Fixing a Presidential Election

November 21, 2016
                                                       Fixing a Presidential Election

 

It is impossible to have representative government without honest elections, which makes it astonishing how little we invest in securing our elections, and that includes the Presidential election. Our greatest deterrent to fixing a Presidential election is not that the security is impressive — it is actually quite woeful — but that the ramifications of getting caught are so disastrous for the organizations that might be tempted to try it. If it were a domestic organization getting caught, the actual legal punishments would not rise to the level of treason. The law does not take us there … yet. But a sense of treason would be the level of perception and treatment from others, and that often means more to an organization than the penalties heaped on its actors. And if it were a foreign nation caught fixing our Presidential election, the fallout would be even more severe. If the proof were beyond question, it could be taken as an act of war. At a minimum it would invoke the most serious and comprehensive sanctions our nation has ever mustered, and with that would come whatever action our allies and any other offended nation would take.

 

To say that a key point in a conspiracy is to avoid detection seems so obvious that it doesn’t warrant mentioning, but firmly bearing that point in mind is actually important in anticipating how a Presidential election would be fixed. So, let me say it again, the strategic imperative in fixing a Presidential election is not to get caught. That means taking the utmost precautions to avoid detection, and to do it in such a manner that if the fix is detected, that it is as hard as possible to track back to the actors and directors of the conspiracy. That will be especially important later on when I go on to explain how the choices would likely be made in the actual mechanics of fixing a Presidential election. But it is important, too, in explaining why it "looks" like the 2016 Presidential election was fixed.

 

How the Electoral College Facilitates Fixing a Presidential Election

 

When a conspiracy has a strategic imperative of "don’t get caught," you want to do it with as few actors as possible. That generally means doing it on as small a scale as will accomplish the goal, for every actor in a conspiracy is a vulnerability to that conspiracy.

 

Because nearly all the states distribute their Electoral votes under a "winner-take-all" formula — Nebraska and Maine are the only exceptions — that makes it possible to use precision to leverage a large result. Rather than having to figure out how to flip millions of votes across several states, you can pull it off by focusing on just a few states where the voting is close, and flip about 600,000 votes.

 

Pretend for a moment that the exit polls for the 2016 Presidential campaign were perfectly in line with the actual vote. Then the Democratic candidate, henceforth referred to as [D], was going to win Pennsylvania by 4.4 points over the Republican candidate, henceforth referred to as [R], and win Florida by 1.4 points. The equivalent of those margins is about 390,000 votes.  In theory then, you could give those same margins of victory to [R] in those states by merely flipping 390.000 votes.

 

That alone, just rigging Pennsylvania and Florida in the "winner-take-all" formula of the Electoral College, is going to swing 49 Electoral votes, enough to reverse the outcome of the election. But that’s still pretty close (281-257) and a fixer would not know how the rest of the states were playing out. A conspiracy to fix the election would probably look for another vulnerable state or two to ensure the result.  But again, being able to fix an election by focusing on just 3 or 4 states and flipping 600,000 votes, is a tremendous boon to an organization seeking to rig an election without being detected, or if detected, having it traced back to them.

 

How the Electoral College Makes It Easier to Recognize a Fix

 

The same thing that makes the format of the Electoral College such an advantage for an organization trying to fix a Presidential election also creates the fix’s greatest danger in raising suspicion that the vote was rigged. This enhanced ability to use precision to leverage the election increases the chances of a noticeable disconnect between the popular vote and the Electoral vote. If that disconnect goes off the chart of reasonable probability, then it is going to raise a red flag with someone like me, who is going to look harder at it, and then write an article like this one.

 

In evaluating a divergence between the popular vote and the Electoral vote, one has to weigh the small disconnect already built into the system. The Electoral vote is designed to mirror what we do in Congress. Our 100 Senators are distributed with no connection to population. Every state gets two, whether the state is Wyoming or California. But the distribution among the states of the 435 members of the House of Representatives is all about population, and so California gets 53 seats to Wyoming’s one. The number of Electoral votes for a state is the sum of its Senators and its members of the House. In whole, that is the Electoral College with the addition of 3 votes for the District of Columbia. (The decision to treat D.C. like a small state was made in 1961 when D.C. had a population more than double that of the least populated state.)

 

With the addition of treating D.C. like a small state, that means that 19% of the Electoral vote (102 of 538) is independent of population and 81% synchs with population. That’s why the decision of the Electoral vote is almost always going to match the decision of the popular vote. When there is an exception, the margin of the Electoral vote victory is likely be covered by the difference between the candidates in the 102 Electoral votes not based on population.

 

This is exactly what happened in the Presidential Election of 2000, which was the first time in 112 years that the result of the popular vote and the Electoral vote disagreed. [R] won the Electoral vote 271 to 266, and that 5-vote margin of victory was less than the 18-vote edge that [R] ran up in the 102 votes not based on population. That is, [R] carried 30 states for 60 of those votes and [D] carried 20 states plus D.C. for the other 42. Or to put it another way, the result of the popular vote actually did agree with the portion of the Electoral vote tied to population, with [D] leading 224-211.

 

The same was also true in the Presidential election of 1876. [R] beat [D] in the narrowest Electoral vote ever, a single vote, and also trailed in the popular vote. But that was actually a normal result because [R], not [D], was the candidate who led in the Electoral votes not based on population, an 8-vote edge. Again, there was nothing unusual in the popular vote differing from the Electoral vote in 1876.

 

 How things came out in the 2016 Presidential election is nothing like that. [R] did have an edge in the electoral votes not related to population, but it was not a gigantic margin, in fact it was exactly what it was in the 2000 Presidential election — an extra 18 votes. But unlike the 2000 election being decided by 5 electoral votes, in 2016 we have [R] winning by a margin of 74 Electoral votes, or over four times the margin in votes not related to population. To do that without winning the popular vote would be pretty incredible.

 

But that’s what happened. As I write this, with 97% of the vote counted [D] has a 1.34 million lead in the popular vote and it is expected to skyrocket from there and finish around 2.2 million. That’s because almost all — about 85% — of the 4 million votes yet to be counted are coming from California where [D] is highly favored, almost 2-to-1, over [R]. (The delay in processing the final vote in California is due to it being the rare state that does not require receipt of mail-in ballots by election day. Instead, they must simply be postmarked by election day and received within 3 days of election day.)

 

Sidebar on the Popular Vote: Some are bothered that [D]’s lead in the popular vote is traceable solely to California. Outside of California, [R] is the leader in the popular vote. Folks, California is a big state — a huge state. Suggesting there is merit in considering the popular vote without California is like saying let’s toss out Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming. [R] dominated the vote in that block of states about the same as [D] dominated in California, and you can total up the voters from those 13 states and  still have slightly fewer voters than in California! It makes just as much sense to toss out that block of states. And, if you do, you will find that outside that block of states [D] wins the popular vote.

 

[R] has also argued that the only reason he did not win the popular vote is that his campaign did not focus on California because it was not a swing state. But [D] also did not focus on California for the same reason — just as [R] and [D] both declined to focus on the block of 13 states previously mentioned. There is no reason to believe the results would differ significantly if both had campaigned in these states.

 

The point remains that [D] won the popular vote and yet still lost the portion of the Electorate vote tied to population. By itself that would be highly unusual, but making it really startling is the size of the margin of that loss, a stunning 46 votes, more than 10% of the total (246-200).

 

What are the Precedents for this Outcome?

 

This incredible disconnect between the 2016 popular vote and the Electoral vote is lost on many reporters and the public because it gets presented as the 5th time the winner of the popular vote did not win the Presidency. Let me take you through the other four times to help you understand that only one of them is a true precedent — and that one is nothing we would want to repeat.

 

The first in 1824 is not remotely similar. The truth is that Andrew Jackson, the winner of the popular vote, actually did get the most Electoral votes! He did not win the Presidency because there were four major candidates who so split the Electoral vote that no one got a majority, and so the vote was decided in the House of Representatives. The fourth strongest candidate threw his support behind the #2 candidate, and thus my cousin John Q. Adams became President. Adding to the lack of precedence from this election is that there wasn’t even a nation-wide popular vote in 1824. Several states had their state legislature decide their Electoral vote and did not conduct a popular vote.

 

I’ve already touched on the cases of the 1876 and 2000 elections and how their results were not abnormal at all once the slight disconnect already built into the system is weighed in.

 

That leaves us with the unusual Presidential election of 1888 which provides the only real precedent for the oddball outcome in the 2016 election. In 1888 Benjamin Harrison won a strong Electoral victory of 233-168 despite trailing in the popular vote by about 100,000 votes, which proportionally would be equivalent to 1.2 million votes in the 2016 election. The 1888 election was perhaps the most corrupt election in our history. It was essentially a rigged election but historians prefer to say "bought" because it sounds better and more accurately captures what happened. It was the first Presidential campaign in which big business sought to control the outcome by throwing boatloads of money into the campaign. "Robber barons," to use the term of historian S.J. Ackerman, flooded the coffers of Harrison’s party with massive donations, and that war chest was used to take advantage of the vulnerabilities in that ancient election system to literally buy votes in key states, including financing "repeat" voters. Besides the fact that some states made little to no effort to stop someone from voting multiple times, the era of open ballots had not yet died. There were still some states where you had to vote in an open room and sign your ballot, and in at least one state you still had to announce your vote orally. There were states that professed to have secret ballots but then in some of their polling places the voter had to place his ballot in a glass ballot box, precisely to allow those who had bought votes to see that they had gotten their money’s worth.

 

At one point a railway postal agent intercepted and revealed a directive from an official of the Republican National Committee that gave highly explicit instructions for buying votes in Indiana. Among the oddities in that 1888 election is that incumbent President Grover Cleveland managed to lose his home state of New York, even though he had carried it in winning the White House in 1884 and would do so again in 1892. With 36 Electoral votes, the loss of New York alone was enough to send Cleveland to his significant Electoral defeat despite his strong showing in the overall popular vote. If you want to learn more, an interesting article on the 1888 election was published in Smithsonian Magazine in Nov-1998 titled "The Vote that Failed."

 

Looking at the Exit Polls of the 2016 Swing States         

 

With my suspicions raised by an extreme abnormality last seen 128 years ago, and even then only in a sinister context, I decided to look closer at the swing states in the 2016 Presidential election, which I saw as being: Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, and New Hampshire. [R] took five of the eight and they were the five with the most electoral votes.

 

Exit polls are no longer just polls of voters exiting polling places. Edison Research, which conducts the exit polling for the major news outlets, also polls voters by phone prior to election day, looking for feedback from the rising group of early voters to be added proportionally to their polling place data.

 

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]. The four states were Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, a group that accounts for 74 Electoral votes. While the official vote count gave [R] a whopping 90 Electoral votes in the swing states, if the exit polls were translated into Electoral votes, that would have completely turned that result around with 93 Electoral votes of the swing states going to [D].

 

The Nuts and Bolts of Our Vulnerabilities    

 

To better understand the most likely targets in rigging an election, I tried to educate myself a bit about the vulnerabilities in our voting process. It was some of the most depressing and distressing research I’ve ever done. The simple truth is that our guard is way down on protecting the security of our elections. The Homeland Security Department is charged with prioritizing threats to critical infrastructure related to transportation, communication, energy, financial services, food and healthcare systems. The infrastructure of our voting system is not even on the list. We have huge numbers of outdated voting machines that have been criticized up one side and down the other for their proven vulnerability to sinister manipulation. Many of those machines still use the Windows XP operating system, which got its final security patch in the spring of 2014 and is no longer supported by Microsoft. There are many articles you could read on the subject of the security of our voting systems, but if you are going to read just one article, I recommend this one by Ben Wofford from August 5, 2016 in Politico Magazine. It’s long, but worth it if you have the interest … and it will scare the bejesus out of you.

 

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-elections-russia-hack-how-to-hack-an-election-in-seven-minutes-​214144

 

Historically, our primary protection against rigging an election at the level of the initial processing of the vote — our scanners of paper ballots and our voting machines — has been that such a "fix" would be labor intensive and involve so many actors that it would make it too easy to detect the conspiracy and, if detected, too easy to track back to the conspirators.

 

In September of 2016 FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Judiciary Committee that our voting system is "very, very hard to hack." He explained: "The beauty of the American voting system is that it is dispersed among the 50 states and it is clunky as heck. … it’s Mary and Fred putting a machine under the basketball hoop at the gym."

 

The point Comey was making is that even though a Princeton professor can physically demonstrate he can very effectively rig a common voting machine in just seven minutes, our voting process is so decentralized that even a very precise fix would still require getting to a whole lot of voting machines spread across a whole lot of different locations — although I am not even sure that last point is valid, as I suspect there are many cases where a lot of voting machines are stored in the same location between elections.

 

A Digression into a Comey Story to Make a Point

 

James Comey’s point about the decentralized nature of our voting process being a major advantage in our armor of security is one that is becoming increasingly antiquated and irrelevant, and he appears to understand this better than the average American. 

 

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. The world is often changing faster than we can keep up with it. Most of us assume that only a small portion of us vote early rather than in person on election day. Even those who realize the number of early voters is on the rise have trouble comprehending how fast it has accelerated. Twenty years ago 10% of the electorate voted early. By 2012 the percentage had jumped to a little less than a third. It is estimated that for 2016 the percentage of early voters will come out between 35 and 40%, and given that the experts have consistently underestimated the gain in past elections, it is pretty safe to say it will probably be closer to 40%. More and more states now allow "no excuse necessary" mail-in ballots, and Colorado became the third state to send a mail-in ballot to every registered voter.

 

Most mail-in voters — especially those open to a change of heart — do not rush to mail in their ballot, and so they were exposed to Comey’s first letter and all the commentary it generated for several days. But these mail-in voters can only wait so long to send their ballot in. In nearly all states the mail-in ballots have to be received by election day, which was November 8th. By the time Comey issued his weak "my bad" letter of November 6th, nearly all the mail-in ballots around the nation were completed and in the mail.

 

If you need a moment to take that in and pass whatever judgment you care to on Comey, go ahead, but the real point you have to master is what Comey apparently knows so well. Despite his song and dance about Mary and Fred putting a voting machine under the basketball net, this is no longer a nation with a decentralized initial processing of the vote. In most states the voting is no longer evenly spread across thousands of polling places, where each processes no more than a minuscule portion of the vote — on average, far south of 1000 votes per polling place. Instead, picture this: a single room doing the initial processing of 150,000 votes with seven machines and a workforce swelled by about 80 temporary workers. That’s a very real room, processing the mail-in votes for Hennepin County in Minnesota. The growing number of these massive centers of vote processing can facilitate a fix by making a hack more efficient and reducing the number of actors, which in turn helps minimizes the chance of getting caught.

 

The Real Primary Targets for a 2016 Hack

 

As it turned out, the more I learned about the current security of our voting process, the less I thought these centers of massive vote counts would have been a primary target for fixers in 2016. This step toward centralization is a potential area of vulnerability that I expect was probed by would-be fixers, but there was a far more egregious point of vulnerability that I think almost certainly would have led a fixer to say, "Let’s start over here."

 

Even before these centralized processing centers created an opportunity for a more efficient hack, there was a way to match that efficiency in dealing with the army of voting machines. You didn’t hack the army, you hacked further up the tabulation path — working the rigging around the USB drives and flash cards moving the tallies up the chain. There is a tendency to think that the lack of online connectivity in the processing of the votes is an effective safeguard but as security researcher Tony Cole recently noted in an article for International Business Times, "We see air gapped systems compromised relatively frequently now through the use of exchangeable media like USBs and flash drives."

 

The great drawback in manipulating data further up the chain of tabulation is the very real risk of the manipulation getting exposed in comparison with the paper trail also moving up the chain for auditing purposes.

 

But what if there were no a paper trail running up the tabulation path that would otherwise force you to shift your fix down into the initial processing of the vote, the army of voting machines? It was rather shocking to me to discover that this basic safeguard does not exist for many states — not a majority, but still way more than enough to excite a conspiracy by dangling in front of them not just the opportunity to pull off an efficient hack but to do it with next to no chance of getting caught.

 

While 60% of the states (30 of 50) have some sort of audit procedure that checks the paper trails upwards from the voting machines, among the twenty other states, most of them could not do a sufficient paper trail audit even if they wanted to. Why? Because in their fleet of voting machines there are too many outdated, poorly designed voting machines that do not produce a paper trail of any kind! By my count we had 223 electoral votes in play in 2016 that were a fixer’s dream. If you managed to rig the vote at certain places up the tabulation path, it would be nearly impossible to detect or track it backwards.

 

That’s much more attractive to a conspiracy with an imperative of "Don’t get caught" than going after the new wave of centralized processing centers. Those centers use ballot scanners which are tougher to hack than other types of voting machines. And because these centers are working with paper ballots and high-speed scanners, if push came to shove — even if it were a daunting monumental task to do a full recount — it would not be beyond the realm of possibility.

 

These old voting machines without VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail Printers) are on their way out. In fact, there already is a proposed bill to make it flat-out illegal to continue to use them. But that’s the future and this is now. Fortunately, among the seventeen states using a high enough percentage of voting machines without VVPAT that an effective paper audit cannot be done, only two are swing states. Unfortunately, they were the two swing states with the most Electoral votes, Florida and Pennsylvania.

 

There is no doubt in my mind that if the 2016 Presidential election was rigged, those two states were primary targets. After those two states, the decision of which swing states a fixer would take on would probably be driven by the results of probing for situation-specific vulnerabilities.

 

The Thick Cloud of Suspicion Around Pennsylvania

 

Even though the polls predicted the vote in Pennsylvania would be close enough to consider it a swing state, the repeated consistency of the polls showing [D] ahead made it quite likely that [D] would indeed win the state. Particularly suspicious was that the last ten polls still showed [D] ahead of [R], even though all the respondents to those polls had a chance to be aware of Comey’s prejudicial letter, but most of those polls were done before the respondents could also be aware of Comey’s second statement retracting the innuendo. Logically that should have given [D] a boost between those final polls and the actual vote.

 

Furthermore, Comey’s timing scheme of his letters in regard to the mail-in votes would had next to zero effect in Pennsylvania. It is one of the states that does not allow early voting without a significant excuse. Nearly every voter in Pennsylvania votes on election day. That would have maximized the impact of Comey’s second letter favoring [D]. The exit poll data actually did show that expected upward bump for [D] off the last polls … but that bump not only wasn’t there in the vote count, [D] actually lost significant ground.

 

That’s all highly suspicious just by itself. Now add in the likelihood that if a fix were on, that Pennsylvania’s swing state status would make it potential target. And then the cloud really thickens when it is understood that Pennsylvania would have been a primary target due to the opportunity to insert a fix up the tabulation chain where it would be most efficient but also without the worry of the fix being detected in a paper audit. How prevalent was Pennsylvania’s use of voting machines without VVPAT? It was among the worst in the nation, with those damnable machines being used in almost 90% of the precincts, and being used exclusively in 79% of the precincts.

 

If It Was Done, Who Did It?

Added to the cloud of indicators pointing to the 2016 Presidential election being rigged to elect [R] is that we know someone employed a sophisticated hack during the campaign that clearly was intended to benefit [R]. I am talking about the hack of the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee. The media gave most of their attention to the breach of the email server, but the hack also included the DNC’s voter analytic program used to strategize [D]’s campaign. Our intelligence agencies traced the hack as originating in Russia and those same agencies have said they have "high confidence" that the hack came from Russian intelligence agencies. So, it’s the "Rooskies," right?

 

Probably. But I am far from fully convinced on that point. I keep coming back to a guiding principle in my trying to understand all this, which is that the conspirators are going to do everything they can to avoid detection. If I were doing it, and I wasn’t the Russians, I’d use them as a red herring to protect myself. And if I were [R], I’d have made a lot of noise before the election about the election being rigged, getting [D]’s side to commit to arguing that it is not rigged. Does that mean I think [R] was involved? Personally, no I don’t. I do not see him as the kind of guy a conspiracy like this would trust. He is more the guy you would convince and encourage to make that kind of noise. Do I think it is possible the Republican National Committee was behind this fix? Well, yeah, it would be kind of silly to deny that possibility for an organization with such a clear and direct motivation. If this situation were turned around, I’d be just as quick to say it was possible that the Democratic National Committee was behind it.

 

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. That "impression" of tinkering has pretty much leaned to the side of the Republican party, but again, there is not a lot to support that. At this point it is like trying to judge an object by seeing a small part of its shadow from around a corner.

 

I’ll say it again. While I’m not fully convinced, if the 2016 Presidential election was fixed, I believe the most likely culprit was Russia.

 

Could an investigation find convincing evidence of the fix? I think so, but I would not start out sniffing around the Pennsylvania and Florida vote. The detectable slip-ups will be elsewhere, and then we might be able to use that as a platform to break someone in regard to the vote in Pennsylvania and Florida. I’d say more, but the last thing I want to do is give tips to the fixers in cleaning up or protecting their most vulnerable points of detection.    

 

Conclusion

 

I do believe it is far more likely than not that our 2016 Presidential election was stolen from us. That’s "us" as in it doesn’t matter whether we are Democrat or Republican or Independent, or whether we voted for [R] or [D] or any of the [I]’s. If it happened, — and I estimate it as 3-to-1 that it did — the election of our President was stolen from us.

 

I don’t really think there will be an opportunity to do anything about that, although my ears are open. I am more realistically focused on the future. I have been a big backer of campaign reform laws that will help rein in some of the nonsense that goes on, but this is something new. We need to seriously take up the issue of making our elections more secure. The threat is there, and this was not the way I wanted to become aware of it.

 

It would not be that hard to make it hugely more difficult to rig an election. Here are seven suggestions.

 

1)   Pass the bill outlawing voting machines without VVPAT.

2)   Give financial incentives to states to move to paper ballots and scanners.

3)   Require each state to have an audit process in place, and I’ll add that the best model for this is in New Mexico.

4)   Strengthen security measures in these new centers for mass processing of initial votes. Odds are they will become the new primary targets for future hacks as we close off the other holes. 

5)   Improve security of voter registration data. It particularly creates a vulnerability for fraud in mail-in votes. 

6)   Stop making an imperative out of getting a fast vote count. If we kill that impulse, than a host of new ideas can be employed to detect a fix. Remember, a key deterrent to a conspiracy to fix an election is to convince the conspirators the risk is too high that they will be caught.

7)   Eliminate the Electoral College, replacing it with a weighted national vote that mirrors our current mix of emphasis on population and state. Trying to rig that kind of vote would not just be tremendously hard to pull off, it would be very difficult to hide. A nice plus for that change is that it would encourage everyone to vote. Everyone’s vote will actually matter even if they are completely out of step with the rest of their state.

 

Representational government does not work without honest elections.

 

Craig R. Wright

 
 

COMMENTS (116 Comments, most recent shown first)

FrankD
so ..... what are the comments now????? No evidence of Putin hacking? I want a post mortem in detail by the author. We did this back in the earl bidness, we analyzed failures in great detail, its the best way to learn. Admitting and looking at failures is the best way to learn. I await a post mortem paper from the author ......
3:04 AM Jan 5th
 
CWright
As far as the quote and Sagan, let's keep it real here. You were the one putting the emphasis on associating it with Sagan and his book. I did not get the sense that you knew he was repeating someone else. A LOT of people make that mistake. I simply made the point he did not originate the quote, and I did it in single sentence as an aside in a commentary that made a fairly important counterargument to your claim. Rather than acknowledge that point or counter it, you dedicate a two-paragraph commentary to my observational aside.
11:25 PM Dec 8th
 
CWright
RE: "1870 US Census & Black Underenumeration: A Test Case from NC"

Here's the part I don't get. You subscribe to this gentleman's theory, but don't give a clue to that being the case, making it impossible to examine as supporting your logic. Now that I know it is a about this theory of correction between the 1870 and 1880 census to be more careful to count the "poor, the young and itinerant, and the marginal elements of society," I can examine the crucial next step in your logic, that it was not caught up enough by 1880 to be fully reflected in the Electoral vote, and that would not happen take the next census.

The point of your paragraph remains that African-Americans were voting in the 1888 election but were not yet properly represented in the Electoral vote until after the 1890 census.

I don't know if you were expecting me not to read the article or to gloss over it, but the author does not make that next step. he does not say that, he does not theorize it, and it is not in his table.

I like his theory and examination of it. I thought, "Well, we can test it a fairly simple way on a much broader basis than just North Carolina. Did the population portion of the Electoral vote of the former slave states rise noticeably more than the increase in the non-slave states (not using the new states). Yes, after the 1870 census those population Electoral votes for the former slave states rose 13.6% while the rise in the non-slave sttates rose only 9.5%. It's not big, but in theory that's 5 Electoral votes not represented in 1870. But if you look for the same thing between the electoral votes determined by the 1880 and 1890 census, you get nothing. A small difference that even goes in the opposite direction.

Maybe you have another article that misled you into believing this, but it did not come out of this linked article.

11:04 PM Dec 8th
 
OldBackstop
CWright: It is quite clear Sagan did not originate that quote.

(sigh) Craig, I didn't say he originated it, I said it was "my source" and cited the book. And Frank D was the first to use it here. A guy named Truzzi used the term with the word "proof" in the 1970s in some obscure book if you are trying to play "gotcha." Google it you get a mountain of hits saying Sagan popularized it.

But really, who cares? Are you going to nitpick the thousands of words and research I have supplied you? Given the exhaustive corrections on polling and exit polling I have supplied, are you still holding to your stated belief that the Russians probably fixed the election for Trump?​
2:00 PM Dec 5th
 
OldBackstop
Tell me -- and tell me with utter clarity -- why you believe African-Americans were underrepresented in the 1870 census

"The 1870 United States Census and Black Underenumeration: A Test Case from North Carolina"

scholar.googleusercontent.com/scholar?q=cache:rjHlMnrdXn4J:scholar.google.com/&hl=en&as_sdt=0,31
Prths


5:01 PM Dec 4th
 
OldBackstop
weren't, of course.
4:28 PM Dec 4th
 
pgaskill
Probably so. But what a CARELESS error.
11:45 AM Dec 4th
 
CWright
In OBS's defense, when I got around to reading that, my immediate assumption was that he simply left out a word, the word "not." And I continue to believe that is the correct assumption.
10:22 AM Dec 4th
 
pgaskill
OBS:

> Oh damnit, I forgot to point out that that 19th century age was a whole different time for another reason....the Electoral College is based on population, the popular vote on registered voters, but AT THAT TIME, WOMEN WERE ALLOWED TO VOTE, of course.

Emphasis (the all CAPS) mine.

Ahem. From Wikipedia: "Under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, the two-million-member NAWSA also made a national suffrage amendment its top priority. After a hard-fought series of votes in the U.S. Congress and in state legislatures, the Nineteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920."

I don't believe 1920 had happened yet in "that 19th century age," had it?
10:12 AM Dec 4th
 
CWright
It is quite clear Sagan did not originate that quote.

It is quite obvious in my comment that it is not the statement that roils my stomach and that I mostly agree with its sentiment. What turns my stomach is the way it is often misused in ways quite foul.

Regarding 1888 it appears you are pretending that we are not in agreement on certain points so you can talk about that to avoid what should be addressed.

As I noted, we are already in agreement on various acts of election fraud going on with both sides in that era. It is kinda hard to say that clearer than "I totally agree ..."

You mistake equal motive and equal access as enough to cancel out the use of corruption by both sides. Equal motive and equal access do not translate to equal opportunity. When it is remarkably easy to illegally buy votes, then -- as the "Nation" pointed out -- the opportunities are driven by money. In that atmosphere, and under conditions we both acknowledge, the battle for the two key states goes to the party with roughly 12 times the money of the other.

Oh, in regard to your mentioning the Northern migration of African-Americans being a factor in that period, that actually comes much later, starting around 1916. You actually made that point yourself earlier on, writing "Later they poured North to work in the factories and flee the boll weevil blight, but that is several decades off."

11:44 PM Dec 3rd
 
CWright
OBS
Now this one is important because you made a personal accusation.

You imply that I misrepresented you, apparently with intent, and in an "intellectually dishonest" manner.

This includes your making a false accusation that I somehow indicated you did not know the population portion of the Electoral College is based on census.

I clearly did not. I made a reasonable assumption based on your passage that you did not understand what the census was counting back in that era. The logic of your paragraph seemed predicated on an assumption that it counted registered voters.

This was your passage, and if you feel you need any of your sentences before it or after it as relevant to defending yourself, by all means add them.

"In the election of 1888 an enormous new voting bloc was emerging
disproportionately in the states -- former black slaves. They were given
the vote in 1870 and were only catching up on the radar screen in the
1880 census, however they were being organized to vote, and their
numbers were not being reflected in the Electoral College until follow
on censuses in 1890 and 1892."

You have African-Americans getting the vote in 1870, and in the same sentence and join it to some reasoning that they are not fully on the radar of the census, and had to be "catching up" in that regard at the time 1880 census. Your next sentence notes the significance of that to the Electoral College until they catch up for some reason in the next census in 1890.

Maybe I am missing something, but if you knew that African-Americans were being counted under the same terms in the 1870 census as they were in the 1880 census, why the heck are you claiming that there was some "catching up" going on in the census of 1880 and that it would not be completed until the next census after that.

What WOULD reasonably explain it is that your mentioning African-Americans getting the vote in 1870 had something to do with your belief they were underrepresented in the census of 1870. If you thought the census was counting them only if they took advantage of their new right to register to vote, that would explain why you felt there representation was too low in the 1870 census and might still need to catch up in the 1880 census, and might not be complete until the 1890 census.

If I reasoned incorrectly and misunderstood, what did I misunderstand? The whole sense of the paragraph is built on an assumption that African-Americans were underrepresented in 1870, and by your wording and sentence structure it appears to relate to their getting the vote in 1870.

Tell me -- and tell me with utter clarity -- why you believe African-Americans were underrepresented in the 1870 census and would still be catching up in the 1880 census. If there is a sense to it that reasonably comes through in what you actually wrote, I will cheerfully apologize for my error.

If you can't do that, then you should be apologizing to me.

4:37 PM Dec 3rd
 
OldBackstop
@Craig,
I’m sure the phrase “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof” has roiled the stomachs of many people making extraordinary claims. I misquoted it from my source, Carl Sagan, who used the word “proof” rather than evidence I first saw it in his fabulous book about scientific thinking “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.” I highly recommend it.

@Craig 2. I’m sorry you did that work, but my theses was that there were various acts of fraud all through that period, on both sides, it was not that fraud did not exist in 1888 election. The entire period featured acts of fraud, as I indicated by the angry addressing of it in the party platforms of 1884, it also featured active third parties and lop-sided popular vote tallies, new states entering (mostly in 1892) and the migration of former slaves to the north, the rolling adoption of the population of former slaves into the ranks of the voting population, and a bunch of other shit I probably missed.

Getting any conclusions comparing 1888 to 2016 is akin to analyzing Old Hoss Raybourn’s strikeout rates and deciding the umpires were screwing him. Different times.

2:39 PM Dec 3rd
 
CWright
OBS Propoganda Report
"Hillary outpolled Trump in California by double...62-31, gained 4.2 million in the popular vote."

"This wasn't half her national margin. It wasn't three quarters of it. It was all of it, plus plus. Including California, Hillary won the national popular vote by 2.6 million. In the other 49 states outside of California Trump won 'Merica by 1.6 million votes."

He could have as easily said, but didn't:
"R" outpolled "D" by approximately double in his 13 best states, gaining 3.936 million in the popular vote.

This wasn't half his national margin because he had none. It wasn't three quarters of it, for again he had none. Including those 13 states [R] lost the popular vote by 2.566 million. In the rest of the country outside of those 13 states [R] lost 'Merica by 6.256 million votes.

The total number of votes cast in those 13 states is roughly the same, actually less, than in CA.
2:31 PM Dec 3rd
 
CWright
Re: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"

I fully understand what people mean when they say that, and I agree with the sentiment to a degree, but the way it is so often used just turns my stomach. I think it is so dangerously abused that we should not allow it in as a blind platitude and pause for a moment to recognize the perspective that it is also utter nonsense.


1:37 PM Dec 3rd
 
CWright
RE: 1888 as a bought election

So now you are going to slur the author of the Smithsonian article as writing "a nice piece of pop mind candy, history-lite or science-lite, as is most of the Smithsonian site." Real nice.

Do you think that author is the only historian who has written about the brazen treasurer of the RNC, W.W. Dudley, who sent a letter to the party's county chairmen in Indiana that included an explicit section about systematicly buying votes?

The corruption of the 1888 election is routinely taught in college textbooks and referred to in other history books and sources.

William Wilson author of "Indiana: A History"
"In Indiana, it was money alone that gave Harrison the victory."

His [Harrison's] election was achieved by bribery and fraud in the two pivotal states of New York and Indiana"

U.S. History.com "The campaign in 1888 set a new standard for corruption."

"The Democratic Experience" (college textbook)
" [1888 election was] probably the most corrupt presidential election in our history"

Ellis Oberholtzer "History of the United States"
"Purchased, and herded to the polling places, with money taken from the rich, [RNC Treasurer] Dudley's 'floaters' turned the tables upon Cleveland in Indiana."

Rebecca Gruver, auhtor of "An American History"
"[The 1888 election is] among the most corrupt in history."

U.S. History.com
"The campaign in 1888 set a new standard for corruption."

Richard Current, author of "American History: A Survey"
"One of the most corrupt campaigns in American History"

There is no smoking gun in NY like the Dudley letter but the most repeated and detailed stories were three "bosses" in NYC agreed to a bulk sale of almost 40,000 votes to the RNC in return for $150,000. And that large amounts of money were spent by the RNC to illegally send voters from the Republican stronghold of Pennsylvania to vote in NY.

And this one is really interesting.
Colonel A.K. McClure was a good friend of Matthew Quay, the Chairman of the RNC in 1888, and said that Quay had told him: "[Harrison would] never know how close a number of men were compelled to approach the gates of the penitentiary to make him President." To protect his friend, McClure refused to go public with that story until shortly after Quay's death in 1904, and then shared it in print.

I totally agree with you that given the atmosphere of that day and the extreme laxness in election security, both sides were likely buying votes. But equal motive and access is not equal opportunity. As the "Nation" put it in an article not long after the election:

"It is no exaggeration to say that the election came nearer than any which has preceded it to being the sale of the Goverment at public auction to the party able to 'put up' the most money."

It was an election of follow the money, and there is no question about which party could "put up the most money." Everyone acknowledges that the RNC was deluged with huge donations from businessmen who wanted the stringent tarriff protecton in the RNC's platform. Historian James Baumgardner actually looked into the magnitude of that financial edge and estimated it at a staggering 12-to-1.
===
As far as estimating Harrison's actual popularity in Indiana, Cleveland and Harrison competed twice in Presidential elections in Indiana. The overall winner in that vote is Cleveland, by a large margin that by itself is more than 2-to-1 over Harrison's edge in his likely bought victory in Indiana in 1888.

Weird note. In 1888 Harrison lost the popular vote in his home county. I'd be surprised if there is another President who was elected without carrying the county where he lived.

1:23 PM Dec 3rd
 
MarisFan61
(Did Hillary "compete in California"??)
8:08 PM Dec 2nd
 
OldBackstop
So, wasted a ton of time there, but I like researching history.

The bottom line, Craig, is extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The concession of Trump of California, the cultural chasm there on his issues of immigration, abortion, etc...California is a country unto itself.

I'm looking ast the gold standard for numbers here Wikipedia, so if they aren't current on California, there it is.

Hillary outpolled Trump in California by double...62-31, gained 4.2 million in the popular vote.

This wasn't half her national margin. It wasn't three quarters of it. It was all of it, plus plus. Including California, Hillary won the national popular vote by 2.6 million. In the other 49 states outside of California Trump won 'Merica by 1.6 million votes.

Once you account for the Trump campaign's decision not to compete in California, and utter policy disconnect, the results fall right in line. Your other suspicions have been refuted by correct data. There was no fix....exactly what literally everybody else from Nate Silver on down has said.

You can rest easy that 'Merican democracy is well within the margin of error.
6:15 PM Dec 2nd
 
OldBackstop
Craig, thank you for addressing 1888, and I will be interested in seeing your comments of the exit poll discrepancy, pre-election polls, and poll watcher issues.

First off, if you are going to parse my points, please don’t fragment my sentences. You don’t need to score debate points by taking ten words out of the quote you wish to dispute in your 1200 word reply. Ellipsis are the red herring to dishonest debate. Of course I know the Electoral College is based on Census, I say it numerous times, and cutting and pasting pieces of a sentence to seem otherwise is intellectually dishonest. I’m not going into a tangent to defend the assertion that I did not know this in your first point, interested readers can see it for themselves in the unedited sentence.

With 1888, you are doing it again, attaching cherry picked significance as you did with exit poll results in four states in 2016. The exit polls undercounted Trump everywhere, but since it turned the expected results in four of the closest states you were interested in, there must lie the magic velvet hand of Russian cyber warfare.

Elections throughout the 1800s were ribald affairs rife with malfeasance, that is the baseline across them all, it isn’t some scarlet letter on 1888. Because 1888 exhibited the popular vote/Electoral College disconnect, it is dissected for corruption by historians, an example being the 1998 Smithsonian article, which I had read at some point years back. It is a nice piece of pop mind candy, history-lite or science-lite, as is most of the Smithsonian site. It seems to have overly influenced you into believing that fraud was unique to the 1888 election in that period.

Before 1888, the 1884 Republican Party Platform was a laundry list of items which got a short paragraph of attention, but one is given two paragraphs: voter fraud. “The perpetuity of our institutions rests upon the maintenance of a free ballot, an honest count, and correct returns. Likewise the Democratic platform holds forth on fraud, specifically bitching about 1876, calling it “a fraud which can never be forgotten.” (Like so many Democratic platforms --- wrong! :-))

Chief among the mysteries cited with Cleveland is that he won Indiana in 1884 and 1892 but lost it in 1888. Fraud! Well, maybe, there was fraud everywhere, but doesn’t Occam’s Razor point to the simpler fact that in 1888 he ran against an Indiana favorite son, Ben “Biscuit Pants” Harrison?

So why did Cleveland roll up a lead in the popular vote but get beat in the Electoral College? A look at the numbers shows basically what you would expect. Cleveland ran up huge majorities in small electoral states, in effect, wasting votes as Hillary would more than a century later in California. Cleveland captured 65% of the vote or more in seven states – 82% in Alabama.

Meanwhile, Harrison only enjoyed one state where he could pad his popular vote total with more than 58%...small, weakly, future socialist Vermont. Harrison’s Electoral College lead was slugged out in big states like Illinois and Michigan with 49 percent of the vote, Cleveland getting 46-48%, and third parties getting big chunks.

Was there cheating in 1888? Yeah, everywhere, and in all the years around it. Did the Pop/EV turnout point to some specific nefarious plot? No, it is what you would expect when states are so partisan that a bloc is running up 70% margins, not because the fix is in, but because they are united on, perhaps, the tariff issue.
And, like the swing state exit polls in 2016, a whisper of events falling the other way, 1,000 votes in NY, 15k in Indiana, a Union Labor Party grabbing 11 percent and we wouldn’t even be talking about 1888.

=================

Craig, let me ask you a baseball question….do you think the 1960 World Series was fixed? The Yankees won the popular vote (runs) 55-27, but the Pirates won the Electoral College (wins) 4-3. Was the fix in? Or does shit happen?
5:33 PM Dec 2nd
 
CWright
OBS,
The most dead-on precedent is how we chose our President and fill our legislature branch.

2:04 PM Dec 2nd
 
OldBackstop
@Steve. The problem, as described above, was s "fixed" election. If you REALLY want to waste averyone's time, frame it as dissatisfaction at the way "your" side did in recent elections. People need to realize that the Great Compromise which was the only way the small states agreed to a union is still an important issue for much of the country....a huge majority of the country geographically.

1:33 PM Dec 2nd
 
steve161
Eliminating the Electoral College system is an "enormous wrenching controversial change for a non-existent problem."

I don't see two of the last five elections going to the popular-vote loser as a 'non-existent problem'.
11:10 AM Dec 2nd
 
CWright
OldBackstop
RE: 1888
Okay, your theme here is that the disconnect between popular vote and Electoral vote in 1888 is natural, regardless of the corruption.

A small part of your spin is to downplay the corruption as "various minor incidents." Are we just to ignore the historians who feel there was significant corruption in at least two key states in writing about the 1888 Election? Or are they part of some sort of time-traveling plot to set up an interesting correlation yet to exist? Was it a nefarious prescience that motivated some lefty historian 18 years ago to write an article for the Smithsonian about the corruption in the 1888 Election and title it "The Vote that Failed"?

Moving on, in one area you make an amazingly convoluted argument with baseless assumptions running all over the place that African-Americans were underrepresented in the Electoral College, but they were voting, and they voted for Grover Cleveland -- presto there's your reason for the disconnect between the popular vote and the Electoral College. No need to get into that corruption stuff.

Let's go through your three assumptions to see how much sense you are actually making.

1) African-Americans got the vote in 1870, and even though they had 10 years to get it together to be counted in the census of 1880, OldBackstop decides, well, that's not long enough. They were "only catching up on the radar screen in the 1880 census ... and their numbers were not being reflected in the Electoral College until ... 1890 ..."

For the record, the Electoral College is not, and never has been, based on a census count of registered voters. It is based on a census count of pure population -- no distinction of whether you are an adult or child, man or woman, citizen or non-citizen, though with a couple of exceptions from olden days involving Native Americans and slaves, the latter being counted as 60% of a person. That's right, we already had a long history of counting African-Americans in the census, and there is no reason at all to surmise an underrepresentation in the censuses of 1870, or 1880, or 1890. And as far as the census goes, why would any state want to undercount those who were African-American? That would only damage their respective state's representation in the House and in the Electoral College.

2) On the one hand you claim they were underrepresented, "however they were being organized to vote." Well, great. I'm glad for them and they had a couple years to get it together for their exciting first year voting in a Presidential election in 1872, and more years to settle into it in 1876, 1880, and 1884. But for some reason you think they are significantly voting more in 1888. The really crazy thing is that in your very next post you are talking about differences between the times, and you switch to arguing they were NOT voting that much because of intimidation. You wrote, "And blacks were ACTUALLY voter suppressed, as in try voting swinging from a tree."

3) Then your theory surmises that these unsubtantiated extra votes, that supposedly are not reflected in the Electoral College, padded the vote total of Grover Cleveland. Why assume those votes went to Cleveland? He was the Democrat, and African-Americans tended to vote Republican -- the party of Lincoln -- for many, many decades until the election of 1932. (They did not really start to break full swing to the Democrat side until 1948, when President Truman took the bold step of desegrating the military and instituting regulations against racial bias in federal jobs, and the DNC adopted a civil rights plank, even though it dangerously split the party.)

And then you finish with an Electoral map showing Cleveland dominating in the Democratic south as if this was something new in 1888. This wasn't his first rodeo, you know. It doesn't look a lot different from when Cleveland ran in 1884 and again in 1892, except in those two elections he carried both Indiana and NY, the two states specifically linked to a corrupted vote by historians in 1888.

You go on to claim "disconnections between popular votes and the Electoral College vote can be expected during times of high interstate migration or changes to the voter demographics that are not uniform, and happen toward the end of a decade as the 10-year Census cycle hasn't shown up."

Okay, start showing me those times and where a similar huge disconnect happened. You can't. I know because I looked. All you have is an extremely abnormal disconnect that is already more simply and directly explained by the noted corruption linked to, and logically aimed at, two important states.
If one assumes 1888 was an honest election, it is a gross abberation in its own time and in any other comparison you can come up with other than an assumption of 2016 as an honest election.

You go on to talk about how different 1888 is from 2016, but you don't really consider that the most important commonalities do exist for an oddity resulting in the dynamics between the popular vote and the Electoral vote, when the weight of population to state is about 81-19. Those numbers changed slightly from time to time as states were added, but they actually never varied much in the history of those two forces existing together. And in 1888 and 2016 they were exactly the same. The only significant difference in the most relevant dynamics between the two is size. The odds of a freakish precision happening by chance are higher in 1888. And as one would expect, as we moved forward in history the relation between population and Electoral vote actually did became more reliable until the off-the-charts abberation of 2016.

Your shift from an argument that 1888 was an explainable abberation without getting into its corruption, and instead arguing the two times are simply too different to have any meaning to each other, "apples and elephants," is an interesting one in that works against explaining what's going on at the other end of the horse. I'm definitely not agreeing to this as it is wrong, but for the sake of argument, say you are right and 1888 should just be tossed out. Now you have no precedent at all, nothing remotely close to it, for the oddity of 2016. Now I know you are going to break out a bunch of bullshit explanations, just like you did with 1888, but will you be able to find a precedent to reasonably match those explanations? You can't do it cause it doesn't exist. You killed your best chance by distancing yourself from your "cleansed" version of 1888.

Look, it is easy enough to reason that this abnormal level of precision is at least possible. It's obvious it is possible. It is also easy to be lulled into thinking it might happen every 10 elections or so. But if you really get a feel for the dynamic interaction, that nearly all the movements in the data are more of a general effect than a precise effect, not to mention all the cross and cancelng affects battling such precision, you realize, "Oh, the odds of this magnitude of precision actually happening are much, much longer than first blush." And that certainly is how it has played out in our history. The simple truth is that what manifested in the 2016 election results is an amazing long shot if it is to be explained primarily by luck. And that's what it will come down to for those who think it through in an unbiased examination of the whole.

It was helpful to see the example of how corruption in 1888 was such an elegant solution for its abnormal abberation -- actually able to turn it reasonably from abberation to expectation. But what happened or did not happen in 1888 is not as important as it simply getting us to think it through that corruption is a simple explanation for something that would cut like a knife through all the things that work against that extreme precision happening naturally.

That doesn't mean you stop there. It means you continue.​
10:05 AM Dec 2nd
 
OldBackstop
So...to replace the Electoral College, you see the POTUS election being one giant tally of.....points, might be a more accurate term, with a person from the Flickertail state being able to cast 2.89 points while a person from California's vote would only be worth one point?

The only precedent to this in American culture I can come up with is the pre-Civil War deal where black slaves only counted as two-thirds of a person, and, trust me, that would not be the last time you heard that.


9:57 AM Dec 2nd
 
CWright
OBS
You wrote:

"You would eliminate the central tenet of one man, one vote."

I missed the memo on that being a central tenet.

We are the United STATES.

We give special weight to the states in filling the executive branch. We do it filling the legislative branch. We don't vote at all on filling positions in the judicial branch (Federal). If we had a fourth branch of federal government, do you think we would use this supposedly "central tenet" there?

We both have agreed the states would freak out at a suggestion of adopting one man, one vote.

Does that sound like a "central tenet" to you?


8:41 AM Dec 2nd
 
OldBackstop
If I may make one further point, as I might not be here today to see any replies.

It's your article to write, but I thought one of the weaknesses of this piece was the blatant and wholly unnecessary political bias in criticizing FBI Director Comey, using terms like "rascal" and "prick."

Comey had this all dumped in his lap by Attorney General Lynch. His job is supposed to stop at turning over an investigation to the Justice Department, who then makes the decision to go ahead and prosecute. Instead, Comey was forced to make that decision when Lynch punted to him...why? Because Bill Clinton, who not only had his wife under this critical investigation but was entangled in one personally with the Clinton Foundation, decided it was a great idea to drop in on her for a personal one-on-one private meeting in her plane....a meeting that only came to light because of a wandering local reporter.

This caused such a storm of outrage that Lynch had to put the decision to Comey, who made that awkward speech giving her a pass while detailing her obstruction, failure to comply with subpoenas, recklessness, etc.

Comey is hailed as a hero by the Dems, with Pelosi calling him "a great man" and Tim Kaine calling him "wonderful and courageous." Then came the part in the narrative that the Democrats leave out. Comey is crucified by the Republican majority in Congress and called in to testify. On Sept 28 he tells Congress under oath that the investigation was closed and he would not reopen it in light of various new evidence. He said that new evidence "would not come near" what was needed to reopen it. He was under oath.

Then the investigation had to be reopen through no actions of Comey. While investigating the weenie wagging of disgusting creep Huma Abedin's husband they unearth hundreds of thousands of her emails. The agents on that case stop cold at looking at them because they don't have a warrant. But it is obvious they should be examined because they had the infamous servers name all over them plus perhaps weenie-wagging evidence.

So, in effect, the Clinton investigation is reopened. Comey, already under fire and accused of political collusion for letting Hillary walk, has to face the fact that his September Congressional testimony is now erroneous, and to let it stand would quite possibly bring contempt of Congress charges against HIM by an already furious Republican House majority. Plus he's got a million FBI agents who hate his guts for letting Hillary skate and will dime him out to the media in a second. So he puts out the minimal-as-can-be statement om a Friday afternoon, the traditional place to hide bad news.

The Dems howl that they want more info -- "lay out the new evidence" says Hillary --- uh...WHA? let's see, is that how criminal investigations work? Feed evidence piecemeal to the target?

So Comey, under tremendous pressure, has his guys pore through 650,000 emails 24/7 to get something out before the election, and then does as soon as it is done.

Now....none of this is Huma's fault, of course, for leaving State Department business all over her estranged, under FBI investigation pervert husband. And it can't be "made a mistake" Hillary's fault. It is formerly wonderful Comey's fault for forgetting that it is a moral imperative for all good people to act like they are on Hillary's campaign staff.

Then the lefties begin namecalling on Comey, which, disappointingly, shows up in your piece which might otherwise be read as an unbiased journalistic study and not a political opinion piece decrying the results of the election.




7:46 AM Dec 2nd
 
OldBackstop
Maris to help you get 1888, imagine if 100 million people moved to New Hampshire last year, and all of them voted for Trump last month, but since it is between census cycles, the electoral vote wasn't reapportioned yet among the states.

So Trump would win the popular vote 100 million to 20 million, but he would lose the Electoral College 534-4.

That writ small was the election of 1888, and why it holds no message here.
12:26 AM Dec 2nd
 
OldBackstop
You would eliminate the central tenet of one man, one vote.

Graig, you are advocating an enormous wrenching controversial change for a non-existent problem.

With all due respect, and Bill certainly holds you in high regard which is hard to achieve --- You reached a 3 to 1 certainty on bad data. You cited poll averages without counting the final poll in Pennsylvania. You cited exit poll discrepancies that were uniform across the country in Trump's favor as oddly only changing outcomes in the close states. You raise the math of the 1888 election which was perhaps the greatest period of voter base demographic chaos in our history. You ignored the fact that the Clinton campaign had poll watchers -- a better term would be poll counters -- at every single polling place in the swing states and they report nothing suspicious. You criticize date security systems you have no way to assess.

And you ignore these repeated facts.


11:51 PM Dec 1st
 
CWright
OldBackstop
RE: "these suggestions mostly seem to be lefties still throwing their tire around the cage after November 8 and lashing out at the center of the country."

I'm sorry, I didn't realize that righties who can't reason their way out of a paper bag are also so mathematically deficient.

That is not how I feel but rather a translation of your tone and attitude. I am, incidentally, wright-handed.

A ""weighted national vote that mirrors our current mix of emphasis on population and state" would count a single vote in a 3-Electoral state like North Dakota as 2.89 times the value of a vote from a 55-Electoral vote state like California.

ND's 3 electoral votes are currently distributed 1 for population, 2 for state. The population of 1 represents the total of 3, so 1 equals 3. In a 55-Electoral state 53 is for population, 2 for state. The population of 53 represents the total of 55, so 1 equals 1.038. The ratio 3 to 1.038 is 2.89.

I've already written that this would require a constitutional admentment. The Electoral vote is part of the constitution through amendment.

9:46 PM Dec 1st
 
OldBackstop
And what did you get out of it was a similarity aside from that?
9:44 PM Dec 1st
 
MarisFan61
The unfair simplification was saying that the issue and the similarity were just the disproportionately high popular vote compared to the Electoral College.
9:40 PM Dec 1st
 
OldBackstop
Whyntcha fill me in on how someone else took it. From what I can see he said 1888 was the only real precedent two this year's popular vote/electoral college disconnect and it was due to the fix being in.
9:10 PM Dec 1st
 
MarisFan61
(sorry for the double)
8:06 PM Dec 1st
 
MarisFan61
P.S. OldBackstop, I think you inaccurately simplified what he indicated about the 1888 election.
8:06 PM Dec 1st
 
MarisFan61
P.S. OldBackstop, I think you inaccurately simplified what he indicated about the 1888 election.
8:05 PM Dec 1st
 
MarisFan61
Craig: I much appreciate your additional comments, including because of the specifics about the ballot systems in Michigan and Wisconsin. It helps me know better about what kinds of things will be looked for in the recounts/examinations.
8:05 PM Dec 1st
 
OldBackstop
Oh damnit, I forgot to point out that that 19th century age was a whole different time for another reason....the Electoral College is based on population, the popular vote on registered voters, but at that time, women were allowed to vote, of course. (Wait, that sounds like I'm condoning it :-)) And blacks were ACTUALLY voter suppressed, as in try voting swinging from a tree.

So there is a much greater disconnect between anything anybody says about the Electoral College and anything anyone says about the voting base.

It isn't apples and oranges. It's apples and elephants.​
6:17 PM Dec 1st
 
OldBackstop
"....censuses in 1890 and 1892" Should read 1890 and 1900.
5:37 PM Dec 1st
 
OldBackstop
The suspicious nature of the 1888 election. Briefly:

Candidate Party Electoral Votes Popular Votes
Benjamin Harrison Republican 233 5,439,853
Grover Cleveland (I) Democratic 168 5,540,309

So the mystery put forward in your article is why did Grover Cleveland get a disprortionately high popular vote compared to the Electoral College. Since that election was "fixed" (various minor incidents) this similar outcome must be.

First, disconnections between popular votes and the Electoral College vote can be expected during times of high interstate migration or changes to the voter demographics that are not uniform, and happen toward the end of a decade as the 10-year Census cycle hasn't shown up.

In the election of 1888 an enormous new voting bloc was emerging disproportionately in the states -- former black slaves. They were given the vote in 1870 and were only catching up on the radar screen in the 1880 census, however they were being organized to vote, and their numbers were not being reflected in the Electoral College until follow on censuses in 1890 and 1892. Later they poured North to work in the factories and flee the boll weevil blight, but that is several decades off.

Look at a map of Cleveland's states (blue)

www.270towin.com/1888_Election/

It isn't an exact map of North vs South in the Civil War -- but when you say that you said it all. It is damn close.

So this large voter bloc was emerging into the popular vote tally but not yet reflected in the Electoral College apportionment.

In that period of time, you had schitzy census, brand new black voters, powerful domestic migration, weird electoral anomalies (the next election the Michigan electoral voter split 9-4, and bribery fix attempts. The last is settled upon you as an earmark of the whole thing...I don't see it.












5:35 PM Dec 1st
 
OldBackstop
I believe that Dave was being cute about the origins of the concept that more than two people can keep conspiracy quiet -- it was from Popular Crime. And the analogy isn't the Witness Protection Program, it is people partnering in crime.

Everything else set aside, Craig, the Clinton Campaign had pollwatchers at every polling place in every swing state whose job was to review every voter who walked through the door, note whether they were party affiliated or not, check their signature, etc.

Did other people early vote, etc.? Yes, but this amounts to such a massive sampling immediately in the hands of the allegedly wronged party that they would at least see red flags if, say, 52 percent of early votes were going to Trump and 51 percent of the poll vote were going to Clinton. Or some district that has traditionally had the electorate be 58 percent registered Republicans only be 51 percent. Or if, looking at the mix of party affiliations and independent voters in a district the projected vote was way skewed. They would be howling about any teeny puff of smoke discrepancy.

The Clinton campaign has stated they have nothing.

So you haven't addressed the comments on the evidence you cite of:

-- "the polls in Pennsylvania showing a Hillary victory, but Trump won by one." In a fast moving environment, the last and best poll in Pennsylvania showed trump up by one. You hadn't seen that poll.

-- the fact that the only states which showed a different outcome between the final vote and the CNN exit polls were four swing states. But almost every state showed a underpolling of Trump...it is only logical that on an across the board miscalculation the states flipping would be the tightest margins aka swing states. I would almost say that those results CONFIRMED the validity of the vote, so consistent was the Trump underpolling. You were very suspicious of a 4 or 5 percent Trump underpoll in exit polls in PA....it was ELEVEN points in the CNN exit polls in dark blue NJ. Had NJ been a swing state it would have fallen into your bucket of deplorable results.

-- and exit polls have collapsed as a metric do to early voting, as the CNN article I linked to self confessed.

So if the poll watvhing, exit polls and polling look in line, what does that leave?
The 1888 election. Next post.
4:57 PM Dec 1st
 
OldBackstop
@CWright: Thanks for your answer.

Maybe you could expand on what the proposed change to a "weighted national vote" would do except lower the power of small population (currently red) states and raise the power of high population (currently blue) states. Is my assumption wrong that any formula you envision would likely give North Dakota less power than it already has in relation to California?

Do you believe this could be done without a Constitutional Amendment? Do you think a proposed constitutional amendment would get super majorities in both the House and the Senate to move to the ratification process (or to call a national convention to do the same thing).

Do you think 38 states are going to do that? Because these suggestions mostly seem to be lefties still throwing their tire around the cage after November 8 and lashing out at the center of the country.

And, finally, if the Great Compromise that formed the country in 1897 is going to be walked back, then is the Senate going to be disbanded under the same logic?

If their is a pragmatic path forward, or even a one percent chance, then let's discuss. If it is a dorm BS session, then lable it as such.

Actually, maybe there is some formula you could propose in which it occasionally could benefit a red state in some scenario.......but that isn't the point, it is how those states would view the effort, coming as it is out of a narrow loss by the blue states.

============

The rest is an ad hominem attack and ignored.
3:43 PM Dec 1st
 
CWright
OldBackstop
In regard to my suggestion for a replacement for the Electoral College to help make our elections more secure, you wrote:

"I'm curious as to in what world 3/4s of the states would vote for a constitutional amendment for something whose pure motivation is apparently to weaken their power. Is the Senate, set up on the same compromise, also going to change? Pipe dream from the left, and the surest trigger for red state outrage and secession and civil war I have heard. This picks a divisive fight that can't win."

Forget the odd use of "pure motivation," this ignores that my actual suggestion was for "a weighted national vote that mirrors our current mix of emphasis on population and state." I precisely proposed it to maintan state power as it currently exists in the Electoral College, which reflects that same weight in the legislative branch.

This isn't a case where you misremembered something you had not had a chance to read in a while. You went to the trouble of getting that passage and actually putting it in your post. You went to that effort but not the effort to read it with comprehension before making not just an unfair commentary in substance but doing it in an ugly mocking tone.

I find myself consumed with curosity about how YOU personally feel about your posts. Do you think they are morally sound to the point of being something you are proud of? I am not trying to put you in a position of defending yourself to me or anyone else. I'm just really curious about how your posts look to you. My natural assumption is that you would think, "yes," as most would think about their own posts, and that's fine. It just kinda hit me, what if my assumption was wrong and you had another answer than "yes," and how interested I would be to hear it.
1:38 PM Dec 1st
 
CWright
For DaveFleming

Actually, Bill was quite correct to say that I am not convinced that something nefarious happened.

When [R] won the Republican nomination I advised those who thought he could not win that it would be crazy to completely dismiss the candidate of a major party. By simply being his party's nominee he automatically got a base of nearly 40 million votes, those who will vote the party ticket unless the party pulls the plug. I did not expect [R] to win, and by the time Election day came, I estimated it was far more likely than not -- by a factor of about 4 to 1 -- that [D] would win the election. But because I actually know what that means, I was not convinced that [R] would not win, and was less surprised than most at the outcome.

My personal estimate of the chances of the 2016 Election being an honest election are greater than the estimate I had for [R] winning the election. I was not convinced that [R] would not win, and I'm not convinced the election was rigged.

If you read my article more accurately, not reading past the "ifs," you would know that. And I underscored that aspect of my view in my very first response to the commentary, which included: "... I leave room in my estimation for considerable doubt that it actually was fixed ..."

===
DaveFleming also wrote:
"And, frankly, I find it pretty hard to believe that a massive conspiracy taking place among countless individuals, across multiple states, intending to rig the US Presidential election results would really work. I read somewhere that the only success conspiracies involve one person, maybe two. Anymore than that and someone talks. Where are all the talkers?"

I think everyone understands the logic that the fewer actors in a conspiracy the less likely it will be detected, and I made that very point in my article. Beyond the fact that by definiton there is no such thing as a conspiracy of one, have you really thought about this? It seems logical to me that with sufficient commitment of the actors to a consipracy, it is quite possible to succeed in avoiding detection with a large enough group to do this. Boris Korczak worked eight years for the CIA as a double agent in Russian intelligence. He is now retired and when asked to estimate how many Russian agents are working in the U.S., he said a "few thousand." In a way, every one of those agents is a conspiracy just by his existence as a covert agent. How many actors have a role in that agent's existence and performance? How often do we catch these agents? And those that are caught, how often is it because one of the actors in their conspiracy blabbed?

Interesting example for that last point is the one closest to the overall discussion. How was Watergate exposed? It wasn't because one of the several actors talked. It was because night watchman Frank Wills was sharp enough to break his routine by noticing what most watchmen would have missed, a small piece of tape over a lock -- something he actually did dismiss the first time he came across it in their earlier break-in.

And if you throw out a conspiracy needing to do something illegal or harmful, if we think about it, we probably have tons of examples of "benign conspiracies" that seem to work quite well. The Federal Witness Protection Program, as of 2013, has protected about 8500 witnesses (plus nearly 10,000 family members of the witnesses), and many of the most populous states have their own state-run WPPs for non-federal cases. These thousands upon thousands of cases are benign conspiracies. We aren't allowed to know the detection rates of these conspiracies, but we can infer they are pretty successful. Despite the mythical story lines in some movies and TV shows, what they are immensely proud of in the Federal WWP is that in 45 years there is not a single case of a protectee being harmed as a result of detection.

And finally, there are some ways to fix a vote in an anticipated close race that are extremely unlikely to set off a whistle blower. This method arranges for a systematic tossing of votes designed to hit voting blocs likely to favor the candidate you do not want to win. This could be done by both policy decisions and a distribution of "low performance" apparatus to certain locations. The attitude about this is often to say "That's not so bad," and lump it with "dirty tricks campaigning." But its not the same animal at all. It is not a matter of personal morality for an act that has stayed in the rails. This is directed at the voting process itself, and if it turns an election, it is every bit as much a fix as changing votes from X to Y. It is actually conceivable for a single influential election official to pull this off for a whole state in a manner that could decide a close election. The reason this type of fix can involve an extremely minimal number of actors is because it can employ a ton of necessary actors without their knowing what is happening, unless someone explicitly tells them. If you follow a simple "need to know" protocol, practically nobody needs to know.
===
DaveFleming also wrote:
"... a lot of people are citing a seven-point difference between paper scanners and electronic voting machines. My first thought, on hearing that, wasn't to assume a conspiracy.. my first thought was to wonder if there is a geographic corrleation that would explain the gap. If urban areas in Michigan favored one machine, and rural areas favored another, that seems like a more obvious explanation than 'Russia.'"

Actually it is the combination of equipment and location that is at the heart of what concerns the analysts that convinced Stein to seek a recount in Michigan and Wisconsin. (That "seven-point" gap story originates with them.) Michigan, incidentally, does not use electronic voting machines other than scanners going back to 2012. There appears to be a confusion between talking about one type of scanner and calling another type an electronic voting machine. In fact, they are all electronic voting machines and they are all scanners. Michigan uses three distinctly different scanners from three different manufacturers. The analysts advising Stein to seek a recount in Michigan are concerned over differences between the scanners both by type, and age within the type, for declaring a ballot "no vote," which means it did not recognize a vote or saw two votes, when the use of eyeballs could easily read a single vote. The distribution of these machines makes it possible to direct an election toward a candate. For example the oldest type of scanner in Michigan is the Model 100 from ES&S, and while not necessarily for nefarious reasons, they do tend to end up in poorer precincts, a demographic not favoring the winner in what was an extremely close race. That is the main focus in both Michigan and Wisconsin where the formerly scanned fill-in the bubble ballots will be double-checked by an eyeball hand count.

Reply for Edward

In regard to your first question, as I pointed out, the only precedent for the great oddity in the 2016 Election is the 1888 election. Understanding what causes that statistical phenomena, an uncommon precision in distribution, makes it unlikely to occur in the dynamics of an honest election but likely to occur in a fixed election that is taking advantage of the leverage provided by the format of the Electoral vote. I'm not saying it can't happen in an honest election, and in fact that possibilty has to exist. But if the 2016 Election is an honest one, it is the first time it actually came out that way.

In regard to your second question, logically the cross between what the format of the Electoral College makes possible, and what the strategic imperative is for the fixer, I consider it a given that fixers would, as you put it, "usually operate within vulnerable small pockets of the electorate." But if that edge were taken away we'd have to look at it differently because the fixer would also be looking at it differently.

Reply for garywmaloney
RE: "Stein's challenge goes forward in three states (NOT Florida, interestingly)."

Not really that interesting. This is about recounts. These states all had a margin of victory less than Florida. Wisconsin and Michigan are also prime targets for a recount not just because they are close but because they use a type of ballot/scanner combo called the bubble ballot that is prone to errors easily corrected by eyeballs.

A recount operates under an assumption of mistake that will be in the open, not a fix that is hidden. And if you were investigating a fix, these are not the states where you would start, although WI is not far off, if you were able to take actions designed to look for proof of a fix.
===
Also for garywmaloney
In regard to your thought of dismissing my suggestion of a weighted vote, I think you misread the landscape. I doubt we are prepared to move from the "United States" to the "United." To replace the Electoral vote will require a constitutional amendment, and I don't see any way that the necessary 3/4 of the states would ratify an amendment that would diminish existing "state rights" of more than a quarter of the states. A weighted vote that mirrors the balance of population/state in our legislative branch and past elections of the President has the best chance to get the 3/4 vote.

For FrankD
Re: "CWright: I have to ask: no answers to my legitmate questions?"

I have a life, a fairly demanding one. I am sacrificing a great, great deal to cooperate with this commentary as much as I have. I was obligated to work a good portion of Thanksgiving day and the whole extended weekend because of falling behind in a schedule that has firm deadlines and no one able to cover for me. I will soon have to return to my normal routine of rarely visiting this site and even rarer reading commentary, much less writing it.

I honestly don't remember getting many questions from you. Most of the questions in your commentary seem to be clearly directed at Bill James as in "Bill, please explain to me ..." or reactive to something he wrote, and some of your questions are clearly not for me but posed to lay out what you believe.

I assume what you actually want is some commentary from me on things you have written.

As I will be quoting you a few times and quotation marks are easily read past, I'll put you in caps to make it easier to distinguish.

I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR MISSIVE IS GOING BEYOND BJOL AND WILL BE USED BY MANY FOR NEGATING THE LAST ELECTION.

I highly doubt my article will impact on that in any meaningful way. To whatever extent that might happen, I regret it being used that way, and I do speak against that.

I believe it is far more likely than not that the 2016 Presdential election was fixed, but I do not remotely confuse that with a presumption of right in negating it. Both by example and encouragement I have urged others to a similar stance. If eventual President Trump invites you to the White House and you want to know, "Are you going to be there?" well, fine, but it is not right to take a stance he is not the President based on reasoning and evidence suitable to theory and probability that has no chance to rise to a level remotely close to surpassing reasonable doubt.

You can feel righteousness in pushing for an investigation, and it is harder to figure the right stance when that opportunity is almost certainly to be denied. But I'm on the side that it doesn't justify going off the rails unless you can do it productively, and I don't see that avenue, for me or most people. So my general recommendation is to buck up and look to the future, and that's exactly what I put in my conclusion. Make no mistake, the idea of a fixed Presidential election in my time as a voter bugs me to no end. That I have reasoned my way to that likelihood in the 2016 election and know that in all probability it will never be investigated -- that's not an easy thing to accept. But thinking it through, I could see that the best thing is to focus on the future and do what we can to improve the security of future elections.

SEPERATE QUESTION IS THAT: COULD ELECTIONS BE FIXED? AND WHAT SHOULD WE DO ABOUT IT? THESE SHOULD BE SEPERATED FROM "WAS THE LAST ELECTION FIXED?"

I do understand your point and am sypathetic to it to a point, but the subjects clearly are connected and relevant to each other. Including a look at the probability of whether the 2016 Election was fixed serves well the purpose of the article. As a lot of people have noted, some folks have been expressing huge concerns over the security of our elections for a long time. How has that worked out? Here is chance to pull some good out of an election that I think was probably fixed. I'd make that choice 100 times over. If you want a seperate discussion on whether the last election was fixed, all you have to do is go to BJOL. (My apologies to those unfairly splashed by that broad brush.)

HOWEVER YOU (WRIGHT) SEEM TO THINK YOU CAN DETECT CHEATING FROM THE CURRENT DATA. I DON"T THINK YOU HAVE, NOR DO I THINK IT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED. ALL YOU CAN SHOW IS THAT THE VOTING PATTERN/CORRELATION FITS SOME MODEL. AS YOU WELL KNOW, STATS CAN ONLY SHOW IF THE REAL DATA FITS SOME MODEL WITHIN SOME PROBABILITY NOT THAT THE MODEL IS RIGHT OR WRONG

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "detect," but if you mean I think I can detect a probability of cheating from the current data, that is most assuredly correct. I agree with much of the rest of what you wrote, but of course have different feelings about it ... plus what you left out, the ability to reason, which provides us theory, estimation, and the sense of whether a model is reasonably helfpul or not.

If this reflects how you choose to process the world, then it is easy to understand what you express in your second sentence. Naturally we are seeing the world differently because we look at it differently. My view is that you are unncessarily limiting your ability to approximate your understanding of reality. I like the light over here.

... ON YOUR STAT ANALYSIS: I ASSUME YOU ARE USING GAUSSIAN DISTRIBUTIONS. IF NOT, WHAT ARE YOUR BAYESIAN BOUNDS?

Again, this seemed to logically be directed to Bill about something he had done. Besides the positioning making it seem that way, I felt statistical analysis had little role in the reasoning in my article. Although on second thought, I probably underestimated the extent to which that is true. I tend not to see the role of statistical analysis in my thinking because for me it is like words in a sentence. The sense of a sentence is built on the words, but what you think about is not the words, but the sense of the sentence.

But if this is directed at me, there was a single area where I used correlation coefficients, standard deviations under a bell curve (Gaussian distribution), and a Chi-square test to help me work through the historical data in understanding the oddity of the precision necessary to produce the disconnect between Electoral vote and popular vote.

NOW, IF YOU HAVE OTHER EVIDENCE, NOT JUST A POSSIBLE CORRELATION, PLEASE LET ME AND OTHER READERS KNOW OF THIS EVIDENCE. PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUERY

This follows two questions specifically directed at Bill, one of which was specifically about correlation, and I assumed this was for him. Assuming it is for me, I have a few more things I can offer that relate to the issue of correlation, but you are saying "not that", so no. I think I can do something that might better help you understand my assessment of the probability of the 2016 Election being fixed. I can try to give you a clearer idea of my actual thought process in how I landed where I did. I'm working on making that available.

12:03 PM Dec 1st
 
monahan
garywmaloney, no one is claiming that in-person voter happens more than .001% of the time. There is no evidence that it is widespread, and if the idea of breaking into multiple machine storage units to rig individual machines is far-fetched, the idea of coordinating millions of people to commit in-person voter fraud (especially with poll watchers, as OBS points out) is beyond far-fetched.

You can't base your enforcement of laws on the "only if it's perfect" model. You give your attention to the biggest areas of security need. The incidents of in-person voter fraud are so rare as to be well below the level of statistical significance.

Meanwhile, the possibility of accessing vote tabulations in a given state could effect thousands upon thousands of votes, thus making it statistically significant, especially in states with such minute margins of victory.

I'm not saying that the proposed hacking has occurred or is even likely, but given that we don't have unlimited resources, should we not spend our money investigating and preventing the tabulation hacking?
3:07 PM Nov 30th
 
OldBackstop
As to the suggestions.

The first four go to small machine or security issues. Sure, why not, but these are tiny steps compared to the simple steps of showing a photo ID at the polls, which provokes outrage from the left.

5) Improve security of voter registration data. It particularly creates a vulnerability for fraud in mail-in votes.

I don't know what is meant by improving security....this info is freely available and is actually SOLD to campaigns in electronic format -- I've purchased it. This improves candidate outreach and voter information. Removing this would create HOWLS of political controversy and spur conspiracy theories that would undermine public faith exponentially more than some back office computer security.

6) Stop making an imperative out of getting a fast vote count. If we kill that impulse, than a host of new ideas can be employed to detect a fix. Remember, a key deterrent to a conspiracy to fix an election is to convince the conspirators the risk is too high that they will be caught.

States don't certify for weeks as it is and the president isn't certified until the Electoral College....weeks down the road. Michigan was recounted until last week. The MEDIA makes the calls we all see. Moving to withhold data and vote counts would again cause HOWLS and spur conspiracy theories. With poll watchers campaigns already have very detailed numbers...I have had them 10 minutes after the polls close. Are the parties to be gagged. Let me know how that goes. Are we making poll watchers illegal to improve confidence in the ballot?

7) Eliminate the Electoral College, replacing it with a weighted national vote that mirrors our current mix of emphasis on population and state. Trying to rig that kind of vote would not just be tremendously hard to pull off, it would be very difficult to hide. A nice plus for that change is that it would encourage everyone to vote. Everyone’s vote will actually matter even if they are completely out of step with the rest of their state.

I'm curious as to in what world 3/4s of the states would vote for a constitutional amendment for something whose pure motivation is apparently to weaken their power. Is the Senate, set up on the same compromise, also going to change? Pipe dream from the left, and the surest trigger for red state outrage and secession and civil war I have heard. This picks a divisive fight that can't win.


11:35 AM Nov 29th
 
OldBackstop
..every single polling place in every single swing state. These people's jobs are to stand there with a voter's list and check off voters one-by-one, challenging any that aren't on the list or are, say, registered Republicans who had recently moved. In many places they hover over the books and examine signatures. In many cases the parties go knock on the doors of their registered members who hadn't voted by the closing hours.

Hillary's people reported no suspicious activity. Were they in on it? Russian moles, inserted during the Cold War by submarine? Prove not.

Does this cover every early vote? No, but in the state's that have machine's it gives exquisite detailed date that would spur examination.
========

Trump's "ridiculous" claim that millions of non-citizens cast ballots is based on the fact that in 11 states they are allowed to get drivers licenses, and that is the process for registering to vote. The system is supposed to block the next step so they can't axtually vote, but....is it crazier than some theories to say some of those people -- who sometimes submit false data to qualify for benefits -- got through to the ballot box?

I give this zero of three possibility.
11:05 AM Nov 29th
 
OldBackstop
-- I said in RP...the Clinton campaign said the other day they had poll watcher at
10:51 AM Nov 29th
 
garywmaloney
Monahan & Steve161 -- I say, do BOTH types of security. Why is one so important to you and the other is not? If a non-citizen votes, it cancels out the ballot of another, legitimate voter -- why seemingly no concern about that?

Re Trump on "millions" of illegal voters -- obviously hyperbole, and typical. But there have been only piecemeal reviews of dead voters, double-voting by students, non-citizens voting . . . subject deserves more study. And NO work done on the real problem of abuses of absentee and especially mail-in ballots (limited to a few states).

It will be interesting to see if Gov. Walker's comments about Wisconsin's voting laws being the tightest are borne out by the recount (now expected to cost $3.5 million).

OBS and shinsplint -- the percentage of margin is of course the key. 50,000 in Delaware and 70,000 in Rhode Island are yooge margins, given they are tiny states, and only fraud on the scale of 1960 Illinois and Texas presidential could come close to that raw numeric figure . . . which i maintain is probably impossible to hide today, with so many watching with such instant media access.

Stories have abounded for years about close elections being stolen in the Mesabi Range counties of Minnesota . . . but I know of no serious investigations.

The biggest problems with recounts seems to be -- how do you stop one side from pushing and pushing for more and different counts . . . until they get the result they want? 2004 Washington Gov race and 2008 Minnesota Senate race are two examples of this.

Doubt that will happen here. But most of Craig's proposals have a lot of merit.
11:17 PM Nov 28th
 
shinsplint
OBS, assuming it's worth it to do a recount, you'll get more potential reversals with big states and a low percentage difference in votes between (R) and (D). Yes, now I'm doing it too. Pennsylvania is one of those states with 20 electoral votes, and was very close percentage wise between the 2 candidates (2.4%). Minnesota, with 10 electoral votes is also close, at 3.3%, so that one would be a good candidate too, with Trump potentially benefiting. Of the other states you mentioned, only N.H. is closer with a thin .8% difference, but with only 4 electoral votes in play. The other states would yield diminishing returns with the low electoral votes, and the elections were not really especially close either. For example, (D) had 39.3% votes than (R) in R.I. And Delaware had 27.3% more votes for (D) than (R).
4:01 PM Nov 28th
 
OldBackstop
If 70,000 in Pennsylvania is the level for a recount, why not recount the states he lost by less than that: 1) Delaware (50k) 2) Maine (20k) 3) Minnesota (44k) 4) Nevada (25k) 5) New Hampshire (3k) 6) New Mexico (55k) 7) Rhode Island (70k).
8:13 AM Nov 28th
 
steve161
monahan is exactly right. garywmaloney has anticipated Trump's own (completely irresponsible) reaction to the impending recount, thus obscuring the very real issue of voting machine security.

I don't expect the recount to change anything, but I'm in favor of doing it, if only to put to rest any legitimate fears of tampering. Unfortunately there is no way to put to rest the utterly baseless claim of millions of illegal voters. Donald Trump should be ashamed of himself, but of course he is incapable of that.
5:52 AM Nov 28th
 
monahan
I think this is not about individual "ballot security," as there is no statistical concern about in-person voter fraud and it's never been a legitimate issue.

It's about "election security" focusing on the points of vulnerability... specifically in electronic tabulation dealing with thousands of votes at a time.
11:12 PM Nov 27th
 
garywmaloney
Fascinating discussion and topic. Joining the conversation a little late . . .

Stein’s challenge goes forward in three states (NOT Florida, interestingly).

Let’s discuss Craig’s Seven Suggestions at the end.

I’m afraid we need to omit / dismiss #7, replacing Electoral College with weighted national vote. The acceptance of the “one-man one-vote” construct suggests strongly that any system weighing one person’s / state’s / group’s / region’s vote more than another is destined for rejection.

#6 – favor security over speed – makes perfect sense, but in our ADD / instant-gratification culture, is that realistic? Fighting uphill on that one, IMO. Good luck on trying (noting – before the 20th century, elections were routinely not “called” until days after).

That leaves us with #s 1 through 5 – and I think all are eminently reasonable. A couple questions –
? -- Why no mention whatsoever of Voter ID (that is, requiring at the polling place some reasonable proof that the John Doe who is voting actually is John Doe)?
? -- Why no mention of balancing ACCESS with SECURITY? Typically, Democrats scream for more access and brand every Republican effort for more ballot security as racist. In this day and age, who doesn’t have some reliable form of ID – and if they don’t, what’s their damn excuse, and how soon can we get them one?
? -- Why no mention of matching voter rolls to citizenship? Is it secure merely to take someone’s word or oath that they are citizens (with so many millions who are not, living among us)? Especially, Craig, with one party (D) seemingly having so much to gain from pushing non-citizens onto the rolls (facilitated by motor-voter laws), then into the voting booth (or vote them by mail)?
? -- Why no discussion of the ludicrous insecurity, and potential for tampering / dumping / etc., of mail-in ballots? Anecdotal stories abound of “vote collectors” in Colorado harvesting votes from the infirm, dumping ballots likely to be from the other party, etc. And what makes the US Postal Service, with its unionized workforce and debatable reliability, the proper steward of elections?

Seems to me – if you deal with these further matters, Craig’s proposals are the basis for serious reform.

Maybe I missed it, but it’s curious that Craig’s thoughtful article nowhere mentions that, for decades, it has been one party that has championed ballot security, after the 1960 presidential (Illinois, Texas), 1982 gubernatorial (Illinois again), and currently 2016 gubernatorial (North Carolina) – and it is the Republicans.

4:31 AM Nov 27th
 
OldBackstop
Probably the best analogy here is someone saying your house may have been broken into, you could be safer......but there is no sign of breaking in and nothing is missing.

I refer again to Nate Silver follow up on Halderman. He says there is no there here.

Halderman walks back incorrect reporting of his comments in the below, which also quotes Nate Silver on his follow up analysis:

Professor cited in report says election results 'probably not' hacked
(... he clarified that he thinks the election results were “probably not” the result of a cyberattack.)

www.politico.com/story/2016/11/election-results-hacked-new-york-magazine-231796

""Election statistics gurus Nate Silver and Nate Cohn, who run the data analysis sites FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times’ Upshot, respectively, were quick to push back on the report on Twitter. Among other points, Silver wrote that the effect described in the New York magazine story “completely disappears” after controlling for race and education.""
9:28 PM Nov 25th
 
FrankD
Bill: I too consider you a friend, and I don't think I've been out of line. I've never attacked your personally or ad hoc like this:

from BJames What you have done instead is to attack the motivations of the author, and to insult those who want a fuller understanding of what the author has to say. I don't approve of that kind of argument, even when it comes from my friends. Frank D, Old Backstop. . . .I would regard you as friends. But your conduct in this discussion is disgraceful. You have attempted to belittle the evidence and the people who present it, rather than responding to what has actually been said.

Now although I have attacked your statements and thesis as being bad science, I have never attacked your motives nor have I attacked you personally or belittle people on this site......
9:26 PM Nov 25th
 
FrankD
CWright: I have to ask: no answers to my legitimate questions"?.... I'll put it down to Thanksgiving weekend. But I think my concerns are legitimate and I await your answers ..... this is an important topic and an extraordinary claim, and thus needs extraordinary evidence .........
9:12 PM Nov 25th
 
steve161
https://medium.com/@jhalderm/want-to-know-if-the-election-was-hacked-look-at-the-ballots-c61a6113b0b​a#.4np12va28

This is a much better article on the very real dangers of a hacked election, by a computer scientist who has been studying the issue and issuing warnings for years. He is not someone whose opinion is determined by who won or lost the most recent election. (I'm not saying Wright is; as for some of the commenters here, however...well...)
8:36 PM Nov 25th
 
OldBackstop
shinsplint:

Hillary not only did regular events in California to raise money -- seven in three days in August -- she had invested tons of time there in the contested primary where she was neck-and-neck with Bernie. All the celebrity, entertainment industry, angry immigration, and general liberal causes spreading bile about Trump went unchallenged by an effort in media, surrogates, etc.

Because it has become a total waste of the Republican party's time for messaging and structure and get out the vote in national elections, California has swirled ever leftier. Too many very expensive markets. It also has very lax ballot laws on provisionals, etc, further expanding their popular vote in relation to other states.

WSJ: California, as Clinton Territory, Finds Itself a Political Outlier.....http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-shift-hillary-clinton-won-californias-orange-county-1479038403

People talk about the presidential system going to a popular vote....if it went to Congressional districts, each electoral vote a separate campaign, the Repubs would bet a decent chunk of electoral votes from the middle and east parts of the state, where decent people live.

(..lol, sorry.)

By the way, if you want to ponder a polling vs ballot mystery, look at California, where Hillary turned out 6.5% higher at the ballot box than at the RCP polls, and a whopping 10.5 percent higher in the race against Bernie.

Why? Chinese nano-robots, probably gone rogue, seeking a better life under Trump trade laws and dovish national security appointments. Prove to me it wasn't.

Or the mainstream DNC ground game, unchallenged by the Repubs and dominating over a furious Bernie?

Even without a challenge on messaging, Hillary only had 54-32 lead in the final RCP. That jumped to 61-32...what does that tell you? A few points were people getting real about third parties, but the rest was GOTV -- Trump's number stayed the same.That was worth some low six figure popular vote number right there, Maris will tell us....I'd guess each point of popular vote in Cal is worth a bit over 100,000 votes.

So, rogue Chinese nano-bots, most likely, but, for you stick-in-the-muds, the other stuff maybe.


12:18 PM Nov 25th
 
MarisFan61
(....by "other," I mean the average of the states other than California, i.e. not counting CA)
11:16 AM Nov 25th
 
MarisFan61
.....and closer to 7 other states. (I wouldn't count 'itself' in the math.)
BTW the only reason I did the math was that I thought the actual number would be 'more higher' than that.
"5" and "6" felt way low (but I see that they're not).
11:15 AM Nov 25th
 
shinsplint
correction...California's population is closer to 6 average states.
10:54 AM Nov 25th
 
shinsplint
OBS, not sure what point you were making regarding Trump winning by over (about?) 1 million votes in the other 49 states other than California. If he had only a 1 million vote lead in the other 49 states, typically that would represent a rather slim electoral lead, and winning California usually would have put Clinton safely ahead. Plus you suggested that California meant little because the Repubs didn't make any effort to win there. Well, neither did Clinton either because she was assured of a victory. California's population is equivalent to about 5 average states, and has a broad demographic, so to play the otherthancalifornia card is disingenuous.
10:51 AM Nov 25th
 
MarisFan61
I'd love there to be a 'recount' * and for the result (against all odds) to be reversed, and I think there's more than a fair chance that Craig's suspicions on this election are well taken. But, I do find the current result easily plausible, for at least a couple of reasons.

* 'Recount' in quotes, because what they're talking about is more than a simple recount; they're talking also about examining the apparatuses that were involved, for whatever that might reveal. I have no idea what's the potential from that.

Main reason I'm doubtful that the result would change: Pennsylvania, i.e. Trump's margin.
I can easily imagine Wisconsin's and Michigan's margins being reversed, even just by ordinary recounts, but Pennsylvania's seems too large. Although....I realize that I don't really know what the possible magnitude of chicanery could have been; maybe it's just as doable to cause a 70,000 vote shift (or more) as to cause a few thousand.

And also: Trump's margins in non-swing states were surprisingly large. I remember what the very first reported vote counts were like, from Kentucky and Indiana (where the polls closed first) -- it was Trump by 50 in Kentucky and by 45 in Indiana. While I was stunned, I didn't worry because I was pretty much assuming a Hillary win; I figured, those must be from Trump precincts -- and they sort of were, but....I kept an eye on those states as we went along, and the numbers remained far, far more 'Trump' than forecast. I don't think anybody is thinking chicanery in Kentucky and Indiana, and so it wasn't hard for me to believe that Trump did better than forecast in other states too.
4:02 PM Nov 24th
 
dmbbmartin10
while for sure, I am not a trump fan, I am not convinced that his election, even if rigged somehow, which I have do not any proof of, would have changed the result in the end. I even think and audit should be done on this election, if only to improve our future elections.


I really like all of Craig's suggestiions to improve the election system.

Finally, I think the elector college votes for each state should match the vote of the runners. For instance, Trump get 60% of Nevada, he should get 60% of Nevada's elector votes and so on.

Martin
3:15 PM Nov 24th
 
OldBackstop
Steve, Bill's concerns I care about, it's his living room. I was disrespectful to Craig's content and apologized for it.

That aside, I don't much care what anonymous people on the internet think about my credibility or how they judge where I am on my partisanship.

Discussing the discussion bored me 25 years ago, it's an ad hominem attack cloaked as concern trolling, and I've locked people out of my communities for it.

Scalloped potatoes in the oven...Happy Thanksgiving, all!



11:19 AM Nov 24th
 
steve161
And OBS: surely you must realize now that the reason no one seems to be taking your contribution to this thread seriously, despite it's being some of your very best, is that you shot your credibility through hyper-partisanship. I imagine most of us think that, had these same issues arisen after a Clinton victory, you'd be one of the loudest voices crying 'Foul'. Fair? No. But you've got no one to blame but yourself.
10:45 AM Nov 24th
 
steve161
I wish we could separate the issue of this election being rigged from the larger one of how we might prevent future elections from being rigged. Craig's article pointed out a number of real vulnerabilities, but that's getting lost in all the concentration on this specific case.
10:15 AM Nov 24th
 
mauimike
"It is impossible to have representative government without honest elections."

Do you have proof that there has ever has been an honest election?

Maybe the 1960 presidential election.

Or 1876.

Perhaps 'Landslide Johnson' in Texas.

Just a small story. I worked for a guy who voted by mail in ballot, he and his wife. For the last 20 years of her life, she didn't know up from down. He voted for both of them. Is that honest?

2:56 AM Nov 24th
 
mauimike
Maris, "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world....

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity...

Surely some revelation is at hand."

William Butler Yeats

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Hunter S . Thompson.

"Even Jesus can't fix this. We're on our own." Mauimike.
1:54 AM Nov 24th
 
MarisFan61
I don't think it's been noted yet that Jill Stein, who has standing in the matter by virtue of having been a candidate, is formally asking for recounts in the 3 states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania) and has raised most of the money needed to get them.
12:49 AM Nov 24th
 
Edward
Hi Craig,

Thanks for the article. Somehow it hasn't been a focal point of the comments section so far, but I think the strongest parts of your argument are the facts that the electoral college margin is not 'covered' by the Senatorial portion of the vote, and that of 8 swing states, [R] took the five with the most electoral votes.

Frankly, whether or not the 2016 election was fixed in certain states, this strikes me as a very serious article indeed. I hope people will take as much trouble to read it as they will to share it or denigrate it.

My first question is: How difficult is it to find a plausible statistical reason to doubt the results of other elections? Or, better phrased: Are there other statistical phenomena that might indicate a fixed election that can be found in elections we believe firmly not to have been fixed? Or, better still: Can you make other past elections plausibly seem fixed if you look at them differently?

I also wonder--this is a question for the room, not only for Craig--if there are ways in which your theory of the election's having been fixed correlates to past, known examples of fixed elections. I.E. Do the fixers usually operate within vulnerable small pockets of the electorate? (I remember reading in Robert Caro's book about the Lyndon Johnson--Coke Stevenson election that that seemed to be the case with Johnson's operations.)

Finally, OldBackstop, I don't know you from Adam, but I think your comments in this thread have been very tiresome and most unhelpful. I wish that you would either change your tone or--well, I doubt you lack other venues for it.
12:17 AM Nov 24th
 
mauimike
I made two predictions before the election.

One, that Trump would win.

The other was no matter who won, the election wasn't gonna be over on Tuesday.


2 for 2.

It doesn't matter who votes. It matters who counts the votes.

"how can we be sure that the election was NOT fixed.

Mr. James you can't.


Politics is a dirty, corrupt business.

Government, is stealing from one to give to another. It's a stupid way to run the world.

You ain't gonna fix it.

Here's some comfort. No matter who wins, you get screwed....along with almost everybody else.

Tough it out.
11:08 PM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
Sorry, one further thought. From what I can see, Trump wasn't claiming the system would be rigged by any computer vulnerability. He continually talked about voter fraud like illegal aliens voting and the media elite lying and spinning against him.

If he alleged in length and seriousness that there would be computer malfeasance, I didn't see it. He then mostly shut up about specifics...there are stories griping about that.

His gripe about the system being rigged by media elites being biased against him....well, anyone got a problem with that? This race was the death of journalistic reporting.
11:04 PM Nov 23rd
 
DaveFleming
Bill: Craig explicitly stated in the article that he thinks the chances are '3-to-1' that the election was 'stolen from us.' How are we meant to interpret that except as conviction that something nefarious happened?

Again, I agree that there is a plausible threat to our election results, and I absolutely agree that we should improve our oversight of elections. But the big conclusion of this article is that our election was stolen from us, and I think it is reasonable that a few of us find the evidence offered and scenarios imagined as less than convincing.
11:03 PM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
@Bill. I regard you as a fiend. Wait....friend. :-)

To judge whether it is possible to hack an election, it is necessary to be able to judge the anti-attack system, encryption, data-checking....there are a handful of people in the world that can assess major cyber security with an opinion anyone should care about, and none of them post here. And if they did -- nobody hands out their security encryption methods. The US government is one of the best in the world, they were on high alert.

The point the (prick) Comey made is that the half dispersed remaining system is a security block in and of itself. Experienced local poll watchers can estimate within a hair how a vote total will do -- oh, trust me, they do.

As far as Pennsylvania, Craig didn't catch the last and best Pennsylvania poll, Trafalgar, which had Trump up by one point...the exact final margin. Honestly, to any reasonable person that closes the argument. I showed Craig...he was not impressed.

We can pivot to a philosophical debate about whether anything is possible anywhere...Porcello could throw 33 no-hitters next year. But that is about paragraph 30 in discussing what is alleged here.

I came on too strong initially...I apologized, he accepted. I'm one of the older "civilian" member here, six years, I suppose I have a proprietary concern over the excellent integrity of the articles here. Shouldn't....not my business.

I apologize for my goddamn behavior :-)
10:49 PM Nov 23rd
 
bjames
Sprox--Thanks. I don't think that ANY of us, including Craig, is CONVINCED that something nefarious happened.
10:46 PM Nov 23rd
 
sprox
You have to admire the pure genius of this, really.

{R} repeatedly says the election will be rigged and that {R} probably will not accept the results.

This leads to a national meltdown of commentary reassuring voters that:

1) The election will NOT be rigged

2) There is no possibly way the election COULD be rigged

3) Any inference that the election was actually rigged would be pure fantasy and nothing but sour grapes from the losers

Also, not sure the mathematical likelihoods of all outcomes, but ... aggregating sites (not polling sites, but sites that aggregate all the polling data) had recently demonstrated uncanny accuracy (picking something like >99% of all senate, congressional, and presidential electoral votes correctly). So what are the odds that the same aggregating algorithms incorrectly predict the outcomes of 4 or 5 key states in the same election?

I'm still not convinced anything happened, but if it did the execution was spectacular!





10:29 PM Nov 23rd
 
bjames
One is allowed to yell fire in a crowded theater if one sincerely believes that the theater is on fire. Responding again to Dave. . . the arguments that it is impossible to rig an election are unpersuasive to me, regardless of who is making these arguments now or who made them in the past. Talking about a massive conspiracy is a distraction; no one has suggested that there was a massive conspiracy. What has been suggested, I think, is that it might in fact be possible--contrary to Comey's assurances--to do this with a small number of people invading a small number of computers.

People who make the argument that this is impossible to do because of the size and complexity of the system seem misguided, to me, because the complexity of the system MAKES it vulnerable. The more doors and windows you have in your house, the more vulnerable you are to a break in. Our national election system is like a building with 400,000 windows. There's an awful lot of places to break in.

I would find it convincing if someone would explain why this is not true. No one on this board has made the least effort to do this. What you have done instead is to attack the motivations of the author, and to insult those who want a fuller understanding of what the author has to say. I don't approve of that kind of argument, even when it comes from my friends. Frank D, Old Backstop. . . .I would regard you as friends. But your conduct in this discussion is disgraceful. You have attempted to belittle the evidence and the people who present it, rather than responding to what has actually been said.
10:14 PM Nov 23rd
 
FrankD
sorry, got to add another.

bjames said: I still believe that the question of how we can be sure that the election was NOT fixed is the most relevant question.

NO: you claimed it was fixed! Prove it! Its up to you to prove this statement. Or, I would like you and CWright prove that any of the past elections were not FIXED.

A little to many beers by me: we can't be "sure" of anything. Maybe its all a matrix. Maybe the earth is 5000 years old and fossils were planted to test our faith. But we can use common sense, we can most often assume that things are the way they seem to our senses.

I have to add: election cheating is a topic worth discussing, but implying/stating that the last election was a fraud is BullShit and like yelling fire in a crowded theatre
9:21 PM Nov 23rd
 
FrankD
Separate question is that: Could elections be fixed? And what should we do about it? These should be separated from "was the last election fixed?" Of course elections can be fixed. Look at the Dems and Tammany hall. I'm all for making elections as fool-proof as possible, and I want the ability to have voter records on hand for ever, not a supposed record based on keys that might have been pushed - make the voter color the circles. And keep the Electoral College - make'em cheat all over to win, not just in a few cities.

However, you (Wright) seem to think you can detect cheating from the current data. I don't think you have, nor do I think it can be accomplished. All you can show is that the voting pattern/correlation fits some model. As you well know, stats can only show if the real data fits some model within some probability, not that the model is right or wrong......
8:47 PM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
@Dave "Just one small example: a lot of people are citing a seven-point difference between paper scanners and electronic voting machines. My first thought, on hearing that, wasn't to assume a conspiracy..my first thought was to wonder if there is a geographic correlation that would explain the gap."

538 ran a rush this study this afternoon and debunked the above, I linked it below.

Not directed at you, but am I talking to a wall citing Nate Silver's reaction and analysis to all this today?

'

8:46 PM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
HeyBill, I'm taken aback at your comment. I have cited and linked every, to repeat your the tone you set, goddamn piece of information. If Craig is revising his article he should add his experience in computer security and elections. It was not my role to do so as a commenter. I have been elected three times, run campaigns, had hands on roles in campaigns for 25 years, including being a trained poll watcher, a designated recount representative on three occasions,and been a corporate IT manager at a Fortune 400 company, ran and done PR work for the former DOJ's head of cybersecurity.

Forget, my opinion, Nate Silver has been saying repeatedly all day that these criticisms are groundless.

If you are going to publish articles saying there is three to one odds the the first presidential election in history was hacked and the winner reversed, probably by the Russians, and with the parallel purposeful "scheme" timing of the Director of the FBI, described as a rascal and a prick...well, whatever, obviously your call. Outrageous allegations.
8:41 PM Nov 23rd
 
FrankD
CWright: thank you for your honest answer to my statement I hope you understand that your missive is going beyond BJOL and will be used by many for negating the last election. I put this on HeyBill:
HeyBill: the meme that "computer scientists" have found "evidence" of a fixed election is just plain wrong. Ignoring the statement that statistical analysts are "computer scientists", all Wright has found is a possible correlation - not evidence. Bill, please explain to me why a possible correlation is evidence? This is the worst kinda of pseudo-science. Please explain to me how I can test the falsification of Wright's meme? Using Occam's razor, the simplest and most correct answer is no cheating. Now, if you have other evidence, not just a possible correlation, please let me and other readers know of this evidence. Please answer this query........

could you answer my concerns here? and on your stat analysis: I assume you are using Gaussian distributions. If not, what are your Bayesian bounds? I used some strong language in the above missive: but your thesis needs a hell of a lot more evidence because others are picking it up to use as a club .......

8:34 PM Nov 23rd
 
DaveFleming
Well, that's a fair point, Bill....I don't want to seem like we can't have a conversation about this. We should have a conversation about this.

I guess I just find it a little hypocritical that a lot of us on the left are jumping on the 'rigged' argument after so aggressively condemning that kind of talk during the run-up. I read a number of articles that criticized Trump's comments on the specific grounds that it is just massively difficult to rig our election process. I find it a little bit of a problem that a lot of us are now pushing the opposing argument.

But, certainly, we should be able to have the conversation. I'd just like to see more evidence before we make broad inferences about the Russians.

Just one small example: a lot of people are citing a seven-point difference between paper scanners and electronic voting machines. My first thought, on hearing that, wasn't to assume a conspiracy..my first thought was to wonder if there is a geographic correlation that would explain the gap. If urban areas in Michigan favored one machine, and rural areas favored another, that seems like a more obvious explanation than 'Russia.'

And, frankly, I find it pretty hard to believe that a massive conspiracy taking place among countless individuals, across multiple states, intending to rig the US Presidential election results would really work. I read somewhere that the only success conspiracies involve one person, maybe two. Anymore than that and someone talks. Where are all the talkers?

I agree with Craig on one point: I believe that this election WAS rigged. But the rigging that gave us Donald was put in place long before Tuesday, in the legislatures of many states that passed laws that strategically limited who could vote. I think the notion that the Russians hacked machines in Michigan is a distraction from the real tragedy of this election, which is that a lot of people were pressured not to vote by their own government, which enacted laws that were actively discriminatory. I would like those of us on the left to use our time, words, and dollars to change THAT, instead of imagining grand conspiracies that don't pass the smell test.
7:59 PM Nov 23rd
 
jollydodger
(OBS)
7:33 PM Nov 23rd
 
jollydodger
Did you even read the article?
7:33 PM Nov 23rd
 
bjames
Expanding on the comment (below) to Dave, there is actually a parallel to this in the sports world. In modern sports journalism we have developed an almost universal rule that the officiating is not the story of the game. The sportswriter is not supposed to write about the officiating; this is now the almost absolute rule.

This frustrates me, as a sports fan, when I go to a game or even watch a game on television, and, to me, it seems obvious that sub-standard officiating has been critical to the outcome of the game--and then the follow-up journalism won't say one word about the officials, because of this unwritten rule that we don't do that. This is even worse now, because now the leagues won't allow the players or the manager to criticize the officiating. The journalists won't criticize the officiating because of an unwritten rule that you don't make the officials into the story unless the players do, and the players can't because they'll be fined or suspended by the league if they do.

This just seems crazy to me, because what it means is that IF the officials are corrupt, crooked or incompetent, they've got a free pass. In whose interest is that? How can you solve a problem if you can't expose it? And how can you expose it if you won't talk about it?

Same thing here. IF there is a problem with the elections--despite the robust assurances of Old Backstop, who doesn't know one goddamn thing about the subject--IF there is a problem with the elections, how are we ever going to know that if we're not allowed to talk about it?
7:24 PM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
Oh, take away point....note that without California, Trump leads by over 1 million in the popular vote in the other 49. And had he campaigned in the Inland Empire Reagan country, that would have been further padded.
7:23 PM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
I think the Dems should recount away...538 has already said their further weighting of the results only show mebbe issues in two states, Wisconsin and Texas, and in Texas any possible error goes Trump's way fivethirtyeight.com/features/demographics-not-hacking-explain-the-election-results/

...and Silver was tweeting all day that there was nothing there. https://twitter.com/NateSilver538?ref_src=twsrc^google|twcamp^serp|twgr^author

Patterns in Trump's vote in swing states are well-explained by demographics—not hacking:

There is a lot of breathless press that Hillary will have a lead in the popular vote of around 2 million...she will win California by 3.5 million, as Obama did by 3 million. Republicans don't spend money in California, and with Trump's platform, particularly on immigration, he may as well have burnt cash on the Golden Gate Bridge...and then he would have been accused of accelerating global warming.

But, by all means, recount away, because otherwise the lefties will say "Trump Is Not My President." (they will anyway). Make sure the voters are checked for illegal alians, by the way.

And by the way, if you are dumping the Electoral College, make sure you dump the Senate, the fruits of the same compromise, and the Republicans will likely have control of Congress fer ever after.

Drops microphone.
7:16 PM Nov 23rd
 
bjames
Well, but Dave, the argument that you can't move the argument an inch unless you can move it a mile is obviously not valid. One HAS to raise an issue before you can study it. We HAVE to raise the issue of whether or not the election could have been fixed before we get to any judgment about whether or not it was--just as we have to raise the issue of whether clutch hitting exists before we can reach any conclusion as to whether or not it does. You frankly have no right to try to control the discussion by prohibiting us from raising this issue without clear proof. It seems to me that there is a better argument that there is a responsibility to raise the issue than that there is no right to raise the issue.
7:08 PM Nov 23rd
 
DaveFleming
Months ago, when Clinton was comfortably ahead in the polls, Trump hedged on whether or not he'd accept the election results. "I'll keep it a surprise," he said in one of the debates.

A lot of us on the left were critical of this: we excoriated Trump for questioning the validity of our electoral process. We judged that as a line too far. Criticizing the media is one thing, but you damned well better respect the vote.

Fast forward a month, and my news feed is booming with articles like this one, which seem to make the same fundamental argument that Trump was so roundly criticized for making, only in retrospect, and from the other side: the election was fixed.

As much as I'd prefer just about anyone as President to Donald J. Trump, I count this particular line of argument to be in the same vein of paranoid scare-mongering that those of us on the left denounced when Trump and his crew tried their hand at it, and I think we should denounce it.

The gap between anticipated results and actual results in FL, MI, PA, and NC were caused by a lot of things (including problems with the voting process that Craig and others have brought up, that I agree need to be fixed), but I am not convinced that there is any clear evidence of foreign interference in the voting outcomes. And I think that an allegation as serious as the one posited here shouldn't be tossed out by either side, before or after an election, unless there is clear evidence to support the claims.


5:53 PM Nov 23rd
 
Gfletch
bjames
Also, I still believe that the question of how we can be sure that the election was NOT fixed is the most relevant question.

I think that's right. Donald Trump claimed the election was being rigged. Now that issue is in play and the confidence of the population in the process is in question - extremely important - and must be restored.

Also, this link was posted by shinsplint on one of the Reader Post threads:

https://thinkprogress.org/2016-a-cas...dcd#.e0sf0fyh7

pointing out another avenue for those who wish to cheat the process by disenfranchising voters who they are sure won't vote for them.

I was also thinking that even if it was provable that Trump was illegally elected it would not be a good idea to act on that knowledge, thinking it would divide the USA irreparably (due to the expected bitter anger of his supporters); however, Trump is waffling on his more extreme positions and pissing them off anyway, so...what the hell.
5:37 PM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
@Bill. While you wouldn't know it from reading the media lately, US elections are among the most transparent, secure, observed and regulated processes in the world. Any disputes are dealt with by representatives of both parties present, Boards of Election are bi-partisan, and fined and every year for offenses like filing a disclosure form a day late.

Even with all of the eager eyes looking for something to dispute, there isn't anything of merit I can see, going by Nate Silver's twitter traffic.

The Electoral College/popular vote disconnect is of slight interest...if it really is bothersome, then maybe addressing the Census process through technology is a way to make the transitions less jarring. States like Texas and Ohio and Florida have been moving up and down....if the popular vote gets everybody that fritzed out, that is a place to think about. While the popular vote is in real time and the Electoral College is on a ten year reset, there are going to be things that look anomalous. It doesn't mean there are Rooskies in the weeds.


4:21 PM Nov 23rd
 
bjames
Also, I still believe that the question of how we can be sure that the election was NOT fixed is the most relevant question. Rudeness and shouting are quite unlikely to get me to change my mind.
3:26 PM Nov 23rd
 
bjames
You're welcome to as much space as you need; we have lots of other discussions going on. I wish we could get more participants in here.
2:09 PM Nov 23rd
 
Gfletch
Craig, re: your comment: Geez, Bill, I hate for this to take over your baseball site for so long

Relax...this is but one grain of sand on a beach...The biggest thread in Reader Posts is on politics, and it ain't the only one.
2:07 PM Nov 23rd
 
CWright
FrankD, well I agree with your reaction on how you are taking that. I assume Bill would, too, if he took it the same way. I understand where you are coming from as I was initially as surprised by what Bill thinks I think. With a little more reflection, I think what Bill thinks I think -- sounds like a comedy routine, doesn't it? -- is about the major security issue in the PA voting process, a major element of which is that compared to most states PA has an incredibly diminished capacity to know if the vote is legit or not, it is incapable of doing a basic audit for the bulk of its vote. That would make it a primary target if a fix were on.

That's a very, very small part of my point about the suspicious cloud around PA, but yeah, it is part of it.

I think I may be able to resolve some of the stuff that seems to bug most people if I did a little followup article that better explains my actual thought process in tackling the part of all this that is so hard on folks, the likelihood that the 2016 Presidential Election was fixed.

Geez, Bill, I hate for this to take over your baseball site for so long, but you'll be eating turkey soon enough. Let's see what I can do to make things clearer.

12:29 PM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
@Craig,

This sort of coverage makes my point for me -- the Washington Post headline was one cited by Nate Silver as unhelpful to Hillary, I would say these are better examples:

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"


Again, again.....Voters had Clinton corruption burnout. Again means one thing to the believers in a vast right wing conspiracy, another to the majority of Americans polled who believe Hillary corrupt, untrustworthy, etc. based on 30 years of these headlines.

Were I head of campaign communications, I would have thought long and hard about whether I would have wanted anything said at all.

We'll just have to agree to disagree about James Comey. If he was in it to screw Hillary he certainly had ample grounds to ratchet up a criminal case.
12:28 PM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
@Bill. I have participated in local recounts, and there are balances in place in terms of signatures and voter registrations. You can glance at year over year results and see red flags. The type of small frauds you describe may actually leave more fingerprints than the one grand KGB rappelling from the skylight brand we are, I guess, talking about here.

It would be neat if there were a story here like the way the Freakonomics guys developed an algorithm to catch the truly heinous bastards helping on standardized tests.

But there is no there here. The final Pennsylvania polls were right in line with a narrow Trump victory. Exit polls are a rubber crutch due to the explosion on early voting. The systems are dispersed....it would take a number of different hacks to get anything done. They are secure....i.e.: not in bathroom servers.

There is no motive here....Russia prefers Rudy Giuliani over John Kerry? The opportunity and means is unproven or hinted at.

And, there isn't a crime. Other than that, fun stuff.
12:15 PM Nov 23rd
 
CWright
OldBackstop,

The word "Clinton" does not appear six times in my article. It appears zero times.

The word "Comey" does not appear 21 times in my article. It appears 17 times.

Many of those are in the section dedicated to understanding how our voting process is no longer as decentralized as Comey indicated in his testimony to a Congressional committee.

You have no basis at all for claiming I have decided that Comey is responsible for [R]'s winning the election. There is nothing like that in my article; there is nothing like that in my commentary, and if you really knew me in the way your slander pretends, you would know that I personally do not believe it. Dirty tricks are regrettably a part of our political landscape, and have been for centuries. They do impact on elections, but I have been and remain pretty optimistic about their inability to overwhelm everything else to a point that they decide an election. I've been characterized as "Polly Annish" on that subject, but that's how I feel.

I think it would be pretty silly to deny that Comey's dirty trick impacted on the election, and in turn it would seem silly to deny at least the possibility to those who feel it gave [R] the election. But I personally have been quite clear when asked about this topic that I doubt it had sufficient impact to be the difference in who won or lost.
---
In regard to the impact on voters of Comey's second letter, there obviously were some news outlets that favored a headline like you quoted, and that those articles required extra reading to get across that Comey's letter was owning up to the fact that the added investigation he had announced on Oct 28 had now "reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hilary Clinton when she was Secretary of State" on the device in question, and there was nothing to change the conclusion of their investigation from when it had closed back in July.

But voters did not even have to dig deeper than the headline with many other news outlets to take in that this letter dismissed the concerns Comey put out there in his first letter.

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"

And that same day, the AP sent out a related article about how "The FBI's handling of its Hillary Clinton email probe has undercut the bureau's carefully crafted image as unquestionably outside the political fray." I assume many papers printed it as I read it in our conservative newspaper that serves the capital cityhere in Trump country, Montana.

Given the tone of this last message from you, I think it is best at this point not to discuss this further with you.
11:43 AM Nov 23rd
 
FrankD
re: "How can we KNOW this did not happen" ..... that statement is terrible. How do we know anything did not happen? Prove to me that space aliens didn't change the election. Maybe the Dems cheaters screwed up and didn't flip enough votes for Hillary in swing states? How can you know this, Dems didn't cheat enough did not happen?

I would like to see a similar, biased analysis, used to prove that the Yankees threw the 1960 WS. Look at the run differential.

Also, what is the error rate in each state as towards vote count accuracy?
11:32 AM Nov 23rd
 
bjames
It seems to me that the issue in Pennsylvania is not with the polls but with the results. The question is, how do we KNOW that these results are valid? I THINK what Craig is saying, if I understand it, is that we really have no way of knowing whether these are the actual results of the voting or not.

Suppose that, in a given precinct, the vote goes 327 to 282 for Clinton, but that the software in charge of relaying results up the line has been compromised so that it reports the results to the processing center as 317 to 292. . .a 3% discrepancy, but repeated throughout the state it is enough to alter the result. How can we KNOW that this did not happen?
10:01 AM Nov 23rd
 
CWright
For OldBackstop,

You edited your quote from my article in a manner that hides my recognizing the closeness of the polling data in Pennsylvania. The full sentence is: "Even though the polls predicted the vote in Pennsylvania would be close enough to consider it a swing state, the repeated consistency of the polls showing [D] ahead made it quite likely that [D] would indeed win the state."

That said, I do apologize for not writing clearer what I see in retrospect could be reasonably interpreted in a manner that I did not intend. My reference to the "the repeated consistency of the polls showing [D] ahead" was meant to refer very sprecifically to what I wrote, the consistency of her being ahead. But I can see a reasonable inference being made that I meant not just ahead, but how far ahead.

I assumed as common knowledge the slippage in general polling that coincided with the release of the Comey letter and its period of digestion. I should have been clearer on that. The point was not that there wasn't slippage but that [D] still remained ahead even without the coming benefit of Comey's second letter, which would have had maximum benefit to [D] in a state like PA where so few are allowed to vote early.
---
Your point about how far back you have to go to get outside the margin of error in a Pennsylvania poll covered on the 270toWin site is, I suspect, disengenuous. Again, I acknowledged the common closeness from poll to poll. Regardless of margin of error for the leader, it is better to be the leader, is it not? And as you well know, when you consider a group of polls, the margin of error is not the average for the group but a reduced margin of error that falls the larger the group is. The consistency of the leadership result in those polls is remarkable and significant. Beginning with polls dated September 1st, 27toWin covers 39 polls with [D] ahead in 38 and [R] ahead in none. You do not typically find that kind of consistency when two candidates poll that closely together. When you do, it is indicative that while the vote may be close it will quite likely go the way of the consistent leader. The internal consistency of that leadership result is a distinction of PA from most swing states. As I understand it, it is that kind of distinction that caused some swing states to be distinguished from other swing states as "firewall" states.

[D]'s campaign may or may not have shared my view, but putting extra campaign resources in PA in the final few days does not indicate a disagreement to me. They did some late campaigning in other "firewall states" and it particularly makes sense to put extra campaign resources in the last days of a close state like PA that is among the few states where a vast swath of its voters had not already voted by mail.
9:57 AM Nov 23rd
 
steve161
OBS, you slipped a bit in the last couple of paragraphs, but overall those were three very good posts. It's nice to be reminded that, when you stick to reasoning and lay off the partisan name-calling, you're capable of intelligent political discourse.
6:59 AM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
Hi Craig,

Okay, we have all gathered here to each express how you Comeyalism is negatively impacting our lives.’

The word Comey appeared 21 times in your Clinton-Trump article. The word Clinton appeared six times. The word email, once. Like tens of millions of Hillary fans, you have decided it works best for you to lay the blame on this loss on Comey’s public statements.

Here are a partial list of the words that appear zero times in this piece that are more relevant than Comey: Wikileaks, DNC, Foundation, DONORS, Lewinsky, Iran, ISIS, stumble, pneumonia, Weenie-wagger, Obamacare premiums, corrupt….you get the drift.

Your thesis that the Comey’s “clearing” statement on November 6 should have bounced her into a win in Pennsylvania is a dream. Trust me, you do NOT want your closing message 36 hours before final polls close to be: “ “FBI Director Comey says agency won’t recommend charges over Clinton email,” in a banner headline in the Washington Post. There aren’t a bunch of farmers in PA pacing the floor in thought and then yelling “Hell yeah! Hill’s my girl now!” And the non-existence of those floor pacers in Pennsylvania does not equate to Russian hackers.

Jim Comey played a crappy hand of cards as professionally as he could, and he cut HRC a huge break in July. If BillHilly had stayed in his own damn plane, Lynch would have been the Decider.

The Clintons whole life is unforced errors….

1:51 AM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop

Hi Craig,
You cite the fact that CNN/Edison’s “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].”

Now, wouldn’t one would expect “misses” to be in “swing” or close states? You aren’t going to get California or Texas wrong. So that is unremarkable. I assume that if you were standing in the firehouse parking lot with a clipboard in any election where it appeared from everything the media was saying that the guy you had just voted for was destined to lose…98 percent shure thang – then human nature might not make you want to taste those words coming out of your mouth. You probably have been dreading the day and want to get home and get a decent tumbler of something brown. You’d wave them off or maybe say you voted for the winner or some other race or whatever just to avoid the look of pity.

Then add to that the fact that the guy you voted for is Trump, a despised guy with more “ists” flying around him than the Dogwhisperer, and…..you really don’t want to share.

Add to that the standard exit poll rule of thumb, 10%, that Republicans won’t talk to you, they are all hung up on their privacy and hate the gummint and media and, oh yeah, they have jobs and got shtt to do, damglammbit.

My fear of CNN’s ability to adequately poll irascible Trump voters is mirrored where I found it, here, in this CNN article where they express their fear about their ability to adequately poll irascible Trump voters: money.cnn.com/2016/11/07/media/exit-poll-concerns/

But at least with exit polling you knew you had a live one….an actual human who had VOTED, caught her red-handed. So, that had some advantages to the people pulling your leg on the phone, like the Obama supporter telling you they were going to write in “Anita Blackman” for President, and the boss calls the whole office in and they laugh at you.

But now, exit polls have to not only ambush people at the firehouse, they have to account for that guy who early voted on September 19 in Wisconsin. Maybe those Trumpkins were easier when you called them LATER? Ya think?

Let your imagination go to what you (I’m woke) consider a typical Trump voter:

A rotary phone with a broken ringer trills on a linoleum counter top on Election Day at noon. A baying mutt gets a swift kick.

"What!! Who is it??!?," screams Trump supporter Melvin Trumpkin, wildly cocking a gun and aiming it at the handset.

"Hello, is this Mr. Melvin Trumpkin?" asks a voice. Let's say in an Indian accent from a call center in Dumbai.

"HOW DO YOU KNOW MY NAME???" Trumpkin fires a shot into the ceiling, calming himself a little. "Er…..How do you know my name?......Wait.....what is YOUR name??"

"Sir, is this Mr. Trumpkin? We are calling to see how you voted for president."

"WE? We who??" Wild-eyed, Trumpkin fires off two more shots out the winder. I mean window. "How many of ya are there? Who is this??? What's YOUR name??""

"Sir, my name is Ahtar Rist, I work for a research comp...."

"What?? A terrorist???"" BLAM BLAM BLAM
]
=================
Thank you, I’ve applied to Hamilton.

The point here is, exit polling is no longer exit, no longer useful, and if it attempts to tabulate a slippery media-a-hating Trump voter it is going to underpoll 6, 8, 10 points every time.

Referring to this, of course: “Pretend for a moment that the exit polls for the 2016 Presidential campaign were perfectly in line with the actual vote. Then the Democratic candidate, henceforth referred to as [D], was going to win Pennsylvania by 4.4 points over the Republican candidate, henceforth referred to as [R], and win Florida by 1.4 points.”

Next: Late breaking news

1:00 AM Nov 23rd
 
OldBackstop
Hi Craig,

Thank you for being gracious and I will battle my instinctual NJ instinct to be condescending. I’m going to address the three points: Pennsylvania polling, exit polling, and the late-breaking news impact.

I see where you are coming from if 270towin was your PA source. We both agree that this was a tumultuous final week – you seem to think Comey’s hopping around should have been a large factor, I disagree, but I’ll get to that. But I think the numbers are enough to dispel the misperception of any remarkable disconnect between the polling and the ballot in Pennsylvania.

What I think we both would agree on is that, all factors being even, newer data is better. 270 lists polls by their release date, it is illuminating to see the actual dates they were in the field, and that is better seen at the dashboard for RCP: www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/pa/pennsylvania_trump_vs_clinton_vs_j​ohnson_vs_stein-5964.html

It doesn’t match up totally with 270…a major disconnect is that 270 didn’t include what was a good one in terms of dates: Trafalgar, polling from 11/3-11/5, a large poll (1300) with an MOE of only 2.7. Trump is ahead by 1 percent there, which turned out to be the actual exact margin. So…maybe I should stop here. The largest poll with the best dates on 270 is Remington, which was a one day poll on Nov. 6 with an MOE of only 1.9, which showed Hillary with a 1 point lead.

However, and this is where 270 is nice, you can one click and compare the same poll with its previous data. The week before, Remington had Hillary at 2 points up -- so she was slipping. You Gov/CBS announced Hillary up by 2 points on Nov.7, but had her up by 8 on Oct. 30. Morning Call had her up by 4 points on 11/5, down from 6 points on 10/29. Harper had them tied on 11/4, but, like the rest of the list, hadn’t polled in a month for other comparison.

You have to go 10 polls deep to Quinnipiac to find a PA poll with Hillary ahead outside its margin of error, and that went into the field on October 27, 12 days before the election. Looking at the polls and their actual dates in the field, I don’t think it is reasonable to say (quoting you here, obviously) ”the repeated consistency of the polls showing [D] ahead made it quite likely that [D] would indeed win the state.”

I mean…you can say that, but the Clinton campaign diverting resources at Pennsylvania in the final few days and having their last rally there shows that they didn’t share your confidence.

Next. Exit polls

11:42 PM Nov 22nd
 
mrbryan
This story is growing from many sources at once now. The New Yorker and CNN are running pieces about how some of the most respected computer scientists in the country are questioning the vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, pointing out that Clinton did systematically worse in counties that used electronic voting than she did in counties with paper ballots and optical scanners.

It's not a partisan thing. It's about foreign powers fighting an undeclared war on America by interfering with our elections.
10:42 PM Nov 22nd
 
CWright
To OldBackstop, apology fully accepted.

I personally would not remotely characterize the Pennsylvania polling data going into the election as a key issue -- I'd put at least a dozen things in front of that. But perhaps you just mean a key in what bothers you. Either wayI'm certainly willing to answer your citation request for what I wrote. I used the polling data presented at: www.270towin.com/2016-polls-clinton-trump/pennsylvania/

The last ten polls they covered, all dated Nov-1 to Nov-7, have [D] leading in 9, and [R] in none. (They tied in a poll released 11/4/16). You can also go further back and see how the average in the polls narrowed with the release and digestion of Comey's first letter, but assuming the poll dates are the release dates and not the date the poll was done, NONE of these polls got a chance to capture an impact from Comey's "never mind" letter. Even if the date is actually the date the poll was taken, there were still only two done after Comey's second letter, and the very next day when many respondents may not have heard of it.

As I noted the impact of Comey's second letter would have maximum impact in a state like PA with an extremely limited early vote, and the exit polls actually captured that expected bounce.
9:20 PM Nov 22nd
 
OldBackstop
..arghhh...this replaces the below.
===
Ok....I apologize for my tone, Craig. I do campaign work, and this was SO whacked at the first read I was taken aback to see Bill's name on it. That was corrected, but I see he is promoting it as well, so....to take one issue, perhaps the key one, Pennsylvania:

""Even though the polls predicted the vote in Pennsylvania would be close enough to consider it a swing state, the repeated consistency of the polls showing [D] ahead made it quite likely that [D] would indeed win the state. Particularly suspicious was that the last ten polls still showed [D] ahead of [R],..."

Citation? The last poll in the RealClearPolitics Pennsylvania race, Trafalgar, had Trump by 1, the third most recent, Harper, had them tied. 538 lists additional last days Pennsylvania polls with Google (tie) and Auto Alliance (Trump +2).

HRC had crashed from a 6.0 lead on Nov. 1 in the RCP average to 1.9 on Nov. 7 --- and that is a wildly trailing indicator. Hillary moved her whole final rally to Philadelphia with Obama et al ....all the surrogates were rescheduling to rallies in Pennsylvania there in the last four days......she didn't have the early vote pad she enjoyed in other states as national polls were narrowing.....everyone watching the data KNEW she was collapsing in Pennsy. .

Let me just start with that. Again, sorry for the bit of attitude.
7:30 PM Nov 22nd
 
OldBackstop
Ok....I apologize. I do campaign work, and this was SO whacked I was simply amazed, I see Bill is promoting it aggressively, including on Twitter.

To take one issue, perhaps the key one, Pennsylvania:

""Even though the polls predicted the vote in Pennsylvania would be close enough to consider it a swing state, the repeated consistency of the polls showing [D] ahead made it quite likely that [D] would indeed win the state. Particularly suspicious was that the last ten polls still showed [D] ahead of [R],..."

Citation? The last poll in the RCP Pennsylvania head-to-head had Trump by 1, HRC had crashed fr


The only poll of the last three there that has Clinton ahead has an MOE of 5.5 (that's "Morning Call" a newspaper in Allentown, not Morning Consult, the polling company). Entrails have a 4.8.

538 lists additional last day Pennsylvania polls with Google (tie) and Auto Alliance (Trump +2),
7:07 PM Nov 22nd
 
willibphx
Wow, just wow. I don't disagree with many of your ideas on improving the process outside of eliminating the electoral college but the overall tone that the election was rigged this year was unsupported by any evidence other than we don't know because conspiracies are by their nature impossible to detect. The simple idea that pre-election polls could be wrong is by far the most likely scenario. Was Brexit fixed as well? To be clear I did not vote for Donald Trump and in no way am I a fan. Was the takeover of state governships and legislatures by Republicans over the last 10-15 years fixed?

The reality in my opinion is that there are a lot of people unhappy with the status quo. The Democrats ran a severely flawed candidate who represented the status quo against a blowhard. We have a serious cultural divide in this country between the urban population and rural population that is growing and live in different worlds. I don't believe Trump is the solution but a lot of people apparently did and enough in the right locations to win the election.
6:06 PM Nov 22nd
 
steve161
Craig, if you're looking for opinions colored by partisanship, Old Backstop is a good place to start.

I've compared the kind of speculation found in your article with accusing a player of juicing based purely on statistics, with no other evidence. I don't like it in either case.

Are you familiar with the comp.risks list? Computer scientists have been pointing to security flaws in American elections for years. I commend it to your attention.
4:49 PM Nov 22nd
 
CWright
I have no idea who OldBackstop thinks I am but he appears to believe this was written by someone other than me. I've never tweeted anything -- never even had a twitter account.

Let me satisfy his curiosity and simply tell him what he thinks is more important than what I wrote. While I am a lifelong independent who has never been a member of any political party, like most voters, I did vote for the 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate. I did so because I considered her the best of the two choices with a chance to win. I was not expecting the Republican candidate to win the election, but I had an expectation of what it would look like if he did. It didn't look like that.

It looked like a severe anomally that I wanted to take a closer look at. If you did know me, you'd know that is exactly the kind of thing I do. I have zero doubt a red flag would have been raised in my thought just as firmly if I had thought the Republican candidate the better choice for President.

When I found that the abnormal pattern in the results of this election had been seen only one other time in our history, and that it was 128 years ago in what is characterized by historians as a corrupt election, it seemed reasonable to take a deeper look. Again I have zero doubt it would have seemed just as reasonable if I thought the Republican candidate the better choice for President.

If you read my article with a decent degree of comprehension, you know exactly how I came to believe that it is far more likely than not that the 2016 Presidential Election was rigged. While I leave room in my estimation for considerable doubt that it actually was fixed, I have no doubt at all that we should be concerned with the security of our election process. It is a great misfortune that reform in election security, like in so many other areas, is likely to be hindered if not outright thwarted by the kind of partisan mindset that plagues us.
3:43 PM Nov 22nd
 
Richallen7
https://mobile.twitter.com/dansolomon/status/801119244989542400

Interesting...
3:09 PM Nov 22nd
 
OldBackstop
So, 3 to 1 the election was rigged, probably by the Russians?

There is a longer dissection of this in the Readers Posts, but I'm shocked to see this article characterized by Bill as "serious and carefully worded." Clearly the author came at it from a gushing liberal chest wound on elect night, based on his twitter feed, and back-filled to build a reality he could live with.
11:38 AM Nov 22nd
 
CharlesSaeger
I wrote an enormous (7,000+ words) essay and posted it to Facebook to purge my thoughts on this election and still didn't get everything, but this does touch on one of the thoughts I had. Basically:

* We don't know whether or not Putin is behind the hacking that we know happened, just that the attacks came from Russia (or, more specifically, that Homeland Security says the attacks came from Russia). Russia is a big wild west-like place of hacking. I'm not saying that it ain't Putin, but we don't know that it is, and frankly, all this running around and pointing the finger at domestic targets and accusing them of collaboration with Putin smacks of a Red Scare.

* The more likely path of any help starts with Julian Assange, whom we know to have at least some involvement. The guy is likely feeling cooped up in the Ecuadorian embassy, and seems to be wearing out his welcome. Since Hillary Clinton would have been almost assured to keep up the Obama Administration's foreign policy, it makes sense for Assange to throw in his lot with the outsider who lacks policies other than building a jewel-encrusted wall and blaming Latinos and Muslims for all kinds of problems.​
10:17 AM Nov 22nd
 
 
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