Sunday, November 08, 2020

Random Thoughts on the Election (2020)

1) Biden will be the oldest president (measuring by when they take the oath of office), at 78. The next two are Trump 70 and Reagan 69. Biden will be older entering office then Reagan was leaving office. 

After Biden, Trump, Reagan:

William Henry Harrison 68. Why do some people have middle names that are commonly spoken and some do not? Others with middle names spoken: Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth. 

James Buchanan 65

George H. W. Bush 64. Why do some people have their initials commonly spoken and others do not? In this case it may be to distinguish from W. Why are some people known by their middle initial? Well, actually one that I know of, W.

Youngest was Theodore Roosevelt 42 who took the office after McKinley was assassinated . Kennedy was youngest to take the oath after being ELECTED at 43. Theodore Roosevelt was known as TR. John F Kennedy is often called JFK. Franklin D Roosevelt was called FDR. Why are some people known by their initials? In these cases maybe to distinguish them from other Roosevelts and Kennedys.

2) Right now it looks like GA will go for Biden. This surprises me. I had heard `GA is on the verge of turning blue and always will be.'

3) Dem-Blue, Rep-Red always puzzled me since I thought Red was associated with communism.

4) A quote from the Trump/Schwartz  book THE ART OF THE DEAL about why Carter was a one-termer  is rather predictive:

See here

(I've heard Schwartz referred to as a ghost writer. That is not true-- Tony Schwartz's name is ON THE COVER, so he is not a ghostwriter.)

5) During the Trump administration UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan all recognized Israel (gee, when I see it on a map I recognize it, why did it take them so long :-) ). See here. All three deals were brokered by the US so Trump could  take credit here. So why didn't he? One answer is that the left-wing lame stream media didn't cover it much. But FOX didn't cover it much. Trump didn't mention it much. Trump didn't even mention it as a way to complain about media coverage. So- independent of if you think Trump deserves credit here or not, I am interested in why he didn't brag about this one. (When I have asked this question people point out that Trump's base would not care about this. But Trump could complain that Obama got a Nobel Peace prize for nothing, and he got these deals done and hasn't, gotten a Nobel Prize because of the fake-Nobel-Committee and channel this into anti-Obama sentiment.)(ADDED LATER- some of the comments have corrected me and say that Trump DOES mention it-- A LOT. My bad. Still do not know if Fox News mentioned it much.) (ADDED LATER- another comment on my blog pointed to three times Fox News DID talk about this achievement.)

6) Truth avoids imitating  art: Watch Season five of the HBO show VEEP for how m

messy a close election can be. 

7) I think Biden will end up being president and the transition will be peaceful. Why? Fox News and other conservative organizations are urging Trump to concede. Republican state legislators are NOT trying to find ways to overturn the results in their states. Judges have found NO evidence for the kinds of fraud that Trump is complaining about. Many Republicans are silent (John Oliver says that means they SUPPORT  Trumps allegations, but I think it means they are NOT supporting Trump's allegations.) 

 Why is the Republican establishment NOT backing Trumps claims of fraud? Here are some thoughts.

a) Because the allegations of fraud are not just false but obviously false.  

b) Because they think that it is better for the country to have a clean transition.

c) Because they are tired of Trump also and realize he is not good for the party brand (a bit late now).

d) Corrupting the electoral process is a bridge to far. (Where did that phrase come from?)

e) I wonder if Trump himself would have preferred to lose in 2016 and go around having rallies, perhaps have his own TV network. RALLIES are fun, RUNNING THE COUNTRY is not. So those around him may want him to go back to his original plan. 

8) Did Nate (the only pollster with a one-word-name) do well this time around  He thinks so, see here. Its not even clear he did badly in 2016- he gave Trump a 20% chance in 2016 and a 10% chance this time. 

9) I think that if  we had not had a pandemic then  Trump would have won. Two reasons: the country thinks he handled it badly, and it may have literally killed some of his voters.  As a final note on that: Mark Meadows (WH Chief of staff) has COVID. I am surprised Pence didn't get it-- thought maybe he did or will. 

10) Why did people in the Trump WH who one assumes know that Covid is serious and that masks and social distancing were  way to prevent it, not do these simple things?  Perhaps they thought (correctly) that the more people thing about covid, the more likely Trump loses, so they took a risk. Alas, those that trade their health for electability get neither. 

11) Neither Pence nor Harris is particularly young or old as VP's go. 

Youngest: John Breckenridge, 36. Buchanan's VP

Second Youngest: Richard Nixon, 40, Eisenhower's VP

Oldest: Alben Barkley, 71, Truman's VP

Second oldest: Charles Curtis, 69, Hoover's VP

Pence was 57 when took the oath, Harris will be 56. 

12) If Biden wins then on Jan 20 when he takes the oath there will be 5 living Ex-presidents:Carter, Clinton, W, Obama, Trump (assuming they all stay alive until then). This ties the record for most living ex-presidents. See here for my blog post on this. Getting to 6 will be difficult since Carter is 96 years old. 

13) Neither Lance nor I have blogged much about the election, or even about politics. One reason is that whatever I want to say Scott says better (Scott and Lance are the only theory bloggers known by just their first names). I was going to point to Scott's  political blogs but that was hard since he often has blog posts about multiple topics (Like his post about  Mike Pence thinking that the Ind of CH is a sort of relativism that also allows for adultery to be considered okay (see here for Pence's pre-Trump views on adultery)  Actually Scott never blogged about Pence and CH  but after reading his posts they kind of blur in my mind.) I will point to one blog entry of his  that I suspect will NOT be relevant but is still very interesting: Will he go?

14) Trump claimed the polls showing he was behind were false and part of a conspiracy. I am not sure how this conspiracy would work. If people think their candidate is ahead or behind, then does that affect how or if they vote? Do people say `Gee X is winning, I'll vote for them' ? I doubt it. There are two ways such a conspiracy could work (1)  claim was that some candidate was WAY ahead (it would not matter which one) so you should not bother to vote (2)   in a primary where you are voting on who you think will win the general election.  He also claimed that the early returns saying Biden was winning was a conspiracy. Same problem there- how would that work. This isn't just Trump, other politicians in diff  years claim that early-returns saying X is winning might make it harder for Y to win. I can't see how. 

15) Kamala Harris will be the first women, the first African-American, and the first Asian Veep.  Trivia: There has been a Native American Veep- who was it? More trivia- who coined the term Veep? I won't answer these here, but they might be on my Prez Quiz that I will post after the new President is sworn in.  

Can she be BOTH the first African-American and the first Asian? Yes.

16) In my lifetime the election for President was  SETTLED when the losing candidate conceded. This was good for the country's mindset that YES the president is known and even the other candidate agrees. What if Trump does not concede? I doubt this has any practical affect, except that  on Jan 20 he might be trying to arrange a moving van at the last minute. But if the losing candidate does not concede then when is the matter settled?  When the major news venues say it is? Which ones are major? What if there was a really close election and diff news networks declared diff candidates to have won? This does not seem to be a problem for this election cycle, but it is a question: When is the matter SETTLED in that the country ACCEPTS the result, if the losing candidate does not concede?

(ADDED LATER- I didn't realize how much the TRANSITION matters-- so Trump not letting the transition happen is dangerous.)

17) Carter beat incumbent Ford, but they became friends. Clinton beat incumbent Bush Sr, but they became friends. This is understandable in that so few people are president so they have a shared experience. I doubt that Trump and Biden will become friends.

18)   Bill Clinton's staff removed W's from the typewriters and did some other damage before W moved into the WH see here.  This is NOT a tradition, nor is it acceptable in any way, shape. or form.  I do not know of any other similar cases in America (if you do, let me know in the comments).  I wonder if Trump will do damage  to the WH before he leaves. Do presidents put a deposit down on the WH so that any damage they do, they pay for? I  doubt it, but it would be a good idea. 

19)  Obama and Trump had a cordial 90 minute meeting, see here, after Trump won but before he moved in. This makes perfect sense--outgoing presidents know stuff and have experiences worth sharing with the next president.   Obama said North Korea would be a problem and it is (Trump later tried to spin this--`Obama said it would be hard, but it was easy') I wonder if Trump and Biden will have any kind of meeting, cordial or not. 

20) Every state that went for H Clinton in 2016 went for Biden in 2020. The following states went for Trump in 2016 but went for Biden in 2020: Wisc, Mich, PA, AZ, and maybe Georgia and maybe NC (frankly I doubt NC). There was a plausible  scenario (I forget what it was) where Biden would have won 270-268. 

21) Did Third parties matter? In PA the Libertarian Candidate Jo Jorgenson got 1.1% of the vote which was larger than the diff between Biden (49.7) and Trump (49.1) (The Green party either wasn't on the ballot or got so few votes it was not counted). If most of the Libertarians voted for Trump then he would have won PA and possibly the election. However, Trump is not really a Libertarian, so I doubt that would have happened As for the entire country: (1) . The Libertarians got 1.14% of the total vote in 2020, as opposed to 3.25% in 2016, (2)  The Green party got 1.06% in 2016 and 0.02% in 2020. 

21) I was not particular impressed with the satires of the debates and other political satire on SNL this year. Not sure why- maybe Trump is too wild  to satirize and Joltin Jo is too boring. But the following I DID like and is now more relevant. Watch the whole thing since the first half looks like a real ad.



  1. "A bridge too far" is from Operation Market Garden in WWII and the movie based on it.

    For a discussion of the polls, see the posts and comments on Andrew Gelman's blog: The general flow of the comments seems to be that the probability of winning was too high, so the models aren't quite right.

    The use of red and blue came from early TV coverage. See, for example,

    As for why people vote for Trump, see

  2. 3) From France it is indeed weird, since the left is represented by (several shades of) red and right by (several shades of) blue, excatly the opposite of the US. Then, one should add green for, well, the green party, black for extreme-right (must be some very dark blue...). And in the center, there is some orange and some yellow (Macron's party) that I never quite understood, some shades of purple would have been more accurate (but probably not easy to distinguish).

  3. As for why the Republicans are not supporting Trump's claims of fraud, why should those who kept their jobs support one who didn't? You would need a lot of fraud for Trump to win, so the career politicians just don't see the benefit is worth the cost. Now, if you are suggesting a coup, that would take the kind of planning you'd need to deal with an impending pandemic.

  4. The 270 - 268 would have Biden losing GA and PA, but winning NV and AZ (and the NE district).

  5. looking forward to the end of your biased posts that pretend not to be

  6. Actually I did not preface this post with `This post is unbiased' or anything like that, but the title `Random Thoughts about the election' may be construed as `unbiased'. Looking over my points I tried to see which ones are biased, though of course... I am biased in evaluating which ones are biased

    I say that Trumps claims of fraud are false. Is that biased?

    I say that Trump may deserve credit for three countries recognizing Israel. But thats a cheat on my part- the point was NOT `HEY, Trump may deserve a Nobel Prize' it was `HEY, how come Trump is not bragging about this', which detracts from his actual achievement.

    I indicate that I agree with Scott's posts which are anti-Trump. That is bias-by-proxy.

    I point out that Clinton's staff wrecked up the WH for W and that this was an AWFUL thing to do--- but only as a way of pivoting to the concern that Trump might do the same. But is it biased to have that concern?

    Upshot: If you think Trumps claims of fraud are potentially valid and/or if you think that there is NO danger of Trump (or his staff) wrecking up the WH, then YES my post is BIASED. OH- or if you count bias-by-proxy. I am NOT saying my post is NOT biased, I am looking at the question in an unbiased(?) way.

    1. Reread my post (my it is long!) and found two more possible biases:
      Pointing out that Pence was anti-adultery before he was Trumps VP. Even though its true, bias can also be what one chooses to discuss.

      And I pointed out in Trumps favor that his book Art of the Deal was NOT ghostwritten since the author is on the cover.

      Do these cancel out? I have no idea!

  7. Re #5, your observations humorously contrast with one experience I had recently; I'd accidentally had YouTube on autoplay, and it forwarded me to the middle of a live-streamed rally of Trump's, just as he was saying something along the lines of (loosely recollected): "I brought peace to the middle east. All I had to do was tell them to stop fighting, and they did. They've been fighting for like 40 years. Probably 400 years."

    1. what gets me is he thinks "Trump didn't mention it much."

      did he read transcripts of speeches given or is he assuming based on the media not reporting he talked about it?

      reminds me of talk how the observers who weren't allowed to observe didn't observe any wrongdoings so there's no grounds to ask for recounts

    2. AH- Apparently I am in the liberal-echo-chamber which ignores some of the things Trump has done and talks about.

      Did Fox News or other conservative media mention it much? I had thought not, but I also thought that Trump didn't, so I seek correction if I am incorrect.


    4. Thanks! (and I will soon add to my original post).

  8. About 14) If the race is called early for candidate X, before the polls close in the state, such as states like Florida or Michigan with counties in two time zones, that might discourage voters in those counties from voting. If they are generally inclined to support candidate Y, then that could skew the outcome in favor of candidate X. (This is why networks no longer call states for a candidate until the polls close throughout a state.) The same thing could happen in a state like Nevada, where the election is close and a large number of electoral votes are prematurely called for candidate X, then fewer voters may vote, but that could skew either way.

  9. #21: The SNL team made a subtle joke/slam of the big issue with how Dems reacted to Trump winning.

    "Kids in cages wasn't even a phrase before Trump."

    The "cages" (they weren't) were built during the Obama administration and the chain-link partitions were there to safely have a barrier between kids and adults or women and men.

    The phrase and how it took off demonstrates a core issue.

    Would they have preferred immigration to "dump 7-year-old kids on the streets of McAllen or El Paso" or have them vulnerable to adults in holding?

  10. Re #5, maps produced in other countries may not have Israel-- and I suspect it's tied to its recognition. In fact, I was surprised rewatching Raiders of the Last Ark on Netflix recently, which was produced in 1981, and the map there also showed Palestine instead of Israel, which was odd, given that the US recognized Israel back in 1948.... But I suppose the film was trying to be historically accurate, so for a 1938 setting, this would be the case.