Campaign Finance & Elections

Gary Johnson and Jill Stein: Do the Debates Really Matter?

Brookings Institution: “Johnson’s and Stein’s latest poll numbers stand at 9 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Given that, historically, third party candidates’ support in the polls has declined as the election draws near, a sufficient rebound is unlikely.”

“Even if Johnson and/or Stein experienced an unlikely bump in the polls, political science research gives us reason to be skeptical that presidential debates matter much at all; by the time the debates occur, many voters have already made up their minds, and candidates generally hew closely to their already-familiar messages.”

‘Franken-bugs’ May Be our Best Weapon Against Zika

Reuters: “On Nov 8, the residents of a suburb of Key West will vote on whether to allow scientists to release genetically-modified mosquitoes into their backyards. Inserted into the mosquito’s genetic makeup would be an artificial stretch of DNA that renders them unable to reproduce.”

“As the ‘transgenic’ mosquitoes mate with wild ones, the plan goes, their offspring would die, bringing the local population of skeeters down significantly — by as much as 90 percent, according to Oxitec, the for-profit firm that wants to release the modified mosquitoes. That would potentially reduce the risk to local residents of catching mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and Zika.”

“Among scientists, opposition to the release of transgenic mosquitoes centers on the law of unintended effects.”

“A lack of answers to questions such as these has prompted some scientists to invoke the precautionary principle: when effects are unknown, it’s best to play it safe. This sounds reasonable, but it is something of a Catch-22. By the precautionary principle, genetically modified crops would never have made it out of the lab, and yet the worst fears about their impact on human health have not been borne out. We know this because lots of people have been eating them for years.”

North Carolina Early-Voting Cuts Could Dampen Black Vote

The Hill: “Election officials in nearly two dozen North Carolina counties have approved reductions in early-voting hours ahead of November’s elections, cuts that Democrats warn could disenfranchise many low-income voters.”

“County boards of elections have approved reducing early-voting hours in 23 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Another eight counties plan to end early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, when a huge number of African-American voters tend to go to the polls.”

Record Low in GOP See Candidate Who Would Be Good President

Gallup: “In mid-August, a bare majority of Republicans and Republican leaners said there was a candidate running for president who would make a good president.”

“Generally speaking, Gallup has found that partisans who say they are following a presidential campaign ‘very closely’ are among the most enthusiastic supporters of their party’s nominee.”

“In August, however, it was these very Republicans — those following most closely — who experienced the greatest change on the question of whether there is a potentially good president in the field.”

Trump’s Visitor Ban Isn’t Just Un-American. It’s Bad for the Economy.

Third Way: “What would Donald Trump’s ban on visitors—both Muslims from around the world and non-Muslims, presumably, from terrorism-affected countries—mean for the U.S. economy?”

“GDP and job losses would then increase significantly each year the ban remains.”

“American Muslims are among the most educated and highest-earning populations.”

“Total Muslim-American disposable income is estimated at $98 billion, with household GDP contributions pegged at an estimated $190 billion. In other words, American Muslims contribute a sum on par with the entire GDP of Vietnam.”

This Study Shows American Federalism Is a Total Joke

Vox: “Professor Steven Rogers of Saint Louis University found that voters don’t make decisions about whether to reelect their state lawmakers because of their specific policies, campaign promises, voting records, or any of the other things you’d normally expect to be relevant to their position as local lawmakers.”

“That’s because the politics of statehouses turn out not to be local at all. Instead, Rogers finds there’s one major factor in deciding who controls the statehouse: the popularity of the American president.”

“Simply being a member of the president’s party increases the odds that state legislators will get a challenger by about 4 percent. By comparison, overseeing 4 percent growth in your state’s economy — a feat in only a tiny handful of states — increases your chances of avoiding a challenger by just 4 percent.”

“So if a state lawmaker helps unleash massive economic growth at home, that’s about as useful as simply not being a member of the president’s party — at least in terms of his or her reelection prospects.”


Clinton and Trump Are Both Wrong About Medicare’s Ability to Negotiate Drug Prices

Geoffrey Joyce and Neeraj Sood: “Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree that Medicare bureaucrats should be unleashed to negotiate lower prices with drug companies, and predict billions of dollars in savings as a result. In this political era when any common ground between these two adversaries should be venerated, it is a shame that we must point out that they are both wrong.”

“When Clinton and Trump talk about Medicare exercising its clout to drive down prices, they are primarily targeting cancer and other specialty drugs. But Medicare can’t negotiate any better than pharmacy benefits managers with drug companies holding aces.”

“As we write in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, better options exist.”


This Was Supposed to Be the Presidential Election Republicans Would Win

New York Times: “There is no reason to speculate about whether nominating Donald J. Trump has cost the Republican Party support in this presidential election. There is plenty of data to demonstrate that it has.”

“Dylan Matthews of Vox showed one way of measuring the toll of choosing Mr. Trump over a candidate who more resembles past nominees. He considered the predicted election outcome for 2016 based on fundamental conditions that have long been known to affect presidential outcomes.”

“Doing this yields a very tight race, extremely close to the 50-50 mark. The Upshot’s election forecast and other forecasts give Hillary Clinton a substantial lead, suggesting how much Mr. Trump might be underperforming an average Republican nominee from the past several decades, given how close this election was supposed to be based on fundamentals like the economy and the president’s approval rating.”

“Another way to see what is being called the Trump Tax is to look at polling’s generic ballot question: It asks people whether they would vote for the Democrat or the Republican, with no declaration of the identity of those people.”

“From autumn 2015 to spring 2016, the Republican was beating the Democrat in the generic ballot question. In January 2016, for example, the spread was seven points — 39 percent for the Democrat and 46 percent for the Republican. As it became clear that Mr. Trump would be the nominee, the pattern changed and the Democratic candidate went ahead. By the end of July, the Democrat had 44 percent and the Republican 36 percent.”


5 Facts about Trump Supporters’ Views on Immigration

After Donald Trump’s perceived immigration flip-flop, the Pew Research Center reviewed Trump supporters’ views on immigration. Here are five major takeaways:

“1) Most Trump supporters view immigration as a ‘very big problem’ in the U.S. In a survey released last week, 66% of registered voters who support Trump in the general election call immigration a ‘very big problem’ in the country. Just 17% of Hillary Clinton backers say the same.”

“2) Trump’s proposed border wall gets overwhelming support from his backers… Fully 79% of Trump supporters favor building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border; just 18% are opposed.”

“3) Trump supporters have mixed views of undocumented immigrants. Just 35% of Trump supporters say undocumented immigrants take jobs U.S. citizens would like to have, and a third say that they are less hard-working and honest than citizens. However, a greater share of Trump supporters (50%) think undocumented immigrants in the U.S. ‘are more likely than American citizens to commit serious crimes’; 43% say they are not.”

“4) During the Republican primaries, most Trump supporters did not favor a national effort to deport all those in the U.S. illegally.”

“5) Today, voters who back a Trump presidency are divided on priorities for U.S. immigration policy. Nearly half (48%) of Trump supporters say the priority for policy to deal with illegal immigration should be stronger law enforcement and better border security. Just 10% say the priority should be creating a way for undocumented immigrants to become citizens if they meet certain requirements. But about four-in-ten (41%) say both of these approaches should be given equal priority.”

Why Trumpism Could Be With Us for a Very Long Time

Washington Post: “Trump might lose in November, but Trumpism could be with us for a long time to come.”

“1. Trumpism isn’t just happening here. It’s happening everywhere. In Britain, it’s the U.K. Independence Party; in France, the National Front; and in Germany, the aptly-named Alternative for Germany…A global phenomenon has global causes. And in this case, there are two possibilities: economic anxiety over stagnant incomes and cultural anxiety over race and immigration.”

“2. Trump supporters have real economic grievances, but so do most people… Trump voters, in other words, tend to be blue collar workers who are decently middle class… It does mean that something other than just economic anxiety must be behind Trump’s support, otherwise low-income whites who really have lost their jobs to outsourcing would be more likely than everyone else to vote for him—or, in the case of low-income blacks and Hispanics, to vote for him at all.”

“3. Trump voters are more intolerant… It’s not just that 87 percent of Trump backers have said they agree with his proposed ban on Muslim immigration, but as a whole Trump supporters are more likely than other Republicans to view whites better and minorities worse.”

“4. But birtherism isn’t just a target for late-night ridicule. It might be the Rosetta Stone of Trumpism… One possibility–it’s only a theory–is that what’s driving the racial resentment is, first and foremost, the experience of a country electing a black president.”

“5. So is it the economy or is it racial resentment? Yes. Nobody is born resenting, or being biased against, others. It’s something you learn. And whether you do is a tricky question that, yes, to a certain extent does depend on the economy.”


Business Economists Overwhelmingly Support Clinton

A poll of the National Association for Business Economists’ 414 members shows overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton, Politico reports.

When asked “which presidential candidate has the smarts to run the U.S. economy,” 55% chose Clinton.

“But perhaps more striking was this: Only 14 percent of the economists thought Republican nominee and real estate tycoon Donald Trump would be best to direct the economy — meaning Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, at 15 percent, topped Trump in the poll.”

Another key finding: “62 percent of the economists thought uncertainty about the election is holding back growth.”

Four in Five Americans Support Voter ID Laws, Early Voting

Large majorities of Americans favor voter ID laws, early voting, and automatic registration measures, Gallup reports.

80% favor early voting to give more voters a chance to cast their ballot. The same number favor “requiring all voters to provide photo identification at their voting place in order to vote,” including 95% of Republicans and 83% of Independents.

A smaller majority of Americans, 63%, favor automatic voter registration. Though largely popular among Democrats, only about half of Republicans favor the measure.


Is the U.S. Electoral System Really ‘Rigged’?

The Conversation: “Many have speculated how a Trump victory would affect the U.S., but few have thought about the consequences of a Trump loss. After falling behind Hillary Clinton in the polls, Donald Trump has already developed a narrative for his exit: The election was rigged.”

“For all their great expense, elections in the U.S. are remarkably well-run. Voter identification fraud is extremely rare. One study found that individual reports of vote fraud were less likely than reports of alien abduction. Another found that in 2005 prosecutions for migratory bird violations were more frequent than cases of electoral fraud.”

“That said, there is much skepticism toward the conduct of elections in some pockets of the U.S. Researchers from Yale University found that 36 percent of respondents in a national sample in 2010 believed that their ballot was not secret. A 2012 survey from Wisconsin found that just under 40 percent of respondents believed that ‘a few thousand’ fraudulent votes were cast in each election.”