Category Archives: presidential elections

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.

Feeling the Bern of Trump – In My Church

If you only have time to read one thing today (besides this blog), go here and read David Brooks talking about why he misses Obama.

Brooks’ book The Road to Character lists 15 keys at its conclusion.  #3 & 4 are:

  • Pride is the central vice
  • Humility is the central virtue.

Take the current leaders in the Presidential primaries and you’ll see this.

Bernie first, I’ll call him dynamite pride: the unfiltered belief that since the system sucks, we should blow it up.  Literally, “anything is better than this.”

Turning to Trump, I’ll call his nostalgia pride: the unexamined belief that the ‘good ole days’ are where we have to get back to – no matter what.  “Making America great again” can mean so many things and thus doesn’t mean anything.

In my church these two prides show themselves demographically.

  •  The olderlies (my daughter’s word when she was 4) suffer from nostalgia pride.  They want to make this church great again and there’s no hesitation (a la Trump) to harken back to a past memory or time when it was good.Memory
  • The younger crowd who, while committed to church (“I’m here aren’t I?”) want to blow it up – Bernie style.  Invoking “this is stupid” they can’t understand why we keep doing it this way.Dynamite

At 46, I’ve been a charter member of both of these camps – it just depends on when.

Here’s the problem: at root they both suffer from that central vice – pride.  Dynamite can’t hear nostalgia because dynamite only sees one solution – destruction.  Nostalgia can’t hear dynamite because it’s only view of a better church is historical.

If we truly want to follow that Crazy Carpenter, we have to do three things (revolutionary in their own right):

  1. Stop comparing our best to the other’s worst.  Is that my brother or sister in this crazy family or is that an idiot who doesn’t get it?  Family?  Oh, I need to listen to you.  Idiot? I have to shout you down.
  2. Stay in the room with difference.  Am I going to learn something from you?  Yes, but only if you’re different and I stay – and shut up – long enough.
  3. Trust the slow work of God.

Bernie dynamiters are right in that some things really need to change.  Trump nostalgics are right in that there’s 2000 years of hard-won Jesus history that shouldn’t be thrown out.  But both are wrong in what they deny.  Both lack the essential humility to say, “Not my will but yours be done.”  I’m more convinced than ever that the Spirit animates our work and our lives.  But we have to grow up – every day.  If we’re not willing to grow, why are we following that Crazy Carpenter?  Why does it matter?

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.

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.