Break Glass - 2020 USA Elections

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  • I once saw David Ormsby-Gore, when he was Ambassador to US, in front of me in line at the Safeway near the embassy buying peanut butter. It was 8 at night and seemed very odd indeed. Surely he had staff for such shopping. I was amused both at the shopping and the purchase.
  • GI--

    Cool, re that ambassador. :)

    A couple of years ago, Gary Locke was sent to China as the new US ambassador. He went through the Seattle airport on the way, and made quite an impression:

    "'Backpacking' U.S. envoy a hit in China" (CNN).

    He was carrying his own backpack; had no security protection; and paid for his Starbuck's coffee with his credit card, when the staff wouldn't take his coupon. "A passing Chinese tourist" caught all of this, and spread the word. Folks in China were both shocked and pleased, because their own officials wouldn't do any of that.

    The previous ambassador was known for riding his bike.
  • That's more or less how things are in Australia. We have public figures out fighting bushfires.
  • Good for them. Any chance one of them might run for PM?
    ;)
  • One is a former PM, Tony Abbott. He was a train-wreck of a PM and a climate change denier. He is a big part of our present problems.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Seems like Sanders and Biden are running neck and neck in the most recent polls. Seems like FOX and even Trump are pushing for Sanders to when the Iowa caucus because they think Trump can beat Sanders one to one.

    What do you think?
  • I can't remember an election when the media didn't report that things were tightening up as polling day approaches. i.e. I refuse to be surprised by anything that happens in American politics. Shocked? Yes. Saddened? Naturally. Appalled? Never again, I fervently hope. But I will never be surprised ever again.
  • After the 2016 fiasco I will NEVER believe polls.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    After the 2016 fiasco I will NEVER believe polls.

    How so? Most polls had Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump nationally by about three percentage points, which is what happened.
  • The polls correctly predicted the popular vote, but not the outcome of the "election."
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    The last forecast from 538 gave Trump a better than 1 in 4 chance of winning; that he did win should be substantially less surprising than someone dying playing a single round of Russian roulette.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Seems like Sanders and Biden are running neck and neck in the most recent polls. Seems like FOX and even Trump are pushing for Sanders to when the Iowa caucus because they think Trump can beat Sanders one to one.

    What do you think?

    I believe that a negative-campaign by the Republicans would make mincemeat out of Sanders. One photo of him standing next to someone with a Che Guevera t-shirt, and that would be the end of it.

  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited January 31
    stetson wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Seems like Sanders and Biden are running neck and neck in the most recent polls. Seems like FOX and even Trump are pushing for Sanders to when the Iowa caucus because they think Trump can beat Sanders one to one.

    What do you think?

    I believe that a negative-campaign by the Republicans would make mincemeat out of Sanders. One photo of him standing next to someone with a Che Guevera t-shirt, and that would be the end of it.

    No matter who gets the Democratic nomination, Trump is going to paint him--or her--as a socialist. But I am thinking the power of that word is diminishing. Polls indicate that Millennials and Gen Zs are more liberal than previous generations. Millennials and Zs probably do not even know who Che Guevera is anymore. That is ancient history to them. Millennials and Zs are now the largest voting block--if (and it is a big IF) they turn out to vote.
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    stetson wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Seems like Sanders and Biden are running neck and neck in the most recent polls. Seems like FOX and even Trump are pushing for Sanders to when the Iowa caucus because they think Trump can beat Sanders one to one.

    What do you think?

    I believe that a negative-campaign by the Republicans would make mincemeat out of Sanders. One photo of him standing next to someone with a Che Guevera t-shirt, and that would be the end of it.
    I don’t think that would make the slightest difference. Anyone who knows who Che Guevara is already know that Sanders is a socialist.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    No matter who gets the Democratic nomination, Trump is going to paint him--or her--as a socialist. But I am thinking the power of that word is diminishing. Polls indicate that Millennials and Gen Zs are more liberal than previous generations. Millennials and Zs probably do not even know who Che Guevera is anymore. That is ancient history to them.

    Not just that, there's the fact the the Republicans have spent the past six decades painting anything and everything as "socialism". The reason your grandmother gets a social security check? "Socialism". Your poorer classmates get school lunches? "Socialism"! Millennials can now get group-rated health insurance without exclusions for pre-existing conditions? "Socialism, Socialism, SOCIALISM"!!! Why wouldn't Millennials be in favor of socialism when it's presented to them like that?
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    John Delaney has dropped out of the Democratic primary race.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Why wouldn't Millennials be in favor of socialism when it's presented to them like that?

    And if the topic of discussion were "Which candidate is going to carry the 18- 35 vote", you all might have a point.

    But the reason the Republicans have been saying all that for sixty years is because IT WORKS. Or at least, it works well enough for them to have controlled the presidency for more than half of those sixty years, when they're up against a candidate who's vulnerable on ideological grounds.

    Older age-brakets have higher turnout than younger(see Brexit), and of the geezers who were stupid enough to believe in 2004 that John Kerry had been a deserter in Vietnam, a lot are still going to be alive come November. And yeah, they probably know who Che Guevera was(or let's say Arafat, if the GOP needs someone more recent, and they can find a photo of Sanders at some pro-Palestinian rally somewhere in the 1980s.)

  • The thing about Sanders is that he's not going to get the nomination unless he gets new voters to the primaries. And if new voters turn out for the primaries, why wouldn't they swamp the November election too.

    Will someone please confirm that my first assertion is evidence based? I'm white-knuckling it here...
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    And if new voters turn out for the primaries, why wouldn't they swamp the November election too.

    Well, if I'm reading this correctly, you're arguing that if people turn out for the primaries, they're also likely to turn out for the election.

    Which is probably true, but then, the Republicans also have a lot of people who voted in THEIR primaries, and will likely vote in the election, PLUS GOP-leaners who didn't participarte in the primaries, but who can turn out for the election if something about the campaign(eg. "Sanders wants Reichian Orgasm machines in the schools!!") catches their interest.

    As well, you've also got right-leaning Democrats who might be put off by Sanders and switch to the GOP. Or people who just aren't excited by Sanders(though might've liked Biden), and will thus just not bother voting. Or any number of other variables(some of them favourable to Sanders, granted) that can come into play.

  • So you don't agree with the 'create a movement' method of gaining the Presidency?
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Obama won the presidency by creating a movement. He was not expected to win the crowded Iowa caucus, but he did. His momentum continued to build throughout the primary season. He was a genius at creating his brand. His motto stuck. He had a good team supporting him.

    Oh, I miss those days.
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    Obama won the presidency by creating a movement. He was not expected to win the crowded Iowa caucus, but he did. His momentum continued to build throughout the primary season. He was a genius at creating his brand. His motto stuck. He had a good team supporting him.

    Oh, I miss those days.
    He was elected, in part, because of the movement. But that was helped by his Republican predecessor starting two unpopular wars and having a recession begin under his term.
    No Democrat has his charisma and the economy* is doing well.

    * For certain measurements of doing well, of course.

  • I wonder how the Corona virus will change that calculation LB. Even I'm not a big enough bastard to wish that on the world just to get rid of Trump though.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    If anything the coronavirus will bolster nativist, nationalist, and xenophobic sentiment, thereby helping Trump. I’d have a hard time seeing it damage him politically.
  • I was thinking about a contracting economy.
  • Simon Toad wrote: »
    I wonder how the Corona virus will change that calculation LB. Even I'm not a big enough bastard to wish that on the world just to get rid of Trump though.
    The corona virus will have no appreciable effect on any economy, not even China's. Especially since a counter has already been developed and the normal flu kills far more people.
    What it has done, at least temporarily, is increased xenophobia.
  • Anything that fucks up people movement is bound to affect economies. What counter are you referring to?
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    I wonder how the Corona virus will change that calculation LB. Even I'm not a big enough bastard to wish that on the world just to get rid of Trump though.
    The corona virus will have no appreciable effect on any economy, not even China's. Especially since a counter has already been developed and the normal flu kills far more people.
    What it has done, at least temporarily, is increased xenophobia.

    I'm hoping for a cheaper hotel room in Sydney...
  • Apologies, I was mistaken about a counter. Still, it will not be a major factor in economic growth or stability.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    edited February 3
    .
  • I hope you're right, but doubt it.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    The corona virus will have no appreciable effect on any economy, not even China's.

    Chinese oil consumption is down ~20% so there's already some effect on the Chinese economy. Add in reduced mobility of people and goods plus a lot of economic resources diverted to one-time emergency uses and there's already an economic shock going on in China.

    My guess is that it will affect the U.S. economy on about the same order of magnitude as Trump's China tariffs, a shock to the system but a manageable one. (The Trump administration has paid out almost US$30 billion so far in subsidies to farmers affected by Trump's tariffs.)
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Still, it will not be a major factor in economic growth or stability.

    Got any support for this claim?

    According to the NY Times this morning, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/03/business/economy/SARS-coronavirus-economic-impact-china.html,
    International companies that rely on Chinese factories to make their products and depend on Chinese consumers for sales are already warning of costly problems.

    ...

    China’s economic growth is expected to slip this year to 5.6 percent, down from 6.1 percent last year, according to a conservative forecast from Oxford Economics that is based on the impact of the virus so far. That would, in turn, reduce global economic growth for the year by 0.2 percent, to an annual rate of 2.3 percent — the slowest pace since the global financial crisis a decade ago.

    Is there any other one thing that will reduce global economic growth by .02%? And that's based on what we know so far; it remains to be soon how bad this will get, and dollars to doughnuts the Chinese don't have or aren't giving out accurate numbers.
  • Those are minor changes only significant if they are sustained. Perhaps the sky is actually falling this time. I sincerely doubt it, though.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Today is the day of the Iowa caucuses, the first votes cast in the 2020 presidential nominations. So how does it work, you may rhetorically ask?

    Basically everyone shows up at a high school gymnasium or other large, public space at 7:00 pm Central Time (0100 UTC). Caucuses are open so any registered Iowa voter can participate. Republicans and Democrats hold their caucuses at the same time but at different locations so it's an either/or. (Yes, the Republicans are holding caucuses this year even though they have an incumbent president.)

    The caucus goers then sort themselves into groups at assembly points based on who they're supporting. There is also an assembly point for undecided caucusers. There's about 30 minutes of electioneering, with supporters of the various candidates trying to persuade those supporting other candidates, or the undecided, to come over to their candidate's assembly point. A first count is made and candidates whose support totals at least 15% of participants are considered "viable". Then there's another half-hour or so of electioneering, with the supporters of viable candidates trying to convince the supporters of non-viable candidates or the still undecided to caucus with them. Eventually a final count is made of the supporters of all viable candidates and this number is then reported to state party. This will determine who gets to send delegates to the county conventions (March 21), which will determine who gets to send delegates to the district conventions (April 25), which will determine who gets to send delegates to the state convention (June 13), which will decide whose delegates are going to the national convention (July 13-16). Simple!

    As you can tell from this description the caucus format is problematic in a number of ways. First and foremost, there's no secret ballot. Your support of a given candidate is obvious to everyone else who shows up, and anyone who's anxious in crowds or dislikes being badgered about candidate support will obviously be uncomfortable. Second, you have to have an hour or so of free time on a Monday evening to devote to this, plus any commuting time involved. There's no such thing as an "absentee ballot" in a caucus. You have to show up in person. This can be difficult, especially for those who are the primary caregivers of small children. Given the realities of the way American society usually assigns this kind of labor caucuses are disproportionately more difficult for women to attend. There have also been complaints from those with disabilities that caucus locations aren't always accessible to them. Members of the military assigned out of state also have trouble attending, though in recent years "telecaucuses" have been implemented for Iowans deployed out of state to participate in the caucus process.

    So what's at stake? On the Democratic side 41 delegates will be awarded proportionally among candidates who win at least 15% of the vote. There will be a total of 3,979 pledged delegates awarded during the Democratic primary process this year, with 1,990 delegates needed to win the nomination on the first ballot. So Iowa represents ~1% of all delegates, but it's very important in shaping a media narrative. Whoever comes out of the process with the most delegates will be hailed as the "frontrunner", at least until a week from Tuesday when New Hampshire holds its primary.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Two hours plus into the Iowa caucus and no outcomes yet.

    But is most interesting at this point is what are on Iowan minds:

    1) Health Care
    2) Climate Change
    3) Reproductive Rights
    4) Education
    5) Foreign Policy
  • That description of the caucus is horrifying. The news suggests they will be getting a record turnout. I just can't imagine how say 1000 people or so could come out of such a process unscathed. I mean, it would suit small communities, save for the backbiting later, but my God, what a bizarre process.

    Yes, I knew about it, I just hadn't thought about the experience before. Why do Americans make it so tough to participate in their democracy?
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Two hours plus into the Iowa caucus and no outcomes yet.

    The apparent cause of the delay is "an app designed, naturally, to make tallying and reporting caucus results easier". As if 2016 didn't provide enough reasons to cast doubt on any vote tallying system more complicated/automated than paper and pencil.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Twelve hours later and the results of the Iowa caucuses still isn't known. According to the Iowa Democratic Party "the "underlying data" collected on the smartphone app used to report caucus results "was sound" but the system was only reporting out partial data". This has led to a situation where all major candidates are declaring victory, even if it's only 'victory' in the 'we did much better than anyone else thought we would' sense of the term.

    The big loser from this debacle (aside from Iowa's first-in-the-nation status and caucus-style elections generally) is the Sanders campaign. Sanders was poised for victory and Iowa traditionally provides a media bounce out of all proportion to its delegate count. Now the only story coming out of Iowa is going to be about the colossal clusterfuck of the vote counting process. It's hard to feel sorry for the Sanders campaign though, since a lot of this is the result of arguments Sanders supporters made after 2016. They fought hard to maintain caucus-style elections, largely because Sanders did very well in those in 2016 versus his performance in more standard primary elections. They also wanted more transparency in the process, hence the new move in 2020 to report not just final delegate counts but also first and final vote tallies, which led to the implementation of this fatally flawed app.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    They also wanted more transparency in the process, hence the new move in 2020 to report not just final delegate counts but also first and final vote tallies, which led to the implementation of this fatally flawed app.

    I'm guessing that they didn't require that the app be flawed by design, so that's down to the procurement process or the lack of it.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Question: are the votes recorded on paper anywhere, or was the voting all direct to the app?

  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    They also wanted more transparency in the process, hence the new move in 2020 to report not just final delegate counts but also first and final vote tallies, which led to the implementation of this fatally flawed app.
    I'm guessing that they didn't require that the app be flawed by design, so that's down to the procurement process or the lack of it.

    The flawed app wasn't required, but it was an easily foreseeable outcome for reasons explained here.
    The Iowa disaster is just a classic IT fail. Users have a process they want to automate. It is a stupid process and they would be much better off changing their process to a more standard one, buying some off-the-shelf software that works, and perhaps customizing it. But noooo, we don’t want to do that. So instead, they create bespoke software for a process that’s very hard to test: it happens once every four years so they can’t really do a pilot project, because the software would be obsolete by the time the next caucus rolls around. On paper, I’m sure they had a backup plan, but as usual, a combination of optimism and focus on the new software makes the backup plan an afterthought at best.

    There was also allegedly only a half-hearted effort to train caucus staff in using this app, which is another big and obvious failure point.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    edited February 4
    stetson wrote: »
    Question: are the votes recorded on paper anywhere, or was the voting all direct to the app?

    According to the NY Times, there are paper records from each precinct, and the Iowa Democratic Party has sent people out to collect them. In previous years they've just had precinct leaders call in their results.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    The flawed app wasn't required, but it was an easily foreseeable outcome for reasons explained here.

    There was also allegedly only a half-hearted effort to train caucus staff in using this app, which is another big and obvious failure point.

    NPR is also reporting that the state party headquarters only had about twelve volunteers staffing the phone hotline that precincts could call their results into, if they had trouble submitting through the app. Twelve operators for 1600+ precincts...!

    Most of the election volunteers by me are 80+-year-old churchlady types, who are lovely people but mostly not very hip to technology. It sounds like they handed the Iowa counterpart of these ladies a poorly developed smartphone app without giving them any training sessions or help manual, told them to call the hotline if there was any trouble, and then were surprised when most of them decided to call the results in by phone. Who could possibly have predicted etc. etc.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    NPR is also reporting that the state party headquarters only had about twelve volunteers staffing the phone hotline that precincts could call their results into, if they had trouble submitting through the app. Twelve operators for 1600+ precincts...!

    I think that goes under the heading of "a combination of optimism and focus on the new software makes the backup plan an afterthought at best" from my previous post.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    The Iowa Democratic Party has said they'll have "more than 50%" of the results of the caucuses released by 4:00 pm Central Time today. My take on this is that releasing a partial result now is just going to make matters worse as far as credibility goes. The horse has left the barn, the ship has sailed, the bed cannot be unshat, etc. It's one thing to dribble out partial results on election night, but that time pressure is now gone and the only thing a partial result will do now is add fuel to conspiracy theories when the final result is released and it's different than the partial result (because the final numbers are always different than partial ones).
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    Crœsos wrote: »
    They also wanted more transparency in the process, hence the new move in 2020 to report not just final delegate counts but also first and final vote tallies, which led to the implementation of this fatally flawed app.
    I'm guessing that they didn't require that the app be flawed by design, so that's down to the procurement process or the lack of it.

    The flawed app wasn't required, but it was an easily foreseeable outcome for reasons explained here.

    I think 'easily forseeable' is doing a lot of work there; asking for changes in a process is somewhat different from one bunch of technocrats deciding that the way to satisfy those changes is to commission a different set of technocrats to create a piece of software which can't count properly - unless from now on everyone agitating for change is responsible when someone else half-arses that change.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    This whole mess puts me in mind of the Standard Response when one calls a tech support line, describes the problem, is given a solution which, when applied, fails utterly. Informing one's ever-helpful Tech Entity of the failure invariably elicits this: "Well, it should work."
  • Ohher wrote: »
    This whole mess puts me in mind of the Standard Response when one calls a tech support line, describes the problem, is given a solution which, when applied, fails utterly. Informing one's ever-helpful Tech Entity of the failure invariably elicits this: "Well, it should work."

    To an extent; but this could all have been done entirely without an app - an app wasn't compulsory.
  • As a slight tangent, the right wing rag I follow, National Review, is tying this Iowa thing to Hillary Clinton, on the grounds that the people who designed the app were her 'acolytes'. Please note I only read the headline.
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