Monday, January 20, 2020

Back to the 80K question – part 1: why it matters

A while back, we had a discussion on the closeness of the 2016 electoral college vote and how best to quantify it. I argued that the best approach was to look at the minimum number of votes that would have to change in order to get a different outcome. For the last election, that was around 80,000 votes which, I argued, constituted a close race. I got some pushback so I thought I’d fill oout some of the details, starting with why we should bother with the question at all.

Different kinds of wins have different implications, both strategic and psychological. If there’s a disconnect between the way people are reacting and the actual events, that is in and of itself a phenomena worth noting and studying, but if they are making decisions based on those misinterpretations and false narratives, the problem becomes both important and urgent.

The disconnect around the closeness of Donald Trump‘s victory has manifested itself in at least a couple of ways. First is the theory that Hillary Clinton didn’t just lose, but that it wasn’t’ even close. The argument goes on to say that, in order to win, the Democrats would need to add millions to their popular vote advantage to overcome the biases of the electoral college.

Second is the belief that the margin of defeat was so massive that the Democrats need to do everything differently this time. This has particularly centered on going back to what is traditionally considered a more electable candidate. Specifically a white male from north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Since every woman who has been successful enough to compete at that level will have to deal with charges of unlikeability, this is basically saying the Democrats need to nominate a man, 

Obviously, any conversations about the closeness of an electoral college win are going to be problematic. Every statement will rest on an edifice of challengeable assumptions and definitions, none of which can ever rise above the standard of merely reasonable.

Nonetheless, this is an absolutely necessary conversation. It matters whether or not Hillary Clinton lost by 80,000 votes, 2 million votes, or somewhere in between, both in terms of our analyses and our decisions.

No comments:

Post a Comment