rejected a complaint alleging malfeasance.) Now McCrory’s lawyers are targeting black American voter outreach groups for purportedly violating minor procedural rules while helping voters fill out absentee ballots. The governor has falsely accused these groupsof conducting a “massive voter fraud scheme.”

McCrory can, and probably will, still ask for a statewide recount. But he must know that a recount will not close such a sizable gap. His real goal appears to be to delegitimize the results to such an extent that the state legislature—which holds a Republican supermajority—can step in and select him as the winner. North Carolina state law states that when “a contest arises out of the general election,” and that contest pertains “to the conduct or results of the election,” the legislature “shall determine which candidate received the highest number of votes” and “declare that candidate to be elected.” By alleging fraud, mishandling of ballots, and irregular vote-counting, McCrory is laying the groundwork for the legislature to proclaim that a “contest” has arisen as to “the conduct or results of the election.” At that point, it can step in, assert that McCrory received “the highest number” of legitimate votes, and “declare [him] to be elected.”

The best part? Under the law, the legislature’s decision is “not reviewable” by the courts. Republican legislators can simply step in, overturn the decision of the voters, and grant McCrory another term. The courts have no authority even to review the legality of their actions.

So McCrory is trying to imply Cooper stole the election with the help of those people, and clearly the NC General Assembly is buying this argument, so much so that it's already blaming the federal court that struck down NC's unconstitutional "omnibus voter bill" before the election.  This setup is important because it's going to be what McCrory uses as justification for stealing this election, full stop.

And he's expecting a friendly Trump administration to refuse to take any real federal action.  After all, the NC GOP's voter suppression laws, and similar laws in Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania  were the major reason why Trump won the state and the election.

This is a huge deal and I'm definitely keeping an eye on it.


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