Monday, May 18, 2015

Last Call For Dying Dinosaurs

Daniel McGraw does some math for Politico and comes up with the figures that show a lot more Republican voters than Democratic voters will have died off between 2012 and 2016, enough so that the GOP will have even more of a hurdle in capturing 270 electoral votes next year.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?

Since it appears that no political data geek keeps track of voters who die between elections, I took it upon myself to do some basic math. And that quick back-of-the-napkin math shows that the trend could have a real effect in certain states, and make a battleground states like Florida and Ohio even harder for the Republican Party to capture.

By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats.

Here is the methodology, using one age group as an example: According to exit polls, 5,488,091 voters aged 60 to 64 years old supported Romney in 2012. The mortality rate for that age group is 1,047.3 deaths per 100,000, which means that 57,475 of those voters died by the end of 2013. Multiply that number by four, and you get 229,900 Romney voters aged 60-to-64 who will be deceased by Election Day 2016. Doing the same calculation across the range of demographic slices pulled from exit polls and census numbers allows one to calculate the total voter deaths. It’s a rough calculation, to be sure, and there are perhaps ways to move the numbers a few thousand this way or that, but by and large, this methodology at least establishes the rough scale of the problem for the Republicans—a problem measured in the mid-hundreds of thousands of lost voters by November 2016. To the best of my knowledge, no one has calculated or published better voter death data before.

So again, with all things being equal, the ruthless calculus of mortality provides yet another problem for the GOP heading forward.  Whether or not it will be enough of a difference to help the Democrats remains, but it's certainly not helping the Republicans at this point. They have enough problems, and this only adds to them.

Ed Kilgore however has serious doubts about the whole thing.

Even if you buy McGraw’s math, the GOP’s “death deficit” amounts to about one-third of one percent of the electorate. I do think there’s something to be said for taking a good look at the generational change within the over-65 vote, in which less pro-GOP baby boomers are replacing a profoundly conservative Silent Generation.

But for those who are convinced Republicans are in some sort of demographic death spiral, the temptation will be strong to take it a bit too literally and believe that even in a four-year interval the GOP has bought itself a ticket to the boneyard. Don’t count on it.

Again, the difference is marginal at best, and it's not much of a headwind considering 125 million people plus voted in 2012.  At most, it's icing on a cake that will definitely be decided by far more meaningful factors, the largest of which is if anyone running for the Dems in 2016 will be able to turn out the Obama voter coalition.

My gut answer is no, but will they be able to build enough of a new coalition to win?

We'll see.

Married To The Slob

Jeb Bush's disastrous interview tour continues, this week with a fresh foray into the same-sex marriage minefield as he once again proves Republicans hopelessly out of touch with America.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida hardened his position against same-sex marriage in an interview that aired on Sunday, making clear he did not believe in constitutional protection for gay marriages — an issue now before the United States Supreme Court — and leaving out his past call for “respect” for gay couples.

Appearing on “The Brody File” on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Mr. Bush, a likely Republican candidate for president in 2016, was asked in a brief interview if he believed there should be a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

“I don’t, but I’m not a lawyer, and clearly this has been accelerated at a warp pace,” he said. “What’s interesting is four years ago, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had the same view that I just expressed to you.” He added: “Thousands of years of culture and history is just being changed at warp speed. It’s hard to fathom why it is this way.”

He also warned that the country’s future would be at risk without traditional marriages between a man and a woman who go on to raise children.

“To imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, committed child-centered family system, is hard to imagine,” Mr. Bush said. “We need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.”

So he's a "stalwart supporter of traditional marriage" when the audience is the Christian Broadcast Network, but when it comes to a more national audience...

“We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law,” he said in a statement to The New York Times in January. “I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue — including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.”

So either he's a liar, he thinks evangelical Christian Republican voters are complete morons, or both. So which is it, Jebya?

They May Take Our Bear Claws, But They Will Never Take Our Freedom

The next great conservative outrage is coming, one baker's dozen at a time.

The Obama administration is expected to all but ban trans fat in a final ruling that could drop as soon as next week, killing most uses of an ingredient that has been put in everything from frozen pizza to Reese’s Pieces but since deemed harmful to human health. 
The agency may create some very limited exemptions, but the ruling could force food companies to cut trans fat use beyond the 85 percent reduction already achieved over the past decade — a key piece of the Obama administration’s broader agenda to nudge Americans toward a healthier diet.  
The food industry believes low-levels of trans fats are safe. Industry leaders have banded together behind-the-scenes to craft a food additive petition that will ask FDA to allow some uses of partially hydrogenated oils, such as in the sprinkles on cupcakes, cookies and ice cream. The industry hasn’t shared details, but officials maintain the uses will represent “very limited amounts.” 
For more than 60 years, partially hydrogenated oils have been used in food products under the status generally recognized as safe, which does not require FDA’s approval. But since the 1990s, reams of studies have linked trans fat consumption to cardiovascular disease, causing somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 premature deaths before the industry started phasing it out. 
In late 2013 the Obama administration issued a tentative determination that partially hydrogenated oils are not generally recognized as safe. The move sent shock waves through the food industry, which has already brought down average consumption from more than 4 grams per day to about 1 gram per day — an exodus largely fueled by mandatory labeling imposed a decade ago. Scores of popular products, including Oreos and Cheetos, have quietly dropped partially hydrogenated oils over the years, but it remains an ingredient in many products, including Pop Secret microwave popcorn, Pillsbury Grands! Cinnamon Rolls and Sara Lee cheesecake, as well as some restaurant fryers and commercial bakery goods. 
If FDA sticks to its guns in its final determination — and most in food policy circles assume it will — the agency will be taking a firm step toward pushing out more of the remaining uses of trans fat. 
“This is a massive win for public health,” said Sam Kass, the former senior adviser for nutrition at the White House and executive director of Let’s Move!, noting that FDA has estimated removing trans fat could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and some 7,000 deaths. 
“There are few targeted actions you can take in this space that have that kind of direct impact,” said Kass. He said he expects FDA will ultimately allow negligible uses of trans fat, because there’s no science that shows such levels are harmful.

Prepare to hear stories about how this will wipe out millions and millions of food industry jobs and heroic restaurant and bakery owners, even though as the article says, the move away from trans fats has been a nationwide trend for years.  And the reason why food companies have been moving away is because they are dangerous, and there's plenty of lawsuits in the works over them. The industry is also expected to have years to phase the rest of trans fats out.

Needless to say, the right is going to go bonkers for weeks over this.  Watch.


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