Monthly Archives: January 2017

Worried About American Carnage? Pussy Wry It.

Well, that was an interesting week. Donald John Trump’s administration got off to a galloping start with American carnage, riots, massive world-wide protests, a press secretary hissy fit, and bald ass lies getting a terminological upgrade to “alternative facts.” And that was just the first 48 hours. Still to come was news that his national security adviser is being investigated by a raft of intelligence agencies, official confirmation that, promises be damned, he will not release his tax returns, renewed evidence-free claims of massive election fraud, a speech to the CIA, the basic precis of which is “everything is the media’s fault,” and a complete meltdown of diplomatic relations with Mexico. And this is just a partial list of the mind-boggling accomplished in a first week of shenanigans. Not sure where this is all going, but whatever else the Trump era is going to be, it ain’t gonna be boring.

The tone was pretty much set by the first big fight the Trump administration picked, which was more or less immediate. Bewilderingly, the kick off donnybrook was with the media over the size of the crowd at his inauguration. Both Trump and his press secretary were quick to put out schnozzolla-enlarging claims of inaugural attendance. These buried the needle so deep on the pointless fib meter it precipitated something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime:  the national press corps rallying as one around the damp dish rag of its long sullied honor. Even Fox News—I’ll repeat that, Fox News—started beating up on the Trumpkins for telling whoppers.

Fox’s Chris Wallace taking Reince Priebus to the crock-flingers woodshed, and Kellyanne Conway trial-ballooning “alternative facts” to a gobsmacked Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press makes for priceless viewing, but it also leaves me scratching my head. Why would the White House start piddling away its pretty limited supply of credibility on such a piffling issue? Aren’t there more important and substantive things for a president to spend his political capital on? I mean, seriously, in the greater scheme of things who cares what size it was? Well, apparently the president does. Clearly, it’s really, really, I mean super-double-and-triple-tweet-worthy important, that everyone admits his is bigger. No wonder the media had a collective primal scream this week. The next Sean Spicer presser may bring an announcement about the new White House Office of Willy Waving, no doubt to be run by 6-foot-5-inch Richard “Big Dick” Johnson.

Some of the truly sophomoric attempts to counter media reports on crowd numbers (which, by the way I hereby name “flock blocking”), seemed to be driven by the day-after reaction to Trump’s inauguration. I talk, of course, of the women’s march of January 21st. There isn’t an official total of the number who took to the streets sporting pink “pussy hats” to state, in no uncertain terms, that a goodly percentage of the electorate—maybe even most of an entire gender–is unhappy with their chief executive. These protests went world-wide, and, fair enough, that level of immediate in-your-chops rejection had to sting if you are a Trump fan. No one, though, had enough alternative fact chutzpah to contradict the story that millions more were willing to take to the street and swear at the president than the fraction who were willing to show up to see him sworn in. Trump flaks contented themselves with saying things like, “well, I just don’t see the point.” This from people getting into a massive, multiple news cycle whizzing matches over whose was bigger, Trump’s or Obama’s. Excuse me while I go join Chris and Chuck for a cathartic scream.

I suspect that a lot of last-minute motivation to participate in the women’s march was actually provided by Trump himself in his unorthodox inauguration speech. Inauguration speeches have almost universally been employed to unify, to lay out a set of uplifting goals that all Americans can embrace and feel good about. Trump promised to end American carnage, put America first, and end the rule of the chiselers and pettifoggers who run DC. He basically dropped trou and mooned the four ex-presidents behind him who apparently had American interests on the tail end of their priority lists, shot the bird at the lawmakers he’ll need to get anything done about all that dystopian carnage, and told our allies to go stuff themselves. His populist base basically went, “yeah, baby, that’s what I’m talking about!” Media commentator jaws thudded into the ground. Europeans freaked. Vladimir Putin cheered. China started measuring up the global influence suite the United States is apparently vacating. And roughly 1 out of every 100 Americans said, “gimme me a sign and a pink hat, I’m takin’ it to the streets.”

Some went further than that.  A hard core group of anti-Trumpdiehards rioted on inauguration day and looted a DC Starbucks because, well, who the hell knows what strain of addled logic motivates the left’s self-appointed stormtroopers. Probably has to do with mango frappucino micro-aggressions or some such twaddle. And even the women’s march—by and large commendably peaceful and even playful—had its moments. There were arguments about whether pro-life women should be included, and there was the usual ration of “my group is more of a victim than yours” bellyaching that accompanies pretty much any attempt at collective action by sympathizers of the Democratic Party (official party motto: “We’re all in this together, except you, you, and you, but that’s okay because differences are good, except when we don’t like them because they’re bad, and if you think this motto is a meandering hot mess of contradictory humbug you should see our policy agenda”).

That said, for at least a day the left largely set aside its reflexive drive to splinter into multiple political identities and stayed on message. What was the message? Basically, “we can count, Mr. President, and the numbers on our political abacus just met your alternative facts in a dark alley and let’s just say something didn’t add up.” Any way you cut it that was a pretty damn impressive display of mass political action. Certainly enough to spritz a dash of cold water on the celebratory revels being enjoyed by certain elected officials of a certain political party who were already nervously dodging constituent inquiries on the whole ACA/Obamacare thing.

If it achieves nothing else the march provided a template for how to peacefully and forcefully react to an administration making zippo concession to its lack of popular vote cred and brazenly getting its autocratic flirt on. Act in numbers, stick together and, whenever possible, make your point with humor rather than anger.  How do you deal with all that American carnage? Lots of pink cats and droll feline double entendres appears to do the trick. That’s right, pussy wry it.


The Dawn of the Donald Gives Government the Business

And we’re off. Inauguration means the dawn of the Donald is officially underway and so we begin an unpresidented four-year experiment in indulging our collective tweet-truth.  What does that mean? Well, according to the president’s supporters it’s a have-cake-and-eat-it sort of deal. With Trump delivering the civic confectionary we can forget about all that eat-your-veggies compromise and dig straight into the gooey satisfaction of a populist dessert. Sweet.

Sugary metaphors aside, the ascension of Donald John Trump to the office of president really is about to give us an empirical test of a hypothesis fervently held by many Americans. It’s anchored in the theory that the problem with politics is politicians, and the solution is to get some outsider titan of commerce into the POTUS position. Someone untainted by, you know, any actual experience with government. A guy like that will fix things, bang heads, cut deals, slap some sense into the poltroons of the ruling class and, yada, yada, yada, American will be great again.

Americans, bless ‘em, have this unshakable faith that if only government was run more like a business, or at least run by business-types, things would be better. This leaves a lot of us who earn a crust studying government scratching our heads. For one thing, businesses and business-types do not exactly boast sterling reputations of administrative probity and competence. There’s the Bernie Madoffs, the Enrons, the BPs, the Wells Fargos and hundreds of other easily located examples of MBA-equipped mountebanks and maladroits.  Indeed, watching Wall Street carnivores feeding off the carcasses of middle class bank accounts leaves us unclear on what exactly is supposed to ooze out of the self-interested vacuum of money grubbing and magically salve the ills of governance. Well, whatever it is, judging by the wake of bankruptcies, lawsuits and unpaid vendors the Engulf and Devour Trump empire has left in its wake, the prez clearly has it spades. Plus, given that his cabinet is dominated by billionaire commerce marauders, we can safely say the entire government is about to get slathered with the stuff.

Anyway, near as I can tell the general idea that government is better run as a business and by business people is anchored in the notion that the private sector is the source of all prosperity, wealth and happiness, while government is just a sucker-fish parasite that sits leech-like on the market’s invisible hand, siphoning off the good stuff to fund handouts for free riders and welfare soaks. So the trick is to chase off the sponging affluence extractors skulking around DC looking for taxpayers to scam, and replace them with some can-do job generators. This business-good, government-bad conviction is remarkably resistant to contradictory evidence. You know, like Wall Street periodically chucking us all into the economic crapper, an event usually followed by CEOs covering up their good government decoder rings and blubbering for public bailouts.

Never mind all that, though. The big reason us government scholars are puzzled by the resolute faith citizens place in business acumen as a public sector operating model is this: Government isn’t a business. Indeed, from a business perspective running a representative democratic government must look loony. Imagine if the heads of GM or Apple couldn’t do a damn thing unless a pretty random collection of 435 busybodies with no particularly relevant expertise first had to okay it. Then another 100 buttinksies had to have a blowhard kerfuffle and take a vote. Then a sub-set of both flocks of fussbudgets had to come together to iron out any differences, draft some middle-ground accord that papered over a lot of dissent, and then get that contract to kvetch some minimal level of majority support from both sets of meddlesome mobs.

And, on top of that, imagine there’s fifty sub-divisions of this commercial enterprise that are critical to corporate prosperity, all with similar decision-making mechanisms and, like as not, deciding they most certainly are not going along with directives from dimwits at the head office. Honestly, if business were run like a democracy we’d still be driving Chevy Vegas and Steve Jobs would have spent a lot less time pushing his iPads and a lot more pulling his iPud.

Running a democracy is simply different from running a business because they are designed to do very different things. Businesses exist to make dough, and if they don’t they won’t exist for very long. A democratic government is established to give any old Donald, Dick or Obama a chance to stick their oar in on stuff they probably know very little about, and do it pretty much forever regardless of what dumb things they come up with. Yes, that’s a ludicrous basis for governance, but somewhat surprisingly it has repeatedly proven itself to be a less ludicrous basis for governance than any other system tried. Unsurprisingly, democratic government and commerce require different administrative skill sets and have very different yardsticks for judging success. In business a good CEO is someone with a strong bottom line. In government, a good CEO is someone with a strong bottom, something that can be booted hard by the electorate and absorb the kicker’s intentions to start a mob or set fire to disagreeable constitutional codicils.

Which brings me back to Trump. I haven’t the foggiest what sort of businessman he is. Opinion seems to be pretty divided. The two basic viewpoints are that he’s either a business genius (this certainly seems to be his evaluation), or a gimcrack flim-flam merchant with a savant gift for gab. Regardless, here’s what I do know: his acuity for commerce is going to have minimal relevance for his ability to govern. Being good at making money doesn’t have much to do with making good public policy. Herbert Hoover was a boffo businessman and a bush-league president. Harry Truman was a serial failure in business, but a White House major leaguer.

So having government slurp down the sugary soda of Trump’s incontinent populism might whizz out a worthy program or two (anything’s possible), but those vesting any faith in the idea that his business cred will help him hit the sweet spot as a policymaker are likely to be disappointed.  Trump has never had to deal with the sorts of decision making processes that define representative democracy, i.e. processes that by deliberate design are colossally inefficient, decentralized, have vague goals, murky bottom lines and, above all, are much more suited to doing nothing than something.  That’s not something business really prepares you for and no amount of 140-character gossip grenades is going to cover that up. Those candy-covered tweets might taste good, but neither they nor a business record are likely to provide balanced nourishment for the republic.



What’s Your Vote Worth? The Bang for the Ballot Poll Parity Index

The currency of representative democracy is the vote and, at least in theory, we all have the same amount of electoral dough. You, me, Bill Gates and that bum on the street walk to the polls with the same balance in our democratic checkbooks, free to spend our matching funds of republican capital as we wish.

Well, that’s the theory. In reality, of course, our votes are like the oinkers in Animal Farm. Some votes, like some pigs, are more equal than others. What’s your vote really worth? I’ll get to the specifics, but to start with it depends on where you are and who you are. Geography and political partialities combine to create different markets for votes, and those inequalities create arbitrage opportunities that make suckers of some and a tidy political profit for others.

As the party of capitalism, it’s no surprise that Republicans do the better job of taking advantage of market opportunities. If extracting power out of a vote is like squeezing a quarter, the GOP’s vise-like grip is propelling Washington’s false teeth right out of his mouth and into the eagle’s ass on the other side. Democrats, true to their spendthrift reputations, spend votes like sozzled sailors, wake up with electoral hangovers, and think arbitrage is the brand of dodgy bourbon currently corroding their synapses (“give me an arbitrage and coke, I’m gettin’ my vote on.”)

Republicans have what is known in the trade as “greater voting efficiency,” which in English means the GOP gets a bigger electoral bang for the ballot than the Dems. For example, it cost roughly 205,000 Republican votes to “buy” an electoral vote for Donald Trump. It cost Democrats roughly 283,000 votes to nab one of those suckers for Hillary, and after paying 38 percent more per unit they turned around and piddled away five of them on the bright shiny distraction of protest votes. Bernie Sanders, Colin Powell and Faith Spotted Eagle all wound up with one of these expensive honors thanks to Dem electors, and I’m sure all three secretly thought Democrats should maybe lay off the arbitrage a little.

Electoral votes are fire-sale cheap compared to Senate seats, and it’s here that we really start to see Republicans clocking the double discount while Democrats get rooked. In 2016 Republicans coughed up a skosh over 1.7 million votes for each of the 22 United States Senate seats they won. The Dems splashed out an average of 3.8 million votes for a Senate win, and at those prices it’s no wonder they could only afford to buy a dozen rotunda rats. Calculated on a vote-per-seat basis the electoral system was charging the Dems a 200 percent-plus premium over its GOP customers. The invisible hand of our civic market is clearly dapping the GOP and diddling the Democrats big time.

The long and short of it is that a Democratic vote is not worth the same as a Republican vote because it simply does not have the same federal purchasing power. There’s a couple of reasons for this, some of which I’ve already yammered on at length about. States with Lilliputian populations, for example, wield disproportionate influence over the Senate and Electoral College because of apportionment rules, and the GOP has more of them. The GOP also controlled more state legislatures over the past decade, and has used those platforms to gerrymander the snot out of House districts. In Pennsylvania, for example, Democrats scooped up more than half of the state-wide votes for major party House candidates in 2016, but only won a quarter (5 of 18) of the seats. It takes serious partisan chutzpah to pull off that sort of cartographic legerdemain and have the resulting gaggle of sham-district pols toddle off to DC and make will-of-the-people noises, but there you are.

It was actually Pennsylvania that got me thinking what about what a vote was worth. Statewide, Pennsylvania Democrats spent an average 525,000 votes to purchase a single House seat, and Republicans spent about 189,500. The ratio of those two numbers is .36, which means in terms of purchasing power in the House of Representatives, a Democratic vote in PA was worth a paltry 36 percent of a Republican vote. Similar ratios are easily calculated for all states, and I’ve done that in the table below, which reports what I call the Bang for the Ballot Poll Parity Index or BBPPI. I call the acronym “Beepee” for short because it sounds sort of naughty in a juvenile way and so fits the current suck-my-thumb-and-wail state of politics. Oklahoma’s got a teeny Beepee, heh, heh.

*–Average votes for Republican House win / average votes for Democratic House win
#– Average votes for Democratic House win / average votes for Republican House win

Blue states in this table are where Democratic votes are worth more than GOP votes. So, for example, Maryland’s .24 means that a Republican vote there is worth about a quarter of a Democratic vote in terms of its ability to acquire representation in the House. The red states flip the numerator and denominator, so they show how much a Democratic vote is worth compared to a Republican vote. So, for example in Florida, a Democratic vote is worth about a quarter of a Republican vote. The yellow states are places these ratios is more or less 1, in other words they are states where the purchasing power of votes is equal.

A lot of the zeros in the red and blue columns represent pocket-sized constituencies, small population states that only have one House district. In those states one party is always going to end up with zippo House seats, so we shouldn’t get too bent out of shape that Beepees for, say, Vermont and South Dakota show a GOP goose egg in the former and Democratic bupkis in the latter. Still, note there are a number of zero Beepee states with three or more House seats dominated by one party. For example, Democrats got about a third of major party votes in Kansas and didn’t win any of that state’s four House contests. Most of these one-party states are Republican, places where Democrats represent a non-trivial fifth to a third of the voters who effectively have worthless ballots in House races.

The Beepees make a couple of things clear. First, the number of states with actual ballot parity is depressingly small. Only in New York, Arizona and Maine are the vote of a Republican and the vote of a Democrat equal in terms of their ability to buy representation in the so-called people’s House. In just about every other state, the House delegation exaggerates—often by a walloping margin—a party advantage. Some of this is undoubtedly due to how partisan votes are naturally scattered across a state. A lot of it, with even less doubt, is attributable to districts jiggered so politicians can pick their voters rather than letting voters pick their politicians.

Second, in the contest for splattering topological taint on the one-person one-vote yardstick, the GOP is clearly doing a better job than the Democratic Party. The Dems sure have their outposts of democratic duplicitousness, including some big kahuna delegation states like California and Illinois. But any way you slice it there’s a lot more red than blue on this list. On average it’s better to be a Republican voting in a Democratic state (mean Beepee = .40) than a Democrat voting in a Republican state (mean Beepee = .33). Republican votes are worth more even in places where they’re not worth much.

So what’s your vote worth? If you’re a Republican in Texas or a Democrat in California, rejoice. Your vote is worth appreciably more than the suckers toting electoral water for the other party. If you’re anyone in Arizona or Maine, be happy with the knowledge your vote actually meets that rare me-you-Bill-Gates-and-the-bum ideal. But a stonking swath of the electorate is drawing the geographic short end of party parity. For you lot, and there’s definitely a lot of you, my condolences. Now everyone can take a peek at your Beepee and know just how small it is.


A Majority Government Elected by a Minority

H.L. Mencken once described democracy as the idea that the people should get what they want and, “get it good and hard.” That seems about half right. The 115th Congress kicked off this week with a Republican majority pledging to bring the wood. Repeal Obamacare, revoke Planned Parenthood’s funding, rewrite Dodd-Frank—if the GOP makes good on half its vows this is going to be the most give-it-to-the-people Congress in two decades. Problem is, there’s not much evidence that the people actually wanted this, and even less that they wanted Republicans running the show.

It’s common knowledge, of course, that the bitter Twitter critter soon to be nesting in the White House was, by a near 3 million vote margin, the voters’ second choice.  Luckily for him, the will of the people don’t mean beans to the Electoral College, which blew one of its periodic raspberries to democratic humbug like majoritarian citizen preferences. Democrats still aren’t sure whether to attach hope or despair to the popular vote win, but either way the numbers inarguably add up to the fact that most voters wanted a different president from the one they got.

What’s been given less attention is that the voters weren’t exactly full-throated in wanting a Republican-controlled Congress either. I know this because in between downing my ration of holiday calories and festive libations I made it my business to go get official election result data for every congressional election, from all 50 states’ secretaries of state or election boards.* What can I say, I’m a nerd.

I’ve been prodding those numbers for a couple of days, and it’s pretty clear that whatever the American people wanted in a national legislature, they didn’t get that, either. I don’t mean to imply shady shenanigans of the sort hinted at by certain windswept-coiffed incoming presidents or slap-happy Green Party nominees. Nope. The Republican Party won its congressional majorities totally within the rules of our electoral system. The lawful legitimacy of their governmental dominance is not in question (and for those still yammering otherwise, do us all a favor and just get over it—time to stop squealin’ and start dealin’). The democratic legitimacy of gang GOP, though, is another matter.

How can a democratically elected government—elected fair and square by the rules of the system—have questions raised about its democratic legitimacy? Well, if you zoom down to the individual district/state level, you can’t really raise that question. Down in those trenches, Republicans and Democrats went head to head and, generally speaking, the Dems got their butt kicked. Rather than looking at what happened down in the Fourth Gerrymander of state X, though, zoom out and take a look at how the American people as whole cast their ballot. What you find there just doesn’t line up with the government that supposedly represents them.  It’s not even close.

Here are the basic numbers for the United States Senate: In 2016 there were 34 seats up for election, the Republicans won 22 and the Democrats, 12. Republicans scored this smashing victory by getting roughly 7 million fewer votes than Democratic senate candidates.  The total GOP vote haul for Senate was about 38.4 million, nowhere near the roughly 46 million received by Democratic Senate hopefuls. This all translates to Republicans getting 65 percent of the seats available in return for only 46 percent of the votes cast. Stick that in your democratic hookah and suck on it.

How can this be? Well, an obvious part is that Senate districts are states, which have wildly different populations. Republican John Thune only needed 265,000 votes to win in South Dakota. Democrat Kate McGinty got more than ten times that number of votes in Pennsylvania. And lost. If Republicans have the edge in less populous states, and in most cases they do, as a group they can have a lot less voters backing them and find themselves with a comfy majority of seats.

Still, even accounting for that and the fact that incumbents running for Senate in 2016 were mostly Republican (incumbents, all else equal, tend to win), something seems a bit off here. And it is. What is off is California, a population behemoth and deep Democratic blue. Kamala Harris won that Senate race with 7.5 million votes, but she was running against a fellow Democrat—Loretta Sanchez who notched 4.5 million votes. I did not include Sanchez’s votes in my grand tallies of Republican and Democratic totals, so that’s not tipping the scale. But because of California’s goofy blanket primary system there was no Republican Senate candidate in the general election, so the Republicans score a big goose egg in the most vote-rich state in the union. Even a Republican loser was likely to stitch up several million votes in a state as big as California.

So those with Republican loyalties might say an adjustment is warranted here. If we just drop California and deduct Harris’ 7.5 million from the Democratic column, their total drops from 45.9 million to 38.5 million, so roughly the same total as Republicans got.  But even if we just punt Cally from the tally the GOP still gets a massive return on voting investment—basically two-thirds of the seats for the half the ballots cast. That, of course, ignores the counter-argument that Democrats might favor:  If Republicans can’t scrounge up enough support to make it out of a competitive primary, too bad, so sad, and by all rights we should add Sanchez’s total rather than deducting Harris’. If you lean that way, the adjustment is now that Dems snagged roughly eleven million more votes than Republicans. And still got their clocks cleaned. Majorities obviously ain’t all democracy cracks them up to be.

Here’s the numbers on the House. All 435 seats were up for election and Republican candidates totaled roughly 63.7 million votes, which must come as sweet democratic relief to the GOP because it’s actually more than the 61.2 million who voted Democratic. Yes, unlike their colleagues in the White House and the Senate, House Republicans can actually claim to have the backing of national majority. This majority is, proportionally speaking, still a little exaggerated in terms of seats won—Republicans got 51 percent of the vote, but 55.4 percent of the available seats. Still, in at least one of the elective branches here is unassailable evidence that the people wanted the GOP in control, right?

Well, hold on, hoss. That depends. If we do a “California” and exclude races in which Republicans ran unopposed or against another Republican (other states besides California have goofy candidate selection systems), their total drops by roughly five million … giving Democrats the national majority. Of course, if we exclude races where Dems ran unopposed, they lose roughly six million and the Reps shoot into a commanding national vote lead. Rather than argue about this, I’m opting to just go with the raw numbers. Bottom line, the GOP took the House with a 51-49 percent squeaker in the national vote.

So if we take the American people as a whole, this is what they voted for: a Democratic president by a two or three point margin, a Democratic Senate by roughly a ten point margin, and a Republican House by a one or two point margin. If we toss together votes for president, senate and house, Republican candidates got roughly 165 million votes, Democratic candidates got roughly 173 million. In other words, if the will of the people is expressed through their votes, what the people wanted was a government that was largely—or even entirely–controlled by Democrats. What they got was Republicans in control of everything. Again, I emphasize, there’s nothing shady about this in a rules or legal sense. Neither the Senate, the House or the presidency are elected as a whole by the people—they are elected by states or by subdivisions thereof. And what majorities at the state or district level do not necessarily add up to majorities of the people as a whole.

Still, those national numbers do raise a valid concern about democratic legitimacy of what’s about to go down. This Congress, and certainly the incoming president, were not backed by a majority of those who bothered to cast a vote in 2016. They do not represent the will of the American people as whole and, at least in terms of national vote totals, are a minority government. Which is not good. Dems obviously should be pretty steamed about this—they got the most votes, but zilcho in terms of power to show for it. But it’s a concern for Republicans too. They are full-bore committed to using their power to implement an aggressive conservative/populist policy agenda which, anyway you slice and dice the numbers, was not comprehensively endorsed by voters in 2016. Indeed, you can make a pretty solid empirical case that it was systematically rejected.

So there’s a big gamble here for the GOP. If they get their agenda through and it works, they can say, “see, told you things would be better under us,” and have a good shot at having it retrospectively approved by a grateful electorate. If it doesn’t, they basically are a minority government that strong-armed a policy agenda onto an electorate against the will of the voters. In a democratic sense, that’s definitely not good. I’m kind of baffled the media hasn’t twigged to this yet. Sure, I know wrangling numbers is tougher than goggling at the latest Trumpian Tweet squall or keeping up with various Kardashians flashing their naughty bits on Instagram. But jeez, if I can do it, anyone with access to a web connection and spreadsheet software can too.

So, with apologies to H.L., 2016 taught us an unpleasant lesson about democratic theory as it applies to the United States. The people can make clear what they want. And whether they like or not, they’ll get something else. Hard.

*A brief note on the numbers for quant wonks: Data were taken from official results reported on state secretary of state and/or state election board websites. In the vast majority of cases these were certified results. All I collected were major party results, so excluded from all calculations are tallies by the Greens, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, and various and sundry other wannabes and wackaloons who smuggled themselves onto a ballot.

Aside from the weirdness reported in the text above (Democrats running against Democrats and whatnot) there are a small number of anomalies or gaps. For example, the Oklahoma secretary of state reports no results for its First Congressional District (!). That race was won by incumbent Republican Jim Bridenstine, who ran unopposed. I’m assuming that somebody actually, you know, voted for him in the general election, but maybe not. Regardless, Jim’s vote total isn’t totted up in the Republican column because those numbers were not made public and I was too busy with turkey and beer to pester Oklahoma officials to check and see if they had any unopened ballot boxes lying around. In any case, the number of these oddities was pretty small, not biased in a partisan sense, and extremely unlikely to have any impact on the broader nation-level inferences made above. It is, of course, possible that I made a punch error or a similar goof–it’s a lot of friggin’ numbers collected from fifty different sources and I was a lone political scientist in the midst of challenging holiday-related typtophan and ethanol issues. Still, while certainly possible, I’m pretty confident there’s no accounting flub big enough on my part to alter the general conclusions drawn above. My numbers will probably differ a bit from the official, official results reported by the Federal Election Commission later in the year, but barring any major howler on my part, the basic story reported above should stand.