Is the National Hurricane Center Underestimating Irma’s Storm Surge?

In 2015, ten full years after Hurricane Katrina, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) finally began making projections in advance regarding potential storm surge. This even though “[s]torm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane,” according to NHC [pdf]. In fact, the “fatalities that we saw in Sandy [117] and in Katrina [1,800+] were mostly, not exclusively but mostly, seawater from storm surge.” Currently, NHC is projecting that many areas along the coast in southern Florida, including in and around Miami, have a 10% or greater chance of a strong storm surge. The worst areas, particularly just north of the Everglades and in Homestead, have a chance to hit the top category (red) of 9+ feet. But is 9+ feet a reasonable high end category?

Hurricane Andrew (1992) saw storm surges in southern Florida of about 4-7 feet in the worst places with one recording (at Burger King Headquarters) of nearly 17 feet, but the worst projections of a massive, deadly surge did not materialize.

In this article Jeffrey Masters, co-founder of The Weather Underground and a former “Hurricane Hunter” with NOAA, helpfully discusses the key factors that determine the magnitude of a particular storm surge during a hurricane. The critical factor is size of the hurricane, rather than the two more well-known factors of wind speed and barometric pressure. Masters compares Hurricane Katrina (a category 3 hurricane upon land fall) and the much stronger Hurricane Camille (category 5, also a land fall in Louisiana, 1969). Even though two categories less intense on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, “Katrina’s radius of maximum winds was about 30 miles, double Camille’s,” and “Katrina set in motion a volume of water about four times greater than Camille did.”

So how does Hurricane Irma compare to Hurricane Andrew in terms of size? Quite frighteningly so, actually. While other factors (such as high tide or low tide at land fall, where direct land fall actually occurs, and the level of barometric pressure when it hits) will contribute to the storm surge levels, it is the massive difference between Andrew (left in this graphic) versus Irma (right) that is giving me a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. (I had been scheduled to officiate a wedding in Miami this Saturday.)
Officials in Florida have used the storm surge projections to determine where to suggest or mandate evacuation. If the surge is like Sandy’s (10-12 feet in the worst spots), the NHC projections of 9+ feet at the upper end of the scale may seem quite justified. If, however, the monster size of Irma means a surge more like Katrina’s, nearly 28 feet at it’s highest as discussed by Masters, we may be looking a scale of devastation and loss of life that will raise very serious questions about whether adequate and accurate information was provided in advance to decision makers in Florida.

As of Tuesday, according to Masters, Irma’s radius of maximum winds was 35 miles across, five miles wider than Katrina’s, and growing. This could very well mean a storm surge of 15-20 feet or more for Florida, potentially more than double the 9 feet that begins NHC’s highest category.

At this point, we may only be able to hope and pray for the best. However, if you are reading this in southern Florida ahead of Irma’s land fall and can still make a choice to evacuate, it is highly advisable.


[re-published] The Catatonic Man in the SIUs Closet

In the summer of 2012, I published this article to the now, apparently, defunct blog I think it remains important in light of continuing Toronto Police attacks upon African Canadians, and the surrounding system’s refusal to own up to the fact that the entire ecosystem of policing needs to be gutted and wholly recreated in a way that protects all equally.

The Catatonic Man in the SIUs Closet

After a downtown Toronto man who had been catatonic for two days resisted arrest, then died in Toronto Police custody shortly after arriving at hospital thirty minutes away in Etobicoke, the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario invented a whole new cause of death only possible for black people under restraint.

According to the official story, Adeyere Robinson died on his own in police custody after two days of sickle cell dehydration induced catatonia, or as the Coroner’s Office has it “Sudden death due to sickle cell crisis during law enforcement restraint.” On 21 February 2005, Toronto Police and EMS responded to a 911 call from a woman about a man acting strangely at his place of residence, 3700 Bathurst St. Mr. Robinson, whose first name is sometimes spelled Adeyeri, did not die immediately. The thirty-seven year-old, who at one point had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, “was said to have been in a catatonic state in a locked apartment without eating or drinking for two days prior to the intervention.” Reports diverge as to what state he was in when the Police and EMS arrived. A spokeswoman for the SIU would read us the conclusion of then Director James Cornish over the phone, including the fact that Mr. Robinson was found catatonic, resisted arrest, and had to be sedated, but will not pass those words along in writing unless and until the final press release can be discovered. (It may or may not exist in a paper copy of the file that is currently kept offsite.) An article by the Toronto Coroner’s office in The Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine (JFLM), meanwhile, states that, despite having been catatonic for two days prior, “[a]t the time of arrival of police and ambulance, he was conscious, alert and combative.”

The Toronto Police attempted to arrest the (recently?) catatonic Mr. Robinson with handcuffs. They struggled with him until EMS could inject him with a “calming drug” (per SIU spokes woman Monica Hudon) or restrained him with handcuffs before he “was given two separate intramuscular doses of 2 mg of midazolam while in the ambulance en route to the hospital” (JFLM). Seeing as this extraordinary turn of events was “deemed to be medium to low priority,” in terms of mental care, Mr. Robinson was transported halfway across Toronto to William Osler Health Centre in Etobicoke because “the west-end facility was next on the list for non-emergency patient transport.” Shortly after arriving at the hospital, Mr. Adeyere suddenly died.

Soon, the SIU announced an investigation. Three and a half years later, the Coroner’s Office announced an inquiry in Mr. Adeyere’s death. The Coroner’s Jury Verdict agreed with the cockamamie SIU story, the coroners dismissing the much more realistic possibility of positional asphyxia for the sole reason that Police and EMS assured them that after Mr. Robinson had been peaceably “restrained by handcuffing” he had been “transferred to the ambulance in a supine position with a semi-agitated state.” The SIU along with the Coroner’s Office, Jury, and JFLM writers appear not to have been concerned at all with the decision to forego the option of no fewer than eight hospitals at half the distance or less to the William Osler Centre. Adeyere Robinson’s death was ruled natural. Apparently sudden death due to sickle cell crisis during law enforcement restraint meets the definition of natural because being under restraint, particularly police restraint, is simply how black men are intended to live. All SIU news releases since 2005 are available online. All news releases, apparently, except the final press release in the surpassingly peculiar case of Adeyere Robinson. Since it appears that no media outlet found interesting the story of a catatonic man who resisted arrest and didn’t live to tell, we have asked the SIU to provide the names of the media organisations to which the original press release, should it ever be found, was originally sent.

In the meantime, Mr. Adeyere’s name now appears on the list of those Killed by Toronto Police since the establishment of the SIU in 1990.

Later, I finally received the original press release as below: 05-TCD-023

UK #GE2017 Results Liveblog

7:00am/2:00am: Well, looks like things are settled. 8 seats left to be called; five of them safely Conservative. It’s technically a hung parliament, but Conservatives plus 10 unionists from Northern Ireland make up an effective majority of 326 with the seats they have now plus those five safe Conservative contests left to call. Could rise to an effective majority of 329 to 321 for all others less – is it 6 Sinn Fein? haven’t checked. So 326-318 or 329-315, somewhere in that range. Of course, my call in CounterPunch was 3.0% Conservative win with a strict majority, not an effective one. On Twitter, I moved that to a 2.8% call. Final looks set for a 2.3% Conservative win, just short of strict majority. I’d rather have been more wrong, with Labour winning more. Early on, it seemed Tories might even dive under 300 seats. I do think this means the clock strikes midnight on Corbyn’s magical run. For now. He won’t be Prime Minister. He’ll stay on as Labour leader, much to the chagrin of New Labour types.

I’ll review how I did over all with my seat-by-seat calls. But feels like a pretty good prognostication with how much flux there was in this election and how many other pollsters and aggregators did far far worse.

Congratulations to Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, to Caroline Lucas for holding down the Green Party seat, and a bit begrudgingly to Liberal Democrats who won several seats from Conservatives to help hold them under strict majority status. I never fully evaluated their chances in their target seats. They obviously performed much better than I projected. I also should have completely re-evaluated every seat in Scotland. Only so much time, I guess. Greens were, in many ways, the real heroes of the campaign. Selfless abandon to try to keep May from continuing on as PM.

So long from this ‘murican, living in Canada.

5:13am/12:13am: Very long time between updates. I’ve been crunching numbers on calling a hung parliament for good. I count just 19 seats left that Labour is defending against Conservatives. In 10 of the 19 they are ahead in my projection by 7% or more. I think they have lost exactly one of those tonight. Meanwhile, Conservatives are down 14 on the night. Going to wait a bit longer on the call, however. 325 isn’t really a hung parliament with Sinn Fein sitting out (and gaining seats tonight). I think we need to see Conservatives with guaranteed losses of at least 11. Almost there. Not yet.

3:33am/10:33pm: They’re coming in fast and furious now. Conservatives have lost a net five seats in last half hour per Guardian count, seriously endangering their majority (max they can lose and maintain strict majority is …. 5 – practically it is about 12-15 with Sinn Fein not sitting and possible alliances with very small parties). The big question now is how many more gains Conservatives can whip up in Scotland and West Midlands versus Labour gains across the North (including a few more in Scotland?) and in the East of England and South West. Race is on.

3:15am/10:15pm  Immediately someone tweeted at me with SkyNews’ projections of 308-328 potential for Tories. I hadn’t seen that first. Our ranges are very similar. All depends on what happens in the four regions plus Scotland listed in previous update.

3:08am/10:08pm: Short story. Most places, especially Scotland, it looks like Conservatives might hang out to narrow majority. Big exceptions: North West, East of England, Yorkshire and Humberside, South West. These regions could still mean hung parliament. Tories could go anywhere from 295-325 in my view at this point.

2:59am/9:59pm: Very long 15 minutes. Sorry. Putting kiddo to bed; tried to get 10,000 foot view as things coming in fast and furious. After well-along way, realized Guardian already has it. This is precisely why I projected a narrow Conservative majority. Offsetting losses elsewhere with gains from SNP in Scotland. So far, Cons net zero. That means a majority. BUT … the grand news is out of the North. In all except one seat (see below), Labour are outperforming in the North West, which is where they could pick up several seats I dared not dream. Even more importantly WOW! the huge win in Y&H in the Shipley constituency. This wasn’t on my radar. Wasn’t on YouGov’s radar. They had a 9.5% Conservative win there. And I thought YouGov was overestimating *Labour* in Y&H significantly. Labour could now run the table in the North almost entirely and this could make Jeremy Corbyn PM.

2:20am/9:20pm: And now for the bad news: while Labour is doing uniformly well in London and the North East (Stockton South looks like it is the latest pick-up here), there are some important mixed results elsewhere. 1) Carlisle in the North West came in bad for Labour and my model. I had it as a Toss-up with Lab trailing Con by 2.5%. Conservatives won by 6.1%. 2) While the result in Vale of Clwyd (Wales) looked very good for Labour – a 6.1% win where I had them trailing 1% in a Toss-up – Plaid Cymru held Carmarthen East & Dinefwr with a 9.5% win where I had it as a just a 2% Plaid lead. With the Vale of Clwyd result, looked like Labour might pick up 1/2 dozen seat in Wales. Better Plaid than Con by far! But hoping Vale of Clwyd not a fluke/local result only. 3) Paisley and Renfrewshire South result looked very good for SNP and especially Labour (outperforming YouGov by 3.6%) but  Perth and  North Perthshire see just a 36 vote SNP lead over Conservatives. Will be very bad if this is a Conservative pick-up in terms of reaching a hung parliament. Finally, some amazingly good news, however, in the next update in about 15 mins.

2:07am/9:07pm: Congratulations Marsha de Cordova! Confirming over an hour of rumour, she’s overcome an 8,000 Conservative majority from 2015 and taken Battersea. By 4.4%. I had it at a Toss-up with a 2% Labour lead. I had been awaiting this result to update for quite some time. Labour doing even better than I projected all over London. Also, just in, my call for Leeds North West of a Toss-up, lean Labour was correct. I had it at 2.8% for Labour. Final call? Waiting on it from @BritainElects while I look at bad news elsewhere. See next update.

1:34am/8:34pm: Conservatives have conceded Battersea. Hooray! Labour’s first pick-up of the evening. On the other hand, I was hoping to be wrong in South Swindon. I projected a 4.0% Conservative hold. 4.8% Conservative hold is the result. I don’t want to be right. I want YouGov and the Exit Poll to be right. We may be heading for a narrow Conservative majority.

1:03am/8:03pm YouGov, absolutely nailing it. Also, Battersea (London, likely Lab pick-up) any moment, it seems.

12:57am/7:57pm: Hooray! First of the marginals I projected now has a result. Darlington! North East region. Very pleased with how my model did. Projection: 8.5% Lab hold (other regularly predicted Con pick-up). Actual result? 7.3% Labour win.

12:51am/7:51pm: By the same token as our 2nd last update, the results in the Midlands compared to YouGov projections is interesting. The Tories have overperformed in the West Midlands seat (Nuneaton) by about 8% and Labour has overperformed by about 7% in Kettering. Lots of chances for Conservative gains in West Midlands if they do better than national average in that region. Seven seats well within reach, another six by stretch. By contrast, just a couple of seats in East Midlands that I am thinking Labour might pick-up: Broxtowe and Northampton North.

12:42am/7:42pm: There wasn’t a ton of herding among pollsters this go round in the UK. But two significant instance stand out. YouGov and Ipsos MORI in their final polls went significantly back toward the pro-Tory average when they had results that would have justified calling the election as it seems to be turning out.

12:39am/7:39pm Pretty significant result for Labour in their first loss: North Swindon. This is the South West region and YouGov had predicted a 17% loss for Labour. The actual result was just a 15% loss. I was convinced that YouGov was overprojecting Labour in the South West enough that *after* averaging their projection with Ashcrofts more favourable Tory projection, I still knocked another point and a half off Labour for the region as a whole, adding it to Conservative tallies. Could be a bunch of pick-ups for Labour their if Labour overperformance in the region is uniform. Seats in their view now include Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Bristol North West, South Swindon, Stroud, and, in a real stretch, Plymouth Moor View. Conservatives could also lose a seat to the independent candidate in Devon East in this region. Are there other vulnerable Tory seats here?

12:21am/7:21pm If the intel @BritainElects on Twitter dot com is getting is correct, Labour could see important gains in Scotland and Wales from the nationalists parties. This could make Tory hopes of holding onto a slim majority completely unachievable.

12:07a.m./7:07pm: Turnout looks like it may far outstrip 2015 (great for Labour!).

Wansbeck 2015: 60.1%
Wansbeck 2017: 84.7%

11:55/6:55 Bury North and Bury South in the North West will be a huge test for all models. Their results are expected in about two hours at 2am BST. I have them down as a Toss-Up (1pt Labour lead for a steal) for Bury North and a Labour hold with a 5.2% lead for Bury South. See all my final projections for marginal seats here.

11:48/6:48pm Sunderland Central now in. 3-0 Labour as expected now. Here’s when we can start to expect other key seats to come in, my strong interests in yellow. The Sunderland Central results again outperform YouGov expectation for Labour there.

11:24/6:24pm Around midnight, we should get a very important result from Berwick-upon-Tweed (North East region). Conservatives are expected to win big per YouGov’s model, but we’ll also know how Liberal Democratic vote share is holding up. YouGov projection:

47 Conservative
30 LibDem
21 Labour

11:18/6:18pm A 30% win (as opposed to Electoral Calculus – EC call of 32%) for Labour in Houghton and Sunderland South. Bigger UKIP vote for Cons to pick-up than in Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central, and they did. Still in these 1st two seats, Labour is outperforming both the exit poll projections and YouGov. YouGov had a 27% win in Houghton and Sunderland South (5% better for Labour in actual results) and a 38% win tapped for Labour in Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central (a 2% improvement in actual results).

11:02/6:02pm And the first results are …. in! Lab hold in Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central, as expected. Houghton and Sunderland South (North East region) were expected first, but with turnout up 5% to 61% from 2015, there has been some extra time to count. For context, Electoral Calculus which had projected an overall Tory win by 9% correspondingly expected a Labour win by 32% for Houghton and Sunderland Central and same for Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central. Actual results? 40% win for Labour.

10:44/5:44pm 1st reporting expected imminently from Houghton and Sunderland South. Looks per exits like Stockton South and Broxtowe vulnerable to Labour pick-ups. My projection had Cons leading in Stockton South by 6pts and Broxtowe by 3.5% (the latter just a tick outside Toss-up status). Broxtowe historically reports about 4am (11pm eastern) and Stockton South a bit earlier at 3:30pm.

10:28/5:28pm I had 48 seats too close to call (under 3.0% projected gap for winner in 2-way competitive races, under 3.5% in 3-way or more). According to this tweet, the Exit Poll suggests as many as 76 seats too close to call. Will be very long night if so. I’ll be your guide, where possible to where to look next and what results mean for the big picture.

10:22/5:22pm Exit poll results in Scotland suggest big Labour and big Tory pick-ups with SNP down 22 seats. This could well determine whether Parliament is actually hung.

10:20/5:20pm 1st results will come from Houghton and Sunderland South, which came in at 10:48pm in 2015. Strong Labour hold expected. Will compare results to what was expected by Electoral Calculus.

10:15/5:15pm Check here for when actual results by parliamentary constituency are expected to start trickling in. I’ll be paying attention to these seats first and foremost.

Battersea is the first big result and should be a Labour pick-up from the Tories if the Exit Poll is accurate. That result is 2 hours and 45 minutes or so away, however.

10:09 (BST)/5:09 (EST)pm: The exit poll is out. Looks great for Corbyn and Labour. A hung parliament predicted.

A word of caution: enthusiastic young voters may have skewed exit polls badly in the Democratic primary in the U.S. British exit polls have a long history of being more accurate than US exit polls of late. It could be a very long night.

I intend to begin postings just before the exit poll drops at 10p.m. on Thursday, June 8th. 

Poll Projections: the Clock Strikes Midnight on Jeremy Corbyn’s Cinderella Story

Update (Thursday 8th June, 4am BST): Final Seat-by-Seat Projection UK General Election 2017

After erasing as much as twenty percentage points from Theresa May and the Tories’ lead over his Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn’s Cinderella run looks set to run out of magic just before the clock strikes midnight on Thursday. CounterPunch projects that while Labour will likely close the national gap to just three points (41% Conservative 38% Labour), Theresa May should nevertheless retain a slim majority of parliamentary seats. The collapse of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) to 4% or less in the wake of Brexit combined with likely and potential Conservative gains in Scotland at the expense of the Scottish National Party (SNP) are of critical importance. Together, they indicate a hung parliament with a chance of Corbyn as Prime Minister just out of reach. Two dozen or fewer seats could change parties, leaving Parliament looking very much the same as it did when the election was called seven weeks ago. A large number of Toss-Up calls in my seat-by-seat projection, however, does hold out some hope that undecided voters breaking Labour and a very strong youth turnout could see May lose her majority.

FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver, in one of his better articles over the last two years, lays out the reasons why normal British polling errors could see Thursday’s vote fall anywhere along the line from a three point Labour win nationally to a massive seventeen point Conservative win closer to initial predictions weeks ago. Various polls in the last several days have come out along almost the entirety of that range. Ipsos MORI’s latest poll [pdf] had a three point Labour lead before its likely voter adjustments. While their strictest likely voter model saw Conservatives rise to a five point lead, their 7-10, self-reported likely voter model still shows a three point Labour lead. ComRes, meanwhile, published numbers [pdf] for its strictest likely voter model with undecided voters pushed for an answer. That “PM Squeeze” model showed a 14 point Tory win. Silver further noted how difficult it has proven to translate national vote share in polls into an accurate prediction of parliamentary seats, a translation obviously far more critical to determining the outcome of a national election in the UK than, say, the outcome of 435 House of Representative races in the United States.

My simple model for CounterPunch outperformed FiveThirtyEight, Huffington Post, RealClearPolitics, the New York Times, Daily Kos, and Princeton Election Consortium ahead of the U.S. election in November, both calling more states correctly and coming closer to the final national voting margin between Clinton and Trump. As in the run-up to the U.S. election, I have kept trendlines for a simple average of the latest poll from all pollsters in the field in the last 10 days. Wherever possible, I have used the figures from each pollster before they stripped Undecided/Don’t Know/Refuse voters from the model. My analysis of the importance of undecided voters here helped me to project, well ahead of the curve in early May, that the Tory lead was slouching toward a single digit. I have also kept a trendline more responsive to the latest polls, clustering them by dates and posting an update to Twitter nearly everyday. The “Last 10” model currently sits at a 4.1% Conservative advantage. The more responsive “Clusters Model” is at 1.8% points, with the trendlines leading me to take the mean, a 3% Tory lead, for my projection two days out. If there are significant changes, I will post final national numbers with a link to a pdf copy of my seat-by-seat projections here just before noon London time (7 a.m. Eastern for North American readers) on Thursday.

I have combined insights from this model with lessons learned from observing Canadian Broadcasting Corporation elections forecaster Éric Grenier over the years. Grenier very accurately forecast seats based on polling for British Columbia’s election in early May. In this UK election, a would-be forecaster has the advantage of two seat by seat models based on tens of thousands of polling responses over the course of the last week and a half. Beyond national, regional, and even sub-regional considerations, I have taken the average of Ashcroft polling and YouGov’s Crunch model. I have then applied small regional adjustments where needed based on the average of regional polling and regional sub-samplings from national polls and have given some weight to particular issues or candidates in a handful of individual parliamentary constituencies. I have also done what I could to factor in the high number of remaining undecided respondents, especially those who voted UKIP or Liberal Democrat in 2015. (Liberal Democrats are projected at an 8.5% national share.)

The resulting convergence names twenty seats most likely to change hands (see chart above) and an additional thirty-nine seats that are too close to call (Toss-Ups) with a projected lead for one candidate or another of less than three percentage points. Fifty-two additional seats are projected as leaning (a three to six point advantage) or likely (between a six and ten point advantage) to remain with the incumbent party. In the event of a far stronger performance by Labour or Conservative, I will be keeping my eye on an additional thirty seats or so that could be bellweathers of an unexpected landslide. The major difference between my model’s outcomes and YouGov’s is in the East of England, the North West, and especially in Yorkshire and Humberside. Where YouGov currently projects a fourteen percent Labour win across the North, the average of subsamples from other pollsters with regional breakdowns shows just a four to five point average Labour win across the North. My model settles upon a seven to eight point Labour win, with 40% of my Toss-Up projections coming from the North West or Yorshire and Humberside. While I have a substantial number of differing seats in my model, Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus can be made to show what an overall picture looks like where Conservatives win by just three points nationally and maintain a small majority. Were all the Toss-Ups, including for instance Dewsbury’s showing of just a 0.1% lead for Conservatives, turned into strict projections, Conservatives would gain something like one more seat overall with Labour gaining eight. Attempting such a level of specificity with very little polling data by constituency is a fool’s errand, requiring rather the recognition of inevitable flux at the margins.

As with any election prediction, there is much that could go wrong for my model or that could simply change in the next forty-eight hours. Final polling is in the field as I write with swirling uncertainty in the wake of a second disgusting terrorist attack this election cycle, this time on London Bridge over the weekend. There is a healthy debate amongst pollsters regarding how many enthusiastic young Corbyn voters will turn up to the voting booth, with suggestions ranging from somewhere in the forty percentage point range to over eighty percent. About twelve percent of the voting population remains undecided at this point (down from regular 15-20% Don’t Know/Undecided/Refused numbers throughout the last month). YouGov has argued that as many as a third of that 12% simply will not vote. How the other eight percent break could matter enormously. Scotland’s three or even four-way, often razor tight, races in a dozen or more constituencies could well determine whether Conservatives do in fact retain majority status. Finally, there are the questions around whether pollsters as a whole have fixed problems that persistently underestimated the Conservative vote by about three points on average over the last several national election cycles.

I will be liveblogging commentary on results, beginning with the exit poll at 10pm (5pm eastern) on Thursday here.

If pollsters have fixed their problems and I have accurately interpreted the data, Corbyn will have seriously defied the odds over the course of this election and the expectations of those who have frontally opposed him from his own party and in the supposedly left-of-centre media in Great Britain. Still, absent further last minute magic, I expect Corbyn and Labour to fall short in their quest to end Tory majority rule. Nevertheless, the results should be quite enough to allow Corbyn to stay in leadership for Labour, awaiting a fitting of the Prime Ministerial slipper sometime in the future by the Queen or, perhaps in five years, by the anti-Prince Charming, Charles.

Click #GE2017 Seat-bySeat Projection for a more manageable PDF version of this seat-by-seat projection for 111 Parliamentary Constituencies:

Undecided Voters Matter: Theresa May’s Lead over Jeremy Corbyn Might Be Just Single Digits

Poll numbers from the initial days after British Prime Minister Theresa May’s triggering of snap elections for June 8th were perhaps even more dire than hankerers after New Labour could have prayed. Corbyn-led Labour started off the campaign with headlines, based on data from multiple scientific polling firms, blaring out their twenty some point deficits to May’s Conservatives. While even those numbers should be considered deceiving, a consistent drum beat of better news from many of the same pollsters – and with the numbers read more accurately – suggests May’s lead could have shrunk to single digits already with plenty of time and room for further Labour growth.

Without getting into the weeds too much, there is a simple problem with most of the headlines and even the few poll aggregators active to date in the United Kingdom election cycle. Like the poll aggregators and data experts who gave Hillary Clinton far better chances than even Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight, insufficient attention is being paid to the huge number of undecided voters recorded by nearly every pollster. (See Silver’s “The Invisible Undecided Voter” from January 2017. As a side note, our final analysis here of the November 8th U.S. election was more accurate on both a national and state by state level than FiveThirtyEight’s. FiveThirtyEight was generally more accurate for the Democratic Primary cycle.)

Could Corbyn pull-off another Brexit or Trump-style shocker? We will not know for five more weeks, but what we do know should give succour to electorally minded leftists while causing serious trepidation to supporters of May and backers of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s ongoing tantrum around the elevation of Corbyn.

Here, in one chart, is May’s lead over Corbyn from all scientific polling to date with and without undecideds included: 

By simply removing undecided voters from the calculus, the numbers used by most media outlets artificially inflate May’s numbers by five points. This happens because the net result works to assign undecideds to the parties according to their numbers strength otherwise in the polling data. Roughly speaking, on average, in the data above May’s Conservatives are assumed to garner just under two undecided voters for every one assigned to Corbyn’s Labour.

But is this a fair assumption?

Not in the least based on the data that we do have. As with Trump’s initial soft support in the U.S. elections, there are far more Labour voters from 2015 who are considering not voting for Labour this time around. Perhaps they will stay away or vote for another party, but just as Never Tump voters, Bernie or Busters, and 2008’s PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass supporters of Hillary Clinton), the overwhelming majority of party loyalists disappointed in the primaries or leadership races do eventually wind up coming home by election day. Indeed, the clear data we have to date from YouGov polling, for instance, shows that this explains much of the gap Corbyn has already closed. Eighteen percent of 2015 Labour voters were undecided in the first full YouGov poll [pdf] after the elections were called (versus just 12% for 2015 Conservative voters). That same number fell to just 11% for Labour for the two YouGov polls in the field April 25-28th [pdf], while falling just a tick to 10% for Conservatives.

Over the course of those same three polls, May’s lead over Corbyn, including the undecideds fell from 16% to just 8%, not very far off from the results (a 6.6% Conservative advantage) of the 2015 election. Meanwhile, the trendlines are all pointing toward continued tightening in Labour’s favour. All five pollsters (YouGov, ICM, ORB, Opinium, Panelbase) with multiple polls out since April 18th have seen Corbyn inch closer with each new poll. (Update as of early Thursday a.m.: Early reports suggest May has increased her lead in the latest YouGov poll and with a sixth pollster that would then have multiple polls, Kantar. We do not have full results, especially including undecideds as of this writing.)

Clustering the polls by date (with undecideds included) over the first week and a half of the campaign, we see that May’s large lead is far from stable . ICM’s poll out Tuesday shaved another point off May’s lead. If the polls that join ICM in making up the next cluster follow this pattern, we are likely to have an average of recent polls in the single digits.

UK #GE2017 Chart 1

If this trend continues, the Conservative majority in parliament may look very similar to what it has been since 2015.

More troubling for May’s Conservatives, not all of this lead shrinkage can be chalked up to undecided Labour voters moving to the Corbyn column. May also looks to be bleeding support. She could, in fact, end up with no majority at all.

Michigan, Colorado, or Faithless Electors Could Scuttle Clinton Coronation


“Beds are damp. There is a crack in the blue wall, and it has to do with trade. This is the ghost of Bernie Sanders.” –Van Jones on CNN re: Michigan

Either former Methodist Sunday schooler Hillary Clinton or former New York Military Academy cadet Donald Tump will claim the mantle of the next U.S. Presidency within the next forty hours.

Or perhaps both will. We’ve had two Popes, even three. Why not two Presidents?

Clinton has a 45.4% to 42.4% average national poll lead by my calculations. Those calculations almost exclusively involve strictly averaging the latest results from all pollsters in the field within the last ten days. Furthermore, for months, the mathematical geek aggregators’ consensus has been that Trump’s chances of upsetting Clinton are slender even on his best days. If Clinton wins her “firewall” of states totaling 272 electoral votes, states where she’s led and usually led handily for most of the way, or if she loses one of them like New Hampshire, but ekes out a victory in hard fought Nevada, as now widely expected, or a win in Florida, North Carolina, or even Ohio, the candidate Democratic operatives, major media, and Barack Obama have fought so hard to help coronate will finally have won her imperial crown.

If, on the other hand, Trump can breach the firewall without leaving behind states he is expected to win like Ohio, Iowa, and Arizona, the Donald will assume the position of Groper-in-Chief, a position that has moldered vacant these sixteen years since Clinton’s consort William Jefferson and his merry band of playboys left the West Wing bereft of any keyboards with the letter W, with a “Jail to the Thief” sticker stuck to a presidential filing cabinet and with obscene anti-Bush slogans vandalizing the loos.

To breach the firewall, Trump must claim victory in Florida and North Carolina and win one of a handful of states like Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania or, in a real stretch, Virginia, New Mexico, Wisconsin, or Minnesota. These last four states are ones where polling averages, mine and the average of averages for FiveThirtyEight, RealClearPolitics, Huffington Post and Drew Linzer’s Votamatic, see Clinton maintaining a lead of 5.0% to 6.5%.

By my count, just eight state contests over the last three presidential cycles have seen RealClearPolitics (RCP) average miss by 4.5% or greater. Bush outperformed in Florida and Hawai’i in 2004. Obama underperformed the RCP average in Iowa, still winning handily, and overperformed in New Mexico and Nevada in 2008. Finally, Obama handily beat polling averages in Oregon and Michigan in 2012. This last polling miss, by 5.5% in Michigan last time around, is particularly relevant for what lies immediately ahead.

Michigan was, of course, also the site of the “one of the greatest upsets in modern political history,” when Bernie Sanders out performed polling averages by more than 20% to win the Democratic primary in March of this year.

I correctly predicted the Sanders’ upset and am predicting, once again, that Clinton will defy polling expectations, including my ten-day average modelling, and lose Michigan.  This does not necessarily mean I am predicting that Clinton will lose the election as a whole. I will not bore you here with a long explanation of my reasoning, but it is clear that the Clinton camp is also seeing the very real potential of a loss in Michigan. This tracks very well with what I am hearing from family and friends and extended networks in the state where I vote.

For virtually all other states, I am sticking with the data I and others have collected, though I should note that I have a strong suspicion that Trump may win in Colorado and that Clinton could pull off a big surprise in Arizona on the strength of Latina and Latino voters. This latter possibility could take weeks to settle given how badly Arizona runs its elections and election counting. Early voting in Colorado has not gone nearly the way Democrats would have liked it to go and the best pollster in the state projects a 39% to 39% tie with lots of third party and undecided voters. Of note, I am projecting that Donald Trump will split out Maine’s second congressional district, winning it by a few percentage points and picking up an extra electoral vote. I should also note that my polling averages, as of now, project a 0.4% Clinton win in North Carolina, but I am going with the average of other aggregators to pick a small Trump win in the Tarheel State.

Here is what that data, which I’ve been tweeting about (#10at10) for a few months, looks like, updated just after midnight eastern November 7 to November 8.



As an additional wildcard, at least one, if not two Electoral College voters in Washington state are insisting they may well not vote for Clinton on December 19. These potential unfaithful electors mean Clinton needs at least 272 Electoral Votes, if not a few more to guard against the possibility of further defections.

Florida is too close to call. My prediction is a 0.5% gap in one direction or the other, triggering an automatic recount, a 2000 redux if you will. If absolutely forced to pick who will win Florida and thus the presidency, I would waver for a long while and finally suggest Clinton by a nose, sticking with my data that projects a 0.4% Clinton win.

Here’s what that electoral map looks like, Florida a toss-up, courtesy


At Least 40 Women Have Accused Bill Clinton or Donald Trump of Sexual Assault

More Than Double Trouble; pictures from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library

More Than Double Trouble; pictures from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library

No, Bill Clinton is not just accused of consensual affairs. Yes, he and Hillary Clinton are a team. She has been a regular part of attacking Bill’s victims, has worn the mantle of his supposed successes, and has promised that he will have a key place in running the economy in her administration.

No, Donald Trump did not just use naughty, “locker room” words, nor was he just suddenly accused of sexual assault as an October surprise.

At least 40 women have accused Bill Clinton or Donald Trump of rape or other sexual assaults going back to the 1960’s and forward through every decade since.

What holds this system in place? Well, partisans from Team Red or Team Blue relentlessly attack the guy on the other side while dragging, shaming, and mocking accusers or otherwise dismissing accusations against their guy. Or, as recently with Megyn Kelly, someone from the same Team rightly aggrieved against someone on their side, goes after their own guy relentlessly while letting the other guy slide off easily.

Some news outlets or websites have collected lists of accusations against whoever the guy is on the other side. Most of these lists have one problem or another even with getting the list completed without questionable additions or subtractions.

To be up front, I am very reluctantly voting Team Blue in a likely swing state this time, even while having voted for Jill Stein in 2012 and having taken pictures with Bob Dole and Jimmy Carter in the past.

What Team you are on shouldn’t matter.

Taking sexual assault seriously and believing women shouldn’t be a partisan matter. Yes, there are very rare cases of women making false claims or having their stories manipulated and fluffed for political gain, but when well more than a dozen women have accused each man, refusing to believe or even entertain the worst about your side is a massive part of why rape culture continues its steady and sickly march forward.

  1. Eileen Wellstone accused Bill Clinton of raping her at Oxford in 1969. Capitol Hill Blue, a kind of pre-cursor to Politico which reported positively and negatively on both parties from inside the Washington D.C. beltway, confirmed the accusation with Ms. Wellstone in 1999 and found a key State Department official who had originally investigated the accusation to support the claim.
  2. In 1972 a woman at Yale University accused then law student Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Capitol Hill Blue‘s outstanding reporting on all of this included finding the accuser, who confirmed the accusation but would not allow her name to be used, and multiple policemen from New Haven at the time who confirmed the incident.
  3. In 1974, also reported in Capitol Hill Blue, a female law student of Bill Clinton’s in Arkansas accused him of blocking her departure from a room then forcing his hand down her blouse. Daniel J. Harris and Teresa Hampton, the Capital Hill Blue reporters for this piece, again tracked down the accuser and obtained her confirmation of the incident, but not her consent to use her name.
  4. Juanita Broaddrick accuses Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978. The most nuanced, in-depth, and dignified piece on Broaddrick is Katie Baker’s stunning profile in Buzz Feed earlier this year. Broaddrick explains why she initially gave an affidavit saying Clinton had not raped her, an explanation Megyn Kelly, Hillary Clinton, and tons of Democrats are completely and conveniently ignoring.
  5. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  6. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  7. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  8. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  9. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  10. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  11. Unnamed (1978-1980) – Harris and Hampton, in the Capitol Hill Blue investigative article, were able to discover that state troopers in Arkansas knew of at least 7 complaints from women who said Bill Clinton sexually assaulted them during his first term as Governor of Arkansas. The Washington Post quickly discusses what may be one of these claims in one of the laziest “fact checks” it has ever unloaded, but dismisses it out of hand because “[w]hen sexual harassment claims were made against GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, [Rand] Paul dismissed them because the women refused to publicly identify themselves.” Allowing Rand Paul’s hypocrisy to invalidate a woman’s claim is, of course, standard corporate media schlock. The anonymous woman, a “former Arkansas state employee,” said that “during a presentation, then-Governor Clinton walked behind her and rubbed his pelvis up against her repeatedly.”
  12. Carolyn Moffet accused Bill Clinton to Harris and Hampton of forcing her head into his lap when she refused his request for oral sex in 1979. Ms. Moffet also spoke with Harris and Hampton.
  13. Leslie Milwee has recently come forward to accuse Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her on three separate occasions in a newsroom in 1980. Milwee says Bill rubbed himself against her to the point of orgasm without her consent.
  14. Jessica Leeds accuses Donald Trump of grabbing her breast and trying to shove his hand up her skirt on a flight in the early to mid-1980’s, as recounted in a recent New York Times article:

    “He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.” She fled to the back of the plane. “It was an assault.”

  15. Becky Brown accuses Bill Clinton of sexual assault in the the Arkansas Governor’s mansion in the mid-1980’s, according to a book written by her husband, an Arkansas State Trooper. Without consulting the book, the Washington Post “fact check” column claiming just three sexual assault allegations against Bill Clinton spuriously dismissed what appears to be the same claim as an anonymous “woman identified as a third cousin of Clinton’s [who] supposedly told her drug counselor during treatment in Arkansas that she was abused by Clinton when she was baby-sitting at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock.”
  16. Elizabeth Ward Gracen, according to multiple accounts including a former friend’s deposition during the House of Representatives’ Paula Jones investigation in the 1990s, accused Bill Clinton to family and friends of raping her in 1982. Gracen eventually very publicly stated that it was consensual sex. Not long afterward, however, Gracen indicated in an interview with the Toronto Sun that she and her family were under duress when she walked back the rape claim:

    “I think Clinton is a very dangerous, manipulative man and I’ve had to be very careful,” she says. “There was a lot of pressure on my family and friends, people were being staked out. I was a little bit afraid for my own safety at one point. It’s just not an area where you’re safe.” She pauses, then says, “I would never have said what I just told you a month ago.”

    Sally Miller, another woman who had a consensual affair with Clinton, reports that a  Democratic Party official threatened her around the same time. “They knew that I went jogging by myself and he couldn’t guarantee what would happen to my pretty little legs.”

  17. Helen Dowdy accused Bill Clinton of groping her “up there” on a dance floor at a Rodham family wedding in 1986. She tried to pull away, per Dowdy’s recounting the story to Jerry Oppenheimer in State of a Union (page 215), but “he’s a big man.” She says she was eventually rescued when Hillary Clinton turned it into a three person dance. “He was holding me very close, pulling me into him. … It was so inappropriate.”
  18. There is now a cascade of people supporting accusations that Donald Trump repeatedly raped underage models in New York beginning in the 1980’s. Katie Johnson has filed a suit accusing Trump of raping her at one such party with convicted pedo rapist Jeffrey Epstein when she was 13 in 1992. The details of the unusual accusation and lawsuit are most fairly reported in Jezebel. Michael Gross, writing for Daily Beast, dug out two male witnesses/participants at several of the parties to go on the record, one of the men allowed his name to be used, one of them is unnamed.
  19. Paula Corbyn Jones accuses Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her in 1991. After she tried to walk away from his initial advances, according to her story, he grabbed her hand, pulled her toward him, lowered his trousers, and asked her to kiss his erect penis. Clinton paid Jones an $850,000 settlement after the US Supreme Court reinstated her lawsuit against him during his Presidency. Jones continues to speak out against both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, whom she accuses of shaming and lying about her.
  20. Sandra Allen James accused Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her in 1991. She told Harris and Hampton that Clinton pinned her up against a wall in a hotel room and forced his hand up her dress and that he only stopped when she screamed loudly enough for the Arkansas State Troopers outside the room to hear.
  21. Ivana Trump, Donald Trump’s first wife, accused him, during 1992 divorce proceedings, of raping her. She later said it wasn’t rape in the criminal sense, apparently as part of the divorce settlement. The initial charges in court papers, along with the partial retraction, can be read at Gawker.
  22. Christy Zercher, a flight attendant on Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign plane, accuses Bill of groping her without consent on the plane while Hillary Clinton slept a few feet away.
  23. Kristin Anderson recently accused Donald Trump in the Washington Post of sexual assault by reaching up her skirt and touching her vagina through her underwear at a Manhattan night club in the early 1990’s. Anderson says she was deep in conversation with friends, shoved his hand away, and only noticed it was Trump after she fled several steps away and turned to see who the stranger who had groped her was.
  24. Kathleen Wiley has repeatedly accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault in the Oval Office in 1993. Like many of the women accusers, Wiley says Hillary Clinton has been complicit in shutting her down: she’s “been calling me a bimbo for 19 years.”
  25. Jill Harth accused Donald Trump of groping her multiple times without permission and of trying to rape her in one of his children’s bedrooms in 1993. The claims were first aired in a 1997 lawsuit and were reported in the Guardian in July, well before the Billy Bush-Trump Tapes were released.
  26. Temple Taggart accuses Donald Trump of sexual assault on two separate occasions in which, according to her account, he kissed the 21-year-old 1997 Miss USA contestant on the lips without permission.
  27. Mariah Billado accuses Donald Trump of intentionally walking in on her and several other Miss Teen USA contestants in 1997 while they were in a state of undress. Her claim was supported, according to the Buzz Feed story in which she first reported the assault, by four other contestants and by Trump’s own words on a Howard Stern show where he bragged of purposefully walking in on naked beauty pageant contestants for sexual gratification. Such voyeurism counts as sexual assault according to a wide variety of statutes and definitions, including the one used by the Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  28. Cathy Heller accuses Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her at Mar-a-lago around the year 1997.  According to her account in The Guardian:

    “He took my hand, and grabbed me, and went for the lips,” she claimed. Alarmed, she said she leaned backwards to avoid him and almost lost her balance. “And he said, ‘Oh, come on.’ He was strong. And he grabbed me and went for my mouth and went for my lips.'” She turned her head, she claims, and Trump planted a kiss on the side of her mouth. “He kept me there for a little too long,” Heller said. “And then he just walked away.”

  29. Karena Virginia accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in 1998 by touching her breast without her permission as she waited for a car to pick her up after the U.S. Open tennis tournament. While she is not planning to file a lawsuit, Virginia told the story with her lawyer Gloria Allred by her side. Trump has threatened to sue all women who have made allegations after the election is over.
  30. 2001 (1) Unnamed
  31. 2001 (2) Tasha Dixon and another unnamed 2001 Miss USA contestant accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault, also by way of voyeurism, when he purposefully walked in on contestants naked on two separate occasions, as detailed by an article in the Guardian.
  32. Virginia Roberts first accused Bill Clinton in 2011 of having regularly been with now convicted pedo rapist Jeffrey Epstein and said that she had seen him with particular underage girls, though she did not see sexual activity or participate in it. According to a deposition with Alan Dershowitz, Roberts “described in great detail a dinner with Bill Clinton and two underaged Russian women who were offered to Bill Clinton for sex” in 2002. Flight records have proven that Bill Clinton often flew on Epstein’s “Lolita Express,” and that, during the at least 26 flights, Clinton sometimes ditched his secret service detail.
  33. Mindy McGillivary accuses Donald Trump of sexual assault in 2003 at Mar-a-lago where, she says, he groped her butt without permission. McGillivary’s account is supported by her companion that day, Ken Davidoff.
  34. Jessica Drake recently held a news conference to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault by holding her tight and kissing her without her permission at a celebrity golf tournament in 2005. According to Drake, Trump then offered her $10,000 and the use of his private jet for sexual favors.
  35. Also in 2005, Rachel Crooks accuses Donald Trump of having sexually assaulted her by kissing her multiple times, including on the lips, without her permission when she tried to shake his hand at Trump Tower in Manhattan where she worked as a receptionist.  Crooks told her story first to the New York Times as a part of the story also including Jessica Leeds’ account of her unpleasant encounter with Trump.
  36. Natasha Stoynoff, a third woman to accuse Trump of assaulting her in the year 2005, is a journalist and wrote her own story up in People Magazine earlier in October of this year. She was working on a story on Donald and Melania at the Trump mansion. Donald, according to her account, sent Melania to change clothes then began showing her around: “We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.”
  37. Ninni Laaksonen just recently accused Donald Trump of sexual assault just before an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman during her time as Miss Finland in 2006. “Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt. He really grabbed my butt,” she said. “I don’t think anybody saw it but I flinched and thought: ‘What is happening?’”
  38. Unnamed – Very soon after the tape of Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush about taking tic-tacs before kissing women and just grabbing them “by the pussy,” CNN anchor Erin Burnett told the story on air of her friend who was “once ‘really freaked out’ by Trump: He ‘took tic-tacs…and kissed me almost on the lips’.”
  39. Summer Zervos, a 2007 contestant on The Apprentice, read a five page statement at a press conference accusing Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her. As excerpted by the Hollywood Reporter:

    “He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast,” recalled Zervos. “I pulled back and walked to another part of the room. He then walked up, he grabbed my hand and walked me into the bedroom.”She said he asked her to lay down and watch television and, when she tried to push him away, “he began thrusting his genitals.”

  40. Finally, Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington 2013, accuses Donald Trump of sexual assault by groping her without permission. After the Trump/Billy Bush tape broke, she took to Facebook to say, “He probably doesn’t want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room.”

So, with due deference to the Washington Post’s “fact checkers” and Megyn Kelly, it isn’t just three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. And, no, it isn’t “just words” from Donald Trump while Bill Clinton engaged in actions. More than a dozen and a half women have accused each man. Both are deeply entangled with Jeffrey Epstein. Many of the stories bear the same hallmarks. And high-ranking women and men from both parties have said and done horrible things to go after the accusers on the other side while letting their guy off the hook.

Come what may, this January a man serially accused of rape and unwanted groping will be in the White House either as President or as our first First Gentleman.

Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump

Likely the best data driven write-up of the state of the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump heading into the first debate tonight is Nate Cohn’s over at the Upshot. Cohn gives two theories of the race. On one, Clinton is really still quite a bit ahead and polling saying other wise is mostly just a snapshot of noise that will go away as election day nears. The other, and the one that makes more sense of the date I’ve collected, is that the race has in fact substantially tightened, likely into a virtual tie. Clinton’s missteps and Trump’s relatively good behaviour, especially since mid-August when Kellyanne Conway took over as his campaign manager, have erased what was a 6.5% lead on August 9th.

The data that I’ve been keeping assiduously since late August says it’s the latter theory. United Press International was the first to note that how well Trump controlled his tongue has a massive impact on the horse race. My numbers suggest that is the best way to look at things. When Trump re-brought up birtherism, suggested Clinton’s Secret Service detail stop carrying guns and see what happens, and Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a ridiculous Skittles meme within the space of a few days, Trump’s numbers took a noticeable dive beginning early last week. By the end of the week, and into early this week, Trump made no major blunders and his numbers have rebounded back into a tie or a half point lead for Clinton in polls in the field in the last few days.

One reasonably reliable set of polling numbers suggests that as many as a 1/3 of voters will substantially determine how they vote based on the debates, beginning tonight. Meanwhile, somewhere between 15-25% of likely voters at present are undecided, planning to vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, or have a soft commitment to their current candidate of choice. All of this makes it less than surprising that Clinton’s national lead is hovering between 1-2%, and there are as many as 15 states currently up for grabs. My #10at10 accounting posted daily on Twitter – all national polls in the last 10 days at 10 a.m. – currently sits at 1.6% ahead of tomorrow morning, but Trump briefly took the lead last weekend before his tongue troubles began impacting the polls. Meanwhile, by the same measurement (all polls completing their field work within the last ten days, no adjustments), Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin all see Clinton and Trump within 5.0% points of each other in terms of spread. FiveThirtyEight sees New Hampshire as currently a 2.2% race, while #10at10 figures would peg it much higher for Clinton at a 7.4% gap. Another 4-5 states are somewhere between a 5% and 10% race currently.

Here’s what the numbers look like in graph form:





States Numerical Chart


The tipping point state, the state that would determine who wins if the electoral race is otherwise nearly tied, looks to be Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, or Florida. As of now, Clinton is ahead by 1.0% to 2.2% in all four (neither candidate can likely win without winning at least two of those states). While most poll aggregators still have Trump up in Florida, the very most recent data suggests Clinton has taken a slight lead there while dropping steadily in Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

With no toss-ups, Clinton is looking decent with the recent movement of Florida to her column.


But with toss-up states for anything closer than three percentage points, it very much looks like anyone’s race.


The major difference between this way of doing things and all other poll aggregators is that it insists on using virtually all polls (Google 50-state numbers with under 100 for a sample size are totally excluded) while not adjusting them. FiveThirtyEight includes virtually all polls, but adjusts them before its national and state projections. Huffington Post (and following them NYT/Upshot and Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium) and Real Clear Politics exclude many polls. Huffington Post’s criteria much more clear and mostly consistent.

By using just 10 days of data, this model is much more sensitive to quick changes than even FiveThirtyEight’s “Now-Cast.” How soon will we start knowing who “won” the debate in terms of its effect on reputable polling? While the L.A. Times polling is almost certainly consistently biased in favor of Trump by 4-6 points, its methodology has proven very good at consistently capturing the direction of the race before any others. Their numbers out about 4 a.m. on Wednesday, followed by quickly by other daily tracking polls, will give us a sense whether the first debate is going to move the needle much, if any.

Clinton is a known quantity and has a fairly strict ceiling, most likely, of about 44-46% nationally. Trump’s tongue wagging is key to the race. A few errant comments in the debate or the weeks ahead and Clinton could wind up with 350-400 electoral votes. But Clinton does not seem to control her own destiny. An October surprise from Wikileaks or Trump managing his verbal outbursts for another six or seven weeks could very well see him inaugurated next January 20th. Of course, all this assumes that both sides leave the voting machines to do their thing without interference (not at all a totally justified assumption).

Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling

When I wrote the piece about exit polling in my series on Election Fraud Allegations, I specifically addressed the arguments Nate Cohn expanded yesterday in the New York Times into a post decrying conspiracy theorists who think the Democratic primary was stolen from Bernie Sanders. As is the custom for writers of his class, Cohn simply ignored my counter arguments. I’ll rehearse, in brief, Cohn’s expanded argument and how it fails to address the key points I made previously. More importantly, there is now much more powerful, visually-stunning statistical evidence to buttress the claim that old, provably hackable machines in particular counties helped Hillary Clinton outperform expectations. In short, the bigger the precinct size in terms of total votes for Clinton and Sanders, the better Clinton did, even when controlling for such factors as racialization and age.

Cohn’s basic argument, like so many others, is that exit polls in the United States are not designed to catch fraud. Tax evasion laws were not intended to catch gangsters, but Al Capone landed in jail anyway. Cohn is more specific than previous commenters, however, going into some detail on why early voting and age demographics could have skewed exit polls toward Sanders. The problem, as I noted previously, is that these theoretical arguments do not work when applied to specific places where exit polling failed. I used the case of Alabama for precisely these reasons. The exit poll released by the networks when the voting booths closed in Alabama was off by fourteen percentage points, far more than for any of the previous elections Cohn mentions. Cohn had made his arguments about early voting and race in brief on Twitter previously, and I addressed them specifically accordingly. Alabama did not have early voting (beyond the very basics required by federal law for military and infirm voters). Likewise, the exit poll for Alabama included so few young voters by percentage that there is no mathematical way to make that explanation work.

But what about my explanation? Three of the top four Alabama counties by population have very old voting machines that were badly hacked by a “red team” of university security experts more than eight years ago. Clinton did far better in those counties than in demographically similar counties in Alabama and elsewhere in the South where exit polls did not fail (notably in North Carolina). I am now working on a much larger project analyzing voting share down to the precinct level in large counties in every state that held primaries. Nicholas Bauer pointed this phenomenon out to me based on his precinct level analysis in New York City.  The following is a teaser; the rest will be released in a larger report in about two weeks:

The one county of the four largest by population in Alabama that does not use provably hackable voting machines shows a vote share per candidate by precinct size that matches what statisticians would expect in areas that are similar in terms of race, economics, wealth, and the like. Madison County’s data trend line is basically flat or horizontal.

Madison County Flat Line Chart

You may notice that the chart eliminates the last three precincts in Madison County. Why? Well, one of the arguments against doing this kind of analysis at the state level is that perhaps larger precincts or counties by vote total are in urban areas with a stronger concentration of people of color. The three largest precincts in Madison County skew the data a bit in precisely this manner, as do the largest precincts in big counties in states like Oklahoma and Connecticut where exit polls did not miss. The largest three precincts in Madison voted much more heavily for Clinton, and the polling locations were two large African American churches and an African American seniors center.  Here’s a more detailed graphic analysis with those three precincts included:

Madison Alabama CHART 2

Note that the data trend lines are still close to horizontal and parallel, but now favor Clinton a bit more as precinct size increases – a bit more meaning that overall the spread between Clinton and Sanders grows by about ten to eleven percent from smallest to largest precinct size grouping. This is a substantial increase, but it is entirely predictable given particular age and ethnic demographics. As I argued previously, Madison’s voting machines are not provably hackable, and the vote by precinct size model looks clean.

Now, let’s look at Jefferson County, Alabama’s largest by population: Jefferson County AL CHARTThe data trend lines (the black dotted lines) are nowhere near parallel. Clinton does massively better on average as precinct size increases. Why, it’s almost as if someone planned such a thing.

Jefferson County’s non-white population has been increasing each year over the past decade or more and stood at 49.4% last July 1 according to U.S. Census figures. Republicans sometimes win political races in Jefferson County, however. As you might imagine, political districting in Alabama is heavily gerrymandered, nearly all non-white voters are registered or lean Democratic, and nearly all white voters are registered or lean Republican. In other words, racial differences from small to large precinct size do not explain the more than 50% increase in Clinton’s win margin between the smallest precincts and the largest precincts because perhaps as many as 90% of all Democratic voters in Jefferson County on March 1 were people of color.

Cohn responded to a similar chart I posted on Twitter yesterday for East Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a combination of mocking (imagine that, Clinton doing well with black voters! … which ignores the necessary differences among black voters given this data) and more serious arguments (“racial polarization”). It’s the more serious argument that matters for the larger study. Eventually, the back and forth with Cohn led to him sneering at me to “do the math” assuming white voters were 80% Republican and 20% Democrat. That would mean less than 10% of voters in the Democratic primary on March 1 were white since white people make up just 45% of East Baton Rouge (EBR). We can be more generous: 13.7% of EBR Democrats in 2013 were white, and, assuming a non-existent surge of white independents enthusiastically registering Democrat a month ahead of Louisiana’s closed primary, let’s spot Cohn 20% white Democratic voters.

The math doesn’t work.

There simply aren’t nearly enough white voters to make that scatter plot graph make sense based on “racial polarization.”

Furthermore, Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), North Carolina is highly racially polarized with the majority of its schools 80% one race. Clinton won healthily in North Carolina by 14% and by a landslide in Mecklenburg (a 22% spread). But the exit polling was accurate in North Carolina and Mecklenburg County’s data trend lines are basically horizontal and parallel. So are Wayne County (Detroit) data lines. As well, there are key counties that are more than 80% or even 90% white where the same steady increase by precinct size shows up for Clinton. But all of that is getting ahead of the game. More in a fortnight.

Sometimes “Jesus” isn’t the answer in Sunday School; sometimes “race!” or “math!” can’t solve for irregularities in the Democratic primaries.

These statistical arguments are completely independent of, but reinforce the exit polling argument. It is quite the hat trick, actually – hackable voting machines, wildly wrong exit polls, and a Clinton vote share that smoothly increases in keeping with total votes by precinct size. It’s a hat trick now demonstrable in a dozen states or more.  At some point, the onus will shift from so-called “conspiracy theorists” to those who think the Couple Clinton to be so morally pure and upright that they’d never pay a team of hackers to laugh their way through the United States’ horribly insecure voting landscape.

Los Angeles Election Chief Dismissive of Ballot Shortage Concerns for Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders California Election Contest

Poll workers in Los Angeles County are reporting that they are short, in some cases well-short, of the number of Democratic and No Party Preference cross-over Democratic ballots required tomorrow for their precincts under California Elections Code Section 14102 (a)1, (a)2, and (b). Dean C. Logan, L.A. County’s Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, is dismissive of these claims, however, suggesting that precinct inspectors should be speaking to his office instead of the media and offering a definition of “registered voters” that flies in the face of Federal law and California’s Secretary of State guidance in accordance with Federal law.

Elections Code 14102’s requirement for stocking precincts with ballots ahead of time states that “in no case shall the number be less than 75 percent of registered voters in the precinct.” CounterPunch has reviewed the numbers of ballots for six precincts as provided to Election Justice USA by Los Angeles precinct workers and has spoken by phone to confirm with three of the six.

Thao Tu is working Precinct 2040004A in Los Angeles. She has 513 regular Democratic and vote by mail Democratic voters on her roster, but only 250 ballots. At 48%, this is far short of the requisite 75%. Tu told me that she tried to contact county election officials throughout the day on Monday in order to request more ballots, but the phone line was constantly busy. Tu is frustrated as “we’ve been anticipating something since Arizona.” This wrinkle took her by a bit of surprise. In Arizona long lines and voters flipped off the rolls against their will saw a severe depression in Democratic voter turnout on election day.

A second precinct inspector, who was not sure her name could be used without legal ramifications, spent two to three futile hours in the Los Angeles County elections office. She realized she had just 32% of the potential ballots needed for a registered list of over 900 regular Democratic and vote by mail Democratic voters who are allowed to trade their mail in ballots for regular ballots if they have not voted by election day. At just 30% of the possible total, the number of ballots available to No Party Preference (NPP) voters wishing to vote Democratic under California law and Democratic Party agreement, is of even greater concern to this second precinct worker. As independents, cross-over NPP voters are expected to go for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in large numbers. Elections officials in Los Angeles told this second inspector that the ballot materials provided were based on lists from weeks or months ago and that inactive voters don’t count as registered voters, a spurious interpretation of the National Voter Registration Act that County Clerk Dean Logan confirmed to me by email.

A massive surge of new or re-registering voters in California has overwhelmed expectations in the last few weeks according to a combination of data publicly available or provided by email to CounterPunch by Political Data Incorporated, a California firm specializing in providing continuously updated voter information to the media, public, and political campaigns.

Jean Camille Bianic, a third precinct worker I reached by phone, attempted to figure things out both with the county and with the Sanders campaign. His precinct is apparently divided in two, but he has been given a list of over 1500 names of people who could vote in his precinct and less than 850 ballots. “It’s crazy,” Bianic told me. “We live in a time when you cannot trust elected people.”

After her hours long wait, elections officials refused to provide the second precinct inspector with additional ballots, but they did tell her she could call on election day and request a rush of new ballots if needed.

Logan confirmed this in writing by email, stating that “[s]tandard protocols and contingency plans are in place to deploy additional materials and/or emergency ballots from Regional Distribution Centers located throughout the County to ensure all voters who appear to vote are able to do so should that be necessary.”

CounterPunch will keep in contact with various precinct workers throughout the day and provide updates on the situation if ballot shortages keep people from voting.