Polls Say Trump Voters Are Happy With Him — But We Know Trump Voters Can Not Easily and Reliably Be Polled

There has been a lot of reporting of how Trump has not lost much support of those who voted for him.

But do we know how reliable the self-reporting of prior voting behavior is.  I wonder if anyone has been checking if the self-reporting of Trump voting is consistent with the actual votes.

We know hat Trump voters are low education, we know that they are often hard to get to answer polls, and we suspect that they may be less prone to tell the truth (at least to pollsters.)

So there may be lots of hidden dissatisfied Trump voters out there.  I remember the moment during Watergate when Nixon’s reputation became so poisonous that more people remembered that they had voted against him than for him.

If this theory is right, it holds particular danger for Republlicans facing reelection in 2018, because it will make it harder to track the Trump voters whose reason for turning against a Republican incumbent is his or her support for Trump.

Worth keeping an eye on.


Applying the “Rules” for Government Shutdown Crises to the Current Situation

There are two basic rules for government shut downs:

  1.  Congress gets blamed not the White House.
  2. Shutdowns are an opportunity to the Executive to demonstrate competence.

So, it is a reasonable question ask how these will apply this time around.

With respect to the blame game, the normal rule would be to blame Congress — and typically the majority party, which will be different from the President.  It is going to be really hard to pin the blame on minority democrats, and although ironically, their choices are driving all this.  But apart from this, the reason that the White House usually wins the messaging, and ultimately the substance, wars, is that it speaks with one voice.

So you can throw that out the window this time.  The messaging chaos, the internecine battles, and the constant leaking almost guarantee that the White House can not win this one, except with very narrow constituencies.

As to the  opportunity to demonstrate competence, note that I said “demonstrate,” not “achieve.”  Anyone who can see anything in the history of the last 100 days that suggests any competence to demonstrate — I have an infrastructure bill to build a new Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.

Much more likely is that the bureaucracy will not go out of its way to minimize harm — except to the most vulnerable, and those efforts will be undercut by those wearing the metal flag pins, and in turn the facts will be leaked.  It will be chaos.

The Democrats know all this, so they have no incentives to trade.  It could be a long shutdown.  What a way to celebrate 100 days, unless Republicans realize that a small set of relatively minor defeats is better than a very big one.

Trump and Python Go Together Again — Brave, Brave, Sir Donald

Its hard not to see the Trump presidency as a full time Monty Python marketing campaign.

I feel particularly bad for the US Navy here, they have to do what they are told.

But I can not avoid combining the Washington Post headline below and the scene from the Holy Grail, that clearly references our national leadership, “Brave Sir Donald” — particularly the last 30 seconds or so.

Despite talk of a military strike, Trump’s ‘armada’ actually sailed away from Korea

NBER Report Suggests We Should Not Blame Polarization on the Internet.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has long been a highly respected and independent source of analysis on economic and statistical matters.  So it is well worth paying attention when they focus on the impact of the Internet on polarization.

A recent Report concludes:

We find that the increase in polarization is largest among the groups least likely to use the internet and social media.  .  .  .  Across intermediate age groups, the growth in polarization is consistently higher among older respondents. Polarization increases more for the old than the young in eight of the nine individual measures. A similar pattern emerges for groups of respondents divided by our broader index of predicted internet use.

The paper admits that there may be ways of explaining the phenomenon to dissolve the inconsistency, but, given its breadth of measures, that seems unlikely.

Indeed un-linking Internet access statistics from polarization does not exclude the possibility that the existence of the Internet incentivizes the taking of extreme positions, and that those incentives work on populations regardless of their internet access.  It may be, or example, that what the Internet did was make it possible for marginal voices to be amplified much more by mainstream media who reach lower information people.  In other words, we would be worse off without the Internet.

However, when you think about it, the “beauty” of the “Internet did it” meme is that no one needs to take responsibility.  Not the commentators, not the politicians, not the newsfolks, not the religious leaders.  Not the increase in inequality, not the massive insecurity, not the reduction of need for those with traditional blue collar jobs.  Not the increasing costs of housing and education and the impossibility of getting both.

Holding people responsible for what they say and advocate — and what they said yesterday, and weeks, months and years ago is easier than ever before.  Understanding economic change should also be easier than ever.

So, while the Internet alone may have some second order effects, its much more important to look at the big picture of ideas and leadership.



What Would Martin Luther King Have Done on that United Flight

I would like to think that he would have led the way in blocking  the aisle by just lying down and linking arms with others.

I would also like to think the would have sought to engage the security cops (who were obviously utterly untrained for this situation) and the other airline employees.

I also suspect that he would have acknowledged to them that they, the employees, were under huge pressure to get things done to unreasonably tight timelines.  Indeed, maybe he might have suggested that the cabin crew and passengers were both victims, and that to see each other as adversaries is the wrong way to go.

Maybe the video would not have been so dramatic, but maybe it would have helped foster a much more powerful dialog about avoiding being divided, but rather uniting (so to speak.)

In any event, I hope many who fly are asking themselves what they would have done if they had been on the flight.  I suspect that next time round, things will play out very differently.


Google Enhances Consumer Power Over Airlines By Making It Easier For Users to Boycott Specific Airlines (Or Rather Alliances) — Like You Know Who. This could Become Much More General.

So we all get want to make a statement about the airline that is planning on issuing cattle prods to their staff (not really, at least so far.) (Great branding ideas in the link.)

It turns out that Google’s travel engine already makes that somewhat easier.  It let yous limit searches to one of the three major alliances, and all you have to do is do two searches, limiting the ones other than you target.

One thing is for sure.  Google already knows for example whether there have been any changes in the choices of alliances in the last few days.

One of the beauties of this approach is that the alliance partners pay a price — guilt by association — and they are likely to be a force for changes in behavior.

Of course, Google could and should enhance this, so that you can label one, or more, airlines as “on boycott.”

Indeed, more generally, this consumer power aggregator could be expanded to any kind of online product selection system, and would be particularly powerful in those areas in which people make multiple individual purchases such as groceries, music, etc — typical for online transactions.

Actually, some of us might still be boycotting Florida Orange Juice if we had had a tool like this 30 years ago.










Will the New York State Zero Cost Public College Commitment Make the Partisan Divide Between the States Worse?

Its astonishing that the new New York State budget, assuming it gets approval from the rubber stamp members of the legislatture, includes a guarantee that anyone in a family earning less than $125,000 (after phase in) will not have to pay any college tuition to go to SUNY or CUNY.  It is not a perfect plan, for example you have to stay in the state for as long as you received benefits.

But it will act as a magnet for families in terms of where they move, increasing the appeal for those who are deeply committed to education.  Moreover those already in the state will surely obtain more eeduction, and learn to think and vote like grads.

Given that education is such a high predictor of voting behavior, its hard not to think that in the long term, and particularly if similar plans are adopted by other states, that this will speed up the political “sorting” already going on.

Simply put, education oriented states are investing more in education, will attract those committed to education, will increase the numbers with education and thus change both individual and aggregated voting behavior.  Those who do not value education will not choose those states.

That process does not make state red states less red, or blue states less blue.

Conversely, a federal “no cost” guarantee, as urged by many, would perhaps tend to have the opposite effect.  At a minimum with a such a program low education commitment states would end up subsidizing high education commitment states .  At least the change would reduce the opposite current state transfer effect, in which blue states generally making much larger federal revenue contributions.