Category Archives: politics

Trumping the Vote

Teaching U.S. History this year is too much fun.  No matter who you’re rooting for or against, the cast of characters is so entertaining.

To help you make sense of it, I’m sharing what I find the most helpful to my students.  So, here are the four best tools (today) to understand what the heck is happening:

  1. David Wasserman’s delegate scorecard shows how much each of the remaining GOP 4 need in each upcoming state.  In the primary, the number is 1237.  You have to get there to get the nomination.
    1. Here is Wasserman again, but in 538.  His argument is this – if Cruz/Rubio/Kasich are going to stop Trump, at minimum, you have to win your own state.  March 1 – that’s Cruz in Texas.  For Rubio (Florida) and/or Kasich (Ohio) that’s March 15.  If Trump beats you in your home state, take your ball and go home sorry.
  2. Cook Political is key as well.  I check it daily.  Here’s Amy Walter explaining why she underestimated Trump.  If you want good solid analysis without the fluff, Cook Political is the place.
  3. Last but not least, once we get to the general election, the only # that matters is 270.  It’s not about the polls or the percentages – especially nationally.  It’s about can you get to 270 electoral votes.  This swing the vote tool is killer.  Move the sliders below and you can watch the states swing from blue to red or vice versa.  If it’s Trump v. Hilary, it’ll be the first time in American history that two general election candidates have unfavorables so high.

No matter how crazy things may be – these four tools remain helpful.

Cruz’s use of shame or winning @ all costs

I’m always curious how political campaigns work (or don’t).  Whether it’s watching the fictional characters of the West Wing, (Toby: “we have to get out of New Hampshire”)

or getting day-after stories like this one from Sasha Issenberg, it’s fun to think about.  Sasha, the author of Victory Lab, lays out how the Cruz campaign strategized in Iowa.  Because there were so many candidates and because Cruz had to do well in IA, the micro-analysis they did mattered.

What’s the line about the two guys hiking in the woods, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you”?  Cruz just had to outrun Rubio, Bush et al.  He did that.

But how?  That’s where it gets interesting.  The Cruz campaign decided in very specific instances to send a voter-violation mailer.  It shamed (or attempted to shame) marginal voters to show up at the caucus.  Here’s what I find interesting – these were voters that Cruz’s people weren’t counting on anyway. In their mind they weren’t going to show up (see the ‘F’ grade) up there?  But if they did, they would probably vote for Cruz.  So what did Cruz do?  He sent the voting violation mailers.

Did he get crap for it?  Sure.  Did he win Iowa?  Yes.  Are the two related?  I think so.

Cruz had to win Iowa.  Lose there and you’re toast.  But what’s his path now?  538 thinks it’s “get a 2nd in N.H. and then roll again in South Carolina“.  Can he micro-analyze again?  Will he send out similar South Carolina mailers?

We’ll see. No matter what, I have to admit that he saw these marginal Iowa votes and rolled the dice.  Ethical?  No.  Effective? Maybe.

Post-retirement Boomer Church

Here are Bob Lefsetz’s predictions for 2015.

My favorite is:

14. Baby boomers will continue to run the music business. No significant change will happen until they retire, which is at least a half decade off.

Applied to the church, I’d say it this way:

Baby boomers will continue to run the church. No significant change will happen until they die (or get too old to care), which is at least a half decade off.

In the music business, I get it. Those damned Boomers have spent their whole lives waiting for the payoff in control of the money machine. In church, I don’t.

The founder of our movement, a working stiff (carpenter), told us two things about just this sort of situation:

      Don’t lord it over each other when you do get your hands on the levels of the machine.
      If you want to keep your life, you’ll lose it.

This isn’t complicated. Church Booomers can’t have it both ways. Talking to them, I hear them wanting simultaneous things happening:

      Keep this church exactly like it is. (I like it this way.) &
      I want you (younger generation) to come right now.

The youngers have shown they’re not interested. They’re voting with their feet and those feet aren’t coming into your church. So you’re left with two options:

  1. Stop complaining about their ‘not coming’. If you want to keep it like it is, fine. It’s America. Nobody is forcing your church to change. But you do have to stop complaining. You want it your way. Cool, keep it that way.  But you don’t get to complain about their no-shows.
  2. Try something and see if the no-shows show up. As a mentor used to say to me,

“Jeff you can’t look at that problem and have it stare back at you, or you can try to do something about it.”

Lefsetz is right, nothing’s gonna change for a while. But it should would be nice if it did.

Mid-terms are not Presidential elections but they could be close

One of my AP US History students asked me if this was the most that a party had controlled the House of Representatives. I didn’t know so we looked it up.
Here’s what we found:
Combined--Control of the U.S. House of Representatives - Control of the U.S. Senate.png
Combined–Control of the U.S. House of Representatives – Control of the U.S. Senate” by ChrisnHoustonFile:Control of the U.S. Senate.PNG
File:Control of the U.S. House of Representatives.PNG. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Look at the second box (that’s the House).

Turns out in the 1940’s the Democrats controlled almost 80% of the House. Republicans have 244 out of 435, so they’re getting there (56%). To reach those 1940’s #’s the GOP would have to win almost 90 more seats.

Then my student asked a different question:

Does a whooping in the House mean the GOP will win the 2016 presidency?

Not so fast. Why? Because the geographic map (top-right) is misleading. We have to pay attention to where the populations are located. As Obama showed in 2008 & 2012, winning the cities by enough to offset the rural areas was a winning gig.
Here’s a population proportional map of the House.

Where the voters are still matters. It’s not real estate, it’s voters. We’ll see in 2016.