Sunday, October 25, 2015

Trump path to White House likely through Florida and Ohio-Vanity Fair, Burstein

10/22/15, "Here’s Why Donald Trump Really Could Be Elected President," Vanity Fair, David Burstein

"Forget what the party elites and pundits have been saying—Trump has a pretty clear path to not just the Republican nomination, but also the White House."

"From Brentwood mansions to Embassy Row in Washington, D.C., the idea that Donald Trump could become president has alternately set off fits of laughter and terror. While some political insiders, including a growing number of establishment Republicans, concede that Trump could win the nomination, few believe that Trump could actually become president. But a close analysis of the political climate and electoral path to the presidency shows that the possibility of a Donald in chief is less far-fetched than people imagine. 

The establishment argument goes something like this: first, Trump will implode, owing to some stupid thing he says or does (so far no sign of this). Then, maybe he could win the nomination but ultimately voters will see what “we” (the elites) all see: he is unfit to be president and they will vote for an alternative. That argument might work well if elections were won by a national vote taken the year before the election, when the majority of people paying attention are political elites, plus a small number of people in early primary states. 

However, elections are won by achieving a mathematical number: 270 electoral votes. In that formula, Trump is just as competitive—and perhaps more soas either John McCain, in 2008, or Mitt Romney, in 2012. 

To be clear, at the moment Trump is the absolute and clear front-runner for the Republican nomination. Trump has been the front-runner longer and by a more significant margin than any of the many flameouts he is often compared to from past campaigns. Comments made by Trump, which would have tanked any other politician’s campaign, seem to bounce off him, and even make him more compelling to certain voters. 

Assuming Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, some inside the Beltway believe there is a possibility that she might win states like Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri, and Montana, which Obama won or only narrowly lost in 2008. But with Trump in the race, all of those states—which are more red than they were in ’08—are likely out for Democrats. 

Swing states like Colorado and Virginia are clear toss-ups. There are few states that Romney or McCain won where Trump, as the Republican nominee, wouldn’t be in the running, and an analysis of other key states shows that Trump’s in far better position than his detractors would like to admit. If Trump were to win every state that Romney won, Trump would stand today at 206 electoral votes, with 55 electoral votes up for grabs in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Hampshire. Similarly, Trump does not necessarily lose in a single toss-up state versus Hillary Clinton and, in fact, is seemingly competitive in many

Virginia is trending blue, but could be a toss-up, particularly given the tale of Dave Brat, whose success in 2014 could be read as a harbinger of Trump. Colorado will have high Republican turnout, given that it is home to what’s likely to be one of the country’s most contested Senate races—which could make it more competitive than it should be, considering Trump’s comments about Latinos. Depending on how well Trump shows in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, they too could be in play. In two of the remaining states, Wisconsin and Nevada, any Democratic nominee will have an upper hand—particularly Clinton. But Trump will be able to effectively contest, particularly in a place like Wisconsin, with working-class white voters who elected Scott Walker three times in four years. Finally, Pennsylvania, which has been leaning ever-more blue and will likely go blue this year, will nonetheless require Clinton to spend some resources and time there—taking away from her efforts in other swing states. 

Which all means that the election comes down to Florida and Ohio, two states where Trump has significant advantages. In Florida (29 electoral votes), he is a part-time resident and is polling better than the state’s former governor and sitting U.S. senator. He’s also currently neck and neck with Clinton in polls of the state’s likely voters. The state’s important Hispanic population is more skewed toward people of Cuban rather than Mexican ancestry—some of whom may not be as turned off by Trump’s anti-Mexican immigration comments as Hispanics in other states. The Florida voting population includes a high percentage of evangelicals (a group with whom Trump seems to have had baffling success).

Let’s also not forget Florida’s troubled history around running elections properly, which includes not just the Bush v. Gore campaign of 2000, but regularly some of the longest lines and most egregious cases of disenfranchisement of minority voters anywhere in the country."...

[Ed. note: Democrats won Florida in 2008 and 2012. Is the  author suggesting those elections were "troubling"? No links provided for author's claim of ongoing offenses. No mention that early voting, ie, voting weeks ahead of election day, is popular in Florida and has obviated "longest lines" on election day.]

(continuing): "Plus, it currently has a Republican governor, and Republican majorities in both of its state legislatures. 

In Ohio (18 electoral votes), it’s a similar story. Unions, which have long helped Democrats succeed in Ohio, are growing weaker nationwide. Trump has obvious appeal to Reagan Democrats with his “make America great again” message. As in Florida, polls indicate that he’s almost tied with Clinton in Ohio. Trump’s additional appeal here is his brand of aspirational wealth. While there is debate over his actual net worth, for millions of everyday Americans across the country, Donald Trump is synonymous with wealth and success. As was brilliantly shown in a focus group of New Hampshire voters, Trump’s resonance with today’s version of the American Dream is hugely aspirational for people who are unemployed and financially hurting. And it stands in contrast to other candidates releasing economic white papers.

One of the great mysteries of Trump’s success thus far is that, even though he is far wealthier than Romney, hardly any of the attack lines used against Romney about his wealth have stuck on Trump. Through the campaign to date, Trump has been able to brand himself as a truth-teller and “just one of us,” which presents a major advantage in a cycle where average voters are craving authenticity

Donald Trump also has two secret weapons, and it remains to be seen if he will be able to use them effectively. The first is the ability to write a multi-million-dollar check for his own campaign. So far, Trump has worked a minor miracle—running for president, leading the polls for three months, and doing it all on the cheap. He raised just under $4 million last quarter, putting him ahead of his favorite “loser,” Rand Paul, and his largest expenditure was $400,000 on hats and T-shirts. Wisely, he is not spending money where he doesn’t need to. 

But when and if he does need to spend, particularly if he’s leading and winning, it’s highly likely he will. We’ve never had a true billionaire as a major-party nominee, and the campaign value there cannot be understated. 

The second secret weapon Trump has at his disposal is an underrated potential to turn out massive numbers of new voters. Trump truly is “yuuge.” He has an audience that follows him from network to network, and he’s seemingly gotten more people to tune into debates than ever. Almost every time he appears on a TV show, the program experiences a massive ratings jump. He gave Jimmy Fallon one of his highest-rated episodes since his debut

While very few real celebrities (sorry, Clay Aiken) have run for office, those who have possess a compelling track record: Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Al Franken, Sonny Bono. Trump would, in fact, be one of the best-known celebrities ever to run for public office (as of July, Trump’s name ID was 92 percent, roughly the same as Clinton’s).

Across the country, and in Florida and Ohio in particular, Trump is well positioned to turn out new voters. He’s been adept at using social media to engage new supporters. But while social media can turn people on, it alone cannot turn people out. To actually bring potential Trump voters to the polls will require a sophisticated digital and data operation and a massive registration campaign."...

[Ed. note: This is already underway: "Long-time Republican strategists and politicians in Iowa and Washington, however, said Trump was rewriting the political grassroots rulebook, matching his ground game with celebrity appeal in a campaign that has the mechanics down and is striking a nerve”." 10/8/15, "'The goal is to be the winner': Donald Trump's campaign is for real," UK Guardian, Ben Jacobs in Keene, NH. ]
(continuing): "Candidates like Clinton and Bush are building those efforts now—and have been for months. At least as of his most recent F.E.C. report, Trump has not started building this team, and the talent who would be needed to work on such a project may no longer be available.

But as Trump would remind us, he knows the best people, he has so much money, and he has the best negotiating tactics in the world. While I’m not predicting Donald Trump will win the presidency, it’s time for us all to realize that President Trump is not only not implausible—it’s very possible."
"David Burstein is the founder and C.E.O. of Run for America. He is also the author of Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaping Our World, the first broad book about the millennial generation, written by a millennial. These are his personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of Run for America." via commenter at TCTH

Image caption: "Photo-Illustration by Ben Park; By Scott Olson (Trump in newspaper), Spencer Platt (Clinton), Kena Betancur (Trump), all from Getty Images."


Added: The author's concern about the integrity of Florida elections may be eased with the knowledge that a group that usually observes elections in "third world" countries began monitoring Florida elections in 2002. Following are citations for OSCE monitoring of Florida elections. Further on the general topic are examples of absentee-ballot request fraud in Florida, and double voting involving Florida and New York State, Florida and Georgia, and Florida and North Carolina:

2002 Florida elections (including Jeb Bush seeking re-election as governor) were monitored by 10 international observers from OSCE at the invitation of the US government:

(parag. 6): "The race was under extraordinary scrutiny for another reason: State and county officials spent millions on new touchscreen voting machines after the 2000 presidential election marred by chads, recounts and court fights. Justice Department observers were posted at some polls, as were specialists in watching Third World elections."...

Per OSCE website, they've monitored five US presidential and midterm elections since then including 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012. For example, for the Nov. 4, 2008 presidential election, "47 long-term observers deployed to a total of 40 states."

2004 AP article re: OSCE monitoring of Florida in 2002:
8/10/2004, "U.S. invites international observers to Nov. election," AP via USA Today, Warsaw, Poland

"The United States has invited international observers to monitor November's presidential election, U.S. and European officials said Tuesday. 

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, said it received the request from the U.S. State Department and would send a team to the United States next month to determine whether to accept the task.
The United States is a member of the 55-nation group, which has traditionally focused on monitoring elections in emerging democracies.
Adam Ereli, a State Department deputy spokesman, said the OSCE sent 10 observers to the 2002 elections in Florida and two observers to California during the gubernatorial recall election in 2003. 

He said OSCE observers also had been invited to elections in 1998 and 2000 but that the State Department believes the 2002 elections were the first they observed. He said having observers is part of a principle of "equity and full transparency."
"My understanding is that it was an outgrowth of, if we are going to do it for emerging democracies, we also need to do it for ourselves," Ereli said."...

Citation for Florida 2002 election monitored by group that usually observes "third world elections:"

11/4/2002, "Jeb Bush Makes History In Florida," AP via CBS News, Jaime Holguin


"The Iowa secretary of state threatened on Tuesday to arrest election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe if they come within 300 feet of polling places. Texas issued a similar warning last week."...
2012-Iowa doesn't allow international voting monitors:
10/31/2012, "Iowa to poll-watchers: Back off," Politico, Bobby Cervantes
"My office met with two delegation representatives last week to discuss Iowa’s election process, and it was explained to them that they are not permitted at the polls,” Schultz said in a statement. Iowa law is very specific about who is permitted at polling places, and there is no exception for members of this group.”"...

Two absentee ballot schemes in Florida that happened to get caught:

Online absentee ballot scheme found in Florida, sought to effect 2012 elections: 

10/20/2013, "Ex-aide to Miami Rep. Joe Garcia to head to jail in absentee-ballot case," Miami Herald, Patricia Mazzei

"Congressman Joe Garcia’s former chief of staff will head to jail for orchestrating a fraudulent, online absentee-ballot request scheme during last year’s (2012) elections....

A grand jury convened by State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle revealed in December that the Miami-Dade elections department had flagged thousands of fraudulent online ballot requests — the handiwork of an apparent computer hacker — during last year’s elections.

The Herald’s subsequent analysis found that 2,552 requests had been made over a 2½-week period during the summer."...

[The article says no ballots were actually cast from the scheme.]


Illegal absentee ballot bundling in Florida:

10/8/2013, "Alleged Miami-Dade Absentee Ballot Fraudster Agrees To A Plea Deal," Hufffington Post

"A Miami-Dade resident accused of absentee ballot fraud has accepted a plea deal, the Miami Herald reports.

Alleged boletera Deisy Cabrera stood accused of illegally collecting at least 31 absentee ballots for local elections last August. As part of a deal for one year of probation, according to the Herald, a felony charge of absentee ballot fraud was dropped. Instead, Cabrera reportedly pled no contest to two misdemeanor charges of possessing more than two ballots."...


Examples of double voting involving Florida, 2004 reports:

1. Florida and NY State:

In the 2000 presidential election between 400 and 1,000 people voted in both Florida and New York State, per NY Daily News report. "Of the 46,000 registered in both states, 68% are Democrats, 12% are Republicans and 16% didn't claim a party."

2. Florida and Georgia, Florida and North Carolina:

"The Orlando Sentinel found that 68,000 Florida voters are also registered in Georgia or North Carolina (the only two states it checked), 1,650 of whom voted twice in 2000 or 2002."
"Voting twice has generally been one of those...crimes that are rarely prosepcuted." 

10/28/2004, "People Who Vote Twice," Slate, Bill Gifford


2004 NY Daily News article re Fla.-NY double voting:

8/22/2004, "EXPOSED: SCANDAL OF DOUBLE VOTERS 46,000 registered to vote in city and Fla.," NY Daily News, by

"Computer records analyzed by The News don't allow for an exact count of how many people vote in both places, because millions of names are regularly purged between elections. But The News found that between 400 and 1,000 registered voters have voted twice in at least one election...  

The News' investigation also found: Of the 46,000 registered in both states, 68% are Democrats, 12% are Republicans and 16% didn't claim a party. Nearly 1,700 of those registered in both states requested that absentee ballots be mailed to their home in the other state, where they are also registered. But that doesn't raise red flags with officials in either place. Efforts to prevent people from registering and voting in more than one state rely mostly on the honor system."...


As of 2004, Florida had no way to track double voting. "Interstate cross checks" aren't widely used:

8/25/2004, "Florida has a statewide database that can show whether someone has registered to vote in more than one county, but it cannot compare voter rolls between states."

"Report: Many are voters in both New York, Florida," St. Petersburg Times



No comments: