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How Donald Trump Pulled Off the Unimaginable

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

trumpfaceAs a practical matter, why did Donald Trump win the presidency against all rational expectations?

Because:

– While he lost the popular vote by at least a million votes* – almost exactly as predicted by the polls  – he won the electoral vote by a handful of votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from white voters in rural areas and small towns.

– FBI Director James Comey’s interference in the election further decimated Hillary Clinton’s favorability after a billions of dollars worth of false-equivalency reporting by a mainstream media – especially cable news – that gave Trump a free pass on his proposals, lies and behavior, while hammering Clinton on her handling of her emails.

– Neither pollsters nor either campaign fully grasped how significantly Trump had motivated non-college-educated white men in non-urban America to get out and vote. Their margins overtook Clinton’s strong appeal in cities and suburbs by just enough to allow Trump to squeak out victory. As Nate Silver has noted, had one in 100 voters shifted from Trump to Clinton, she would have won the electoral college 307-231.

remnickThe polls were right. Strange as it may seem, nationwide surveys by mainstream pollsters were off only by the margins of error in their surveys – including the outlying Los Angeles Times/USC tracking poll that missed predicting the national vote by just as much or more than traditional polling. Their models for likely voters simply didn’t anticipate Trump’s effect in the countryside.

This is why we will have President Donald Trump – three words that virtually no one, especially Calbuzz, ever expected to say.

No one has summed up this frightful turn in America better than David Remnick in the New Yorker who wrote:

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety…

The commentators, in their attempt to normalize this tragedy, will also find ways to discount the bumbling and destructive behavior of the F.B.I., the malign interference of Russian intelligence, the free pass—the hours of uninterrupted, unmediated coverage of his rallies—provided to Trump by cable television, particularly in the early months of his campaign.

We will be asked to count on the stability of American institutions, the tendency of even the most radical politicians to rein themselves in when admitted to office. Liberals will be admonished as smug, disconnected from suffering, as if so many Democratic voters were unacquainted with poverty, struggle, and misfortune.

There is no reason to believe this palaver. There is no reason to believe that Trump and his band of associates—Chris Christie, Rudolph Giuliani, Mike Pence, and, yes, Paul Ryan—are in any mood to govern as Republicans within the traditional boundaries of decency. Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment. Fascism is not our future—it cannot be; we cannot allow it to be so—but this is surely the way fascism can begin.

History was aligned against Clinton As Calbuzz noted in mid-October, “After two terms of one party or the other in power, American voters have generally sought a change.”presidents

 It’s extraordinary when a party keeps the White House after two terms.

Still, in the face of Trump’s wholesale attacks on women and minorities, his blatant lies and indiscretions, and his abject unfitness for high office, it seemed impossible that he could win the presidency, even by the tiniest of margins in a few upper Midwest industrial states. Call it a failure of imagination.

The worst and longest-lasting impact, of course, will be on the U.S. Supreme Court where he will appoint justices who will not – as Clinton’s appointees would – uphold abortion rights, overturn Citizens United, stand fast on immigration reforms, civil and voting rights and generally safeguard minority rights and progressive values.

But he will also have a free hand to cancel executive orders on climate change and nuclear arms controls and overturn health care for millions of low-income Americans, just for starters. Only where he is constrained by the Democrats in the Senate – who now must do exactly what the Mitch McConnell’s Republicans have done for eight years – is there hope that Trump’s retrograde agenda can be thwarted.

badpollingP.S. The Los Angeles Times and USC, by running a tracking poll that was always 6 percentage points too favorable to Trump, came out on the right side of the margin of error for the final decision. But it is intellectually dishonest and just plain wrong for David Lauter to write “the poll now looks like the only major survey to see the wave coming.”

Especially when he and a colleague wrote, just before the election, that they expected Clinton to win with 352 electoral votes.

Yes, Lauter allowed, the Times/USC poll was “at least as accurate as the majority of surveys that found Clinton ahead by 4 or 5 points.” A slight bow to his own poll’s error. But his survey was measuring the popular vote and if the New York Times estimate that Clinton will end up with about 1.2 million* more votes than Trump, then his survey’s prediction that Trump would win the popular vote will be off by more than top-drawer traditional surveys.

*I addition to the NYT, Nate Silver notes that “Clinton leads in the popular vote count. She should eventually win the popular vote by 1 to 2 percentage points, and perhaps somewhere on the order of 1.5 million to 2 million votes, once remaining mail-in ballots from California and Washington are counted, along with provisional ballots in other states.”

Why Trump Will Never Be President of California

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

bearflagrepublic

Donald John Trump, a racist and sexist obsessive liar, pathological narcissist and vicious bully, early Wednesday was elected the 45th President of the United States.

But he struggled to win barely one-third of the vote in California.

Although Trump won an astonishing and appalling victory that confounded every pollster, pro and political journalist in America, California triumphed by earning anew its iconic designation as the Great Exception.

While the ferret-headed, orange-stained demon rallied millions of resentful whites railing about “taking our country back,” Californians voted in huge numbers for policies and values that challenge and reject the fear and hatred mouthed by Trump – and that embrace and embody the diversity of what America is becoming.

trumpangry1He vs. We: Trump blood libeled minorities and immigrants while espousing disgusting attitudes about women; California for the first time elected an African-American woman to represent us in the U.S. Senate – in a campaign that matched her against a Latina congresswoman who is the daughter of Mexican immigrants — in a state where citizens strongly favor a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.

Trump licked the boots of NRA leaders, called for more and more guns, and even suggested Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton should be shot; California voters with Proposition 63 overwhelmingly approved some of the toughest gun control measures in the country, determined to stop the insanity of violence abetted by the easy availability of weapons and ammunition made for war.

Trump called for massive tax cuts for the wealthy, most of all for himself, so that the huge and relentlessly growing gap between the richest and the rest of us can increase further; Californians in a landslide vote passed Proposition 55, imposing higher taxes on those best able to pay them, in the name of funding public schools and health care for the poor, the sick and the elderly.

Trump said women should be “punished” for having an abortion; California long has had the strongest pro-choice constitutional and legal guarantees in the nation, going back to 1967, when Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act.

Trump personifies a brutish, all-against-all view of a rapaciously capitalistic society; Californian voters across the state looked favorably on hundreds of fiscal measures for education, communitarian expressions that acknowledge we’re all in this together.

guntoheadBoy did we blow it: We were wrong, completely wrong, about this election, for one basic reason: we simply did not believe so many white, non-urban Americans were capable of electing someone who a large majority of voters described as unfit to be president.

Trump will take office with fellow Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and, potentially, the U.S. Supreme Court, as Democrats find themselves in the weakest political position in memory.

World markets already are plunging and roiling with panic that a New York real estate thug and reality TV charlatan, who exhibits not a whit of awareness that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

That’s not to mention his authoritarianism, his virulent nationalism, his ignorance of the Constitution, his climate change denial, his hatred of a free press, his bromance with Vladimir Putin, disdain for U.S. military alliances, and the unhinged personal volatility he brings to his authority over the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

His presidency is a nightmarish prospect that fills us with dread, regardless of our good fortune of living in California.

Trump’s Legacy: The Worst Angels of Our Nature

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

hillaryheadshotNot since 1861, when Allan Pinkerton smuggled a disguised Abraham Lincoln into Washington under military guard, has a president-elect faced such full-on toxic partisan hatred as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And no, we haven’t lost track of time. Despite our addled mental and physical conditions, we realize it’s still Election Day.

The day after the primary, however, Calbuzz set forth the case for why Clinton would win; despite all the pointless babble blathered ever since by Chris Matthews, Chris Cillizza and Chris Wallace about every hourly event, we’ve seen nothing that has changed the fundamentals of our argument:

But as it stands today, all the agonizing, brooding and bed-wetting about a potential triumph by the racist, demagogic misogynist among right-thinking people everywhere is gratuitous, for three key reasons:

  –Electoral arithmetic…

  –The MSM is waking up…

   -He truly is nuts…

And if we’re wrong about what happens today, we’ll publish a Calbuzz Founders selfie wearing Dodger hats. (Our confidence is based on our own aggregation of the poll aggregations.)

  Clinton   Trump    ∆   Others
Real Clear Politics 47.2 44.3 2.9 8.5
Five Thirty Eight 45.5 41.9 3.6 12.6
Huff Post Pollster 46.1 41.5 4.6 12.4
NY Times 45.9 42.7 3.2 11.4
Talking Points Memo 48.9 44.0 4.9 7.1
Average 46.7 42.9 3.8 10.4

So: congratulations Hillary, just a mere 96 years after the franchise was extended to the other half of the population, you’re about to become the first woman elected president of the United States. Good luck with that honeymoon.

donaldtrumpHow the campaign went down: After two years and $3.2 billion in spending, here’s what the election boiled down to: Republican psychopath Donald Trump called her, with moderate cause, a corrupt, war-mongering, weak-kneed insider while she painted him, with ample justification, as an unstable demagogue filled with hateful, narcissistic prejudice.

He scoffed at her “Stronger Together” slogan, arguing  “We’re Stronger With Me Alone.” She said his “Make America Great Again” needed the add-on “for Rich White Guys” like his revolting pals Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie.

Every school child knows the political axiom that change beats the status quo. Except this time, when change came wrapped in a lying orange tub full of crazy.

From the kickoff through the fourth quarter of the campaign, the Calbuzz analysis held: that Latinos and women would be the key to Trump’s downfall, and when the final numbers emerge we’re confident this will be obvious. Final polls showed women voting for Clinton by at least 10 percentage points and Latinos – the fastest growing demographic in the population — by nearly 60 points.

Trump’s version of change, of course, equated to attacks on women and Latinos, not to mention blacks, Muslims, the disabled (and, most important, the truth); thus the rationale for his candidacy was doomed. Even a gutless, profit-chasing news media and a partisan, fifth-column secret police can’t fully compensate when change takes the form of overweening self-regard and smug ignorance in a vicious bully.

He told so many lies with such reckless abandon that the news media could never catch up to yesterday’s before they had to expound on today’s. And thus we saw the normalization of mendacity and the death of truth. What was once regarded as nutball insanity has become normalized by the MSM.

When we look back, this may turn out to have been Trump’s most destructive impact.

The most recent tear at our civic fabric during the campaign was the political weaponization of the FBI by Director James Comey whose rogue agents have done everything they could conjure to undermine Clinton’s campaign, including goosing the director to violate FBI protocols in ways we haven’t seen since the bad old days of J. Edgar Hoover.

Yet Donald Trump, the deplorable New York real estate hustler, will emerge today as a huuuge loser. And the term of Hillary Clinton, who has been the object of attack for 30 years and whose minor transgressions have been exploded into phony “scandals,” will become the subject of endless investigations and ultra-partisan obstructionism.

abelincolnWhat Hillary faces: Shortly before his inauguration in 1861, Lincoln made an iconic, heartfelt plea to the Southern states for unity:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies … The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

We’re not suggesting that Clinton is Lincoln material, only that she faces a Lincoln-grade national partisan divide similarly based on rabid right-wing emotions and notions. And we give her credit for trying to appeal to our better natures even before her election becomes official, as she did on Sunday while campaigning in Cleveland:

“It’s not good for anybody that our democracy and our country are viewed so suspiciously, without confidence. That is how we govern ourselves, so we have to work together.”

“I am taking very seriously the obligation I feel to reach out to all Americans,” she said. “I have never felt more strongly about what we can do together. I am confident, I am optimistic about the future we can make together.

Nice try, Hillary.

fire-breathing-dragon-1What Trump has wrought: The filth that the Republican candidate spewed from his mouth, day after day for 18 months – about minorities, Muslims, women, physically handicapped people, POWs and our political system itself – has enabled and empowered millions of lurking racist and misogynist xenophobes to say and act on a brand of polluted political views that it took the country more than a century to — apparently — move beyond.

He’s made it acceptable to claim President Obama is an African-born sleeper terrorist, to portray the First Lady as an ape, to refer to Clinton as “a bitch,” to wink and smirk about the wish for her to be assassinated, to portray “the blacks” as a criminal class hunkered down in “inner cities,” “the Mexicans” as raping and thieving murderers, women as little more than pleasure slaves, to be judged and used according to the appearance and appeal of their faces, breasts and legs.

He has, in short, destroyed whatever small store of civility, decency and good will towards others still existed in the open sewer of partisanship that is Washington D.C.

And even the cowardly, mouth breathing Establishment Republicans who constantly wavered in whether to support Trump and his rag-tag Tea Party legions – most notably, Utah’s repulsive Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R,-emails and the repugnant Speaker Paul Ryan – already have declared their intention not to accept the legitimacy of the choice made by American voters, but rather to thwart her by any means, just as they did Obama, including, according to the threat of one GOP dim bulb, the start of impeachment proceedings the day she takes office.

Peace-Love-Revolution-Photo-peace-and-love-revolution-club-25215499-500-375As a practical matter: Clinton’s attempt to govern will be hampered by the most significant demon Trump has unleashed: the normalization of hyper-partisan demagoguery that sees all compromise as capitulation and would rather smash the system than allow it to function.

At stake? A working Supreme Court, expanded health care, international security, nuclear non-proliferation, climate change, world peace. Little stuff like that.

That Trump was “uniquely unqualified” to be president, as President Obama says, barely begins to sum up the damage his candidacy has done — and will do – to the fortunes of the United States of America.

God bless us, every one.