A Different Thought Process

December 3, 2016

A Different Thought Process

Craig R. Wright


Folks who "think about thinking" frequently come to identifying two differing paths of processing thought, and how pretty much everybody does a bit of both, but it is not uncommon to have a distinct lean one way or the other. They talk about a linear process and a gestalt/holistic process. They talk about an analytic process versus a synthetic process. They talk about a process more conducive to analysis and the other more suited to theory. In an interesting interview with the head of an analytic branch of an intelligence agency, he made an interesting distinction of how some were better at solving what he called "puzzles" and others were better at solving what he distinguished as "mysteries." I see these descriptive attempts as all trying to capture the same dichotomy.


Me, I’m in the group whose thought process leans more to the latter in those descriptive attempts — the gestalt/holistic process, the synthetic process, the one better suited to theory and solving mysteries. I lean so hard in that direction that I think with a lot of people it is sometimes difficult for us to step into each other’s shoes in an exchange of understanding. Our thought process — how we understand things, problem solve, think things out — is different enough that it is hard to understand each other about what we "see."


In feedback I’ve gotten to my article on "Fixing a Presidential Election," the parts on my assessment of the probability of the 2016 election being fixed has mystified many in a way that I recognize as mostly being related to this difficulty that arises between folks who significantly differ in the degrees to which they use those two paths of thought in working things out. On reflection I should have anticipated that more. Cracking this particular type of nut relies heavily on the synthetic process, and that is so natural to me, about the same level as breathing, that it is easy to keep tripping over a mistaken assumption that others "breathe" the same way. I wrote that article in a manner of, "Okay, here’s what you need to know. I assume you will process it in a similar way to me. There will be various levels of agreement/disagreement, but you’ll at least understand how I landed where I did."


That did not work for a good number of folks. Perhaps if I tried to capture how my thought process actually worked through it, then that might clear some of the fog of foreignness.


There is a Stone Wall


Some with a thought process similar to mine have used analogies related to exploration and the use of maps, and some have used the construction of a house, because they find it helpful to think of cornerstones and their importance. I like a stone wall, one that is free of mortar in the style of the old New England walls. I find it helpful to see these irregular stones managing to join together to form the strength — the sense — of the wall. Some stones are bigger and play a more significant role in the wall. Some are so small and unnecessary you could pull them out and the wall would still be reasonably sound. Some are significant but do not necessarily fit as well or as securely as would be ideal, but that does stop the wall from standing, from making a degree of sense. As you examine the wall — fiddle with the stones — you come to know it better, and develop a sense of its reliability as a whole.

There is this stone wall that represents my gestalt understanding of the 2016 Presidential election, the election of an underdog, and a presumption so basic that I did not feel a need to say it or think it — an assumption that it was an honest election.


There are stones in this wall that look normal enough and fit well in the wall of an election of an underdog. There is the stone of a "rising movement," voters gathering behind a particular theme favoring the underdog — such as: "What we have to have is change." Over here is a stone of "late-breaking perceived scandal," as in the FBI Director announcing an investigation that could result in criminal charges against the upperdog.


In this other spot I see a stone I recognize from the most famous underdog victory in a Presidential election, Harry Truman over Thomas Dewey in 1948. While this 2016 stone is smaller than its counterpart in 1948, the stone of "repair of leakage from the party" also fits well in the wall.

(In 1948 Truman’s party needed to do some healing from its splintering at the Democratic National Convention over the strong Civil Rights plank. The entire delegation of one state walked out, along with a majority of another, and there were a lot of pockets of grumbling among those who remained. This more than anything made Truman a decided underdog in the period six to nine weeks before the election. A partial "repair" of party unity as the election drew closer was a big factor in Truman coming out of his underdog position to win.


But in total, the wall decidedly does not look right. I said in response to one comment something like, "Even though one does not expect an underdog to win, it doesn’t mean we don’t have a reasonable sense of what it would look like if he did win. This doesn’t look like that."


That’s the wall I’m looking at, and it has a significant hole that I have to reconcile to feel at peace with this wall. That sizable hole is the startling disconnect between the popular vote and the Electoral vote of the winning candidate. That disconnect is so large that based on the design of the Electoral College — which reflects a blend of representation of population and state that favors population by more than four-to-one —  one would expect the designers would be dismayed at the result of the 2016 election. The design is meant to be fine with a winner who trails in the popular vote if his margin of victory is covered by his edge among the Electoral votes not synched to population. But in the 2016 election that is way off by a factor of more than four.


The more I examined it, the more clear it became that the type of disconnect found in the 2016 Election between the winning margin of Electoral votes and the popular vote is the result of a precision of distribution that simply is not likely to occur in the dynamics of a Presidential election. It does not hit you that way at first glance — at least it didn’t hit me that way. It is easy to see how it is as least possible, and you start playing with a little, saying, "Well, you just move this a little over here, and this is a bump, and that a nudge, and there you are." Off the top of my head in an early stage, I guessed that it could happen about once every ten elections. But the more I thought through the interactions, the dynamics demonstrated in actual elections — how most of the shifts are more of a general than a precise nature, and how there are cross forces and canceling forces working to impede an extreme precision coming through, and how it keeps getting flattened out — well, it hit me: "This is not nearly what it appeared to be at first blush."


I had started off looking hard only at the elections since the 1964 election, the first with Electoral votes given to the District of Columbia.  But the Electoral College and a national vote have coexisted since 1880, and if one is willing to tolerate the absence of a single state for resisting doing a popular vote, you can extend that run all the way back to the 1832 election. How amazing it was to keep going back, and going back, and not finding anything comparable to this oddity in the 2016 election.


I finally found a precedent in 1888, 128 years ago. Continuing on back to 1832, that 1888 election remained the only one. You don’t even need the unusual magnitude common to both 1888 and 2016. In those 47 elections they are the only ones where the loser of the popular vote won the Electoral vote by a margin exceeding his margin in Electoral votes not tied to population.


I worked with those 46 prior Presidential elections prior to study the dynamics between the margin of victory in the popular vote and the Electoral vote. I came up with a variety of reasonable models to estimate the likely number of Electoral votes for a candidate with the same edge in the popular vote as the loser in the 2016 Election. The one that made the most sense to me easily had her  winning with a comfortable margin of 80 Electoral votes, which would be a remarkable turnaround from losing by 74 Electoral votes. The most conservative model — which meant taking out factors that logically should be part of the model, still give a comfortable margin of victory of 54 Electoral votes.


This was one heck of a hole to be confronted with. We can’t fill that hole with the common stones I already mentioned as fitting the election of an underdog. Stones like the "rising movement," "late-breaking perceived scandal," and "repair of leakage from the party" have a general affect, not a precise affect. They are not quite the proverbial tide raising all boats, but they are a tide raising too broad a swath of boats to have near the precision to be considered suitable to explaining this hole. The things that drove Harry Truman’s underdog victory were anything but precise. It actually rolled into a massive win in the popular vote, a margin of about 2.1 million or the equivalent of about 6.3 million in 2016 terms.


Well, how about the stone of targeted campaigning? That at least has the goal of being able to execute a precise edge. The problem with that stone is that campaigns have attempted this kind of targeting longer than anyone’s memory and it is pretty much a bust in producing that precise a result. The general outcome of targeted campaigning is a spotty hit-and-miss. That’s partly because that even if there were zero competition it is far from a guarantee that targeted campaigning can pull off its goal. But far more significant is that there is very active competition interfering with that goal. The other side is doing their own targeted campaigning, and the result is a "canceling out" dance between the two.


Running out of stones at hand, I moved to the wild card pile, which has the good old stone of chance distribution, the stone of luck, but it takes a heck of a long shot to fill this hole. The other stone in the wild card pile is the "possibility of the unanticipated" stone. You may know the story of the test of the chimpanzee that was intended to see which of the two possible ways he would work out to get a banana. The chimpanzee surprised them by finding a third way.


I turned that "possibility of the unanticipated" stone over and over in thought, trying to give it more substance by understanding it. Is there something going on in more modern elections that messes with the dynamic interactions of popular vote and Electoral vote observed in the whole of its history? If you looked at just the 13 prior elections that I started with (1964-2012), the data only suggests that the edge in the popular vote is even more meaningful than in the prior history. Is the edge in the popular vote less meaningful the closer the election is? One might be inclined to think so at first, because we tend to focus on the misses, and it has to be close to miss. But as far as predicting electoral votes, it continues to work very well even in the situation when it was leveraging larger chunks of votes. It was in testing that understanding against the historical evidence that I came to realize the 1888 Election was even more of a crazy outlier than I first thought.


That was the point in my thought process where I decided to do a little research into the 1888 election. I wanted to better understand the only precedent that approximates the oddball results in the 2016 Presidential election. Until I looked at the 1888 election, I would have had to make a weak guess just to name the candidates, and I had zero sense of what the election was like. I expected the result of my research to simply give me a better feel of the capacity of the luck factor to fill the hole.


It only took a few minutes of internet research to realize I was looking at a completely different animal. That extreme abnormality in the 1888 election did not happen in the context of a normal election — which would have bolstered the idea it was simply a very unusual event, an outlier covered by chance distribution. That freakish result happened in the context of what historians consider a highly corrupt election. It was fueled by what was — for those days — an unheard of level of donations of at least $3,000,000 from businessmen seeking protection from foreign competition through stringent tariffs promised by the Republican party. The RNC used this financial windfall to exploit vulnerabilities in the voting process and systematically bought votes and financed a small army of illegal voters — repeaters — in a couple of key states.


While 1888 and 2016 are far apart in time and different in many ways, they have the exact same dynamic for corruption to produce this precision of distribution unlikely to occur naturally. The Electoral College of 1888 is the same beast as the Electoral College of 2016, right down to the weights given to population and state being 81% and 19%.


So, I went back to that wall and took out the "possibility of the unanticipated" stone that was being used as part of the patch for the disturbing hole in the wall. I was flipping it in my hand, thinking: "I’ve been struggling filling this hole that feels so out of place, and now I know what this stone might be. I hadn’t been considering it because of the unspoken assumption attached to this wall, that it is an honest election. This stone in my hand, the ‘unanticipated stone’ might very well be a corruption of the vote."


What is known about the 1888 election, combined with its logical connection to its otherwise freak level of precision in distribution of vote, provides an unusually stringent stink test. I’ve been told that among those other 45 elections there are some with significant corruption in them, and I don’t doubt that. But it did not rise to the level of what was needed to produce the oddball results of 1888. Honest and dishonest, the other 45 states managed to pass the stink test of 1888. The first to fail that stink test was the 2016 Presidential election. For me, that’s where this election lost its assumption of innocence.


I put that stone back in the wall, leaving it as the "possibility of the unanticipated" stone that is part of what is weakly patching that hole, along with a long shot of luck. 


Working with Another Wall


Now I bring up another wall that is representative of the 2016 Election from the standpoint of it being fixed to elect the underdog. I start examining carefully the bottom row that is necessary for the wall to have any chance to stand. This essential row of stones is all about feasibility — "Does the opportunity actually exist to fix an election?" One of the stones for that row is the format of the Electoral College making it possible to fix an election using precision to leverage a large result. Another stone in that row is the vast differences in vote security from state to state, from "very good" down to "clearly vulnerable."


Some who commented on my article struggled to grasp that point. One fellow was a retired state worker who had familiarity with his state’s election security and knew it was among the best — which it is. The fact he saw fit to mention it suggests he placed relevance on it. But the truth is it had as much relevance as what he had for breakfast. It reminded me a bit of the head of the Association of Secretary of States speaking to a reporter on the security of the national vote. I don’t remember her name offhand, but she was from a small New England state that had one the top ratings for its security of its vote. She told the reporter how hard a fix would be, but when she got into examples of why, she talked about security measures she was familiar with from her state. I don’t know if she truly believed they extrapolated across the nation, but the reporter came away with the impression she was saying these safeguards were being used everywhere, which wasn’t remotely true. She made it sound like no one was using voting machines without VVPAT, when the actual truth is that approximately 40% of the Electoral votes in 2016 came from states so dependent on machines without VVPAT that they cannot do an effective paper audit. It is irrelevant that many states have security measures that make it very hard to rig their vote. It is only relevant that there are enough that don’t — and given the format of the Electoral College, there are way more than enough.


Another stone in the row of feasibility is motive, and that stone is more solid today to than in our past history. The motives of 1888 still exist today, partisan and corporate influence. But with the heightened activity between nations, we have now added the motive of foreign nation influence, which may be the strongest motive we have faced.


One more stone for that row was my specific research into understanding the vulnerabilities that currently exist, and how a sufficient number of them mesh with the anticipated strategic imperative of an entity trying to fix the election — to maximize the odds of going undetected, and if detected, difficult to trace back to those directing it.


The final stone in the row of feasibility is the prevailing opinion among those with expertise relevant to the current security of the voting process. That opinion is generally supportive of feasibility, and when talking about the states with the weaker security, there were scathing assessments of the ilk: "If it ain’t happened yet, it is only because no one has tried." The experts who are more conservative about the degree of feasibility — not denying it, but saying that it would be hard — are pretty much those who have a stake in the image of security, and I am suspicious of that. There was a time it was argued that automated cars were too secure to be hacked, and that stance largely came from the automotive companies advancing that technology. It was the independent tech experts who said otherwise and were proven right. I’ve seen the exact same thing happen in similar debates. I was further unimpressed with the "invested" experts when they would explain their position with points that logically are not as secure as the assumption being made about them — such as saying the system is too decentralized to be effectively rigged, or arguing that air-gapping a system is a sufficient protection.


Satisfied that the wall had the basic potential to stand, I went back to examining the whole wall, looking for any critical weaknesses, holes that needed to be filled/explained, and also working to recognize stones in a context of seeing how well they fit or did not fit with the theory of the wall.


One significant stone from that perspective is that precision-driven highly abnormal disconnect between the Electoral vote and the popular vote. The simple truth is you don’t expect to see that in the wall of an honest election, but it is not out of place at all in the wall of a dishonest election. Corruption of the vote cuts like a knife through all the forces that normally work in an honest election to drag on the development of this abnormal level of precision. Rather than being an abnormality, this phenomenon is actually likely to occur to some degree in this wall.


Then there is the stone of knowing that the only other time that type of disconnect has appeared in our Presidential elections was a case where the election was considered essentially the equivalent of a fix.


A fairly snug relevant fit is a stone representing the sophisticated hack of the DNC, which clearly had the purpose of assisting the election of the "winner" — who will reasonably appear in quotes for the consideration of this wall. That criminal act went well beyond the dirty tricks tolerated in a campaign. We impeach Presidents for stuff like that. A hack of an online system and a largely air-gapped system are different beasts in their complexity, but a documented criminal act that was so clearly outside the accepted lanes is a clear indication of an entity with the willingness to criminally work outside those lanes.


A related stone that also fits well in this wall is that the hack was traced with "high confidence" by our intelligence agencies to an entity that has the motive and realistic potential for the resources to fix our election.


And then there are a bunch of small stones that have a mounting collective relevance in fitting what one would expect to see in the context of this wall.


The results of the four mistaken exit polls perfectly lean to toward the "winner." They could have gone 0-4 or 1-3 or 2-2 or 3-1, and it was a straight 4 for 4.


Those mistaken exit polls did not follow a random pattern of distribution among the swing states and the other states that ended up close. In the smaller ones in Electoral votes, the exit polls correctly captured the winner of the recorded vote, but as would be expected in a fix taking advantage of the format of the Electoral College, the mistaken exit polls were a near perfect focus on the top swing states in Electoral votes. The 4 mistaken exit polls were among the top five swing states in electoral votes.


In a fix, the conspirators would not likely risk the extra exposure of fooling around with the swing states with the fewest Electoral votes. The winner swept the five top swing states in Electoral votes, but went 0-3 in the smaller swing states in both the reported votes and the exit polls.


In a fix, the swing state that is most likely to be targeted due to security vulnerabilities was Pennsylvania. The "winner" did take that swing state. It also was a state where the exit poll disagreed with the reported vote.


In a fix, the next most likely swing state to be targeted due to security vulnerabilities was Florida. (While Florida joined Pennsylvania as the only two swing states with so many votes counted without VVPAT that it was impossible to do a basic paper audit, the percentage of votes without that protection was much higher in Pennsylvania.) The "winner" did take Florida, and as in Pennsylvania, the Florida exit poll did not agree with the reported vote.


In a fix the cloud of suspicion would likely be thickest around Pennsylvania, not just because of it logically being the primary target, but because of the lack of early voting in PA. That meant the fix would have to overcome the fact that nearly all PA voters would have gone to the polls with the opportunity to know about the result of the FBI’s investigation into [D]. An analysis of Pennsylvania polling data around the axis of FBI Director Comey’s announcement of an investigation that could result in criminal charges against [D] resulted in a sharp shift against [D]. Her lead dropped from 5.1% but still stayed ahead by 1.3%. Under the reasonable assumption that this sharp movement in the polls was mostly a reaction to Comey’s announcement, one would reasonably expect a bounce for [D] when folks got a chance to hear the investigation was completed and that it had been a dud.


Because of the lateness of Comey’s second announcement being made on November 6th, there were no pre-election polls in PA when any respondent had a chance to be aware of the reporting of the outcome of the investigation. The only chance to evaluate its impact would be in the exit polls and in the reported vote. The exit polls showed the kind of bounce that would be reasonably expected, with [D] bouncing back to a lead of 4.4%. But the reported vote actually had her losing ground and falling behind -1.1%. That’s a pretty odd result and it takes place in the state most likely to be targeted in a fix, and one of the two swing states incapable of doing a basic paper trail audit. Does that prove the reported vote in Pennsylvania is fraudulent? Of course not, nor does it intend to or claim to. Is it an unusually thick cloud of suspicion as would be reasonably anticipated if the 2016 Election was being fixed? Yes it is.


Quibbling with a Stone is not Quibbling with a Wall


There are those who will quibble with whether this or that stone is that secure. I naturally do that, too, coming back to look at this or that stone as I learn something new, or find an additional insight.


I take seriously stuff like a respondent who pointed out that there was a late poll that was not covered in the source site I used for evaluating the line of continuation for the polls in Pennsylvania, and it favored the "winner" by 1%. I put that in the wall.


And I ended up getting a lot of benefit out of his recommendation of a second site for tracking polls that is similar to the one I used, 270toWin.com, in that it covers a lot of polls. I looked at that site quite a bit and used it re-check some elements of connectivity in the wall. It actually played a significant role in my being more confident about expecting a bounce for [D] in PA as a result of the news about the conclusion of the investigation.


A small stone that may grow in size and more firmly fit relates to something completely new to me that was just brought to my attention a couple of days ago, but it is too fresh for me to write about it here.


Now there are those who will say — and some will shout it — "You can’t use that!" about some small stones. I say you can as long as you keep perspective of what it is. Even if it were next to nothing, you get enough "next to nothings" and they can add into something — not as real proof but as something that could be meaningful in estimating probability. As seriously as I take the quibbling of stones, they have to be handled in proportion. Quibbling with a stone is not the same as quibbling with a wall. A lot of folks say they understand that, but as I grasp their thought process, I wonder about their commitment to that. A lot of time gets spent addressing small stones, even chips of stone, with rarely a chirp of recognition that it is about the wall.


We have two walls to weigh against each other. Neither proves anything, nor can a comparison between the two prove anything. It would be a very poor thinker who would put 100% confidence in one over the other. But it would be a rare thing to judge two stone walls the same. One is more likely than the other. Which is it?


"More likely than not" is not a demanding line to draw, and I feel extremely comfortable saying that it is more likely not that the result of the 2016 Presidential Election was fraudulent.


I know from some things said in feedback to my article that part of what makes that possibility hard for others to accept is that it feels unusual just to consider it. I totally get that. I started off assuming otherwise and did not even realize I had made that assumption. I had to be hit over the head with a 2x4 to break loose of that — twice, actually, to really let go. The first was realizing how mighty unusual it is to have an honest election look like this without a better set of explanations than I’d been able to come up with. And then I still needed to be smacked by the connection between the 1888 and 2016 election before I really was ready to take it on. We need to be ready to accept a big idea that has merit even though it goes against the comfort zone of how we’ve seen things and how we have expected to continue seeing them.


When my mind gets timid, I try to remember this quote: "If at first, the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it." The speaker pushed us a bit off-center using humor to make his serious point, but that was said by Albert Einstein. Our pre-conditioned thoughts, and our attraction to the comfort of thinking we have the world figured out, that often creates labels of absurdity that have nothing to do with the actual merit of a theory and its probability.


I got to a point where I was comfortable going further than "more likely than not" in this particular case. I would say it is far more likely than not that the 2016 Election was rigged, and I came to a point where I estimated the likelihood as about 3-to-1. Maybe if I could be more precise it might be 70% and not 75%, but the one thing I am not doing is exaggerating for effect. I don’t expect many to join me in that range, and I don’t find that unusual. I know what it takes to get there, and it takes an emphasis in some areas of connectivity that I had to learn to have trust in. I understand most would not.


To the extent that this kind of thought process — applied to this kind of problem — is foreign to you, then you are going to be drawn more to the center and are less likely to see levels of distinction between the two that would draw you further out. It is not unusual to find myself further out. This type of problem is right up my alley. I seek out stuff like this to think about. And I’m used to thinking this way. I’ve practiced it longer than most people have been alive, and it was essentially my profession for a long time. There a good analogy of how one view can hug a conservative line and another can stretch it way out while both feel they are making reasonable choices in their thought process. At one point late in the election CNN estimated that the "loser’s" lead in the popular vote would eventually end up between 500,000 and a million. I understood how they got there, a simple mathematical projection that did not factor in many things that needed to be understood to actually make a good estimate. They were not looking at it correctly, and they were making an estimate that not only was wrong but spectacularly wrong. Reasoning through it, it was near impossible for it not to go way over their max of a million and probably over 2 million. I reckoned about 2.2 million, and it still ended up a bit past that. I’m sure whoever did that crunch for CNN understood his own thought process and probably was quite comfortable about the choices he had made. Now how would he have felt if at that time his editor told him: "We’ve got a guy over here who thought about it a little differently, and the center of his estimate is nearly three times yours at 2.2 million." I’d put my money on his response being something like: "Come on, I may be off some but that can’t possibly be right."


(Understand that I do know that a lot of people — especially at BJOL — would have as easily seen the wisdom of working it differently than the CNN guy. It’s only an analogy. It is about how we get comfortable with different thought processes, and how a thought process better suited to a certain type of problem can end up in such a different place that it is hard for the other to take in.)


Please try to bear in mind what several have had trouble recognizing based on some of their comments. As far as the subject of a possible fix goes, what I have written is about is reasoning aimed at an estimate of probability of a fix. It is not proving a fix, nor is it trying to prove it. Just as a matter of probability, I still come up with a fairly high chunk of reasonable doubt. The odds I give to it being an honest election are higher than what most people gave that underdog to win the election.


COMMENTS (75 Comments, most recent shown first)

Yawn. I'll say it again, there are no stones neturalized or dismissed. There also are no unidentified chips neutralized or removed. The identified chip neutralized because it comes close to but not quite breaking out of the margin of error, and the identified chip removed, are both chips off the same small, and identified stone.

But you know all this. You're just one of those asses who like to pretend they don't have even the most basic comprehension skills unless it suits them.

In regard to your question, I'm fairly certain you actually do know that once again you lied through your teeth in claiming "You say yes, 75% probability." Any honest person with basic reading comprehension can tell you that from what I wrote in my article, that there is no logic that could remotely justify believing that could be my answer to such a question.

6:21 PM Jan 13th
...lol....Craig, between your unidentified chips, stones, rocks swirling around being neutralized and dismissed I am quite confident that no one has any idea what you are talking about anymore.

Instead of starting like a sabermetrician -- with a question -- you start with a stonewall.

Start with a question -- Were the 2016 US POTUS election results changed from a Democrat victory to a Republican victory by exquisitely targeted invasive computer hacks of the actual vote tallies in precise battleground states by foreign entities?

You say yes, 75% probability.

This is akin to saying that there was a scoreboard error in Game Six in 1986, because no way has anyone ever come back like that in a playoff game, so it must have been the guy running the Shea scoreboard. Never mind that the results are tabulated by tens of millions of eyes and individual scorecards and radio recordings and TV film....no, no it must have been all a big error. Just too odd and unprecedented.

75% probability that some Gomer on a ladder hung up a crooked number by mistake.

3:43 PM Jan 10th
To the end with your typical amoral bullshit ...

"You seem to have dismissed all the stones in a rather incredible wall ..."

If you were able to read with comprehension you could realize from reading both articles and the commentary, that not a stone has been dismissed, neutralized, or removed. The chips -- one neutralized and the other removed -- off that single small stone do not change that that stone itself remains, that it still fits in a wall of a dishonest election.

You write: "What large stones are left?"

Why, All of them, of course, a point I've made to you numerous times since you noted your goal and failure.

We obviously are writing for posterity's sake of any future readers, as no one else is here. I actually think you pretend about your reading skills, and you realize as well as anyone they will easily see how things remain.

8:32 PM Jan 8th
Well, you seem to have dismissed all the stones in a rather incredible wall, at this point. What large stones are left? I guess my work is done here, unless you want to simply restate your belief that some hacked the election computers in an updated way.
7:39 PM Jan 8th

You make such off the wall connections that I often have no idea what you are talking about. What did I guess at better than CNN? And how did I bring it up in a way that would be odd for an adult? There is no mention of CNN in my commentary you are responding to, and if I go back to my next to last commentary, my only mention of CNN is about your cherry picking that quote to give a completely difference impression than the actual point of that CNN article. There’s no guessing involved. The meaning of the article is hardly muddled; it is quite obvious. Anyone interested in testing that can easily find the article by googling your quote from the article.

You apparently see a case of knowledge of a simple fact as comparable to a case of reasoned arguments. And you further apparently see no essential difference of the former in the context of a 5th grade class, and the latter in the context of a group of 75 adult professionals, brought together with a foreknowledge of the issue, and the vast majority having an associated experience and expertise to the issue.

That would surprise me with anyone else but it actually fits you quite well.

Funny the first time, wearisome the second. Yes, I understand that you believe that if I think the FBI Director’s action was grossly inappropriate, then by jingo I must be a left winger. The actual facts remain as they are. Against the advice of the DOJ and against the guidance of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, he elected to violate the standard policy of the FBI, which he personally described under oath as their “overwhelming rule,” and did so despite warnings of its obvious potential to prejudice the election in progress. He also had told Congress under oath of a specific condition for the rare instance of violating the “overwhelming rule,” and that condition did not exist in this case. In the face of all this he took this extraordinary action based on what? An investigation into potential evidence that was so new it had not yet actually looked at anything directly, and for which a warrant had not yet even been obtained. The warrant revealed how little the investigation was moving forward on. The warrant reached the necessary threshold only by heavily linking to a prior investigation, one that failed to determine there was a crime, and the new investigation stepped off with that same lack of determination that there was even a crime to investigate. The case for the potential value of the new evidence was sufficient for the low standards of a warrant, but very tenuous, argued on a degree of probabilty based on circumstantial logic. As it turned out, the new evidence was not at all what the warrant application had anticipated.

I do think his action was grossly inappropriate, and that says something about me.

You believe that the FBI Director acted properly, and that says something about you.

Your love of your various forms of labels using "left wing," and your attempt to speak for others in applying them — that also says something about you.

You referred to: “Your premise that some significant block of voters should have flowed to Hilliary when her second FBI scare faded …”

My interest is in reasoning as correctly as I can, and that makes me comfortable with being convinced and acknowledging when I am wrong about something I once thought likely to be true. I’ve done that more than once, but for the specificity of this point, I refer future readers to the commentary dated: 4:47 pm, Dec 7th.

One can easily see, via your prior commentary, that you fully realize that is no longer my premise and has not been for a month now, yet you blatantly falsely represent that it is. It is not just a lie, it comes with the perfect clarity that you are lying with full intent and knowledge that you are lying. This is the kind of thing that fits you to a “T” and has become so expected it is not even surprising anymore.

You wrote: “As discussed, Trump voters didn’t like to talk to pollers.”

Yes, it has been discussed, and it has been shown that your claims that this was true at such a level that it made it impossible to make sense of the exit poll data was as much utter nonsense as your claim in regard to the exit polls that, “… attempts to tabulate a slippery media-a-hating Trump voter is going to underpoll 6, 8, 10 points every time.” Assuming those three “every time” claims are equally distributed, the overall number is 8. The actual overall number is just a quarter of that, and the vast bulk of that error is easily adjusted for by looking at the pattern of over-reporting of “other” voters. What’s interesting is how you want to completely throw out any meaning coming from the exit polls — declaring them “no longer useful” and a “trainwreck” — but have you considered how the error level in the predictive ability of the Trafalgar polls you so admire compares to the exit polls?

I realize pre-election polls have a disadvantage in timing compared to exit polls, but Trafalgar did poll three states where every respondent was contacted within 48 hours of election day, the window when pretty much everyone is supposed to have firmly made up their minds, and yet those polls still had trouble that as far as I can see is impossible to explain without admitting the weakness of their unusual polling techniques that you praised so highly. The exit polls’ error level for those same three states is completely accounted for by the over-reporting of “other” votes in those states. That is, the exit polls perfectly nailed the [D] vote, and if you simply shift the over-report portion of the “other” votes to the [R] vote, it is a perfect match for [R] as well.

You do the same adjustment for the Trafalgar polls and you remain with a result indicating either (A) they have a one-way bias toward [R], or (B) that in the day before the election, when folks were supposedly firm in their decision, that voters began shifting from [R] to [D].

Let me say it for a third time, it is fairly easy to adjust for the actual error pattern in the exit polls. I found that slightly weakens the stone of the four misses in the exit polls going in [R]’s favor. It shows that one of the four was consistent with the result of the reported vote.

As I’ve explained more than once, you’ve done an incredibly poor job pursuing your stated goal. Look at what you have focused on in just this, your most recent commentary. (A) Pre-election polls, something that began as and was never more than just a single small chip on a single small stone. That chip was neutralized over six weeks ago. Pre-election polls have no appearance at all in my second article. You could hardly not know that. Besides your having read it, that specific point has also been made to you separately in the commentary. (B) Comey’s malfeasance, which only had a relevance to a chip of a small stone, and that chip was removed a month ago. (C) A direct reference to that same chip of a small stone, falsely pretending that you don’t know it was removed a month ago. (D) A series of claims about general affects when general affects are neutral and meaningless stones, fitting equally well in both walls. (E) A reference to an already demonstrated false argument that the shyness of Trump voters was so extreme that it made it impossible to get any meaning out of the exit polls.

Those are obviously incredibly poor choices given your stated goal, although, granted, they do make perfect sense in one line. They fit extremely well with what you have shown can be expected from you.

3:27 PM Jan 7th

You will excuse me from being unimpressed with how you guessed better than CNN in your living room or how you prevailed in your opinion against 74 people in....something. Those are odd things for an adult to even bring up. I'm smart -- one time I was the only kid in 5th grade that knew that Amundsen discovered the South Pole. The only one.

And your hatin' on Comey shows your politics better than a month of denials, Craig.

Your entire misunderstanding boils down to a belief that polling results are so exquisite that they turn on a dime with news, and only with the news that you handpick -- i.e.: Comey. Developments don't turn into opinions at the drop of a pin. They disseminate. They accumulate. Spin does its work. People that vote do not follow developments the way you or I might...46 percent of Americans could not even name Clinton's running mate the weekend before the VP debate. Averaging three weeks of polls when all the relevant actions happened in the last five days is idiocy. Or plug any numbers you want into that sentence....the point here is, there was TONS of chaos in the final week. Tons of paid campaigning and social media heat and celebrity barnstorming. More than 1888. More than 2000. More than ever, which is exactly why it stands as unique.

Your premise that some significant block of voters should have flowed to Hillary when her second FBI scare faded is pure fantasy -- do you know anyone sitting poised on that? Puh-lease. Hillary had everything break against her including Obamacare and the FBI. She coasted with one rally a day and cast it with characters unlikely to sway the white working class midwesterners. And she was tone deaf on the messages that mattered to them...trade, jobs, illegal aliens, second amendment, a POTUS who can climb stairs, respect for police. The trickle of wikileaks embarrassments took their toll.

Plus, as discussed, Trump voters didn't like to talk to pollers.

No mystery....when you break it down, the only surprise is that the pre-mainstream media Hillary hyped lead wasn't further removed from reality. No 75% probability of computers hackers breaking into the system and changing votes.

Jesus, just man up and admit it.

4:17 AM Jan 6th

I have to admit, I thought this one was pretty funny:

"It doesn't matter what I say, it is an article of left wing faith -- exhibited by your vitriol against Comey ..."

You do love to throw your labels around, don't you? I've got nothing against people identified as left wingers. Truth be told, if I had to weigh my impressions of people identified as "left wingers" and those identified as "right wingers," the "left wingers" are at least more likeable as people, but I don't side with the politics of either extreme. You don't know it, but as far as I am aware, you are the first person in my long life who has ever identified me with the "left wing." What is amusng about your claim of my "vitriol against Comey" is that after Comey made his Oct-28 announcement I was seen as being so supportive of Comey by folks who thought what he had done was inappropriate, and that I was wrong to trust him and to anticipate he had good reason that would soon come out to justify his extraordinary action. When it turned out my trust appeared to be misplaced, I continued to give him the benefit of the doubt in declining to join those calling for his resignation. I felt I did not know enough. I still considered the possibility that he had simply been misled by mistaken information -- a very serious mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. It was only when the warrant was unsealed and showed clearly what he had based his decision on for violating what he called the "overwhelming rule" and standard policy of the FBI, and doing it with a vote in progress, that I finally accepted his behavior was not worthy of continuing as the FBI Director.

It is a fine representation of who you are and how you think that this is "left wing" in your eyes. If that is how you want to argue this -- if that's the impression you want to make -- that makes it all the funnier. You basically are giving the impression that if someone disagrees with you, at some point you will be unable to resist trying to dismiss them as left wing. Knowing myself and my experiences as a centrist -- which includes being a lifelong independent voting for candidates (including Presidential candidates) from both parties -- it is a bit of a hoot.

Now the following I did like. It is both honest and it does reflect a difference in how we think. You wrote:

"This discussion is silly, demonstrated by the fact that you won't find anyone
citing your findings among the thousand of wildly partisan players with far
more electoral experience, with far more experience in computer security,
with far more knowledge of the safeguarding of results."

I've noticed how you are very big on arguments by partisanship, what bunches of people think, and who people are in their experience and knowledge. The first two mean nothing to me in regard to my reasoning. And I have to admit I have little regard for a thousand like you describe if, as it seems to me, they have not thought deeply or clearly enough on this that they cannot even answer this basic question: "What is the salient point that the 2000 Presidential election has in common with every Presidential election in the 20th century and every election in this young century except for the 2016 Presidential election?"

As far as the value of people's experience and knowledge, I think it is safe to say I do not treat it the way you do. But I do my very best to try to treat it with the value it deserves. I try to learn what I can from their experience and knowledge, but I am careful in evaluating their ideas and judgment by a tough standard that is not quick to assume they are correct.

I remember being in an organization meeting of roughly 75 people, almost all of whom had experience and expertise relative to a key question that had to be settled for an important course of action. I had reasoned myself to a very solid answer of that question that I knew would be in a very small minority. I was surprised when I made my case that I actually stood completely alone. Quite literally the level of disagreement was 98.7%. I respect that for what it is: the reason for the action we would take. That's why were there. But -- for me -- it was also a meaningless argument for the probability that it was right. That's because I had heard their arguments; I knew their arguments, and I heard and knew their arguments against my reasoning. I could clearly see my reasoning was the better one -- my answer was the better one. That was enough for me to stick with the probability that my extreme minority recommendation was actually the right one. Time proved that I was right, or at least most of the people in that room would later concede that it was not a matter of freak luck but that my reasoning and judgment had actually been correct. I've been through a LOT of experiences similar to that. If it is 99 to 1, and I see the 1 is the better reasoned probabilty, it does not matter the number against, or the level of their experience and expertise in the number against, the 1 is where I want to be.

I am where I want to be.

1:02 PM Jan 5th
@Craig. Real Clear Politics is the gold standard....270towin is exactly what it sounds like...a site that pops up every four years. If I have done nothing else but to get you to cite that in the future, I've accomplished something. Again, 270 totally eliminated/missed the late Tralagar poll, cutting out of work early for three years and candle making in Vermont or whatever they do.

The Traflagar poll, which nailed Trump's one percent victory, removes any suspicion from Pennsylvania and the late-breaking voter decisions made there. You can average a year before, average six months before, average three months before, average before and after Comey, average before and after Obamacare premiums, average the sliding impact of Wikileaks (see 538 if you don't read them)....you can average whatever you want, the last poll in the field nailing the result removes the suspicion of a massive assault on the political IT infrastructure.

Get it?

The battleground states were the focus in this election of the most intense late campaign efforts in electoral history on this planet. The voters there were the subject of two enormous campaigns in social media, TV buys, door knocking, etc. The fact that one campaign did three percent better in that last week is to be expected -- your "stonewalling" discounts that entirely as a non-factor, staring merely at a spreadsheet of older polling. Hillary barely campaigned in the upper Midwest -- tell me how many rallies Trump had compared to her in the last three weeks, or whatever time period is shown to suit your purposes. I'll give you a hint -- she never appeared in Wisconsin once. While Hillary was appearing in one rally a day, Trump was doing five of historic size and enthusiasm. But you ignore these real world factors in your number crunching.

Smarter people than I have said that Hillary lost in the last week largely due to a flight of white blue collar workers. Well, what did every one of her rally seem to feature? An old teetery white woman up there with Jay-Z, Big Sean, Chance The Rapper and J. Cole...just hittin' that ass, nigga, against 5-0 po-lice. Was it racist that it turned away 5% of white undecided? Let's just say the campaign failed to relate to their issues. Or let's discount it and stare at the numbers from 1888.

I have explained to you the separate checks and balances that are taken to flag inconsistencies, and you have rejected them. I sent you to The Washington Post story that summarized them, and you rejected that. All that mattered were the flawed public polling averages, and the flawed exit polling. Just stonewall the ground level checks and balances at all levels checking the real world results.

It just doesn't matter how I try to educate you, because you have painted yourself into a corner defending you original 75% probability that someone "hacked" the electoral IT system. It doesn't matter what I say, it is an article of left wing faith -- exhibited by your vitriol against Comey, and an academic characteristic of a defense against the statement which you probably didn't expect.

Actually, I damn the left wing without cause, because I can't find any out on the limb where you are. They just think the Russian's cracked into Hillary and Podesta's email. What an accomplishment! Give me their email addresses and a keystroke capturer or a decent video camera and I could do it. Hillary's password was probably "password."

The exit polls this year are a hot mess circling the drain. Between whole states going to early voting, between the comparisons you seek to draw between wildly disparate state pre-election polling, between the unprecedented hatred of the media by Trumpkins, between the unprecedented candidate-shaming Trump voters experienced, between the stlted weighting exercises the newbie exit pollers had to employ....between all that, you would do as well to swirl a bowl of chicken entrails. My state of New Jersey showed wild swings between exit pools, final polling and final results. It wasn't due to foreign hackers with decoder rings and thumb drives.

This discussion is silly, demonstrated by the fact that you won't find anyone citing your findings among the thousand of wildly partisan players with far more electoral experience, with far more experience in computer security, with far more knowledge of the safeguarding of results.

Now, I'm sure you will go find one wild-eyed .edu professor who backs the Omniscient Force of A-Team Hackers theory. It doesn't matter what I do to try to refute the basic errors in your predicates, you will shore their foundation with smoke and mirrors. The last week tweek of a few percent wasn't the result of the usual late decision making, wasn't the result of Obanacare premiums, wasn't the result of Trump outworking her, wasn't the result of final voting based on two historically despised candidates, wasn't the result of one campaign messaging better than the other, wasn't the result of Hillary choosing homeboy versus good old boy on stage, wasn't the result of the trailing questions about her health -- hell, wasn't even the result of the FBI. It was computer hackers ninja-like conspiracy of a handful of votes in a handful of states -- pre-chosen in your mind by their target attraction.

You would be better served to try to draw a connection between the news of rises in Obamacare premiums and changes in election trends state by state. But if you want to be taken seriously, start with the question, as sabermetrics does, and not pre-study walls of ignorant guesses.

12:32 AM Jan 2nd
Hey OldBackstop,

I have found myself reflecting on the many things I've profited from in this experience with these two articles. A lot of people contributed to that but I see that three stand out, and it shocks me to realize that one of them is you, someone that I do not think particularly well of. I know it was not your intent to help me as you have, and I would imagine that you probably are not happy that besides not dissuading me, you have played a role in encouraging me to do a book on the topic. All the same, I owe you the debt of at least saying, "Thank you."

Okay, let's tackle your latest mess.

You claim my first article showed an utter ignorance about "what election polls were actually taken." I make the reasonable assumption that you are talkiing about my mising the Trafalgar PA poll? If so, unlike your current opinion, at that time you saw it as understandable when you asked for my "citation" and discovered they (270toWin.com) had missed it. If you've changed your mind -- that that now makes me utterly ignorant on this point -- that logically means you would attach the same label to 270toWin.com, which would be odd given that he complimented an aspect of 270toWin.com to the group, and you later used them as a source yourself. I think as sins go, that my mistake might be counted less than, oh, say, your tossing a poll that did not agree with your stance, and in another instance actually misreading your source site to make a mistaken claim that had been meaningful to your point. What was interesting about that latter mistake is that you simply ignored it when it was pointed out to you, even though it significantly changed its relevance to your point.

One would have think he would have appreciated that when you brought that missed poll to my attention, that in less than 24 hours I verified it and the integrity of the alternative multi-poll site you mentioned, and I began using them both. That has been the case for over 5 weeks now and I have never wavered from factoring that poll in at face value, and that remained true even when we later debated that poll's merits and your belief that it should be given a weight beyond face value.

What is interesting is that you claim -- twice actually -- that I "discarded" that poll. That's quite false and I direct any future readers to the commentaries dated 3:46 PM Dec 15th, and 9:26 PM Dec 13th.

You also claim that I was utterly ignorant in that article of what the "across-the-board errors in exit polling actually showed." It is true I did not understand near as well as I later would, but neither did you, as evidenced by your outlandish statement that exit polling's "... attempts to tabulate a slippery media-a-hating Trump voter it is going to underpoll 6, 8, 10 points every time." But I did make a bad call there. I underestimated the error level as being more minimal than it was. I didn't think it could change the basics of the small stones of suspicion exhibited in the exit polls and it would take a lot of work to understand more definitively what would be appropriate adjustments. But seeing that it did bother folks, and that no one else was doing it, and that three specifically asked/suggested that I do it, I did it. That included historical research of recent patterns in past exit polls, as well as putting the 2016 exit poll data into a spreadsheet, along with the actual recorded votes, classifications of states by early voting or not, and closeness of result (MOV more or less than 5%). The reported analysis included the across-the-board error level between the two -- which again, people had abstractly talked about but no one else had put in an ounce of effort into getting the actual figure (2.0%) -- and the analysis brought out two previously unrecognized relationships that further enhance the ability to adjust for the 2016 error patterns -- (1) that the 2016 exit polls saw a massive overreporting of "other" votes when the past historical trend was "other" votes slightly underreporting, and (2) that the overreporting of "other" votes was much higher in states with early voting, which are the states where a significant amount of the exit polling is done by phone. It turned out that adjusting for the error level did in fact explain one of the four cases of the exit polls disagreeing with the recorded vote.

My commentary on that analysis is dated 5:02 PM Dec 7th
You criticized my stance that we actually can make sense out of the exit polls by writing: "CNN, in effect, throwing their own exit polls out as inaccurate is not sufficient to avoid your defense of them."

This is your second time making this claim about CNN. I let that go the first time, even though I looked up the quote he offered to back that up, and I saw what you had done. I let it go because it was not particularly relevant and I did not want to distract from a focus on my last commentary, which had been that analysis of the exit poll data, something that I had put a lot of effort into and found the results quite interesting at a lot of different levels. But since he like to use the label "cherry picking" to so often attack me, it might be helpful to show future readers what that actually looks like. This is what I found when I looked up the quote he attributed to CNN in this regard. You wrote:

"Everybody – EVERYBODY – understands that Trumpkins were hiding from
exit polls. Here is what CNN, the sponsor of the polls you cite, had to say:

"CNN: 'But exit polls, which are always imperfect indicators, could be especially
problematic in 2016 thanks to Donald Trump supporters. Sources at several
networks said they'll be extremely cautious in assessing exit polls this year,
because the response from Trump supporters might be extremely
unpredictable. Republicans have always been less likely to talk to exit pollsters
than Democrats. But some Trump supporters distrust and loathe the media so
much that they may be even more reluctant to talk to pollsters than most
GOP voters, which could result in an abnormally low response rate among

That quote came from a short article by Dylan Byers. He writes for CNN Money and his articles, including this one, appear on money.cnn.com. His article was actually commenting on two competing forces at play as to whether Trump voters would actually hide in significant numbers from exit pollsters -- one force for it and the other against it.

We didn't get any sense of that from what you wrote because you carefully acknowledged just the one side, cherry picking that quote to create a decidedly false view of the article. In the very same article -- just three sentences away from what you quoted -- Byers also wrote: "Yet on the other hand, other network sources speculate that the Republican response rate could be higher than ususal because Trump's supporters have been so much more vocal than supporters of other GOP nominees such as Mitt Romney and John McCain."

That article did not impress me either way, but Byers still managed to get a better take on this than what you implied in your colorful stories about "Trumpsters" and pollsters, your exaggerated error levels, and how you characterized the exit polls as "wildly off," "no longer useful," and such a "trainwreck," we "may quite possibly have seen the death of their industry in 2016." The degree to which [R] voters were actually underrepresented in the exit polls was at a level more consistent with competing forces as Byers covered, than something that made it impossible to pull any sense out of the exit polls because of so many [R] voters "hiding from exit polls." As I noted in my analysis, an overall 2.0% undercount is not insignificant and a decidedly bad year in exit poll history, but at the same time it is not the kind of gap that makes it too daunting to work out reasonable adjustments for it.

But I've started to digress from the particular point here, which is your fine example here of what "cherry picking" actually is. Now let's look at what you attached the label of "cherry picking" to.

When I did my commentary on the analysis of exit polls, you said that the results I saw as most disturbing were the result of cherry-picking, I didn't respond then because I didn't feel I needed to when what I had actually done was very fresh -- in the immediate prior commentary you were responding to. Folks could easily decide for themselves if that was the case. It isn't fresh now, so let take you through what you wrote and what you were allegedly responding to. You wrote:

"[your quoting CW] Craig: 'The most disturbing trend in the 2016 exit polls that
breaks past patterns revolves around the degree of error between the 'close
states' and the states with a margin of victory over 5%.'

[OBS] "I’ll try this again. Nearly every single state erred in the exit polls in
favor of Clinton. In the states that were previously close, the error changed
the outcome. You choose to cherry pick those states and see a conspiracy
because that is how you would fix an election. Throw three rocks into a fifth
grade math class and one of them will explain your sampling error. Go to a
fifth grade."

This is not relevant to my point here, but it is still worth noting. You don't explain what your error adjustment is based on, but I doubt it is based on better information than my analysis, and I am ready to argue with great clarity that the most reasonable error adjustment shows it accounts for only one of the four cases.

Back on target. You didn't actually address my point in the analysis that you claimed was the creation of cherry picking. You pretended that you were responding to it by quoting a sentence that could hardly be useful by itself. It is a quote that is part of explaining what was the "most disturbing trend" in my analysis of the error patterns in the 2016 Exit Polls. The quote does nothing to identify what that "most disturbing trend" actually is.

Historically the error rate in exit polls is higher in states where the difference in the actual vote is higher than 5%. This is caused by a relationship in how cooperation with exit polls changes when your candidate is fairly clearly not going to win in your state. That relationship was also in evidence in 2016, and true for both [R] and [D] voters. But what was oddly different about 2016 is that unlike the past, that relationship did not actually fuel a lower error rate in the close states.

It turns out that the lower error rate typically seen in the close states DID manifest within the close states but only IF they were in the group with fewer than 10 Electoral votes. The unexpected shift in the overall error rate was actually coming from just the group of close states with the most Electoral votes -- and this of course is the group of states that would have among them the likely targets for a fix, given the format of the Electoral college. The unusual departure from the normal error rate found in 2016 was an the direction consistent with a fix.

I don't think there is any way that "cherry picking" can be applied to that. It is in fact a simple split by the number of electoral votes, of the 11 states where the margin of victory was less than 5%. If one isn't comfortable with a 6-5 split being made based whether the state had single or double-digit electoral votes, let me assure it makes no difference in the conclusion. If you want it to be 5-5, then even if you "cherry picked" which one to remove from the 6 to raise that group's error level the most, the error level would still be quite a bit higher in the group with the most electoral votes.

You wrote:
"... you want to hide behind 'this different thought process' in which you
and only you designate and judge the mystery stones of a conclusion."

You word it as "hide behind" for obvious reasons, but it makes as much sense -- actually more -- to describe it as relying on one's thought process, reasoning, and judgment, which I would submit is the practice of over 7 billion people on the planet. As far as the "you and only you" nonsense, one only has to read the article to see how careful I was to cover my thought process and my judgments as my own, and that I encouraged the reader to weigh things as he saw fit and find his own answer.

OBS wrote:
"After all this, we are left to take it at your word that at the end of the day
there was a 75% probability that the election was 'fixed.'”

I presented my concern, what it was based on, and how I reasoned through it. In my conclusion I shared my personal estimate of the probability of the 2016 Presidential election being fixed; acknowledged that I did not expect anything to be done about that, and I talked about what I hoped might result in the future from consideration of my article. How anyone "took" any of those elements is a question for them to answer for themselves. In regard to reasoning about the probability of the election being fixed, I put it this way:

"We have two walls to weigh against each other. Neither one proves anything, nor can a comparison between the two prove anything. It would be a poor thinker who would put put 100% confidence in one over the other. But it would be a rare thing to judge two stone walls the same. One is more likely than the other. Which is it?"

I have no problem with anyone else's choice and their estimate of degree.

You wrote:

"You want to deflect from that indefensible position back to two duh points you
make that I don’t much care about. Sure, every single election could be
investigated, who could argue with that, despite the cost and the impact to
confidence in the system. And your other assertion is that new security
measures should be taken…. gee, thousands of professionals and County
Clerks and legislators and Boards of Elections aren’t constantly talking
about all those issues, and your insight is important enough here to save
the integrity of an article that ALSO states a 75 percent probability that
a US presidential election was rigged."

My view of this is: "Gosh, Mr. Prosecutor, I don't beat my wife, and I don't have an indefensible position to deflect from."

At this stage you seem to have a special focus on 75%, and if I take the inference from his paragraph correctly, you seems to think I am somehow ducking that. It is quite true that I do not attach the relevance and significance to it that you do, but I made the point in my previous commentary that my view is unchanged, which would be a pretty clear indication that I hardly am interested in any kind of dodge of that estimate in either article. Let me say it in the clearest of terms. After considerable feedback from 81 different people and further research by myself, these are the things that have changed for me. A chip of a stone has been neutralized, some small stones have been weakened, and some have been made stronger. In regard to the major stones, they remain quite sound in my judgment, a couple settling in a bit better. I don't see a reason for -- nor have I -- changed my estimate of the probabilty of the 2016 election being fixed as being about 75%.

Your slanted view of my response to the poll you mentioned

You introduced this Readers Posts poll of 29 respondents. Your bringing it up and the fact that I hadn't been part of the poll, it was kind of hard not to consider how I would have answered. I quickly realized that the question, if quoted accurately, was problematic in that it required a high probability of two different things to be able to say yes. It would be incredibly difficult to answer any way but "No," and that if I were asked that question, I'd be in the position of having to answer with the massive majority even though if the question were broken up, I'd likely disagree with the majority on each element.

I suggested what I think would be a more "practical and helpful" poll for the vast majority of people interested in this topic. I suggested a 3-question poll predicated on a first question that was far more apropos and which I would have thought pleasing to you given your recent heavy focus on my estimate of the probability of the 2016 Election being fixed. That question was:

1) Assess as a percentage your estimate of the chances that the 2016 Presidential election was fixed with a rigging of votes.

I mean, if you are so interested in my estimate, would you not, in a poll, be curious to know the average estimate of others? And if not, I very specifically ask you, "Why not?"

And why would you in your response ignore that I actually suggested that as the key question in the poll? That would have gone a long way to dismissing your idea I am somehow trying to avoid my estimate. It seems pretty obvious that the reason you didn't do that is that it interfered with your attempt to give me grief.

I geared my two follow-up questions of suggested action that would relate to the average of that first question, and in fact, if you look at the commentary of other BJOL'ers, one of those questions was already of great interest to them. They were:

2) Based on the eventual average for #1, what would be the lowest percentage threshold that you feel would justify an investigation to determine if there were a rigging of the 2016 Presidential vote?

3) Based on the eventual average for #1, what would be the lowest percentage threshold that you feel would justify significant new measures to reduce security vlunerabilities in our elections?

I still don't understand why you got so jumpy over this, but your comment on #2 is incredible in its implication, that you would answer "zero" and expect others to answer the same. I mean, if that's the case, then why in over 60 commentaries you have not called for an investigation into whether the 2016 Presidental election was rigged? And if that is the "sure" response, why weren't we deluged with such calls? That sure would not be anywhere near my threshold, which would be very high.

In regard to #3, you complain about its "duh"ness but yet you went out of your way to make it significantly more "duh" by dropping the word "significant." Actually I would be all the more interested if it were spiced up to be more specific and demanding, but I worded it to be consistent with what others had expressed interest in. I'd prefer the spicier, more controversial:

"Based on the eventual average for #1, what would be the lowest percentage threshold that would justify your support of a Constitutional amendment to replace the Electoral College with a weighted national vote as a way to make it harder to rig our Presidential Elections, while still preserving the current weight of state to population in the Electoral College?"

Okay, in regard to the Washington Post article, I read it as you asked, and my response is pretty much, "So what?" There is barely anything of relevance in there that is new, and in a first reading could quickly identify three illogical assumptions, a false assumption, a slanted assumption, a clear sentence of misdirection, a begged point avoided, and a statement worded incorrectly in a manner that creates an illusion of security higher than it actually is.

The people who have a stake in voter security tend to overestimate that security the same way that relationship manifests in issues of car security, medical device security, etc. They make statements like those in this article and give impressions of the same to the reporters who are going to mirror what their expert projects, particularly when it matches the theme the writer has settled on. This was particularly true in this article where a big part of it was from a document which had a specific goal of convincing others of high voter security. Things were better said in some ways in this article than Comey's "John and Mary under the basketball hoop" routine that misled Congress -- and Time Magazine -- on our degree of protection via decentralization, but it is still quite noticeable. You have to listen carefully in this type of situation. As with the security issues in other fields, the folks who tend to be proven more accurate on security vulnerabilities are the ones with sufficient expertise and familiarity but layers of seperation that allow their thought and speech to work more independently.

Do me a favor. I've cooperated fully on this with your "read this," "listen to this person," stuff, and I really have to work on other stuff for the next few months. Please be very discerning if you think you have something that I should read.

6:39 PM Jan 1st
@Craig. And before you just knee jerk ad hominem attack me again, read what the Washington Post, who spits on the ground every time Trump's name gets mentioned, had to say, weeks after the election:

The Fix
]Reminder: There’s almost no chance our election can get hacked by the Russians.

By Philip Bump and Amber Phillips November 28

8:54 PM Dec 28th
@Craig. I’ve tried to give you a graceful exit and you keep sweeping back with name calling. So I’ll be blunt.

Your original article shows an utter ignorance of how elections actually work, how computer security actually works, what election polls were actually taken, what the across-the-board errors in exit polling actually showed, and the checks and balances in place with the 1900 pollwatchers in place for the Clinton campaign at every single Pennsylvania polling place.

No matter how many links I show you, or attempts at education I offer, you want to hide behind this “different thought process,” in which you and only you designate and judge the mystery stones of a conclusion. A final poll nailing the Pennsylvania is simply discarded. While two dozen exit polls show errors in the same well-analyzed direction, your cherry-picked four as signs of a conspiracy. The only pollster to get every battleground state right and nail the exact electoral vote is simply discarded by you when it shatters your theory. CNN, in effect, throwing their own exit polls out as inaccurate is not sufficient to avoid your defense of them.

After all this, we are left to take it at your word that at the end of the day there was a 75% probability that the election was “fixed.”

Meanwhile, even outlets like the Washington Post, 538 and Huffington – no friends of Trump -- have posted stories with some version of “Okay, So, The Election Wasn’t Fixed.” In trying to defend your deadender conclusion, you are scrambling to stay one page ahead in a book I, and people who protect elections for a living, read years ago. Elections are protected from the ground up by very partisan people looking for the tiniest red flag to argue about. And the Clinton campaign has said they see no signs of an election “hack” to “fix” the election.

You want to deflect from that indefensible position back to two duh points you make that I don’t much care about. Sure, every single election could be investigated, who could argue with that, despite the cost and the impact to confidence in the system. And your other assertion is that new security measures should be taken….gee, thousands of professionals and County Clerks and legislators and Boards of Elections aren’t constantly talking about all those issues, and your insight is important enough here to save the integrity of an article that ALSO states a 75 percent probability that a US presidential election was rigged.

Your article says the sun rises in the east, the sky is blue, and a flying centaur in a porkpie hat pulls the sun across the sky. Yes, the sun rises in the east and the sky is blue, way to go.

5:24 AM Dec 28th

I've been ready to wrap it up for quite some time, but you keep making comments that I think best to respond to if I have time. Between a recent injury and being snowed in, I have had a lot of extra time.

I don't understand the "minute parsing" and putting it on my doorstep. I responded to YOUR commentary and I did so rather completely.

Before I even address your "name calling" charge, I'll point out the irony that it would take a lengthy spreadsheet to track all your mocking comments and insinuations, and the outright bigoted insults that you have spewed out in your commentaries, including this last one.

This is the actual situation you are trying to deflect with this novel charge of name calling.

You responded to my commentary with a claim that Comey had no choice because he had "sworn to immediately notify Congress" if he re-openeded the investigation. I commented in turn that I seriously doubted that, that it did not fit the nature or the elements of his testimony that were known, and I specifically had been unable to find anything like that in a searches of his testimony.

Rather than provide any evidence to the contrary, or admit you were mistaken, you incredibly gave a performance that simply ignored what you had said and instead gave the impression that you had said something that was in line with a quote you gave from Comey. And that I was at fault for not taking in what Comey had said in that quote. The actual truth was that what I had written was completely in line with that Comey quote, and it in fact offered no support at all for your claim.

I called that "deflective bullshit" for the obvious reasons. If you want to cry "name calling," feel free, but it would be more impressive if you made a case that it wasn't deflective or that it wasn't bullshit.
The evidence related to estimating the probability of the 2016 Presidential election being fixed obviously remains. The question is how one will weigh it and how one's estimate will guide their thinking and action.

My two articles have elicited a great deal of counterargument and some additional evidence, both pro and con. I have given careful attention to it all and treated it appropriately. I hope I have set an example for others to do the same.

Having said my piece and what I think should be done, I am hard pressed to understand the importance to you, OBS, to specifically dissuade me. I can tell you why you "failed" -- your word -- in that goal. Part of it is you don't grasp how my thought process works. I made it about as clear as can be managed how I think these things through and particularly how I thought this through. It has been incredibliy clear from your commentary this is not a thought process you understand well.

You approached it in terms of one wall, not a comparsion of two. You repeatedly focused on small stones and even chips of stones, and gave the impression that you believed that shakes the foundation and integrity of a wall. Your weakest arguments and your most unfounded arguments have largely been in the areas that should have been the most important to you if your goal was to change my mind. You barely touched on at all the foundation of the one wall you focus on. In that area you just tossed out a little innuendo, made an assumption that lacks relevance, and made a deflective comment to avoid an actual point being made.

In regard to the single most important stone above the foundation you made a worthless argument with a false inference. When it was exposed as a worthless argument with false inference, what did you do? You did nothing to dispute or counteract that exposure. You simply kept repeating your worthless argument as if it would somehow make sense the more you repeated it.

In regard to another important stone, you claimed it was a weak stone based on your unproven hypothesis that conditions X and Y will produce Z. But I'd actually looked at it and did not see anything like that. I asked you to show me evidence of that relationship actually being true. I don't know if you tried, but I assume you did and failed, for you went silent as a dead church mouse on that argument and never mentioned it again. You moved on to another argument that when hit with an irrefutable argument of logic, you abandoned it as well and made a deflection to try to avoid that being perceived. You moved on to a third argument that does not make sense to me in the way you applied it. But because it is based on opinion that cannot be proved, and I can only leave it to you to believe or not to believe. Based on my experiences figuring things through, I know better than to make the leap central to your argument, and I don't.

In regard to two other significant stones. You made no attempt to deny them at all but simply sought to undermine them with mockery, which for me is one of the worst sins of intellectual dishonesty. Whatever sick satisfaction you take from that kind of argument, you obviously had to know that was posturing for others and could have no impact on your stated goal.

The simple truth is, if it really was your goal to dissuade me, (A) you didn't show much understanding of what you needed to do to accomplish that, and (B) from what was actually offered, you didn't have the goods to do it.

In regard to Comey, you have commented many times about your wonderment of his place in my original article. I have been comfortable it is clear as written and don't feel obligated to hold your hand and take you through it when I have had no problems with anyone else struggling with this. In reading the article, everyone else seems to do just fine in understanding how he is used in the article. I suspect you were so intent on reading that article from a standpoint of the probability of whether the 2016 election was fixed, that you don't see it is about three themes, and you fail to see that his his dominating roles are not in what you are focusing on. In fact, I think I made that very point long ago in a commentary but apparently it did not take.

One would think with all your solitary struggles on this that it might occur to you to reread the article and try to read with care and comprehension in hopes of ending your confusion. Given that it still seems to bother you so, I will make this offer. If you offer just one other person who has read it and says they don't get it either, let me know, and I give you my guarantee to check back before the end of the year, and I will find the time to explain it to you both with an extended simplicity and clarity.

In regard to this latter discussion of what Comey did, his explanation, the context of his testimony, etc -- I trust that despite your snide comment that you know it became a subject in this commentary due to FlyingFish commenting on his view, my responding to that, and then you joining in where we went back and forth.
I don't know why you inject "far left winger dead enders" (now THAT sounds like name calling, doesn't it?) and their "massive poll hack" theories, into a commentary that you directed at me. I don't know the group you intend with your bigoted label, nor do I know their theories or their reasoning. You obviously have something in mind, but I don't get your point.

I would be incredibly shocked if there were "left wing howls for recounts" based on similar reasoning to mine. As I have pointed out more than once, my reasoning would not lead anyone to call for a recount. And whether they are a left or right or center winger, I've not seen anyone else approach this as I have.

You go on to speak with what sounds like concern or resentment that my articles will have some sort of special life on BJOL that your commentary will not. I don't believe that is true. Forget that BJOL ain't that special. My understanding is that the commentary following an article is just as preserved on BJOL as the article itself. That has been why I decided to be so responsive to the commentary.
The poll you mentioned is amusing if the question is posed as you quoted it. Did you write it? As quoted, if I had taken part, I would have had to make it 26 to 4 against.

The poll that would have been far more practical and helpful is to ask folks to estimate three percentages.

1) Assess as a percentage your estimate of the chances that the 2016 Presidential election was fixed with a rigging of votes.

2) Based on the eventual average for #1, what would be the lowest percentage threshold that you feel would justify an investigation to determine if there were a rigging of the 2016 Presidential vote?

3) Based on the eventual average for #1, what would be the lowest percentage threshold that you feel would justify significant new measures to reduce security vlunerabilities in our elections?

8:37 PM Dec 26th

...aimed at me -- "....would be something other than your typical deflective bullshit."

Craig, it's time to wrap this up if you are down to minute parsing and name calling. I don't think a shred of evidence remains of your original "75 percent probability" that a multi-state election computer hack, "probably by the Russians," was responsible for Trump's victory.

As someone that has run campaigns, hired pollsters, worked in corporate IT, been an elected official, been the single appointed representative for the challenging candidate in two extended polling recounts, and been the spokesman for one of the leading national (former DOJ) cyber security expert, and been a designated pollwatcher for several decades, I have tried to dissuade you from the Russian hacking theory. I've failed. I tried.

Now you are down to attacking poor SOB Comey, who must be wondering how the hell he got dragged into your original article, unless you believe he is a Russian operative? These "massive poll hack" theories have become the last refuge this month of the far left winger dead enders. All the left wing howls for recounts based on similar wild theories to yours resulted in Trump's Electoral College margin and popular vote total actually rising.

I suspect that you and I are the only ones reading this discussion, all the other members have returned to Readers Posts, where a poll on whether "Russia Probably Stole The Election From Hillary?" tallied 25 to 4 against.

I'm sorry if my tone offended you, but the members have had an epic civil and intelligent political debate through this whole campaign season, dozens of threads including one with 3485 posts, many of those posts quite long. In a few months that intelligent debate will have faded off the boards, but your polls-were-hacked articles here will stay in the article library limelight for years.

Again, my apologies for my sometimes abrasive comments. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

9:45 PM Dec 23rd
So, are you somehow suggesting his quote is at odds with what I wrote?

You have a distinct tendency to overreach, to add things that are not true. What I questioned and continue to think is false is your claim that:

"... Comey had sworn to immediately notify Congress if that [re-opening the investigation] happened."

I did agree that "Clearly Comey used a sense of obligation to Congress in regard to his testimony to the Committee to excuse his acting against policy and the advice of the ethics department and the DOJ. But it should not be made something it was not."

What I wrote is completely consistent with what you quoted from Comey. It is YOUR statement that is inconsistent with Comley's quote. I would have guessed the "proper reaction of a reasonable person" would be to provide the proof of your claim, not proof that I correctly covered the excuse that Comey gave. Failing to provide proof of your claim, and instead providing evidence that actuallly undermines it, I would guess "the proper reaction of a reasonable person" would be something other than your typical deflective bullshit to avoid owning up to a bad habit you seem to have no interest in reining in.

As long as you are mentioning that quote, let me talk about the whole paragraph you quote from -- a missive to FBI employees -- and include context from his Sept-28 testimony:

That paragraph reads:

"Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it."

A) Comey notes he was stepping outside the standard policy for the FBI -- which he had also told Congress a month ago was an "overhwleming rule" with very limited exception with "certain exceptional circumstances." His testimony on that exception indicated that among those "certain exceptional circumstances" would be that the public already had obvious and apparent knowledge of the investigation due to the public activities of that investigation.

B) When a member of Congress asked if he would re-open the H.Clinton investigation if there were new relevant and substantial information, he said he would only consider the question in the abstract, but he was very clear that the FBI would do so.

C) Based on his actual testimony to the Congressional committee, the reasonable expectation of Congress would have been: (1) that the FBI would investigate any new relevant and substantial information, (2) that only extraordinary circumstance would cause the FBI to comment on, or even confirm or deny, such an investigation to them until it was completed to a point that at least the lowest level of legal burden had been tested and met, and (3) That the last thing they should expect was that the FBI would be the initiating point for the revelation of any investigation.

D) The section after the two sentences you quoted are particularly disurbing. He shows his awareness that he could be creating a misleading impression and says he doesn't want that, and I ask, "Well, why not do something about that? If you are so convinced that you have to do this, wouldn't you also throw yourself into an effort to prevent it giving a misleading impression?

I certainly got a misleading impression from his letter. I'm sure millions of others did as well. OBS even gave a quote from Paul Ryan shortly after Comey's announcement that suggested that he got the same misleading impression as I did.

It actually is pretty clear to me why Comey did not try to prevent the public from getting a misleading impression. If he had, some folks would have said something like: "So, you really aren't sitting on anything else? You literally have no idea at all whether this new evidence will lead to a different conclusion, one that you already said was not even a close call? You think this is sufficient for you to risk prejudicing our vote? This is your reason for overriding the policy that you call the FBI's 'overwhelming rule'? This is why you chose not to follow the guidance of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division? This is why you chose not to follow the advice from the DOJ that this is not appropriate and could heavily impact our election?"

That's not a pretty picture, and one that I'm sure he did not want to face.

4:46 PM Dec 23rd

Again, here are Comey's own words on why he notified Congress on Oct. 28:

" “I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.”

The proper reaction a reasonable person should have to that is "oh."

Happy Holidays
7:14 AM Dec 23rd
Not "beyond indefensible" but "beyond defensible."

My error.
6:51 PM Dec 22nd
I wasn't going to say anything more, and thought it might be many months before I had occasion to return to BJOL and only in regard to baseball. But yesterday had some very relevant news to the recent commentary on FBI Director Comey, and I got a chance to read the warrant application to examine the content of the emails from the Secretary of State to her Deputy Chief of Staff on a laptop used by both the Deputy CoS and her husband.

The FBI had asked the warrant and application be sealed, "In light of the confidential nature of this investigation ... until the court orders otherwise." That's not an unusual request, and in usual fashion the court agreed to the request and then unsealed it after the investigation was complete. But I was struck by the irony to see the request for the seal being base on the confidential nature of the investigation when its author, a supervisory Special Agent of the FBI knew at the time of his submission, Oct 30th, that the FBI had already taken the highly unusual step of announcing the investigation.

I've already commented on how I had such trust in Comey that I automatically gave him the benefit of the doubt when he took the prejudcial step of publicly announcing an investigation into that new evidence when he -- at least on paper -- was also saying they knew nothing to justify this extraordinary step. I had thought, and argued to others, that he MUST have something more to be doing this. I mean, he was violating his own policy that he had described under oath to the Oversight committee, and doing it in regard to something he knew would influence the voting.

I thought he must have a high degreee certainty of what would be found, but that it was just not appropriate yet to say. I thought it was something like this scenario: Able to look at this laptop shared by the SoS's deputy Chief of Staff and her husband, the FBI recognized emails they could associate with SoS's email server as containing classified material in their investigation completed in July. Regardless of the current warrant limiting the FBI to looking into emails related to a totally seperate investigation of the husband, they could still see the sender and receiver and the subject lines for the emails sent to the Deputy CoS, and recognized some corresponding emails to those they knew contained classified material. That is, if they knew that, they only needed to wait for a warrant to actually look into the content of the emails to confirm what they believed they already knew.

Even when the investigation concluded with no classified documents found in those emails, and that made it unlikely his extraordindary announcement had been predicated on that kind of near certainty -- there was a window left open, at least for me. As I have commented before, I was not supporting those calling for Comey's resignation because "I don't know enough to side with that." I thought it still possible that Comey may have acted thinking the situation was different, that he wasn't dealing with someone at just the level of a "person of interest," that the FBI was just a simple warrant away from establishing probable cause of a crime and probable cause of H.Clinton committing that crime. In his mind that warranted his breaking ethics and policy to announce this investigation with the vote upon us. Depending on his sense of certainty, that could justify the extraordinary action he took, and at a minimum it would make a case for his resignation not being appropriate. If that was the case, and it was reasonable he was taken in by mistaken information, I could cut him some slack.

Having read the 21-page warrant and application, there is no more slack for Comey from me. Even though if Comey were to resign, we might well end up with a worse appointee from President Trump, I am now convinced that what Comey did is beyond indefensible, and he is fortunate to have done it a manner that makes it near impossible to prosecute him under the Hatch Act. The warrant application confirms that the FBI did NOT not go in with an advance knowledge that classified documents were almost certainly in those emails, and they only needed a warrant to confirm it. All they knew is that these emails were sent from the private email server of the SoS to her deputy CoS. That was certainly worth investigating, but did not justify breaking policy and risking smearing without cause a Presidential candidate in the midst of our voting -- a risk that actually did blow up on him and intrerfered with the election.
As long as I am here, let me comment on some mistaken thoughts that have been suggested to me, and perhaps to you, in relation to my commentary.

One is that in my talking about a standard of ethics and policies that seek to protect the reputations of persons in an investigation, paticularly those whose status has not been tested against a legal burden of probable cause, that I am talking about something that Comey and/or the FBI does not believe in or feel bound by.

"The power to investigate is the power to ruin. ... we have to be extraordinary prudent ... [in being] fair, openminded, and careful."

"Our standard is we do not confirm or deny the existence of investigations. There is an exception for that: when there's a need for the public to be reassured; when it is obvious it is apparent, given our activities, public activities, that the investigation is ongoing. But our overwhelming rule is we do not comment except in certain exceptional circumstances."

Those are not quotes from someone I think Comey and the FBI should emulate. Those are actual quotes from Comey in his time as the FBI Director, and said to the Congressional Oversight committee of the FBI. He appeared to be quite quite sensitive about these issues, except when it came to smearing a Presidential candidate as the voting began.

Another mistaken idea is that it is routine for the FBI Director to acknowledge ongoing investigations to the Congressional Oversight committee of the FBI, and that he might even be obligated to do so. That has not been the practice or the stance of any FBI Director, inlcuding Comey. In regard to other investigations he has answered questions from the Committee saying stuff like these actual examples:

"I cannot comment on that because of the ongoing investigation."

[I won't answer that because] "I don't want to confirm whether there is or is not an investigation."

His earlier acknowledging the open investigation about Clinton's handling of classified documents met the exception in the standard he gave Congress, that it was already public knowledge -- "obvious it is apparent, given our activities, public activities, that the investigation is ongoing." The story originally broke in the NY Times, and the IG was not shy about the referral made to the FBI for investigation. When he later discussed it so freely with the committee in July, bear in mind he was discussing a closed investigation, not an open one.

Thirdly we have, what I believe, are verreaching claims of what Comey promised the committee. OBS put it this way:

"... Comey had sworn to immediately notify Congress if that [re-opening the investigation] happened."

That's even going further than the interpretation of some clearly partisan congressmen who have not given foundation for their claim, nor have I found it. I watched all four hours of his Sept-28th testimony and a large portion of the bulk of his testimony back in July. I don't remember Comey promising to confirm ANY type of investigation while it was open, much less immediately when it was first opened. I do remember his reluctance many times to discuss things in the abstract. I find it very hard to believe he would have made a promise about a hypothetical that would involve a blanket commitment to break policy without establishing the conditions for it being an exception to the policy.

I've gone back and searched the PDF transcript I have of his Sept-28th testimony and the various searches I've come up with do not find anything like that. The closest is this exchange between committee member Lamar Smith and Comey:

Smith: "My first question is this: Would you reopen the Clinton investigation if you discovered new information that was both relevant and substantial?"

Comey: "It is hard for me to answer in the abstract. We would certainly look at any new and substantial information."

Smith: "Yeah. Let’s impersonalize it — in general, if you discovered new information that was substantial and relevant, you would reopen an investigation, would you not?"

Comey: "Again, even in general, I don’t think we can answer that in the abstract. What we can say is, if people — any investigation, if people have new and substantial information, we would like to see it so we can make an evaluation."

As noted, I do not have a comprehensive knowledge of all he told Congress, but all I know for sure is that in response to Smith's hypothetical question about re-opening the investigation, that all Comey would commit to is the FBI's natural willingness to look at any new and substantial information. A sworn promise to notify Congress immediately if he re-opened the investigation seems out of character with the nature and tenor of his testimony, and I would like to see proof of it before accepting it.

Clearly Comey used a sense of obligation to Congress in regard to his testimony to the Committee to excuse his acting against policy and the advice of the ethics department and the DOJ. But it should not be made something it was not.

Unless some other major document of relevance suddenly emerges I think I can really be out of here.

6:48 PM Dec 22nd

[i]Does anyone argue with this, that Comey knew he was acting in the middle of an election, that voting had actually even begun and would be steadily picking up with each day, and that he knew his action would influence voters?[/i]

Comey had personally taken the noose from around Hillary’s neck when her indictment was left solely in his hands in July, and then spent all summer defending his decision and being blamed for clearing a criminal for the White House. I am sure he was very, utterly, very quite, very very aware of how the Clinton’s recklessness and technological stupidity had subsumed his life this election cycle.

[i]Now ask these questions: Was his public announcement backed by the FBI reaching an investigative assessment of this new evidence that it was recommending proscecution? Was it backed by the FBI reaching an investigative assessment (six more questions with the predicate) [/i]

Craig, I’m not sure if you are not doing the reading, or not comprehending it, or simply throwing 1000 word chunks of verbiage at it in hopes of confusing people.

[/i]Extremely simple: the Weiner laptop emails surfaced, and they needed a search warrant to review them for relevancy to the Hillary case. This constituted a re-opening of the investigation, and Comey had sworn to immediately notify Congress if that happened.[/i]

That’s it. No Russian handlers, no polling machines broken into, no brilliant precise padding of vote totals in Pennsylvania.

You can rest easy :-) Enjoy your holidays.

7:49 PM Dec 20th
Think for a moment about the degrees of status of persons looked at in an open investigation of a possible crime.

Defendant in court -- indicted by Grand Jury -- subject of a Grand Jury hearing -- charged

recommended for prosecution -- suspect by probable cause -- suspect by suspicion -- person of interest

Those are split on two lines with the first overseen by the prosecutor and the second with the investigative officers. Forget for the moment the imperative not to interfere in an election. At what point in this line would you feel it right to publicly identify someone in an open investigation? In an ideal world we would wait until the completion of the point in the process that exists as a safeguard against unwarranted prosecution. That's way up there at "indicted by Grand Jury." But that's not really practical today and I doubt we have ever known such a time. But logically, and existentially by the performance of law enforcement officers and justice officials, there is a special line between "suspect by probable cause" and the classes of "suspect by suspicion" and "person of interest."

It is not until the point of "suspect by probable cause" that the investigatve body tests itself against a burden of legal requirement. The minimal burden of probable cause actually has to be met at two levels -- (1) probable cause that a crime was committed, (2) probable cause that this suspect committed the crime. The distinction between the last two degrees "suspect by suspicion" and a "person of interest" is this: a suspect by suspicion is someone who has been investigated in relation to evidence, and that leads to suspicion but not probable cause there was a crime and that the "suspect" did it. A POI is someone an investigation deems worth looking into in relation to the evidence but that has not been done yet.

DAs and the police/FBI and other investigative officers do all they can in an open investigation not identify someone who is not at least a "suspect by propable cause." In theory they never do unless their hand is forced by the media. When that unfortunately happens, an effort is usually made to help the public understand that no burden of determination has been met. At worse the person is a suspect without probable cause -- and possibly no probable cause that there even has been a crime -- and it may be a case that that person and the crime has barely been investigated if at all. Now why do we try to avoid this situation? I believe, and I certainly hope, that is primarily to avoid damaging that person's life with baseless prejudice.

Again, thus far I am talking just about someone's normal life being affected by baseless prejudice, not the good of the country. The policy of the DOJ and the FBI, and a good part of the Hatch Act, is about avoiding baseless prejudice that would interfere with an election.

Does anyone argue with this, that Comey knew he was acting in the middle of an election, that voting had actually even begun and would be steadily picking up with each day, and that he knew his action would influence voters? Now ask these questions:

Was his public announcement backed by the FBI reaching an investigative assessment of this new evidence that it was recommending proscecution?

Was it backed by the FBI reaching an investigative assessment of this new evidence to say there was probable cause that [D] had comitted a crime?

Was it backed by the FBI reaching an investigative assessment of this new evidence to say there was probable cause that a crime had been committed?

Was it backed b the FBI reaching an investigative assessment of this new evidence to even suspect a crime had been committed?

Was it backed b the FBI reaching an investigative assessment of this new evidence to even suspect [D] had committed a crime?

Was it backed by ANY investigative assessment of this evidence? No. He spoke only of intent to to take "appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to deterimine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation" and further noted "... the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant ..."

Comey was initiating the discussion of an open investagation that was so preliminary that none of its evidence had actually even been investigated. He was, through innuendo, introducing the idea of a crime related to this new evidence that, in fact, was not based on an investigation of that evidence. He was electing to ignite a baseless prejudice against someone who in this investigation was merely a "person of interest." Having committed this unusual breach -- he did nothing to help people grasp the distinction of what that meant. Worse, because folks like me trusted that he was doing the right thing in taking this highly prejudicial step, we believed that he must know more -- that he had some insight into this evidence that he could not discuss yet, but which convinced him that this new evidence would establish that (A) there was a crime and (B) probable cause that [D] had committed it. As it turned out, he did not. The investigation concluded with no classified information being found in emails on this laptop jointly used by her staff member and that staff member's husband. At no time in the investigation did the examination of the evidence warrant changing [D]'s status in the investigation from POI.

I shoulder my blame for not taking Comey's letter at face value, but that does not change the fact that he used his position and authority to knowingly shove innuendo and baseless prejudice into our vote for the President of the United States.

If you are fine with that, you are fine with that. I am not.

RE: Paul Ryan

I felt and feel that Comey should have been able to do the right thing on his own. In the event of a single condition, I felt he should have sought the advice of the Speaker of the House. That condition was if -- and that is exactly how I began the thought -- IF he felt an obligation to tell Congress that overrode the imperative not to prejudice the election without clearly significant cause -- he should have first discussed with the Speaker of the House how he might best handle that.

The appropriateness of that action under that condition has nothing to do with which person is the Speaker of the House, but if you want to look at it from that standpoint, I'll play along. I'm glad Paul Ryan would have been the Speaker of the House in this instance. I have a blend of agreement and disagreement with Ryan on issues -- probably more disagreement than agreement -- but I like him and I respect him and his integrity. I personally believe it immensely likely that Ryan would have given Comey essentially the same advice that the DOJ and the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division gave Comey -- that it would be wrong in the middle of an election to influence the election by commenting on a just opened investigation of new evidence that had not yielded anything, and in fact has not even been evaluated yet. And if it is so hard for you to imagine someone doing the right thing for the sake of right, ask yourself if Paul Ryan would have been willing to bear the responsibility of saying: "The FBI sought my counsel on this dilemma and I advised them that this kind of announcement in the midst of voting was the proper course of action."

You give an interesting quote from Paul Ryan that you think shows how he would responded if Comey had sought his advice, while forthrightly and accurately explaining the situation. What I actually take from that Ryan quote is that it bears out how prejudicial and how easy it was to be misled by Comey's letter. It makes me feel a bit better about my being taken in by my trust of Comey, for it appears Ryan was taken in as well in similar fashion. He sounds a lot like me at that same point.

Finally, for anyone still reading this, OBS continues to mistakenly insist the FBI no longer answers to the DOJ since the time it was given a second boss in relation to matters of national intelligence. I encourage you to research it yourself and determine the truth.

I also would point out to you that his insinuation of the Attorney General's 2012 memo representing the AG's personal prejudice in some visionary conspiracy seeing Clinton as a candidate in 2016, that this is typical of the nonsense of OBS that undermines the contributions he could be making. The AG's memo went out several months before the 2012 election and references it being inspired by the 2012 election season being upon us. It also reflected points already made by the deputy AG in 2011, and was similar to a memo done back in the 2008 election cycle, by a completely different AG, and also in a time when the 2012 AG was in private practice and had no capacity in the DOJ.

And with this, I am done and return to my baseball business. Happy Holidays.

6:16 PM Dec 20th
It doesn't much matter to me how classified HRC thought anything was, clearly it involved State Department day-to-day business and the movements of key personnel, plus lots. Major portions of those "non-classified documents" were redacted in the Judicial Watch case, and thousands of the email topics were later upgraded to classified status.

This is the State Department. Team HillBilly set up an account on Network Solutions called, cleverly, "clintonemail.com" and backed it up on google and ran it through a desktop stuck in her bathroom closet. HRC had her staff print emails out on paper because she didn't know how to use a desktop computer and could only see them on her phone or I-pad, so she wanted them printed out, that is how she would read them.

If you go to work at a drug research lab or a Silicon Valley firm and you do something this freaking stupid you would be perp-walked out and blackballed in the industry.

This is what happens when you get to age 70 without working a real day in a real job in your life, except the Rose Law Firm, those brilliant keepers of files and billings.

Printing them out fell to three-paycheck Huma, who forwarded them to her Yahoo account because the State Department system, huh, made it difficult to print out emails (I wonder why). Huma sent them to her pervert husband's laptop that they shared.

Yahoo, interestingly revealed on September 22 that 500 million of its accounts had been hacked several years before, so all those stored emails could have been grabbed. Probably got an email like:

"Huma, what's DePodesta's email password for the DNC? This IVAN666 guy I have been playing Trivia Crack with wants to know."

Forget about whether Comey cleared her on Nov, 6, that new info alone is enough to disqualify her from any responsible job.

"clintonemail.com" Jesus. How nice for her it didn't rise to the level of ten years in jail under a Republican AG, but she is too freaking stupid to be president.
3:53 AM Dec 20th

I agree that Secretary Clinton took the job very seriously, and I personally would add that I thought she did a good job, and I greatly appreciate her service. Again, I appreciate knowing you have a different view on the likelihood that she handled classified documents in a grossly negligent manner. I believe you are mostly mistaken in your understanding that "her predecessors did the same things, anyway." For sure, Secretary Clinton is the only one who EXCLUSIVELY used a private email server to conduct govt business. Powell is the former Secretary of State whose use of a private email server is closest to Clinton's and he described his use to the IG in a manner that was decidedly different from Clinton's approach.

Sorry to lump you with those who said Sanders' fatal flaw was that he was not electable. With your commenting on what he would have "lost from the black and latino vote," that sounded a lot like them.
4:28 PM Dec 19th
Craig Wright: Thanks again for your comment. A couple things. 1. Even if I include "gross negligence" as a criterion for violating the statute, I can't see that a crime was committee by Hillary Clinton. As I understand it, her predecessors did the same things, anyway. I think she took being Secretary of State very seriously, including her responsibility to safeguard US secrets. 2. I didn't argue that Sanders was unelectable. I didn't think Clinton was unelectable either. I think Trump had more going for him than I accounted for and likely would have won anyway, although the more I think about it, the more I now conclude that Comey did in fact give the election to Trump. I understand your distinction between general factors and specific factors in a few specific states, but even in those states things were close enough that without Comey, I think Clinton would have won.
3:26 PM Dec 19th
They should have just told Paul Ryan

Critics of Comey have jumped through some convoluted suggestions of what he “should” have done, but your suggestion that he should have “quietly take(n) the situation to the Speaker of the House” (Republican Paul Ryan) for advice is novel. What do you think Ryan would have done….joined the lie of omission and mislead Congress as to the current status? Crafted some middling strategy to minimize the impact in sympathy to Hillary?

We actually needn’t speculate, because when hearing of the Weiner emails Ryan put out the following statement on October 28:

"Yet again, Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation's most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information."

So much for the Paul Ryan idea.

Comey sent a memo to FBI employees after the letter informing Congress saying “I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.”

Why is it impossible for a Clintonite to simply look at that and think “of course?” Is the simple ethical hard line of a right and wrong here not in clear evidence, truth vs. coverup? Clinton supporters have the most remarkably malleable sense of ethics. They certainly have become concerned defenders of the democratic process since conspiring with the DNC to screw Bernie seven ways from Sunday.

Secondly, and this is almost as rose-colored glassy, to blame Comey for the election results you have to believe that the existence of these newly discovered emails was going to stay under wraps….. that Huma’s estranged husband, his defense team, the NY FBI office, and all involved administrative and subordinates were going to sit on this explosive information during the most explosive election in history.

So the headlines Oct. 28 to November 8 would have gone like this:

“Multiple sources claim secret bombshell hoard of new Clinton emails”
“Weiner’s mysterious laptop in FBI’s hands with four million emails”
“FBI Agent: Biggest Coverup in History”
“Inside Crooked Hillary’s Email Coverup”
"Clinton's Private Stuff Contracted Weiner Virus"
“Trumpkin Tent City Outside FBI grows to over 100,000”
“Where’s the FBI??? Comey Sleeps In Beseiged Office”
“WARNING GRAPHIC: Chris Christie’s Head Explodes During CNN Interview
“House Republicans Move Rushed Bill of Impeachment Against Obama In Email Coverup”

The media, the blogosphere, and, of course, Trump himself would fill the information vacuum, expanding it wildly beyond the Weiner scenario. Hillary’s campaign would have been swamped. What can they say to the media? – Hillary doesn’t know what the hell is on that laptop, probably Huma doesn’t know either. What the Clinton campaign would be calling for is an expedited review before the election – which is what they got BECAUSE Comey started it on October 28.

Even the mainstream media, dying a final death like the Wicked Witch, would have joined in the chorus for full disclosure as Hillary’s polling rapidly turned.

Had Comey sat on his hands on October 28, you probably would be here writing in outrage that the wily Comey allowed this frenzy of speculation to rage unabated as partial information/misinformation came to light, leading to Hillary getting only 19% of the vote.

12:56 PM Dec 18th

I wrote a treatise in reply but I'm going to rewrite it to take out the sarcasm :-) It's a New Jersey thing, usually I edit it out after reading it in the Reader's Post, but you can't edit here. I would advise an author to start a thread over there if prolonged discussion is developing.


The FBI does report to the DOJ and history is loaded with precedents of the office of the US AG instructing and ordering the FBI to do this and that. I am disappointed in the DOJ that they stopped at just advising Comey.

Any loaded history of the DOJ exerting control in the face of FBI resistance would have to predate 2004, when the Director of the FBI was moved to report to the Director of Intelligence.

While I won't lump you in as a "lefty", the pipe dreams that are emerging from them on how this should have gone down, walked backward from a Hillary win, of course are just shorn from reality.

The Attorney General deferred the entire decision to prosecute Hillary out of her control and down to Comey after the political firestorm that followed Bill Clinton awshucksing his way on to her jet.

She didn't refer it to her Deputies....she deferred it right out of the office to avoid the cloud of her influence over the whole DOJ..

And that was an attorney general decision issue, not an investigation issue.

Now, faced with a straight up investigation decision, people want it back to the tainted AGs. Why? To get the answer that Queen Hillary wants. You lose an election? Go get the outcome you want.

It sort of shows the disconnect between Hillary world and the rest of America.

12:21 AM Dec 18th
Re: Comey

Why are you concerned with MY ISSUE? Shouldn't you be more concerned with looking into and addressing issues of far more significant people than me and entities who feel that Comey should resign -- a position that I have said that I understand, but not given my support? I don't know enough to side with that.

I do know Comey made a decision to ignore the guidance of the integrity unit and the advice of top DOJ officials who felt the best thing was to not comment on an open investigation, especially one that was so fresh that there was literally nothing indicating a potential crime had been committed, and would be so prejudicial to the most important election in the country. Comey is solely responsible for the choice to unnecessarily prejudice an election on a possibility of something that I now understand that he had no reason to believe was more likely than not.

He admitted he could have proceeded with the investigation and said nothing until such point as they really had something indicative of guilt. He argued it would look bad if the investigation was discovered by a news agency, and he had to explain why he had not announced it. I thought at the time, "Huh? He equates the mere chance of looking bad as overriding actually doing something bad."

As far as his fear over how how to explain it, I would expect of our FBI Director to be comfortable answering: "It is an open investigation. It would have been wrong to comment on it and prejudice the election when we in fact we have not found a single classified document on this laptop sent from Mrs. Clinton's email server or anything else to indicate she violated the statute."

If you think he had an obligation to tell Congress that overrode the imperative -- and yes, I do believe it was an imperative -- not to prejudice the election without clearly significant cause, the logical thing would be to quietly take the situation to the Speaker of the House, possibly in the company of the A.G. and say something like: "I am telling you this because of my testimony in regard to the past investigation. While this an investigation of new material that was not part of that closed investigation, it is a related investigation. It would violate policy to comment on an ongoing investigation, and especially to do something viewed as influencing an election. That would be especially egregious in this instance when we are at an early stage when we have no idea whether this new evidence has any relevance. How should I handle this in relation to Congress?"

I had faith our FBI Director would act rightly. Because of that faith, I was unusually influenced by his action and advised others to be as well. I am uhappy and resentful about that. That's "my" issue, and I thought I explained it more than sufficiently.

You asked:
"Was he supposed to inform them on November 9, say after a narrow Clinton victory, that he had sat on news that changed the situation?"

I think it would have been fine to say on November 6th that there had been an investigation of new material that came to light in an unrelated investigation, that potentially related to the case closed in July, and to announce that new investigation had been completed, and the new evidence was consistent with the finding of the closed investigation.

If it were not completed, and there was no evidence that a crime had even been committed to investigate, yeah, you absolutely wait until after the election. That's the whole point of not influencing an election on something that quite likely could end up -- and proved to be in this case -- groundless.

You are wrong to say the DOJ "ain't the boss of Comey." Yes, the FBI does report to the Director of National Intelligence in the that area, but the FBI is primarily a part of the judicial branch of the federal government -- as is your local police department part of the judicial branch of your local government. The FBI does report to the DOJ and history is loaded with precedents of the office of the US AG instructing and ordering the FBI to do this and that. I am disappointed in the DOJ that they stopped at just advising Comey. I believe they should have held him in check with a direct order. I believe they were cowardly in not doing so, less concerned with doing what was right and overly concerned with a possible PR hit if there had been evidence of a crime.

You ask:
"... why the pell-mell effort to examine the newly found emails ...?" Why don't you trust Comey in his refusal to accept the assumption of your question? He firmly rejected that pell-mell characterization. Don't know if you saw it, but my son pointed out that when [R] suggested something like you are, that a computer forensic expert went so far as to not only explain but demonstrate how easy it was to search through hundreds of thousands of emails when you knew what you were definitely not looking for, and had parameters to cover what you were looking for. He estimated the FBI could get it competently done in just a few days -- I think he said 3 or 4 days but don't have it in front of me. If the FBI started the day of his announcement and finished the day before saying it was completed, that's nine days.

You ask:
Let's say the opposite were all true, say something like bribery of public officials by Donald Trump, a public acquittal and a covert reopening of the case on new evidence? How pissed would you be after a narrow Trump victory followed by a Nov. 9 revelation?

I would be immensely grateful that [R]'s election had not been prejudiced by an open investigation that in fact cleared him, and particularly so when there was never a time in the investigation that there was evidence of a crime even being committed. That you ask that question indicates you would not have felt that way if that was actually what had happened with [D]. That is why I often think about systems we might adopt that do not descend into 2-party power struggles where partisan splits are destined to worsen and take us where we wretchedly are, and further still to come. It is my belief in the evil, and eventual evil, of this system that I have steadfastly refused to join a political party and always will.

8:02 PM Dec 17th

Comey did that and decided to ignore that guidance and also the advice of top DOJ officials who reminded him of the policy against "commenting on an ongoing investigation, and we don't take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election."

Graig is your issue that Comey reopened the case, or that he informed Congress that he reopened the case?

Comey EXACTLY followed the policy...he informed and consulted with the Public Integrity Section after developments beyond his control.

Comey had publicly testified under oath to Congress on Sept. 28 about the status of the case and that developments after July did not come near to having to reopen the investigation.

Was he supposed to inform them on November 9, say after a narrow Clinton victory, that he had sat on news that changed the situation?

Wouldn't he then be just as culpable of influencing the outcome, only by silence rather than truth? Even had he been inclined to, how many FBI agents knew of the developments? Allegedly the news had gotten to Rudy Giuliani...many FBI agents were already furious at Comey, were they really going to all have a conspiracy of silence about the TRUTH?

Also, "top DOJ officials" ain't the boss of Comey. He reports to the Director of National Intelligence, and is "supervised" by the AG, Loretta Lynch, who got boxed out by Bill Clinton's moronic airport "howdy." The "policy" isn't a legal puzzle, Comey is a pretty good attorney, and the policy only states that they are consulted. He did. They were. It wasn't their ass on the line after sworn Congressional testimony.

Also, what is cited for this policy? A 2012 memo from two time Clinton nominee Eric Holder, who had a history of Democratic party support. Why is 2012, with the next election to feature the always in the mud Clintons, did he feel compelled to put out a memo? Let's say that's all coincidental.

Let's say the opposite were all true, say something like bribery of public officials by Donald Trump, a public acquittal and a covert reopening of the case on new evidence? How pissed would you be after a narrow Trump victory followed by a Nov. 9 revelation?

And if criminal investigations are not supposed to be affected by elections, why the pell-mell effort to examine the newly found emails, determine their status, and announce it? Is that normal investigative procedure?

Comey, like Mongo, was a pawn in the game of life. He was hammered by the Republicans all summer for his extremely questionable decision on indicting Hillary, which should never have been his problem anyway. He was already going down in history to some as being responsible for electing a criminal. His decision in October was to go with the truth rather than misleading Congress.

Good for him.

The Clintons made their own problems all the way along the line, and the FBI danced their tune at every turn with the sole exception of Comey truthfully updating Congress.

12:52 AM Dec 17th
A 2012 Justice Department memo advised that when "faced with a question regarding the timing of charges or overt investigative steps near the time of a primary or general election" one should contact the dpartment's public integrity section "for further guidance."

Comey did that and decided to ignore that guidance and also the advice of top DOJ officials who reminded him of the policy against "commenting on an ongoing investigation, and we don't take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election."

I know how Comey's announcement affected me. On Oct 31st, my afternoon racquetball group was talking afterwards about this subject in what my wife likes to refer to as "the hot tub of wisdom." I cautioned them that this was a radical step for Comey to take, that despite his saying they did not have anything at this point except knowing there were emails from her private server, I figured he must have something they were not ready to reveal yet. I advised my friends that they might want to look harder at Tim Kaine as being President rather than VP, that if Clinton were elected she might soon be stepping down. I figured the FBI had reason for exceptional expectation that there were classified documents on that laptop that came from her private email server. If that were true, you likely had a prosecutable case that she handled classified information in a "grossly negligent manner."

In the end I did vote for Clinton, but under the specter that she was under investigation for a crime, and that the FBI felt strongly enough about it that it felt comfortable taking the unprecedented and highly prejudicial step of injecting this into the election rather than quietly pursuing it until they knew more.

It turned out I clearly misread what was happening. I regret giving Comey the benefit of the doubt, and I very deeply resent his misleading me, and I reasonably imagine many others. I completely understand how many leading newspapers like the Washington Post, New York Times, and Boston Globe have since written articles and editorals recommending that Comey resign. My personal feeling is similar to that of FlyingFish. I doubt Comey suffered from a terrible lapse of judgment, but that he intentionally took this step to influence the election.

For FlyingFish: Regarding Hillary Clinton, I am not defending and agreeing with Bill's characterization any further than where it coincides with mine. Again, I believe that Hillary Clinton more likely than not handled classified documents in a grossly negligent manner, and I felt I made the point that I didn't see it as a prosecutable case any more than Comey or the DOJ did -- but more so than you because you were under the misconception that the relevant statute had a criterion of "intent."

We agree it was not a proseutable case, and I appreciate knowing you have a different opinion on whether she likely voilated the statute. I will say your reasoning does not match my experience. I've worked with many lawyers in the course of my career, and I've seen some very good ones get tripped up by laws they did not know well enough. She has not been a practicing lawyer for a long, long time, and I sure don't see evidence that she was careful about the law in this case, and I suspect it was precisely because she wasn't familiar enough with it and didn't give it the consideration it deserved. It looks to me that out of habit and convenience she stayed with a system that was okay when she was a Senator but she needed to change it when she was Secretary of State and didn't.

I didn't lose sleep over that in a call between Clinton and Trump in that I believe if Trump had been Secretary of State, he would have blundered into breaking more laws and quite likely the same one as the single criminal mistake made by Hillary.

I continue to be surprised at how many people say positive things about Bernie "How do you like me now" Sanders, but still dismiss him with arguments that he was not electable. Polling data clearly showed older African-Americans preferred Clinton to Sanders, but not younger African Americans. The notion that those older African-American voters would have turned to Trump rather than starting to listen to the younger African Americans who were already favoring Sanders over Clinton seems to me incredibly far-fetched. Same with the notion that the Latino vote that preferred Clinton would have preferred Trump to Sanders. I'd have bet huge amounts of money on Sanders beating Trump because he would have eaten into Trump's big selling points of being a maverick and a figure of change.

10:49 PM Dec 15th
Craig Wright: Thank you for your comment. I do not think that Comey's actions cost Clinton the election. I do think he intended his actions to have that effect. I can't explain them otherwise.

I also do not think she committed a crime. She is a lawyer and has a long history of being careful about the law. She might have engaged in questionable practices, but Comey's comments, cited by both you and me, were based on a thorough review of the evidence. Bill James's characterization of her actions as being like a burglar caught with the goods is just unreasonable, in my opinion.

I love Bernie Sanders but I think he would have been a really dreadful president. "Compromise" is not in his vocabulary. My guess is that he would have lost to Trump, because anything he gained from the youth vote would have been lost from the black and Latino vote, but of course nobody will ever know.
8:21 PM Dec 15th
I cannot speak for the professor beyond what he wrote, which was:

"You might want to look into Trafalgar, which is not a regular pollster. They poll out of step a lot and in a consistent direction. Even with polling becoming less accurate, that does not explain a pattern of a pollster constantly getting groups giving different answers than the norm. My opinion is Trafalgar is not reliable."

It is not right to say he told me "to discount them as unreliable." He suggested that I might want to look at them. And in doing so, I did get some understanding of his opinion of Trafalgar. I don't know what he might do differently based his opinion, but we know what I did after looking into Trafalgar -- I just bore in mind what I found, left it just as something to think about, and decided it was best to continue to treat it exactly as I had, to continue to take it at face value, that it was a poll done close to election day that had [R] up by 1 with a margin of error of 2.7.

I think Cahaly's explanation of how Trafalgar's poll attempted to tap hidden support of [R] was wise in two areas. I very much like making an adjustment for live calls vs automated calls. I am not a poll savvy person, so I don't know how unique that is among pollsters. If it is that unique, I hope they are paying attention as it makes sense, and it is easy to explore and grasp the adjustments that might need to be made. I do find it a little odd that if [R] voters responded so much more to anonymity, then why were they far more responsive to exit pollsters than Cahaly's study would have suggested -- by 225%, but perhaps having just been through the reality of casting their vote, they may have been more inclined to respond that.

I do know as a fact that other pollsters do automated calls. Right or wrong, I've even thought that was the norm nowadays. This election season I fielded four calls from pollsters, which seemed pretty remarkable to me, but it may be the price of having a landline, and now living a lifestyle where it is more often at hand, and I don't screen calls. Is there more polling going on today? Feels like it. I've had far more polling calls in the past couple of elections here in Montana than I ever got in 25 years living and voting in Texas and California. Of course, I was not home near as much in those days. Anyway, three of the four polling calls that I got were automated.

The shortness of the questionaire makes me uncomfortable as I don't know how what was taken out. Was Trafalgar cutting some of the demographic questions and voting status questions to profile the respondent?

I like the creativity of exploring who the neighbors are voting for, but I see two risks there. I assume the demographic profile of the neighbors is being tied to the respondent's demographic info, and while there is a certain sense to that, it is still a significant step away. The second risk is how well do you understand what you are adjusting for? I don't say this in such a critical way that I think this was an idea that should have been shelved until we are better able to understand it. In fact, I often encourage people to be more willing to work with imperfect knowledge rather than just exclude it. But when you do that, you have to be aware of the higher risk of misinterpretation where you are less familiar with how a dynamic works or not as clear in how to best adjust for it.

One thing that is clear, is that Cahaly is explaining that Trafalgar massaged the data a lot, and I can sympathize with the argument that this was the kind of election that needed to do that. But that increases the risk of errors from simply making wrong choices in weights and adjustments, and creates the potential for unchecked bias.

It would be more comfortable for me if they had had a better prior reputation than a very well below average grade from Silver. It would be more comfortable for me if they did not have two distinct patterns of overcounting [R] votes in this very election, not just being out of step with other polls in the field about the same time, but their pattern in relation to the actual reported votes in the seven states they polled, even though they had the edge of doing some of the latest polls in most of their 7 states. I would be more comfortable for me if they were not a "political consulting/PR firm." I would be more comfortable if Trafalgar's one good call was in one of the many states which have a very low probability of being targeted in a fix. Instead it was in the state with the highest probability of being targeted by a fix.

If you go by Cahaly's observations of shifts found in his two unusual techniques for getting hidden votes -- no voice polls and ask who the neighbors are voting for -- then it suggests two things. (1) [R] was actually so far ahead he was losing ground in the closing days. (2) that [R] voters were hugely more forthcoming with exit pollsters than his extra techniques would have suggestioned.

You don't believe [R] was losing ground in the closing days, you think he was gaining. I've gotten the impression from you in regard to the exit poll shyness, that it was similar to what it was in the pre-election polls, maybe even more, but definitely not massively less. If that is an accurate assessment of your views, then logically you would be in agreement with my suspicion that Trafalgar -- even if following a right idea -- actually significantly overdid the adjustments they made that were based on their added techniques.

But what really matters here is that (A) I took Trafalgar at face value and continued to take Trafalar at face value, (B) this is incredibly insignificant.

But carrying on ...

"From the beginning you have treated Comey like you believed he was the sole influencer, that a negative bounce of X from the Abedin/Weiner development would result in a positive bounce of X when it was announced it would not change the conclusions from July."

It is neither true or in evidence that I believed or treated Comey as a "sole influencer." It is also clear that I did not argue that a negative bounce of X would result in a positive bounce of X. I theorized the anticipation of a significant Y positive bounce in a magnitude less than X, actually only a little more than halfway to X. With the professor's reference to relevant studies, I came to accept that was not likely, that at a minimum it would be less than 20% what I thought would be possible.

"As people sat down to make their decisions in the last week there was a lot of recent news to digest, almost all of it negative to Hillary, which is why she was disintegrating well before Comey. Podesta’s appalling emails through Wikileaks. Skyrocketing new premium rates in Obamacare. Hillary’s shrill and grating victory rallies (which undoubtedly left some complacent supporters on the bench.) All of these could have been determinant given the small margins, and I don't think it even accounts for the biggest factor, that Conway got a muzzle on Trump's idiocy for six weeks (relatively)."

Really? It took people nearly a month before being affected by the emails attributed to Podesta? "Skyrocketing" is relative. We are talking about 22% and an increase in the subsidy for many that offsets that cost. And to be honest with you, before the HealthCare.Gov program began, my family had already gone through a couple of premium gains that would have been higher than 22% if we had not reduced our benefits each time. That announcement on the rise in premiums was reported on Oct 24th, two weeks before election day. You are really reaching to try and find stuff swinging voters in the final week when you talk about tones of rallies. I mean, I live in Trump country, and not once in the final week did I hear a reference to Depodesta emails, the rise in premiums for those with subsidized healthcare, or being upset with the sound of [D]'s rallies. What I did hear was two themes, listed in order: "We need change" and "I hate Hillary."

But here's the thing. What you describe, and what I describe, are all general affects. The pattern that so disturbs me in the 2016 election -- that no one comes close to explaining except in spitballing hypotheses that are poorly thought out and ultimately do not end up fitting well -- requires a highly unique precision effect.

In regard to the recount in Wisconsin, as I wrote before, a recount is not an investigation of a fix. It assumes a mistake that no one is trying to hide and is easily uncovered. Particularly in this case, the recount was based on an anticipation of a certain type of mistake that I imagine would never be a target of a fix. And frankly, Wisconsin even being a part of a fix in 2016, is only in the middling range, a bit more than Michigan but far less than 3 other states. If I were put in charge of investigating whether there was a fix, Wisconsin is not where you start, and if you did move on it, you certainly are not following their recount technique.

We are back into the small stuff again. I declided to respond because I appreciated the improved tone, and I really enjoyed the Cahaly explanation of what he felt they were doing differently. I enjoyed thinking about it. That being said, understand I cannot do the small stuff anymore. Really, I think we are the only ones left. I was going to write on a few other general things, but now I think it is time to exit.

3:46 PM Dec 15th
We cross-posted here. Okay, thanks for your clarification on Nate Silver, you are correct, I overstated his dismissal of the Comey headlines.

I think my take was more like the fact that it HAD been re-opened due to a new development probably....must have....surely.....left some people uncertain to what future developments could bode for HRC......sort of like a second cancer remission...

11:29 PM Dec 14th

1. Again, there was a lot more to Trafalgar than when they were in the field and MOE. Their top guy Calahy explained their different methodology the day before the election to, well, unfortunately, Breitbart:


It is probably the first Breitbart story I have ever posted anywhere, but Calahy’s explanation of the "Trump effect" and how they adjusted for it after looking at primary results and polling on Trump.

In part:

--by also asking people how they thought their neighbors voted,

-- by relying largely on short automated calls. How is masturbation polling in ten minute personal discussions? That is how some people felt about admitting to backing Trump.

--by broadening the survey to include people who had not voted in a while and would not normally be surveyed.

I don’t know how a poly-sci professor would be telling you to discount them as unreliable when their methods are being poured over as a major industry milestone, getting headlines like:

“The Pollster Who Foretold the Trump Tsunami”, or:

“2016 Election Oracles: These People Predicted Trump Would Win”

Calahy also predicted Trump would get 306 electoral votes, and he got it on the nose, (although not the exact states). I can see someone in the political science field dismissing Trafalgar on Nov. 7. Someone saying it AFTER the election….well, I don’t think they are keeping up with the field. Trafalgar was the Bill James of polling Trump this cycle.

2. From the beginning you have treated Comey like you believed he was the sole influencer, that a negative bounce of X from the Abedin/Weiner development would result in a positive bounce of X when it was announced it would not change the conclusions from July.

As people sat down to make their decisions in the last week there was a lot of recent news to digest, almost all of it negative to Hillary, which is why she was disintegrating well before Comey. Podesta’s appalling emails through Wikileaks. Skyrocketing new premium rates in Obamacare. Hillary’s shrill and grating victory rallies (which undoubtedly left some complacent supporters on the bench.) All of these could have been determinant given the small margins, and I don't think it even accounts for the biggest factor, that Conway got a muzzle on Trump's idiocy for six weeks (relatively).

So, this issue has cooled, perhaps new information is out….Wisconsin’s recount boosted Trump by 131 votes, I believe…..is this where we are leaving this? A 75% probability that Hillary lost because of computer fraud?

11:11 PM Dec 14th
Darn, I was not going to go back into this, but I had this written in my head yesterday and then forgot to put it in. It is simple and short, and I feel better clearing the board on this.

OBS, I realize wrote several times it wasn't a zero sum game, but you don't seem to realize that I never argued it was a zero sum game, and I don't believe anyone else did either.

My point was that you overreached into making it a NEGATIVE sum game, and I will say again, "for me, that's batshit crazy." And if Nate Silver had argued for a negative sum game -- that he expected headlines about the end of the investigation that used words like "Clears" and "Absolves" would be worse for [D] than leaving it as the ninth day of an open criminal investigation -- that would not change that it was batshit crazy. But to his credit, he did not. He speculated that it might not be "particularly helpful" which is not the same as anticipating a net negative. Plus he was speculating about a headline less positive than three of those you specifically were commenting on.

9:30 PM Dec 14th
Replacing Electoral College with Weighted Natl Vote

My thought keeps coming back to this idea being one of the very best to make our presidential election much more secure. But at some point "best" has to factor in doabilty. If people got behind it, I can't imagine the states as an entity struggling with it as it preserves the ratio of power exactly as is. But would the public balk because of its love of the myth of one man, one vote, that we could not accept having put in our face the reality that has been part of our whole lives, that a vote in a 3-electoral state is worth multiples of the base state (which ever state has the most house members)? Again, if you missed the math in my earlier commentary, a weighted vote in a 3 electoral state would count 2.89 times a vote in CA.

I have hope that the appeal of having every individual vote actually count -- and knowing this weighting only mirrors what we have always done in filling the legislative branch and executive branch -- might excite the public to get behind this idea if it presented and promoted well.

But I've only read negative comments on this idea, although some of that may have been a misunderstanding of what a weighted national vote would be.

Does anyone else think this is something that could have a chance?

8:49 PM Dec 14th
Lessons Learned from the Michigan Recount

First, let me say I woke this morning feeling a bit bad about my last post. It is one thing to work to keep someone honest, within the lanes, but it is possible to push too hard, holding feet to the fire, where it is -- I don't know the right words and will just say that, in retrospect, I feel it as "too much, not right," and I apologize for that. I've also decided it best to give up the minutiate and let OBS run unrestrainted there. It takes too much away from stuff worth talking about before I go.

I ws born and raised in Michigan, and have a lot of family and friends there, and some have shared "on the ground" feedback about what the recount was like before the plug was pulled by a legal decision. Understand this is about a general issue, and not the probable fix of 2016.

This is about the problems revealed in doing a recount, and the attitudes of government officials in cooperating with it.

What most knew from the national news is simply that a court stopped the recount. What wasn't reported is that the recount was not working. Whether from lack of preparation or whatever, significant numbers of ballots were being excluded from the recount for various reasons, usually because they had not been properly secured. The Detroit Free Press reported that in Ingham county, where the recount was actually completed, that the ballots from "at least six precincts" were not counted due to a security problem during their delivery. That's six out of 115 precincts (5.2%) and we are talking about an election with a winning margin of 0.2%. Ingham county is central Michigan and includes the capitol city. Things were going worse in Detroit. The recount was about 37% done and already 20 precincts were having their ballots excluded.

In a seperate article the Detroit Free Press reported: "One of the chief things learned from the three days of recounting in 26 counties was the sheer number of ballots that couldn’t actually be recounted because of mistakes in the way the ballots were recorded or ballot containers that were improperly secured."

So, that's point one. As part of securing our vote process, we apparently need to be much better prepared to do a recount or an investigation of election fraud.

But the big lesson I take from Michigan is an understanding that government in general does not and likely never will have much heart to cooperate with something that might reverse a reported election result. I should have reasoned that before and noted the precendents for it, but it just didn't hit me until having this example in front of my face.

What I take from this in securing our elections is that we have to hugely emphasize the things that simply make it far more difficult to fix an election, and care less -- not ignore, but emphasize less -- solutions making it easier to detect.

9:49 AM Dec 14th
OBS wrote:
"If you say that the inclusion of a PA survey of 405 voters with an MOE of 5.5 that underestimated the actual vote by 5 is where the hopes of The Great Russian Fix now lie, than my mission is done on that point."

You are pretending that a chip of a stone -- in this case, a chip that is even non-existent -- is the wall of a dishonest election. You appear to hope (A) no one will see that, and (B) that no one will expose it. I suspect you must be feeling a bit desperate to bank on that.

The stone itself is a fairly small one in that wall. It is the stone that the cloud of suspicion is thick around Pennslvania, which is consistent with it having the least secure voting process of the swing states that have a significant number of Electoral votes. A very small part of that stone -- a chip if taken off -- was an assumption that the polling going into election still consistently had [D] ahead in the days before the election although tightening after the FBI investigation. That came from my use of 270toWin.com for its ease of looking at polls in any state. OBS recommended the site RealClearPolitics.com as similar to 270toWin.com. While RCP limiited its ease of access only to states it identifies as "battleground" states, it had the advantage of including a late poll in PA, the Trafalgar poll, and unlike 270toWin, which only gives the release dates for polls, RCP shows the actual dates the poll was in the field. I found both those things helpful. First, the Trafalgar poll corrected the consistency argument by becoming the first and only poll done in PA in which the respondents put [R] ahead. Second, armed with the knowledge of actually knowing the dates a poll was in the field, I could for the first time make a definitive separation of polls that were done completely before and after Comey's announcement of the FBI investigation. Before I could only estimate that split. This definitive split showed the impact in PA was a sharp shift from [D] ahead by 5.1% to ahead by 1.3%. That included the Trafalgar poll, and my combining of the polls did weigh the responses by the number of respondents, which gave the Trafalgar poll appropriate weight for having more respondents than most. You could work out a way to weight by margin of error, but without access to their internal fine tuning of MOE, it would be artificial, and the two are nearly the same thing, as the primary factor driving MOE is the number of respondents. Weight by respondents is transparent -- simple math conducive to a spreadsheet.

Precisely because of the Trafalgar poll, I took off the chip of stone that [D] was still consistently ahead in the polls. It not in my second article in its assessment of the wall and I credited the added knowledge of the Trafalgar poll for that.

As small as it was, a chip off a stone, this has remained an issue for two reasons. As is OBS's habit, he wanted to overreach and say the Trafalgar poll should be taken as proof that PA voters had shifted to [R]. There is no way that is appropriate. Even with an unusually high number of respondents to lower its MOE, the Trafalgar poll was nowhere near to breaking out of its MOE. It was a piddling 37%. Just by a very normal degree of chance this single poll could have easily given a result consistent with the other PA polls with a center date within 5 days of the Trafalgar poll. Put them together, including the Trafalgar poll, and you have five times the respondents, and while one cannot give an exact MOE without access to all their internal data to fine tune it, but just by the number of respondents it is easy to estimate the MOE as at least twice the superiority of Trafalgar alone. And the center date of the combined polls is just 2.7 days from the center of the Trafalgar poll alone. Thanks to the heavy polling in PA, we have the luxury of a super strong poll in roughly the same period that is vastly superior to the uncertainty of Trafalgar by itself.

Trafalgar is in there, nothing is being done to reflect it being the lowest graded pollster by the system OBS introduced. No adjustment has been made to reflect Trafalgar's pattern of overcounting [R] responses by 2.2%, even when it was polling closer to election day than they did in the PA poll. There is no cherry picking of a cutoff line. The next poll that could have been included, and it was just a half-day off the cutoff point, had responses that only made [D] look stronger.

And with all that I still declined to make it part of the stone. It was not sound enough to say that [D] was ahead in the polls going into the election, athough that likelihood was a whole lot closer to breaking out of the margin of error than Trafalgar was -- by about 90%. But it did not quite actually break the MOE, as it had done before Trafalgar was introduced, and that's what Trafalgar did when taken at face value. It introduced just enough doubt to neutralize that chip of the stone.

Now here's the interesting twist in the false logic in your quote. You have reversed the relevance of that small PA poll. The simple truth is that I don't have a thing hanging on its inclusion. Precisely because I showed appropriate restraint and did not overreach, that small poll is not needed to end up right where I am -- [D] still slightly ahead in the superior combo poll but not breaking out of the MOE. With or without that poll, it's the same, just a small change in how close it is to breaking the MOE. You, on the otherhand, have to do two things to make your overreaching point, and one of them is to justify excluding that poll. You can't exclude it as a non-rated pollster. It is rated, and among the highest rated at that. Your quote does it in a mocking fashion, but you actually state the obvious, that the poll remained within its margin of error. It is one thing to mention shortcomings of this or that poll, but to simply rip it out without evidence that it is illegitimate or valueless is incredibly wrong. And it is all the worse to do it in a retroactive view that removes what most disturbs your theory.

And frankly I have a hard time being understanding of how you stopped looking into the "Morning Call" pollster when you did not find "Morning Call" on Silver's site. It was like you intentionally stopped there so you could say the pollster was unrated. You knew that was just the name of the newspaper, you identified it as such. I'm fairly certain you know that newspapers don't do their polls but rather hire others to do them. Findiing no rating under "Morning Call," it did not occur to you that their pollster still might be rated and it would be worth a tiny effort to try and see who it was? Besides simply clicking on the name that RCP had given the poll, which would have immediately led you to the pollster, you could also have looked on 270toWin and not even had to click on anything. They used a better ID for the poll, fitting it in their chart as "Morning Call/ Muhlenberg." In fact you had once actually looked at that 270toWin chart of PA polls using that clearer ID of the poll -- you wrote about it in an earlier commentary. I understand that name of the poll did not stick in your memory, but that's how close you came to knowing what to search for in Silver's ratings, and how easy it would have been to find if you had tried just a little.

You act as if it would somehow kill you to concede a point or treat a mistake graciously. Is it really so hard to say, "Ah, I was wrong, that pollster was rated, and rated well. Thanks for the correction. I'll reconsider its inclusion." When you make a mistake like saying the last poll before Comey's announcement says something that supports your theory, and in fact that RCP has three polls closer to Comey's announcement, and both individually and collectively they do not fit near as well with your theory, what should you do? Ignore it as you do or say something like, "Oh, I see I made a mistake for this or that reason. Thanks for setting it right. I see that does weaken my point. Let me reconsider it." Twice a week I get feedback from readers on errors in my stories in my series "Pages from Baseball's Past." Bill James, and anyone else here who subscribes, can tell you that I research and write proflically in that series under tough deadlines. That sometimes makes me work faster than I would like, and I make mistakes, and not just a few. I estimate it is 60 to 80 a year. Most are small, like switching from "Albert Pujols" to "Luis Pujols," and some matter more -- eyes shifting over columns and slipping down a row to give a wrong number. But every mistake is acknowledged, corrected for the future, and I make it a point to personally respond to every single reader who brings an error to my attention, even when there are twenty of them pointing out the same error. This is a good thing, not something to be avoided like death itself.

Your quote looks like a dancing like a Dervish to avoid something that, if you face it, just ain't that bad. Rather than doing what you should, you go into this defensive mode, trying deflect with colorful mockery and redefining things into what they are not.

And it is doubly sad in your next bit. I mentioned there were two things you have to pull off to make your overreaching point. The other is explaining how relying so firmly on a single poll is better than taking advantage of an opportunity to combine several polls from the same period. Let's stop for a moment, take a breath and think about what a poll is. The pollster is randomly going after respondents and then making some adjustments for the demographics of the repondents he ends upwith, trying to make it as respresentative as possible of those likely to vote. As careful as you may be, you are going to be stuck with a high margin of error, largely because you are not going to get enough respondents to bring it down. OBS repeatedly talks about how good the Trafalgar poll is because it has an above averrage number of respondents and a better than average (lower) MOE. But that's an argument that holds up only in comparison with other single polls, and the truth is that none of them -- Trafalgar included -- is capable of telling you much when the responses come in close to each other. Think about what Trafalgar's +1 for [R] actually is. It represents 13 responses out of the 1300 total. If you randomly called 1300 people, no matter how similar they were to each other, how much confidence would you put in an A/B answer that went 611 said [A] and 624 said [B]? That's essentially what the single Traflagar poll is saying.

Does that warrant setting aside 5 polls done in roughly the same time period, that when combined have over five times as many respondents and a MOE more than half as low? The 1.5% edge in that combo poll actually breaks out of its margin of error. The Trafalgar poll? It falls short of breaking out of its MOE by a whopping 63%. Do you throw out the single poll for being out of step? No, you might bear it in mind, but you actually treat it with full relevance. You fit it in. That gives you even more respondents, and a slighty better MOE. The edge does drop to 1%. That is not quite out of the MOE, so it is uncertain. My stance is that the correct treatment is that the respondents indicate they slightly favor [D] but too close to call. Isn't that better than using one poll, ignoring the rest, and say the respondents say [R] ahead, and who cares it is only 37% toward breaking out of the MOE?

The Trafalgar poll does have a small edge to give it a bit more worth. It was in the field one day later than any another PA poll, and one and a half days later by its center date. This isn't Iowa where if you go out 4 polls and you are talking about a center date of Oct 23rd. You go out 4 polls in PA and your center date is still Nov-1.5. Polls are in the field sometimes 4 to 6 days and no one blinks an eye at that unless an impact event happened in that period. You don't want a poll on how the public feels about Japan that was in the field Dec 5 to Dec 9, 1941. Was there a major impact event? If so, I have yet to see it offered or placed in time. Traflagar did several late polls. Did that "edge" make them unusually accurate? No, PA was the only one, if you assume it was honest. In the three polls Trafalgar did even later than PA, they continued a pattern of consistently overcounting by an average of 2.2% in one direction.

Is there something especially worthy about that pollster that justifies blowing off the opportunity for a massive combined poll with a ton more respondents and vastly superior MOE? Is it especially worthy that the pollster is rated the the lowest of any of the pollsters in that group? Isn't giving the poll a seat at the table enough?

And so how does OBS handle just the mathematical argument of the advantage of combining polls in roughly the same time period?

Corrrectly crediting the caution expressed by another, I wrote: "I'm curious why you so ignore the professor's cautioning you about hanging so much on one poll" and OBS responded:

"Is this the same professor who couldn’t fix a three foot gash in a gdamned boat and kept them on the island for four years? As Stephen Hawking advised me in our morning Face Time, I’m not going to debate with you PLUS the mystery expert to whom you claim sole access. And if you are going to hoist anonymous experts at me, you might cast someone better than a poly-sci professor. Given that demographic’s tilt on the political scale, I’m surprised he got his therapy dog off his lap to type through the tears."

The desperation in your deflection is telling. On one hand you've praised Trafalgar repeatedly for its number of respondents and MOE, but no matter how it is put in front of you, you repeatedly refuse to address the logic that the MOE of any single poll is not helpful in a close split -- demonstrably so in Trafalgar's case -- and how the very things you claim to so value, become immensely more relevant and valuable when you have the opportunity to combine polls. Let me put the strategy of your response in order for you.

1) You mock the title of a professor by comparing it with a comedic character.

2) You suggest he is not real, an interesting bit of paranoia given the point at which it happens to hit you and how you attempt to use it. Tell me how you would like to be assured of his existence. Let's see if we can ease your troubled mind.

3) You say I "claim sole access" to him which you know is without foundation. The way you have so familiarly referred to "poly sci guys" I figure you have them in your neck of the woods, but if you feel they are so deficient you want access to the guy corresponding with me, why don't you say so rather than pulling it out of your ass that I "claim sole access"? Go to the mesage page on BaseballsPast.com and send me your email address. I don't need your name, you can remain oldbackstop or whatever, and I'll pass it on to him. I'll be sure to ask him to continue to use the same email address, so you can see the EDU suffix, and his university and that it includes his name, and then you can look him up on the internet to see he is a professor there.

4) You suddenly move from demeaning the use of "professor" to insinuating that I have made some big deal of it, "hoisting anonymous experts." He is what he is, and his university presents him as a Professor in their Dept of Political Science and Public Administration. I'd be surprised if I've referred to him as an expert as I don't think of him that way. But I guess I have referred to his expertise in the frame of who he is -- which I imagine covers many tens of thousands like him. In his area, he certainly does have expertise over me, and probably over you, OBS, or I expect you would have told us different. Myself, I've never had a poly sci class, and if you gave me a list of subjects I could study, poly sci would be on the short list of which have no interest. I don't make the professor anonymous by his request. I doubt he cares and I expect if asked, he'll be fine with being identified. This seems a pretty anonymous forum to me. I believe I am among the minority here that is clearly discernable by name. I don't care about that stuff, but I wouldn't make that decision for another. Or maybe it just bothers you that he didn't pay $3 a month to be OldBackstop. Finally, OBS, what about your overreach into "experts," plural. Who is the other -- others? -- "expert" in your paranoia who so successfully pulls off anonymity that no one knows what you are talking about?

5) And then you finish off with your typical offensive bigotry that you have been advised against several times in just my brief period here. What I think those well-meaning commentators are missing is that you already know it is wrong and that it makes you look like a fool. It just titillates you too much to resist.

What is missing in your deflective bullshit is the lack of integrity of an actual response. This is your weakest deflection yet, going, "Ooo, ooo, I'm just not going to answer because of X, Y, and Z." You don't get to hide behind innuendo and personal attacks. You have all that you need. The merit and worthiness of an idea is in the idea. It doesn't matter if you think it came from God or off a bathroom wall.

9:26 PM Dec 13th

1. If you say that the inclusion of a PA survey of 405 voters with an MOE of 5.5 that underestimated the actual vote by 5 is where the hopes of The Great Russian Fix now lie, than my mission is done on that point.

2. How many people shook their heads at that? You were arguing that a voter on the fence would be more inclined to vote for [D] if they still understood the situation to be an open investigation that could result in criminal charges against [D]. For me, that's batshit crazy, and your temporary ally (etc)…

I’ve said at least three times that FBI probes opening and closing don’t equal out to a zero sum game on your reputation, no matter how thrilled some lefty hearts were trilling that Sunday that she wasn't headed for prison. Clinton lost because people were sick of hearing about her crap.

Here, take Nate Silver’s word for it on November 7:

“It’s also plausible that the headlines themselves aren’t particularly helpful to Clinton, even if the news itself is. The Washington Post’s current web headline, for instance, is “FBI Director Comey says agency won’t recommend charges over Clinton email,” which reminds readers that Clinton was being investigated by the FBI for her email practices.”

Email Nate that he is batshit crazy.

3. I'm curious why you so ignore the professor's cautioning you about hanging so much on one poll and….

Is this the same professor who couldn’t fix a three foot gash in a gdamned boat and kept them on the island for four years? As Stephen Hawking advised me in our morning Face Time, I’m not going to debate with you PLUS the mystery expert to whom you claim sole access. And if you are going to hoist anonymous experts at me, you might cast someone better than a poly-sci professor. Given that demographic’s tilt on the political scale, I’m surprised he got his therapy dog off his lap to type through the tears.

There is no mystery in this election, no fix, no Russians in overcoats with thumb drives. Trump voters distrusted the media, were less inclined to respond to pollsters, and were less inclined to share their opinions with them.

The boys at Area 51, the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Masons…they all sat this one out.

1:24 PM Dec 12th
Quick comment for FlyingFish
Criminal intent was not required to violate the statute. The statute included a lower standard of handling classified information in a "grossly negligent manner." The investigation had looked for evidence that her private email server had been hacked. It did not find evidence of that but did find evidence that a hack had actually been thwarted. In that light, it would have been tough to meet the standard of proof for a criminal charge, that beyond reasonable doubt that she had handled classified information in a "grossly negligent manner."

Comey recommended to the Justice Department that no charges be brought against Clinton, and the Justice Department concurred. Comey testified to a House of Representatives committee "that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case," and a later internal FBI memo has Comey saying it "wasn't a prosecutable case." In September Comey told reporters that his recommendation against charges was not even a "close call."

All the same, like Bill, I think it is more likely than not that Clinton did commit a crime. I don't for a second believe there was intent, and I'm glad there seemed to be no harm done, but a likely crime nonetheless. I also think it far more likely than not that Roger Clemens committed criminal perjury numerous times, and that Barry Bonds did the same, and that the 2016 Presidential election was criminally rigged. I thought, and I continue to think, less of Clinton because of her careless handling of classified material. I personally hoped that Democrats would feel the same and turn their tide toward Bernie Sanders.

I would not encourage you, FlyingFish, to accept claims that Comey's later act was sufficient to cause [D]'s loss. As I've commented before, I do not believe that. The evidence does not point to a general affect deciding this odd election but an abnormally precise one. A late-breaking "scandal" logically has a general effect, and that is what the polls captured after his announcement.

10:03 AM Dec 12th
Again, an interesting article and comments. I comment here on Bill James's characterization of Comey's actions. I read about the relevant law concerning Hillary Clinton's emails when the "scandal" was still young and I told my Republican Hillary-hater friends not to get their hopes up, because it was utterly clear that the criterion that matters is "criminal intent." Did Clinton have criminal intent to by-pass safety measures and do harm to the country when she used her own server? There just was--and is--no evidence that she did. Comey himself said that no reasonable prosecutor would have prosecuted her under the relevant statute. But his 40-minute tirade on her carelessness and worse--WITH NO EVIDENCE OF ANY CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR--struck me at the time as very odd, based on his supposedly nonpartisan role to investigate criminal behavior (not carelessness). He even got some of the facts wrong. And as for the later announcement, the one in October saying they were investigating new things, well some members of his own staff didn't want him to make that announcement and it was pretty clear from the outset that he'd already seen every one of the relevant emails. Yes, I am partisan, and we know that partisans actually see the world differently from nonpartisans and from opposite partisans, but it's hard for me to escape the conclusion that Comey wanted Clinton to lose the election. That what he did was sufficient to make her actually lose--that so many people were willing to accept Trump as president and dismiss his demonstrated transgressions as less bad than her emails--is very hard for me to accept.
10:34 PM Dec 11th
OBS wrote:
"I've been saying the same damn things to you" [as the professor did on why not to expect a bounce in PA on election day]

Atually you said ONE thing the same as him, and it was not the point he felt was "most important," nor was it the point that convinced me to abandon that chip off a stone.

First, I do listen to you. When you pointed out that 270toWin.com did not have the Trafalgar poll, I took the potential impact of that very seriously. As it turns out, more seriously than I probably should have -- at least from the point of your temporary ally's expertise.

Anyway, in this manner my reasoning had gone this way. Comey's first announcement had a sharp effect in the polls. With headlined stories the day before the election on the results of the investigation, I thought that would likely create a bounce in a state like PA where 90% of its votes were yet to be cast. I thought it would impact on fence sitters, and fence sitters who decided to lean against [D] because a criminal investigation was hanging over her head. One of your arguments was that people do not take in news that quickly. That is the one thing you and the professor agree on, and he at least explained it a wee bit rather than simply claiming it as you did. But regardless, I remain doubtful of its application here. My vision of a fence sitter, or a fence sitter leaning against [D] because of Comey's investigation, is someone who would be inclined to be sensitve to and to respond quicker to those kind of headlined stories.

The professor's "most important" point was the one that moved me. I responded in part out of my respect for his experience and expertise in this area, but mainly because of his knowledge of studies that I did not know. Based on those studies he argued that the number of fence sitters left on the day before the election was extremely minimal, about 1% of the vote. I was visualizing a bounce of about 2.5% and even if I were right that the fence sitters would have reacted to those Monday headlines, and swayed, say, 75%, then of that 1%, that's a bounce of just 1/2 a percent. That's not enough to bother with with chip of stone, or to dispute the professor's opinion that it would be neglible.

You amazingly think that I should have taken your following quote as saying "the same damn thing" as as the professor's most important point. You quoted yourself: “But anyone who greeted this with a glad heart was already a Clinton voter. There weren’t people in Pennsylvania pacing the kitchen saying “God, if only the FBI would stop investigating like they did in July, then ol’ Hil’s mah girl!”

But you are saying in that quote is we should assume without explanation that there are no fence sitters, and while it is not in that quote, you actually went so far as to suggest that these specific headlines actually hurt [D].

CNN.COM "FBI Clears Clinton -- Again"
NYmag "FBI Again Clears Clinton After Review of New Emails"
Bloomberg.com "FBI Absolves Clinton Again"
NYTimes "Emails Warrant No New Action Against Hillary Clinton, FBI Director Says"

You commented on them: "This sort of coverage makes my point for me ... Were I head of campaign communications, I would have thought long and hard about whether I would have wanted anything said at all."

How many people shook their heads at that? You were arguing that a voter on the fence would be more inclined to vote for [D] if they still understood the situation to be an open investigation that could result in criminal charges against [D]. For me, that's batshit crazy, and your temporary ally sure did not agree with you. He specifically noted his expectation that this reporting would have resulted in a bounce if it had come sooner. And of course, the professor is also completely at odds with you on the overall stone that chip was taken off of, writing "That being said, there is no denying the Pennsylvania vote at least looks odd."

I'm curious why you so ignore the professor's cautioning you about hanging so much on one poll and comparing single polls with single polls when you don't have to. You simply ignore his points that you are looking at it wrong, that you should not focus on single polls when given the opportunity to combine them with so many other polls done within days of each other. You oddly keep boosting a 2.7% margin of error as a plus when the professor is making the point that is the actual crux of the WEAKNESS in depending on a single poll. Even with the Trafalgar MOE that you so herald, their result was only 37% of the way to breaking out of that MOE.

I am surprised to a degree at OBS's biased presentation for a claim of a consistent slide of [D] in the PA polls toward [R] behing ahead. He claims that the last poll in the field before Comey's announcement was Remington Research with [D] at +3. That's just a flat out wrong. Comey's announcement was made on the afternoon of Oct 28th, firist hitting the news that evening. The site he uses, RCP, shows the three polls last completed in the field before Comey's announcment did not involve Remington, and they went +5, +7, +5 for [D].

And OBS made what I see as an incredibly biased call to remove the poll that most messed up his theme of a consistent slide to [R] ahead in PA.

OBS identified the poll only by the name of the newspaper that commissioned it, "Morning Call," and said he was taking it out because it had "the smallest amount of people polled, the largest MOE, and no rating at all on 538 [Silver's rating site for polls]" That was utterly bogus. As pointed out, you want to combine polls when possible to get around the margin of error weaknesses that plague EVERY poll when viewed individually. The "Morning Call" poll was in the field in a period in which it overlapped with 11 other polls! You could easily have used the "Morning Call" poll to create a far larger poll with a lower MOE than the Trafalgar poll.

But what really fried my jets was this nonsense about how the "Morning Call" poll should be tossed in part because it is not a rated poll by Silver. Well, hell, that didn't stop OBS from treating Remington like any other poll, and I don't see Remington or its parent company Axiom strategies in Silver's ratings. And would an unknown rating be worse than Trafalgar having a well below average rating? But here's the real kicker, Sivler actually did rate the entity that did the "Morning Call" poll. RCP names polls in a manner to make them fit their chart. If you want to know more, you just click the name. That poll is the "Muhlenberg College/Morning Call" poll. Silver does rate Muhlenberg College. He gave them an "A."

The simple truth is the final eight polls in PA go 2, 4, 2, 2, 2, tie, 4, -1. If you think you should toss an unrated poll, you toss the "2" on the left. If you want to know which poll has a below average rating in the Silver ratiings, that's the "-1" on the right. The remaining polls all graded B- to A+.

If you have not looked at Silver's rating site, you may be asking, "Wait, is 'C' below average on his site?" Very much so and it is readily obvious. Just eyeballing it as I scrolled down through the over 370 rated polls, I estimated there were over five times as many grades above "C" as below it. At that, I understimated it a good bit. I decided to check my estimate, pulled his data into a spreadsheet and discovered there are 7.4 times as many polls graded above "C" as below it (289 to 39). I also noted that the average highest grades tended to go to polls with news services in their title or the word "college" or "university." It is the companies whose names are more indicative of how Trafalgar, describes itself -- "Political consulting/PR firm" -- who tend to score in poorly.

In a final oddity OBS attacked me with"You spend a good deal of time and energy trying to find a reason to trash Trafalgar." That is an odd describtion when all I had done was follow a suggestion from a political science professor to look at Trafalgar. It wasn't hard or time consuming. In fact I pointed out how "easy" it was at RCP. And I left the evidence in front of everyone with: "It is what it is, do with it what you wish." Unlike OBS, I've never kicked a poll from consideration, and I've never advised anyone to do so.

This is my view in response to OBS's latest bullshit on Trafalgar. Yes, they did get seven of seven right calls, which I had laid out in front of everyone. Wow, what a trash job! No doubt he will not forgive me for saying I am not impressed. I mean, my dog could have picked three of those states. Trafalgar came up on the right side of Michigan, but a shift of 0.24% and they'd have it wrong. And how did Trafalgar call Michigan? By overestimating the [R] vote so badly that it came within 70% of breaking out of the margin of error! And that is common in nearly all their calls.

PA is a nice hit, but how did they do it? They polled out of step and got a result that is way inside its margin of error. Further, if you adjust it by the direction and degree of error in their other polls, you'd have thought they were predicting [D] was going to win PA.

The simple truth is that at the time of their polling, Trafalgar polled out of step six of seven times. The exception was neutral, the other six were all in the same direction. That should not happen, and it is suggestive of the pollster doing something to elicit answers in that particular direction. What happens when you do a comparison between the actual results and Trafalgar's polls? They have a pattern of 5-1-1 for overcounting in the same direction. And if you take out their oldest poll (which is the one that predates the Comey anouncement), it is worse, 5-0-1. Do you feel that is a trustworthy pollster?

5:29 PM Dec 11th
@Craig. You spend a good deal of time and energy trying to find a reason to trash Trafalgar, who even Politico singles out as the year’s polling champ. You say they have a bias – 538 lists them as one of the very few pollsters without a discernible party bias (0.0).

You cite seven key battleground polls….but look deeper, or maybe shallower – they were RIGHT on all seven! How many of the RCP-listed polls in the last 90 days were right on all seven of those? I can answer that, because Trafalgar was the ONLY pollster to correctly call Michigan. They were also the ONLY pollster to correctly call Pennsylvania. The ONLY one. They were correct in every other state you list.

Seven for seven is a good day at the park. With the possible exception of Remington, did any other pollster even get FOUR of those seven right? I doubt it, because in North Carolina only a local TV station, Remington and Trafalgar called it for Trump. And, again aside from Remington, in the last dozen polls in Florida only Trafalgar had Trump.

On average, (which is statistically silly, but to make the point) Trafalgar had the lowest MOE, the highest respondents, was the last poll in the field, and had the best success record in those states. You would be better served to throw all the other rocks out and focus on the sinister bastards at Trafalgar in building a conspiracy theory. Maybe their name backward....Raglafart.....sounds Trotskyish....

3:53 PM Dec 10th
OldBackstop says:

I'm sure if the Republicans had spent as much money as Hillary did, they would have had an utter landslide in the popular vote. The Dems and Hillary outspent the Republicans by something in the neighborhood of two to one.

Trump CRAZILY Tweeted: If the election were based on total popular vote I would have campaigned in N.Y. Florida and California and won even bigger and more easily.

I think that ALL of this is irresponsible speculation. Who has any decent idea, really, what would have happened under such very different circumstances? Nobody, of course.

Of course, the fact is that U S presidential elections are never decided by the popular vote, and always by the Electoral College (except when nobody gets a majority of the EC, not relevant here.) So OldBackstop is right about this much: Campaigns expend their energy and resources on trying to get at least 270 Electoral Votes, on trying to prevail in the EC, and NOT on popular vote. But, at least lately, that may be All he is right about.

I have no idea whether the election was fixed, whether by Russians or anything else. I'm supposing, at this point, that it is at least Somewhat more likely that they were NOT fixed, and least NOT ENOUGH to relevantly change the result in the EC. But, nobody knows for sure.
7:37 AM Dec 10th
@Marc. A political campaign is a marketing exercise, which is why they are both called campaigns. There are places you target and places you ignore.

If the goal of a Super Bowl was to score the most field goals or gain the most yards, or the goal in the World Series was to get the most hits or strikeouts, the games would be different and the outcomes would be different.

But that is just what the losing fan mutters into his cocktail about.

I'm sure if the Republicans had spent as much money as Hillary did, they would have had an utter landslide in the popular vote. The Dems and Hillary outspent the Republicans by something in the neighborhood of two to one.

4:45 PM Dec 9th
Marc Schneider
Great article and good responses. I don't know if I believe the election was rigged, but, frankly, I wouldn't put it past those Trump bastards to do it. But Clinton ran a terrible campaign against someone who should have been easy to beat. It was very much like Scott Brown beating Martha Coakley in Massachusetts several years ago; the Democrats seem to always get complacent and can't imagine anyone actually voting for the opponent.

But Old Backstop's notion (and a lot of Trump supporters) that the popular vote margin is irrelevant because it's only from California and New York is silly. Those votes count even if they are liberals; apparently Old Backstop thinks liberals should not be allowed to vote. It's not as if all of California is left wing; there are plenty of conservative areas. I mean, Clinton won Orange County, for god's sake. The airport there is named after John Wayne. So, it wasn't only atheistic, left-wingers voting against Trump.

The Electoral College is the Electoral College; the Constitution has many undemocratic features, as noted, including not only the Senate, but also the Supreme Court. And, arguably, the Bill of Rights itself is undemocratic to the extent it limits what the majority can do. The problem with the Electoral College, at least in this election, is that the winner thinks that this gives him some sort of mandate to do whatever the hell he wants even though more people voted against him than voted for him. That's not unusual; all winning candidates perceive elections as being far more of a mandate than they are. But Trump sees no reason to even attempt to reach out to people that disagree, other than these charades of talking to Al Gore and Leo DiCapprio.

I am not a hyperpartisan person; I certainly don't think the Democrats have all the wisdom in the world. But I think Trump is simply the most despicable person ever elected. I can't stand a bully and that's all he is; a gloating, narcissistic child. He reminds me of Hugo Chavez; a know-nothing demagogue who cares about nothing but himself.

Whether the election was fixed, I don't know. Clinton did a lot of things that hurt her in the swing states and she obviously didn't get out the liberal vote like Obama had. I think Craig makes at least a plausible case for it being rigged, especially since we pretty much know the Russians were interfering in a variety of ways to favor Trump.

I never hated Republican candidates before; I always was bothered by some of the vitriol toward Bush (although I thought he was a terrible president). But this guy . . .

4:23 PM Dec 8th
The monkey wrench in all this analytical machinery is the fact that both candidates were perceived negatively by unprecedentedly large percentages of the electorate. Turnout data suggest that [D] was victimized more than [R] by this lack of enthusiasm.

As for me, I wish we could get past the specifics of We Wuz Robbed / No You Wuzzent to a broader and more dispassionate look of the very real vulnerabilities in our election machinery. As I've noted previously, the ACM's comp.risks list has featured serious discussion of this for years, to no evident effect.
8:58 AM Dec 8th
Graig, you’re playing a game of Twister try to keep this wack Russian conspiracy alive.

First off, I’ve been saying the same damn things to you:

Poly Sci guy: “He told Congress Sunday and most [of the] reporting of it was on Monday, the day before the election. As disappointing as it is, most of us do not follow the news, we absorb it from others,”

OBS: “First off, the announcement was made on Sunday morning, 48 hours before polls open. Journalists in the dead wood media, pundits, and editorials weren’t fully dealing with it until work on Monday. Many Americans don’t absorb news in that period of time, particularly in a 48 hour sprint filled with last minute politics.”


Poly Sci Guy: “Most important of all, despite all the attention we give to campaigning in the final 48 hours, studies suggest that close to 99% of the voters have firmly made up their minds by then.”

OBS: “But anyone who greeted this with a glad heart was already a Clinton voter. There weren’t people in Pennsylvania pacing the kitchen saying “God, if only the FBI would stop investigating like they did in July, then ol’ Hil’s mah girl!”


Trafalagar is rated a “C” in 538 polling ranking and is one of the few listed without signs of a polling bias in its party results.


Hillary was disintegrating in the RCP average for a month, queir steadily, a perfect skislope:


30 days before the election, on October 8, she was up 9.4. on October 15 she was up 7, on October 22, in the last poll that was in the field totally before the Comey announcement, Remington, she was up 3.

Looking at the 8 final polls in the RCP average, one sticks out like a sore thumb, the Morning Call, a PA newspaper with the smallest amount of people polled, the largest MOE, and no rating at all on 538.

If you take them out, here are the final polls: 2, 4, 2, 2, 2, tie, Trump +1. Traflagar, the last sampling, was also the only poll with above 1100 respondents and the only one with an MOE under 3.

9, 7, 5, even, down by one. That was the month you find suspicious in Pennsylvania, Craig.

Craig: “The most disturbing trend in the 2016 exit polls that breaks past patterns revolves around the degree of error between the "close states" and the states with a margin of victory over 5%.”

I’ll try this again. Nearly every single state erred in the exit polls in favor of Clinton. In the states that were previously close, the error changed the outcome. You choose to cherry pick those states and see a conspiracy because that is how you would fix an election. Throw three rocks into a fifth grade math class and one of them will explain your sampling error.Go to a fifth grade.

Everybody – EVERYBODY – understands that Trumpkins were hiding from exit polls. Here is what CNN, the sponsor of the polls you cite, had to say:

CNN: “But exit polls, which are always imperfect indicators, could be especially problematic in 2016 thanks to Donald Trump supporters. Sources at several networks said they'll be extremely cautious in assessing exit polls this year, because the response from Trump supporters might be extremely unpredictable. Republicans have always been less likely to talk to exit pollsters than Democrats. But some Trump supporters distrust and loathe the media so much that they may be even more reluctant to talk to pollsters than most GOP voters, which could result in an abnormally low response rate among Republicans.”

10:23 PM Dec 7th
Exit Polls

Let let me say a few words in general about exit polls to combat impressions shared like this:

"exit polls have collapsed as a metric do [due] to early voting"

No they haven't. Polling of early voters as part of the "exit polls" was also done extensively in 2012 when the exit polls actually had a well above average year in predicting the actual vote levels in the 18 states done by Edison Research. That is not to say there aren't difficulties in working out how to make the right adjustments for a phenomenon is still very much in its transitional phase. As this phenonomen levels off in its trends, the adjustments will work more effectively. In 2016, exit polls had what was, for them, a particlarly bad year. Not near as bad as some claim, but bad compared to the past, and particularly compared to the above average 2012. Analysis does bear out that dealing with early voting was part of the problem, but it also indicates there was far more involved than that. Inf you rough it out in the most basic overall numbers, it suggest the early voting in EPS was responsibile for a bit less than 25% of the total error. Exit polls are still likely to be a part of our future, but if that were not the case, it would be wrong to blame it on an inability to deal with early voting.

When grouping states in an analysis of exit polling, the prescribed method is straightforward. You compare the recorded votes of each state in the three categories of [R], [D], and [O] to the exit poll percentages in those three categories, applied to the total vote of that state. At the overall level of the 28 EPS the error rate comes out at a 2.01% between the two main parties, with [R] being the one underreported in the exit polliing. Two percent may not sound like a lot, but when you are talking about a representation of 110.6 million votes, that's more than double what you would want to accept in a modern exit poll.

2016 was a blend of unusual oddities from past exit poll patterns that became even more complicated when these unusal markers set off an opposite trend of "normal" behavior. For example, working with 2016 data is complicated by an unusually high level of "other" votes. In the EPS it accounts for 5.58% of the actual vote, or over three times the rate in the EPS of 2012. Working with that element gets all the tougher, because in past elections the "other" vote tended to be steady, even a slight bit underreported in the exit polls, but in 2016 the "other" vote in the exit polls is massively higher, 6.94%. Just by itself, that 1.36% increase in "other" vote can account for a large chunk of the error difference found between the two parties.

That suggests something that many have theorized as to why 2016 was such a tough year for pollsters. In the past pollsters could largely depend on their request to a respondent to be accepted or denied, and those that agreed to answer and decieved the pollster tended to split evenly. Many trends in the data indicate a rise in deceitful responses, and that deceit is mostly in the form of reporting as "other" when they are not. That rise is not split evenly but appears to be done more by [R] voters. This trend is significantly stronger in the states that allow early voting. In fact, it can completely account for the extra error level in the "early vote" EPS. Because the polling of early voters for exit polls is done by phone, this indicates a much greater willingness to deceive a pollster over the phone than in person. That should have massive implications for the pre-elecltion pollsters, who do almost all their polling by phone. Pollsters actually can and will make adjustments for something like this as they become aware of it, but I don't see any evidence that they are yet.

If one wished to formulate a way to reasonably shift the deceiftul "other" votes to a more likely position, you would do it by first adjusting for the much higher likelihood of this happening in an EPS with early voting. Then with the excess left over distribute it in a conservative ratio consistent with a model that would best to bring the exit poll data into line with the recorded vote. That obviously is artificial at the level of the whole but would be instructive within the model. (If you are unsure what a conservative ratio is, that would be the one closest to 50-50 that still did the job.) I'm not going to do it, or precisely I am not going to do except perhaps as a fun exercise for myself at another time. I don't need it, don't have the time for it, and I expect it would just be dismissed by critics arguing "You should have done it this way, not that way." My real purpose in bringing those forces out is that I will be making mild reference to them as as I do the more telling work of showing simple shifts of pattern in the exit polls that are more appropriate in a wall of a dishonest election than an honest one.

Before going on, let me mention a pattern that did hold true in 2016, and is important to understand in comparing some states to others. The rate of cooperation with a pollster changes when the state is fairly strongly in the hands of one party over another. I use a margin of over 5% to seperate the two groups. In those cases it is the voters for the party headed for the solid loss that are more likely to let pollsters know where they stand. Explain it as you will, but that's the trend and the voters of both [D] and [R] followed it strongly in 2016. [D] voters shifted 2.58% from expectation along that line and [R] voters 2.30%. This is irrelevant to me as I am dealing only with "close states." I mention this because of commentary I saw that was unconsciously shaped by that phenomenon without realizing the natural trend.

The most disturbing trend in the 2016 exit polls that breaks past patterns revolves around the degree of error between the "close states" and the states with a margin of victory over 5%. Both logically and by past trend, voters traditionally respond far more accurately to exit polls in "close states." That did not remotely happen in 2016, the error level in close states was actually slightly higher. We have 11 EPS that fall into the classification of "close states." They include the eight I saw as swing states, and three that are on others' broader lists of swing states or battleground states.

Break the eleven into two groups, most Electoral votes and fewest. The top five are the likely targets of a fix. Because I think a likely fix will target only 3 or 4 states, I am not wild about having Michigan in there as I think it is highly doubtful it was hit. But it at least has the swing status and electoral votes to make it attractive. Do not take my lack of interest in Michigan as a potential fix target as an indication that I think a call for a recount in Michigan was unwise. Michigan is a candidate for a MISTAKEN vote due to an equipment vulnerability that could move a small number of votes but not enough for it to have been seen as a vulnerability for a fix.

Anyway, Michigan is in the group to make it a solid front that these are the "close ones" with the most Electoral votes. I'm calling them "Target-5" and "OK-6".

Which group has the smaller margin of error from its "actual" vote? OK-6 (Target-6 is 82% more)
Which has the most potential for its error to be explained by the degree of shift in "other" vote? OK-6
Which has the most potential for its error to be explained by Early voting? OK-6 (93% of its votes are in early vote states, tiny NH the only exception. In Target-5 it is 61%. Overall avg for EPS is 65%.)

If you did model massage the data around the forces I discussed, I eyeball it as anticipating 0 of 6 flips in OK-6 and 3 of 5 in Target-5, and two that are close within MOE.

I am trying to clean up and respond to things only on my list and bow out of the commentary. No new questions please. I'm very tired of it. I don't feel I'm leaving you hanging on this. As far as this 2016 exit poll stuff, if it is important to your wall you should be the one working it and studying it, and there is nothing here you cannot replicate between just two sites and getting them into excel.

5:02 PM Dec 7th
Thought I would let you know I am chipping off that part of a stone that anticipated a bounce for [D] in PA because of its lack of early voting.

I just recently started exchanging some emails with a Poly Sci professor on how I was thinking through this. That's the one thing he argued against. He wrote: "The polling evidence is overwhelming that the announcement of the FBI investigation significantly hurt Clinton, but the reporting of the result of that investigation came far too late to impact the election. There is no denying that those voting on election day 'had a chance' to know about it that early voters didn't, but I doubt many did. He told Congress Sunday and most [of the] reporting of it was on Monday, the day before the election. As disappointing as it is, most of us do not follow the news, we absorb it from others, which takes time. Most important of all, despite all the attention we give to campaigning in the final 48 hours, studies suggest that close to 99% of the voters have firmly made up their minds by then. It would take a real bombshell to move people off their position the day before an election. If it [result of the investigation] had come just 3 or 4 days before the election, I could see a gain for Clinton among election day voters. As it was, there simply was inadequate time for more than a neglible impact. That's my conviction, my one 'quibble.'

"That being said, there is no denying the Pennsylvania vote at least looks odd. The state had gone Democrat six elections in a row and quite strongly in the last two elections. Even after the FBI hit, Clinton was still leading in the polls. She takes the exit poll by more than the MOE [margin of error], and then she loses the count."

I wrote back how I had taken out my point that Clinton had still stayed in the lead going into election day, that I felt uncertain how to weigh the final polls after being alerted to the last poll, the Trafalgar poll that wasn't on the 270toWin.com site, that had a 1% lead for [R]. He replied:

"It's not an important point, but I would advise you to put it back in. It is very legitimate. Even a good poll is still just one poll. Being the last one means little when there are others being done within just a few days of each other, sometimes even overlapping. The weakness of a single poll is its MOE. There is no chance that Trafalgar had enough responders that their MOE isn't at least double that 1% and probably closer to 3. It takes multiple polls to get the MOE down where you can estimate a close race, and PA was very heavily polled. With or without the Trafalgar poll, it is absolutely correct to say that going into election day the polling data still favored Clinton but was in the MOE. You might want to look into Trafalgar, which is not a regular pollster. They poll out of step a lot and in a consistent direction. Even with polling becoming less accurate, that does not explain a pattern of a pollster constantly getting groups giving different answers than the norm. My opinion is Trafalgar is not reliable."

I tried to learn more about the Trafalgar Group, but there is not much availlable. They are based in Atlanta, GA and describe themselves as a "Political consulting/PR firm."

The site recommended to me by OBS that includes Trafalgar polls, makes it easy to find Trafalgar's polls for the 16 states that the site defined as "battleground states." They did seven polls in those states and had a pretty strong pattern of Trafalar getting more [R] responses when people were telling other pollsters [D]. As far as the actual results, the only time it underpredicted [R]'s eventual vote share was their earliest poll, one in Ohio, and that was when all of the respondents had zero chance to be influenced by Comey's investigation of [D] which was reported two days after the poll was completed.

Throw out Ohio, and not using PA to predict intself, the other five states all overestimate [R]'s vote, doing it in a range of 1.4 to 3.9 and averages 2.4. If you use Trafalgar's three polls closer to election day than their PA poll -- the polls that should most accurately estimate the final vote -- the overestimate is still 2.2.

State Center [R]_Polled_Lead [R]_Actual_Lead OverPredicted [R]
OH Oct-25 +5 8.1 -3.1
NC Oct-29.5 +5 3.6 1.4
COL Nov-1 -1 -4.9 3.9
PA Nov-4 +1 0.7 0.3
FL Nov-6 +4 1.2 2.8
MI Nov-6 +2 0.2 1.8
GA Nov-6 +7 5.1 1.9

It is what it is, do with it what you wish.
4:47 PM Dec 7th
That eliminates Warren, Pelosi and Hillary.

Now I am going to spend the rest of the day trying to un-picture that.....
10:05 AM Dec 7th
I like it, OBS: candidates should be encouraged to pose shirtless with Vladimir Putin.
8:22 AM Dec 7th
I think it has gotten to the point where only a multi-millionaire can run for Senate, when, as I have long said, it should all be based on Feats of Strength.
12:51 PM Dec 6th
I agree, Bill. and best to have Mega-billionaires. I have been telling Mike Bloomberg and George Soros to run and to represent all of us here in New York, but they have shown little interest in it. Maybe they have gotten too old. I don't know. I'm a tad older than Mike, but a lot younger than George - and far, far, far poorer than both. I will look for some younger guys around here who have plenty of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and might have some interest.


10:46 AM Dec 6th
I like the Senate, but I think it needs to be more elitist. They've got common millionaires in there. I think they should all be billionaires.
10:36 AM Dec 6th
You are suggesting a Peter Unger Preference Act?
10:02 AM Dec 6th
Of course, the Electoral College is undemocratic. And the US Senate is even far More undemocratic, giving the few people of Wyoming as much say as the very many people of California.

Myself, I would prefer all of the nation-wide legislative power in the US to reside in a single chamber, much as all of that in the UK resides in the House of Commons, and much as happens with many other countries as well. But, while there have been many hubbubs to remove the Electoral College, as OldBackstop observes, I know of nothing (of any salience at all) to remove the Senate, or to have it lose (almost all) its powers (so that it means no more than, say, the UK's House of Lords. Does anyone know of any such movement? And, if not, then the asymmetry appears interesting: Many attempts to remove the Electoral College and None to remove, or to render largely impotent, the Senate.
9:46 AM Dec 6th
Interesting side note...to read around the intraweb thang this month, you would think no one has ever bitched about the Electoral College before. But there have been over 700 bills introduced to amend it by Constitutional amendment....more than any other Constitutional issue. I'm guessing most of them popped up after close elections.
12:30 AM Dec 6th
I agree that Nate was a step ahead of almost everybody else in realizing that it was POSSIBLE that Trump was going to win this. Everybody else was saying "Alright, the polls show Hillary's got it"; Nate was saying on the morning of the election that there was a substantial possibility of an upset.
11:22 PM Dec 5th

When there is any lengthy time before an election, one that is even reasonably close, there will be many fluctuations before the last several weeks, when, usually, things settle in a lot so that the fluctuations are much smaller. Correlatively, there can be little confidence, in close elections, with what may be happening even just pretty far from the election date. As I'm sure, Nate knows this better than I do. Just so, while he may show big swings early on, he places LITTLE CONFIDENCE in the snapshots far from the election date. This is not only perfectly consistent, but quite as it should be. Just so, I don't take what you are saying as contravening what I have said.
10:36 PM Dec 5th

To be fair to Nate Silver, his probabilities fluctuated widely throughout the campaign. After the Republican convention he had Trump's chances at almost 50%; after the Democractic convention and the disastrous first two debates it went down to the low teens. After the third debate it started ticking upward, and in the last few days settled at 30%.
7:30 PM Dec 5th
I'm not taking sides in any of this. If find Craig's material INTERESTING and I also find OldBackstop's material INTERESTING. Both likely know far more than I do about the matters under discussion. Perhaps the person who knows most is someone who first made his bones with a Baseball prediction system, namely, Nate Silver. Each day up to Election Day, Nate was giving Trump ABOUT a 30% chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, sometimes a little more, sometimes a tad less, but always around that. So, HE was NOT surprised at the result. Afterward, Nate has been saying it is well worthwhile to do electoral audits in various states, just to ascertain what went on with our voting processes there, also saying that it is EXCEEDINGLY unlikely that the result - even ANY of the results - will be relevantly altered. I will try to paste in here a link to Nate's piece on that, which should interest those readers interested in this present thread: fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-i-support-an-election-audit-even-though-its-unlikely-to-cha​nge-the-outcome/
6:01 PM Dec 5th
@Bill, as to anomalies. There are such a sea of data slices in a presidential race that you can roll rocks into all sorts of lines. Let’s try one: “Hillary Clinton cheated in California.”

The Real Clear Politics average before the election had her at 54.3%. The single largest poll between the convention and before the election, Field/Berkeley, had her at only 53%. Yet on Election Day Hillary polled at 61.6%, a whopping 7.3% over the RCP gold standard! This while across the country Hillary UNDERPOLLED her RCP average, dropping from a 3.2% lead to a 2.0@ final lead. In California, a jump way outside any margin of error.

(everyone keeping up? This compares to the much discussed suspicious Trump ballot jump in Pennsylvania of Trump going from 44.7 to 48.4 percent.)

Maybe Clinton doesn’t have a big cheating operation in California. Let’s see….what happened in June? The RCP average had her at 2 points over Bernie Sanders. The last three polls had her at 2 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent. (A lot of people thought she’d win by two percent.) She won by 12.5%. A 10% difference!! Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhhnomaly!!!

11:57 AM Dec 5th
@Bill...I am not a "lock her up" anti-Clintonite. Without trying to wear a prosecutor's hat, it is clear there was at least some area in there for discretion, and I think Comey walked a line in July with a brutal recitation of her wrongdoing while still avoiding the terrible precedent of indicting a major party candidate between the nomination and the general election. You can indict, as they say, a ham sandwich, and there is some logic to saying a presidential candidate is already on trial -- as long as the evidence is public, which required the October update.


Craig clearly believes Comey intentionally timed his statements to inflict maximum political damage on HRC....here is one excerpt from his first article:

Comey is, of course, the rascal who is under fire to resign for abuse of power to manipulate the 2016 Presidential election. Eleven days before the election, he announced the FBI had new material that appeared to relate to the investigation settled months ago about [D] and her aides mishandling classified information. Comey took this highly prejudicial step even though, by his own admission, the FBI had not yet assessed "whether or not this material may be significant." After letting the innuendo stew for more than a week, Comey released a second letter on November 6th that was meant to make him look like less of a prick trying to manipulate the election, and shared the investigative conclusion that the new material was not significant after all. Central to my point here is the apparent careful timing of Comey’s second letter. What most Americans do not realize is that the timing of Comey’s letters carefully fit an intent to influence roughly a third of the electorate with the innuendo in his first letter without exposing them at all to his second letter admitting it was a false alarm.

10:53 AM Dec 5th
Well. . .has Craig said ANYTHING that vilifies Comey? If so, what, and where? It seems to me that you guys are just making that up out of whole cloth.

My own take on Comey, for whatever it is worth, is that I absolutely cannot conceive of what Comey was thinking of--when he decided in July not to pursue charges. It sounds to me like what he was saying was "Yes, she did walk into the bank with a gun and a note demanding money, and yes, she was wearing a disguise at the time, and yes, she did walk out of the bank with the money, and yes, she did spend the money, and yes, she did fire three shots at the security guard as she was leaving, but no reasonable prosecutor would proceed with a case based on these facts." It just seems a complete mystery to me that the woman is not in jail where she belongs. AND I VOTED FOR HER. And would vote for her again, given the same choice.

If Comey had released a statement in late October saying "I've thought it over, and I don't know how in the HELL I decided not to prosecute that woman", that would have been fine with me. But this isn't about Comey. It's about the election.

I THINK that the essence of Craig's argument is "anomalies forming a pattern". I think Craig is arguing that there are anomalies in the vote, forming a pattern consistent with what you would see if there were a rigged election. I don't know that this is true, but neither can I see clearly that it isn't true.

Historically, MOST people who have been convicted of murder or other serious crimes were convicted on the basis of anomalies forming a pattern, rather than on the basis of what we now consider evidence. Evidence is what the police FIND when they dig deeply into your life. Anomalies forming a pattern are the reason the police are investigating you in the first place. Your wife is murdered; the police look you over. They find that you left work two hours early for the first time in two years; that's an anomaly. You say that you've been getting along great, but her sister says you have been arguing constantly; that's an anomaly. When they tell you your wife is dead you "Oh, no. Well I've been at work all day", rather than "My God, what happened?" That's an anomaly. Your pistol was reported stolen two days ago; that's an anomaly. If the anomalies form a PATTERN, then we look for evidence.

11:35 PM Dec 4th
Craig: In my last comment I said that it strikes *me* as rationalization. That's is a fact. It does strike me that way. I did not say that it needed to strike anyone else that way, nor was I trying to suggest intellectual dishonesty of anyone. My viewpoint on that could be mostly wrong - I admit that. But it is what I think so I do not retract the statement.

I do appreciate your rebuttal. Some of your points are well taken. But I do wonder if you would have written this article and would have done the analysis you did had the other candidate won. I don't know. Maybe you would have; and if so, bravo to you. But that was the greater point I was making. Dishonesty in an election is dishonesty. It should be exposed regardless of the election's winner and regardless of whether it actually influenced the outcome. But it *never* seems to work that way. It only ever seems to have the tone of 'we got jobbed, and here's how.'
9:37 PM Dec 4th
The below enlightens this a bit and recalls the back and worth with the poster jdw for the past year and a half.

He also tried to make ties to past elections and primaries when discussing the dynamics, communication, and messaging wars that led to their results.

You can't compare a 1964 or 1888 election to 2016. You can't compare it to 1980, actually. It is akin to any other communications -- the successful promotion of a book, perhaps. It is a new world.

For much of our history a list of local newspapers led the shaping of voter sentiment. Direct efforts to reach voters required tremendous resources in people and/or money. That has nothing to do with our current campaigns, focused on social media and the blogosphere and a national media utterly shorn of any attempt at non-partisanship. Developments and attacks must be countered in hours, and they can be generated by anyone with a Twitter account.


The popular vote "mystery" is directly attributable to The People's Republic of California, a largely left wing culture media juggernaut utterly foreign to Trump's platform and therefore ignored by him. Why go there and grab the third rail and have rallies filled with wild-eyed protesters for MSNBC to run in a loop? Hillary had saturated California battling Bernie and had the resources, hearts and minds. Screw California.

Bush the Lesser gave it a shot in 2004 and "only" lost the state by 1.2 million. Trump lost by 4.2 million. He won the rest of the country by over a million, and he won the Electoral College. No mystery, no Russians, no fix.

There is the difference. Trump and Conway knew where to fight their battles. They were not going to win California's 55 electoral votes, and every dime spent was a dime wasted.
6:35 PM Dec 4th
Kellyanne Conway

I got an email from someone I consider pretty thoughtful and who is also ardently anti-Trump -- no, I am not talking about Bill James. He allowed that I had brought him close to the line of saying that it was probably more likely than not that the 2016 vote was rigged, and that if he looked at it as hard as I had, he might well go further. He also shared he was concerned that his thinking might be colored by prejudice. Interestingly, it was not driven by his passionate dislike of Donald Trump. He explained that for him the appeal in considering a rigged vote was that it gave him the opportunity to feel better about his fellow citizens. He told me that as unhappy as he was that Trump was going to be President, that was easier for him to take than the tremendous disappointment he felt in his fellow countrymen that they had elected a man so unfit to be President. He wrote: "After Trump is long gone, I am afraid I will still be left with this loss of faith in who we are."

I reminded him that an election is only a choice, and sometimes we make bad choices. But more important, I thought he could give up that thought that pained him so if he looked at it as I do. The questions of whether the vote was rigged and what we need to do to secure our future elections are entirely separate from my belief in the capacity of the electorate -- working within the intent of the Electoral College -- to NOT make the choice we happen to be stuck with.

For me, an honest 2016 election means the Electoral College system had a hiccup, where things simply did not work as intended. The design of the Electoral College has an expectation that if the winner does not lead in the popular vote, his winning margin will be covered by the portion of Electoral votes not tied to population. And that has worked great. Until 2016 that was how it had worked in every election except 1888. That's a pretty nice record of 45-1, and 46-0 if you toss 1888 as a "bought" election. That it did not work in 2016 is a concern, particularly in regard to the magnitude of the failure. But taken as an honest result, I don't expect to see its likes again, and my regard for the electorate and the principles in the Electoral College remain positive. My only complaint with the Electoral College is that the format enourages attempts to rig our election.

So why do I head this with the name of Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway? Because, as she was paraphrased by ScottSegrin, it sounds like she is saying, "Hey, we managed to game the decision and we feel good about it." I personally don't believe they managed to game the decision at all, but if they had, I would advise them not to expect congratulations on a feat that is hardly admirable or good for the country.

I will not be answering further commentary for at least day and a half mininum. I have a firm deadline on an article that still has a tad more research and not a word written. Another whose deadline is not firm, but in my own schedule is a full 3 days behind. Even when I can come back to it, I will abandon it soon as the most important person in my life is feeling neglected. And you really don't need me.
5:57 PM Dec 4th

The context is not an election in Wisconsin but a national election. The dance analogy is that they are moving -- reacting -- to the same music of targeted campaigning, not that they are dancing together in mirrored steps, state by state. There are different interpretations of the music in the movement it inspires. There is going to be a degree of commonality in interpretation of the music where steps tend to mirror each other, but it is also not uncommon to have points of different interpretation in how to move -- how to distribute your resources in your interpetation of the music. Campaigns do make choices to trust their stance in this or that close state to put more resources in another. That does not mean they have sat down, that they are not continuing to dance to targeted campaigning. It is still a "canceling out" dance that in election, after election, after election has resulted in spotty, hit-and-miss results.

How well the stone of targeted campaigning works for you in filling this hole is your call. It does not remotely work for me. I've looked very, very hard at how things actually move and interact in an Electoral College election, particularly in the original group of my study (1964-2012) and I am tremendously confident that the odds are termendously stacked against a campaign being able to execute the kind of surgical precision to be a factor in filling that hole. When I work that wall within a wall, I come away with no confidence in it.

"Flawlessly" is a tough word to be relying on in making your point. It is certainly is possible for a campaign to make a series of decisions that pan out flawlessly. But the degree to which we can raise the probability of that away from long shot luck, relies on the window of skill for [R]'s campaign as a group of people. Did we see signs of exceptional skill there as the election moved along or are we assigning that after the fact with the election results driving that view? I don't mean the latter is completely invalid, but it is certainly less compelling. Myself, I had a lot of respect for [R]'s campaign in their fire control in working with a difficult, and it often seemed to me, uncooperative candidate. I believe that skill was very helpful to the campaign in repairing leakage from the party, but the degree of carryover in a skill in solving that type of problem to this type of problem seems incredibly limited.

In regard to your last comment, I would ask you to reconsider whether it is appropriate or called for. Why is it that if I think differently, that I not land where you do, that it feels right to you not just to disagree but to assume intellectual dishonesty?

Faced with an extreme abnormality in precision that has not been accomplished by a campaign in an Electoral College election in 128 years, you are banking on the explanation that the "Trump campaign was a flawlessly executed surgical strike on the Electoral College." I think that's a very serious misreading of the capacity of such a factor to remotely explain that distubing phenomenon. It would be hard to overstate how wrong I think that is, but in my disagreement, not for a moment would I dismiss your train of thought as rationalization.
5:45 PM Dec 4th
Craig, I would like to see your responses to at least some of the points, what you take the most telling points made by OldBackstop. I can'd do research on all this stuff, as with how exit polling went, or at least I don't have the motivation to work it all through. But, I take it OB is capable and highly motivated. So, what do you say?

By the way, the only salient person this cycle I really favored was, like you, Bernie Sanders, whom I backed early on with quite a few Bucks. He is, in my opinion, the ONLY salient politician not caught up with any of the noted elites, who care little for those in the bottom 80%, even while there will Always be 80% of out people in the bottom 80% (though not always, of course, all of the very same people).

Pushing this theme along a bit, let's first consider Michigan and Wisconsin, which R won, and nearby Minnesota, which R BARELY lost. Did Minnesota have much better electoral security that Wisconsin and Michigan? Even if so, the margins in all three of them were very small.
In the primaries, Bernie beat Hillary very badly in Minnesota's huge open caucus, and in Wisconsin's open primary. And he beat, by a small margin, in Michigan. That goes along with the fact, little noted, that in ALL OF THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES PUT TOGETHER, Bernie got MORE of the Whit vote than did Hillary, though he got swamped with regard to the Non-White vote, of course, which did him. (In the general, as was and is obvious, where are almost all of the Non-Whites going to go? As always, in modern times, to the Ds.) So, judging by the relevant primaries, Hillary was a very, very vulnerable candidate, in at Least such states as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and, as we now Certainly know, nearby Ohio and Iowa.

What about Pennsylvania? From the primaries there is little to learn. That is because PA had a CLOSED Primary. So, though H did better than B, that showed little. H has been famously D for decades, B just joined the Ds in order to run. Registered Ds are likely to register that difference, no pun intended, whereas in open primaries there are many more voters who care little about any such partisan matter.

At all events, I would like to hear more from you Craig, perhaps especially in the light of all the comments from OldBackstop, who at least sometimes, for some reason, calls you "Graig".
1:27 PM Dec 4th
That leaves these are you remaining ten stones:

8. Mystery evidence 1: “For what it is worth, there is a smattering of evidence I have not delved deeper into that gives an appearance of prior small-scale tinkering around elections in states with below average security measures in their voting process.”

9. Mystery evidence 2: “A small stone that may grow in size and more firmly fit relates to something completely new to me that was just brought to my attention a couple of days ago, but it is too fresh for me to write about it here.”

10. It would be nice if it was an even ten, so add yours on.

12:46 PM Dec 4th
4. Once the twoper Electoral votes are removed from the Electoral Vote count, the “population” based numbers are skewed in a way not seen since the 1888 election, which also had a disconnect between popular vote and Electoral results and featured fraud, so the two must be connected. Quote: “they are the only ones where the loser of the popular vote won the Electoral vote by a margin exceeding his margin in Electoral votes not tied to population.”

I would term this “fun with numbers”. It is already established that 1888 and 2016 had a large popular vote to Electoral Vote disconnection. I’m sure there are a number of mathematical twists you could execute to show them to be uniquely bonded in time. 1888 has been plucked from that stretch of fraudulent elections due to its numerical characteristics….there are other reasons, as I have discussed above. To then use that to indict 2016 is a “two lefts make a right.” Or wright.

5. The system in the swing states that swung were particularly vulnerable and would, logically, been the ones targeted.

The swing states were the most scrutinized, with Hillary’s campaign having poll watchers at every single polling location whose job is to identify each voter as they enter and challenge any not on their lists. At any point the campaign would know how many Democrats, how many Republicans, how many unaffiliateds, how many 4 of 4 voters are probably still going to show, who they should call….even seniors who might need a ride. Those numbers are consolidated up the line. You can’t add 50,000 at the computer level and not have Hillary’s campaign screaming.
In addition to that, think of the poll watchers as an enormous super polling exercise…not a sample of 300, but one of 300,000. If those numbers are not spot on for early votes as sliced by any metric…race, party, age…Hillary’s people would be screaming.

Hillary’s people did not scream, actually have repeatedly said they don’t see any problems.

Graig, you may feel that a given IT system is more vulnerable, but how valid is your opinion? Do you know what security software upgrades they may have recently installed or encryption methods and double checks they employ? The nature of data security is that it is not an open book for outside scrutiny.

6. The Rooskies had it out for Hillary and were already attacking through Wikileaks.

Yeah, that’s a favorite lefty message. Assange, who normally says nothing about his sources made a point of denying it was through the Russian government,
USAToday looked into this in November and concluded the the leaks came from Podesta’s google email account.


Why were emails leaked from Team Clinton and not Team Trump? Perhaps because the only ones floating around out there were from the idiots using gmail through a domain called “clintonemail.com” registered openly through Network Solutions and run through a server in their freaking bathroom. Ya think?

7. The rascally prick Comey purposely timed his announcements to hurt Hillary. I am unclear if you think this was tied to the Soviets? Or did he just go rogue?

I just watched an interview with Robbie Mook and this seems to be where the Dems whining will land for history. Comey was the Democrat’s Golden God, and was hauled befor Congress where he testified on Septeber 28 that the investigation was closed. Then 650,000 emails of Huma’s were found stupidly backed up on her weenie-wagger husband’s laptop, which he provided to the FBI as part of their investigations into his creepy sexual conversations with a 15-year old. The investigation had to be re-opened to examine them, which the separate FBI weenie wager squad was demanding.

So what was Comey supposed to do? Hope that all the FBI guys who already bthought he was a Hillary Tool would sit on their knowledge of the new emails while he secretly suspends the investigation? Sit on the knowledge that the investigation was about to be re-opened, counter to what he had testified to in Congress?
Anyway, what is the allegation here with him, why is he in your piece? Was he working with the Rooskies?

12:44 PM Dec 4th
"The other side is doing their own targeted campaigning, and the result is a "canceling out" dance between the two."

I live in Wisconsin and I would like to argue that at least here, this statement is almost unarguably not true. In the weeks leading up to the election, the Trump campaign was omnipresent in Wisconsin. The Clinton campaign was almost invisible. Trump had scheduled a rally in West Allis, WI, three days before the election that Paul Ryan was going to attend. The rally was cancelled because Trump's campaign felt he needed to be in Michigan instead. But the buzz generated by that was probably greater than if he had been here. It was almost as through the whole thing was an intentional set-up. Be it actual campaign stops by him or Mike Pence, the on again off again rift between him and Ryan (and to a lesser degree Governor Scott Walker), all anyone talked about here in Wisconsin before the election was Donald Trump.

Kellyanne Conway said in an interview this week, (I'm paraphrasing) 'You don't win the presidency by winning the popular vote. You win it by getting 270 Electoral votes. That was our goal. That's what we did.' From my perspective, the Trump campaign was a flawlessly executed surgical strike on the Electoral College. To analyze it any other way strikes me as just rationalization.
6:28 AM Dec 4th
2. Pre-election polling in Pennsylvania pointed to a Clinton victory.

This is a can of corn. The final and best poll for Pennsylvania by Trafalgar had Trump by one, culminating several weeks of closing the gap. The last poll nailed the final result. Not everyone saw this last poll and you acknowledged you had come up with your theory without seeing it. To me this closes the book on any Pennsylvania pre-election polling mystery.

3. The announcement on the Sunday morning shows by Comey that the FBI had again stopped its investigation should have bumped her over the top (in Pennsylvania, with no early voting).

You continually mention this and it is perhaps the one point where you exhibit a wild ignorance of campaign communications and a dramatic bias to the Clinton narrative. The narrative that a candidate being “cleared” is great news was a hopeful lefty chant….the damage had been done. A scandal is not a zero sum game.

First off, the announcement was made on Sunday morning, 48 hours before polls open. Journalists in the dead wood media, pundits, and editorials weren’t fully dealing with it until work on Monday. Many Americans don’t absorb news in that period of time, particularly in a 48 hour sprint filled with last minute politics.

To a hopeful lefty watching hopeful lefty media touting this, it was Big News. But anyone who greeted this with a glad heart was already a Clinton voter. There weren’t people in Pennsylvania pacing the kitchen saying “God, if only the FBI would stop investigating like they did in July, then ol’ Hil’s mah girl!”

Having an Election Eve headline with your candidate’s name and "FBI probe" is a nightmare, whether someone actually thinks all her legal issues were over or not. To many low information voters it was a refresher on Hil’s top girl Huma and her weenie-wagging hubbie. To others it was that poor SOB Comey caving to the tsunami of abuse and pressure to do something before the election. To anyone who really needed to tune into the issue, there was a recitation of Comey’s “I’m throwing up a little in my mouth” July statement of her reckless actions. The bottomline is, the FBI renewed investigation underlined the idiocy of the Clinton team in national security and replayed the sordid tale of their close pal the Weiner-Wagger. In that last week, many people had the same reaction: “Ewww..”

The Sunday statement blandly said ““Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.” The American people didn’t change their opinion either….what they heard was that the “clearing” in July sure seemed tenuous and fragile now. Trump’s momentum – born of more than the FBI --continued into the final days. There was no bounce nationally, there was no bounce in the swing states. There was no bounce. The fact that there was no bounce in Pennsylvania is meaningless.

Craig, your anger and namecalling toward Comey may be well placed. Your assumption the entire affair played out to an even sum game is silly.

12:24 AM Dec 4th

Exit polls differ from results in four key swing states.

CW Quote:“The CNN exit polls — which were done by Edison Research — covered 28 states that accounted for 411 of the Electoral votes. Their exit polls correctly predicted the winner in the recorded vote in 24 of the 28 states. All four misses were swing states, and in all four cases the exit polls had indicated that [D] had won, but then the official vote count went to [R].”

This is quite disingenuous, with all due respect. To say “their poll accurately predicted the winner in 24 states” is to ignore the fact that the exit polls were wildly off in favor of Clinton all across the country. Exit polls were a trainwreck, and, with early voting, may quite possibly have seen the death of their industry in 2016.

Beyond early voting, the phenomenon across all polling is that Trump underpolled, the Brexit phenomenon. This isn’t a whiteboard theory as before the election, it is an established fact.

This article basically examines the theory that the exit poll discrepancy in the swing states points to a fix at the ballot box:
Ignoring all of their logic, just look at the chart they assembled of the CNN/Edison exit polling versus actual results.

Yes, as you say, the four swing states were the only ones with a different OUTCOME than the exit poll. But the 23 states with a discrepancy greater than 1.0 broke 20-3 for Trump, underlining the fact that Trump underpolled (one of the 20 not showing the Trump effect had an MOE of 7.6, making one wonder when you just don’t publish).

With the vast majority of the states showing a higher ballot than exit poll, of course the states with small margins – the swing states, by definition – are going to be the ones seeing an outcome different than the exit poll margin. If you added two runs to every home baseball teams on a given Saturday, the outcomes changing are going to be the one run visitor victories.

Trump voters either won’t participate in polls – a recognized phenomenon in Republicans, or especially won’t because they hate the media, or are simply demonstrating the Brexit effect, where people didn’t want to admit to backing Brexit due to smears of racism. They were conditioned to avoid the argument.
In New Jersey, the exit polls indicated Clinton would win by 24 points….it was off by ELEVEN POINTS. I don’t think anyone is claiming a Rooskie plot here, it is simply the phenomenon I saw in many of my friends – it isn’t worth the grief to try to defend your vote for Trump, you just flipped the lever.

So…you get it? If there was a conspiracy between exit polling and the ballot, it was countrywide, not a four or six state “fix.”

9:01 PM Dec 3rd
Your wall analogy is interesting, maybe because I have walls around my property dating from the 18th century. They used to be property lines or delineate farm and livestock fields, now they serve no purpose except making me have to go a long way to mow around them. As you say, there are anchor rocks and smaller filler rocks, probably a hundred per dozen feet. No matter how many anchor rocks I roll into the lawn for landscaping projects, it seems the wall still stands there, probably visible from the heavens, telling people on faith and belief that they serve a purpose, when they don’t.
To me, your belief in an intelligent and criminal guiding hand in the results of this presidential election is one of faith, like seeing the face of Christ in a corn field or a potato. The only way to build a wall is to start out with that in mind, pick the wally looking stones you want, and roll them over to where you want them in a line :-) But I suppose you did that for testing the theory. The picture that flashed in my mind was in the movie My Cousin Vinnie, where Joe Pesci explains to the jury that the prosecutor has to build a perfect wall with his stones of evidence, and Vinnie would examine each one. But, we aren’t talking about beyond a reasonable doubt there, right? And even if the anchor stones are rolled on to the lawn, it is going to be almost impossible to remove evidence of a tumbledown stone wall in which someone so inclined may place their faith.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but these are your anchor rocks:
1. Exit polls differ from results in four key swing states.
2. Pre-election polling in Pennsylvania pointed to a Clinton victory.
3. The announcement on the Sunday moring shows by Comey that the FBI had again stopped its investigation should have bumped her over the top.
4. Once the twoper Electoral votes are removed from the Electoral Vote count, the “population” based numbers are skewed in a way not seen since the 1888 election, which also had a disconnect between popular vote and Electoral results and featured fraud, so the two must be connected. Quote: “they are the only ones where the loser of the popular vote won the Electoral vote by a margin exceeding his margin in Electoral votes not tied to population.”
5. The system in the swing states that swung were particularly vulnerable and would, logically, been the ones targeted.
6. The Rooskies had it out for Hillary and were already attacking through Wikileaks.
7. The rascally prick Comey purposely timed his announcements to hurt Hillary. I am unclear if you think this was tied to the Soviets? Or did he just go rogue?
8. Mystery evidence 1: “For what it is worth, there is a smattering of evidence I have not delved deeper into that gives an appearance of prior small-scale tinkering around elections in states with below average security measures in their voting process.”
9. Mystery evidence 2: “A small stone that may grow in size and more firmly fit relates to something completely new to me that was just brought to my attention a couple of days ago, but it is too fresh for me to write about it here.”
10. It would be nice if it was an even ten, so add yours on.

8:57 PM Dec 3rd
Thanks Pete,

Ah, a Clinton supporter -- or Tump disliker -- I see. Well, I sympathize to a point. I don't think President-Elect Trump is good Presidential timber and probably is the worst I have ever been asked to judge. I think the Presidency moves him from being a rude fool to being a dangerous man.

But I do not share your conflicted feeling on this because there is a level where I really don't care. I'll be praying for him every day of his Presidency as I have for them all, with no regard for whether they were my choice or not. I've always wanted this to move as quickly as possible past the feelings folks had for this or that candidate, which is why I decided to simply avoid their names entirely and make them candidates [R] and [D]. If anyone cares, I didn't particularly like Clinton as a candidate either. I preferred Bernie "How do you like me now" Sanders, and I thought the argument that he could not win was ludicrous, even though two of my saviest political friends kept telling me that was his fatal weakness. To me, they were arguing that Clinton was better because she was going in looking like a Presidential candidate. I believe if Sanders had gotten the nomination, we quickly would have started seeing hm as a Presidential candidate, and his maverick flavor would have been considered not a negative but a plus, which it was.

Anyway, for me, there is great attraction to believing our election process is protected, working reasonably well, and we simply made the wrong choice -- which I expect happens a lot. I see no comfort in a probability that there is an entity out there that pulled this off, stealing something so precious from us. That is a prospect that eats at me and if I were offered a choice of two positions, one to head an investigation to determine whether there was a fix or not, or to head a committee that would be given the mandate to improve the security of our elections, they would both have appeal to me as being worth doing, but there is no contest in that choice. Absolutely, without doubt or hesitation, I would immediately chose the latter.

It got mocked a bit, but I began and ended my article with the thought of the dependency of representative government on having honest elections. That is the larger relevance of considering whether the 2016 Election was honest or not, not who [R] or [D] are.
8:18 PM Dec 3rd
This a very interesting and thoughtful essay. I can't quite get myself to believe it's thesis, that the recent Presidential election was fixed. But, that might be mainly because I'd like that to be true, and I'm bending over backwards to stop myself from, just possibly, bending over forward.

6:09 PM Dec 3rd
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