“The Sunday Political Brunch”—November 13, 2016
Sunday, November 13, 2016
“The Electoral College” – Once again, a lot of people are complaining because one candidate, Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote; while the other candidate, Donald Trump, won the Electoral College. The same thing happened with Al Gore, Jr., and George W. Bush in 2000. Our Constitution makes the Electoral College the law of the land, so that’s it. This difference between the popular and Electoral College votes also happened twice in the 1800s. Also, in 1824, when neither candidate had a majority of Electoral College votes, the election was sent to - and decided by - the House of Representatives.
“Abolish the Electoral College?” – Good luck! It takes 37 states to amend the U.S. Constitution. But, like the U.S. Senate, the Electoral College guarantees a voice to all states, not just those with big populations. I can’t imagine small states going for this. There are 21 states with six or fewer Electoral College votes, so I don’t believe the Constitution will ever be amended to abolish the Electoral College.
“Influence Matters” – Each state has two U.S. Senators, whether Wyoming, with 800 thousand people, or California, with 35 million people. It’s about giving each state an equal voice. The Electoral College is similar, in that the goal of the Founding Fathers was a decentralized government. Look, if we eliminated the Electoral College (and/or equal U.S. Senate representation), no one would ever campaign in, say, North Dakota. Consequently, most Presidential candidates would come from California, Texas, New York, Florida, and the other big states. No one from Idaho would have a chance; and no candidate would campaign there.
“Trivia” – In 2000, when the popular vote and the Electoral College vote discrepancy last occurred, a brash, new Senator-Elect named Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said she would work to abolish the Electoral College system that had cost Al Gore the Presidency. But someone else in power basically said, “Not so fast!” No, it wasn’t a Republican; it was Clinton's colleague, Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). "The Constitution has laid out very clearly how a President is elected and selected," said Senator Daschle. "It seems to me that there should be no doubt about that. We respect the process. We respect the Constitution." Daschle said that because he was advocating for the rights of small states, such as his own South Dakota.
“Polling Potholes” – I am hearing a lot of complaints about how pollsters and the media polling got it wrong. This troubles me. Today, most polls are reported as, “Clinton leads Trump by four points, 47 to 43 percent.” They rarely mention the “margin of error” in the polls any more. Well, if the “margin of error” is four-percent - which is fairly standard - then there is an equal possibility the poll is really Trump 47 to Clinton 43. In short, it’s a standoff, a statistical tie. Everyone in the media (including me) needs to go back to mentioning the “margin of error” in all polls! Journalism is about accuracy at its very core. Let’s be accurate!
“A Snapshot in Time” – As much as the media mishandled reporting polling data this year, the public also holds some blame for relying on polling data too much. When I speak at Rotary Clubs, the first question I'm asked is always, “Who is winning?” Then, the first audience comment or criticism is, “I am sick of hearing about all the polls you guys report.” It’s a contradiction. I always remind people that a poll is “just a snapshot of one moment in time. It’s a predictor of nothing.” Any polls taken before Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tapes were released are worthless; and polls released before the FBI comments about Hillary Clinton’s emails are worthless, too. A poll taken on October 8 is merely a reflection of that day, not a projection of November 8.
“My Errors” – I pride myself on having a good grasp of the public mood, the electorates’ opinions, and the candidates’ strategies. I correctly called 46 of 50 states. My errors: I called Nevada for Trump (Clinton won); and I called Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin for Clinton (Trump won all three). That’s a 92% score – an “A” on any report card. But I am concerned that most of the media (including me – and I’m a rustbelt native) missed this trend. Trump tapped into the blue-collar, Midwest “Reagan Democrats” with a vengeance we haven’t seen since 1980. As an industry, the news media listens to too many beltway insiders and not enough people in the heartland. Media lesson: Politics is about people more than polls. Talk to more people!
“What’s Next?” – When Ronald Reagan won in 1980, many people were shocked. There were all kinds of predictions he would lead us into nuclear war and a time of celebrity culture, because - after all - he was "just an actor." Fast forward 36 years, and we hear that Trump is "just a reality TV star.” Of course, it’s not a fair comparison. Reagan was a two-term Governor of California (the world’s fifth-largest economy if it were a separate nation). Yes, both ran as Washington outsiders, fueled by public anger; but Reagan had legitimate political credentials, which Trump does not. Reagan went on to be one of the most-revered Presidents in U.S. history. If he’s smart, Trump should study Reagan’s playbook.
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Related Slideshow: Winners and Losers - 2016 Election
Joe Trillo and John DePetro
While most Republicans in Rhode Island were hiding in the bushes, Trillo (the former GOP lawmaker) and DePetro (the WPRO talk show host) were loyal advocates for Donald Trump from the beginning and through the rough spots.
Both could be big winners and could score slots with the administration -- want to go to the White House? You now know the rings you need to kiss.
Donald Trump, President of the United States
The most unlikely candidate pulled off the biggest victory in Presidential history. The billionaire developer was underestimated which set forth much of his success during the primaries and in the election. The next four years will never be dull.
General Michael Flynn
The Rhode Island native and URI grad will have a major roll in the Trump Administration and America's foreign policy. As top GOP consultant Ian Prior wrote in GoLocal in July about Flynn when he was on the VP shortlist:
Of course, there are any number of national security experts that can prosecute the case against Hillary Clinton, but Flynn is unique. He is a registered Democrat that was appointed by President Obama in 2012 to serve as Director of the DIA. Even more importantly, he resigned two years later over what he believed to be a misguided approach by the administration as it concerned ISIS.
Nellie Gorbea, Secretary of State
This year's election was one of the the most mismanaged in modern Rhode Island history. First, the Chief-of Staff of the Secretary of State's office gets into a battle with talk show host John DePetro on social media. The action seemed inappropriate at best for the head of the office administering the election.
Then, the state's Presidential election hit a number of rough spots with faulty equipment and a failed repair and triage system that lead to long lines and frustration in a number of communities across the state.
The job of Secretary of State has three major components:
1) Take care of the State's achieves
2) Maintain a database of businesses
3) Run the state's elections
She needs to assure voters that she understands the problems and correct the mistakes.
Brandon Bell, GOP Chair
Both Democratic Congressional candidates won big. The GOP had a net loss in the legislature.
Bell went all in on taking out Speaker Nick Mattiello -- a pro-business legislator, instead of recruiting a large number of competitive candidates. If Mattiello delivers of paper ballots like his campaign claims - Bell will have wildly miscalculated at every level and will have left the GOP a weaker party.
Cicilline and Langevin
A Trump win greatly increases the likelihood that Rhode Island will lose a Congressional seat in the next federal redistricting. Rhode Island will be more like Vermont and Delaware -- two Senators and just one House member. This will mean a big loss for Rhode Island's clout in D.C.
Allan Fung, Republican Mayor of Cranston
Fung had just the kind of night he wanted to have. He ran up big numbers against Democrat Mike Sepe and put parkinggate in his proverbial rear window.
The margin of victory is impressive -- Fung ran up 68% of the vote and has established himself as one of the top Republicans in Rhode Island.
Now, the personable Fung is the GOP frontrunner to challenge Raimondo as it does not look like she is going to Washington, D.C. now.
RI's Broken Technology Infrastructure
No money, no car, and no vote.
Lets see if we got this right. You have to wait in line to vote in some locations for as much as two hours because not enough scanners were deployed. Some days you can't register your car because the Hewlett-Packard system is not deployed and the state is now suing the company. And, tens of thousands of folks most in need have not been able to get their most critical benefits (or the from benefits) because the UHIP technology was flawed despite hundreds of millions being spent.
Speaker of the House, Nick Mattiello
If Mattiello does hold on to his House seat, he will be a stronger Speaker than ever before. He has added more Democrats to his majority and was the architect to many of the Democrats victories.
The simmering stress between Mattiello and Raimondo will turn into a vibrant boil over during the next two years. Raimondo was no help to Mattiello or House members -- they had to clean up for her truck tolls and absorb her unwillingness to release 38 Studios documents.
Gina Raimondo, Governor
Raimondo's options and national political network just took a major blow. No longer can Raimondo jump to the Clinton Administration to avoid a difficult reelection. Moreover, national Democratic connections are now in Siberia as the Presidency, the House and the Senate are all in Republican hands.
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